As a former college professor, I told students there were no dumb questions, but that isn’t really true. One student asked me how Benjamin Button could grow younger each year and reverse aging. I replied that Benjamin Button was a fictional movie character. The student argued with me that it was a documentary, not a movie, and the main character could grow younger. So, that is an example of a dumb question. But, many of you write to me with really good questions, and here are a few of the “good” questions with – what I hope – are good answers.
Question: Nutritionists encourage us to eat green foods, so are green apples healthier than red apples?
Answer: Both red, green, yellow, and pink apples are healthy choices, and the color of skin doesn’t indicate that one is nutritionally superior to another. There are thousands of apple varieties grown worldwide and they all contain naturally occurring carbohydrate, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. Apples contain a type of fiber called pectin or soluble fiber that helps keep blood sugar and cholesterol in check. Apples can easily oxidize (turn brown) when sliced, but dipping in dilute lemon juice can halt the browning reaction. You might also have seen the newly introduced Arctic Apple. Apple growers teamed with scientists to learn how to silence the gene that causes browning. So, whether you like the tart Granny Smith apple, the super sweet Honey Crisp, or the crunch Cripps Pink (my new favorite), enjoy your apple of any color.
Question: My blood report said my calcium was in the normal range, so does that mean I don’t have to eat calcium-rich foods?
Answer: The calcium in your blood represents only 1% of the calcium in your body (the rest is in your bones and teeth), but that 1% is critical for keeping your heart beating, your muscles moving, and your nerves signaling. The bones act as a calcium bank for the blood; the bones will release calcium to keep the blood calcium in a normal, healthy range, sometimes at the expense of bones. So, young swimmers need calcium-rich foods to build strong bones. The only way to know if your bones are strong is by having a bone density test. For most young people, measuring bone density isn’t necessary during your youth and early adulthood, but many doctors recommend that women have their bone density measured around the age of 50. For young female athletes who have amenorrhea (lack of normal menstrual cycles), a bone density test is often recommended because bone loss can occur when normal periods stop.
Question: I hear that whey protein is the “best” protein to build muscle, but I’m a vegetarian so is there a vegetarian whey protein available?
Answer: Sorry, there is no vegetarian whey protein. Whey is one of the proteins in milk (the other is casein) and these two dairy proteins have been shown to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. While whey is often considered the “best” protein for muscle maintenance and growth, it isn’t the only protein that helps muscle. Soy protein is a complete protein, with all of the essential amino acids, so soy milk, tofu, or soy foods (like soy burgers, patties, nuggets) can help vegetarian athletes get needed high quality protein. Quinoa is also a good protein source for vegetarian swimmers.
Keep those “good” questions coming!
Chris Rosenbloom is a registered dietitian and professor emerita of nutrition at Georgia State University. She welcomes questions from swimmers, parents and coaches. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow her on Twitter @chrisrosenbloom or visit her website at https://chrisrosenbloom.com/