Nutrition: Reliable online tools for healthy living

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One of my least-favorite activities is deleting email from my ever-growing daily accumulations. Not the ones I receive from readers, mind you. These are the ones I never asked for that remind me daily of a special product or service that I most certainly may need.

Some messages I truly enjoy, however. Especially the Food and Nutrition Updates from the USDA Agricultural Research Library (yes, I’m a nutrition nerd).

First, these emails arrive just once every 3 months. They don’t try to sell me anything. And they give me trusted and reliable information based on sound science. I like that.

In a recent message from these food and nutrition experts, I received a great list of online nutrition tools and handy apps. And they are free!


Here is a partial list of what you will find when you open this page: .

Start Simple with My Plate: Download this free app on your phone to help you set eating goals, track your progress and even celebrate your successes.

Foodkeeper: Should I toss those eggs that have been in my fridge for 6 weeks? Toss ‘em, says this app. Properly refrigerated eggs in the shell should be consumed within 3 to 5 weeks. Download this app or access at to look up safe storage for any food item.

Body Weight Planner: Want to lose a few pounds? Plug in your weight, sex, age, height and level of physical activity at . Then put in your weight goal and if you intend to increase you daily exercise and by how much (be honest). This handy site will then calculate your daily calorie needs to reach your goal and even help you set measurable goals to get there in your desired amount of time.

Evaluate health information: I remember chuckling over a spoof that said, “I lost $2000 on an internet weight loss plan. Ask me how!” So how do we decipher the trusted information from the trash? Here’s a reliable site from that can help: .

Herbs at a Glance: Find out the facts (and the science) behind herbal or botanical products at or download the free app called Herblist. Both sites are maintained by the National Center for Complementary Medicine and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and include facts sheets, safety and potential interactions with medications and other information.

Oh, and here’s another fact I just learned. If you see an “s” after the http on a website address, it means the site is “secure” and the information you send or get through that site is private. Trusted websites usually have the https designation.

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian nutritionist affiliated with the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Email her at to

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