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If they are truly “pickled” beets in a sweetened vinegar brine, you can treat them as you would a jar of pickles.  The “pickling” process acts as a preservative.  Nevertheless, I would still try to use them within a couple of months once they are opened.


It is important to get a well balanced diet. Several studies have tested the theories about which type of diet (e.g. high protein, high fat, low fat, high carbohydrate, low carbohydrate, etc.) is most effective at maintaining or helping people lose weight. In the end it was determined that regardless of the percent of your food coming from fat, protein, or carbohydrates, the total amount of calories consumed was the most important factor. Therefore, it is important to count calories. However, being aware of the amount of carbohydrates in food will help you assess your calories intake for the day. Check out our Forget the Diet! article for easy ways to switch out your higher calorie foods with fruits and vegetables. You can slim down and still feel satisfied.


Hello Yvonne,

You seem to have a lot of questions and I will do my best to answer them as completely as possible. As for the leg cramps I am assuming that your doctor told your mother to consume a banana a day to increase her potassium intake. Increasing her potassium intake may relieve some of her leg cramp pain. If this is the concept that your doctor is referring to then there are several foods high in potassium, and adding variety to her diet will be easy!

Some of these foods include beans and lentils (all types, especially lima beans!), apricots, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe and baked potatoes. Since you stated that sodium is a concern, you may want to look for low-sodium varieties of canned vegetables and select frozen vegetables without added sauces.  Both fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium but by reading labels on canned or frozen varieties, you’ll be able to tell if sodium has been added.  For a list of more fruits and vegetables that are ‘high’ or ‘good’ sources of potassium, check out our Key Nutrients in Fruits and Vegetables section. 

You should talk to your doctor about what she believes is causing the leg cramps, as she may be better able to assist you with your nutrition concerns.

You also mentioned your mother’s eating habits briefly in your posting. I thought I would briefly touch on eating patterns. I am not sure how large of a breakfast your mother is eating but small frequent meals are important for maintaining blood sugar levels and maintaining a good metabolism. You may want to make a point to inform your mother of this as well since older adults tend to have a slower metabolism and gain weight more easily. 

Thank you for you questions!


Your best choice is legumes! Legumes include peas, beans (like kidney, chick peas, etc.), lentils, soy, and peanuts. Not only do legumes offer a large amount of fiber (approximately 5 g for ½ cup serving) they are also higher in iron than most vegetables. Chick peas contain the highest amount of iron with a ½ cup serving providing 6.3 mg. This meets about half of your iron needs for the day! Check out our Quick Recipes: 30 minutes or Less section for delicious recipes that include legumes (especially chick peas!).


The best way for your to determine your total calorie, protein, fat, saturated fat, protein, carbohydrate, and sodium needs would be to use the free tools at Here you can receive a meal plan that is specific to your age, weight, height, sex, and physical activity level.

As for if you should break up your amounts between meals or totaling the amounts for the entire day, they are both very important. During the day you should be conscious about your consumption of each of the food groups- especially your fruits and vegetables! The key to getting in the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day is adding one fruit or vegetable to each meal and snack. For help with meal planning check out our Top 10 Meal Planning & Shopping Tips.


You should strive to have 2400 mg of sodium or less per day.  Canned vegetables (and many canned foods) contain sodium due to preservation methods. Low sodium foods are classified as foods containing less than 140 mg of sodium per serving. Many canned vegetables do come in low sodium varieties, but if they don’t, you can reduce the sodium content by almost half by draining the liquid and then rinsing the vegetables with water.

The bigger sodium culprit in American diets is generally processed meats (bacon, ham, lunchmeats, etc.), cheese (especially processed cheese like American cheese), and condiments (catsup, mustard, soy sauce, barbeque sauce, etc.).  All packaged foods must list sodium content, so be sure to read the food label to help monitor your sodium intake. Check out our list of fruits and vegetables that contain ‘low sodium’ or ‘very low sodium.’


If you are looking for way to add calories to your diet, I would suggest adding in two to three healthy snacks a day to your regular meals and then eating a bit more during your regular meals. Snacks could include a banana and peanut butter on a slice of whole wheat toast or vanilla yogurt with granola, strawberries and blueberries.  Any variety of nut (almonds, pistachios, peanuts, etc.), avocados, dried fruit, black olives, beans (kidney, garbonzo, etc.) and whole grain breads are all nutritious “calorie-dense” foods that you can include regularly. See Our Nut Nutrition Database

For more examples, check out our Healthy Cooking With Fruits & Vegetables section for snack ideas. Also be sure to check out for tools to assess your calorie intake. You can either ask you physician to refer you to a dietitian or you can search for a dietitian in your local area at


All fruits and vegetables are great for your health.  By choosing a spectrum of colors of fruits and vegetables each day, you are including a wide variety of nutrients in your diet. Check out our Fruit & Vegetable Nutrition Database for nutrition, selection and storage information for specific fruits and vegetables.


Do NOT eat the skin or the seeds of cherimoyas. They are ready to eat when they are slightly soft like a ripe avocado. Slice the fruit in wedges and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Check out our Fruits & Vegetable Nutrition Database for more storage information about cherimoyas.


In general this is not something you should be concerned about. You should select lettuce that is bright, has crisp leaves, and no brown spots. The key to determining if there has been a decrease in the nutrient content of a fruit or vegetable is by assessing its appearance. This will tell you if the fruit or vegetable is older/spoiled. If it is spoiled or discolored you are likely not getting as many nutrients as you would from a fresh and healthy product (although at this point optimal taste and texture is probably compromised more than nutrient differences ). Check out our Fruit & Vegetable Nutrition Database for more information on selecting lettuce and other produce.

The Expert: Dr. Elizabeth Pivonka, a mother of two and a registered dietitian, shares years of experience in getting people to eat more fruits and veggies.
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