Are there a lot of aflatoxins in almond milk?

Are there a lot of aflatoxins in almond milk?


I have two questions.

1. I drink almond milk. Someone told me that the almond concentrates toxins before being picked. Hence, Almond milk being a highly concentrated amount of almonds in liquid form is therefore highly toxic. Is there any truth to this?

2. I have read that red wine provides numerous health benefits and that drinking one drink per day for men is healthier than no alcoholic drink per day. What amount, if any, red wine, should I be drinking daily? – Mike




  1. Mycotoxins (from fungus) exist as “unavoidable contaminants” in nut and grain products. Aflatoxin B1 is on the list of human carcinogens. That’s why the US has a regulatory system for aflatoxin monitoring and control by sampling and analysis. In addition, US growers have active programs in place to minimize aflatoxins in the orchard. Aflatoxins from almonds are reduced by peeling and roasting/cooking prior to milk production. So it would be extremely rare if someone got sick from it through almond milk. Actually, the amount of almonds in a half-gallon container are less than you might eat raw… just under a handful!
  2. Red wine’s primary beneficial phytochemical is resveratrol, found in the grape skins (that’s why there’s not much in white wine). The amount found in red wine may be no more than that from red and purple grape juices, plus the content depends on the variety and growing region. Drinking red wine may be incidentally related to a reduction in risk of heart disease and cancer, but so does eating more produce such as grapes, blueberries, cranberries, peanuts, pistachios, and cocoa. Note that populations with higher red wine consumption exhibiting lower cardiovascular disease also consume a Mediterranean style diet. To answer your question, if you are a drinker maintaining a healthy weight, then having a daily glass of red wine (instead of beer or liquor) is fine.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

Do you have a question about your diet or nutrition? Ask our dietitian by submitting your question to or simply ask it in the COMMENTS section below.

To learn how to follow the “Ask Our Dietitian” Q&A CLICK HERE!




  • Cornell University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences “Aflatoxins: Occurrence and Health Risks” 
  • Food Safety Watch “Aflatoxins”
  • The Relation Between Dietary Flavonol Intake and Coronary Heart Disease Mortality: A Meta-analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies. Huxley RR and Neil HA. 2003. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Aug;57(8):904-908.



  • Flavanoid Intake and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of US Adults. ML McCullogh, et al. 2012. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Feb; 95(2): 454-464. 


Eating to Win: Court Sports

Eating to Win: Court Sports

Debbie J., MS, RD contributed this article –

If you play racquetball, volleyball or basketball, then you’re no stranger to the high-intensity physical exercise required to play on the courts. Of course, each sport has its specific skills needed to play effectively, but they are similar in that they all use short burst anaerobic movements to stay fast on your feet. Compared to field sports where playing fields can consist of upwards of 5,000 square yards, racquetball, volleyball and basketball involve more agility and rapid back-and-forth play since the area of play is much smaller: Basketball; 522 square yards; Volleyball (from baseline to net) 96 square yards; and Racquetball 88 square yards.

With the stop-and-go action of these sports, the work that your muscles go through is intermittent. This is especially true for team sports with some team members sitting on the bench awaiting play and muscle recovery happens between bouts of activity. Also, there is no specific muscle group at continuous work and continuously during play (unlike distance sports); rather, varying muscles are engaged as needed for sprinting, crouching, jumping, pushing and/or swinging. This creates an underlying overall aerobic demand, which varies especially when play lasts for an hour or more at a time.

A player’s carbohydrate needs vary depending on the type of high-intensity play, duration of physical exertion and rest periods, and overall length of the game. The frequency of games impacts metabolic demands; for instance, multiple matches in one day (as in tournament competition) is one example of that requires a heavy demand of carbohydrates. Read on to find out how to fuel these needs before, during, and after playing these high-intensity sports.

la fitness courts, la fitness racquetball


Having sufficient energy to complete a competition is immensely important.

Below are the approximate number of calories burned while playing basketball, volleyball, and racquetball, calculated from The Compendium of Physical Activities (2011)1:

Over the course of 60 minutes of play: 160 pound person will burn approximately: 200 pound person will burn approximately:
Basketball 581 Calories 727 Calories
Volleyball 436 Calories 545 Calories
Racquetball 509-727 Calories 636-909 Calories

Remember to adjust depending on your weight, as well as the number of games that you might play during “league competition” up to three 60 minute games for volleyball & basketball, and up to three 15 minute games for racquetball.

A good piece of advice is to consume half the anticipated calorie need prior to the session in solid food, a quarter during exercise in the form of sports drinks and a quarter in recovery nutrition afterward.

First and foremost, you need to be in balance energy-wise for the day. It’s not a good idea to come into a game with an energy deficit and try to make up for it by eating a bunch before you play. Your stomach will agree here!


Think carbohydrates (carbs) first, then protein and fat. Whether during aerobic or anaerobic work, muscles use glycogen and blood glucose (carbohydrates) for fuel. Most studies show that ingesting carbohydrate before and during play enhances intermittent high-intensity exercise capacity.2 Though, carbohydrates are the primary nutrient used to fuel muscle work, fat may contribute in longer practice sessions and multiple game playoffs. If inadequate carbohydrate is consumed, highly specialized protein might be burned to meet energy demands. You don’t want to sacrifice protein (the main constituent of muscle) for fuel, since protein is needed for so many other functions.

Carbohydrates should be easily digestible (often called “high glycemic”) for rapid energy and replenishment. Choose low fiber starches and fruit products like pretzels, water crackers, rice, pasta, canned fruit, applesauce and bananas. Sports drinks should have about 15 grams of carbohydrate per 8 fl. oz.; and the carbohydrates should come from glucose, fructose, or sucrose. For longer matches, carbohydrates may also come from maltodextrin. Take a tip that some competitive athletes follow and consume about 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour during play and practice. Remember, to finish a competition with strong performance, you can’t be in a carbohydrate deficit.

Protein and fats should provide the remainder of your calories. Prior to game time, choose easily digestible protein sources such as egg whites, poultry breast, fish, soymilk/tofu, avocado and oils. If your body can tolerate dairy, yogurt is another good choice. Leave the heavy items like cheese, bacon and nuts for another time. During play, a small amount of protein (5-10 grams) in a sports drink is fine but not necessary. Postgame foods include up to 25 grams of protein in your recovery snack, bar or shake.

If you’re fueled and ready to play racquetball, volleyball or basketball, check out a list our available LA Fitness Club Leagues.



1. “2011 Compendium of Physical Activities: A Second Update of Codes and MET Values.” Ainsworth BE, et al. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2011; 43:1575-1581. Basketball, game 8.0 METs (Taylor, Jacobs et al. 1978); Volleyball 6 METs; Racquetball 7-10 METs (Kcal/kg/hr)
2. “Acute effects of carbohydrate supplementation on intermittent sports performance.” Baker LB, Rollo I, Stein KW, Jeukendrup AE. Nutrients. 2015; 7(7):5733-5763.

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‘Cold Case Files’ – Are Fresh Foods Really Better?

‘Cold Case Files’ – Are Fresh Foods Really Better?

Debbie J., MS, RD contributed this article –

What do refrigerated versions of common condiments offer that their shelf-stable (unrefrigerated dry aisle items) counterparts do not?  Generally speaking, the refrigerated versions contain a lot less sodium, fewer (or no) preservatives, and often better taste. Blue cheese salad dressing is prime example of how noticeable the differences can be. This is because blue cheese does not sit well at room temperature. In the refrigerated version of blue cheese salad dressing, you can find real chunks of blue cheese in a bath of cream. Yum!

Most health professionals who would say that raw foods are best. Who has time to make everything from scratch, though? Sometimes you just need to grab a sauce, dressing or dip then pour or spoon it onto your food – Presto! Your snack or dinner is enhanced. So why not do so with condiment options that offer better nutritional value?

Below you can see how some popular fresh condiments found in the chilled section stack up versus the options in the dry (preservative packaged) aisle.

Note – In order to maintain objectivity and reduce variables as possible, only products offered in both refrigerated and shelf stable versions from the same manufacturer are being compared in the following examples. Differences in ingredients between the two are highlighted in blue for fresh and in red for preservative packaged shelf-stable foods.

la fitness, ranch dressing, nutrition article

Ranch Dressing

Fresh:  Fat 17 gms, Sodium 200 mg, Carbohydrate 2 gms, Protein 1 gm

Soybean oil, Buttermilk, Distilled vinegar, Egg yolk, Salt, Sugar, Dehydrated garlic, Autolyzed yeast extract, Dehydrated onion, Spices, Xanthan gum, Natural flavors

Shelf:   Fat 13 gms, Sodium 240 mg, Carbohydrate 1 gm, Protein 0 gm

Soybean oil, Water, Buttermilk, Egg yolk, Sugar, Distilled vinegar, Salt, Phosphoric acid, Modified corn starch, Xanthan gum, Monosodium glutamate, Potassium sorbate, Sodium benzoate, Dehydrated garlic, Spices, Natural flavors, Calcium disodium EDTA, Disodium inosinate, Disodium guanylate

la fitness, living healthy tip

Cream-Style Horseradish

Fresh: Sodium 10 mg, Fat 0 gm

Horseradish, Distilled vinegar, Water, Cream, Salt, Natural flavoring

Shelf:   Sodium 40 mg, Fat 1 gm

Water, Soybean oil, Horseradish, Vinegar, Sugar, Food starch, Salt, Egg yolks, Mustard flour, Natural flavor, Lemon juice concentrate, Xanthan gum, Vitamin E, Spices

la fitness, healty tip article

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

Fresh: Fat 8 gms, Sodium 125 mg, Sugar 1 gm

Water, Soybean oil, Vinegar, Sugar, Olive oil, Maltodextrin, Salt, Dehydrated onion, Balsamic vinegar, Stabilizer (Mono and Diglycerides, Guar gum, and Polysorbate 60), Garlic powder, Spices, Nonfat dry milk, Dehydrated green & red bell pepper, Caramel color, Natural flavor, Xanthan gum, Lemon juice powder, Silicon dioxide

Shelf: Fat 8 gms, Sodium 140 mg, Sugar 2 gms

Water, Soybean oil, Vinegar, High fructose corn syrup, Red wine vinegar, Basil, Salt, Balsamic vinegar, Food starch-Modified, Sodium benzoate, Potassium sorbate, Dehydrated garlic, Caramel color, Xanthan gum, Natural flavor, Oregano, Ground mustard seed, Spices, Calcium disodium EDTA, White wine, Tartaric acid, Citric acid

Sometimes “Fresh” doesn’t necessarily mean chilled…

Not everything needs to be refrigerated before it’s opened. If the concentration of acid (pH 4.5 or less), oil or sugar is high enough, then microbial growth is prevented even at room temperature. This applies to products such as vinegar, hot sauce, cooking oils, and honey. Although most BBQ sauces, ketchups and mustards last longer in the refrigerator after they’re opened, they are fine from the shelf, too. Also, beverages that are aseptically (sterile, air-tight) packaged  can be kept at room temperature (but may taste better chilled). For these items, any difference in sodium, sugar or fat is due to different flavors or brands.

The next time you are at the grocery store, take a minute to see if your favorite dressing or dip has a fresh counterpart. For your body and taste buds, finding the fresh version will likely be worth the search!

“I work out and track my food intake with an online tracker but haven’t lost weight, what do I need to change?”

“I work out and track my food intake with an online tracker but haven’t lost weight, what do I need to change?”



I am a 69 year-old woman, 5’6″ and weigh about 160 pounds. I have been trying to lose 10 pounds for about three months with no noticeable change. I work out about 4 times a week and I eat about 1500 calories a day. What should I change? I keep track of my food intake with an online fitness tracker.
Thanks for your help! – Helen



If the “calories in versus calories out method” is not working for you, consider the content and timing of your meals. 1500 calories of processed starch and saturated fat may keep the weight on, compared with 1500 calories from whole grains, lean protein, plenty of produce and healthy fats. Not only do the latter foods satisfy better, they take longer to digest thus keeping blood sugar and insulin levels down. The net effect is more calories burned in order to process and metabolize the food and greater ability to release fat for burning.

Supporting your workouts with meals and snacks at the right times can pay off two-fold. First, pre-loading with a small supply of carbohydrates, such as from a piece of fruit, a half hour before may give you more endurance for cardio and a stronger finish to weight training. Second, eating a main meal within an hour after exercise capitalizes on your increased metabolic rate to burn more fuel.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

Do you have a question about your diet or nutrition? Ask our dietitian by submitting your question to or simply ask it in the COMMENTS section below.

To learn how to follow the “Ask Our Dietitian” Q&A CLICK HERE!

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