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Hidden Dangers - Part 1

The prevalence of processed foods has created some landmines in our dietary choices.  If all of our foods came straight from nature most of these hazards would not exist. However, industrialization of food makes shelf life, convenience, and cost top priorities. My hope is we can all become quicker to spot these dangers.  Today I want to focus on fructose.


“Wait”, you may be saying, “I thought sugar from fruit is good for you”. Fruit is a healthy option, however when we juice the fruits and concentrate the sugar, it is way too easy to get an overdose. High intake of fructose may be more dangerous than other sugars because of its effect on the liver.  The liver is forced into metabolizing excess fructose into fat, which then can be stored in the liver, possibly leading to long term damage. That excess fruit sugar can also be stored as fat in other places around the body, leading to unwanted weight gain. It’s easy for us to fall into this trap, because even as little as a daily intake 2 bottled drinks sweetened with fructose may be enough to start the liver damage.


High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the most common way this excess of fructose shows up in the American diet.  This is used commonly in crackers, pasta sauces, ice cream and even canned vegetables.  I know you have heard the admonition before, but label reading on processed foods is imperative.  Read labels and avoid all foods sweetened with HFCS and limit juice intake, even for children, to one cup a day.  Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that it would take too long to prepare our own salad dressings and sauces, when in reality you will save your health and your wallet when you control the ingredients.


Here’s a quick and simple salad dressing for summer you can throw in the blender and enjoy with no hidden dangers!


Honey Balsamic Dressing

  • 1 cup EVOO
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 4 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 -2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp of mustard (your choice Dijon or spicy)
  • Pinch -1/2 tsp  salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • Add some fresh herbs if you like: basil, oregano, parsley 
  • Put all ingredients in the blender and process for a minute or two and serve over your favorite greens!



Please help us welcome: Karen Cota, RDN, LD CDE


We are thrilled to have Karen join our team. She and Kim Beavers will be both here to serve you as Registered Dietitians.   We are so thankful to have such experienced, enthusiastic, scientifically sound dietitians in our midst.

Karen has over 20 years of experience in providing nutrition counseling and education for pediatric patients through mature adults.  She has a strong personal and professional interest in health promotion, disease prevention, wellness & fitness as it relates to healthy aging and achieving optimum health.  Her goal when working with patients is to help them understand the basics of nutrition as it relates to their health goals and then find foods they like that can also help them achieve their best health.  Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult to prepare.  She feels it is important to follow the research as a guide to healthy eating patterns for disease prevention and wellness.  She is passionate about helping patients embrace the delicious taste of minimally processed food choices and getting back to basics.


Karen received her BS degree from Winthrop University and completed her Dietetic Internship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, licensed in Georgia and South Carolina and a Certified Diabetes Educator.  She also has a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management.  She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and is a member of the AND practice groups:  Sports, Cardiovascular & Wellness Nutrition, and Dietitians in Integrative & Functional Medicine, Women’s Health, Healthy Aging and Oncology Nutrition



For appointments or more information about our services or our staff please visit our website at 

or call 803-426-1421

We are honored to be part of your journey to be owners of your health and life! 

Grateful to be on the journey together, 
Robert Pendergrast, MD, MPH

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