Sunday, May 13, 2007

Notes on Nutrition

Soooo, many manufacturers realize a large portion of the world would rather eat healthier. We've all heard the eat lower calories, eat light, eat lower fat content etc. Because these "buzz words" are so popular amung those of us conscious about our bodies - that they needed to find ways of incorporating those words, without the cost of re-vamping their entire product line. How'd they do it?Light = can sometimes mean "Lighter in Color" or "Lighter in Net Weight" as long as the product is "lighter" than anything - it isn't classified as false advertising.Lower Calorie/Fat = if you love blue cheese dressing and want to find a "lower" product that will fit into your healthier eating -BEWARE. Lower cal/fat products are in reference to their full fat counterparts. Meaning with the blue cheese dressing (which is one of the Highest caloric salad dressings) if you get a lower fat/cal version of Blue Cheese it is less than regular Blue Cheese but still MORE than an italian or vinagrette. SO the comparison used to label some thing "Lower" isn't usually as straight forward sa we would like. Suggestions:As Dani as stated in previous posts READ THE LABELS, but not just that COMPARE!!! Compae the low fat/cal or light foods to their full fat compatriots to see if it is worth buying - you may find there is no noticable difference in one vs the other.

The NutritionData Nutrition Facts & Calorie Counter will help you do just that!

Portion Size
Understanding portion size is imperative in maintaining a healthy mind and body. It’s important that you notice how much you are eating, regardless of what food you are eating. There are many foods to consume in order to eat a balanced diet, therefore small portions of a greater variety are recommended. Selecting sensible portion sizes will help you maintain a desired body weight while achieving a more varied, balanced diet that includes foods from all the food groups.

According to the USDA, 1 serving equals:
The Grain Group
1 slice of bread
½ cup cooked rice, cereal, or pasta [size of a muffin tin]
1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal [about 2 handfuls]
1 tortilla, roll, or small muffin
½ English muffin, small bagel, or hamburger bun

The Vegetable Group
½ cup cooked vegetables [size of a baseball]
1 cup tossed salad [size of your closed fit]
1 medium potato¾ cup vegetable juice
½ cup raw chopped vegetables [size of a baseball]

The Fruit Group
1 medium whole fruit
¾ cup of fruit juice
½ cup canned fruit [size of a baseball]
¼ cup dried fruit

The Milk Group
1 cup milk
8 ounces yogurt [1 carton]
1 ½ - 2 ounces cheese [size of a book of matches]
1 ½ cup ice cream1 cup frozen yogurt

The Meat and Meat Alternative Group
3 ounces of cooked meat, poultry, or fish [size of a deck of cards]
1/4 pound hamburger patty
2 whole eggs1 cup cooked beans [size of your fist]
4 tablespoons of peanut butter

Fats, Oils, and Sweets
Use sparingly; use healthy oils such as olive oil and canola oil

Further Resources on Portion Size:
Making Sense of Portion Sizes A website funded by the Dairy Council of California that compares portion sizes to common items to help with estimating
"Portion Distortion" Quiz Quiz from the National Institutes of Health

Nutrition Fact Labels
As it is important to watch the amount you eat, it’s even more so to know what you are eating! Thankfully, we have Nutrition Fact Labels that list all the ingredients, as well as the nutritional information of each product. The Nutrition Fact Label is to help you make healthier food choices that will nourish and fuel your body. From the label, you can also determine the serving size; at first, it may be helpful to measure out serving sizes and before you know it, you will get an “eye” for proper portion size.
Why Use Food Labels?
1. It highlights information on saturated fat, cholesterol, dietary fiber, and other nutrients that are of major health concern.
2. They give us % Daily Values. These % values help us see how a food fits into our overall daily diets.
3. They give us nutrition information about almost every food item.
4. They are easy to use and they give us important information to make healthful food choices.
5. Food Labels have consistent serving size amounts to make it easier to compare similar foods and make healthier choices.

An Easy Guide to Reading Nutrition Labels
BREAKING DOWN THE NUTRITION FACTS LABEL: Reading Nutrition Facts labels can be difficult, especially if you don’t know what to look for. The Nutrition Facts Label gives a lot of information but the key is to know how to use it to help you make healthy food choices.
This is the food’s recommended serving size. It can include a weight measurement (for example: one cup) or a number of pieces of food (12 pretzels).
Serving per Container: This is the suggested number of servings. For example, if a food has four servings per container and you eat half of the bag, you would be eating two servings. It is always important to look at these numbers because you may be eating more than you think!
This is the amount of calories per serving (using the correct serving size). Eating too many calories promotes weight gain. Calorie needs are based on individual needs.
Calories from Fat: These are calories solely from fat. Choose foods with less than 30% of calories coming from fat.
This is the total fat per one serving in grams and in % Daily Value. Choose foods with less fat.
Saturated Fat: This is fat from animal and dairy products and tropical oils measured in grams. A diet high in saturated fat is a risk factor for coronary artery disease. Choose foods with 2 grams or less saturated fat.
Labels may also list monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These are unsaturated fats that may help protect your heart, however all fats should be used in moderation.
Trans Fats are to be on every nutrition label by January 2006. Trans fats are formed by chemically changing the oil called hydrogenation, which increases product shelf life and flavor. A diet high in Trans fats have shown to increase cholesterol levels, which increases risk of heart disease. If a food has the words “partially hydrogenated oil” on the label it contains Trans fats. It is recommended to avoid Trans fats.
This is another form of fat measured in milligrams. Too much dietary cholesterol is another risk factor for heart disease. Cholesterol is found in organ meats, dairy products, shrimp, and egg yolks. Limit intake to 300 milligrams daily.
Use foods with 5% or less saturated fats and cholesterol and avoid those with over 20% of the daily value.
This is a nutrient that helps regulate blood pressure and fluid balance measured in milligrams which most people consider “salt”.
Research has suggested that a high sodium intake can be related to high blood pressure. The RDA for sodium is 2400 milligrams per day. For example, one teaspoon of table salt has ~2400 milligrams of sodium.
This is the amount of total carbohydrate per serving measured in grams. Carbohydrates are primarily found in starches, vegetables, fruits, sweets and milk. Carbohydrate counting is used in diabetes meal planning.
This is the amount of indigestible bulk from plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, oats, nuts and seeds and is measured in grams. Foods high in fiber are shown to be beneficial for weight control, diabetes, high cholesterol and some forms of cancer. Foods with five grams of fiber or more are considered “high fiber” foods.
These are part of the Total Carbohydrate content and are measured in grams. These contain sugars from natural and artificial sources. There are no daily reference values for sugars.
This is the amount of total protein the food contains measured in grams. Protein contains amino acids found in meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, nuts, beans, grains and some vegetables. Protein needs are individualized based on height, weight, age and physical activity level.
These are micronutrients measured in percentages. The goal is to consume 100% of each of these nutrients daily to prevent nutrition related diseases.
The Percent Daily Value shows the amount of each of the nutrients listed above needed daily in a 2000 and a 2500-calorie diet. This is the percentage of each nutrient recommended to meet the needs of the average person each day and is measured in grams and milligrams depending on the nutrient. The Percent Daily Values are listed on the top half of the food label and are based on recommendations for a 2,000 calorie diet, not a 2,500 calorie diet. Five percent or less of the % Daily Value is considered low, whereas 20% or more is considered high.
The ingredient list is another part of the Nutrition Label. Items are listed by weight in descending order of predominance. Spices, artificial coloring and flavors are listed on the ingredient list.

Hope this helps clear things up!