Helpful Sources For Diet And Nutrition Information
You can learn more from these organizations.They offer information on diet, exercise, nutrition, and more:
National Institutes of Health provides additional information on the TLC Diet
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides a list of local dieticians and information on diet and exercise
Calorie Control Council provides recommendations for low-calorie foods and beverages, as well as an Enhanced Calorie Calculator that can help you keep track of the calories and fat you consume in 1 day
Servings Per Container And Serving Sizes
Serving sizes are a useful tool for telling us how many nutrients were consuming. When you take a look toward the top of the Nutrition Facts label youll see the servings per container and the serving size. Pay close attention to the serving size. All of the information on the label will typically refer to what is in just 1 serving size. So, if youre making pasta and the serving size is 2 ounces of dry pasta and that serving size contains 200 calories of pasta, what happens when you have 1 cup? You end up having 4 servings. So, 4 servings x 200 calories per serving means you may have actually consumed 800 calories. And I mean lets be real, I dont know anyone who eats 1/4 cup of pasta. The point is food companies know that 200 calories will look way more appealing to a shopper than 800 calories. Once again, its companies trying to lure you in.
This carries over to all the other nutrients on the label. If 1 serving of a food has 120 mg of sodium, it can technically be labeled as a low sodium food. However, if you eat 3 servings, triple that number, and now youre consuming 360 mg of sodium, which no longer falls into the low sodium category .
Bottom line: When youre reading your labels, always consider the servings. Oh, and what happens when we eat the whole bag of chips because theyre so irresistible? In a standard 8-ounce bag of chips there are 8 servings. 1 serving = 15 chips = 160 calories = 170 mg of sodium. The whole bag =1280 calories and 1360 mg of sodium.
The Consequences Of Too Much Bad Cholesterol
Once the bad cholesterol starts to accumulate in the bloodstream, problems begin to arise.
Sometimes the cholesterol sticks to the walls of the arteries, and it hardens into plaque. This plaque can crack the walls of the arteries, which can cause serious bleeding and clots.
Even if the plaque doesnt break, it will clog up the arteries and prevent enough blood from flowing through them.
Not enough blood means the muscles in the area are not getting enough oxygen, meaning that the muscles begin to die. If those muscles happen to be either the heart or the brain, you are in serious trouble.
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Look At The Nutrition Facts
Always look at the panel of nutrition facts and then the list of ingredients, says Nelson. Sometimes we get too caught up in looking for words that we dont understand when we should really be paying attention to key numbers.
check out the serving size
Serving size provides a great reality check when determining your portion, says Samuel. Measure out two tablespoons of peanut butter its shockingly not much for the calories!
When you look at the fat content, be sure to check out the grams of saturated fat and trans fat
Nelson says a good rule of thumb is to avoid products like dairy, baked goods, and meats that contain over three grams of saturated fat.
Avoid trans fats at all costs
Trans fats go through a chemical process that turns them from liquid to solid. Theyre bad news because they can lower your good cholesterol and raise your bad cholesterol. Consuming these fats also increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, and type-2 diabetes.
Next, check out the fiber content
Nelson says you should aim to get 25 to 35 grams of fiber each day. If a product contains three or more grams of fiber, its considered a good source, she says. Foods with five grams or more are considered excellent sources.
Beware of sodium levels
Finally, check out the sugar content
Until the labels change, avoid foods that have added sugar as one of the first five ingredients, Nelson adds.
Check Out The Ingredient List
The list of ingredients is as important as the nutrition facts. Thats because the ingredients determine the nutrient density, Samuel says. Processed foods use added fats and sugars, and their quality cant be determined by how many grams are listed, she says. If high in fat or sugar, look where it comes from. Is it natural in the food or from added refined sugar or oils?
When looking at the ingredient list, Samuel says to be up to date on your good fats and common names for added sugar.
Labels list ingredients from the most to least abundant. If a package indicates that additives are less than two percent by volume, opt for that over a product with no indicators, advises Samuel.
Other ingredients Nelson says to avoid or limit
- Hydrogenated oils
- White refined flours in grain products
- Artificial dyes
- Nitrates and nitrites
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Path To Improved Health
Serving size is the first piece of information listed on the label. This is the amount of food that is typically eaten at one time. The size is in a basic household measurement, such as pieces, cups, or ounces. For example, a serving may be 7 potato chips or 1 cup of cereal.
Serving size is an important factor in your diet. You should compare the amount of that food you normally eat to the serving size listed on the label. Eating large servings or portions can lead to weight gain. The larger your portions are, the more calories you eat. For example, the label may list a serving size as 7 potato chips. If you eat 14 chips, you are consuming twice the amount of calories and nutrients.
The label provides a column of percentages called the percent daily value. It compares how much of a nutrient is in one serving of food to how much of that nutrient you should consume in one day. The percentages are based on a daily diet of 2,000 calories. Youll need to adjust the amounts if you eat more or less than 2,000 calories per day. Everyone has different calorie needs. These depend on your gender, age, and activity level.
You get your daily calories from what you eat and drink. A healthy person should consume nutrients from the five basic food groups . Some ingredients, such as saturated and trans fats, are unhealthy. You only should eat these in small amounts. A serving with 5% or less of the daily value is low. A serving with 20% or more of the daily value is high.
Total Cholesterol Ratio From Good To Bad
Your doctor will take individual readings of each type of cholesterol, but will also take a total cholesterol reading to be sure that he knows what your total cholesterol levels are.
What should you do when your doctor tells you:
- Your total cholesterol level is lower than 200 You should hop, skip, and jump your way out of the doctors office thanks to the fact that you are about as healthy as its going to get.
- Your total cholesterol level is between 200 and 239 You should start taking a very close look at all of your lifestyle choices and see what areas of your life need to be changed in order to lower your cholesterol before it starts getting dangerous.
- Your total cholesterol level is above 240 You should get on your knees and pray to your god that you still have time to correct your errors before it is too late ,as your cholesterol is very high.
Obviously some of this is over-dramatized , but now you know what the cholesterol numbers mean.
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How To Read Nutrition Labels: Fat Content Carbs & What To Look For 05
No matter what diet youre on, it is always a good idea to learn how to read nutrition labels. Label reading is one of the best ways to make sure the foods and beverages you put in your body are providing you with the fuel and nutrients you need to be at your best.
If you arent used to looking for and decoding nutrition labels, theyre super easy to locate and theyre easier than ever to read. Most of the time, all you have to do is flip over or turn around the item youre looking at and…voila! The nutrition label is right in front of you for you to review! For boxed items like cereal or crackers, the nutrition label is usually located on the right hand side of the package.
All you have to do is master a few quick basics, and youll be a label-reading pro in no time!
Understanding Percent Daily Values
We just discussed the importance of increasing nutrients like dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium to your diet. The lower part of a nutrition label is your go-to source when looking for the percentage of daily value of each of these nutrients in a serving of the food or beverage, and how it contributes to a total daily diet. The good news is these percentages are calculated for you. All you need to keep in mind are these general rules for %DVs:
- Low amount equals 5% DV, or less of a nutrient per serving
- High amount equals 20% DV, or more of a nutrient per serving
Generally, its best to select foods that are higher in %DV for dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium and select foods that are also lower in %DV for saturated fat, sodium and added sugars.
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Label Listings For Avoiding Allergies
Reading the ingredient list is especially important if someone in your family has a food allergy. Food labels must include the ingredients that are in the product, listed in order of how much of the ingredient the food contains. Food-makers are required to clearly state on food labels whether the product contains these common food allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat.
In some cases, it’s easy to identify what’s safe to eat by checking the listed ingredients on a label. But some ingredients that could trigger an allergic reaction may be listed under an unfamiliar name. If your child has a food allergy, a dietitian can teach about foods to avoid and hidden ingredients to watch for.
Use your food label smarts to make good choices when shopping for your family.
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Nutrients You Should Limit
Fat is an important nutrient and is a major source of energy for your body. There are different kinds of fat. Some are good and some are bad.
Dont forget that many fat-free items still have calories.
Eating too much unhealthy fat saturated and trans fats can increase your risk for heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
Saturated fat comes mainly from meat, poultry with skin, whole milk dairy products, coconut and palm kernel oils, and stick margarine.
Trans fat comes from partially hydrogenated oil, the result of a process that involves turning liquid vegetable oil into a solid. You can find trans fat in products such as crackers, cookies, fried foods, shortening, and hard margarine.
Trans fat is worse than saturated fat to eat because not only does it raise bad LDL cholesterol, it also lowers good HDL cholesterol, increasing your risk for heart disease.
There is no recommended total daily value for trans fat. Your best bet is to keep your intake of trans fat as low as possible by consuming products that contain 0 grams of trans fat on the food label.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your liver and other cells produce. Your body also gets cholesterol from food. In fact, about 25% of the cholesterol in your blood comes from the food you eat.
What To Look For On Nutrition Labels
Nutrition labels on foods tell you how much of each nutrient or fat is in the item, based on the recommended serving size. The numbers and percentages are written for a 2,000 calorie/day diet. Youll find a label on the back of packaged, canned, or bottled items that says Nutrition Facts.
Heres how to read the label properly:
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What Nutrients Should I Avoid
Saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars are nutrients that you should cut down on. Were you aware that eating too much saturated fat and sodium can adversely affect your health and put you at risk for cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure? Also, the consumption of too many added sugars could sabotage your efforts when trying to stay within calorie limits.
Understanding Cholesterol And Your Heart
Your heart actually has nothing to do with the production of cholesterol, but it is responsible for circulating the serum cholesterol through your body via your bloodstream.
When all goes well, your heart is happy to do its job with no complications, and you are one healthy and happy camper thanks to the cholesterol keeping your bodily functions working properly.
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Up Your Supermarket Savvy
A few general tips to remember as you navigate food labels to align with your health goals:
Whenever something gets removed from a processed food product say, fat it needs to be replaced with something that serves a similar function . Its physics, Mr. Mande said. Theres still food there.
- Sometimes the thing being subbed in may have worse effects on health than the original offender.
- Gluten-free is a more recent example with similar consequences: Once the gluten is removed, it usually needs to be replaced with something. And the junk fillers for gluten are usually flour replacements such as tapioca starch, potato starch or rice starch. Theyre also refined carbs, which give the bloodstream a jolt of sugar. Just as a fat-free SnackWells cookie in 1992 was still a cookie, today a gluten-free toaster pastry is still a toaster pastry.
Focus on healthy dietary patterns overall, such as the well-studied Mediterranean Diet mostly fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grainsrather than focusing on specific nutrients. For example, if your diet is already high in saturated fat, maybe youre best off with a daily habit of 1% milk, but if your all-around eating pattern emphasizes healthy, minimally processed, mostly plant-based foods, youre probably fine opting for 2%.
Should I Check The Cholesterol On Nutrition Labels
Last week I wrote about three heart-health related changes to Canadas nutrition label, and invited readers to submit questions about the label in our Facebook group. One of the questions that popped up:What is your stance on having cholesterol on the labels? Should the focus be on cholesterol, or saturated/trans fats?
Im sharing the response here because I think it will be of interest to many people. Its expanded a bit beyond my Facebook post, but the substance remains the same.
I wouldnt pay much attention to cholesterol on labels.
Youre right, saturated and trans fats have more effect on our bodys cholesterol, although even that seems to differ by type of food. And the overall impact on heart health depends on lots more than that.
Some population studies in people with diabetes find more heart problems in those who eat more eggs . This trend is generally not seen in studies looking at otherwise healthy subjects. They do, however, find a higher chance of developing diabetes in the heavy egg eaters.
Its not clear, however, that the eggs or cholesterol are the cause of these findings. Studies like this can demonstrate association but not causation.
Think about it this way: If someone cuts out eggs, what are they eating instead? Corn Flakes? Thats not helpful. Or are they starting their day with steel-cut oats with walnuts and blueberries?
And thats a smart idea anyhow, to leave room for more artery-friendly fruits, veg, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, etc.
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How Can I Monitor My Cholesterol And What Should I Look For
The American Heart Association recommends that all adults 20 or older have their cholesterol checked every four to six years. Primary care physicians typically carry out cholesterol tests and will be able to explain possible treatment options and cardiovascular health concerns to you. Cholesterol is measured in milligrams per deciliter and there are different healthy ranges depending on type of cholesterol, age, and biological sex.
Anyone Age 19 Or Older:
Men Age 20 Or Older:
Women Age 20 Or Older:
The word cholesterol might trigger alarm bells in your head, but it doesnt need to be a scary topic! There are many options for controlling cholesterol. The most important thing is that you are educated about what your numbers are, what they mean, and what you need to do about them.If your cholesterol test results are less than satisfactory it isnt the end of the world! There are lifestyle changes and drug treatments to manage high cholesterol. Heart healthy eating is incredibly important to manage cholesterol as well as weight management. Even managing stress can be beneficial to your cholesterol levels. For tips about maneuvering high stress look at our stress article from earlier this month! Drug treatment is usually added only if lifestyle changes alone do not fix cholesterol levels. There are many different kinds of cholesterol medicines available and they function in many different ways. Always ask your doctor about what options will be best for you.