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4 Nutrients You Should Know & Love

Learn more about four nutrients you should know and love… and two you should give the cold shoulder!

This is week three of National Nutrition Month, and the third installment of how to use the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 in real life to go from expert recommendations to everyday healthy habits.

Maggie Moon, MS, RD

Maggie Moon, MS, RD

While “everything in moderation” is a mantra you may have heard, like most things — there are exceptions. Nobody likes to be the food police, but truth be told, of course there are good and bad foods (and good and bad habits), and most people know the difference.

I’m not talking about the artisanal champagne truffle or dry-aged steak dinner you enjoy once a year; but I am talking about everyday choices that can make a big impact on your everyday sense of wellbeing.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 feature four superstar nutrients most Americans need to be eating more of, and two that most of us could do with less of — all in the interest of living healthy, vibrant lives.

Fab 4: Potassium, Fiber, Calcium & Vitamin D

All of the fab 4 are nutrients that are essential for good health, but that Americans aren’t getting enough of.

1. Potassium is a multi-purpose mineral that helps out in all kinds of ways. It helps the body build proteins, metabolize carbs, is required for building muscle and essential for keeping the heart beating regularly. Impressive! Find it in all fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Check out the table below for more popular food sources.

2. Dietary fiber helps you feel full faster to help with weight control. It also helps with healthy digestion. Plus, it’s an important part of a low-cholesterol heart-healthy diet. The average American eats about 10 to 15 grams a day when the recommendation for older children, adolescents, and adults is twice that: 20 to 35 grams per day. Fiber is in beans and peas, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Check out the table below for more popular food sources.

FreshDirect Fresh Food Box3. Calcium. Muscles need it to function, so do nerves and blood vessels. It also supports strong bones and teeth. It’s naturally found in dairy foods, some vegetables and seafood, and is also added to foods. Check out the table below for more popular food sources.

4. Vitamin D helps nearly every part of the body. It works with calcium to build bones and teeth and keeps them strong. Find it in fatty fish, eggs, mushrooms, and the variety of fortified milks, juices and foods it’s added to. Check out the table below for more popular food sources.

Dangerous Duo: Solid Fats and Added Sugars

There’s a new word being bandied about by healthcare professionals: SoFAS (“SOF-awz”, like the couch). It stands for Solid Fats and Added Sugars, and highlights two of the major offenders in the battle against the bulge (not to mention heart health).

1. Solid fats are responsible for nearly 20% of all our calories in America lately, and don’t offer much else in terms of essential nutrients and dietary fiber. There’s no biological need for them in the diet. Common sources are baked desserts, pizzas and cheese. Check out the table below for common food sources.

2. Added sugars, like solid fats, often add calories without doing a great job in the nutrient and fiber department. Though the body responds to natural and added sugars in the same way, the natural sugar in fruits and milk are part of a total food package with a lot of other nutrients and healthful benefits, but added sugar simply adds calories.

In fact, added sugars make up about 16% of Americans’ calories lately. They show up on labels as high fructose corn syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, raw sugar, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose and crystal dextrose. Check out the table below for common food sources.

Eat More of This Eat Less of That
Potassium Foods:

- Vegetables including broccoli, peas, lima beans, tomatoes, potatoes with skin, sweet potatoes, and winter squashes
- Fruits including citrus fruits, cantaloupe, bananas, kiwi, prunes and apricots. Dried apricots contain more potassium than fresh apricots.
- Low-fat and non-fat milk and yogurt
- Nuts, soy milk and veggie burgers
- Lean meat, poultry, and fish such as salmon, cod, flounder and sardines

Solid Fats:

- Dessert foods like cookies, cakes, cupcakes, brownies, doughnuts, etc.
- Pizza (sorry!)
- Regular cheese
- Sausage, franks, bacon, and ribs
- Fried white potatoes
- Palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil
- Fatty cuts of beef, veal, lamb, pork, lard, poultry, butter, cream and whole milk

Fiber Foods:

- Oat bran, wheat bran and barley
- Nuts and seeds including walnuts, almonds, pistachios and pepitas
- Beans, lentils and peas
- Fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears and plums
- Whole grains like brown rice, bulgur, whole wheat cous cous and wild rice

Added Sugars:

- Regular soft drinks
- Sugars and candy
- Cakes, cookies and pies
- Fruit drinks (fruitades and fruit punch)
- Ice cream, sweetened yogurt and sweetened milk
- Carb-heavy sweets like cinnamon toast and honey-nut waffles

Calcium:

- low-fat and non-fat milk, yogurt and cheese
- Vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, kale and broccoli
- Fortified fruit juices and drinks, tofu and cereals
- Sardines (with bones)

 
Vitamin D

- Salmon
- Mackerel
- Tuna fish
- Sardines
- Egg yolks
- Mushrooms
- Fortified milks including soy and almond milks, orange juices, yogurts, vegetable oil spreads and cereals

 

For more of my food tips (all with great savings!), check out my Healthy Living for Less section!

One Response to 4 Nutrients You Should Know & Love

  1. Pingback: Nutrients: What’s Hot, What’s Not « Maggie Moon, MS, RD

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