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.
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.
3. 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|
- Vegetables including broccoli, peas, lima beans, tomatoes, potatoes with skin, sweet potatoes, and winter squashes
- Dessert foods like cookies, cakes, cupcakes, brownies, doughnuts, etc.
- Oat bran, wheat bran and barley
- Regular soft drinks
- low-fat and non-fat milk, yogurt and cheese
For more of my food tips (all with great savings!), check out my Healthy Living for Less section!