Month of April, 2009
Ask the Dietitian: Cereals Fri, 04/03/2009 - 15:27 - sarah
This week I received this question on my website:
"There are so many different cereals at the grocery store that it's overwhelming. How do I know that I am making the most nutritious choice when I pick out a cereal?"
Yes, there definitely a lot of choices on the cereal aisle. Many grocery stores have 300+ varieties of cold breakfast cereals. So instead of telling you exact brands or names of cereals to choose, I am going to give you a rule of thumb so that you can pick the cereal that you would enjoy the most, while still feeling confident that you made a healthy choice.
First, it is important to remember that the front of the box is the billboard trying to sell you the product. Even the least healthy cereals will try to make you think they're healthy by what they claim on the front of the box. I have seen boxes that claim that the cereal can do everything from helping you lose a jean size in 2 weeks to lowering your cholesterol. These claims sound great, but the only way you can really know what is in the cereal is by ignoring the front of the box and flipping it over to its side and looking at the nutrition facts panel.
Southern Foods Can be Healthy: Try My Sweet Potato Fries Tue, 04/14/2009 - 20:25 - sarah
Living in Nashville, TN, I often hear people talk about their southern comfort foods and say how they wish they were healthy. The truth is a lot of favorite southern foods are naturally healthy, it’s just that often times how we prepare them is not so healthy (deep fried). Take sweet potatoes for instance, sweet potatoes are a southern food through and through. I know this because I was born and raised in Mississippi, home of Vardeman, MS, the Sweet Potato Capital of the World. This beautiful bright-orange vegetable is an excellent source of Vitamin A and beta-carotene, which studies have shown prevent damage to the eye tissue and can possibly reduce the risk of cataracts by 40%! Sweet potatoes are also a good source of Vitamin C, B6, Manganese, potassium, and fiber. In his book “101 Foods that Could Save Your Life,” David Grotto, R.D., L.D.N. (see the “links” page of this website to purchase), reports that studies have shown that Sweet Potatoes have unique cancer-fighting properties and have been shown to improve insulin resistance. Knowing that a food can protect you like that truly is southern comfort!
Put down the marshmallows and sugar, try this recipe for sweet potato fries, a healthy and easy way to prepare your sweet potatoes that highlights their delicious natural flavor!
Sweet Potato Fries
1 large sweet potato
1 tsp. Olive oil
Ask the Dietitian: "Good Carbs, Bad Carbs" and Added Sugars Sat, 04/18/2009 - 19:57 - sarah
Hi everybody! Rusty from Columbia, TN sent me these two nutrition questions this week:
How do you tell the difference between bad carbs and good carbs?
When shopping you may see something having 3 grams of sugar. How can you tell if it is just natural sugar in the product or added sugar with so many different names for sugar?
Great questions, Rusty! Thanks for sending them! To start with your first question, there are no bad foods (not even carbs)! However, there are certainly some foods that are better to choose more often than others.
With your carbohydrate foods, specifically grain foods, you want to make sure that they are whole grains. This means the grain is left totally in tact and has not been stripped away of nutrients and fiber. To see if a product is whole grain or not, do not pay attention to the front of the box. It may say “made with whole grain” or “contains whole grain”, but this probably means it just has a little bit of whole grain in it and it is not 100% whole grain.
Instead, look at the ingredient list. Ingredients are listed in order of the amount in the product, so the first ingredient is what the product has the most of. In grain products, like cereals, breads, crackers, granola bars, etc. you want that first ingredient to be a whole grain such as: whole wheat flour, whole grain flour, whole grain oats, etc. Then you know it is a complex carb and is a great choice for everyday! Also, when choosing other grain foods such as rice, corn, or pasta, be sure to choose the whole grain version as well. This would be whole grain brown rice (in white rice the fiber has been stripped away), whole kernel corn, and 100% whole wheat pasta.
Ask the Dietitian: How Much Sodium is Too Much? Sat, 04/25/2009 - 16:27 - sarah
Hello Everyone! I recieved this great question from Rebecca this week on my website:
Who needs a low salt diet and what are the guidelines for buying low sodium foods?
Great question, Rebecca! Doctors will often perscribe a low sodium diet to people with certain illnesses or conditions, such as congestive heart failure (CHF), high blood pressure, kidney failure, or diabetes. However, most Americans could also benefit from decreasing the amount of sodium in their diet.
The American Heart Association recommends that the average healthy American eat less than 2300mg of sodium per day. For people with risk factors such as those listed above or for those that are middle-aged or older, the recommendation is less than 1500mg.
Sodium does play an important role in our health. It helps to regulate the fluid balance in our bodies as well as plays a role in muscle contraction and nerve function; so we do need some sodium in our diet. The problem is that most Americans eat 18 times more than the amount of sodium they actually need per day.
You may be thinking, "I don't salt my food at the table, so this doesn't apply to me." But before you decide to rule out the need to watch your sodium intake, listen to this. Using table salt only accounts for about 10% of Americans' sodium intake, 75% comes from packaged and processed foods or restuarant foods. Foods such as canned soups, frozen dinners, sauces or sauce mixes, seasonings, snack foods, pickled foods, and deli meats are all particularly bad culprits. Mexican, Chinese, and fast foods are some of the worst when in comes to dining out.