Filed under: Nutrition
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrition researchers publish a quarterly online newsletter with reports of discoveries from their laboratories. They also provide information on agricultural issues and health findings important to all of us. Click here to read about these recent nutrition and health findings.
Do you know what a serving size is for different food groups? Here are a few helpful tips for standard serving sizes:
A one-cup serving of cereal or other grain is about the size of your fist; one medium fruit is about the size of a baseball; a half-cup serving of ice cream is about half a baseball; three ounces of meat, fish or poultry is the size of a deck of cards. For more helpful hints on serving sizes click here.
Experts from MedicineNet, the American Dietetic Association, and the Cleveland Clinic developed a heart-healthy food pictures slideshow. Besides pictures, the slideshow also includes menu ideas to help you easily use these foods in your daily diet. The foods that protect against heart disease include: salmon, flaxseed, oatmeal, black or kidney beans, almonds, walnuts, red wine, tuna, tofu, brown rice, soy milk, blueberries, carrots, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, asparagus, oranges, tomatoes, acorn squash, cantaloupe, papaya, dark chocolate, and squash.
To keep your cholesterol in check, eat smaller portions, include more fruits and vegetables in your diet, and eat more fish. Consider starting your day with whole grains. Include nuts as snacks or in your meals. Use olive or canola oil rather than butter. Include more beans and fewer potatoes. Exercise, manage your stress, and follow your doctor’s advice. Check out the Lowering Cholesterol Slideshow for more details.
Mypyramid.gov is a useful tool to track your daily food choices and log your physical activity. It also offers personalized eating plans, healthy menu tips, suggestions for making healthy food choices from all food groups, and strategies to stay active.
Milk and milk products provide calcium which is important for bone health. Choose low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt to reduce your intake of fat and calories. Switching from whole milk to 1% milk will save 50 calories and over 5 grams of fat per serving. Try using low or fat-free yogurts and milk in dips, salad dressings, and cream soups.
Although salt is an essential nutrient, very little is needed in the diet. High-salt diets are associated with increased blood pressure and higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Reduce your intake by using fresh or frozen vegetables not canned; cooking with fresh meat, fish, and poultry rather than processed or canned; and using salt-free seasonings, spices, and herbs. Avoid instant and prepackaged foods. If you do eat canned foods, rinse the contents to wash off excess salt. Read these links for more ideas: HealthDay News and American Heart Association.
Eggs are a good source of protein but the yolks are high in cholesterol; egg whites are cholesterol-free. A diet high in cholesterol may contribute to high blood cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease. Experts recommend that you limit your cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg a day if you are a healthy individual and less than 200 mg a day if you have heart condition. Since one egg has about 213 mg of cholesterol, consider limiting other sources of cholesterol on days you eat eggs. The Mayoclinic offers tips to reduce cholesterol intake.
We don’t give much thought to our skeletal systems until we do something that results in a broken bone. But bones play a vital role in a person’s general health and fitness. Our bones support us, allow us to move, and protect our vital organs from injury. They also store minerals—such as calcium and phosphorus—that are released into the bloodstream when our systems need them, for example, for muscle contractions.
Bone loss usually occurs gradually over a long period of time. By taking steps now to maintain healthy bones, you could ward off medical conditions such as osteoporosis.
One way to maintain optimal bone health is to eat foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. Without enough vitamin D, the body cannot absorb enough calcium from the foods we eat. This causes calcium to be taken our bones, which prevents the growth of new bone and results in weaker bones.
Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products, nuts and seeds, beans, broccoli and other leafy green vegetables, and fortified products such as orange juice that have added calcium. Good sources of vitamin D are egg yolks, fatty fish, beef liver, and milk with vitamin D. We also make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun, although not everyone is able to get enough vitamin D this way.
Another way to keep your bones strong is to engage in physical activity. The best exercises are the strength-building and weight-bearing kinds such as walking, climbing, lifting weights, and dancing.
Other ways to maintain bone health include preventing falls by reducing the risk factors that you can control. Improve your balance and strength through exercise, maintain good vision, and make sure that your home is free of “falling dangers” such as poor lighting and loose rugs. Risk factors such as smoking, alcohol, medications, and body weight are also controllable. Smoking cigarettes, like vitamin D deficiency, can keep your body from using the calcium in your diet. Alcohol and certain medications (glucocorticoids, for example) also can cause your bones to become weak or lose mass. Moreover, being too thin increases one’s risk of developing weak bones that are more likely to break. If necessary, boost your diet with calcium and vitamin D supplements. Also consider talking to your physician about your bone health.
You may have heard again and again how important calcium and vitamin D are. Maybe you’ve even taken some or all of the steps above. But if you haven’t, start now and take action! Eat the right foods and exercise for strong bones.
With so many fruit juices on grocery shelves, do you find yourself asking, “Which one do I choose?"
With so many fruit juices on grocery shelves, do you find yourself asking “Which one do I choose?" Look for fruit juices that are labeled “100 percent fruit juice” and read the ingredients. Juices that contain high fructose corn syrup or other sugars are an be labeled as a fruit drink, fruit punch, or fruit cocktail. These drinks add calories and contribute to obesity. Choose 100 percent fruit juice to optimize nutrition with natural ingredients, vitamins, minerals, and no artificial flavorings or sweeteners.