The old saying “you can’t believe everything you read” shouldn’t refer to the black and white Nutrition Facts label printed on packaged food products.
While marketing words such as ‘all natural’ and ‘made with whole grains’ are often part of the manufacturer’s package design; each line listed on the Nutrition Facts panel is closely regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. But, it’s not always easy to translate milligrams into choices for healthier meals. That’s why the FDA recently announced a new and improved version highlighting the nutrients considered most important. Calories will be printed in bigger, bolder print and serving sizes will be in amounts usually consumed. The current Nutrition Facts label may identify a serving of pickles as ¾ of a spear. Who eats ¾ of a pickle?
“Our understanding of a ‘serving size’ has changed over the years. The new Panel now lists serving size as what is typically eaten in one sitting,” says Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson registered dietitian Lori Zanini.
The serving size for soft drinks will increase from eight ounces to 12 ounces. Bagels and muffins will increase from two to four ounce servings.
One of the sweetest improvements to the Nutrition Facts label is adding a new line revealing how much sugar has been added to a product above and beyond the sugars naturally occurring in food such as milk and fruit.
“The new labels will help consumers looking at labels for things like yogurt, jams, or cereals know how much of the sugar comes from fruit or milk, and how much comes from added sugars,” said Michael F. Jacobson, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. CSPI first petitioned the FDA to put added sugars on Nutrition Facts labels in 1999.
Say goodbye to Vitamin A and C which will no longer be listed on labels because most Americans are already getting the recommended amounts.
Say hello to Vitamin D and potassium which will be listed for the first time and needed for bone and heart health, respectively. “Many people do not consume these nutrients in sufficient amounts,” Zanini said.
Let’s hope easier reading will lead to healthier eating. Registered dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix said, “Read it before you eat it.”
Ok, Ok we all know that we’re supposed to eating less sugar. The average American consumes between 22 and 30 teaspoons of sugar per day and according to advice from the new US Dietary Guidelines it should be more like 11 or 12 teaspoons per day. Whoops! Time to cut the sugar habit in half.
US Dietary Guidelines advise we limit Added Sugars to less than 10 percent of total calories. So, if you’re an average adult consuming 2000 calories per day, that means 200 calories for added sugar – or about 12 teaspoons. This DOESN’t include the natural sugars in fruit and dairy. That’s good news.
Which I shared on NBC Atlanta & Company this week with happy, healthy host Christine Pullara. She was game for a blind fold taste test! Tune in here: SWEET NEWS
Sweet Treats with Healthy Taste
If you want to keep the sweet without busting your sugar budget try some of the delicious new products -such as Chobani SImply 100 Greek yogurt -sweetened with natural sweeteners such as evaporated cane sugar, stevia and monk fruit. Monk fruit is a tiny melon grown in Asia and is so super sweet that a tiny bit of it adds big sweetness to foods and drinks so it’s super low calorie. And it’s super to work with Chobani on nutrition education projects such as this!
Chobani Simply 100 Greek Yogurts are a great choice because they contain 75% less sugar than regular yogurt and because it’s Greek yogurt, they’re a great source of protein ( 12 grams per serving) and chicory root is added to up the fiber content to 5 grams per serving.
What’s the 100 stand for? 100 calories. (:
If you want some crunch in your yogurt snack Chobani Simply 100 Crunch contains a little ‘side car’ of dried strawberries and dark chocolate covered rice crisps. Sweet, crunchy and still 100 calories.
So Why is Sugar Limited in the Diet?
Here’s the sour situation. Consuming too much sugar racks up the calories which can ratchet up the extra pounds on the scale leading to obesity which increases your odds of getting diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Is sugar poison? NO! It’s just that too much sugar is just, well TOO much for our bodies.
Think of it like sunshine. A little sun is good and actually boosts our body’s ability to create healthy vitamin D. But, as we ALL know too much sun leads to sunburn which leads to skin cancer.
So, let’s get a little sun for good health and enjoy a little sugar for happy taste buds.
On your mark, get set, go! The brand spanking new US Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) have just been released. They’re based on the latest and greatest food and nutrition research and are translated into advice on what we should be eating MORE of and what we should be eating LESS of to promote good health and prevent chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. US Health and Human Services Secretary Syliva Burwell says, “We can’t get broccoli to taste like ice cream but we can give Americans tools to choose healthier eating patterns.” That’s my favorite quote of the day!
Here’s a link to my sassy summary of the new DGA’s on WXIA Channel 11, Atlanta.
Go to www.choosemyplate.gov and you’ll find an easy summary and how-to follow for the new dietary guidelines which are good until until 2020, by the way. The guidelines are released every five years. A lot can change and a few things did this time, too.
Sweet call out– for the first time the advice on sugar is to limit added sugars to less than 10% of total calories. They are referring to the extra sugar added to coffee, tea, sodas or even to yogurts. They’re not talking about the naturally occurring sugars in dairy products and fruit. So keep an eye on the grams of sugar listed on the Nutrition Facts Label on foods and drinks you buy. Bonnie Taub Dix, registered dietitian nutritionist, explains it really well here.
“Sugar: The guidelines suggest that added sugars should not account for more than “10 percent of total energy.” So what does that mean? Here’s the quick math: The average caloric recommendation equals 2,000 calories (even though that’s more than many of us need). So 10 percent of 2,000 calories equals 200 calories. Then 200 calories of sugar equal 50 grams (g) of sugar. One can of cola soda has 35 g of sugar. One bottle of water has zero grams of sugar.”Bonnie Taub-Dix, MS RDN
Cholesterol Gets a Pass- Sort of:
Dietary cholesterol, found in foods such as eggs and shrimp, is NOT associated with increased blood cholesterol levels, so the new DGA’s no NOT include a limit on dietary cholesterol. Enjoy your eggs as part of the list of healthy protein foods encouraged. How about celebrating with a low country shrimp boil from the Slim Down South Cookbook?
But, saturated fat, the kind in heavily marbled beef and in bacon, IS associated with increased blood cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease so the new DGA’s limit saturated fat intake to less than 10% of total calorie intake.
Bonne Taub-Dix to the rescue again, “Less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats. The Nutrition Facts label can be used to check for saturated fats. Foods that are high in saturated fat include butter, whole milk, meats that are not labeled as lean, and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil.”
The recipes and road rules for slim and trim healthy eating in The Slim Down South Cookbook follow the new US Dietary Guidelines in a delicious and nutritious way.
How about starting with eating more vegetable based protein with a Slow Cooker Veggie Chili. A super food for the Super Bowl. Great for game day or any day!!!!
Here’s the recipe!
Slow-Cooker Veggie Chili
Corn, beans, and squash are known as the Three Sisters in Native American agriculture because they can be grown at the same time in the same soil. This tasty, easy recipe makes enough to feed you and up to 15 sisters.
Makes 16 servings
Hands-On 20 min.
Total 8 hours, 20 min.
4 medium carrots, diced (1 cup)
2 celery ribs, diced (½ cup)
1 medium-size sweet onion, diced (1¼ cups)
Vegetable cooking spray
2 (8-oz.) packages cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 large zucchini, chopped (2 cups)
1 yellow squash, chopped (1 cup)
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. seasoned pepper
¼ tsp. salt
1 (16-oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (16-oz.) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5-oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Whether it’s chocolate milk on a school lunch menu or fruit flavored yogurt eaten during a coffee break, there’s something you might not know about the grams of sugar listed on the Nutrition Facts label of dairy products. The total number of grams includes the amount of the naturally occurring milk sugar called lactose. (By the way, the “-ose” ending on words in the nutrition world let’s you know this compound is a type of sugar such as lactose, sucrose, glucose or fructose.) For instance, when you see that an 8 ounce glass of chocolate milk contains 27 grams of total sugar consider that 12 grams of this comes from the naturally occurring milk sugar lactose; leaving 15 grams or about 60 calories worth from sucrose added to sweeten the milk. The problem is that the Nutrition Facts label doesn’t require “added sugars” be revealed separately. The same goes for fruit flavored yogurts; the sugar content listed is a total of added sugars from the fruit preserves and the lactose in the milk used to make the yogurt. Chocolate Milk Makeovers Because of concerns about consumption of sugar, “We do get parents who say get rid of flavored milk” says registered dietitian Marilyn Yon, Compliance Specialist with Georgia’s School Nutrition Program, “but we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Yon shares nutrition research with parents that shows compared to kids who drink plain milk, children who drink flavored milk consume more milk overall and fewer soft drinks and sweetened fruit drinks. They also get more calcium, vitamin D and potassium.”
Nationwide, chocolate milk producers today are working to lower the amount of added sugars as well as introducing fat free versions to lower calories and improve the overall nutrition profile of chocolate milk, especially for school food service. California milk processors make fat-free chocolate milk for schools with only 10 grams of added sugars per cup. Yon says Georgia will introduce the slimmed down, lower sugar recipe for flavored milks starting in August for the next school year, “We’re previewing a new flavored milk made by Mayfield Dairy that is fat free and the sugar content has been lowered from 25 grams to 22 grams with 10 grams of added sugars. We’re hoping other smaller milk providers will follow statewide.” But, will kids drink it? Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., Professor of Nutrition at the University of Vermont and member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Science Board, tested children’s acceptance of lower-calorie flavored milks. Johnson shares, “We measured children’s actual consumption of traditional flavored milk and compared it with children consuming lower-calorie flavored milk and found there was no difference in how much milk the kids drank. The children in our study accepted the “healthier” milk.” The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity detailed 70 recommendations to eradicate childhood obesity within the next two generations. One of them aimed at food service providers advises “Be Creative. Host a kids’ tasting event … and let kids guide you in developing new items that are tasty and appealing.” I bet they’ll choose the chocolate milk, even if it is lower in fat and sugar.