Friday, May 11, 2007

Food Labeling: Part 3

In this blog I will revisit the food label with emphasis on the nutrients. Our understanding of food labels will empower the choices we make with regard to the foods we most commonly eat and the ingredients we use in cooking.

The nutrients listed first (in yellow) are the ones we are concerned with for weight loss, heart health, and for many of us, blood pressure reduction/regulation.

Nutrients (Yellow, White, and Blue)

The Ones to Watch

In the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 published by the United States Executive Office of the President and the Department of Health and Human Services, four key recommendations are made about fats:

  1. We should consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids and less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, while keeping trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible.

  2. Our total fat intake should be less than 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids sources, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.

  3. We should select and prepare meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products that are lean, low-fat, or fat-free.

  4. We should limit our intake of fats and oils high in saturated and/or trans fatty acids, and choose foods low in these fats and oils.

Eating too much fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, or sodium may increase our risk of heart disease, some cancers, or high blood pressure. Therefore, we need to limit our intake of these fats and cholesterol keeping the amounts as low as possible.

My personal limits are, no more than 20% of my calories from fat, no trans fats, less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and less than 1500 mg/day of sodium. By limiting my consumption of all fats to less than 20% of my daily calories, the saturated fat and cholesterol take care of themselves. I haven’t had to think about them. I’ve found from personal experience that limiting sodium, losing over 20% of my initial body weight, and exercising 3-4 times per week has brought my blood pressure from sky high, to low normal.

The Ones to Maximize (Blue)

Average American diets don't usually contain enough dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Eating enough of these nutrients can improve your health, help with weight loss, and help reduce the risk of some diseases. Eating a diet high in dietary fiber promotes healthy bowel function. Additionally, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and grain products that contain dietary fiber, particularly soluble fiber, and low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. The fiber-containing grains can help you to feel full while consuming fewer calories and increasing the health of your heart, while the fruits and vegetables add micro- and phyto-nutrients to your healthy diet.

In the next and final installment of this series on food nutrition labels, we will examine the Daily Values and the label footnote.

Here is my recap from the last two days.

Daily Dietary Recap-5/9/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1226.24 45.39 g 212.9 g983.06 mg 16.13 g 11.45%

Daily Dietary Recap-5/10/2007
Calories Protein Carbohydrates SodiumFat % Calories from Fat
1349.82 74.99 g 216.57 g1078.01 mg 20.99 g 13.83%

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