Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The New Nutrition Facts Panel

After 23 years the FDA is making changes to the nutrition facts panel which will apply to all packaged foods over the next two to three years. 

Serving sizes have expanded greatly over the years. New rules will require panels to list serving sizes that are typically consumed in one sitting, helping to eliminate the need for consumers to multiply several servings and  daily values to understand how much has been consumed. For example one 20-ounce soda will be listed as one serving for the bottle, rather than 2.5 servings in the bottle.

Many Americans do not consume enough potassium or vitamin D, therefore food panels will now include amounts to help consumers better reach the recommended daily amount; 4700mg of potassium and 600 IU vitamin D for most people. Listing vitamin A and vitamin C will no longer be required because Americans typically consume the recommended amounts of these vitamins.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended reducing added    sugar intake to less than 100 calories (25g) for women and 150 calories (37g) for men daily. The new nutrition panel requires listing of   added sugars as a sub-item under total sugar content. The Daily Value for added sugar will also be updated on the food panel, so as not to exceed 10 percent of total calories, currently based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

The new changes should be easier for consumers to read, and help guide healthier food choices. Manufacturers will need to start using the new food panel by July, 26, 2018; however smaller companies are given an additional year to comply.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Eat Your Almonds

Could eating almonds save your life? Studies show eating one ounce of nuts (23 almonds) daily can reduce your risk of heart disease. In fact several of the largest cohort studies show a consistent 30-50% lower risk of heart attack, sudden cardiac death, and cardiovascular disease from eating nuts several times each week.

Different nuts offer many different health benefits. Almonds are a great source of protein, magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, calcium, fiber, and healthy unsaturated fat. At 160 calories per ounce, almonds make a satisfying snack, reduce food cravings, and can help prevent overeating later on.

Studies show people who ate 1 to 1.5 ounces of almonds daily were more successful at losing weight and decreasing abdominal fat mass. Other studies indicated improvements in LDL “bad” cholesterol. Almonds have also been shown to decrease blood sugar levels after a meal and promote a healthy GI tract with their prebiotic properties.

Raw, unsalted almonds are the healthiest. Steer clear of almonds roasted in oil or with lots of added sugar or salt. Chocolate covered almonds may sound tasty but they are not the best for you.

Grabbing several handfuls of nuts daily is not recommended  either. Just one small handful of nuts can have 160-180 calories, which can add up to 18 pounds of weight gain or more in a year if you don’t cut back on something else. Weight gain increases heart disease risk and may outweigh the health benefits nuts provide.

If portion control is a problem look for individually portioned 100 calorie packs of nuts at your grocery store, or make your own by counting out 14 almonds and placing them into zip lock bags.

Monday, May 2, 2016

It’s Mango Season

 Mangoes from Mexico and Central America are coming into season and showing up in grocery stores all over the U.S.

Juicy, pulpy, and sweet the mango is a stone fruit native to South Asia. Its popularity makes it one of the most cultivated fruits in the tropics, with almost half of the worlds production coming from India (18 million metric tons). In the U.S. mangos thrive in Southern Florida and California’s Coachella Valley.

Mango trees are massive, growing 131 ft tall and are long-lived, bearing fruit even after 300 years. There are several different varieties of mangos all with different colored skin, texture, and flavor.

The Champagne mango, also called the Ataulfo mango, is small, has a thin seed, and has pale yellow flesh. The fruit is creamier and smoother than other varieties and has a sweet and tangy taste.

The Haitian mango, also called the Francis mango, is large, has a light greenish-yellowish speckled skin, and has dark orange flesh. The fruit has a sweet caramel-like taste.

The most popular variety found in markets is called the Tommy Atkins mango. It is large, has a red and green skin, and has orange flesh. The fruit is a bit more fibrous and sticky compared to other varieties.

Whichever mango you select this season enjoy the health benefits of vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, and folate.