Earlier this week I told you that certain foods and food components are consumed in excessive amounts and may increase the risk of certain chronic diseases.
But I didn’t tell you what these foods and food components were.
Is the suspense killing you?
Check out the following information from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.
On average, the higher an individual’s sodium intake, the higher the individual’s blood pressure. Keeping blood pressure in the normal range reduces an individual’s risk of cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.
Virtually all Americans consume more sodium than they need. The estimated average intake of sodium for all Americans ages 2 years and older is about 3,400 mg per day.
The recommendation is to cut daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African-American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population, including children, and most adults.
Research indicates that higher intake of most dietary saturated fatty acids is linked to higher levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in the blood. Higher total and LDL cholesterol levels are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Saturated fatty acids contribute an average of 11 percent of calories to the diet.
The recommendation is to consume less than 10 % of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
A number of studies have observed an association between increased trans fatty acid intake and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Therefore, the recommendation is to keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible by limiting foods that contain synthetic sources of trans fats, such as partially hydrogenated oils, and by limiting other solid fats.
The body’s response to sugars does not depend on whether they added or naturally occurring in foods but sugars found naturally in foods are part of the food’s total package of nutrients and other healthful components. In contrast, many foods that contain added sugars often supply calories leading to weight gain, but supply few or no essential nutrients and no dietary fiber. Both naturally occurring sugars and added sugars also increase the risk of dental caries.
Added sugars contribute an average of 16 percent of the total calories in American diets.
The recommendation is to reduce as much as possible, the intake of calories from added sugars.
The refining of whole grains involves a process that results in the loss of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Most refined grains are enriched with some, but not all, of the vitamins and minerals that were removed during the reining process. Enriched refined grain products have a positive role in providing some vitamins and minerals. However, when consumed beyond recommended levels, they commonly provide excess calories.
On average, Americans consume 6.3 ounce-equivalents of reined grains per day.
At the 2,000-calorie level, the recommended amount of refined grains is no more than 3 ounce equivalents per day. This recommendation may be different for your calorie level.
What You Need to Know
If you don’t understand exactly what some of these recommendations mean, or think that following them would require way too much time and effort, you are not alone.
So forget everything I said and simply start by following these simple tips. Stick with me, ask questions, and I will try to keep it dead simple to eat healthfully.
- Instead of salt or salt-containing seasonings, try adding flavor to your meals with lemon or lime juice or zest, fresh herbs, hot peppers, or balsamic vinegar.
- When preparing foods at home, replace solid fats (e.g., butter and lard) with vegetable oils that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (e.g., olive, canola, or soybean oil).
- Read ingredient labels and skip foods that contain the words shortening, or hydrogenated to limit trans fats.
- Replace sports drinks and sugar-sweetened fruit drinks with water and unsweetened beverages.
- When eating out, ask for brown rice, whole wheat bread, corn or wheat tortillas, or whole wheat pasta. Seek out restaurants that are willing to accommodate your healthful requests.
We got a few correct answers but…
July’s official Smarty-Pants is Kim!
You will probably want to tell everyone you know that you are the July Smarty-Pants.
Make it your Facebook update. Put it on your résumé. Include it in your Christmas letter.
- July 2012 Smarty-Pants Quiz (projecteatme.wordpress.com)