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October 27th, 2015

choosing the “right” food

By KIND Editor

Nowadays it can be very confusing when you walk down the aisles of the supermarket. We are constantly being bombarded with mixed messages from the media, our friends and family, as to what we should be eating if we want to be healthy. At times it might even feel like you need a nutrition degree to go food shopping. Hey, even as a registered dietitian it is sometimes hard to keep up.

Here’s a little help:

1. Know Your Healthy Fats
Fats are big in the media headlines right now. Some media outlets will have you believe that saturated fat, i.e. butter, whole fat dairy, heavy cream, bacon, is back in favor. The problem with this is that there is NO conclusive scientific evidence to support health benefits. However, there is to date research that confirms monounsaturated fats, i.e. nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado, are good for us and are part of a healthy diet. So, when looking at a nutrition facts label don’t be as concerned with total fat but rather the type of fat.

2. Pack a Protein Punch
Everywhere you turn another food product promotes how much protein it contains. Yes, protein is needed for normal body function, especially to maintain and repair our muscles. Also, along with fat, it can help with satiety at mealtime. The average, healthy American can easily meet their protein needs by eating three well-balanced meals and one snack per day. If your energy bar or sports drink is touting over 15grams per serving, you might want to think twice about purchasing. More is not better.

3. Choose Wholesome Whole Grains
Our bodies need carbohydrates to function properly; however, many individuals believe they should be excluded from their diet. The problem is this – they don’t understand that there are different types of carbohydrates. One hundred percent whole grains (such as barley, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth), whole fruit, and veggies are carbs that have numerous health benefits, including fiber; versus cookies, cakes, soda and candy which have minimal, if any nutrition. Look at the grams of fiber on the nutrition facts label (found under the carbohydrates), the higher the grams typically the better choice.

4. The Sweet Truth about Sugar
Not all sugar is bad for you. There is a definite difference between added sugar and naturally occurring. Naturally occurring is found in fresh fruit, dried fruit and dairy (as in the form of lactose) and provides health promoting vitamins and minerals. Added sugar, such as honey, table sugar, evaporated cane juice, and molasses, provide mostly just calories. Read the ingredient label on all products to see where the sugar is coming from.

Bottom line: Don’t believe every new headline in the news. Trust conclusive science and those who accurately report on it.

—Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN
Keri Gans is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Spokesperson and Media Personality with a private practice in New York City. She is the author of “The Small Change Diet”, a Shape Magazine Advisory Board Member and blogger for US News & World Report. Keri is also a past Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the past president of The New York State Dietetic Association.

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