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The Hidden Fats You Don’t Know About In Your Diet

We are all familiar with the fact that pizza, French fries and cheese burgers all contain high amounts of fat; but did you know that even healthy fish and certain vegetables can contain a high level of fat? It is important to bear in mind that fat is an essential part of a healthy diet; and although not all fat is bad, it is wise to evaluated the fat content of your meals in the same way you evaluate the calories.

How Much Fat Is Okay?

Paying attention to the number of grams of fat you eat each day will help you to make sure that your body is getting the correct amount of fat it needs and no more than that.

According to Anne Wolf, RD who is a researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, the recommendation is that the fat content in your diet should form no more than 30% of your total daily calories. Taking the average daily calorie intake of 2,000 calories, this means that most of us should not be eating more than 65 grams of fat per day. Wolf says we are typically eating far more fat than we need.

There are two kinds of fats which are generally considered good fats and bad fats. Trans and saturated fats are not good for us since they are linked to a number of health problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The good fats – unsaturated fats – can actually provide protection to your body from some of these conditions. Having said that, this does not mean that there is no limit to how much of these you can eat. Too much of any fat can lead to weight gain.

When tracking the fat content of your meals, take care to make sure that the majority of the fat you ingest is in the form of unsaturated fats. Saturated fats should form no more than 20 grams of your total, and you should eat hardly any trans fats at all.

Fat In Everyday Foods

If you take into account the types of foods that regularly make up your daily meals, think about the fat content. There are the details on the fat content in some of the most commonly eaten foods:

The average fast-food hamburger contains 36 grams of fat

The average fast-food fish sandwich contains 24 grams of fat

Just 10 French fries contain 8 grams of fat

Just one ounce of potato chips contains a whopping 10 grams of fat

Once slice of cheese pizza contains 8 grams

Two ounces of bologna contains 16 grams of fat

One hot dog contains 14 grams

Three slices of cooked bacon contains 10 grams of fat

One ounce of cheddar cheese contains 8 grams of fat

One cup of whole milk contains 7 grams

Two tablespoons of peanut butter contains 14 grams of fat

One teaspoon of butter or margarine contains 4 grams of fat

One serving of most cereals, bagels and breads contains approximately 1 gram of fat

Although some of these numbers may not look too bad, bear in mind the serving sizes of each food. For example, it is highly unlikely you will eat just 10 French fries or only one slice of pizza.

High Fat Foods That Will Surprise You

The foods mentioned above are no surprise when it comes to fat content; but there are a number of foods that you may not realize contain high fat levels.

Movie theater popcorn

Packaged meals that come with added oil, butter or sauces

Red meats that have a lot of white marbling (the marbling is fat)

The skin of chicken and other poultry

Salad dressings

The biggest culprits when it comes to hidden fat sources are pre-packaged meals and snack foods. These often contain the dangerous trans fats which are generally listed in the ingredients as vegetable shortening or partially hydrogenated oil and are the reason these foods have a longer shelf life. Trans fats are extremely unhealthy and bad for your cholesterol levels and your heart.

It is common knowledge that vegetable oils and olive oil are high in fat; and avocados, olives, nuts and certain types of fish such as sardines, mackerel and salmon also contain high amounts of fats. However, the fats in these foods are all unsaturated (good) fats; although it is still important to control how much of these you eat in order to maintain your weight.

Considering the high fat content of so many foods, it can be easy to exceed the daily fat allowance by lunchtime! If you are aware of you fat intake and choose foods that contain unsaturated fats instead of trans and saturated fats, you will be protecting your heart health and be maintaining a healthy weight at the same time.

Mary D. Jordan / February 11, 2015 / Fat-fighting

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The Danger Of “Healthy” Cereals For Kids

In order to avoid the high levels of sugar that are contained in kids’ cereals, many parents are choosing what they believe is the healthier option of fortified breakfast cereals. However, these cereals could be causing more harm than good due to the dangerous amounts of certain nutrients that are contained in them.

According to a new report by the Environmental Working Group, young children are at risk of consuming quantities of niacin, zinc and vitamin A that are too high for their bodies to cope with. The numbers of children affected are extremely high. The combination of vitamin supplements and food intake mean that over 13 million children in America are ingesting too much zinc, almost 5 million are taking in too much niacin, and over 10 million are ingesting too much vitamin A.

The main reason for the excess is that all three of these nutrients are added to fortified foods in amounts that have been calculated for adults, not for children. Because age-appropriate labeling on products that are specifically targeted to children is not a requirement, and because the daily values for the majority of minerals and vitamins on food labels have not been updated by the FDA since 1968, the nutritional information on food labels adds to the confusion for parents. Many parents do not read the labels and are instead swayed by the prominent marketing claims on the packaging of cereals that could be potentially misleading, promoting high fortification levels in order to give the impression that their products are more nutritious.

The EWG identifies in one component of the report, 23 cereals that have the highest added doses of niacin, zinc and vitamin A. For children of 8 years old and younger a single serving of one of these cereals would exceed the safe limit recommended by the Institute of Medicine. A few of the well-known, popular cereals included on this list were: Kellogg’s All Bran Complete; Kashi U With Black Currants And Walnuts, and General Mills Total Raisin Bran.

What Is The Danger In Overdoing These Nutrients?

Routinely ingesting too much vitamin A can, in time, lead to a variety of health problems including peeling skin, skeletal abnormalities, hair loss, brittle nails and liver damage. Zinc levels that are too high can impair the body’s ability to absorb copper. Copper is already low in the diets of many Americans and low levels of copper can lead to fatigue and anemia. High levels of zinc can also have a negative effect on the immune function and on red and white blood cells. Although niacin is not as toxic as zinc and vitamin A, too much of it can cause short term symptoms like vomiting, nausea and rash.

Clinical dietitian and director of sports nutrition at Texas Children’s Hospital, Roberta Anding says that the EWG’s report highlights the fact that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. She also reports that she sees an equal number of patients with nutrition poisoning to the number she sees that have nutrition deficiencies. She points out that many people are unaware that minerals and vitamins can act like drugs inside the body; and that in the same way you would not take three times the recommended dosage of an antibiotic in order to benefit from three times the protection – in fact that level of dosage would cause harm to your body – taking more than the recommended amount of nutrients can have a similar effect.

How To Get Your Kids To Eat Healthy

The first step is to make sure that your children are eating a well-rounded diet of a variety of whole foods. Anding says that the idea is to put together a combination of beautiful food on a plate that consists of vegetables, fruits, lean protein and whole grains.

Be wary of foods in packaging that have flashy marketing claims, and pay more attention to the food labels. Anding recommends avoiding foods that contain more than 25% of the recommended daily value of any nutrients. She also points out that it is not only cereals that are to blame. Many products are fortified, including snack bars, yogurts, juices and waters; and any of these could send your child’s (or your own) nutrient levels beyond the healthy point.

Regarding daily multivitamins for children, according to Anding these should only be used when an aversion, allergy or fussy eating results in a major food group missing from your child’s diet.

Mary D. Jordan / February 6, 2015 / Choose food wisely

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The Benefits Of Fiber In Your Diet

If you have found it difficult to stick to a calorie restricted diet because you are always hungry, fiber may be the answer. Nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Works in Louisville, Ky explains that fiber keeps you fuller for longer. After eating fiber you do not get as hungry as quickly; this means it makes it much easier for those who are trying to cut down their calorie intake.

Although fiber is a carbohydrate, unlike other carbohydrates your body doesn’t break it down, says Meyerowitz.

As Meyerowitz continues to explain, simple carbohydrates do not offer the same filling benefits. Fiber causes you to feel more satisfied and it does not make the blood sugar increase as quickly as simple carbohydrates. This controls addition of sugar to your system, making it more steady.

Apart from its benefits as a diet aid, there are many additional health benefits you can get from fiber which include:

Reducing the risk of diabetes; improving digestion; reducing constipation; improving digestion; regulation of blood sugar; and a lower risk of diverticulitis or inflammation of the intestines.

Good Dietary Sources Of Fiber

The healthiest foods and edible plants contain a high level of fiber. These included fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Fiber can be soluble or insoluble. These two types of fiber act differently in your body while they are being processed, according to Meyerowitz. Simply put, soluble fiber can dissolve in water to a certain extent while insoluble fiber cannot.

It is better to get the fiber your body needs each day from foods you eat rather than from supplements. The majority of people need between 20 and 35 grams of fiber daily. Excellent sources of fiber include:

Whole-grain cereals, pastas and breads

Vegetables and fruits

Brown rice

Popcorn

Dried beans

Oatmeal

Although it is important to make sure your body is getting enough fiber in your diet, it is also important to not increase your intake all at once. Increasing your fiber intake gradually will help to avoid side effects like abdominal pain, gas, bloating and diarrhea.

Smart Choices Of Fiber In Your Diet

Once you know which foods are rich in fiber it is time to find ways to include them in your daily snacks and meals. Here are a few tips that will help you to get more fiber each day:

Eat whole-grain cereal or oatmeal for breakfast along with fresh fruit.

Eat your vegetables and fruits raw and leave the skins on in order to get more fiber from them.

Choose dried or fresh fruits for your snacks.

Choose couscous, barley or bulgur as a side dish.

Switch from white rice to brown.

Eat popcorn as a healthy fiber-rich snack.

Add vegetables to all of your meals.

Eat whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta.

Make sure that you eat a minimum of two and a half cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit each day. Choose fruit and vegetables that are particularly high in fiber such as apples, spinach, peas, sweet potatoes, berries and pears.

Bran muffins make a great fiber-rich snack or breakfast food.

Fiber is one of the healthiest things you can eat in addition to being filling and delicious. There are many easy ways to make fiber a big part of each day in a tasty way; and you will notice the benefits quickly. It’s a simple, easy way to feel satisfied while getting your body into a healthy state.

Mary D. Jordan / February 6, 2015 / Choose food wisely