Rhode Island Monthly Whole Woman 2014 : Page 3

Percent Daily Values Dissecting Food Labels The FDA is proposing a new nutrition facts labeling system to bring the most important information to the forefront. Dr. Mary Flynn, a dietitian at Miriam Hospital, shares tips on how to use these changes to your advantage when interpreting the fi ne print of labels. —M.C. Appropriate Portions Arbitrary serving sizes can make something that actually contains multiple servings, like a twenty-ounce bottle of soda, seem healthier than it really is. The proposed changes refl ect how much one person actually consumes in one sitting. Flynn says these percentages can be confusing and cause people to think that they need 100 percent of everything every day. INSTEAD of agonizing over percentages, Flynn recommends looking to the absolute values, listed as grams or milligrams, to get a handle on a product’s content. Fat If a food has fat, Flynn says that looking at the saturated and total fat values can be misleading. Saturated fats coming from red meats are related to certain diseases while those from dairy products are not. INSTEAD of looking at the percentages and absolute values, Flynn directs clients to the listed ingredients to fi nd the origins of the fat, as some sources are healthier than others. Potassium and Vitamin D Flynn says that people mainly derive these vitamins and minerals from eating fruits and vegetables or taking supplementary pills, not from other food sources. While looking at this on a label may provide some additional information, it isn’t essential. INSTEAD, be mindful of how many servings of fruits and vegetables you eat everyday, as these are better sources of the nutrients. Highlighting Calories Bolding the number of calories in a serving makes them more obvious so consumers can easily evaluate products on the go. Coupled with the changes to serving size, the calories listed on a label would show exactly how much someone is likely consuming. While natural carbohydrates are healthful, artifi cial sweeteners may pose certain health risks. The new labels would indicate how much sugar is added to a food or beverage, clarifying how much of its carbohydrates come from unnatural sources. 4 servings 1 PINT 200 calories 2 servings 1 PINT 400 calories Current serving size Proposed serving size s w e e nothings t » » » » Of course you love sugar (who doesn’t?), but if you’re trying to cut calories, is there a good-better-best way to fake it? By Joshua Aromin Good ol’ cane sugar is often imitated but never (quite) duplicated. There are many commonly used low-calorie sugar substitutes out there. Before choosing one, registered dietitian Karen Zangari says it’s important to look at your entire diet to identify why you’re consider-ing an alternative: Are you eating too many processed foods, high-calorie foods or sugary foods? If after evaluating your diet as a whole and making adjustments where possible, you still think a sugar sub is appropriate, Zangari has tips for choosing the right one. Six hundred times sweeter than sugar, SPLENDA is made from sucralose, an artifi cial sweet-ener produced by chlorinating sucrose (white table sugar). The substitute was approved as a general purpose sweetener in 1999 and is heat stable; however, yields should be decreased with consideration to its potency. While EQUAL now offers sucralose and saccharine-based products like counterparts Sweet ’N Low and Splenda, its original product is made primarily from aspartame and acesulfame potassium. Zan-gari says the zero-calorie substitute is 160–220 times sweeter than sugar and that aspar-tame should not be used in cooking. SWEET ’N LOW is a zero-calorie artifi cial sweetener made with dextrose and saccharine, a substance discov-ered in the 1800s as a derivative of tar, making it the oldest nonnutritive sweet-ener. Saccharine faced controversy in 1977 for causing cancer in lab ani-mals, but has been found to be safe for humans, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. STEVIA , as a sweetener, is a natural product extracted from whole leaves of the plant by the same name. It has zero calories and is twice as sweet as sugar. Mar-keted under brand names Truvia and SweetLeaf, both brands offer several iterations of stevia, including versions blended with sugar, that are suitable for baking. Derived from the agave plant, a va-riety of succulent, AGAVE NECTAR has sixty calories per tablespoon compared to the forty in a table-spoon of sugar; however, it’s also about one-and-a-half times sweeter than sugar. Agave nectar may also aggravate preexist-ing conditions like irritable bowel syndrome. WHOLE WOMAN 2014 | Rhode Island Monthly’s guide to a woman’s health and wellness » 83 Information for this graphic provided by the Food and Drug Administration Added Sugars SERVING SIZE CHANGES Serving sizes will be more realistic to refl ect how much people typically eat at one time. } }

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