Initially, when I was mostly concerned about getting my weight down, I found that serving size and portion size were key concepts. So, I started reading food labels. I recommend that practice to everyone who wants to live a healthy life starting with controlling food intake.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods and drinks. FDA is requiring changes to the Nutrition Facts label based on updated scientific information, new nutrition research, and input from the public. This is the first major update to the label in over 20 years. The label’s refreshed design and updated information will make it easier for you to make informed food choices that contribute to lifelong healthy eating habits.
Serving Sizes Get Real
Servings per container and serving size information appear in large, bold font. Serving sizes have also been updated to better reflect the amount people typically eat and drink today. NOTE: The serving size is not a recommendation of how much to eat.
The nutrition information listed on the Nutrition Facts label is usually based on one serving of the food; however some containers may also have information displayed per package.
One package of food may contain more than one serving.
Much as we may want to eat healthy, it is unlikely that we have a diet that contains NO processed foods. The fact is that they are very convenient. Just open the package and pop it in – the oven – microwave – whatever. So, if we are going to eat them we ought to be able to decipher their labels. The following is from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Decoding the ingredients list on a food label
Being aware of specific ingredients in a food is a good general practice for everyone but may be especially useful for those with food allergies or intolerances, diabetes, or digestive diseases. In many cases, the longer the ingredients list, the more highly processed a food is. However, an ingredient that is not recognizable or has a long chemical name is not necessarily unhealthful. When scanning the Ingredients listing on a food package, consider the following:
The ingredients are listed in order of quantity by weight. This means that the food ingredient that weighs the most will be listed first, and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last. 
Some ingredients like sugar and salt may be listed by other names. For example, alternative terms for sugar are corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, agave nectar, cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, coconut sugar, dextrose, malt syrup, molasses, or turbinado sugar. Other terms for sodium include monosodium glutamate or disodium phosphate.
If the food is highly processed, it may contain several food additives such as artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Their ingredient names may be less familiar. Some preservatives promote safety of the food by preventing growth of mold and bacteria. Others help prevent spoilage or “off” flavors from developing. Examples that you may see on the label include:
Emulsifiers that prevent separation of liquids and solids—soy lecithin, monoglycerides
Thickeners to add texture—xanthan gum, pectin, carrageenan, guar gum
Colors—artificial FD&C Yellow No. 6 or natural beta-carotene to add yellow hues
Fortified foods contain vitamins and minerals that are added after processing. Either these nutrients were lost during processing, or they were added because they are lacking in the average diet. Examples include B vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, niacinamide, folate or folic acid), beta carotene, iron (ferrous sulfate), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), Vitamin D, or amino acids to boost protein content (L-tryptophan, L-lysine, L-leucine, L-methionine).
Ingredients used widely in the production of highly/ultra-processed foods such as saturated fats, added sugar, and sodium have become markers of poor diet quality due to their effect on heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure. [6,7] It is estimated that ultra-processed foods contribute about 90% of the total calories obtained from added sugars. 
What’s the best way to prevent children from overloading on bad food choices? Flinders University in Adelaide South Australia researchers have found that promoting substitution is the answer to turn around children’s excessive consumption of nutrient-poor foods and beverages – resulting in nutritional benefits that are even better than reducing intake of these discretionary food and drink choices.
Flinders University researchers studied the impact on the energy and nutrient intakes of more than 2000 Australian 2- to 18-year-olds through simulations of three dietary strategies. Continue reading →
The information on food labels was updated recently by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). I think they did a good job on helping the consumer to better understand the nutrients in food packages.
Below is an example of the updated label.
On the left is the old format, one the right, the new. As you can see the Serving Size and Calories are now more prominently displayed. Additionally, the number of servings per container is also given. In the past many folks would read the calories without paying attention to the serving size or number of servings per container. For example, a package of potato chips might have told you innocently that there were 150 calories per serving. Not bad, you might conclude … if you weren’t aware that the package contained four servings, so, if you ate the whole bag, you were getting 600 calories.
Here are some tips offered by Rush Medical Center on reading the labels:
For the record, this has nothing to do with losing weight, but everything to do with providing your body and your brain with proper nourishment. I especially liked the final segment which points out how your brain benefits from exercise.
I am a big fan of sweet potatoes. Drum roll, please. Number one on the countdown of 10 best foods from the Center for Science in the Public Interest is Sweet Potatoes. A nutritional All-Star — one of the best vegetables you can eat. They’re loaded with carotenoids, Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.
Harvard School of Public Health says, that sweet potatoes are typically recognized by their copper-colored skin and vibrant orange flesh, though the hundreds of varieties grown worldwide display colors such as white, cream, yellow, reddish-purple, and deep purple. Although they are often found on holiday tables covered in marshmallows or mixed with added sweeteners, there’s no need! True to their name, sweet potatoes have a naturally sweet flavor, which is further enhanced through cooking methods like roasting. They are also one of the top sources of beta-carotene—a precursor to vitamin A. Continue reading →
I don’t do a lot of cooking items, but I wanted to reblog this for two reasons. I think sweet potatoes are delicious and also they are one of the under-appreciated foods. I bet you don’t eat them often enough.
Few foods are as versatile as they are nutritious, but the humble sweet potato is one exception. Whether you bake, roast, grill, saute, steam or microwave it, the orange-fleshed root vegetable delivers substantial amounts of vitamins A, C and B-6, potassium, iron and dietary fiber. Boiling sweet potatoes is not the most nutritious option because some of the vitamins are lost into the cooking water. You’ll get the most nutritional value from a sweet potato if you eat the whole thing, as its skin is a highly concentrated source of minerals and fiber. You’ll also absorb more of the vegetable’s beta-carotene – which your body converts to vitamin A – by consuming it with a small amount of fat.
In the Oven
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rinse the sweet potato under cool running water. Use your fingers to brush off any dirt, as…
Brain health is the second most important component in maintaining a healthy lifestyle according to a 2014 AARP study. As people age they can experience a range of cognitive issues from decreased critical thinking to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In the March issue of Food Technology published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), contributing editor Linda Milo Ohr writes about eight nutrients that may help keep your brain in good shape.
Cocoa Flavanols: Cocoa flavanols have been linked to improved circulation and heart health, and preliminary research shows a possible connection to memory improvement as well. A study showed cocoa flavanols may improve the function of a specific part of the brain called the dentate gyrus, which is associated with age-related memory (Brickman, 2014).
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids have long been shown to contribute to good heart health are now playing a role in cognitive health as…