Welcome to the weekly chaos that has filled my life. You may notice that we have a new secretary, her name is Cynthia, and I think you will like her. We have spent lots of time and energy cleaning up chaos this week; if you called and did not get a response yet, please do call again. While Cynthia is with us, do enjoy her delightful and o so patient personality.
We have also contracted with a billing agency; that means your claims may be processed faster or differently; and I am hoping more effectively; but if you get a letter about a payment from a company named MRA, that is valid.
Our job today is to finish looking at the Nutrition Facts Label. This has begun to change to the new format for many foods; smaller manufacturers have till 2020 to change their label, so some may still be using the old format.
From the top: I think we have already noted that the serving sizes have changed to more reasonable amounts; and if a product contains more than one but less than two servings, the information needs to be about the whole contents of the container.
Calories per serving are in bigger bolder type; harder to ignore, yes?
The weight in grams is next to the serving size (30 grams = 1 ounce). So, if your food plan says two ounces, that amount would also weigh 60 grams.
And the next is fats. We need to look at several different kinds of fat here: Total fat, cholesterol, saturated fat, trans fat, poly and monounsaturated fats. What do these all mean?
We have found that the type of fat is more important than the amount of it. Fats certainly deserve a place in our diet, but most of us have come to fear and avoid dietary fats. This is not the best decision, because fats are an integral part of many body tissues and functions. The human brain is nearly 60 percent fat. And some fats determine the brain’s ability to think and perform. Essential fats help regulate body temperature, vitamin absorption, cell structure, and hormones such as fertility hormones.
Fat is found in many parts of the body including nerve membranes and bone marrow. But, under the Total Fats label, you will see cholesterol, saturated fat, trans fats, and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Cholesterol is a critical building block in every cell membrane; it is part of making Vitamin D, estrogen, and testosterone. And it makes fat dissolving bile acids. 80% of the cholesterol is made in the body, but it isn’t necessary to eliminate all the cholesterol intake. New research has found that the cholesterol levels in our bodies are impacted more by the types of fats in our food—like trans fats—and sugar, and not as much by the daily cholesterol intake.
The next item is Trans fats. These are harmful to us and will be banned in the next year. Trans fats raise your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower your good cholesterol (HDL) levels. Trans fats increase the risk of developing heart disease or stroke. Eliminate them. If the label says, 0 gm trans-fat, also check the ingredient list for “partially hydrogenated oils or fats.” If there is less than 0.49 gm trans-fat per serving, the label will say 0 gm. But if you eat several servings of that food each day, the amounts increase rapidly. Probably two grams are the absolute most you ought to consume in one day, say some authorities.
And beware of non-fat or low-fat foods. When manufacturers take out or change the fat content, they usually have to replace it with either a lot of sugar, a lot of salt, some artificial starches, or artificial flavors and colors. Check your ingredient list before buying anything with this label.
Foods containing monounsaturated fats may reduce the level of harmful cholesterol (LDL) and they may also increase the good cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats also may improve blood cholesterol levels. (Remember, you want more of the longer word.) And mono and polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and come from plants. Please don’t eliminate all fats from your diet! About 30 – 35 % of your calories should come from fat; use oils instead of solid fats. Just choose carefully. Eliminating all fats may encourage you to eat more salty, high sugar, nutrient free foods!
Next is sodium. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans have recently been updated to recommend each person consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day—that’s down from 2,400 mg. It follows the current belief that too much sodium in our diets is taxing on our hearts, contributing to high blood pressure and an increased risk of stroke.
Look at the amount of sodium on the food label, compared to your daily diet. If you want to limit to 2300 mg of sodium per day, what part of your food intake will this food be? Is that consistent with the amount of sodium? For instance, if the label says 480 mg sodium, that may be appropriate if the food is for a whole meal, but not for a condiment or snack. Use your good judgement. Look for a lower sodium product choice.
I hope this long discussion has given you some effective guidance on label reading. If you have questions or concerns, please contact me at 610-275-3699 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And next week, we will move on to other topics. And if there is a topic you would like to see, please let me know. Please feel free to share this blog with anyone you believe may benefit from it.
Blessings to you,