Healthy and natural are in the news again; what do they mean?

The Food and Drug Administration recently backed down in a fight with Kind bars about the bar maker using the term healthy on its products. In the process, the agency decided to re-evaluate the guidelines it uses that allow a food manufacturer to use the term healthy.

My low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar pantry.
My low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar pantry. Are these healthy? For me, they are.

“Just because a food contains certain ingredients that are considered good for you, such as fruit or nuts, it does not mean that the food can bear a ‘healthy’ nutrient content claim,’ the FDA said, reported the Chicago Tribune.

Kind bars have 13 grams of sugar each, is that healthy? How about the 3.5 grams of saturated fat? Continue reading “Healthy and natural are in the news again; what do they mean?”

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My low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar pantry

All this shows you can get the sat, fat and sugar out of the products you use to add flavor to your home-cooked recipes.

Reducing the amount of salt, fat and sugar in the typical American diet can help reduce all sorts of negative health effects brought on by the way most American eat. For me, getting out the salt, fat and sugar became a must after having an angioplasty in 2012. I wrote in the early days of this blog about cleaning out my pantry of high-salt, high-fat, high-sugar offerings.

More than three years into the process of redefining how I shop, cook and eat, I thought it would be a good time for an update on what a low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar pantry can look like. Here’s a look at mine today.

My low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar pantry.
My low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar pantry.

Reviewing it from left to right, the canned tomatoes are all no-salt-added. Always check the labels, far too many brands adds tons of salt to mask the fact they use low-quality, poor-tasting tomatoes. San Marzano tomatoes from Italy usually have no salt added, but always check the labels to be sure.

Continue reading “My low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar pantry”

New nutritional guidelines not tough enough on salt, target sugar instead

I aim for the 1,500 mg figure and so have changed my shopping and eating habits entirely in the past three years to get the salt out, finding low-salt ketchup, barbecue sauce, salsa and even low-salt olives.

Anticipated U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines came out Thursday and, as I wrote last February, they let up a bit on salt concerns to focus on sugar as the worst of the evil three of salt, fat and sugar that we all eat too much of in the typical American diet.

“The average person eats 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day, and the guidelines say everyone should lower that to 2,300, or about a teaspoon,” notes the New York Times report on the guidelines, which are issued every five years.

Salt gets off easy in the new dietary guidelines, too easy, I think.,
Salt gets off easy in the new dietary guidelines, too easy, I think.,

“Lowering sodium intake was the major push of the 2010 guidelines, and that document recommended that those most at risk of heart disease, or about half the population, lower their intake to 1,500 mg. The new guidelines delete that lower amount as part of the top recommendations. Later on, though, the report says those with high blood pressure and prehypertension could benefit from a steeper reduction,” the Times reports. Continue reading “New nutritional guidelines not tough enough on salt, target sugar instead”

Bye bye trans fats — the FDA finally lowers the hammer

Trans fats, which unfortunately Americans have been eating for the past half century or so, are finally being banned from U.S. foods. The Food and Drug Administration finally has set a deadline for the complete elimination of partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fats in our diets, from things like cake frosting, microwave popcorn, cakes, cookies and other things we used to think tasted good.

Bye bye trans fafts. Maybe now movie popcorn will get healthier.
Bye bye trans fafts. Maybe now movie popcorn will get healthier.

I say finally because this has been a long time coming. I blogged about it way back in 2013, not long after I started this blog. As I wrote then, “food makers and restaurants saw the writing on the trans fat walls long ago and have been phasing it out of most products.” Continue reading “Bye bye trans fats — the FDA finally lowers the hammer”

Walmart’s fat-free devils-food cookie passed my taste test

Nutritionally they seem identical to Kroger’s version and with SnackWell’s, 50 calories each, 25 mgs of sodium, 12 grams of carbs, 7 grams of sugar.

Fat-free cookies have become an indulgence of mine since having an angioplasty in 2012. Indeed, I think they are a major reason I have regained about 10 of the 30 pounds I lost in the year after the surgery.

Walmart's fat-free devil's food cookies match up well with similar products from others.
Walmart’s fat-free devil’s food cookies match up well with similar products from others.

SnackWells are the brand version of these fat-free chocolate cookies, but tend to be expensive, so I keep searching for store brand alternatives. A local dollar store had one variety but doesn’t seem to carry it now. Continue reading “Walmart’s fat-free devils-food cookie passed my taste test”

Lean ground turkey, let’s review how to find the leanest variety

I’ve warned you that not all ground turkey is all that lean, read the nutrition label to find the leanest variety your food store offers.

Ground turkey has replaced ground beef in a variety of dishes I make, from meatballs to tacos because it is, or at least can be leaner than most ground beef offerings. But I’ve warned you before that not all ground turkey is all that lean, read the nutrition label to find the leanest variety your food store offers.

Which is leaner? Do you see the different descriptions? No? Another reason to always read nutrition labels.
Which is leaner? Do you see the different descriptions? No? Another reason to always read nutrition labels.

Some brands offer lean and extra lean ground turkey. I recently found another variation of that in the Honeysuckle brand, made by food giant Cargill. It offers white meat ground turkey and breast meat ground turkey. You would think white meat would be the leanest, but the breast meat offering is leaner, 1.5 grams of fat per four ounces compared with 8 grams in the other variety.

Why? I’m guessing skin is ground along with the meat for the higher fat one, it adds flavor and moisture. When you find these two types, buy one of each package to mix in a turkey meatloaf to get some flavor and lower fat content overall.
John

Getting the fat out, a handy guide

It details a lot of fairly easy switches to make, like sorbets and fat-free frozen yogurt for ice cream (keep watching the sugar content though), pasta with vegetables for pasta with cheese sauce, and extra-lean ground beef and ground turkey for regular 85% lean ground beef.

I’ve been working hard to get fat, salt and sugar out of my diet since having an angioplasty in 2012. I’ve succeeded, but had to do a lot of my own searching for low-fat, low-salt alternatives to foods I loved.

Substituting low-fat cheese for regular is one way to get the fat out of your diet. But watch the salt content, almost all cheese is high in sodium.
Substituting low-fat cheese for regular is one way to get the fat out of your diet. But watch the salt content, almost all cheese is high in sodium.

Recently though, I came across a handy guide on foods that can help you get the fat out of your diet. It’s on the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute site, where I also found a fun dessert recipe.

It details a lot of fairly easy switches to make, like sorbets and fat-free frozen yogurt for ice cream (keep watching the sugar content though), pasta with vegetables for pasta with cheese sauce, and extra-lean ground beef and ground turkey for regular 85% lean ground beef.

Check it out and also check my ingredients page for some of the items I’ve found that get the fat out.
John