Fundamentals of Human Nutrition/MyPlate

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Section 2.4 MyPlate[edit]

"U. S. Department of Agriculture"

In 2011, the USDA introduced an educational and visual tool to represent the five food groups called MyPlate. According to “A Brief History of Food Guides” (2011), MyPlate was established along with the updating of the USDA food patterns for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and the USDA created this different shape to grab consumer’s attention with a new symbol. The MyPlate icon is a plate divided into four food groups: fruits, grains, vegetables, and protein. Another food group is indicate by the circle next to the plate which is the dairy group. Each food group is different in size which corresponds to the proportion each group contributes to a nutritious diet. MyPlate originated from the MyPyramid Food Guidance System; even though the visual diagram changed, it’s still used to help people create a balanced and healthy diet.

The MyPlate website (www.choosemyplate.gov) offers a plethora of information about healthy living. Any person who wants to create a healthy diet can find what foods and how much of that food they should eat each day based on their height, weight, gender etc. They offer information about physical activity, like why it’s important and how much activity one should do. The website also contains weight management and calorie intake tips. There’s information available for everyone including children, college students, pregnant woman, health professionals, and even older adults.

It has been shown that consumers are not actually following the recommendations set forth by MyPlate. Consumers are eating too many foods with solid fats and added sugars, whereas they should be consuming the most nutrient-dense items from the food groups. Consumers are also not eating the suggested amount from each group, usually eating not enough fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products.

One criticism of MyPlate is that it doesn’t give enough information to consumers to help them pick a healthy meal plan. All of the key information is on it’s website, and this won’t help someone who doesn't have internet access or know how to use the website. Another criticism is that MyPlate doesn’t distinguish some foods in the same food group as healthier than others. Also, in MyPlate’s fruit category, servings can be inputed as either food or juice. But, according to Dr. Andrew Weil, founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, MyPlate “ignores the fact that the glycemic load- an indication of how quickly a food is converted to blood sugar - is far higher in fruit juices than in fruits.”

References

Choose MyPlate. (2015, February 3). Retrieved November 30, 2015, from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate

A Brief History of USDA Food Guides. (2011, June 1). Retrieved November 30, 2015, from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/sites/default/files/printablematerials/ABriefHistoryOfUSDAFoodGuides.pdf

What the USDA Food ‘MyPlate’ Has All Wrong. (2014, February 1). Retrieved November 30, 2015, from http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/what-the-usda-food-myplate-has-all-wrong/

2.4.1 Fruit Guidelines[edit]

According to the USDA MyPlate illustration, fruit is a contributor to a well-balanced and healthy diet. The daily consumption recommendation for individuals can be influenced by sex, age, and amount of physical activity. (1) MyPlate’s fruit recommendations are measured in cups. The general daily range for individuals is between 1-2 cups of fruit. One might ask, what is considered a cup of fruit? A cup of fruit can be one cup of fresh, frozen, diced, or canned fruit, a cup of 100% fruit juice, or even a half cup of dried fruit. (1) Choosing whole or diced fruit rather than fruit juices is often recommended because of the dietary fiber that whole fruits contain. (2) There are a variety of choices that fall into the fruit category on MyPlate. Some of these choices include strawberries, bananas, oranges, blueberries, pears, grapefruit, nectarines, and watermelon. (2) The consumption of fruit is important for the human body in the aspect that fruit contains numerous nutrient and health benefits. Fruits naturally are low in nutrients that can cause weight increase, high caloric intake, or atrial blockage. The nutrients that are found to be low in fruits include fat, sodium, calories, and cholesterol. (3) Fruits can provide the body with essential nutrients that help fight disease, promote growth, and uphold the important roles of the human body. As mentioned previously, whole or diced fruits contain dietary fibers. The fiber consumed from fruits can reduce chances of heart disease, help maintain a stable blood pressure, promote healthy digestion, and function as a vital factor in maintaining a healthy diet and body. (3) Another essential nutrient that provides the body with healthy blood pressure levels is potassium. Fruits such as bananas, cantaloupe, and dried apricots are rich in potassium. (2,3) Vitamin C is another nutrient that can be found in fruits. Citrus fruit consumption increases the amount of vitamin C in the body. The roles of vitamin C include growth, healing of wounds, and healthy teeth. (3) Another nutrient that is rich throughout fruits is folate, or folic acid. It is extremely important for women of childbearing age to meet their daily recommended intake levels of folate. Folic acid is necessary in order to minimize the risk of birth defects in a child. (3) The incorporation of fruit in the MyPlate diet can limit the chances of an individual encountering a stroke, chronic disease, or heart attack. (3) Overall, fruit is an essential part of the human diet as it provides the body with rich nutrients, proper function, and a reduced risk of disease. Consuming the recommended proportions daily will allow an individual to live a healthier lifestyle.

References:

1. All About the Fruit Group. Choose MyPlate. 2015. Available at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruit. Accessed April 13, 2016.

2. USDA MyPlate Fruit Group—Tips to help you eat fruits. Fnsweb01edcusdagov. 2016. Available at: http://fnsweb01.edc.usda.gov/food-groups/fruits-tips.html. Accessed April 13, 2016.

3. Nutrients and health benefits. Choose MyPlate. 2015. Available at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruits-nutrients-health. Accessed April 13, 2016.

Which foods fall into the fruit category? The MyPlate fruit category includes any fruit or 100% fruit juices. Fruits can come in many forms. You may find them in frozen, dried, canned, chopped, blended or whole form. You can get a portion of your daily intake of fruit in the form of applesauce, prunes, smoothies, fruit cups, or just a slice of fresh watermelon.

How much fruit should I eat on a daily basis? The amount of fruit you should consume for a healthy diet depends on an array of factors. These factors include age, physical lifestyle, daily activities, and sex. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may need to consume more or fewer fruits. Daily recommendations for fruit range between 1-2 cups with higher portions suggested for males overall. These recommendations are in place specifically for those who get fewer than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity in addition to their daily routines. As activity levels go up, the amount of fruit needed in a person’s diet increases. For example, an athlete that participates in rigorous physical activity will require more nourishment from fruit to fuel his or her energy expenditure. On the other hand, someone who works behind a desk and leads a sedentary lifestyle will require a smaller intake of fruits in their diet, as to not give the body more than it needs.

How do I measure my fruit intake? The amount of fruit that goes into your diet is recommended in an increment of cups. This seems very straightforward; however not all fruits are easily measured in a measuring cup. For example, a cup of 100% fruit juice will constitute one cup of fruit whereas just one half of dried fruits will constitute the same amount of dietary fruit intake.

What kinds of nutrients are in fruit? What benefits does eating fruit provide? Fruits contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals with the potential to add structure to the body, fight off infection, and regulate bodily processes. Some of these nutrients are essential to life and include vitamin C, potassium, folate, and fiber.

Fiber: Fiber is important in keeping the gut strong and healthy. Without it, we could experience constipation and indigestion. It also has the potential to lower blood cholesterol and put us at a lower risk for cardiovascular disease. Fiber also slows down our digestion and leaves us feeling fuller for longer. This key factor can alleviate over eating and weight gain. The most fibrous part of the fruit is generally in the fruit itself, not the juice. So if you are looking to boost your fiber intake, choose whole fruits or juices that are high in pulp.

Folate: Folate (folic acid) is a key vitamin that participates in the formation of red blood cells. Because of its participation in DNA synthesis, it is extremely important in fetal development. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate. This supplement should be taken by women of childbearing age in increments of 400mcg/day (especially those who are pregnant) in addition to a normal dietary intake of folate. This supplementation will reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida along with anencephaly during the development of the fetus. For this reason, a mandate has been put into effect for many of our foods to be fortified with folic acid as well.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an important nutrient in maintaining healthy structures within the body. It works alongside collagen in creating, maintaining, and healing body tissues. Vitamin C also helps keep our gums and teeth in good condition.

Potassium: Potassium is a big player in regulating our blood pressure. For people with high blood pressure, an increase in potassium intake can increase potassium levels in the blood and work to combat cardiovascular stress. Potassium also has the power to reduce risk of kidney stones and help prevent bone loss. We can find potassium in bananas, cantaloupe, prunes, peaches, apricots, and honeydew.

References

1. Choose MyPlate. (n.d.). Retrieved April 4, 2016, from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/

2. Levine, E., Abbatangelo-Gray, J., Mobley, A. R., McLaughlin, G. R., & Herzog, J. (2012). Evaluating MyPlate: an expanded framework using traditional and nontraditional metrics for assessing health communication campaigns. Journal of nutrition education and behavior, 44(4), S2-S12.

3. Berry, R. J., Bailey, L., Mulinare, J., Bower, C., & Dary, O. (2010). Fortification of flour with folic acid. Food and nutrition bulletin, 31(1 suppl1), S22-S35.

2.4.2 Vegetable Guidelines[edit]

      Arguably vegetables are one of the most important food groups because vegetarians utilize this group to substitute many of the other options on the plate in order to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Vegetables are broken down into five different subgroups including dark-green vegetables, starchy vegetables, beans and peas, red and orange vegetables and other vegetables. (choosemyplate.gov) The amount of vegetables per day that a person needs to consume depends on age, gender and physical activity level. In general, the amount of vegetables a person needs to consume daily is anywhere from two to three cups of vegetables. (choosemyplate.gov) Vegetables can be prepared in a variety of different ways including frozen, raw, fresh, cooked, canned, dried/dehydrated, canned, whole, cut up or mashed. The best way to eat them is by not adding anything when preparing them in order to limit the amount of added calories from sodium or sugar. Although many people assume eating healthy is expensive, buying many vegetables when they are in season and freezing them can save money. If fresh vegetables are still too expensive, purchase canned vegetables that are “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added,” in order to ensure less consumption of sodium. There are many different companies making eating vegetables even easier because of the variety of frozen foods available in the frozen section in the grocery store. Many of them just need to be taken out of the freezer and popped in the microwave for a few minutes.
       The hardest part about meeting the vegetable requirement is attempting to eat some vegetables from within each subgroup in order to have a variety of nutrients in your diet. Below is a table with five different vegetables from each of the five subgroups. Each subgroup can other a variety of benefits. The dark-green vegetables are rich in fiber, folate, carotenoids, vitamins C and K, iron and calcium. (Adams) They can offer many health benefits such as as reducing the risk for many different cancers in the body. (Adams) The starchy vegetables are also rich in fiber but contain vitamin B-6 as well. (healthyeating.sfgate.com) The beans and peas group are a little more unique because they are also a plant based protein and vegetarians are able to meet their protein requirement through eating them. Along with their excellent source of protein, they are rich in fiber, potassium and folate. (choosemyplate.gov) As you can see there is some overlap between the red and orange vegetables and the starchy vegetables. The red and orange vegetables offer potassium, vitamin A, C and K. (foodandhealth.com) These vegetables are the biggest aid in protecting the heart and reducing the risk of heart disease. (foodandhealth.com)

Dark-Green Vegetables: Spinach, Arugula, Leaf Lettuce, Kale, Romaine Lettuce

Starchy Vegetables: Potato, Pumpkin, Acorn Squash, Butternut Squash, Corn

Beans and Peas: Kidney Beans, Pinto Beans, Black Beans, Lentils, Chickpeas

Red and Orange Vegetables: Carrots, Sweet Potato, Red Peppers, Tomato, Butternut Squash

Other Vegetables: Cucumbers, Celery, Mushrooms, Cabbage, Bean Sprouts

References

Adams, I. (2013, May). The Health Bene ts of Dark Green Leafy Vegetables. Retrieved April 13, 2016, from http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/FCS3/FCS3567/FCS3567.pdf

All about the Vegetable Group. (2015). Retrieved April 13, 2016, from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables

MyPlate Exploration: Red and Orange Vegetables. (2015). Retrieved April 13, 2016, from https://foodandhealth.com/myplate-red-orange-vegetables/

What Are the Benefits of Starchy Vegetables? (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2016, from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-starchy-vegetables-2259.html

2.4.3 Grain Guidelines[edit]

A grain is classified as any food made from wheat, oats, rice, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain. Grains can be broken down into two groups, whole grains and refined grains. The difference between these two classifications of grains lies in how much of the grain kernel each contains. While whole grains contain the entire grain kernel, including the bran, germ, and the endosperm, refined grains have been milled, removing the bran and the germ. This milling process takes place in order to improve the texture and shelf life of grains. However, important nutrients such as dietary fiber, iron, and several B vitamins are removed in the process. Examples of whole grains include quinoa, oats, and brown rice (wholegrainscouncil.org, 2013). Examples of refined grains include white rice, white bread, and white pasta (dese.mo.gov, 2015).

In regards to the amount of grain that should be consumed daily, the number varies depending on a person’s age, gender, and level of physical activity. In general for all age ranges and genders a person should consume between three and eight ounce equivalents of grain each day (choosemyplate.gov, 2015). It is important to note, however that these amounts are only applicable to those who get less than thirty minutes of physical activity per day. For those who are more active than this, a higher amount of grains can be consumed without exceeding his or her recommended calorie intake. Another rule of thumb to live by in finding how much grain to consume is that at least half of the total grains consumed by a person should be whole grains.

In understanding that he or she should consume a certain number of ounce equivalents of grain each day, one may wonder what counts as an ounce equivalent of grain? How can this be measured? The chart below summarizes these equivalences. Note that all of these are whole grains (choosemyplate.gov, 2015).

Food Type 1 ounce Equivalent
Bagels 1" mini bagel
Biscuits 1 small (2" diameter)
Bulgur 1/2 cup cooked
Cornbread 1 small piece
Crackers 5 whole wheat crackers
English Muffins 1/2 muffin
Muffins 1 small
Oatmeal 1/2 cup cooked
Pancakes 1 pancake (4 1/2" diameter)
Popcorn 3 cups, popped
Pasta 1/2 cup cooked
Rice 1/2 cup cooked
Tortillas 1 large tortilla (12" diameter)
Breads 1 Regular slice; 1 small slice French; 4 snack-size slices rye bread

The benefits of eating whole grains are plentiful. Unlike refined grains, whole grains provide essential vitamins and minerals such as fiber, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, folate, iron, magnesium, and selenium. The presence of these nutrients in the body has numerous benefits, including gut health, energy, proper red blood cell formation, oxygen transport in the blood, antioxidants. In a more general sense, eating whole grains serves to reduce the risk of heart disease, aid in metabolism and weight management, and reduce the risk of complications in pregnancy. In this way, whole grains are an essential part of the human diet, and should be consumed in the proper proportions daily.

References

Whole Grains A to Z. (n.d.). Retrieved November 18, 2015, from http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/whole-grains-a-to-z

| Choose MyPlate. (2015, February 19). Retrieved November 18, 2015, from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/grains-nutrients-health

What Foods are in the Grains Group? (n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2015, from https://dese.mo.gov/sites/default/files/whataregrains.pdf

2.4.4 Protein Guidelines[edit]

    Proteins foods include meat, poultry, seafood, beans, peas, eggs, nuts, seeds, and processed soy products. Eating a variety of protein products is necessary for maintaining health and proper nutrient intake. It is even suggested that adults eat at least 8 ounces of seafood a week!1 However, people who practice vegetarianism or veganism have to option of filling their plate with beans, peas, nuts, seeds, and processed soy products to consume an adequate amount of protein.
    Protein foods often include nutrients such as B vitamin, iron, zinc, and magnesium. Protein’s main function in the body is aid in the synthesis of bones, muscles, skin, blood, enzymes, hormones, amino acids, and vitamins.1,2 B vitamins help the body make nutrients, build tissues, form red blood cells, and release energy. Iron is necessary to carry oxygen to the blood.1 Zinc helps the immune system function and is needed for biochemical reactions.1 The body uses magnesium to build bones and release energy from muscles. Seafood is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which is an essential fatty acid.1 Thus, it is important to incorporate protein in your diet to make sure your body runs efficiently.1 
   
   The amount of protein that a person needs depends on factors such as age, sex, and level of physical activity.2 In general, though, people between the ages of 19–30 years old need more protein than older and younger people, men need more protein than women, and people who are more physically active need to consume more protein.1 For example, women aged 31–35 need 5 ounce equivalents to maintain a proper diet. One ounce of protein is equivalent to 1 ounce of meat, poultry, or fish, ¼ cup of beans (cooked), one egg, 1 tbs. of peanut better, or ½ oz. of nuts or seeds according to My Plate.1
   Although the average American gets enough protein in their diet, it is also important that their meat and poultry are low-fat or lean because too much saturated fat and cholesterol is bad for your health. If, for instance, a person chooses to eat chicken with skin, the extra fat they are consuming by eating the skin counts against their limit for calories from saturated fats. Even a well-trimmed steak can contain a lot of “bad” cholesterol, called low density lipoprotein (LDL) and lean ground beef can still be high in saturated fats.1 Cholesterol is only found in foods that come from animals so instead of having both a steak for lunch and a burger for dinner, beans and lentils could substitute one of the meats at a meal. Substituting healthy proteins in for red meat can lower a person’s risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.3 Getting adequate amounts of healthy proteins have also been linked to a healthy weight!3
   Further, processed meats, like deli meats, and also some packaged seeds and nuts have added sodium that should be considered.1 Eating unsalted nuts and seeds in moderation, though, may reduce a person’s risk of heart disease. Nuts and seeds are high in calories and should be used to replace, not in conjunction with, other proteins such as meat at meals.

Another important factor is that a person chooses seafood that is high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon. Eating 8 ounces of a variety of seafood a week helps lower an adult’s risk for heart disease.1 While some people may be concerned about the level of mercury in seafood My Plate assures people that the health benefits of fish outweigh the mercury risk.1 Further, salmon, trout, sardines, and anchovies are all seafood options that are low in mercury.1

   Because excess protein cannot be stored in the body, it is important to consume an adequate amount of protein daily from a variety of food sources.2 On the other hand, a deficiency in protein can even lead to kwashiokor.2

  Works Cited

1. All About the Protein Food Group. Choose My Plate site. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/protein-foods. Updated July 29, 2016. Accessed November 8, 2016.

2. Dietary Protein. Medline Plus site. https://medlineplus.gov/dietaryproteins.html. Updated October 31, 2016. Accessed November 8, 2016.

3. Protein. Harvard School of Public Health site. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/. Accessed November 8, 2016.

2.4.5 Dairy Guidelines[edit]

When you think about dairy, you may be taken back to last summer eating fluffy scoops of strawberry ice cream or your routine breakfast with a glass of ice-cold milk. Maybe for some of us, we cringe at the thought of getting an upset stomach. The unique nature of the human body allows us to choose what foods we enjoy but at the same time, prevents us from eating certain foods. With the variability in each individual, how do we make sure nutritional needs are met for MyPlate’s dairy guidelines?

MyPlate Dairy Recommendations:

The recommended amount of daily dairy serving is about 3 cups for adults and 2-2 1/5 cups for children 8 years and younger. (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/dairy)

• 1 cup of milk, yogurt, or soy beverage

• 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese

• 2 ounces of processed cheese


Sources of calcium in non-dairy products:

• Calcium-fortified juices, cereals, breads, nuts and seeds, rice milk or almond milk

• Canned fish, soybeans and soy products, other beans and some leafy greens like collard and turnip greens, kale, and bok choy

Lactose Intolerance:

• Lactose intolerance is the inability to consume lactose, a sugar found in milk, because the body cannot create enough of the enzyme lactase to break it down

• People who have lactose intolerance should drink lactose-free milk and lactose-free products

Health Benefits and Nutrients:

Why is dairy important in our diets? Dairy provides important nutrients that help maintain and build your body: calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein. (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/dairy-nutrients-health) Calcium builds bones and teeth therefore diets fulfilling the 3 cup requirement can improve bone mass. Dairy products and fresh foods provide potassium. Potassium supports healthy blood pressure because it reduces high levels of sodium intake. Vitamin D regulates levels of calcium and phosphorus. Milk and soymilk are good sources of Vitamin D. Improved bone health reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Children and adolescents need adequate amounts of these nutrients because bone mass is being built. Consuming enough dairy is associated with lowered risk of cardiovascular disease and type two diabetes.

Compare Calcium rich foods: (http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/calcium_content_of_selected_foods/)

• 1 cup of milk or 8 oz. of calcium fortified orange juice= 300 mg

• 3 oz. of canned salmon= 170–210 mg

• 1 cup of cooked spinach= 240 mg

Saturated Fat in Dairy:

You might be concerned that some dairy products are high in fat. MyPlate recommends choosing fat-free or low-fat options. This is because many milks and cheeses are high in saturated fats. These fats can raise your LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) levels. Excess LDL cholesterol collects in the walls of your blood vessels, increasing your risk for heart disease. In turn, HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol helps remove LDL cholesterol by recycling it back into the liver where it can be broken down. (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Know-Your-Fats_UCM_305628_Article.jsp#)

Eating Dairy can be Easier!:

Low-fat or fat-free dairy products can be used as a substitute in various recipes. Whether you are trying to include more dairy in your diet or you need help getting your child to eat more, here are some tips:

• Use yogurt as a base for vegetable and fruit dips

• Include yogurt or milk into smoothies

• Use yogurt as a substitute for sour cream

• Include milk or calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage) as a beverage at meals. Choose fat-free or low-fat milk

• Lightly top meals with low-fat cheeses

• Add low-fat or skim milk to coffee instead of heavy creams

• Top yogurt with fruit, granola or dark chocolate for a light dessert

References

American Heart Association. (April 21, 2014). http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Know-Your-Fats_UCM_305628_Article.jsp#

The Regents of The University of California. (2015). http://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/calcium_content_of_selected_foods/

The United States Department of Agriculture. (July 22, 2015). http://www.choosemyplate.gov/dairy http://www.choosemyplate.gov/dairy-nutrients-health

2.4.6 Empty Calories[edit]

Empty calories: What are they? Empty Calories are found commonly throughout the food and drinks that Americans consume. These are calories from added sugars and solid fats, they add calories to food but have little to no nutrients. Due to the fact that they have little nutritional value, they are considered empty calories. Empty calories can come in many different foods from being processed or prepared, they most popular being things such as cakes, ice cream, and pizza. In certain cases, such as soda and candy, all the calories are empty calories and contain no nutrients that we may need. Added sugars and solid fats make food look more appealing but add a lot of calories even when a small amount is consumed. You are able to find foods high in solid fats and added sugars in forms with less solid fats and sugars or none at all such as low-fat cheese, or choosing sugar-free sodas. But it is important to know that “empty calories from solid fats and added sugars can be found in some other foods that contain important nutrients.” (choosemyplate.org)

What are solid fats? When talking about solid fats and added sugars and avoiding them, it is viable to know what exactly they are. “Solid fats are fats that are solid at room temperature, like beef fat, butter, and shortening.” (choosemyplate.org) For example, Land O Lakes butter is only made of cream and salt, contains 30 mg of Cholesterol, 90 mg of Sodium, and 11g of total fats, 7 of which are saturated fats (Landolakes.com). Though some food has solid fats occur naturally, they can still be added to any prepared or processed foods. Solid fats have less monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats and are high in saturated fats and/or trans fats. As well as having solid fats, animal products can contain cholesterol, and saturated fats and trans fats have a tendency to raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels in blood. This means that the more animal product you consume, you are raising the risk for heart disease. To lower this deadly risk, you can cut back on any foods that may contain trans fats and saturated fats. It is also important to note that solid fats and oils provide the same number of calories per gram but oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature. Oils are typically lower in saturated fats and trans fats making them generally better for your health.

Examples include: (choosemyplate.org) • milk fat • butter • chicken fat • cream • stick margarine • shortening • lard • pork fat

What is considered added sugar and what is it? Added sugars are any syrups or sugars added to the food or drinks while they are processed or prepared. Added sugars does not include the naturally occurring sugars in things such as fruit and milk. As for added sugars, it is important to be aware of the many different names that added sugars may have, the most common being fructose, dextrose, maltose, and sucrose. Be aware that you will see many other names for added sugars but they are not recognized by the FDA as an ingredient name such as can juice, fruit juice concentrate, crystal dextrose, liquid fructose, and fruit nectar. An example of a food that is mainly added sugars is a normal 12oz can of Coca-Cola, containing carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, phosphoric aced, natural flavors, and caffeine (coca-colaproductfacts.com) all while having no real nutritional value that we need. Another example is an original milky way that contains sugars such as milk fat, corn syrup, lactose, sugar, and palm kernel oil (milkywaybar.com) that also contains no nutrients that are valuable to us.

Examples include: (choosemyplate.org) • candy • cake • soft drinks, energy drinks, or sports drinks • pies • sweet rolls, donuts, pastries • ice cream • fruity drinks

How many can I have? Once you are aware of what kinds of foods and drinks contain empty calories, it is important to know how many calories your diet might allow you to have. Many factors play a role in how many empty calories you can have such as age, gender group, and how much physical activity you partake in. The more physically active you are; the more calories you are going to need to consume which gives you a larger range for empty calorie consumption

How do you count empty calories? When figuring out how many empty calories your diet may allow, it is viable to know how to count your empty calories. For example, fats are a very concentrated source of calories so even eating a small amount might send you overboard on your empty calorie limit. As for added sugars, they are usually served in large portions such as soda, or big candy bars and they can also send you over on your empty calorie limit. To lower your empty calorie limit, you can limit your consumption of empty calories by eating smaller portions and choose foods which less added sugars and solid fats. Because you can find solid fats naturally in foods and there is typically added sugars in processed and prepared food so it is still very easy to go over your calorie limit even when making healthy choices.