April 12, 2011

food pyramidNo, we’re not talking about the kind you sit on – or in the case of “couch potatoes,” the ones you lie on. We’re referring to solid fat and added sugar – SoFAS.

The government expert committee that drafted the latest set Dietary Guidelines for Americans coined this acronym to describe the two food ingredients that contribute the most calories and the least nutrition to our diets. Over-consuming SoFAS displaces important nutrients (such as calcium, vitamin D, potassium and beneficial fats like omega-3s) and also raises the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease

Solid fats, whether from animal products (saturated fat) or from vegetable oil that has been hydrogenated (trans fat), are found in foods ranging from hot dogs to french-fries and ice cream. Baked goods such as cookies, crackers, donuts, pastries and granola bars make up the highest contributors of solid fats in the American diet. Clickfor more on solid fats.

All sugars are carbohydrates that the body uses for energy. Sugar occurs naturally in some foods including fruits and vegetables, milk and some grains.

Nutrition experts recommend that SoFAS account for no more than 5% to 15% of total daily calories. In reality, Americans of all ages get closer to 35% of their daily calories from SoFAS. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar for most women and no more than 150 calories a day for most men. That’s about 6 teaspoons for women and 9 for men. Check the ingredient label on packaged foods to find added sugar, which goes under many names. Click for some examples. Each teaspoon of sugar weighs about 4grams for a reference when reading food labels.

The formula for cutting down on SoFAS in your diet is simple: Limit table sugar, desserts, pizza, sausage and similar fatty meats, sweetened beverages, stick margarine and butter, and candy. Replace them with lower-calorie, nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, whole grains, heart-healthy vegetable oils, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.

Have these tips helped you identify SoFAS in your diet? Comment on your success in cutting back on SoFAS in your daily meals.

 

 

 

Click for more information on healthy cooking and eating.

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