Did you know sugar-sweetened beverages are the leading sources of added sugars in American diets? Drinking sugary drinks has been associated with weight gain/obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney diseases, non-alcoholic liver disease, tooth decay, and more.
What are sugar-sweetened beverages?
Sugar-sweetened beverages are any liquids that are sweetened with added sugars like brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup maltose, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose.
To properly hydrate your body, you should drink water every day. Most doctors, dietitians, and nutritionists recommend drinking eight 8-oz glasses of water each day (that’s about a half-gallon). It may seem like a lot, but it’s easier to do than you think. After all, up to 60% of your body is water. Even though your taste buds may crave a sweetened beverage, your body needs something natural and refreshing.
Daily sugar recommendations
It can be very easy to lose track of your daily calorie and sugar intake when drinking juices, soda, and sports drinks. They are full of added sugars and empty calories (have little to no nutritional value).
These are the maximum daily limit recommendations for beverages with added refined sugars:
Men: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons of sugar)
Women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar)
Even drinks with natural sugars should be consumed in moderation. Remember, sugar, whether natural or refined, has calories. For example, a serving of unsweetened orange juice has 175 calories and 32 grams of sugar. A serving of unsweetened grape juice has 226 calories and 54 grams of sugar. Moderation is key when drinking sweet beverages.
The not-so-sweet facts about sugary beverages
Before opening a can of soda, drinking lemonade on a hot day, or getting a flavored drink, consider what you’re putting in your body. Sure, it may taste good. And yes, it’s ok to treat yourself now and then but it’s important to realize how much sugar and calories are in these drinks. Look at the calories and sugar content of these common sweetened beverages (based on a 12-oz serving):
Soda: 151 calories and 39 grams of sugar
Sweetened iced tea: 143 calories and 34 grams of sugar
Fruit punch: 175 calories and 42 grams of sugar
Lemonade: 148 calories and 37 grams of sugar
Sports beverage: 118 calories and 23 grams of sugar
The Holidays: ‘Tis the season for celebration . . . and sugar!
This time of year is known for delicious drinks that delight. So, go ahead and enjoy some eggnog, flavored coffee, or that glass of wine. But be mindful of the calories and always be sure you’re drinking sufficient water. Your body will love you for it.
Before having that second serving of apple cider or eggnog, consider the nutritional value. Here are the calorie and sugar content for some popular holiday drinks:
Wine: Between 75-200 calories and 1.2-2.4 grams of sugar per serving
Eggnog: 343 calories and 21.4 grams of sugar per one-cup serving
Apple cider: 180 calories and 40.2 grams of sugar per 12-oz. serving
Hot buttered rum: 350 calories and 28 grams of sugar per 8-oz. serving
White Russian drink: 179 calories and 58 grams of sugar in a less than a 7-oz. serving
Why water is your best choice
Water hydrates – sugars don’t, and excess sugar can dehydrate you. Water is the healthiest option that can benefit your body in many ways, including:
Energize your muscles
Boost your metabolism
Act as an appetite suppressant
Keep your skin looking good
Flush harmful toxins out of your system
Lubricate your joints
Help maintain optimal blood pressure levels
So, why not reach for a refreshing glass of water instead of those high-calorie sugary drinks? If you are having trouble drinking the recommended amount of water, flavor it by adding fruits, flavored powders, herbs, or try sparkling water. To help you drink a little more water, drink it with every snack or meal, and keep a bottle with you in your car, at your desk, or in your bag to sip on it throughout the day. Drink up and enjoy some H2O!
Have you been to the dairy section of the grocery store lately? If you have, you may have noticed some difficulty finding your favorite cow’s milk. In addition to your fat-free, 1%, 2%, and whole milks, there is an abundance of nut, grain, and legume-based “non-dairy beverages” or more commonly, “milks,” occupying the shelves. As more plant-based milk alternatives become available, there has been a downward trend in cow’s milk intake.
The Emergence of Plant-Based, Non-Dairy, Milk-Alternative Beverages
Between 2000 and 2016, the USDA’s economic research service reported the “U.S. per capita dairy milk consumption decreased by 22%.”1,2 There are many reported theories for this decline over the years. The most common is milk allergy or intolerance of lactose and/or one of the milk proteins, casein. Other contributions include digestive issues (Inflammatory Bowel Disease including Crohn’s, Colitis, and Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, and concerns over inflammation), a vegan lifestyle, concerns surrounding the use of antibiotics, pesticides, and hormones as well as information relating to the carbon footprint of cows.3
Are these alternative products really milk?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, milk is:
1 a: a fluid secreted by the mammary glands of females for the nourishment of their young
By this definition, products from nuts, grains, and legumes are not milk. This has led to many lawsuits by the dairy industry of manufacturers calling their products “milk.” And to that end, there was an addendum to the definition of milk4:
b: (1): milk from an animal and especially a cow used as food by people
(2): a food product produced from seeds or fruit that resembles and used similarly to cow’s milk
From this definition, one could call the plant-based products “milk.”
A milk is a milk is a milk?
Dairy foods produced from cow’s milk provide many nutrients needed by the human body. They are particularly good sources of protein, calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus, not to mention many other vitamins and minerals.
Protein is needed by the body for tissue growth and repair. It also aids in the building of bone, muscle, and blood. Cow’s milk provides the body with two types of protein: whey and casein. Together, they make milk an excellent source of protein.
Calcium is a mineral that is needed for strong bones and teeth. Calcium also keeps our blood vessels healthy and our heart beating steady. Cow’s milk is an excellent source of the type of calcium the human body absorbs and uses.
Vitamin D is needed by the body to absorb calcium. A diet that is inadequate in vitamin D can lead to brittle bones and muscle aches. Vitamin D is also converted on our skin with exposure to the sun—however, sunscreen limits this conversion, which is why vitamin D supplementation is very common. Cow’s milk does not contain vitamin D but is fortified with it.
Phosphorus is another mineral needed by the body for healthy bones, teeth, muscles, and blood vessels. The amount of phosphorus in the blood affects the amount of calcium in the blood. All of these nutrients work together for healthy muscles, tissue, bones, and teeth.
Cow’s milk is rich with many additional nutrients, which are not offered in plant-based alternatives. The alternatives can be fortified to become more nutritionally equivalent to cow’s milk but may also contain additives to produce a creamy, thick texture to help stabilize the product. Common additives to plant-based milks include carrageenan, gums, lecithin, and vegetable oil. These additives can negatively affect your health, especially people with allergies.
There are many plant-based milk alternatives available, including nuts (almond, cashew, coconut), legumes (soy, pea), grains (oat, rice), and seeds (flax, hemp). How do they compare nutritionally? The table below provides an overview of the nutritional composition of 8 ounces of a plant-based beverage compared to 8 ounces of 1% cow’s milk.
Table 1 Overview of the nutritional content of plant-based milk compared to cow’s milk
How do popular plant-based milks compare?
There are many ways that manufacturers make their milk alternatives and include varying amounts of added nutrients.
Most milks are made by grinding nuts and adding water. During the straining process, protein and other nutrients are lost, which requires fortification.
Almond milk is both pasteurized and sterilized to remove pathogens per federal regulations. Although almond milk is a great source of vitamin E, it is very low in vitamins, minerals, and essential fats.5
Cashew milk may contain almond butter as various thickeners.
Coconut milk is a good source of vitamin B12, but it also contains saturated fat. It is typically used for baking rather than drinking. Most products chosen as a beverage have water added and are labeled as a “coconut milk beverage”5 and may contribute fiber.
Hazelnut milk compares with almond as far as calories and protein but does have added stabilizers.
Macadamia milk has a similar profile to coconut with its saturated fat content, and through enriching, it is also a good source of both calcium and B12.
Since the 1950s, the public eye has seen soymilk as the closest non-dairy product to cow’s milk. Soymilk is an excellent source of calcium and protein. The production process includes soaking, crushing, cooking, and straining soybeans5. Unfortunately, this product can be a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) depending on the manufacturer and comes with controversy regarding its health effects due to its phytoestrogen content which has fueled breast cancer risk concerns in the past.
Gaining popularity due to its protein content, milk made from yellow field peas is becoming more widely available in a variety of flavors. To make this milk, peas are first milled into a flour, which separates the protein from the starch. The protein is then combined with water and other ingredients to produce milk. This plant-based milk is very close in taste to cow’s milk and it is fortified with calcium. Many environmentalists like this product due to its low carbon footprint.
The go-to product for those with allergies, rice milk is made by boiling brown rice and brown rice starch in water. This milk is low in protein and until it is enriched it is also very low in most nutrients. Fat is sometimes added as an emulsifier. Oat milk is made by cleaning, toasting, and hulling the oat and combining it with other grains. It does contain fiber which is missing from cow’s milk. The oat contributes its own iron, vitamin E, and folic acid. As grain products, they are both naturally higher in carbohydrate than other non-dairy milks. Both are good choices for those with nut and seed allergies but may contain gluten.
Hemp milk originates from the Cannabis sativa plant but is low in THC which is psychotropic. It is gluten, nut, and soy-free and low in carbohydrate. It contains both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids and some calcium among other nutrients.
Flax milk is made from cold-pressed flax oil combined with water, thickeners, and emulsifiers. Nutritionally, it is similar to almond milk but provides a good amount of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Flax does come with health controversies as well as it contains three times the amount of phytoestrogens as soy milk.
We have covered nut, seed, grain, and legume-based milk, but make way for one made from fruit! Just as the name implies, this “milk” is made from pureed organic bananas and roasted organic sunflower seeds6. Gellan gum is added for stabilization and thickening. Nutritionally, it is low in protein and contains no calcium. On the plus side, it is vegan-friendly, non-GMO, has no added sugar, and is nut, dairy, gluten, and carrageenan free.
More and more people are looking for alternatives to cow’s milk for a variety of reasons. Allergies, antibiotics, and hormones found in cow’s milk and the carbon footprint of cows are concerns for many. There are more alternatives to cow’s milk available today than ever—and don’t be surprised if you see even more in the future. What to choose depends on what you are looking for in a product as well as any special health needs you may have. Remember to read and compare the label and ingredients to find the best product for you.
Watch the following video on shopping for milk.
References and sources:
1. USDA, Economic Research Service. Dairy Products, per Captia Consumption. Government Publishing Office, 13 July 2019, www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/dairy data/documentation/#Loc7. Accessed 18 Aug. 2019. Dairy Data.
2. McCarthy, Niall. “Milk’s Massive American Decline.” Statista Daily Infographic, 13 May 2019, www.statista.com. Accessed 18 Aug. 2019. Infographic.
3. Ferreira, Sanae. “Going Nuts About Milk? Here’s What You Need to Know About Plant-Based Milk Alternatives.” American Society for Nutrition, 25 Jan. 2019, nutrition.org/. Accessed 9 Aug.2019.
4. “Milk.” Dictionary by Merriam-Webster, 2019 ed., Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com. Accessed 18 Aug. 2019.
5. Bridges, Meagan. “Moo-ove Over, Cow’s Milk: The Rise of Plant-Based Dairy Alternatives.” Practical Gastroenterology, 171st ser., Jan. 2018, pp. 20-27, www.practicalgastro.com. Accessed 18 Aug. 2019.
Vanga, Asi Kranthi, and Vijaya Raghavan. “How Well Do Plant-Based Alternatives Fare Nutritionally Compared to Cow’s Milk?” Journal of Food Science Technology, vol. 55, no. 1, Jan. 2018, pp. 10-20, doi:10.1007/s13197-017-2915-y. Accessed 18 Aug. 2019.
What you eat each day affects your health and how you feel now and in the future. Good nutrition plays a major role in helping you lead a healthy lifestyle. When combined with physical activity, your diet can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, and promote overall health and wellbeing.
Creating and maintaining healthy eating habits doesn’t have to be hard. If you start by incorporating small changes into your daily habits, you can make a big impact on your eating pattern and create lasting, healthy eating habits. Try including at least six of the following eight goals into your diet by adding one new goal each week.
1. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert. The more colorful you make your plate, the more likely you are to get the vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs to be healthy.
2. Make half the grains you eat whole grains
Switch from a refined-grain food to a whole-grain food. For example, choose whole-wheat bread instead of white bread. Read the ingredients list and choose products that list a whole-grain ingredients first. Look for things like: “whole wheat,” “brown rice,” “bulgur,” “buckwheat,” “oatmeal,” “rolled oats,” quinoa,” or “wild rice.”
3. Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
Both have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.
4. Choose a variety of lean protein foods
Protein foods group includes not only meat, poultry, and seafood, but also dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Select leaner cuts of ground beef (where the label says 90% lean or higher), turkey breast, or chicken breast.
5. Compare sodium in foods
Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose lower sodium versions of foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals. Select canned foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”
6. Drink water instead of sugary drinks
Drink water to cut back on unnecessary calories from sugary drinks. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories in American diets. To add flavor to your water, add a slice of lemon, lime, apple or fresh herbs like mint or basil.
7. Eat some seafood
Seafood has protein, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids (heart-healthy fat). Adults should try to eat at least eight ounces a week of a variety of seafood. Children can eat smaller amounts of seafood. Seafood includes fish such as salmon, tuna, and trout and shellfish such as crab, mussels, and oysters.
8. Cut back on solid fats
Eat fewer foods that contain solid fats. The major sources for Americans are cakes, cookies, and other desserts (often made with butter, margarine, or shortening); pizza; processed and fatty meats (e.g., sausages, hot dogs, bacon, ribs); and ice cream.
Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
To maintain your healthy eating habits, try the following tips.
Add More Fruits & Veggies
Mix veggies into your go-to dishes. Swap meat for peppers and mushrooms in your tacos or try veggie pasta instead of grain pasta like one made out of black beans for more plant-based protein.
Use fresh fruits and veggies whenever possible. Watch for sodium in canned veggies and look for canned fruit packed in water instead of syrup.
Pack your child’s lunch bag with fruits and veggies: sliced apples, a banana or carrot sticks.
Prepare Healthy Snacks
Teach children the difference between everyday snacks such as fruits and veggies and occasional snacks such as cookies and sweets.
Keep cut-up fruits and veggies like carrots, peppers, or orange slices in the refrigerator.
Prepare your meals for the week by making them ahead on weekends or on a day off.
Reduce Fat, Salt, and Sugar
When eating out, choose baked or grilled food instead of fried and do the same at home.
Make water your go-to drink instead of soda or sweetened beverages.
Read labels on packaged ingredients to find foods lower in sodium.
Reduce amounts of salt added to food when cooking and use herbs and spices instead to add flavor like paprika, turmeric, black pepper, garlic or onion powder.
Control Portion Sizes
When preparing meals at home, use smaller plates.
Don’t clean your plate if you’re full, instead save leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.
Portion sizes depend on the age, gender, and activity level of the individual.
Practice Healthy Eating in School
Bring healthy snacks into your child’s classroom for birthday parties and holiday celebrations, instead of providing sugary treats.
Pack healthy lunches for children including whole grains, fruits and veggies, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.1
Reflect, Replace, and Reinforce
Making sudden, radical changes to eating habits such as eating nothing but cabbage soup, can lead to short-term weight loss but it won’t be successful in the long run. To permanently improve your eating habits:
Reflect on all your habits, both good and bad, and your common triggers for unhealthy eating.
Replace your unhealthy eating habits with healthier ones.
Reinforce your new, healthier habits.
Keep a food diary for a few days to evaluate what you eat every day. Note how you were feeling when you ate – hungry, not hungry, tired, or stressed?
Create a list of “cues” by reviewing your food diary to become more aware when you’re “triggered” to eat for reasons other than hunger. Note how you’re feeling at those times.
Circle the cues on your list that you face on a daily or weekly basis.
Ask yourself about the cues you’ve circled; is there anything else you can do to avoid the cue or situation? If you can’t avoid it, can you do something differently that would be healthier?
Replace unhealthy habits with new, healthy ones.
Reinforce your new, healthy habits and be patient with yourself. You can do it! Take it one day at a time! 2
To make sure your meals are balanced and nutritious, use the MyPlate, MyWins at choosemyplate.gov to create healthy eating solutions that work for you.
Take preventive measures today to take care of your heart and body. In the past few months, the U.S. has witnessed one of the worst flu seasons since the swine-flu pandemic of 2009. A recent study suggests that the flu doesn’t just cause aches, chills, and fatigue but it may also increase the risk of a heart attack. The study shows a six-fold increase in heart attacks shortly after people get the flu.1
The Flu Season
The flu season usually begins in October or November and peaks between December and February, and can last as late as May, according to the CDC. Each year, the flu is estimated to cause between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths and up to 710,000 hospitalizations in the U.S.1
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot. The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology recommend the shot for people with heart disease.
Another way to protect yourself against disease is to improve your heart health. The American Heart Association has started a ‘Healthy For Good’ revolutionary movement to inspire you to create lasting change in your health and your life, one small step at a time. The following are excellent ways to boost your immune system and prevent diseases.
Eat Smart to Stay Healthy
A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons against cardiovascular disease. Eating healthy doesn’t mean dieting or giving up the foods you love.
Eat more plants! When you eat a vegetarian diet, be sure to add foods rich in iron, Vitamin B12, Calcium, and Zinc.
Limit sweets, fatty or processed meats, solid fats like butter, and salty or highly processed foods.
Avoid bad fats (solid or saturated fats from animal sources like meat, dairy, and tropical oils) and incorporate healthier fats (nontropical liquid oils, nuts and seeds, avocados, and fatty fish) into your diet.
Stock your kitchen with fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Ditch the processed and junk foods!
Instead of eliminating foods you love, concentrate on eating smaller portions.
Eat reasonable portions, even when you’re served more than you need (Split an entrée when dining out).
A good starting goal is at least 150 minutes a week, but if you don’t want to sweat the numbers, just move more! Find forms of exercise you enjoy and will stick with, and build more opportunities to be active into your routine.
Start walking – begin with a few minutes each day, and add more minutes each week.
Find ways to make walking fun, whether that’s changing your route, inviting friends or listening to your favorite podcast.
Don’t skip out on your warm-up, 5-10 minutes is a good rule of thumb.
Get the whole family moving – adding exercise is easier when it’s a shared activity.
Make time during a busy day for activity by going for a brisk walk during your lunch break or taking the stairs as often as possible.
Cool down after a workout to help your body reset and recover a little bit easier – this is the best time to stretch when your muscles are still warm.
Turn TV time into a workout – during every commercial break do a body weight exercise (squats, push ups, jumping jacks).
An easy first step to eating healthy is to include fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack. All forms (fresh, frozen, canned and dried) and all colors count, so go ahead and add color to your plate – and your life!
To mix up your spaghetti routine, add an imposter pasta such as one made from black bean, edamame, chick pea or a vegetable pasta such as zucchini noodles.
Roast vegetables in high heat to caramelize and bring out their natural flavors; don’t overdo it with salt or sauces.
Grill fruits to unlock a deeper sweetness and give their color some char.
Add color to your plate with the 5 main color groups: red and pink, blue and purple, yellow and orange, white and brown and green. Check out healthyforgood.heart.org for examples from each group.
Look at your plate each time you eat, and if it’s too beige, add a serving of fruits or vegetables.
Go meatless – add mushrooms in place of beef, go with veggies and beans in your stir fry or use thick cut eggplant in place of chicken.
Along with eating right and being active, better health requires getting enough sleep, practicing mindfulness, managing stress, keeping your mind and body fit, and connecting socially.
Be more active, limit caffeine before bed, and establish a better sleep routine.
Neutralize your racing mind by acknowledging thoughts as they come and letting them pass freely.
Focus on healthy outlets for stress, like taking a walk, journaling, volunteering or a hobby that you love.
Take time out for you – use your vacation days, whether you go on a big trip or just hang at home for a staycation.
Don’t overlook your emotional and mental health – get help if you need it to manage stress, anxiety, depression or grief.
Practice deep breathing techniques by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth slowly and deliberately.
Take preventive measures to avoid stress, like leaving a few minutes earlier to avoid being late, or avoiding busy roads so you can stay calm while driving.
In high-anxiety situations, give yourself some space – take a walk and come back later when tensions subside.
Prevent the Flu
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu viruses.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
If you are sick with a flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness.
Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines and are not available over-the-counter.
Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.2
Learn the facts and tips about weight loss, nutrition, and physical activity to help you make healthy changes in your daily habits.
Speak to your health care provider who can help you answer questions about weight loss. A registered dietitian may also give you advice on a healthy eating plan and safe ways to lose weight and keep it off.1
Myth: Fad diets will help me lose weight and keep it off.
Fact: Fad diets are not the best way to lose weight and keep it off. These diets often promise quick weight loss if you strictly reduce what you eat or avoid some types of foods. These diets may help you lose weight at first, but they are hard to follow. Most people quickly get tired of them and regain any lost weight.
Fad diets may be unhealthy. They may not provide all of the nutrients your body needs. Also, losing more than 3 pounds a week after the first few weeks may increase your chances of developing gallstones (solid matter in the gallbladder that can cause pain). Being on a diet of fewer than 800 calories a day for a long time may lead to serious heart problems.
TIP: Research suggests that safe weight loss involves combining a reduced-calorie diet with physical activity to lose 1/2 to 2 pounds a week (after the first few weeks of weight loss). Make healthy food choices. Eat small portions. Build exercise into your daily life. Combined, these habits may be a healthy way to lose weight and keep it off. These habits may also lower your chances of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
Myth: Grain products such as bread, pasta, and rice are fattening. I should avoid them when trying to lose weight.
Fact: A grain product is any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain. Grains are divided into two subgroups, whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel—the bran, germ, and endosperm. Examples include brown rice and whole-wheat bread, cereal, and pasta. Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but it also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins.
People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet may lower their chances of developing some chronic diseases. Government dietary guidelines advise making half your grains whole grains. For example, choose 100 percent whole-wheat bread instead of white bread, and brown rice instead of white rice.
TIP: To lose weight, reduce the number of calories you take in and increase the amount of physical activity you do each day. Create and follow a healthy eating plan that replaces less healthy options with a mix of fruits, veggies, whole grains, protein foods, and low-fat dairy:
Eat a mix of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
Limit added sugars, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and saturated fat.
Myth: Some people can eat whatever they want and still lose weight.
Fact: To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat and drink. Some people may seem to get away with eating any kind of food they want and still lose weight. But those people, like everyone, must use more energy than they take in through food and drink to lose weight.
A number of factors such as your age, genes, medicines, and lifestyle habits may affect your weight. If you would like to lose weight, speak with your health care provider about factors that may affect your weight. Together, you may be able to create a plan to help you reach your weight and health goals.
TIP: When trying to lose weight, you can still eat your favorite foods as part of a healthy eating plan. But you must watch the total number of calories that you eat. Reduce your portion sizes. Find ways to limit the calories in your favorite foods. For example, you can bake foods rather than frying them. Use low-fat milk in place of cream. Make half of your plate fruits and veggies.
Physical Activity Myths
Myth: Lifting weights is not a good way to lose weight because it will make me “bulk up.”
Fact: Lifting weights or doing activities like push-ups and crunches on a regular basis can help you build strong muscles, which can help you burn more calories. To strengthen muscles, you can lift weights, use large rubber bands (resistance bands), do push-ups or sit-ups, or do household or yard tasks that make you lift or dig.
TIP: Government guidelines for physical activity recommend that adults should do activities at least two times a week to strengthen muscles. The guidelines also suggest that adults should get 150 to 300 minutes of moderately intense or vigorous aerobic activity each week—like brisk walking or biking. Aerobic activity makes you sweat and breathe faster.
Myth: Physical activity only counts if I can do it for long periods of time.
Fact: You do not need to be active for long periods to achieve your 150 to 300 minutes of activity each week. Experts advise doing aerobic activity for periods of 10 minutes or longer at a time.
TIP: Plan to do at least 10 minutes of physical activity three times a day on 5 or more days a week. This will help you meet the 150-minute goal. While at work, take a brief walking break. Use the stairs. Get off the bus one stop early. Go dancing with friends. Whether for a short or long period, bursts of activity may add up to the total amount of physical activity you need each week.
For more helpful information, tips, and tools on healthy eating and physical activity, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov.
You’ve probably heard it all your life — eating fruits and vegetables is important for good health, however, most of us still aren’t getting enough.
Balance is Key
People who eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help lower their risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. Eating healthy can also prevent obesity and high blood pressure.2
Fruits, vegetables, and legumes (dry beans and peas) may reduce the risk of several chronic diseases. Compared to people who eat few fruits, vegetables, and legumes, people who eat higher amounts as part of a healthy diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and cancers in certain parts of the body (mouth, throat, lung, esophagus, stomach, and colon-rectum).3
Did You Know?
Did you know that adults in the U.S. only consume fruit about 1.1 times per day and vegetables about 1.6 times per day?1 Eating fruits and vegetables has many health benefits. Fewer than 1 in 4 adults eat the recommended amount of fruits and fewer than 1 in 7 adults eat the recommended amount of vegetables every day.2
The fiber in fruits, vegetables, and legumes is important. Diets rich in fiber-containing foods may reduce the risk of heart disease. Many fruits, vegetables and legumes are also rich in vitamins A, C and K, folate, potassium and magnesium.
Additionally, many fruits, vegetables and legumes are low in calories and high in volume and nutrients so eating more fruits and vegetables can help you feel full without eating too many calories. As a result, this may help you lose a few pounds along the way.
How Much Should You Eat?
By making fruits and vegetables the focal point of every meal, you will be able to meet your recommended amount each day. Easiest way to do this is by filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal.4
The number of cups of fruits and vegetables your family needs depends on caloric needs, which are determined by age, gender and activity level. Visit fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org for more details.
Become a Label Reader!
One caution about buying packaged (canned, dried, or frozen) fruits and vegetables is they may contain added sugars, saturated fats, or sodium—ingredients you may need to limit. There are three places to look on a package that give you clues about what is in the food: the ingredient list, the Nutrition Facts label, and the front label of the package.
Added sugars can appear on the ingredient list as brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert corn syrup, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, maple syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, and syrup.
If fruits and vegetables are canned, dried, or frozen, use the Nutrition Facts label to check the calories, the nutrient content, added salt (sodium), and sugar. Use the percent Daily Value (% DV) to determine how much dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium, are in the food you select; 5% DV or less is low and 20% DV or more is high. If you want to meet recommended intakes for certain nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium, look for food high in those nutrients. For nutrients that you need to limit your intake of, such as sodium and saturated fat, select food that is low in those nutrients.
In addition, the label on the front of the package may contain claims about the product put there by the manufacturer. Use the claims on fruit and vegetable packages to identify foods with little salt (sodium) or added sugars. Examples include “low sodium,” “no added salt,” “no added sugar,” and “unsweetened.”3
Tips for Eating More Fruits & Veggies
Add more fruits and vegetables to a favorite recipe (for example, add vegetables to your favorite pasta, grated carrots or zucchini to meat loaf, or fruit to a homemade dessert).
Add vegetables to your sandwich at lunch.
Add canned, dried or fresh fruit to your salad (for example, canned mandarin oranges, dried cranberries or fresh apples).
Add vegetables to your soup, rice, or pasta at dinner.
Cut up vegetables for easy access in your refrigerator.
Try a new method for cooking vegetables (for example, grilling, roasting or sautéing).
Bring fruit to have on hand, and eat a piece when you get hungry.
Keep a snack bag of dried fruit (like raisins or cranberries) in your purse or desk.
Bring your lunch to work, and include at least two servings of fruits or vegetables.
Ask your server if you can choose vegetables for a side dish with your order.