Tag Archives: soda

Juice is good, but eating whole fruits and vegetables is even better!

Nutrition information is often confusing and conflicting, making healthy food choices a challenge. Fortunately, there are some recommendations that are consistent. Among these is eating more fruit and vegetables. Depending on how you consume these foods, you may be missing some of the nutrients that make them so healthy.

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Let’s Agree to Agree About Food

Eating a healthy diet is a goal for many people to help them treat or prevent disease, improve exercise performance, or maintain a healthy body weight. If you pay attention to news about food and nutrition you have probably noticed that there is a great deal of controversy about what constitutes a healthy diet. It’s easy to find lists of foods to avoid and things to eat every day. Unfortunately, lists from different sources may not be the same or, worse, a food that is on one “never eat” list is on another “always eat” list.

There is a different approach you could take to plan the foundation for a truly health way to eat. Instead of focusing on what is different, think about what recommendations are shared among most “healthy” diets. Here is some diet advice that almost everyone agrees on. This is the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week.

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Raise money to cure diabetes while simultaneously developing your own case of diabetes!

I should’t be surprised to see this. But I still am.

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I should point out that this isn’t new–it dates back to 2011–but it was shared with me this week, so it is new to me!


Nutrition, exercise, and health information can be confusing. 
But it doesn't have to be that way.
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That’s NOT fruit!

Making healthy food choices is never easy. It is made more challenging by the fact that some foods that appear to be a smart choice may be less healthy than you think.

This is the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week. It is a topic I have addressed in the past that is still relevant today. Specifically, regarding what my kids picked for breakfast this morning! This shouldn’t be a surprise, since many foods that look healthy, but aren’t are breakfast foods marketed to children.

Often, prepackaged fruits and vegetables contain added sugar, fat, or salt, making them less healthy than eating them fresh. Consumption these foods can also make it less likely that people—especially children—will eat fresh fruits and vegetables when they are available.

The problem is that these foods may look like fruit. They may even contain real fruit juice. But many drinks and snacks–especially for kids– that look like fruit are really candy in disguise.

Here are a couple of examples of foods that may appear to be healthy but, upon closer examination, turn out to be less nutritious than we might think.

Fruit snacks: These gummy fruit treats are a favorite among kids. If you check the package you will probably see that they contain real fruit or fruit juice, so they must be healthy, right? While there is variation among different brands, in most cases these snacks contain little, if any, actual fruit. If you read the ingredients you will see that they do contain lots of added sugar, meaning that many of these snacks are essentially candy. In fact, if you compare some brands of fruit snacks with something that is easily recognized as candy, such as gummy bears, you will see that they have a similar sugar content.

Fruit drinks: Not everything that looks like fruit juice is actually juice. Take Sunny D for example. This popular orange drink contains mostly sugar and water—and only 5% juice. By contrast, real orange juice contains fewer calories and more vitamins per serving. In fact, if you compare the ingredients and nutrition information, Sunny D is essentially orange soda without the bubbles!

There are two problems with this. First, some foods that appear to be healthy because they either claim to or actually do contain fruit are actually less healthy than we might believe. Considering that fruit snacks and fruit drinks are likely to be consumed as alternatives to real fruit juice or a piece of fruit as a snack, these foods could lead to poor nutrition. This is especially true in children.

Second, sweetness is one of the most important tastes we respond to. Consuming food and beverages that are flavored like fruit but are actually much sweeter may make real fruit less palatable. Again, this is especially true for children who may develop an expectation that strawberries should taste like strawberry-flavored fruit snacks or that orange juice should taste as sweet as Sunny D. These kids are likely to prefer the sugar-sweetened version over the real fruit. Since these sugar-sweetened “fruits” tend to be higher in calories, consumption of these foods is one contributor to childhood obesity.

This isn’t just the case with fruit. Adding salt and sauces to vegetables makes them more flavorful, to the point that many of us don’t eat plain vegetables very often. The majority of potatoes are consumed in the form of French fries, loaded with both fat and salt. This has changed how we expect potatoes to taste so that now we typically eat baked potatoes “loaded” with butter, sour cream, cheese or bacon. When was the last time you ate a plain baked potato?

But there are some simple steps you can take to get back to eating real fruit and vegetables. Look for 100% fruit juice or, better yet, a piece of fruit instead of fruit-flavored drinks. Instead of sugar-sweetened fruit snacks, try dehydrated fruit. Cut back on the salt, butter, and other toppings you add to vegetables or purchase frozen vegetables without added sauces.