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Calories, fat, protein, carbohydrate, fiber, calcium, sodium, potassium, vitamins A, C and folic acid the list of these nutrients is long. Because your body is working all the time (even when you are sleeping), you need a source of calories and other nutrients to keep you going. It's reassuring to know that you can get all of them in the foods you enjoy. Different foods have different assortments of nutrients; some foods, like meat and cheese, are high in protein; others, like milk and yogurt, have lots of calcium. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and fiber. When you eat a variety of foods, you get all the nutrients you need. The Most Complete Food Counter will help you make sure that you do. It is the most comprehensive nutrition resource, listing nutrition values for over 21,000 foods along with a dictionary that explains nutrition terms in simple language.
You get calories from the fat, protein, and carbohydrate in foods. Fat has the most calories of the three, more than twice as many as protein and carbohydrate. One teaspoon of olive oil (fat) has 40 calories, while a teaspoon of either sugar (carbohydrate) or unsweetened gelatin (protein) has only 16 calories.
Most men need about 2,400 calories a day, while most women need as few as 1,800. If a person is very active, calorie intake can go as high as 3,900 for men and 3,000 for women. Very few people need this many calories.
Eating too much fat is not healthy. But some fat is needed by the body. How do you figure out how much to eat? A government recommendation, the Daily Value (DV) for a 2,000-calorle diet, is 65grams or less of fat a day. As a rule of thumb, if you are an average-weight, moderately active adult, and you want a benchmark for your total fat grams each day, simply divide your weight in half.
It's not always easy to tell if a food is high in fat by looking at it. Some visible fat can be seen on slices of roast beef or bacon or in foods like butter, margarine, and oil. But in many foods like milk, eggs, cheese, avocados, pastries, and nuts the fat is not so obvious. That's when The Most Complete Food Counter comes in handy.
Saturated Fat (Sat fat)
Saturated fats are solid fats found in meat, butter, ice cream, and margarine. Most saturated fats raise the body's cholesterol level; others, like some of the saturated fat in chocolate and beef, do not. People with high cholesterol levels are at greater risk for a heart attack. Research suggests that saturated fat may also increase the risk for ovarian cancer in women. The government recommendation, the Daily Value (DV) for a 2,000-calorie diet, is 20 grams or less of saturated fat a day.
Although the body needs cholesterol to function normally, when the blood level gets too high it's not healthy. Some of the cholesterol can be deposited in the arteries, narrowing them and interfering with normal blood flow. Cholesterol can be made in the body. Strict vegetarians, who eat no animal foods, make all the cholesterol they need. Most experts suggest that people limit their cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams or less a day.
Protein is in every cell and substance in the body except for urine and bile (a digestive juice). It is used for growth, repair, and replacement of cells worn out in daily living. Most experts recommend a protein intake of 51 to 64 grams a day for a woman weighing 140 pounds and 62 to 77 grams for a man weighing 170 pounds. As high protein foods are popular, many people eat much more than that amount.
Carbohydrates include sugars, starches, and fiber. A healthy intake is between 50 and 60 percent of the calories eaten. In a 2,000-calorie diet that would be 250 to 300 grams of carbohydrate. But only a small portion of that, 50 to 60 grams, should come from sugar in sweets.
Fiber is the part of plants that is not digested. Adequate fiber helps you avoid constipation, control weight, lower cholesterol, and protects against some cancers. The average fiber intake of Americans is about 15 grams a day, which is only one-half of the 25 to 30 grams recommended by experts.
There is more calcium in the body than any other mineral, about two pounds in the average person. Adequate calcium through the growing years is needed to build strong bones to help protect against fractures later in life. The government recommended Adequate Intake (AI) for calcium is 1,000 milligrams a day for adults aged 19 to 50 and 1,200 milligrams for those 51 and over. The average daily intake of calcium is only about one-half of this amount.
Sodium is an important mineral in the body, but there is slight danger of getting too little of it. Almost all foods contain sodium, either naturally or as added salt. Table salt is a mixture of sodium and chloride, another mineral. Americans, on average, eat two to three teaspoons of salt a day. That's equal to 4,000 to 6,000 milligrarns of sodium. This is about twice the recommended Daily Value (DV) of less than 2,400 milligrams.
Potassium is a mineral with important roles in the body. Adequate potassium may lower blood pressure. Some medicines (diuretics or "water pills") used to treat high blood pressure may cause potassium to be lost from the body. Laxative use over a long time can do this also. Foods high in potassium may be suggested to compensate for the loss, sometimes along with a supplement. The recommended Daily Value (DV) for potassium is 3,500 milligrams. Americans average about 3,000 milligrams a day.
Vitamin C (Vit C)
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 60 milligrams a day. Americans average an intake of over 100 milligrams. An intake of 200 milligrams of the vitamin saturates the body so that any extra vitamin C is passed out of the body in urine. Doses of over 2 grams may cause diarrhea. Smoking increases the need for vitamin C, and it is recommended that smokers have 100 milligrams of the vitamin each day.
Folic Acid (Folic)
One of the B vitamins, folic acid protects against some birth defects. It also reduces blood levels of a protein, homocysteine, that is believed to be a risk factor for heart disease. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for folic acid is 400 micrograms for those aged 14 and older, with higher levels during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Americans' average intake of folic acid is about 300 micrograms.
Vitamin A (Vit A)
The active form of vitamin A is found only in animal foods like eggs, milk, cheese, and fish liver oils (cod, halibut) that are taken as supplements. Beta-carotene in dark, leafy vegetables and yellow fruits and vegetables can be converted to active vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is needed for healthy eyes and skin, for normal bone growth and reproduction, and aids immune function. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin A is 5,000 International Units (IU) a day for males 11 and older and 4,000 IUs a day for females 11 and older. The RDA for children is lower, ranging from 1,875 IU for infants to 3,500 for those 7 to 10.
USING YOUR MOST COMPLETE FOOD COUNTER
The Most Complete Food Counter lists the calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, protein, carbohydrate, fiber, calcium, sodium, potassium, vitamins A, C, and folic acid in more than 21,000 foods. These are key nutrients for you to consider when you are choosing foods. Fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium are nutrients you may want to limit. You can be more liberal with the others, aiming for moderate amounts of protein and higher amounts of the rest. Recommended intake for all nutrients counted is described in the introduction. There are still other nutrients needed for good health, but when you eat a variety of foods containing the nutrients listed in this counter, you will automatically get the other necessary nutrients along with them.
Now you will be able to compare your usual food selections with others that are available so you can make the best choices. With this information at your fingertips, you'll find it easy to have a healthier diet. For example, when you want to select pizza, look up the pizza category on page 459. You will see over 155 listed so you can find one that is best for you. Please note that a dash () appears in many entries. A dash simply means that analysis was not done for that nutrient. It is not the same as a "0," which indicates that there is none of the nutrient in that food.
The Most Complete Food Counter has foods listed alphabetically. For each category, you will find nonbranded (generic) foods are listed first in alphabetical order, followed by all alphabetical listing of brand-name foods. The nonbranded listing will help you determine values for foods when you do not find your favorite brand listed. They also help you to evaluate generic and store brands. Large categories are divided into subcategories such as canned, fresh, frozen, and refrigerated to make it easier to find what you are looking for. Many categories have take-out and home recipe subcategories. Look there for foods you take-out or order in a store or restaurant because these foods are not nutrition labeled.
The Most Complete Food Counter is divided into three sections. Part One, Brand Name, Nonbranded (Generic) and Take-Out Foods; Part Two, Restaurant Chains; and Part Three, All the Facts A to Z, a nutrition dictionary to help you understand all the terms you read and hear about.
Most foods are listed alphabetically. But, in some cases, foods are grouped by category, For example, a tuna salad sandwich and tuna salad are found under the category TUNA DISHES. Other group categories include:
ASIAN FOOD: includes all Oriental-type foods
DELI MEATS/COLD CUTS: includes all sandwich meats except chicken, ham and turkey
DINNER: includes all frozen dinners by brand name
ICE CREAM AND FROZEN DESSERTS: includes all dairy and nondairy ice cream and frozen novelties
LIQUOR/LIQUEUR: includes all alcoholic beverages except wine or beer
NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS: includes all meal replacers, diet bars and diet drinks
SPANISH FOOD: includes all Spanish-type and Mexican foods
Copyright © 1999 by Annette Natow and Jo-Ann Heslin