How's Your Nutrition Know-how?

Toni Hurst Health Guide
  • Ever go grocery shopping and wish you could have your computer with you to be able to compare the nutritional value of various foods? The average supermarket carries more than 40,000 items, so how are you supposed to make smart choices when there are so many things to choose from, and nutritional info is sometimes hard to figure out? 


    Some researchers at Yale University must have had the same problem, because they came up with an index for foods, from 0 to 100, giving them a score for the ‘overall nutritional quality' of a food's micronutrient and macronutrient composition and several other of its nutritional properties (e.g., energy density). Beginning in September, some supermarkets will be posting the rankings. When you start seeing the rankings, know that 100 is the best and of course zero is the worst.  Here are some samples that might surprise you: Diet soda is better (slightly) than pretzel sticks (ouch) and dry roasted almonds get twice the score of dry roasted & salted sunflower seeds.

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    Here are some questions from the Overall Nutrition Quality Index and its website, and another nutrition website, Test your nutrition knowledge and then start checking out the rankings at your local supermarket:


    Q. Which has more sodium, Fritos Original chips or Kellogg's Special K cereal?


    A. Special K, by a huge margin. The cereal has 183 mg of sodium per 100 calories versus 106 mg of sodium per 100 calories for the chips.


    Q. Which is more nutritious, blueberries or an avocado?


    A. Blueberries, which are a nearly perfect food.


    Q. Prego Tomato, Basil and Garlic Italian Sauce has less sugar than Reese's Chocolate Shop Sprinkles, right?


    A.   Wrong. Jarred spaghetti sauce is well-known for its over-the-top sugar content. In this case, Prego's sauce has 12 grams of sugar per 100 calories versus Reese's chocolate sprinkles at 8.8 grams of sugar per 100 calories.


    Q. What's the easiest ways to eliminate excess salt from your diet?


    A. By removing the salt shaker from the table and limiting the amount of salt you use during the cooking process, you can remove about 40 percent of the excess sodium that you eat in a typical day, according to a nutrition expert on the site Just as important, she says, is cutting back on processed foods, especially fast food. You can eliminate about another 40 to 50 percent of the average daily sodium intake by doing this.


    Q. Is unbuttered popcorn more nutritious or pasta?


    A. Unbuttered popcorn.


    Q. Which of these two cereals is a healthier choice? Kellogg's Frosted Flakes or Kellogg's Reduced Sugar Frosted Flakes?


    A.  The group at Yale ranks the regular Frosted Flakes nutritionally higher because the reduced-sugar cereal has higher levels of sodium and calories, plus a higher glycemic index and a lower level of fiber.



    The lesson here: Women in menopause start putting on weight as a matter of course, and often suffer high blood pressure, therefore needing to reduce their sodium intake. Lots of you have asked questions about losing weight, and staying within normal weight limits and exercising is a great goal and will help you live a healthier, longer life. But don't always reach for the low-fat or reduced-sugar items at the grocery store. Compare nutritional labels. Go with fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible, and try to stay away from canned or processed foods. Become the from-scratch cook you always wanted to be!





Published On: August 29, 2008