FNIC strives to serve the professional community (including educators, health professionals and researchers) by providing access to a wide range of trustworthy food and nutrition resources from both government and non-government sources. The FNIC website provides information about food and human nutrition.
Nutrition.gov serves as a gateway to reliable information on nutrition, healthy eating, physical activity, and food safety for consumers. The site is updated on an ongoing basis by a staff of Registered Dietitians at the Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) located at the National Agricultural Library (NAL), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Have you noticed the change? The Nutrition Facts Label has had its first major update in over 20 years. The goal is to help consumers make informed food choices for lifelong healthy eating habits.
The serving size is now in a larger, bold font. Some serving sizes have been updated to reflect what people typically eat and drink today. The serving size is not a recommendation of how much to eat.
Calories are in a larger, bolder font so they are easy to find.
Daily values (%DV) have been updated. A 5% or below DV is considered low. A 20% DV or more is considered high.
The nutrient list has been updated to remove calories from fat and vitamins A and C. Grams of added sugars has been added because consuming too much added sugars takes away other nutrient needs. Vitamin D and potassium were added because most people do not get enough.
March brings us closer to spring colors, such as fresh green foods! Some of those green foods contain lutein which helps keep our eyes healthier and could reduce the eye disease age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Lutein is a xanthophyll found in foods such as basil, parsley, kale, spinach, broccoli, peas and lettuce.
Some risk factors for AMD are out of our control such as advancing age, being female, having light skin and/or blue eyes, and having a close relative with the disease. Other factors include smoking, being sedentary, not consuming enough fruits and vegetables, and too much sun exposure.
But, eating eye-healthy foods can reduce the chances of getting AMD. So how can you incorporate these green foods into your diet? Add bright green vegetables to a party tray. Add a green salad as a side dish to lunch or dinner. Make the color pop in broccoli and green peas by blanching them briefly in boiling water, then put them into ice water to stop the cooking process. This enhances the green color to make those vegetables more appetizing.
The Mediterranean way of eating emphasizes a lot of fruits and vegetables. There are a variety of options to achieve this goal.
Fresh fruits and vegetables choices change throughout the year based on growing season. But, many of these same foods are available in frozen, canned, or dried forms year around. Look for plain frozen fruits and vegetables without added flavors or sauces. Choose canned products without added salt for vegetables or canned in their own juice for fruit. Dried fruits can be eaten as is or can be rehydrated.
Fresh or frozen fish options are few in some locations. But canned tuna or salmon, packed in water or olive oil, are good choices.
Don’t have fresh herbs? There are many dried herbs available to use instead. A general substitution is 1/4 teaspoon dried ground = 1 teaspoon dried whole/crumbled = 1 tablespoon fresh chopped.
If certain foods are not available in your local grocery store, ask the manager to order the item. You may not be the only person looking for it and it could become a regular item on the shelf.
While we encourage consumers to eat healthy vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts, to some, the bitterness will turn up their nose.
Turns out, this could be genetic. Researchers at the University of Kentucky School of Medicine discovered that we all inherit two copies of the TAS2R38 taste gene. There are two variants of this gene, the AVI and PAV variants. If you have two copies of the AVI variant, you are not as sensitive to bitter flavors those foods. If you have one of each variant, you perceive bitter flavors in the same foods. If you have two PAV variants, you are a “super-taster” and those foods will be very bitter and inedible.
There have been many reports on the benefits of drinking tea. It can be refreshing, soothing, calming and also provide health benefits.
In a recent study from the National University of Singapore, they looked at how tea effects brain function. Specifically, they targeted the connection between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. This was designed to see if tea would reduce the aging affects on the brain and the connections regarding cognition and organization.
By using neuropsychological tests and magnetic resonance imaging, the study found that consumers who drank black, green, or oolong tea four times a week had better brain connectivity and better functionality.