Facts with Hope
FACT: Data from the National Center for Health Statistics show that children are getting 322 calories a day from added sugar, or about 16% of calories they consume each day. A study found that 59% of added-sugar calories come from food and 41% from beverages. About 65% of such calories are consumed at home.
HOPE: As we face an epidemic of obesity, it is critical to model and teach our children the principles of a healthy diet. Last summer the U.S. Department of Agricultural developed a new visual aid to help in choosing healthier foods. A four-part plate of fruit, vegetables, protein, and grains is simple enough for children to understand and use. Download the What’s On Your Plate? poster from www.myplate.gov and begin the discussion today.
FACT: The latest nationally-representative surveys find that 80 percent of Americans don’t eat enough fruit, 90 percent don’t eat enough vegetables, and 99 percent fall short on whole grains.
HOPE: Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a physician and author of Eat for Health, coined the term “nutritarian” as a person who strives for more micronutrients per calorie in their diet. Make a game of choosing colorful, natural, plant foods over processed foods and animal products. Getting the most nutrients in the fewest calories possible is the recipe for disease prevention and reversal and for permanent weight loss.
FACT: Research shows that a single serving of green leafy vegetables every day lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease by 11 percent and diabetes by 9 percent.
HOPE: Don’t particularly like green leafy vegetables? Try adding them to other foods. Toss a handful of spinach in a pasta dish, soup, or even a smoothie. You’ll hardly notice the taste difference, but you body will enjoy the added health benefits.
FACT: Individuals who eat high levels of saturated fats tend to develop type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases at high rates, while those who eat more polyunsaturated fats tend to have better cardiovascular and metabolic health. A recent study funded by the American Diabetes Association discovered that fat cells are capable of sensing and discriminating between the types of fatty acids that reach its membrane. Researchers observed that increases in saturated fatty acids in the cell membrane trigger a response that activates enzymes that interfere with insulin function, while mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids in the cell membrane elicit an opposite effect that blocks this pathway and prevents insulin resistance.
HOPE: We can make a help to prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease by paying attention to the type of fats in our diet. The best sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are found, not surprisingly, in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and fish. Easy ways to eat more of these good fats include using vegetable oils for cooking and baking, creating your own healthy salad dressings, and eating more avocados, nuts and olives.
- Ervin, R. B., Kit, B. K., Carroll, M. D. & Ogden, C. L. (2012). Consumption of added sugar among U.S. children and adolescents, 2005–2008. NCHS Data Brief, 87. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db87.htm.
- Krebs-Smith, S. M., Guenther, P. M., Subar, A. F., Kirkpatrick, S. I., & Dodd, K. W. (2010). Americans do not meet federal dietary recommendations. Journal of Nutrition, 140, 1832–1838.
- Craig, W. (n.d.). Health Benefits of Green Leafy Vegetables. Vegetarian Nutriton Info. Retrieved from http://www.vegetarian-nutrition.info/updates/benefits-of-green-leafy-vegetables.php.
- Holzer, R. G., Park, E. J., Li, N., Tran, H., Chen, M., Choi, C., Solinas, G. & Karin, M. (2011). Saturated fatty acids induce c-Src clustering within membrane subdomains, leading to JNK activation. Cell, 147(1), 173-84.