Seems to be all about nutrition this week:
Sodium patrol: Making salt saltier (so you eat less)–Little Stomaks
Would-be urban gardener: I have the rooftop, but not the garden. Maybe this will inspire my not-so-green thumb.–The New York Times
Are Americans will to pay the cost of good nutrition? Eh, maybe, according to a new survey–NutraIngedients-USA.com
Some people won’t lose weight, even if you pay them. Or, at least, money ain’t a great weight-loss motivator.–Cornell University
Beware the box: Lia Huber, founder of the Nourish Network, has a terrific weekly “Nibble to Noodle” newsletter in which she offers tidbits about nutrition, food, and good eats. Visit Lia’s site to sign up for her e-newsletter (with recipes!). This week, she tackles overblown nutrition claims found on packaged food claims:
- No Cholesterol and Low in Saturated Fat — These phrases typically appeal to those looking out for their cardiovascular health (and bravo to you for doing so!). Where it gets misleading is that dietary cholesterol has turned out to have much less effect on our bodies than previously thought; it’s the types of fat we consume, and their respective impact on LDL and HDL cholesterol, that matter. Saturated fat raises harmful LDL, but it also raises helpful HDL so the net effect isn’t too terribly awful. Trans fat–identified either by gram in the nutritional panel or by the term partially hydrogenated in the ingredients list–is by far the worst type of fat because it both raises LDL and lowers HDL. So let’s flip the box over and see what’s there. The nutritional panel lists trans fat at 0 grams, but because a product can contain up to .5 grams of trans fat and still list the amount at 0, I like to double-check the ingredients list for partially-hydrogenated oils. And there, right in the middle of the list, is partially-hydrogenated cottonseed oil. So much for those benefits.
- Half the Fat — True, at 2 grams per serving these Ritzes contain half the fat of normal Ritzes which weigh in at 4 grams. But what does that really tell us? If we’re concerned about the fat itself, we already know that these are made with a less-than-ideal type. And if we’re equating fat grams with whether or not the crackers will make us fat, we’re looking in the wrong place. Calories (or more specifically, an excess of calories) cause weight gain, not total fat grams. These Reduced Fat Ritz have 70 calories per serving–not bad, until you consider that a serving is only 5 crackers. Up that to a more realistic 10 and you’re looking at 140 calories, roughly seven percent of an average daily “calorie budget” of 2,000.
So here you have a snack with virtually no value for your body that gobbles up close to a tenth of your allotted calories for the day and includes a downright dangerous type of fat. This is a sensible solution? For whom . . . us or Nabisco?