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Dietitians Dish: Is you good choice really a good choice

By By Lindsay Adams
Feb. 4, 2014 at midnight
Updated Feb. 3, 2014 at 8:04 p.m.


A few weeks ago, I wrote about a few commonly misunderstood foods that are not as healthy as they are portrayed to be.

As a dietitian, I often visit with people who think they are making really good food choices because of the influence of clever marketing and advertisement when, in fact, some of the foods may be sabotaging potential success. Below are a few foods that may not be as good for you as touted.

Trail mix: There is something about this pair of words that screams healthy, whether it is or not. Although some trail mixes can contain healthy ingredients, many contain candy-coated chocolate, deep-fried fruit, yogurt-covered raisins or many other sugary additions. When choosing a trail mix, look for those with plain nuts, dried fruit and maybe a small amount of dark chocolate if you really need it. And remember, even trail mixes lacking some of the unhealthy ingredients are usually still high in calories.

Frozen yogurt: One of the first things I learned when I started working as a dietitian was that I needed to be very specific when including yogurt in patients' diets. When I talked to patients about eating yogurt, as in a fermented milk product, patients were actually often thinking of frozen yogurt, as in practically ice cream. The main difference between ice cream and frozen yogurt is that the typical frozen yogurt has slightly less fat than ice cream. However, it can contain just as many calories and grams of sugar as ice cream. There are healthier options of these two products available for the occasional treat, but you must check the food labels very carefully.

Protein or fiber bars: Like the other foods mentioned above, not all of these types of bars are bad, but many of them, could almost qualify as candy bars. Chocolate-covered, peanut butter oatmeal bar sound too good to be true? In most that I've seen, it is. If you want protein and fiber, you're better off eating some veggies and hummus or fruit with string cheese.

I know you're tired of hearing it, but the real solution is always reading food labels to really know what's in your foods. Always read the ingredient list, keeping in mind that ingredients are listed in order of the amounts contained in the food.

So if sugar is listed as the first ingredient, that means that of all the ingredients in the product, sugar is present in the largest volume. Additionally, the longer the ingredient list, the more likely it is to be filled with possibly harmful additives.

And for reference, while you do not need any added sugar in your diet, the American Heart Association recommends women consume no more than 24 grams (6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day and no more than 36 grams (9 teaspoons) of added sugar per day for men.

For fat content, 3 grams of fat or less per serving is considered low fat. Give a dietitian a call if you want to figure out exactly how much of each of the different nutrients and calories you need per day.

Lindsay Adams is a registered dietitian with DeTar Health Systems. Send questions or comments to dietitians@vicad.com.

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