March is National Nutrition Month® and the theme this year is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” Flavor is a big part of why we choose to eat the foods that we do. We want the food that we eat to be flavorful, but at the same time it’s important that the food we eat is healthy.
Foods are often flavored with salt, sugar or fat. The 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises us to consume less added sugars, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium (commonly referred to as salt). It’s important to remember that we don’t need to limit natural sugar, which is found in fresh fruit and dairy products, but we should limit sugar that is added to products.
Salt, sugar and fat don’t have to be avoided completely, but it’s best to eat them in moderation or choose healthier alternatives. So how can we reduce the amount of salt, sugar and fat in the foods we are eating?
Instead of salt, try:
• Dried or fresh herbs like basil, oregano, cilantro or parsley
• Spices like cumin, pepper, chili powder, dill or curry powder
Watch out for high levels of salt in:
• Frozen meals and side dishes
• Canned items (soups, vegetables, sauces, etc.)
To reduce sugar buy:
• Frozen fruit that does not contain added sugar
• Canned fruit that has been packed in water or juice, not syrup
To tell if sugar has been added to a product, look for these words on the ingredient list:
• Corn syrup, brown sugar, cane sugar, honey, malt syrup, nectars, maple syrup or molasses
For a list of more added sugars, visit: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/added-sugars
Choose healthier fats:
• Look for unsaturated fats (olive oil, corn oil, peanut oil and soybean oil), which are liquid at room temperature
Limit fats that are not as healthy:
• Saturated fats, which are typically solid or closer to solid at room temperature and include butter, cream and lard
• Trans fats which are often found in baked goods and snacks