5 quick tips to help you Lose 7 Pounds Without Trying
Turning up your calorie-burn is easier than you think.
You don't have to work out longer to burn more calories and get the fit body you want. Fold these tricks into your routine 5 times a week to drop 3 to 7 pounds in a year without logging an extra minute of exercise.
Bonus Burn: 50 Calories*
Bonus Burn: 75 Calories
Bonus Burn: 100 Calories
Turn your weight workout into a circuit by doing jumping jacks rather than resting between exercises. Spend half your treadmill workout on a 5% incline.
*All based on a 150-pound person working out for an hour
Written by Amanda Vogel
Published by Prevention magazine
How to do a perfect Crunch Curl
Gold's Gym Tampa Fitness Manager offers a great move to target your abdominal core, biceps and quads.
Johnny Erickson, head personal trainer at Gold�s Gym in Tampa for six years, caters his workouts to functional training. He's certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He's from San Diego and came to Tampa as a firefighter in the Air Force. He loves surfing, hiking, mountain biking and running.
Erickson, 28, juggles about 40 clients who get killer core training using bands and stability balls to strengthen their abs. Gold's touts having weights up to 150 pounds, but what may surprise you is that most members aren't muscle heads, he says.
Erickson offers a great move to target your rectus abdominus of the core, biceps and quads. All you need is a pair of dumbbells and an incline bench with bars to wrap your legs around. Get crunching.
EXERCISE: CRUNCH CURL
If you want to take this tough move to the next level, try adding a shoulder press after each curl. Ouch! Erickson recommends three to four sets of 15 to 20 reps.
Article originally published on Tamba Bay Tribune.
Aerobic, Weight Training Combo Best Against Diabetes
Exercise is always good, but combining two approaches brings better results, study finds
Most people know that exercise can help beat type 2 diabetes, but one type of fitness regimen might work best, a new study shows.
Specifically, workouts that combine aerobic and resistance training exercises appear better at controlling blood sugar than either type of activity alone, researchers say.
The finding is new, because "most other studies have looked at just one kind of exercise, either aerobic or resistance," noted lead researcher Dr. Ronald J. Sigal, an associate professor of medicine and cardiac sciences at the University of Calgary, in Alberta, Canada.
The study is published in the Sept. 18 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
As part of their research, Sigal's team evaluated 251 adults, ages 39 to 70, all with type 2 diabetes and not regular exercisers at the start of the study.
The participants were assigned to one of four groups: those who did 45 minutes of aerobic training three times a week, those who did 45 minutes of resistance (i.e., weight) training three times a week, those who did 45 minutes each of both forms of exercise three times a week, and those who did no exercise at all.
The aerobic group worked out on a treadmill or a bike at the gym; memberships were provided. The resistance group also worked out at the gym, with memberships provided, doing seven different exercises on weight machines.
Sigal's team evaluated changes in A1c values -- a measurement reflecting blood sugar concentrations -- over the previous two to three months. A1c is expressed as a percentage. A decline of 1.0 percent in A1c value would be linked to a 15 percent to 20 percent decrease in risk of heart attack or stroke, the researchers explained, and a 25 percent to 40 percent decline in risk of complications linked to diabetes, such as eye disease or kidney disease.
As expected, blood sugar control improved in all the exercise groups. In those who did either aerobic or resistance, the A1c value declined by about 0.5 percent compared to the non-exercisers. Those who did both kinds of exercise had double that level of success, with their A1c value dropping by 0.97 percent compared to the non-exercising group. Non-exercisers experienced no change in their A1c values over the 26-week study.
The bottom line: "There is additional value to doing both resistance and aerobic exercise," according to Sigal.
He said the decrease of nearly one percent of A1c seen in the study "translates to a 15 to 20 percent reduction in risk of heart attack or stroke and a 25 to 40 percent reduced risk of other complications, such as retinopathy," an eye problem related to diabetes.
How does physical activity fight type 2 diabetes, the most common and obesity-linked form of the disease? According to Sigal, "exercise decreases insulin resistance. It makes the transport of glucose [blood sugar] more efficient."
Another expert said the study adds gives new information for people hoping to beat back diabetes.
"Basically, aerobic and resistance training both do very well, and the combination does even better," said Cathy Nonas, director of physical activity and nutrition for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator.
But she said couch potatoes often need to ease into exercise to maintain a fitness regimen over time.
The study participants built up to their 45-minute fitness sessions, Nonas noted, and the combination group ended up doing about 4.5 hours of exercise a week -- an amount some might find daunting.
"I would never talk about 4.5 hours a week to someone who doesn't exercise at all," Nonas said. Rather, she encourages physical activity in any amount to start. "Anything you do is good," she said. Then, she encourages people to slowly build up their time."I think this is a very uplifting study," she added. "It says whatever you do will have an effect, and the more you do, the better the effect."
Written by Kathleen Doheny, HealthDay Reporter
Originally published by HealthDay News
To learn more about the benefits of exercise for diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association.
SOURCES: Ronald J. Sigal, M.D., associate professor, medicine and cardiac sciences, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Cathy Nonas, R.D., director, physical activity and nutrition, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and certified diabetes educator; Sept. 18, 2007, Annals of Internal Medicine
Easy ways to chop, saute, and stir your way to better health.
Stocked up on leafy greens? Super. Did you know that sauteing them in a bit of olive oil instead of steaming them will help you absorb up to five times as much of the vision-protecting antioxidant beta-carotene?
Buying healthy food is just the first step toward a better diet; preparing it correctly can make or break your nutrient bank. Keep reading for even more surprising nutrition-enhancing prep tips.
1. Fire Up Heart Protection
Try halving Roma tomatoes lengthwise; arrange on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Broil for 15 to 20 minutes, until slightly shriveled. Adding canned crushed tomatoes or tomato paste to recipes works, too. (They were heated during processing.)
2. Maximize Cancer Prevention
No time to spare? You can always enjoy raw garlic. We love rubbing it on toasted bread and topping it with chopped tomato and onion and a dash of olive oil for a simple bruschetta.
3. Get 10 Times the Iron
"Some iron from the skillet leaches into the food, but the particles are small enough that you won't be able to see or taste them--and it's perfectly safe," says Cynthia Sass, RD, MPH, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
When making a spinach salad, toss in mango slices to increase the iron payoff. Other healthy combos: beans and tomato sauce or cereal and strawberries.
4. Strengthen Eyes and Bones
"Fat acts as a transporter for them," explains Sass. The same strategy works for carotenoids, the compounds that give tomatoes and carrots their bright hues. Proof: A recent study from the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center found that men and women who ate salsa containing chunks of avocado absorbed 4.4 times as much lycopene and 2.6 times as much beta-carotene than those who enjoyed plain salsa.
5. Stock Up on Calcium
6. Grill without Worry
The high heat needed to grill meats can create carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs), but marinating can help. When researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, CA, soaked chicken breasts in a mixture of brown sugar, olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, and salt for 4 hours, they developed up to 99% fewer HCAs after 20 minutes of grilling than unmarinated chicken did.
Add an extra antioxidant kick with this herb-packed soak: 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar; 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary; 1 tablespoon each of olive oil, honey, and minced garlic; and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.
7. Fight Colds and Flu
When you're slicing and dicing fresh produce, cut large pieces. Lots of small portions expose more of the fruit or vegetable to nutrient-leaching oxygen and light.
"A larger cut allows you to hold on to more vitamin C, which helps bolster immunity," says Roberta Larson Duyff, RD, author of the American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. Quarter carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes instead of dicing them; slice melons into crescents rather than cubing.
8. Retain Key Nutrients
Save yourself some time--and some key nutrients--by not peeling eggplant, apples, potatoes, and other produce before using. "The peel itself is a natural barrier against nutrient loss, and many vitamins and minerals are found in the outer skin or just below it," Duyff says.
Yam skin is loaded with fiber, and zucchini's is full of lutein, which may help prevent age-related macular degeneration, for example. (Remove grit and pathogens with cold, running water and a vegetable brush.)
9. Double the Antioxidants
Dressing your salad with herbs can more than double its cancer-fighting punch, according to a recent Italian study. When compared with garden salads made with no added herbs, those featuring lemon balm and marjoram had up to 200% more antioxidants per serving. Spices such as ginger and cumin also upped the antioxidant quotient.
Written by Rachel Meltzer
Originally published by Prevention magazine
Move Just a Little, Live Longer
You don't have to run marathons to get healthy, experts say.
If you don't exercise because you think you don't have the time or energy, here's a news flash: Those excuses no longer work.
That's because "any movement helps," according to Gregory Florez, a spokesman for the American Council on Exercise and CEO of fitadvisor.com.
In fact, exercising at a moderate intensity, even in short bursts of 10 minutes several times a day, or doing daily activities such as running errands, can improve your health and probably lengthen your life, recent research suggests.
"Small bouts of activity, even 10 minutes at a time, will have the same impact as 30 minutes or so of continuous exercise," Florez said, if those small bouts are repeated three times a day.
Two recent studies prove you don't have to be a marathoner in training to reap the health benefits of exercise or even to get a little fitter.
In one study, published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association, relatively modest amounts of activity by older people, ages 70 to 82, paid off in longevity.
The research team, led by Todd Manini of the U.S. National Institute on Aging, followed 302 older adults for six years. The researchers found that death rates went down as daily energy output -- sometimes doing things as simple as vacuuming or running errands -- went up.
Those people in the highest one-third of daily energy output had a 69 percent lower risk of dying during the follow-up than those in the lowest third, the researchers found. Those in the highest third also burned about 600 more calories a day than those in the lowest third. Even short bursts of physical activity made a difference in the calorie-burning group -- they were more likely to walk up two flights of stairs a day, for instance.
The extra reduction in 600 calories per day translates, the study authors said, to about two hours of activity. But it could be any activity -- traditional exercise, washing dishes, vacuuming, running errands.
In a study published in the May 16, 2007, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that as little as 72 minutes of moderate exercise per week can improve aerobic fitness. The investigators looked at 464 sedentary, overweight women, on average 57 years old.
One group worked out on a stationary bike or treadmill at moderate intensity for an average of 72 minutes a week; another group did the workout for 136 minutes a week, on average, and a third group worked out for 192 minutes a week. A fourth group did no exercise and served as the control group.
A fitness test at the end of the six-month study found women who exercised for 72 minutes improved fitness by 4 percent. The 136-minute group improved fitness by 6 percent while the 192-minute group improved by 8 percent.
No one is saying you'll get super-fit working out for 72 minutes a week or running errands nonstop. "But unless you have a lofty goal such as running a marathon, it's OK to break up the exercise into small segments," Florez said. It will pay dividends in longevity, overall health, including cardiovascular health, and bone density, he said.
"Any activity is good activity," agreed Tyson Bain, an exercise physiologist and gerontologist at the Cooper Institute, Dallas.
He urges people to find an activity they enjoy doing. That way they'll be more likely to stick with it.
When he helps people get into an activity program, especially older people, he starts with an assessment of how well they can move and perform, and asks which times of day they prefer to be active and what types of activity interest them. He also asks them to consider what activities or sports they are good at.
Depending on a person's health, Bain recommends people aim for at least 30 minutes of activity most days, even though the recent research suggests less can still yield benefits. "Split it up -- 15, 15," he advises those who balk. "You'll get the same benefits."
Fit your activity around your lifestyle, Florez tells people. "Strength train with resistance bands or dumbbells while you watch Desperate Housewives," he said. "Take a walk with a friend."You will combine social interaction with activity, and both have been shown to lengthen your life, he said.
Written by Kathleen Doheny, HealthDay Reporter
Originally published by HealthDay News
To learn more about how to start an activity program, visit the American Council on Exercise.
SOURCES: Tyson Bain, exercise physiologist and gerontologist, Cooper Institute, Dallas; Gregory Florez, spokesman, American Council on Exercise, San Diego; May 16, 2007, and July 12, 2006, Journal of the American Medical Association
Workouts a Boon for Breast Cancer Patients
Exercise, yoga improve quality of life, even chemotherapy compliance, studies find.
Exercise may be the last thing breast cancer patients want to do, especially if they're fatigued. But workouts can improve quality of life, boost self-esteem during a difficult time, and even help women get through their chemotherapy treatments on schedule, two new studies find.
Previously, numerous studies had found that exercise can help prevent cancers. "A newer area is looking at it on the post-diagnosis side," said Kerry Courneya, a professor and Canada research chair in physical activity and cancer at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
Courneya led one of the new studies, in which he found that regular exercise helped women who survived early-stage breast cancer to improve muscle strength, self-esteem, body mass, fitness, and reduce their body fat.
He recruited 242 women with breast cancer, average age 49, who were beginning their chemotherapy regimen. They were assigned to one of three groups: 82 to a resistance-training exercise group, 78 to an aerobic exercise group and the other 82 to "usual care," in which they were asked not to initiate an exercise program but were offered a program after the study ended.
The exercise groups worked out under supervision for one hour three times a week for 17 weeks. "They did this while undergoing chemotherapy," Courneya said.
"Our concern initially was that exercise might interfere with their ability to complete the treatment," Courneya said. "The concern among nurses and doctors was that patients would be too drained" after workouts.
The opposite turned out to be true. "The most novel finding we had was, those who did the weight [resistance] training actually increased their ability to complete chemotherapy on time," he said. "It was an unexpected finding."
Courneya said 78 percent of those in the resistance group finished 85 percent or more of their recommended chemotherapy doses, as did 74.4 percent of those in the aerobic exercise group, compared to just 65.9 percent in the usual care group.
Exactly why the exercisers were better at chemotherapy compliance isn't known, but Courneya said workouts may boost white blood cell counts. "If white blood cell counts fall during chemo, the chemotherapy sometimes has to be delayed or the amount of drug given reduced," he explained.
Both exercise groups also reported improvements in their self-esteem. "And that can be an important issue while undergoing chemotherapy because of hair loss and other concerns," Courneya said.
There were other benefits to exercise. "In the aerobic group, we prevented fitness declines. The resistance group increased strength. The aerobic exercise group prevented fat gain. The usual care group gained two pounds of fat and no muscle. The aerobic group did not put on fat. The resistance group added two pounds of lean body mass," he said.
Yoga provides benefits, too, according to Alyson B. Moadel, an assistant professor of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, who led the second study. Her team compared several quality-of-life measures among 84 women with early stage breast cancer who participated in yoga classes weekly for 12 weeks. They were measured against 44 women who didn't do yoga. About half of the women underwent chemotherapy or radiation treatment during the study period, while the others either had finished those treatments or did not need them.
The researchers found that yoga had pronounced benefits for those not receiving chemotherapy. "A once-per-week, gentle-seated yoga program can have significant benefits for breast cancer survivors who are not on chemotherapy, in the areas of emotional well-being and mood, and overall quality of life," she said.
Moadel speculated that those receiving chemotherapy may need more intense yoga to reap the benefits.
"Other studies have found that yoga is associated with improved mood and overall quality of life in patients with cancer," she said. "Our study is the first to examine yoga with an ethnically diverse population, the majority of whom were African-American and Hispanic."
Both studies were published online Sept. 4 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Cheryl Rock, a professor of nutrition at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, said the new research makes sense. "The biggest problem is convincing people to ignore that voice that says, 'I am too tired to exercise.'"
"It's very counter-intuitive," she said of the findings. "There is a huge amount of medical literature on the general population linking exercise with improved mood," she said. And exercise can especially help cancer patients going through chemotherapy. "Chemo is not only physically stressful but psychologically stressful," she said.Cancer patients considering exercise should talk to their doctor first, she said.
Written by Kathleen Doheny, HealthDay Reporter
Originally published by HealthDay News
More informationTo learn more about exercise during cancer treatment, visit the American Cancer Society.
SOURCES: Kerry Courneya, Ph.D., professor and Canada research chair in physical activity and cancer, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada; Alyson Moadel, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology and population health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Cheryl Rock, Ph.D., R.D., professor of nutrition, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine; Sept. 4, 2007, Journal of Clinical Oncology, online
Wrestling With Weight: Athletes and Weight Limits
Nancy Clark, the director of nutrition services at SportsMedicine Associates, offers tips for athletes who need to cut weight for their sport.
If you are a wrestler, boxer, jockey, or rower, you are probably not over-weight. But you may have to cut weight to achieve a lower weight standard for your sport or else be denied permission to compete. Use the following tips, as well as the other information in this chapter, to help you lose weight healthfully. Despite popular belief, you do not need to starve yourself!
Excerpted with permission from Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, by Nancy Clark, Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.
Diet and Fitness: A Proven Path to Heart Health
Lifestyle changes can slash your risk for cardiovascular disease as well as diabetes
It may not be a magic wand for better health, but it sure seems to come close.
Eating healthfully and exercising regularly can sharply lower your risk of death from cardiovascular disease -- the leading cause of death in the United States -- and type 2 diabetes, a major risk factor for heart disease.
That's the uplifting word from Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the Harvard School of Public Health's department of nutrition. Willett is also the principal architect of the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) II, one of the largest prospective studies of risk factors for chronic disease in women.
His eye-opening report, "Diet and Optimal Health: A Progress Report," suggests that better lifestyles habits could prevent 80 percent of heart disease and 90 percent of type 2 diabetes. These estimates are based on the NHS II study, begun in 1989, the original NHS study, launched in 1979, and dozens of other studies focusing on the effects of lifestyle on heart disease and diabetes.
An estimated 71 million Americans suffer from heart disease, and 2.4 million die from it each year, making it the nation's top killer, according to the American Heart Association. And, as many as 20 million adults and children have type 2 diabetes, says the National Institutes of Health.
Willett maintains that staggering reductions in disease risk are achievable -- and with fairly modest changes. For instance, he suggests that switching from highly refined to whole grain breads and cereals is one way to improve your odds against these diseases.
"This is pretty easy, as it can mostly be done by substitution," Willett said. "For example, replace a low fiber cereal with a 100 percent whole grain cereal; replace white bread with whole grain bread; replace white rice and potatoes with brown rice and other whole grains."
He also recommends eating fish twice a week and choosing from a variety of fish, including tuna, cod and salmon; keeping red meat consumption to a minimum; and eliminating trans fats. Smokers must give up cigarettes to cut their risk for heart disease, too.
And even moderate amounts of exercise can make a difference in a person's body mass index, a ratio of weight to height that is useful in assessing whether a person is at a healthy weight.
"Building physical activity into our daily lives is essential for good health, and there are thousands of ways to do this," Willett noted.
Yet, while a healthy diet-and-exercise regimen may be a potent antidote in the war against heart disease, many Americans just can't get their nutritional and physical fitness acts together.
"Many factors have been barriers," Willett conceded. "Lack of information or incorrect information has been part of the problem," he said. "Unfortunately, many people have been told the most important change was to reduce total fat in the diet, which will be ineffective or even harmful for some people."
Old habits also can impede change.
How people eat and exercise become mostly ingrained by adulthood, explained Karen Chapman-Novakofski, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "So, the first part of it is to really raise awareness of what people are eating, how they're living, how they're exercising, because if they don't recognize that, then you can't hope that they're going to change," she explained.
The second part, she added, is planning ahead.
"One of the things that I tell audiences when I'm talking about obesity and diabetes is you have to have a plan. I don't like to use the word 'diet' because that sounds restrictive," Chapman-Novakofski said. "But having a plan for what you're going to eat, when you're going to exercise, that's reasonable, that you can really do, and means you're much more likely to accomplish that then if you unconsciously complete your dietary habits and exercise habits and hope it was right."
For health professionals like Chapman-Novakofski, the challenge is helping ordinary Americans make sense of the latest dietary and exercise advice and showing them how to apply it in their daily lives.
This gaping need was underscored after a recent talk Chapman-Novakofski gave on diabetes. "A man came up to me and said, 'I've bought five books on diabetes, and I've sent them all back. Tell me what I should eat for lunch.' "
Written by Karen Pallarito, HealthDay Reporter
Originally published by HealthDay News
Exercising in Segments Helps Burn Fat
Study finds benefit in 20-minute rest between half-hour workouts
Sitting for 20 minutes between 30-minute workout sessions burns fat faster than exercising without a break, Japanese researchers are reporting.
The researchers tested the blood of seven men -- average age 25 -- during and after exercise on a stationary cycle. The men participated in three different activities: one hour of exercise and one hour of rest afterward; 30 minutes of exercise followed by a 20-minute rest and then a second 30-minute workout followed by an hour of rest; and an hour of rest without exercise. The men sat in a chair during the rest period.
The workout that was broken into two half-hour segments resulted in more fat breakdown than the other two activities, the researchers report in the June issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology. The second half-hour workout also showed a greater boost of epinephrine and a rapid decrease in insulin as a result of lower plasma glucose. The researchers theorized that these chemical events contribute to the fat breakdown.
The researchers noted that the American College of Sports Medicine recommends moderate exercise for 45 to 60 minutes to burn fat. However, the researchers argue that their results show the benefit of a rest period during the workout."Many people believe prolonged exercise will be optimal in order to reduce body fat, but our study has shown that repetitions of shorter exercise may cause enhancements of fat mobilization and utilization during and after the exercise. These findings will be informative about the design of [future] exercise regimens," lead researcher Kazushige Goto, of the University of Tokyo, said in a prepared statement. "Most people are reluctant to perform a single bout of prolonged exercise. The repeated exercise with shorter bouts of exercise will be a great help [in keeping up with fitness]."
Article written by Madeline Vann
Originally published at Healthday News
SOURCE: American Physiological Society, news release, July 18, 2007
Food Nutrition Labels a Puzzle? Here's Help.
Experts offer tips to cut through the confusion
If you think you're the only one who gets confused trying to read nutrition labels on food, relax. You've got plenty of company.
In a study of educated adults -- 75 percent had at least a high school education -- most had trouble understanding everyday food nutrition labels.
Dietitians aren't surprised, since they constantly have to explain food labeling to clients.
"The biggest problem is (figuring) serving size," said Dr. Russell Rothman, an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the Center for Health Services Research at Vanderbilt University, who led the study about nutrition labels.
His team surveyed 200 primary-care patients from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds and asked them to finish a 24-item measure of food label comprehension.
They answered, on average, just 69 percent of the questions correctly.
Besides confusing serving sizes, people were most often mixed up about extraneous material on the label, Rothman found. They often calculated the data incorrectly -- for instance, only 37 percent could figure the number of carbohydrates consumed from a 20-ounce bottle of soda that contained 2.5 servings.
"A soda bottle is typically 20 ounces," Rothman said, "and it will say, 'servings per container is 2.5.' People will not realize that. They think 20 ounces is a serving." If the label says 200 calories per serving, many will mistakenly think that means the whole bottle. However, after doing the math, the entire bottle would actually provide 500 calories, he said.
"When you are looking at food labels, take your time and be careful," Rothman advised. "They are confusing and have a lot of complex information in them. Pay particular attention to serving size and how to apply that to how much you are actually eating."
The study was published recently in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Another expert, Susan Moores, a nutrition consultant in Minneapolis and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, agreed that serving size is where many people get tripped up on reading labels.
She said the first few ingredients listed on a label can also give clues to a product's goodness. "You want to recognize what they are," Moores said. "If you don't, that's a red flag. It means the food is probably not so nutritious." One exception, she said, might be the label on fortified cereals, where many non-recognizable names could be vitamins and other nutritious ingredients, she said.
Instead of trying to decipher the entire label, consumers can learn a few tricks, Moores and Rothman suggested.
For instance, follow the "5 and 20" rule. "If a label says it contributes 5 percent or less (of the daily value of a particular) nutrient, that is good on some ingredients, such as sodium and cholesterol, fat and sugar," Moores said. But, she added, it's not ideal for nutrients you want to increase.
If a label says it provides 20 percent of the daily value of a nutrient, likewise, that's good for nutrients you want to boost -- such as vitamins, fiber, calcium or iron -- but not for those you want to curtail.
You can look on the packaging itself for specific phrases, such as "low in fat," Rothman suggested. "These labels are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration," he said, so consumers have some assurances that the foods are as advertised.
That's not foolproof, however. "Some foods low in calories may not be better (than other foods) in other nutritional ingredients. They may have too much salt or fat," Rothman said.
If you still have trouble with label reading, Rothman offered up two more ways to be sure you focus on nutritious foods. First, you can follow an eating plan, such as Weight Watchers, he said, which advises you to eat five servings or more of fruits and vegetables, two to three servings of low-fat or non-fat dairy products daily, and to limit your calories.
"If you still find it very hard, when you meet with your physician or a registered dietitian, ask for help from them," he said. "Ask them to suggest something else practical you can do."
Article written by Kathleen Doheny
Originally published on HealthDay News
There's more on nutrition labeling at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
SOURCES: Susan Moores, R.D., nutrition consultant, Minneapolis, and spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association; Russell Rothman, M.D., M.P.P., assistant professor, internal medicine and pediatrics, Center for Health Services Research, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.; November 2006 American Journal of Preventive Medicine