Fat, Sugar and Salt: The All-American Way to Flavor Foods

Here are the All-American Flavor Foods.

FAT

Fat

o Fat is fattening: there are nine calories for each gram of fat (carbohydrates and protein have only four calories per gram)

o A fat serving has 5 grams of fat. One teaspoon of oil is one serving (remember that there are three teaspoons in each tablespoon), 10 peanuts, six almonds, two tablespoons of avocado or one tablespoon of butter

o A low fat food has 3 grams per serving of fat

o Monounsaturated fats are the best kind for your heart. They are mostly from nuts, nut butters, avocado, and canola and olive oil. Omega-3 fats are also good for you. They are found in fish like salmon and sardines or in flaxseed, pumpkin seeds or walnuts. Focus on fish oil as the best absorbed omega-3, however.

o Polyunsaturated fats are second best. They are mostly in your prepared or processed foods. They are in safflower, sunflower and soybean oil.

o Saturated fats should be chosen INFREQUENTLY. They clog your arteries and encourage your liver (yes, that is where cholesterol is made) to produce extra cholesterol. Your maximum amount for the day is approximately 15 grams of saturated fat. Look on labels at saturated/trans fat to make sure they are 0-2 grams in combination.

o Trans fats should be chosen VERY INFREQUENTLY. They are primarily found in processed foods. It is recommended to consume about 2 grams per day, maximum.

o Remember that a common complication of diabetes is heart disease so it is critical to choose your fats accordingly.

o ALL FATS OVERLAP IN THE MONOUNSATURATED, POLYUNSATURATED AND SATURATED FAT AREAS. For example: Olive oil is highest in monounsaturated fat but it has smaller amounts of polyunsaturated fat and very minimal amounts of saturated fat.

SUGAR

Sugar

o Sugar doesn’t have many calories: just four calories per gram. The problem is that it is lacking in nutritional value and whatever is not used as energy gets converted into fat. Here’s a song you can sing so you do not forget that sugar needs to be consumed rarely (by the way, visualize a cute little stuffed pink pig as you sing): “Sugar turns into fat, sugar turns into fat, fat that’s in my stomach, fat that’s on my hips, fat that is clogging my arteries, sugar turns into fat.” Ok, ok….anything that will help!

o There are two types of sugar: processed – white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup (sounds much better than it is), etc., with no nutritional value and natural – fruit and milk which does.

o Lactose (milk sugar) and fructose (fruit sugar) have nutritional value and should be counted into your carbohydrate “budget” for the day.

o The sugar to be aware of and limit as much as possible (5 grams per serving is considered a lower sugar food) is the processed/refined sugar. Consume no more than 30-40 grams of refined sugar/processed each day.

o Processed or refined sugar foods (cookies, donuts, etc.) tend to have higher levels of fat (many times saturated fat) and do not have heart- healthy fiber and other nutrients found in more wholesome foods.

SALT

salt

o Salt is made up of two substances: 40% of sodium and 60% of chloride

o ¼ tsp of salt has 575 mg of sodium

o One tsp of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium

o Total amount recommended for the day is 1,500 mg of sodium

o A low sodium food has 140 mg per serving

o People with diabetes tend to be sodium-sensitive (may affect blood pressure more so than people without diabetes)

o Hypertension is controlled best with reduced sodium levels

o Controlled hypertension helps to preserve kidney function (another possible diabetes complication)

o Be aware of high sodium foods like pickles, olives, cold cuts, canned items, prepared items in boxes, frozen items, vegetable juices, cheeses, sauces, dressings, etc. Try to look for low sodium foods to cut back. You may not be adding salt to your foods but the majority comes from sodium already in foods and beverages.

About Author: Marci Sloane
Marci Sloane is a registered and licensed dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She is the Food Majesty and author of several books.

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