Check Serving Sizes On Food Labels

Some relatively small packages claim to contain more than one serving, so you have to multiply the nutrition numbers if you’re planning to eat the whole thing. A 20ounce bottle of Coke, for instance, says 100 calories, but that’s for 8 ounces (the bottle of soda actually has 250 calories). Similarly, the label on a muffin, frozen entrée, or even a small bag of chips may say two or three servings.

To cut down on salt, try adding a few drops of lemon juice to foods.

This not only perks up the flavor but also gives even a little salt more bounce. Just why a sour taste should work as an enhancer of (or substitute for) a salty one has never been explained.

You would have to eat two quarts of plain popcorn to get the calories in 20 potato chips. Eight ounces of potato chips contain as much fat and sodium as most people should eat in an entire day. By substituting one cup of plain, unbuttered popcorn for a one-ounce bag of potato chips, you save 135 calories and 10 grams of fat. Plain popcorn is virtually fat-free.

If you live or work with a smoker who won’t or can’t quit, eat more foods rich in vitamin C. Cigarette smoke is a major source of free radicals, which can damage cells; vitamin C and other antioxidants help inactivate these compounds and are “used up” in the process. Passive smokers use up extra vitamin C and thus have low blood levels of this vitamin.

To keep vegetables fresh and nutritious, wrap them in paper towels and store them in unsealed plastic bags in the refrigerator. There are also specially designed bags for produce that allow excess moisture to escape. Don’t wash veggies before storing—that only adds moisture and thus hastens spoilage.

Like all plain bread, pita (or pocket) bread has only 70 to 80 calories per ounce and almost no fat.

Wholewheat pita, like wholewheat bread, is more nutritious than that made from refined wheat. Pita’s main advantage is its small serving size: a typical 7inch pita weighs only 2 ounces and has only 150 calories, versus 4 ounces or more and at least 300 calories in the average long sandwich roll or bagel.

Drink tea. It contains enough fluoride to help prevent tooth decay and is also rich in substances called polyphenols, which act as antioxidants and thus may help protect against cancer.

Tea drinking may also help strengthen bones. Besides the fluoride, flavonoids and other compounds in tea may be good for bones. Some people still worry that tea could weaken bones because of its caffeine, but several studies have now shown this is not the case. Observe the three-quarter plate rule: That’s how much of the food on your dinner plate should be grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruit, leaving just one-quarter for meat, chicken, or fish. This will help you get a good mix of nutrients, control portion sizes, and cut down on calories.

snack on dried fruits, but weigh the advantages and disadvantages. Because drying the fruit reduces water, it greatly concentrates the minerals (iron, copper, and potassium), beta carotene, and fiber. But it also concentrates the sugar and thus the calories; the sugar, combined with the sticky texture, makes dried fruit bad for teeth. In addition, the drying destroys most of the vitamin C and any heat-sensitive phytochemicals. About 1% of Americans, primarily asthmatics, are sensitive to the sulfites that are often added to dried fruits to preserve their color.

To improve your blood cholesterol levels, eat oats.

The FDA allows oat products to bear a heart-healthy claim because oats reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol without lowering HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Still, it takes several servings of oats a day to get a significant effect. You can also get soluble fiber from many other plant foods, including beans, barley, apples, oranges, and carrots. Cottage cheese is salty (about 450 milligrams of sodium in half a cup), but the low-salt varieties don’t taste very good. As a compromise, buy low-salt cottage cheese and add one-quarter teaspoons of salt to the 16ounce tub. That will cut the standard sodium content by more than half. Or mix equal amounts of regular and low-salt cottage cheese.

You’d have to eat two cups of cottage cheese to get the calcium in a cup of yogurt or milk. Cottage cheese retains only 30 to 50% of the calcium of the milk it is made from. A cup has 100 to 200 milligrams of calcium (and dry curd has only half as much). A cup of milk has 300 milligrams; a cup of yogurt, 300 to 400 milligrams.

If you’re trying to cut back on meats, think of baked potato as a dinner main dish. Opened and slightly mashed with a fork, a potato can be topped with lima beans, corn, and salsa; broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, and tomatoes can also be cooked together for a tasty filling. A small amount of Parmesan or other grated cheese will add flavor.

Discard most moldy fruit.

Fruit molds are generally not toxic (the most toxic molds tend to grow on grains). Small fruits, such as grapes or berries, should certainly be thrown out if moldy. Cutting mold out of an apple, pear, tomato, or cucumber and then eating the fruit is usually okay. But the visible mold may not be all the mold there is—its rootlike system may penetrate the fruit—so it’s important to cut widely around the mold.

Eat kiwifruit. Ounce for ounce, it has more vitamin C than orange and more potassium than a banana. It also supplies some folate, vitamin E, and lutein (a carotenoid that may help keep eyes healthy). This furry fruit is rich in fiber.

The “imitation crab meat” used increasingly in seafood salads and salad bars is good food, rich in high-quality protein, and with 75% less cholesterol than most shellfish. But if you’re looking for heart-healthy omega3 fats, it’s a poor choice. Since it has very little fat, it has virtually no omega3s. And it is often high in sodium. If you buy bottled spaghetti sauce, check the calorie, fat, and sodium content listed on the label. While most tomato-based varieties have 2 to 4 grams of fat per cup, some have 9 to 12 grams (supplying lots of extra calories), plus more than 1,000 milligrams of sodium. The real whoppers, though, are the refrigerated sauces. Some of these cheese-based, pesto or Alfredo sauces have 100 to 200 extra calories in just one serving.

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