Thursday, September 4, 2008

Read More Into It

Not all "health" foods are created equal. Some are not even healthy!

In addition to my nutritionist's recommendation of adding more protein, I assigned myself some homework. I rounded up my staple foods and recorded their content and value. I was specifically interested in:

* Saturated Fat
* Sodium
* Sugar
* Protein
* Dietary Fiber

I was shocked by some of the results. One of my favorite pasta noodles and the marinara sauce I used with them were LOADED with sodium. Because I used to consume this "meal" regularly, it was particularly alarming. I also never monitored portions.

1/2 cup of my favorite pasta sauce = 540 mg (22% daily allowance) of sodium!
1 serving of my "healthy" noodles = 490 mg (20% daily allowance) of sodium!

I easily used 1 cup of marinara and probably doubled the noodles each time, which nearly accounted for my daily intake of 2,400 mg of sodium! OUCH! I don't even own table salt! I thought I was disciplined. Turns out I was getting more than enough sodium through the foods I purchased!

Most of my foods passed the content test. They were within a reasonable range. But I wasn't surprised by another food item and its integrity. The numbers on paper encouraged me to say "ba bye" for good. The frozen fire-roasted vegetables were yummy but contained 14% saturated fat. The balsamic vinegar infused with butter that came in the packet was delicious but was making this "food" source a little pointless for nutrition's sake. The sodium content of 200 mg (9% per serving) was equally disappointing, given that it pertained to a 1/2 cup serving of vegetables. It's like eating a salad with fatty dressing - is there any point? Maybe once and a while when it's blue cheese :P

I asked my nutritionist about these items. Her advice? Steer clear of any foods with more than 240 mg of sodium! The American Heart Association has a helpful information sheet titled Why Should I Limit Sodium.

Does this mean no more pasta? Heck no! When weighing options, the wheat pasta that was sitting next to the "health" noodles in the pantry were actually healthy. They contained just as much protein (7g), more fiber, more iron, and 0 mg of sodium! No love loss there! I'll find another marinara to gush over. I'll make my own fire-roasted vegetables!

It just means a return to basics - reading labels more carefully, investing in safer foods, and ENJOYING foods that are more wholesome!