A common misconception is that the term ‘food health’ is synonymous with ‘nutrient health’. This is not true. The terms are actually used interchangeably, but there are some fundamental differences between the two. When it comes to choosing and eating healthy foods, the terms’ food health and nutrient health are not interchangeable.
Nutrient health is the protection of one’s health. It focuses on the nutrients in a particular food or drink through a measurement known as RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance). This refers to the amount of a specific nutrient that a person is supposed to ingest for one serving of that food or drink. For instance, one serving of eggs contains three grams of calcium.
Food health on the other hand focuses on the amount of calories in a serving of food. One serving of tofu has only four calories. This is better than ice cream, but is still far from being healthy. The best way to improve food health is to increase the daily consumption of fruits and vegetables while decreasing your intake of fatty and sugary foods. This will lead to a diet that is low in calories, yet nutritious and good for you.
Nutrition is the study of how much of a nutrient is present and the effect it has on the body. Let’s take spinach for instance. It is high in both beta carotene and vitamin A. But, it also contains just twenty-one calories, which is significantly lower than the caloric intake for an entire chocolate bar. While spinach has many nutritional benefits, it is also high in calories, especially in relation to other vegetables. The lesson here is to choose foods in their most natural, most nutrient-packed forms, rather than one serving of a processed, calorie-laden snack.
Sodium is one of those hidden calories that sneak up on you. The American diet contains around two thousand calories of sodium per person per day. The average dinner contains about seven pounds of sodium, or about one third of your average amount of sodium intake for the entire year. This is a large amount of sodium and can lead to high blood pressure and hypertension. A simple reference food is saltine crackers, which contain little to no sodium.
Fiber is another nutrient that is often over-looked by consumers. The average person eats about six servings of fiber per day, but this number is very misleading because of the variety of foods available. There is only one nutrient, fiber, that has a positive effect on cholesterol, and this is monounsaturated fat. Other nutrients, like potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, protein and sodium all have some benefit on cholesterol, but none has a positive effect on fiber consumption. The main thing to remember when choosing an extra lean alternative is to balance the amount of calories received with the nutrients given.
Sugar intake is closely linked to high blood pressure levels. It is also linked to heart disease and various cancers. While the bad news is that refined sugars are not as bad for you as you might think, the good news is that there are healthier choices out there. The average person should be getting about twenty grams of sugar per day, but if you are like the typical American, you are probably getting much more. Instead of loading up on table sugar and getting sick, try introducing natural alternatives like raw honey, agave nectar, raw granola, fresh fruit and even non-chemical maple syrup or organic brown rice syrup.
As you can see from this quick summary, there are several important issues to consider when eating foods that are rich in saturated fat and sugar. The first thing to do, of course, is to avoid these foods at all costs! While avoiding them does not cure or prevent a particular condition, it will lower your overall risk. If you feel you have high blood pressure or other conditions that are influenced by these substances, speak to your doctor about what you can do to avoid them. You may find they can recommend some alternatives that will help you get the daily value you need to maintain your health.