This Issue

Decoding the food we eat

Healthy?
Read the fine print first

Grains: It's better to be whole than refined

Q & A

A closer look


What’s in a name?


Many nutrients go by several different names. Learn to spot the “hidden” ingredients.


Sugars

• Words ending in “ose,” such as fructose and sucrose

• Molasses

• Honey

• Maple syrup and corn syrup

• Fruit juice concentrate

Salt

• Sodium

• Baking soda

• Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

• Sodium bicarbonate

• Sodium phosphate

How to spot added sugar

Tips to reduce salt

What's in a name?

Helpful Resources:


A closer look

Where you least
expect it


The words “calcium carbonate” in the list of ingredients give it away. If the labels don’t tell you the entire story, the ingredients can fill in the blanks. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, which means the first ingredient makes up the largest proportion of the food.

This is actually a supplement that contains calcium and vitamin D — both recommended for strong bones and overall good health.

The chews contain more sugar than either calcium or vitamin D. And the words “hydrogenated coconut oil” may indicate a small amount of trans fat, one of the leading contributors to cardiovascular disease. In addition, although some oils, such as olive and safflower are recognized as healthy fats, coconut oil does not make the list.

The bottom line is: Read all nutrition facts — even on medicines and supplements, and decide what works best for you.

Size matters

A step-by-step approach

Risk factors
• Tobacco use

• Heavy alcohol use

• Combined tobacco and
alcohol use

• HPV infection
• Sun (cancer of the lip)

• Exposure to chemicals,
such as asbestos

• Poor diet — lacking in
fruits and vegetables
Another good reason to visit the dentist


“All you have to do is open your mouth.”

— The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance


The oral cancer examination is painless and quick … and life-saving. When cancers of the head and neck are found early, the cure rate is high. Annual screenings by a doctor or dentist should be a part of your regular physical or dental checkup. The provider:

• Inspects your face, neck, lips and mouth.

• Feels the area under your jaw and the sides of your neck, checking for unusual lumps.

• Asks you to stick out your tongue to check for swelling, color and texture.

• Using gauze, lifts your tongue and pulls it from one side, then the other.

• Checks the roof and floor of your mouth and the back of your throat.

• Feels and examines the insides of your lips and cheeks for red or white patches.

• Places one finger on the floor of your mouth and, with the other hand under your chin, presses down to check for unusual lumps or sensitivity.

Source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

Oral, Head and Neck Cancer
Awareness Week is May 8 – 14.


Photo by Vannessa Carrington/Mass. Eye and Ear

Get screened for head and neck
cancer. It’s free, quick and painless.

Boston Medical Center
Moakley Building Lobby
830 Harrison Avenue
Date: April 2
Time: 8 a.m. - noon
617-638-8260

Tufts Medical Center
860 Washington Street
Date: May 12
Time: 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
617-636-1664
Mass Eye and Ear
243 Charles Street
Date: May 13
Time: TBA
617-573-3340
Dedham Family Dental
Dr. Helaine Smith
30 Milton Street, Dedham
Date: May 11
Time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
781-326-4600

Mass General Hospital
Voice Center

One Bowdoin Square,
11th Floor
Date: May 13
Time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
617-726-0218
Remember to call ahead to confirm
time and date
of screenings.

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Keeping children on a safe path

Wondering how to keep children from starting to drink or smoke? Start young — preferably before your child experiments with either one — to build a sturdy foundation.

• Talk to a school guidance counselor or your child’s doctor about free, helpful programs for parents on guiding healthy behaviors.

• Brainstorm with your child about ways to say no to risky behavior. Aim for a full scale of options between “No, thanks” and “Stop asking — I said no.”

• Discuss good reasons not to drink or smoke. Ask children what they think and share your beliefs and values. Talk honestly about relatives who had health problems or died due to tobacco or alcohol addictions. Problems like bad breath, yellow teeth and embarrassing behavior may be persuasive, too.

• Set expectations for healthy behaviors. Use simple rewards and consequences to encourage good behavior.

• Set an example. If necessary, try to quit smoking or drinking too much.

• Keep lines of communication open. Check in regularly about how the day went. Ask about plans, friends and activities.

• Call your child’s doctor or guidance counselor for more help if you think your child is smoking or drinking.

A Step-By-Step Approach

 

1. Serving Size

A serving size of this food is one cup.
So all the nutrition information on the label is based upon one cup. There are two servings per container. If you eat two servings the nutrients are doubled.
2. Amount of Calories

The 250 calories listed are for one serving, and 110 — or 44 percent — of the calories are from fat.

3. Limit these Nutrients

Don’t eat too much of these nutrients. Fat — especially saturated fat and trans fat — cholesterol and sodium may increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and some cancers.

Suggested recommendations per day
• Total fat — 25 to 35 percent of total calories
• Saturated fat — Less than 7 percent of total calories
• Trans fat — as little as possible
• Cholesterol — Less than 200 milligrams
• Sodium — less than 2,400 milligrams a day for most healthy people; less than 1,500 for those with high blood pressure and African American adult
s

4. Get Enough of these Nutrients

Eat foods with fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron to improve overall health and reduce the risk of certain diseases and conditions, such as osteoporosis and anemia.
5. Percent Daily Value

This section indicates how the nutrients contribute to your total daily diet based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet.

• Low level of nutrients — 5 percent or less of the daily value. Low levels are good for sodium but bad for fiber.

• High level of nutrient — 20 percent or more. High values are good for vitamin A but bad for cholesterol.
Snapshot of this serving

What’s bad?

• Low in dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and iron

• High in sodium and calories from fat

• Contains saturated and trans fats

What’s good?

• High in calcium

• High in potassium

• Moderate in number of calories


Image courtesy of U.S. Food and Drug Administration