General Nutrition



Water is a very important essential nutrient. The body can go for a few weeks without food but can only survive for a few days without water. Water makes up about 60% of an adult’s body weight. In the body, water is the fluid in which all life processes happen.

Examples of Water’s attributions in the Body:

  • Carries nutrients and waste throughout the body
  • Maintains the structure in large molecules
  • Assists in metabolic reactions
  • Acts as a solvent for minerals, vitamins, amino acids and glucose
  • Serves as a lubricant and cushion between joints and inside the eyes
  • Performs as a amniotic sac surrounding the fetus in the womb
  • Helps to regulate body temperature
  • Sustains blood volume

Water Needs

The amount of water needed by the body depends on diet, activity, environmental temperature and humanity. Men generally need more water than women. Adults usually need more water than children. The recommended amount of water needed for a person who expends 2000 calories a day is 8-12 cups. The amount and type of water a person drinks may have a positive or negative effect on health. Water intoxication is rare but possible. Water intoxication occurs when the body’s water contents are too high in all body fluid compartments.

Fat Classification

Fats are known as a class called lipids. The lipid family includes triglycerides (fats and oils), phospholipids and sterols.


Triglycerides are fats and oils, which are made up of:

  • Glycerol and Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids differ depending on the number double bonds
  • Fatty acids with no double bonds are saturated
  • Fatty acids with one double bond are monounsaturated
  • Fatty acids with more than one double bond are polyunsaturated
  • Fatty acids with one double bond located on the third carbon are Omega 3
  • Fatty acids with one double bond located on sixth carbon are Omega 6

Phospholipids have a unique chemical structure that allows them to be soluble in water and fat.
Sterols have a multiple-ring structure.


Chemistry of Triglycerides

Since this is not a chemistry class I will try and simply this. Fats are composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The atoms are linked together to form compounds. The arrangement of these atoms in the compounds gives fats their name.

For example:

Every triglyceride contains one molecule of glycerol and three fatty acids. Glycerol contains three carbons and served as the backbone for many triglycerides. Fatty acids are chains of carbon.

A fatty acid is a chain of carbon with hydrogens attached with an acid group known as (COOH) at one end and a methyl group at the other.

The longer the chain of linked carbons the longer the fatty acid. Most fatty acids contain an even number of carbons and are usually up to 24 carbons. Typically carbon can hold 4 bonds. When a carbon is holding all 4 bonds to carbon it is saturated. The bonds between the carbons identify whether a fatty acid is saturated or unsaturated. Monounsaturated fatty acids have one double bond. Polyunsaturated fatty acids have two or more double bonds.

The chemistry of the fat whether it is short or long chained, saturated or unsaturated with its first double bond here or there contributes to the characteristics of foods and the effect it has on our health.

Saturation of Fats

The degree to which fats are saturated influences the firmness of fats at room temperature. In general the more saturated a fat is the more solid at room temperature while the polyunsaturated fats are more liquid at room temperature. The saturation influences stability. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are more unstable, and can become rancid more easily.

To prevent rancidity manufacturers may add antioxidants to make the product more stable. To protect from rancidity store fats in an airtight, non-metallic container protected from light and heat. Trans fatty acids occur when manufacturers chemically alter fatty acids to improve shelf life. Trans fatty acids have been linked to heart disease.

Triglycerides are the chief form of fat in the diet and the major storage form of fat in our body.


Phospolipids have a unique chemical structure that allows them to be soluable in both water and fat. In the body phospolipids are part of the cell membrane. In the food service industry phospolipids work as emulsifiers to mix fats and waters. Manufacturers often add phospolipids to salad dressing to prevent separation. Lecithin is a common phospolipid added to salad dressing.


Sterols have a multiple ring structure that is different than any other structure of fat. Examples of sterols in the body include: cholesterol, bile, Vitamin D and some hormones. In food animal based foods contain cholesterol. Cholesterol does not come from any plant based food.



Vitamins are nutrients that are essential for life. Carbohydrates, fats and proteins provide the body with energy (calories) but vitamins do not contribute energy. Vitamins are necessary to support many bodily functions along with carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Without adequate amounts of vitamins, deficiency can occur. Excessive amounts of vitamin intakes can also have an adverse effect on the body. Vitamins are usually categorized into two types: water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins.

Water-Soluble Vitamins:

  • Vitamin C
  • And B Vitamins
  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Biotin
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Vitamin B 6
  • Vitamin B 12
  • Folate

Fat Soluble Vitamins:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

Water Soluble vitamins are less likely to reach toxic levels because excess water soluble vitamins are usually excreted in the urine. Fat Soluble vitamins are more likely to have toxic effects because the body stores the excess. The Dietary Reference intakes (DRI) are established by the National Academies of Science. The Dietary Reference Intakes are two sets of values that serve as goals for nutrient intake. The Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) is one set of values and the Adequate (AI) is the other. The RDA is a value set of a nutrient considered to meet the needs of most healthy people. The AI is set when a nutrient is lacking sufficient to determine an RDA. Some nutrients also are given an upper intake level. (UL) The UL indicates the maximum amount of a nutrient that appears safe for most healthy people to consume on a regular basis. Nutrient needs vary depending on age, sex and conditions. RDA are set to varying ages and are different for men and women. Some conditions such as pregnancy, disease and nutritional status may alter the need for vitamins and minerals. Occasionally it may be necessary to supplement the diet with additional vitamins and minerals. However, taking excess amount of vitamins and minerals may have a negative impact on your health. Taking nutrients in excess of your RDA is not recommended unless instructed by your doctor or Registered Dietitian.

A Complete list of dietary references can be downloaded from:
The United States Department of Agriculture Website

Sources of Nutrients:

  • Vitamin C-citrus fruits, cabbage type vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, cantaloupe, strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, papayas, mangos
  • Thiamin- whole grain, fortified or enriched grain products, pork
  • Riboflavin-milk products, whole grains, fortified or enriched grain products and liver
  • Niacin-milk, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, whole grain, fortified and enriched grain products, nuts, all protein containing foods
  • Pantothenic Acid-chicken, beef, potatoes, oats, tomatoes, liver, eggs, yolks, broccoli, whole grains
  • Vitamin B 6-meat, fish, poultry, potatoes, and other starchy vegetables, legumes, non citrus fruits, fortified cereals, liver, soy products
  • Vitamin B 12-foods of animal origin and fortified cereals, Folate-fortified grains, leafy green vegetables, legumes, seeds, liver
  • Vitamin A -spinach, dark leafy greens, broccoli, deep orange fruits such as apricots, cantaloupe, and vegetables such as squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin
  • Vitamin D-Fortified milk, margarine, butter, juices, cereals and chocolate mixes or synthesized by the body with the help of sunlight
  • Vitamin E-polyunsaturated plant oils, leafy green vegetables, wheat germ, whole grains, liver, egg yolks, nuts, seeds, fatty meats
  • Vitamin K-may be synthesis by bacteria in the digestive tract or liver, leafy green vegetables, cabbage type vegetables, milk

Consume a variety of balanced meals to ensure adequate intake of nutrients.



Chemical Structure of proteins

Chemically, proteins are compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen atoms. These atoms are bound together to form amino acids. Some amino acids may also contain sulfur. The amino acids link together to form proteins.

Essential and Nonessential Amino Acids

Proteins are composed of twenty amino acids. These twenty amino acids are categorized into essential and nonessential amino acids. Essential amino acids are the amino acids that the body is not able to make or not able to make in sufficient amounts to meet its needs. Therefore the essential amino acids must come from the diet. There are nine essential amino acids in normal healthy individuals.

Nonessential amino acids can be synthesized in the body from carbohydrates, fats, and nitrogen. The body must have the nutrients in sufficient amounts to manufacture nonessential amino acids. In some inborn errors of metabolism, nonessential amino acids become essential. Phenylketonuria (PKU) is an example of an inborn error of metabolism. With PKU the body normally uses the essential amino acid phenylalanine to make tyrosine, a nonessential amino acid but they are not able to convert phenylalanine to tyrosine. Tyrosine then becomes essential.

Essential Amino Acids

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Trypotophan
  • Valine

Nonessential Amino Acids

  • Alanine
  • Arginine
  • Asparagine
  • Cysteine
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Glutamine
  • Glycine
  • Proline
  • Serine
  • Tyrosine

Protein Means “Of Prime Importance”

Protein means “of prime importance”. Without protein, your bones, hair, and skin would have no structure. Lacking adequate protein may lead to impaired bodily functions. Your red blood cells will not be able to clot. Your body would not be able to defend against infections. Protein is vital for so many of your basic functions.

Examples of Functions of Protein in Your Body:

Growth and Maintenance

Protein is required daily for growth and maintenance. Each integral part of your body is either, growing, repairing, or maintaining. For this, your skin, muscles, organs, and bones need much more protein. Children and women who are pregnant have an increased need for protein during growth.


Proteins are necessary to produce enzymes. Enzymes can aid in chemical reactions within our bodies. Digestive enzymes are just one type of enzyme found in your body. Digestive enzymes assist in breaking down food during digestion.


Many hormones are made up of proteins. Hormones assist your body in regulating body processes. Insulin is an example of a hormone produced in your body.

Fluid Balance

Proteins are necessary for fluid balance. Inadequate protein can result in the body’s lack of ability to move fluids in and out of cells. When fluids build up in excess amount inside the cell it may cause edema.

Acid-Base Balance

Proteins are necessary to maintain the body’s proper acid-base balance. An example of the improper balance of acid-balance would be the body’s ability to maintain its blood system in the proper acid-balance base. Without the proper balance of acid-balance in the blood system, the body could go into acidosis or alkalosis. Both can lead to coma and death.


Proteins often work as transporters within the body. Lipids, vitamins, minerals, and oxygen all use transporters to circulate within the body.


Proteins are necessary to build antibodies. Antibodies work to protect our bodies against foreign invaders. Without adequate protein, our bodies’ resistance to protect against infection is decreased.

Energy and Glucose

Proteins do provide our body with some fuel. Excess protein can be converted to glucose to be used for energy.

Recommended Intakes of Protein.

The protein RDA for adults is .8 grams per kilogram of a HEALTHY body weight person. Individual protein needs may be difficult to establish and may require the assistance of a Registered Dietitian.

The right amount of protein for many people may be altered due to their current nutritional status. Factors that might affect protein requirements include:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Body Composition
  • Skin Condition
  • Infection
  • Cancer
  • And so much more…

Most people in the United States get plenty of protein. In fact, many get an overabundance of protein. Individuals who consume a large quantity of protein, especially in the form of meat, are putting themselves at risk for a high-fat diet. High-fat diets have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. High protein diets are not recommended. The long-term effects of high protein diets are not yet known.

Good Sources of Protein:

Beef, Chicken, Pork, Fish, Eggs, Ham, Lamb, Veal, Bison, Rabbit, Venison, Beans, Peas, Nuts, and Seeds.

Vegetarian diets

Many people are turning to vegetarian diets. Vegetarian diets can be healthy as long as they are done properly. Vegetarians need to pay close attention to their diets to ensure they are meeting their daily requirements.

Types of Vegetarian Diets

  • Lactovegetarians - consume milk and milk products but exclude meat, poultry, fish, seafood, and eggs.
  • Lacto-ovu-vegetarians - consume milk, milk products, and eggs but exclude meat, poultry, fish, and seafood.
  • Macrobiotic diets: this is an extremely restrictive diet limited to a few grains and vegetables.
  • Vegan - excludes all animal-derived foods. Vegan vegetarians get their proteins by combining plant-based foods that are high in protein.

Thinking of changing your diet?

Seek the advice of a Registered Dietitian to ensure you are meeting your nutritional needs.

Nutrition Experts

Nutrition Experts

Where do you look to find good reliable nutritional information?

If you are like most people you get nutritional information from the television, in magazines, from newspapers, or on the internet. How do you know if the information is accurate? One of the first places to look to see if the information is accurate is to look at who is providing the information. Is that person qualified to speak on nutrition?

Many people go to physicians and medical care providers for nutritional information, expecting them to know about all health care matters. In fact, only about 30% of all medical schools require students to take a course in nutrition. If you are seeking out nutritional information, why not go to the nutrition expert?

The Registered Dietitian Nutritionist = Nutrition Experts

A registered dietitian has the educational background necessary to deliver reliable nutrition advice. A registered dietitian nutritionist is required to earn an undergraduate degree at the United States regionally accredited university or college with about 60 credit hours in nutrition, food science, and other related subjects. A registered dietitian nutritionist must also complete a year’s internship or the equivalent and pass a national exam. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics oversees the national exam. To maintain up-to-date knowledge, a registered dietitian must also participate in required continued education activities such as attending seminars, taking courses, or conducting research.

What about a nutritionist?

Some dietitians call themselves nutritionists. In some states, anyone is allowed to use the title dietitian or nutritionist but others allow only registered dietitians nutritionist to call themselves dietitians. A nutritionist or dietitian may or may not have completed the criteria as a registered dietitian. To ensure a person is a registered dietitian look for credentials “R.D.N.” behind their name. To verify registration, you can check with the Commission on Dietetic Registration. The CDR Website is

How do I find a registered dietitian in my area?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s website can help you find a registered dietitian in your area?



Have you heard ever heard the term “You are what you eat?” There may be more facts to that statement than you realize. The nutrients found in our foods make up similar compounds in our bodies.

The Main Nutrients Found in Our Food Come Is Six Classes:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Lipids (or Fats)
  • Proteins
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Water

The human body is able to make some nutrients but it can make them all. Humans need food to supply the nutrients needed to sustain life. Nutrients are needed to support growth, maintenance, and repair the body’s tissues. From the food supplied, the human body is able to produce some of the nutrients it needs. Some nutrients cannot be produced by the human body and must be supplied by food. The nutrients that foods must supply are called “essential nutrients”.

The six nutrients found in foods are energy-yielding nutrients or nutrients that do not yield energy. The only nutrients that produce energy are Carbohydrates, Lipids, and Protein. Vitamins, minerals, and water do NOT produce energy but are important in the production of energy. The energy released from carbohydrates, fats, and protein is measured in calories. Therefore only Carbohydrates, Lipids, and Proteins supply the body with calories. Vitamins, Minerals, and Water do not supply calories to the diet.

The amount of energy (or calories) a food provides depends on how much carbohydrates, fat, and protein it contains. When completely broken down in the body carbohydrates and protein yield about 4 calories and fat yields about 9 calories per gram. Alcohol also contributes calories (energy) to the diet but it is not considered a nutrient. Alcohol contributes about 7 calories per gram. Alcohol does not sustain life and is not considered a nutrient. In fact, alcohol interferes with the growth, maintenance, and repair of the body.

In summary, food provides nutrients. The nutrients found in food are necessary to support, growth, maintenance, and repair of body tissues. Carbohydrates, fats, and protein are the only nutrients that can supply calories (or energy) for the body. Vitamins, mineral, and water are also necessary to facilitate a variety of activities in the body.

The human body is made up of compounds similar to compounds found in foods. About 60 percent of the human body is water. The amount of fat in a human body depends on the person. Men usually have less fat than women. The average young man has about 13 to 21 percent of fat while the average young woman has 23 to 31 percent fat. The remaining composition of the human body is made up of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, and other minor constituents.



Mineral Classification

Minerals are classified by the quantities in the human body known as major and trace. Trace minerals are just as important in the body as major minerals. Unlike vitamins, minerals are inorganic elements.

Trace minerals include iron, zinc, iodine, selenium, copper, manganese, fluoride, chromium, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, and vanadium

Major minerals include sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and sulfate

Minerals Are Not Easily Obtained.

Minerals from foods may not be easily obtained. Absorption of minerals in the body is specially handled. Some minerals can be easily absorbed while others need to be carried across membranes. The body is limited on how much it can absorb minerals. Some foods contain binders that limit the body’s ability to absorb minerals. For example, a binder known as phytate is present in legumes and grains. The phytate limits the absorption of minerals. The absorption of a mineral may also be affected by the presence or absence of mineral of another mineral. For example, a high intake of phosphorus may affect the absorption of magnesium. Minerals cannot be altered by cooking and do not change when they enter your body.

Minerals’ Functions in the Body

  • Minerals play many functions in the body. Here are just a few examples.
  • Major minerals, potassium, and sodium assist in maintaining the body’s fluid balance.
  • Chloride is part of the stomach’s acid
  • Calcium provides the rigid structure of bones
  • Calcium also participates in muscle contractions, blood clotting, and nerve impulses
  • Iron helps to carry oxygen in the blood system
  • Zinc is involved with the hormone insulin
  • Iodine is a part of the thyroid hormones
  • Selenium helps to regulate the thyroid hormone
  • Fluoride helps to maintain healthy bones and teeth
  • Chromium enhances the action of insulin

Mineral Needs

Mineral needs are found in the Dietary Reference Intakes. The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) are established by the National Academies of Science. The Dietary Reference Intakes are two sets of values that serve as goals for nutrient intake. The Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) is one set of values and the Adequate (AI) is the other. The RDA is a value set of a nutrient considered to meet the needs of most healthy people. The AI is set when a nutrient is lacking sufficient to determine an RDA. Some nutrients also are given an upper intake level. (UL) The UL indicates the maximum amount of a nutrient that appears safe for most healthy people to consume on a regular basis. Nutrients needs vary depending on age, sex, and conditions. RDA are set to varying ages and are different for men and women. Some conditions such as pregnancy, disease, and nutritional status may alter the need for vitamins and minerals. Occasionally it may be necessary to supplement the diet with additional vitamins and minerals. However, taking excess amount of vitamins and minerals may have a negative impact on your health. Taking nutrients in excess of your RDA is not recommended unless instructed by your doctor or registered dietitian.

Food Groups

Food Groups

The USDA Food Guide is a planning reference to assist you in achieving healthy diet choices. The USDA Food guide divides foods into 5 main groups. The foods in each group have similar nutritional content. Choosing foods from each of the food groups encourages a well-balanced eating plan. The amount necessary for each food group is based on a person’s own nutritional needs.

Five Main Food Groups:

1. Fruits
2. Vegetable
3. Grains
4. Meats and Legumes
5. Milk

USDA Food Guide:

Food Guides: Consume a variety of fruits and no more than one half of the recommended intake as fruit juice
Major Nutrient Contributions: Folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium and Fiber
Serving Sizes 1 c. fruit is equivalent to 1 c. fresh, frozen or canned fruit; ½ c. dried fruit; 1 c. fruit juice
Best Choices Apples, apricots, bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, grapefruit, grapes, guava, kiwi, mango, nectarines, oranges, papaya, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, watermelon, dried fruit (dates, figs, raisins)
Choices to Limit Canned or frozen fruit packed in syrup; juices, punches, ades, and fruit drinks with added sugars, fried plantains
Food Guides: Choose a variety of vegetables each day, and choose from all subgroups several times a week
Major Nutrient Contributions: Folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and fiber
Serving Sizes 1 c. vegetables are equivalent to 1 c. cut up raw or cooked vegetables; 1 c. cooked legumes; 1 c. vegetable juice; 2 c. raw leafy greens
Best Choices (a variety of each group each week) Dark green vegetables: Broccoli and leafy greens such as arugula, beet greens, bok choy, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, spinach, and turnip greens

Orange and deep yellow vegetables: Carrots, carrot juice, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and winter squash (acorn, butternut)

Legumes: Black beans, blacked eyed peas, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), kidney beans, lentils, navy beans, pinto beans, soybeans, and soy products such as tofu and edamane, and split peas

Starchy vegetables: Cassava, corn, green peas, hominy, lima beans, and potatoes

Other vegetables: Artichokes, asparagus, bamboo shoots, beans sprouts, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cactus, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, iceberg lettuce, mushrooms, okra, onions, peppers, seaweed, snow peas, tomatoes, vegetable juice, zucchini
Choices to Limit Baked Beans, candied sweet potatoes, coleslaw, French fries, potato salad, refried beans, scalloped potatoes, tempura vegetables
Food Guides: Make at least half of the grains selections whole grains.
Major Nutrient Contributions: Folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, iron, magnesium, selenium, and fiber
Serving Sizes 1 oz. grains is equivalent to 1 slice bread; ½ c. cooked rice, pasta, or cereal; 1 oz. dry pasta or rice; 1 c. ready to eat cereal; 3 c. popped popcorn
Best Choices Whole grains such as amaranth, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oats, quinoa, rye, and wheat; Low-fat breads, cereals, crackers, and pastas; popcorn

Enriched bagels, bread, cereals, pasta (couscous, macaroni, spaghetti) pretzels, rice, rolls, tortillas
Choices to Limit Biscuits, cakes, cookies, cornbread, crackers, croissants, doughnuts, French toast, fried rice, granola, muffins, pancakes, pastries, pies, pre-sweetened cereals, taco shells, waffles
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Legumes, Eggs, and Nuts
Food Guides: Make lean or low-fat choices. Prepare with little or no added fat.
Major Nutrient Contributions: Meat, Poultry, Fish, and Eggs -Protein, niacin, thiamin, Vitamin B 6 Vitamin B 12, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc

Legumes and Nuts- protein, folate, thiamin, Vitamin E, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and fiber
Serving Sizes 1 oz. meat is equivalent to 1 oz. cooked lean meat, poultry or fish, 1 egg; ¼ c. cooked legumes or tofu; 1 Tbsp. peanut butter; ½ oz. nuts or seeds
Best Choices Poultry without the skin, fish, shellfish, legumes, eggs, lean meat with fat trimmed, low-fat tofu; tempeh, peanut butter, nuts (almonds, filberts, peanuts, pistachio, walnuts) or seeds (flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)
Choices to Limit Bacon, baked beans, fried meat, fish, poultry, eggs or tofu; refried beans, ground beef, hot dogs, luncheon meats; marbled steaks; poultry with skin; sausages, spare ribs
Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese
Food Guides: Make fat-free or low-fat choices. Choose lactose-free products or other calcium-rich foods if you don’t consume milk
Major Nutrient Contributions: Protein, riboflavin, vitamin B 12, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and when fortified, Vitamin A and Vitamin D
Serving Sizes 1 c. milk is equivalent to 1 c. fat-free milk or yogurt; 1 ½ oz. fat-free natural cheese; 2 oz. fat-free processed cheese
Best Choices Fat-free and fat-free milk products such as buttermilk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt; fat-free fortified soy milk
Choices to Limit 1 % low-fat milk, 2 % reduced-fat milk and whole milk; low fat, reduced fat and whole milk products such as cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt; milk products with added sugars such as chocolate milk, custard, ice cream, ice milk, milkshakes, pudding, sherbet, fortified soy milk
Food Guides: Select the recommended amounts among these sources.
Major Nutrient Contributions: Vitamin E, Essential Fatty Acids and abundant calories
Serving Sizes Vitamin E, Essential Fatty Acids and abundant calories
Best Choices Liquid vegetable oils such as canola, corn, flaxseed, nut, olive, peanut, safflower, sesame, soybean, and sunflower oils; mayonnaise, oil-based salad dressing, soft trans-free margarine

Unsaturated oils that occur naturally in foods such as avocados, fatty fish, nuts, olives, seed (flaxseed, sesame seed), and shellfish
Choices to Limit Hydrogenated shortenings, trans fatty acids, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, palm oil, popcorn oils, nondairy creamers
Solid Fats and Added Sugar
Food Guides: Limit intakes of food and beverages with solid fats and added sugars
Major Nutrient Contributions: Solid fats deliver saturated fat and trans fat and intake should be kept low. Solid fats and added sugars contribute abundant calories but few nutrients and should not exceed the discretionary allowance.

Kcalories should be met first with nutrient-dense foods that allow the needed energy and nutrients necessary. The abundance of solid fat and added sugar can lead to poor nutrient intakes and weight gain.

Alcohol also contributes abundant calories but few nutrients and its calories are counted among the discretionary calories.
Serving Sizes Varies
Best Choices None
Choices to Limit All:

Solid fats that occur in foods naturally such as milk fat and meat fat

Solid fats that are often added to foods such as butter, cream cheese, hard margarine, lard, sour cream, and shortening

Added sugars such as brown sugar, candy, honey, jelly, molasses, soft drinks, sugar, and syrup

Alcoholic beverages include beer, wine, and liquor
Source: USDA Food Guide

Food Choices

Food Choices

Why do people choose the foods they eat?

Before you take your next bite of food think about what you are eating. The food choices you make each day influence your body’s health for better or for worse. The choices you make today will only make a little difference, but when repeated over years and decades can have a major impact on your health. Paying close attention to and making healthy choices can support good health later in your life. On the other hand, eating carelessly and making poor food choices can contribute to many chronic diseases. Heart disease, diabetes, and cancers can be a result of a long unhealthy diet. Although most people realize that their food choices affect their health, there are many other reasons why people choose the foods they choose. Food choices are often highly personalized decisions. Most food choices are based on behavioral or social motives rather than achieved good nourishment for health.


Taste is the number one reason people choose the food they eat. Many people prefer the sweetness of sugar or the saltiness of salt. High-fat foods are universally a common food preference. Different cultures have preferences like the curry spices of India or the soy sauces of China.


Food choices are often made out of habit. Many people eat the same thing for breakfast over and over again. Eating the same food over and over again gives people a sense of comfort since they do not have to make a decision.

Social Interactions

Most people like to share meals with companions. Going out to lunch with a co-worker or friend in common. Many friends like to go to a movie and go out for dinner together. Meals are often served at social events. Food is often offered at parties and social gatherings. Have you ever been to a party where food or a beverage is not offered? Party hosts often serve food as a form of hospitality regardless of hunger signals. Social customs invite people to share food and drink offered by the host. Some cultures consider it an insult not to accept the foods offered.

Ethnic Heritage or Traditions

One of the strongest influences of food choice is based on ethnic heritage or tradition. If you grew up in a Hispanic household, you often grew up consuming Mexican food. Every country has its own sense of style of cooking and foods, and even some regions have their own typical foods. The southern region of Louisiana is ubiquitous in serving Cajun and Creole cuisine. An American tradition is a turkey dinner at Thanksgiving or Family Barbeque on the 4th of July. The American diet is often a collection of many different ethnic groups. About 60 percent of U.S. restaurants (excluding fast-food places) are from different ethnic groups. The most common include Chinese, Italian or Mexican.

Availability, Convenience, and Economical

People often select foods that are fast and easy to prepare. Supermarkets are now full of fast convenience foods ready to bring home and consume. With today’s busy lifestyles people want quick and economical items. People often do not want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing meals and will also often look for simple recipes with minimal ingredients. Those who prepare their own foods at home are more likely to meet dietary guidelines, rather than those who frequent fast-food restaurants. Consumers who frequent fast-food restaurants and do not choose wisely are less likely to eat too much fat and get inadequate amounts of calcium, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Sometimes food choices are made because of convenience. A candy bar might be a mid-afternoon snack choice because it is what is conveniently located in one’s office hallway or in the path of a college student’s walkway. A health-conscious individual might pack an apple or banana. The fruit or banana would provide more vitamins and minerals and less sugar and fat.

The economy has shifted the choices people are making have changed. The higher priced convenience foods are purchased less often and more people are buying the less expensive store brands. Consumers are eating more home-cooked meals to save money.

Positive and Negative Associations with Food

People tend to like some foods because of their association with happy occasions. Hot dogs are well-liked at baseball games and cake and ice cream are like at birthday parties. By the same token, a person may have an adverse association with food. A child who was forced to eat broccoli as a child may develop an adverse association with broccoli. Parents may inadvertently, teach children to like or dislike certain foods. If cake or candy is used as an award, the child may develop a positive association with it.


Some people are emotional eaters. They may eat when they are upset, bored, or depressed. Stress or trauma in a person’s life may lead to overeating and weight gain. People find emotional comfort in eating. Eating can influence the brain’s chemistry and mind’s response. Carbohydrates and alcohol tend to have a calming effect while protein and caffeine are more likely to activate.


Food Choices may be a result of a person’s religious beliefs, political view, or environmental concerns. For example, Jewish people follow an extensive set of dietary laws. Christians do not eat meat on Fridays during Lent. Muslims may fast between sunrise and sunset during the religious time of Ramadan. Some people only select foods that are organically grown, have not been irradiated and genetically modified. Vegetarians may restrict meat and meat products based on their concern for animal rights. Some people may select foods that are locally grown based on the fuel and environmental costs of foods shipped from far away.

Body Weight and Image

Sometimes, people select foods and/or supplements because they believe it will improve their appearance or performance. Athletes may select foods high in protein because they believe it will enhance their performance. Decisions like this can be helpful when based on sound nutrition and fitness knowledge. Choices made based on fads may be detrimental to your health. People concerned about their body weight may choose only low-calorie nutrient-dense foods. When eating in restaurants men may be more likely to choose a steak and potato meal as it appears more masculine especially when dining with a group of men, while women may choose a salad entree.

Nutrition and Health Benefits

People will often choose foods because it’s health benefits. Manufacturers and chefs are responding to more demand for healthy foods. Restaurants are offering healthy food options on their menus to attract all consumers. Foods that provide health benefits are often marketed as such and consumers may be more likely to purchase them. Examples include oatmeal and lactobacillus yogurts. Other foods that may be enriched with extra nutrients may be selected for its nutritional qualities such as orange juice fortified with calcium.

In closing, people select foods for a variety of reasons. Whatever the reason, the choices will in turn affect overall health in the long run. Choose foods that create a healthful balance of your diet over a period of time.



Fats in the Diet

Fats in the American diet are a growing concern. You have probably heard by now, most Americans get too much fat in their diet. Eating too much fat can lead to heart disease, cancer, and obesity. Limiting the intake of fat can have a positive effect on health. The type of fat consumed is also important. Choose a diet that is low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Eat a diet with fats that contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated in limited amounts.

Saturated fat

Saturated fats are associated with raising LDL cholesterol in your blood. Typically the more saturated fat in the diet the more LDL cholesterol in your blood. Sources of saturated fats include: whole milk, cream, butter, cheese, fatty cuts of beef and pork, coconut, palm and palm kernel oils.

Trans fats also raise LDL cholesterol in your blood but also lower the HDL cholesterol in your blood. Trans fats also have a negative effect on inflammation and insulin resistance. Sources of trans fats include: deep-fried foods, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, pastry, crackers, snack chips, margarine, imitation cheese.


Cholesterol also raises LDL cholesterol in your blood but not as much as trans fats. Sources of cholesterol include eggs, milk products, meat, poultry, and shellfish.

Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated fats

Replacing saturated and trans fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may be an effective way of preventing heart disease. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential fatty acids require by the body. Omega-3 fatty acids have been given a lot of attention lately because of their role in reducing the risks of heart disease and strokes. Sources of monounsaturated fats: olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and avocados. Sources of polyunsaturated fats: vegetable oils (safflower, sesame, soy), nuts, and seeds. Sources of Omega-3 fats include vegetable oils, (canola, soybean, flaxseed).

Although most Americans get too much fat in the diet, it is important to note that it is a necessary component of the diet. Too little fat in the diet can have adverse effects. In the body, triglycerides provide protection against shock, help the body use carbohydrates and proteins efficiently, provide a reserve for energy, and insulate against temperature extremes among many other things.

In order to understand fats, it is important to look at their chemical structure. The difference between many fats is its chemical structure. The different chemical structure of fats leads to the different properties. Properties of fat produce different outcomes in foods. Some fats can raise your cholesterol level while others have fat protective properties for your heart. Fats in our diet provide us with delicious flavors and textures in foods.



Fiber is a hot topic these days. Most Americans are not getting the recommended amount of daily fiber. Increasing dietary intake to 20-35 grams per day may have health benefits. Eating the recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain can easily meet your nutritional needs for fiber.

Fiber provides structure to all plant food sources. Most fiber is composed of polysaccharides. The bonds in polysaccharides can not be broken by human enzymes are therefore are not digested. Dietary fibers can be broken down into two main groups:

Soluble fibers and Insoluble fibers.

Soluble fibers

Soluble fibers are not digestible food components. Soluble fibers when mixed with water will form a gel. Soluble fibers can be digested by normal bacteria found in the colon. The bacteria break down the soluble fiber into fragments that can be absorbed and metabolized by cells in the lower gastrointestinal tract. Soluble fibers are commonly found in oats, barley, legumes, and citrus fruits. Soluble fibers have been found to protect against heart disease and diabetes. A diet high in soluble fibers will aid in lowering cholesterol levels. Delayed digestion attributed to soluble fibers will also lower blood glucose levels.

Insoluble fibers

Insoluble fibers do not dissolve in water and they do not form gels. Insoluble fibers are mainly found in whole grains and vegetables. Individuals suffering from constipation can find relief by incorporating more insoluble fiber (and water) into their diet. Adequate amounts of insoluble fibers may help lower the risk of diverticulosis, colon cancer, and appendicitis.

Functional fibers

Functional fibers are fibers that have been extracted from plants or manufactured and then added to foods or nutritional supplements. Functional fibers have beneficial health benefits and provide an added function in the food product. You may wonder what xanthan gum is on your food label. Xanthan gum is often added to food items such as salad dressings, refrigerated dough, and dry mixes.

In salad dressings, xanthan gum is added as an emulsifier to prevent the fats and oils from separating. Other examples include cellulose gum, agar-agar, carob, and gum Arabic. Functional fibers can stabilize foams, thicken, improve texture, and much more. The term total fiber on nutritional labels refers to the total of dietary fibers and functional fibers.

Resistant Starch

Resistant starch is classified as a dietary fiber. Like insoluble fibers and soluble fibers, resistant starch can not be digested. Resistant starch is commonly found in whole legumes, raw potatoes, and unripe bananas.

Common Fibers Found in Foods

The most common fibers found in foods are cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectic substances. Fibers found in foods are usually a mixture of both soluble and insoluble fibers.

Health benefits of fiber may include:

  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Improving the glycemic response
  • Better blood sugar management
  • Better feeling of fullness after meals
  • Promoting weight loss or weight management
  • Relieve from constipation
  • Lower risk for heart disease, cancer, diverticulosis, appendicitis, obesity, and diabetes
  • Stimulates bacterial fermentation in the colon

Getting too much Fiber.

As you have seen fiber getting adequate fiber in your diet can be beneficial. Getting too much fiber in your diet can cause gas, bloating, abdominal and/or diarrhea. Excessive intakes of fiber may also lower the absorption of certain minerals.

Ask your doctor or a registered dietitian how much fiber is right for you.



What are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are sugars, starches, and fibers. Carbohydrates are often called simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. The simple carbohydrates are sugars known as monosaccharides and disaccharides. The complex carbohydrates are polysaccharides known also as starches and fibers. Almost all foods contain some carbohydrates. The best sources of carbohydrates are grains, legumes, tubers, and root vegetables.

Grains include: barley, bulgar (cracked wheat), farro, spelt, sorghum, corn, millet, rice, rye, wheat, triticale, kamut, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, and oats

Legumes include: lima beans, black beans, blackeye beans, garbanzo beans, Great Northern beans, Navy beans, Pink beans, Pinto beans, Red Kidney beans, peas, and lentils

Tubers include: potatoes, carrots, turnips, beats, and parsnips

Root Crops include: yams, cassavas

Simple Sugars

Monosaccharides are single sugars. Glucose, Fructose, and Galactose are all single sugars. All monosaccharides come from the four main types of atoms found in foods- hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon. All monosaccharides important in nutrition have the same numbers and kinds of atoms but they are arranged differently. Fructose is the sweetest tasting, followed by glucose. Galactose does not taste very sweet.


Glucose Glucose is also known as blood sugar. Glucose is the necessary energy source for the body’s activities. All digested carbohydrates are digested and broken down into glucose to be used by the body for energy.

Fructose Fructose has exactly the same chemical formula as glucose but its chemical structure is slightly different. Fructose occurs naturally in fruits. High fructose corn syrup is a syrup made from cornstarch that has been treated with an enzymes. The enzymes convert some of the glucose to a much sweeter fructose. High fructose corn syrup is used in processed foods and beverages.

Galactose Galactose is a monosccharide that occurs naturally only in a few foods. Galactose has the same number and kinds of atoms as glucose and fructose but are arranged in yet another form


Disaccharides are two monosaccharides linked together. The monosaccharide glucose is part of all three disaccharides. Maltose is a disaccharide consisting of two glucose units. Maltose is produced whenever starch is broken down during digestion. Sucrose is a disaccharide composed of a fructose and glucose unit linked together. Sucrose is naturally sweet. Sucrose gives fruits, vegetable, and grains sweetness. Table sugar is sucrose refined from the juices of sugarcane or sugar beets and then granulated. Lactose is a disaccharide composed of a glucose and galactose combination. Lactose is the main source of carbohydrate from milk.

Maltose-2 glucose units
Sucrose-1 fructose and 1 glucose unit
Lactose-1 galactose and 1 glucose unit

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are chains of monosaccharides called polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are classed into three categories: Glycogen, Starches, and Fibers.

Glycogen are long chains of glucose molecules stored in the human body. The storage of glucose when signaled can be quickly broken down for energy by enzymes.

Starches are long chains of glucose molecules found in plant sources. During digestion, the longs chains are broken down in the body.

Fibers are mainly polysaccharides. The difference between starches and fibers is that humans do have the enzymes available to break down the bonds between most fibers. Some fibers are digested by the normal bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract.

Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI)

Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI)

Have you ever wondered if you are getting enough Vitamin, Minerals, or Other Nutrients?

Using the results of thousands of research studies, nutrition experts have produced a set of standards that define the amounts of energy, nutrients, other nutritional components, and physical activity. The standards are set to support optimal health and are recommended to meet the needs of most healthy people. The recommendations are called Dietary Reference intakes.

A DRI Committee is a group of highly qualified scientists who study the research and carefully interpret the scientific evidence. Using the information presented by hundreds of research studies, the committee develops recommendations to meet the nutritional needs of healthy individuals. These recommendations may not be appropriate for people with diseases that alter their nutritional needs.

The nutritional needs of individuals vary depending on age and sex. Males and Females have different nutritional needs. Children, Teenagers, Adults, and Senior Citizens all have different nutrients needs. The Dietary Reference Intakes values are determined based on a given age and gender group.

The Diet Reference Intakes are a set of nutrient intake values for planning and assessing diets. The values that are set are categorized into four different groups:

  • Carries nutrients and waste throughout the body
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA)
  • Adequate Intake (AI)
  • Tolerable Upper Intakes Levels (UL)

Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) is the average daily amount of nutrients that will maintain the health of people given age and gender group.

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) is a value set that will meet the nutrient needs of approximately 98% of the population. This value is a goal for dietary intakes.

Adequate Intakes (AI) is the value that is set that appears to be sufficient to nutrient requirement. Adequate intakes are set for nutrients that lack scientific evidence.

Tolerable Upper Intakes Levels (UL) is a value set that appears safe for people to consume. Intakes above the tolerable upper intakes increase the risk of adverse reactions.

Nutrients with RDAs: Carbohydrates, Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B 6, Folate, Vitamin B 12, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Iodine, Selenium, Copper, Molybdenum

Nutrients with AI’s: Water, Fiber, Total Fat, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Biotin, Pantothenic acid, Choline, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Sodium, Chloride, Potassium, Calcium, Manganese, Fluoride, Chromium

Nutrients with UL: Niacin, Vitamin B 6, Folate, Choline, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Sodium, Chloride, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Iodine, Selenium, Copper, Manganese, Fluoride, Molybdenum, Boron, Nickel, Vanadium

How do you know if you are getting enough or too much of a nutrient? Seek the advice of a registered dietitian and ask for diet analysis.