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Simple Nutrition Advice

Paleo or plant-based, or Mediterranean, oh my! Nutrition and diet advice can be quite confusing. One day, a new diet or food is good for you, the next, there are dangers associated with it. From diets that boost health and weight loss to magical superfoods, it’s hard to believe what’s best for you.

Whether you’re trying to trim your waist or improve your health, the best nutrition advice can be summed up by Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies & Public Health Marion Nestle in these 14 words:

“Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits; balance calories; don’t eat too much junk food.”

Or you can take this advice from author Michael Pollan:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Or, in its simplest form, as said by writer Mark Bittman:

“Eat real food.”

For the most part, the messages are similar and seem like common sense. Eat real, natural foods and try to balance your intake with activity. While these all sound simple enough, it’s almost always easier said than done.

And confusion still remains thanks to food companies and media hype. Companies exaggerate their products to get them to sell, while the media loves to report about breakthrough studies that may not have much merit behind them. If you can drown out this noise and get down to the basics, nutrition doesn’t have to be all that confusing.

With all foods, there are advantages and disadvantages. For example, we know that junk food is processed and chock full of additives and preservatives that are bad for us and that plants usually provide us with the most nutrients. However, aside from health issues, we do not need to cut certain foods from our diet completely. Moderation and balance are key.

Eat well, eat smart, and don’t overdo it – that’s something we can all understand. If you’d like to share your own nutrition advice and tips, connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can also find and follow us on Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest.

For fresh, natural, and just plain yummy food, visit the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli in Pomona! Our sandwiches and salads are made to order with the finest and freshest ingredients available to us. We’re open weekdays 10:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays 10:30am-4:30pm – hope to see you soon!

What Is Fiber?

March is National Nutrition Month, and, to kick it off, we’re talking about fiber. Do you get enough fiber in your diet? Read on to find out the benefits of fiber and which foods are the best sources for your fiber fix.

What is Fiber?

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. Because it cannot be broken down into sugar molecules, fiber simply passes through the body undigested. This makes fiber an important player in regulating the body’s use of sugars, keeping hunger and blood sugar in check.

There are two types of fiber, and both are good for you.

  1. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and can help lower glucose levels and blood cholesterol. Soluble fiber can be found in foods like oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, apples, and blueberries.
  2. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and can help food move through your digestive system, aiding in regularity and preventing constipation. Insoluble fiber can be found in foods like wheat, whole wheat breads, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

Overall, the best sources for fiber include whole grain foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and nuts.

How Much Do We Need?

For good health, it is recommended that children and adults get at least 20-30 grams of fiber per day. However, most Americans only ingest a mere 15 grams a day. To increase your fiber intake, try these tips:

  • Opt for whole fruits rather than sugary fruit juices.
  • Swap white rice, bread, and pasta for brown rice and whole grain products.
  • Choose cereals with a whole grain listed as their first ingredient.
  • Skip the chips, crackers, and chocolate bars and snack on raw vegetables instead.
  • Substitute meat with beans or legumes two to three times a week in chili or soups.

Benefits

It appears that fiber helps to reduce the risk of developing various conditions.

  • High intake of dietary fiber has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, as well as metabolic syndrome.
  • Studies have shown that diets low in fiber and high in foods that cause sudden increases in blood sugar may increase the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Eating dietary fiber, particularly insoluble fiber, was associated with about a lower risk of 40% lower risk of diverticular disease.
  • Fiber helps to relieve and prevent constipation, one of the more common gastrointestinal complaints in the US.

Now that you know a bit more about fiber, are you getting enough? What’s your favorite fiber-rich food or meal? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn! You can also find us on Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest.

Visit the Brick Market & Deli – Your Neighborhood Deli in Pomona on the corner of E Arrow Hwy & Garey Ave. You can order ahead online or visit us in store weekdays 10:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays 10:30am-4:30pm.

Nutrition Labels: What To Look For (And Avoid)

Health-conscious individuals often stress the importance of reading nutrition labels to fully understand what you are eating. Nutrition labels and ingredients lists give us excellent insight into how good or bad the food is for you. However, for most people, the nutrition label can be quite confusing. Luckily, we will break it down so you know what to look for and what to avoid.

Calories
Almost everyone looks at calories, and, for some, it may the only thing that you look at. While this number is important, what’s more important is where those calories come from. For example, a healthy snack bar and a candy bar may have the same number of calories, however, the former will likely have lower sugar levels, healthier fats, plus protein and fiber than the latter. And when it comes to snacks, try to keep them below 200 calories per serving to avoid going over your daily limit and gaining weight.

Sugars: Natural vs. Added
While the numbers may seem high, natural sugars are usually not a cause of concern. These are the naturally occurring sugars in whole foods like plain yogurt, milk, or fruit. Where you need to be cautious is with some fruit juices, since you are essentially concentrating all the sugars into a bottle, while removing all the fiber.

Added sugars are the ones manufacturers use to make food sweeter. These will be included in the ingredients list, whereas natural sugars will not be. There are numerous names for them, but the most common are high fructose corn syrup or anything ending in “ose” (such as glucose, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, and maltose). In an attempt to fool consumers into thinking that a food doesn’t have that much added sugars, manufacturers will use different types of sugars in their products. Because ingredients are listed in descending order of weight, using small amounts of various added sugars makes them appear lower on the list.

Natural sources of added sugar, like agave nectar, molasses, maple syrup, evaporated cane juice, or coconut sugar, should be avoided as well. These contain the same amount of calories and too much can increase your risk for obesity and diabetes.

When choosing packaged items, an easy rule of thumb is to choose foods that contain less grams of sugar than fiber.

Fats: Beware of Trans & Saturated Fats
Trans Fat is the artificial fat made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil , and can increase your risk for heart disease and type-2 diabetes. The nutrition label should always read 0 grams of trans fat. You should also check the ingredients label for trans fat or “partially hydrogenated oils” (legally, a food is allowed to contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fat and still list 0 grams on the nutrition panel).

With saturated fats, the lower the amount, the better. You want to limit your daily intake of saturated fats to 10 percent of your total calories. These should mainly come from whole, nutrient-dense foods like dairy, lean meats, nuts, and seeds versus crackers or snack bars.

Sodium
Unfortunately, Americans consume well over the recommended 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Most of that excess consumption can be attributed to packaged foods. Snack foods should contain less than 300mg, while meals should stay below 700mg.

Fiber
Fiber helps to slow digestion to keep you fuller longer and avoid blood sugar spikes (which spur cravings). Your daily intake goal should be between 20-35 grams. As far as the food label goes, there is no one amount for all packaged foods. Instead, aim for at least 4 grams of fiber per serving for grains, such as whole wheat pasta or macaroni and cheese, and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving for packaged snacks or breads.

Protein
Protein content often depends on the individual and their nutrient needs (and yes, you can eat too much protein). It’s best to shoot for snacks with 5-10 grams of protein.

Carbohydrates
Carbs should make up about 50% of your total caloric intake. Needs will vary depending on activity level, but cutting out carbs completely is not the best choice. Not all carbs are bad, so choose wisely and balance your exercise and intake accordingly.

Steer Clear Of Artificial Additives
So you’ve checked the nutrition panel and it looks pretty good. Next up is the ingredients list to look for any harmful additives.

  • Both butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are petroleum-based artificial preservatives, are linked to cancer, and should be avoided at all costs.
  • Artificial food dyes (often listed as red, blue, or yellow followed by a number) are made from petroleum and have been linked to cancer in animals.
  • Artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium, are said to have a negative effect on gut bacteria and the saccharine flavor may increase your sweet cravings.

Have we missed anything? Want to share your own food label tips? Connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or LinkedIn. You can also find us on Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest.

Come visit us for a fresh, natural, and just plain yummy sandwich or salad, made to order! We are located on the northeast corner of Arrow Hwy and Garey Ave in Pomona (next to Johnny’s). We’re open weekdays 10:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays 10:30am-4:30pm – See you soon!