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Unprocessing your pantry: Spring cleaning that matters


Spring is finally here and I can’t wait to start working outside and plant my garden. I am sure everyone is thinking about what is on their spring cleaning list.

For those of you who have been thinking you would like to eat a little healthier or drop a few pounds, I have a suggestion for a little spring cleaning project. Clean out your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Donate what you can to a charity or throw away all of those guilty pleasures and unhealthy processed foods.

Processed foods fill the kitchens of America, making it convenient to have a quick snack or create a meal. There are a few processed foods that are healthy, but nutrition studies prove time and again that processed foods are a contributing factor in many chronic illnesses in the United States. It may be difficult to get rid of all processed foods in your household, but here are a few tips to make your kitchen a little healthier.

Fiber, the 10 to 1 Rule

You should be getting your fiber from whole fruits and vegetables, but you can check your processed foods to see if they meet certain guidelines. Look at the nutrition information on the product, and there should be at least one gram of fiber for every 10 grams of total carbohydrates. If a packaged food has 30 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of fiber, it doesn’t make the cut, but if it has three grams of fiber, you can keep it.

Sodium should be less than calories

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends keeping your sodium intake under 2,300 milligrams per day. According to The National Heart Lung and Blood Association, 500 milligrams of sodium is a safe daily minimum. The average person needs between 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day to maintain a healthy weight. The easiest way to watch your sodium intake is to make sure there are fewer milligrams of sodium than there are calories. For example, potato chips that have 170 milligrams of sodium per serving and 160 calories per serving need to be tossed into the trash!

The skinny on fats

The saturated fat in processed foods should be less than seven percent of total calories. All fat contains nine calories per gram. If your bag of chips has two grams of saturated fat per serving, that means there are 18 calories from the saturated fat. If the total calories per serving are 100, then the saturated fat contributes 18 percent of the total calories (18 / 100 = 0.18 or 18 percent ).

There are a few exceptions to this rule; for example, the calories from saturated fat in an avocado are about 11 percent , but an avocado is a non-processed whole food so it is considered healthy.

Paul Webster is certified in Holistic Nutrition, Weight Management, Personal Training, and is a professionally trained chef. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media. Questions and Comments can be sent to Info@ServingHealthy.com


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