Updated: Mar 9
This is the third of four weekly columns based on nutrition counsel offered by Yoni Freedhoff, MD, in a New York Times article. So far, we’ve addressed these words of advice from the column “Be Healthy,” and “Cook from Whole Ingredients – Minimizing Restaurant Meals.”
Watch Out for Trans Fats
Choose Foods with Unsaturated Fats
This week we’ll look at ultra-processed foods and recommendations regarding alcohol intake.
Learn About Ultra Processed (UPF) Food and Use Less
Ultra-processed, a relatively new term to most of us, describes foods that are pretty far from the natural state of their basic ingredients; and foods that have many ingredients you don’t recognize—the “unpronounceable”! UPF tend to be low in essential nutrients (like protein, vitamins and minerals); and high in sugar, oil, and sodium.
Rather than list UPF, it is almost easier to list those which are not ultra-processed, which takes us back to last week’s topic of cooking from whole ingredients. Let’s go back to the Farmers’ Market. You won’t find any UPF there.
Shop in the outer aisles of the grocery store—the produce aisle, the meat/poultry/seafood counter. I have to admit, I’m not so sure the in-store bakery (often in the outside aisle) will be 100% free of UPF. But we do have great baked goods at the Tamworth Farmer’s Market!
Sadly, UPF are very likely to be over-consumed, and they now account for more than 50% of the calories eaten in the US and in the UK (The Guardian, Feb 12, 2020).
ENJOY ALCOHOL IN MODERATION (or not at all)
I admit I do enjoy my wine! Light to moderate drinking may have some positive health benefits. For example, some research has suggested that moderate alcohol intake may reduce the risk of heart disease and possibly even some strokes.
The US Dietary Guidelines advise that women limit alcohol to 1 drink a day; and men, to 2 drinks a day. And, as we all recognize, certain people should avoid alcohol entirely, including pregnant women and people taking certain medications.
What is “one drink”? The Dietary Guidelines offer this definition:
12 ounces of regular beer (5% alcohol),
5 fl oz of wine (12% alcohol), or
1.5 fl oz of 80 proof (40%) distilled spirits.
One drink- equivalent is described as containing 14 g (0.6 fl oz) of pure alcohol.
The risks of heavy alcohol use are well known. In all probability, the health benefits of alcohol are small and may not even apply to everyone. As you can see, no one is suggesting that non-drinkers should get into the habit of consuming alcohol daily for health reasons!
Tamworth Community Nurse Association
Author: Maureen McCarthy Diamond is a retired Registered Dietitian. She spent most of her professional life working with people with end-stage kidney disease. A year ago, she joined the Board of Tamworth Community Nurse Association.
US Dietary Guidelines: https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-10/DGA_Recommendations-At-A-Glance.pdf