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Just the Food Facts

Footnote citations for all information are available by request:
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Included in this section is information, much of it verbatim, from the USDA’s position on health and nutrition. While the USDA holds no formal position on alternatives to meat and dairy products such as tofu, tempeh, seitan and soy milk, EarthSave International has documented research about such alternatives which complements the nutritional guidelines of the USDA. Please contact EarthSave for further documentation or information.

Adding More Vegetables, Fruits and Whole Grains

The major sources of calories in the American diet are carbohydrates and fats. Carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits and grain products such as breads, cereals, pastas and rice are an important part of a varied diet. Vegetables, fruits and grains are generally low in fat. They are emphasized because they are also good sources of complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber and other substances in food linked to good health.

Serving more foods containing complex carbohydrates can also help add fiber to the diet. Foods differ in the kinds of fiber they contain. Include a variety of fiber-rich foods such as whole-grain bread and cereals, fruits, vegetables and cooked dry beans, peas and lentils in your diet.

Tips to Add Vegetables, Fruits and Grains

Vegetables

Fruits Grains Reducing Fat in the Diet

For most Americans, it is sensible to reduce daily intake of total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. The Dietary Guidelines of the USDA suggest goals of 30 percent or less of total calories from fat and less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat. Why? Populations like ours with diets high in fat have higher rates of obesity and of certain types of cancer. The higher levels of saturated fat and cholesterol in our diets are linked to our increased risk for heart disease. Of these two, saturated fat has a greater effect.

Current diets of many Americans are higher in fat and saturated fat than the Dietary Guidelines suggest. For example, fat provides an average of 35 to 37 percent of calories per day depending on the age and sex of children studied. Step-by-step changes in menus over time can achieve an average fat content of 30 percent or less of calories from fat.

How to Replace Fat Calories

Lowering the fat content also lowers the calories of the meal. Fat contains over twice the calories of the meal. Fat contains over twice the calories of an equal amount of protein or carbohydrate. When fat is lowered in the meal, other foods will need to be added to replace those calories lost from fat. Whole grains, vegetables and fruits are the best choices for adding calories when lowering the fat in meals.

Sources of Fat

Some fats in foods are easily identified, and these we call the visible fats. One hundred percent of their calories come from fat. Visible fats include butter, margarine, vegetable oils, salad dressings, cream, lard, and the solid fat portions of meat.

The hidden fats contained in other foods are less obvious. In general, foods that come from animals are naturally higher in fat than foods that come from plants. Animal products -- in particular red meats (beef, veal, pork, lamb), poultry, fish and shellfish, milk and milk products, and eggs -- contribute more than half of the total fat to the US diets. Most fruits, vegetables and grain products are naturally low in fat. The fat content of any food can be significantly increased by being cooked or prepared with added fat.

Saturated Fat

Three-fourths or more of the saturated fats in the US diet are found in animal products and some vegetable fats such as coconut, palm and palm kernel oil. Most all saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Some liquid oils are solidified by hydrogenation. Federal guidelines recommend that Americans get no more than 10 percent of their daily calories from saturated fat. Far too many Americans consume significantly more than 10 percent because of the amount of animal products they are eating. Saturated fat in turn raises cholesterol.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance present in all animal foods. It is not found in plant foods. Both the lean and the fat of meat and the meat and skin of poultry contain cholesterol. In milk products, higher-fat products contain more cholesterol than lower-fat products. Egg yolks and organ meats are high in cholesterol. The human body produces all the cholesterol it needs.

Tips to Lower Fat, Saturated Fat and Cholesterol

Meat and Meat-free Alternatives

Vegetables and Fruits Bread and Bread Alternatives Milk and Milk Alternatives

Reading Labels for Fat and Saturated Fat