Today the Food and Drug Administration announced it will be making major changes to the Nutrition Facts Label found on US packaged foods. The American Institute for Cancer Research applauds these changes, which will take place over the next three years. Here’s how the new information can help you lower your cancer risk.
1. Calories are big and bold. If you’re trying to lose weight or stay at a healthy weight, knowing how these foods fit into your diet is important. You can see at a glance whether these calories fit your needs and easily compare to other foods for the smartest choice.
2. Serving sizes are more realistic. You will be able to know more accurately how many calories you’re getting because servings sizes are more in line with typical portions Americans eat. For packages where people usually eat or drink it all in one sitting, such as a 20 ounce soda, the calories and other nutrients will refer to the entire package.
3. Added sugars are now on the label. This is important for cancer prevention, because now you’ll know how much sugar has been added to foods like yogurt, flavored milks and sweetened fruit drinks. AICR research shows that eating food and drinks high in sugar can lead to overweight and obesity, which is a cause of 11 different types of cancer. AICR, along with other health organizations, urged the FDA to make this change.
The new label will list vitamin D and potassium, for which many Americans struggle to meet the recommended daily amount. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required on the label.
As always, AICR recommends choosing minimally processed foods like vegetables, fruits and other plant foods as often as possible. When you do reach for a packaged food product, these changes will make it easier to make informed choices about what you eat.
Today’s Health-e-Recipe pairs crunchy and sweet jicama with a fruity salsa. Jicama is a root vegetable, also know as a Mexican turnip. You can find it in the produce section usually near other root veggies like turnips and beets. It packs 6 grams of cancer-fighting fiber for less than 50 calories. Jicama makes a great addition to your vegetable platter raw, but can also be cooked.
Here’s more information about jicama from our nutrition advisor, Karen Collins, MS, RDN, CDN, FAND.
Q: How do you prepare jicama?
A: Jicama (hee-kah-mah) is a root vegetable that looks like a cross between a turnip and a potato. You can peel it, slice it into strips and serve it raw in salads or with a low fat dip. You can also cook it by steaming, stir-frying, or oven roasting. Jicamas have a mild flavor and crunchy texture.
You should choose smaller ones because they’re less woody. They should be free of bruises. A whole cup of raw jicama contains only about 50 calories. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of dietary fiber.
If you ate a bagel for breakfast this morning, you’ve already had a big chunk of the maximum amount of sodium you should have for the day. Going beyond that amount is pretty common though. According to a government report earlier this year, nine of ten adults consume more than the recommended amount of dietary sodium – 2,300 milligrams of sodium, which is about one teaspoon.
One of AICR’s recommendations for cancer prevention is to limit how much salt and salty foods you eat. Our report last week found that salt preserved foods commonly eaten in Asia link to increased risk of stomach cancer and although those foods aren’t a staple in the US, Americans’ salt-loving habits lead to other health problems like high blood pressure and increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
A small part of that is the salt you add at the table. Most of your sodium comes from salt already added to foods that you buy.