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.
A year from now when you dine out, you’ll be seeing just how many calories you’re ordering up with that muffin, salad or drink, thanks to the just released final FDA guidance for menu labeling. If you live in places like New York, Philadelphia, Seattle and California, you already see this information, but these new rules – part of the Affordable Health Care Act – are the first national standards for menu labeling.
The requirements mean that any restaurant, concession stand, bakery or other eating venue with 20 or more locations will need to post calorie counts on their menu. Other nutrient information, such as saturated fat, carbohydrates, fiber and protein, will need to be available upon request.
Some national restaurants have already started to do this. Enforcement for everyone begins in May 2016.