Nutrition Corner: Read food labels to keep chronic health issues in check

April 28th, 2016 4:58 pm

Everyone can be just a bit more mindful when choosing the types and quantities of foods they eat throughout the day, as well as the nutrition those calories offer.

People with chronic illness such as heart disease and diabetes see the results of mindful eating first hand. It’s possible that blood sugar can rise and the medications do not keep it in balance because the calories are too high. Or, weight gain occurs and blood pressure rises.

Being mindful of what you eat is a must to keep your blood pressure and blood glucose numbers in control. Two key goals to follow are: keep sugars and saturated fats less than 10 percent of overall calories. If you consume 2,000 calories, less than 200 can be from added sugars and less than 200 calories from saturated fat.

Added sugars might be difficult to figure out if you are not a food label reader. Currently the only way to find out if sugar was added is by reading the ingredient list.

These words in the ingredient list is are examples of added sugars: anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, confectioner’s powdered sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, dextrose, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), honey, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, nectars (e.g. peach nectar, pear nectar), pancake syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, white granulated sugar and others.

It is also difficult to figure out how many calories are from added sugar. The new food label will give us that information; however, it won’t be for a while.

The second goal is to keep calories from saturated fats less than 10 percent of total calories. This is a bit easier. It does list it on the food label, however, be mindful of your portion size. Examples of saturated fat found in the ingredient lists are: butter, milk fat, beef fat (tallow, suet), chicken fat, cream, pork fat (lard), stick margarine, shortening, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, coconut oil and others.

Saturated fat has been in the media lately. If you like whole milk, just count the extra 60 calories per 8 ounce glass as part of the total 10 percent saturated fat calories.

To learn more about added sugars and saturated fat calories, call our office. We also are offering a five-session course “Dining with Diabetes” beginning May 18. Call 1-888-825-1701 or visit for more information.

Here is a recipe that takes the saturated fat out and limits added sugars. Pumpkin is a good source of Vitamin A and makes a great dessert to eat all year long. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Mousse

2 cups canned pumpkin

1 Tbsp. honey

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp grated lemon peel

1 cup part skim ricotta cheese

In a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin, honey, cinnamon and lemon peel. Mix well. Fold in the ricotta cheese. Refrigerate for 1 hour and serve.

Makes six ½ cup servings. Nutrition facts: 96 calories and 12 g carbohydrates per serving. Calories from added sugar are 8. Calories from saturated fat are 18.

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret Corner Mary R. Ehret

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford Counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at