For Better Living

Reducing sugar, sodium and saturated fats to ‘Savor the Flavor of Eating Right’

Sandra R. Cain Extension agent

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has chosen the theme of “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” for National Nutrition Month 2016.

The recently released 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting the amounts of added sugar, sodium and saturated fats that you eat. The guidelines state that most Americans follow a diet that is too high in these components.

During National Nutrition Month we are all encouraged to make an effort to cut back on food and beverages high in added sugar, sodium and saturated fats. This can be accomplished by taking the time to find creative, healthful and nutritious ways to add flavor to food.


The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming less than 10 percent of your calories per day from added sugars. Lisa Cimperman, registered dietitian with the Academy of Nutritionand Dietetics recommends that we “choose foods and beverages with no added sugar whenever possible,” According to Cimperman:

Read food labels and avoid buying foods with added sugars like high fructose corn syrup, dried cane syrup, evaporated cane juice, invert sugar, molasses, sucrose, brown rice syrup, honey, agave or maple syrup.

Drink water, low-fat or fat-free milk and 100-percent fruit or vegetable juice instead of sugary beverages.

Choose snacks with no added sugar. For example, eat plain yogurt instead of flavored yogurt with whole fruits such as berries or pears.

Grill fruits such as pineapple or peaches for a naturally sweet and healthier dessert.

Eat smaller dessert portions. Often a bite or two will satisfy your sweet tooth.


The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming fewer than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. “Most sodium consumed in the United States comes from salts added during commercial food processing and preparation,” Cimperman says. “Because sodium is found in so many foods, careful choices are needed to reduce your sodium intake.”

According to Cimperman:

Use the Nutrition Facts label to compare sodium content of foods and choose products with less sodium.

Buy frozen or canned products without added salt.

Buy fresh poultry, seafood, pork and lean meat rather than processed meat and poultry.

Cook meals from scratch to control the sodium content of dishes.

Buy fewer jarred sauces and pre-flavored products.

Flavor foods with citrus, herbs and spices instead of salt.

Saturated Fats

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend reducing saturated fat intake to less than 10 percent of calories per day. “It’s important to understand the different types of fats, and reduce your intake of saturated fats by replacing them with unsaturated fats,” Cimperman says. According to Cimperman:

Saturated fat is found in foods such as meats, whole milk, cream, butter and cheese. Unsaturated fat, which includes polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, is found in foods like oils, fatty fish, nuts and seeds.

Drink fat-free or low-fat milk (1-percent) instead of 2-percent or whole milk, and eat low-fat cheese instead of regular cheese, oils instead of butter and lean rather than fatty cuts of meat.

The Academy’s website ( includes helpful articles, recipes, videos and educational resources to spread the message of good nutrition and an overall healthy lifestyle for people of all ages, genders and backgrounds.

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


Creamed Spinach

¼ cup diced onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1 ¼ cups fat-free half-and-half

4 ounces fat-free cream cheese, cubed

¾ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 package (16 ounces) frozen leaf spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

In a large nonstick skillet, sauté onion and garlic in butter until tender. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually whisk in half-and-half until blended. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Add the cream cheese, salt, nutmeg and pepper, stirring until cream cheese is melted. Stir in spinach and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Heat through. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Yield: 5 servings

Sandra R. Cain is an Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences in Bladen County.

Sandra R. Cain Extension agent R. Cain Extension agent
Reducing sugar, sodium and saturated fats to ‘Savor the Flavor of Eating Right’
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