It’s not often that you hear recommendations to eat more. Here is one - the USDA dietary guidelines recommend that we boost our dietary fiber, calcium, potassium and vitamin D eating. What does that mean?
It’s tough to know which foods are good sources of fiber, calcium, potassium and vitamin D. Luckily, food manufacturers are asked to print nutrition facts as part of the food label.
Fiber is listed on the food label under the main heading, carbohydrate. This includes both types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, meaning fiber that our body digests and fiber that just passes through. The recommendation for an average adult is 25 grams a day.
Unfortunately, the label doesn’t tell us how much potassium or Vitamin D is in foods. We need to use the USDA Nutrition Data Laboratory website to find out which foods are highest in each of these. Good sources of potassium are strawberries, bananas and cantaloupe. Also, tomato paste, lentils, beet, broccoli and kale.
Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. In the warm months, stand outside in the sun for 10 minutes first before applying sunscreen. Good food sources of vitamin D are tuna and salmon along with fortified foods such as low fat milk, yogurt and enriched orange juice.
Last, but not least, calcium. Our hearts need calcium to contract and pump blood. If we don’t have calcium in the foods we eat, our bodies will rob it from our bones. The label also tells us how much calcium is in a food item by a percentage of a daily requirement. It is a percentage based on 1000mg a day, the recommendation for the average adult.
Add yogurt to breakfast or lunch. Find the yogurt that gives the most calcium for the calories. Choose a smoothie over a soda. It’s best to make your own to control the calories, but in a pinch there are some low calorie options. Greens aren’t as high in calcium as dairy foods, but they do have some. Collard, turnip, kale and bok choy are all good sources of calcium.
Try to boost your favorite foods with fiber, calcium, potassium and Vitamin D. Become familiar with good food sources of each of these nutrients and look for ways to add them to your meal plan.
Here is a recipe that includes good food sources for each of these nutrients.
¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbs. margarine
1 banana, sliced
4 oz. light cream cheese, softened
¾ cup skim milk
1 tbs. plus 1 tsp sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix (or regular)
1 cup sliced strawberries
8 oz frozen fat free or light whipped topping, thawed
Mix graham cracker crumbs and margarine with a fork or pastry blender until crumbly. Press mixture into bottom of 8X8 baking dish.
Arrange banana slices evenly over surface of crumb mixture.
Beat softened cream cheese until smooth, gradually add milk and continue beating. Add pudding mix and beat for 1 minute or until begins to thicken
Spread mixture evenly over surface of bananas.
Spread sliced strawberries over cream cheese mixture.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. Serve chilled. Serves 9.
Can double recipe by using 9X12 dish.