Monday, February 9, 2009

Is there really any nutritional value in lettuce?

Q: Is there really any nutritional value in lettuce?

A: Lettuce is a leafy crunchy vegetable with substantial water content, some fiber and a negligible calorie count—all factors that are beneficial for filling up your plate and pairing down your waistline.

You should know that only certain types of lettuce are loaded with lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidant plant chemicals, whereas others contain virtually nothing in terms of nutrition. Hence, even though all types of lettuce are low in calories, the different varieties offer different valuable sources of nutrients. For example, romaine lettuce is especially rich in vitamins A, C, and K, folate, and manganese when compared to iceberg lettuce.

When making lettuce choices, be sure to get in the power lettuces, romaine and red leaf—the darker the leaf, the greater the amount of nutrients such as vitamin A and folate. Other salad greens, such as spinach, kale, arugula and radicchio, while technically not lettuces, are among the most nutrient-dense foods available.

So when it comes to good health and weight control, be sure to pile on the dark leafy greens (an antioxidant gold mine), and leave the iceberg in the bin!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Is soda ok for my kids in moderation?

Q: I let my kids drink soda with special meals (no more than two cans per week). Is this OK for them?

A: Your advice to limit the intake of soda to two cans per week is a good one. So many parents have no qualms about providing unlimited amounts of sweetened beverages such as sodas to their little ones. In fact, it’s been estimated that almost one third of parents serve this type of drink to their 12-14-month-old children and, believe it or not, this statistic increases to almost 50% of parents when children reach 19-24 months old. As a mother of three, and as a registered dietitian, I urge parents to rethink this practice due to the childhood obesity epidemic that envelopes our country.

According to the Dietary Recommendations for Children and Adolescents issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents should limit their children’s intake of sugar-sweetened drinks such as soda. With the limits you’ve set in your own home, you’re teaching your children the concept of “moderation” and starting them off on the right foot by promoting a healthy lifestyle.

The most valuable tool you can use to promote good health in your kids is to be a good role model yourself. Eat healthy and exercise daily and your children will learn not so much by what you say but by what you do!!!