There's no doubt about it -- consumers are interested in eating health-promoting foods. But when you ask them what those foods are, you're liable to get the wrong answers.
That's what happened when Giant Food asked area consumers to identify foods that are high in fat or fiber. And, the Food and Drug Administration found similar misunderstandings when it recently surveyed consumers about their knowledge on fat and cholesterol.
Consumers have gotten the message that a healthful eating regime may help reduce the risk of various diseases such as heart disease, cancer and obesity, agree Giant, FDA and nutrition educators. But when it comes to the details about specific foods and how to put together a prudent diet, there's still a lot of confusion.
For example, while 98 percent of the shoppers surveyed by Giant Food were concerned about eating health-promoting foods, most respondents incorrectly believed that white bread, soft drinks and bananas are high in fat and that corn flakes and lettuce are high in fiber.
Giant released these findings last week at a press conference updating its "Eat for Health" program, which in conjunction with the National Cancer Institute is attempting to increase fiber and lower fat consumption among Washington-area consumers. The program, launched in March, incorporates shelf tags, a food guide and monthly educational bulletins. The findings were based on a survey of 900 area consumers before the "Eat for Health" program began.
Giant's program aims to educate consumers on healthful eating habits to help reduce the risks of certain kinds of cancer. Nevertheless, said Dr. John La Rosa, dean for clinical affairs of the George Washington University Medical Center and chairman of the nutrition committee of the American Heart Association, there is "a remarkable degree of consistency among most of the major groups making dietary recommendations to the public, all of which endorse lower intake of fat and calories." Speakers at the press conference all urged consumers to stop taking the "disease of the week" approach to preventative eating.
While food labels are sometimes confusing and counter-productive in promoting wise food selections, the basic idea is to consume lean meats, poultry (preferably without the skin), fish, plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lowfat dairy products. You want to choose these foods more often than you select high-fat, low-fiber foods.
Aside from the basics, there are the specifics. So here's a series of quizzes to test your knowledge of specific fat facts, followed by some lowfat recipes and a list of resources for more information.
Take out your pencils, put away your Big Macs and good luck! Answers are on page E14.
In each category, circle the food that is LOWEST in total fat.
1) Margarine/Ketchup or Mustard/Mayonnaise
2) Croissants/English muffins/Biscuits
3) Chicken nuggets/Dark meat chicken/White meat turkey
4) Peanut butter/Tartar sauce/Jelly
5) Fried chicken breast/Sirloin tips/Spareribs
6) Doughnuts/Gingersnaps/Granola bars
7) Buttermilk/Whole milk/Two percent milk
8) Avocados/Bananas/Apple pie
9) Baked potato/Fresh broccoli with cheese sauce/Olives
10) Canadian bacon/Bologna/American cheese
11) Ice cream/Lemon pie/Frozen yogurt
12) Part-skim ricotta/Cream cheese/Two percent fat cottage cheese
13) Part-skim mozzarella/ Cheddar cheese/Brie
14) Ritz/Wheat Thins/Melba toast
15) Tuna packed in oil/Tuna packed in water/Fried scallops
16) Oreos/Fig Newtons/Chocolate chip cookies
17) Sour cream/Nondairy whipped topping/Vanilla yogurt
18) Chicken McNuggets/McDonald's Filet-O-Fish/McDonald's plain hamburger
Health professionals believe that it is not only important to cut down on total fat in your diet, but to reduce the amount of saturated fat in particular. See how you score on this fat and cholesterol survey conducted by FDA and the National Cholesterol Education Program.
1) Are saturated fats usually found in a) vegetables and vegetable oils, or b) animal products like meat and dairy products?
2) Are polyunsaturated fats usually found in a) vegetables and vegetable oils, or b) animal products like meat and dairy products?
3) Which kind of fat is more likely to be a liquid rather than a solid?
a) saturated, b) polyunsaturated, c) they are equally likely to be liquids.
4) Which kind of fat is higher in calories?
a) saturated, b) polyunsaturated, c) they are both the same.
5) Which kind of fat is more likely to raise people's blood cholesterol level?
a) saturated, b) polyunsaturated, c) neither.
6) If a fat or oil has been hydrogenated, is it now a) more saturated than it was, b) less saturated than it was?
7) Is cholesterol the same thing as a) saturated fat, b) polyunsaturated fat, or c) neither.
8) Is cholesterol found in a) vegetable and vegetable oils, or b) animal products like meat and dairy products?
9) If a food is labeled "cholesterol free," is it also a) low in saturated fat, b) high in saturated fat, or c) it could be either high or low in saturated fat.
Saturated fats and cholesterol in foods: True or false?
1) Eating foods high in saturated fat raises blood cholesterol levels more than eating foods high in dietary cholesterol.
2) Most cheeses are high in saturated fat.
3) Coconut and palm oils, two vegetable oils, are low in saturated fat.
4) Broiled lean ground beef has less saturated fat than broiled bottom round steak.
5) Since safflower oil is not a saturated fat, it's okay to eat as much of it as you want.
6) A chicken breast with skin on it has more than twice as much saturated fat than without the skin.
7) Avocados and peanut butter are high in cholesterol.
8) Margarine and butter have the same amount of calories and total fat, but margarine has less saturated fat.
9) Whole and two percent milks have more calcium than one percent and skim milks.
10) Quiche, fettucine alfredo and pa~te' are high in both saturated fats and cholesterol.
11) Regular mayonnaise is relatively low in cholesterol and high in total fat, but most of the fat is polyunsaturated. AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION CHIVE-TOMATO DRESSING (Makes 1 cup)
1/3 cup tomato juice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon each oregano and dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons chopped chives or scallions
Combine all ingredients and shake well.
40 calories per tablespoon.
NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE VEGETABLE CHOWDER (4 servings)
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon margarine
1/2 cup diced potatoes
1 cup water
1/8 teaspoon each marjoram and black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup cut green beans
2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups lowfat milk
Cook onion, celery and green pepper in margarine until almost tender. Add potatoes, water and seasonings. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add corn and green beans. Cover and simmer 10 minutes longer or until beans are tender.
Mix flour with a small amount of milk; add to remaining milk. Stir milk mixture into cooked vegetable mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened.
125 calories per 1 cup serving. GIANT FOOD SPICED APPLE RAISIN TROLLS (Makes 4 dozen cookies)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each cloves and nutmeg
1 cup finely chopped unpeeled apple
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup margarine, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple juice
Combine dry ingredients, apples and raisins. Cream margarine and sugar. Add egg and apple juice. Beat until combined. Stir in flour mixture. Drop by teaspoonsful on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 8 minutes.
60 calories per cookieThe Answers Quiz 1 1) ketchup or mustard; 2) english muffins; 3) white meat turkey; 4) jelly; 5) sirloin tips; 6) gingersnaps; 7) buttermilk; 8) bananas; 9) baked potato; 10) canadian bacon; 11) frozen yogurt; 12) two percent fat cottage cheese; 13) part-skim mozzarella; 14) melba toast; 15) tuna packed in water; 16) fig newtons; 17) vanilla yogurt; 18) McDonald's plain hamburger. Quiz 2 1) b; 2) a; 3) b; 4) c; 5) a; 6) a; 7) c; 8) b; 9) c. Quiz 3 1) T; 2) T; 3) F; 4) F; 5) F; 6) T; 7) F; 8) T; 9) F; 10) T; 11) T.