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Serving Sizes

Grocery PatrolIn 1916, a Coke was seven ounces. Today, a can is 12 ounces. (Had a "Big Gulp" lately?) In 1955, an order of McDonald's French fries was a little over two ounces. Today, an order of fries weighs up to six ounces. This upward trend has changed our perception of serving sizes which may be part of the reason so many of us are overweight. We think we're within the health recommendations for servings per day when in reality, we may be eating two, three or even four times the number of suggested servings - with the notable exception of fruits and vegetables! For instance, the Food Pyramid recommends 6 to 11 servings from the grain group and defined a bagel as two servings from that group. The problem is, the government's bagel weighed two ounces and is plain - no raisins, cream cheese, nuts or streusel. Most bagels weigh in at four to five ounces so you're actually eating five servings from the grain group... and that's just for breakfast! One five-ounce plain bagel has about as many calories as five slices of bread or a breakfast consisting of an egg cooked in a pat of margarine, two slices of toast, a tablespoon of jam, and six ounces of orange juice.

Coffee beansThere are two species of coffee beans - arabica and robusta. Arabica accounts for 75 percent of the world's coffee production and contains about half as much caffeine as robusta which is considered by the brew's adherents to be inferior in quality because the flavor is more harsh and pungent.

"Healthy" labels are popping up on all kinds of foods, but what foods qualify for the label? Those that contain no more than 3 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 60 mg of cholesterol, and 480 mg of salt...per serving. Be sure to check the serving size - food manufacturers are not above skimping on serving size to make the product fit the labelling description. July 4th Safety Note: Unrefrigerated ground beef should be thrown out after one hour if it is a hot day with the temperature over 90 degrees; after two hours up to 90 degrees.

Last September, the National Marine Fisheries Service said that 86 of the species caught in U.S. waters are "overfished" - they're being caught faster than they can reproduce. (The advance in fishing technology is the reason, but I don't want to go there.) Most of us remember when orange roughy first appeared at the seafood counter and on menus touted as tasting like lobster. What the fish experts didn't know then is that orange roughy, a deep sea fish found in the Atlantic and off New Zealand, might live for 100 years or more, and don't reach sexual maturity until they are 25 or 30. The result of human ignorance is that orange roughy have become rare and the species may not recover for 100 years or more. Other overfished species include: flounder, Atlantic halibut, American lobster, red snapper, Atlantic (wild) salmon, Chilean sea bass, Atlantic sea scallops, North Atlantic swordfish, and West Atlantic bluefin tuna.

Avoiding all large fish, i.e., swordfish, shark, grouper, etc. also reduces the risk of mercury poisoning. Mercury accumulates in brain tissue. It can cause birth defects and behavior problems in children and nerve damage in adults. An alternative is to buy farmed seafood. Catfish, salmon, trout, shrimp, clams, mussels and oysters are now being farm raised. Farmed fish tend to be fattier than wild fish, but most of the extra fat is monounsaturated so it doesn't raise LDL ("lousy") cholesterol and may help raise HDL ("good") cholesterol.

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