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Following ABC's of health spells success

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2002

The ABC's for good health, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are: aim for fitness, build a healthy base and choose sensibly. The USDA has produced a brochure packed with information on how to build a healthy lifestyle using the ABC's entitled, "Using the Dietary Guidelines for Americans."

By following these guidelines the USDA states you can reduce your risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, stroke and osteoporosis. The guidelines include:

Aim for fitness:

Aim for a healthy weight

Be physically active each day

Build a healthy base:

Use the Food Guide Pyramid to guide your food choices

Choose a variety of grains daily, especially whole grains

Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables daily

Keep food safe to eat

Choose sensibly:

Choose a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and moderate in total fat

Choose beverages and foods to moderate your intake of sugars

Choose and prepare foods with less salt

If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation

I use this brochure as a handout when I teach nutrition classes because it contains important information such as choosing sensible portion sizes. It warns, "Check product labels to see how much food is considered to be a serving. Many items sold as single portions actually provide two servings or more." I know I have been caught off guard more than once.

In addition to the mention of portion size, this brochure offers ideas for choices that are lower in saturated fat in the food categories that are among the major food sources of saturated fat for U.S. adults and children. These include cheese, milk, meat, bread and frozen desserts. There is a chart that provides a guideline for limiting saturated fat and total fat based on total calories per day.

This brochure shows the Food Guide Pyramids for both adults and young children. There also is a chart on how to use the pyramid. This is especially useful because people often have the question about how many servings they need each day. In an easy-to-read chart, there is a list of what counts as a serving and then how many servings based on 1,600, 2,200 and 2,800-calorie daily intakes.

Have I convinced you yet you need a copy of this free brochure? If I have, we have them in our Extension office. We are located at 43961 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Suite A, Soldotna, AK 99669. If you'd like more information, call us at 262-5824 or, outside the central peninsula area, (800) 478-5824.

Linda Athons is an agent at the Alaska Cooperative Extension Office on Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna. She is a home economist and involved in the 4-H/Youth Development programs.

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