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Chelsea at Crunch Gym

Forty Weeks of Fitness!

Chelsea, our pregnancy fitness expert, is a certified personal trainer at Crunch gym in San Francisco, California. She gave birth to her daughter, Madeira Re, in July 2006. Read more

Healthful Snacks for the Chip-and-Dip Crowd

by Ruth Papazian

Being Upfront About Nutrients

Many well-known brands of snack foods are now available in reduced-fat or reduced-sodium versions so you can steer clear of nutritional land mines without being a party pooper. However, the trick is to find lower calorie, fat or salt versions of your favorite snacks, and to compare the amount that makes up a portion with the amount you normally eat so you can incorporate snack foods into your diet without overdosing on fat and salt.

How many tortilla chips make a serving? Which has less sodium per serving, salsa or bean dip? Does a half cup of "party mix" contain more fat than an equal amount of mixed nuts? Thanks to the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, the answers to such questions can be easily found on virtually all packaged and processed foods. Redesigned in 1994 in accordance with regulations developed jointly by FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the food label now provides more consistent and reliable information about:

  • Nutrient claims, such as "reduced sodium" or "low fat"

  • Serving size and number of servings in the package or container

  • Percent of daily values (%DV), which show how much of certain nutrients a serving contributes to your daily diet

  • All ingredients, including additives, artificial colors and natural and artificial flavors.

"A quick, easy way to spot healthier varieties of cookies, chips and other snack foods, is to be on the lookout for products that carry the nutrient claims 'fat free,' 'low fat,' 'light,' 'low sodium,' 'lightly' salted, or 'reduced' calorie, fat or sodium on the front of the package," suggests Kulakow. "You can trust these claims because they are among a number of descriptive terms that the government has created precise definitions for, and all foods making such nutrient claims must meet stringent criteria," she adds.

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