Nutrition 101

Tips for Great Nutrition

Making healthy choices with regard to nutrition can be overwhelming. Follow these guidelines to ensure proper nutrition. Looking for more indepth or specific information? Come to the Wellness Center and talk to a Nutrition Peer Educator or contact the Counseling Center (x3062) and set up a meeting with our consulting Dietian. This service is available to all St. Olaf students at no charge.

How much of what should I be eating?
Fruits- any fruit or 100% fruit juice.  Fruits can be fresh (best!), canned (in water), frozen, or dried.  In general, one cup of fruit or 100% fruit juice or ½ cup of dried fruit can be considered one cup of fruit.  Recommended intake is based on your age and sex—generally it is recommended to have 2 cups a day.  Fruits should cover ¼ of your plate.  Fruits are low in fat, sodium and calories and are also the source of essential nutrients including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and folate (folic acid).  Potassium rich diets help maintain a healthy blood pressure.  Dietary fiber from fruits can help reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower the risk of heart disease.  Vitamin C aids in the growth and repair of all body tissue, helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy.

Vegetables- Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice.  Veggies can be raw or cooked, fresh (best!), frozen, canned or dried.  Vegetables are broken down into five categories; dark green; red and orange; beans and peas; starchy; and other.  Recommended intake is based on your age and sex but generally college-aged people should have about 2 ½ – 3 cups a day.  One cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice or two cups of raw leafy greens is considered one cup.  Most veggies are naturally low in fat and calories and do not have cholesterol.  Veggies contain essential nutrients such as potassium, dietary fiber, folate, and vitamins A and C.  Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps prevent against infection. Vitamin C aids in iron absorption.

Grains- Any food made of wheat, rice, cornmeal, oatmeal, barley or other cereal grain.  There are two grain groups: whole and refined.  Whole grains include the entire kernel (bran, germ, and endosperm) such as whole-wheat flour, bulgar, oatmeal, brown rice, cornmeal.  Refined grains have been milled and does not contain the bran and germ.  This removes dietary fiber, iron and B vitamins.  Most refined grains are enriched, which means the B vitamins that were lost in processing are added back in.  In general, college-aged women should eat 6 ounces a day and men should eat 8 ounces. At least half should be whole grains.  One slice of bread, one cup of cereal or ½ cup of cooked rice, pasta or cooked cereal is considered equivalent to one ounce.  Grains have many nutrients including dietary fiber, B vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium and selenium.  Magnesium helps build bones and releases energy from muscles.

Protein- All foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts and seeds.  College-aged women need 5 ½ ounce equivalents each day, men need 6 ½.  One ounce of meat, poultry or fish, ¼ cup of cooked beans, one egg, one tablespoon of peanut butter or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds can be considered as one ounce equivalent.  All of the foods listed above contain protein, B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc and magnesium.  Proteins facilitate bone, muscle, cartilage, and skin growth.  They are also the building blocks of enzymes, hormones, and vitamins.  Zinc helps the immune system function properly.  Seafoods contain varying amounts of omega-3 fatty acids which may help reduce the risk of heart disease.  It is recommended that we eat eight ounces a week. Cholesterol is only found in foods from animal sources and are particularly high in in egg yolks and organ meats such as liver and giblets.  These foods should be limited to keep blood cholesterol at a healthy level.

Dairy- all fluid milk products and many foods made of primarily milk.  Foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are part of this group.  Foods made from milk that have little to no calcium are not (such as cream cheese, cream, butter). Calcium fortified soymilk is also considered a dairy product.  Most dairy choices should be low-fat.  College-aged people should have three cups of dairy a day. Calcium is used to build bones and teeth as well as maintain bone mass.  Dairy products, especially milk, soymilk, and yogurt provide potassium.  Vitamin D helps maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorous in he body.  Choosing low and no fat dairy products is important because it reduces the saturated fats and cholesterol.

Oils- Fats that are liquid at room temperature which come from many plants and fish.  Oils are not a food group but they do provide essential nutrients.  This group includes canola, corn, cottonseed, olive, safflower, soybean and sunflower oils.  Oils can also be found directly in foods such as nuts, olives, some fish, avocados. Most oils are high in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats and are low in saturated fats.  Oils from plant sources do not contain cholesterol. However, coconut, palm and palm kernel oil are high in saturated fats and should be considered solid fats.  Solid fats are any fats that remain solid at room temperature.  Many come from animal foods or from vegetable oils through hydrogenation (butter, milk fat, beef fat, chicken fat, pork fat, stick margarine, shortening, partially hydrogenated oil).  Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats contain fatty acids necessary for health.  College-aged women should consume about 6 teaspoons of oils a day, men 7.

For more information on serving sizes check out www.choosemyplate.gov