Week of September 18, 2006
Nutrition WiseKaren Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research
Q: Is it better to store fruit and vegetables in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic or unwrapped?
A: When produce loses moisture, it also loses nutrients. Wrapping fruits and vegetables in plastic wrap and storing them in “crisper” drawers is recommended because it helps retain moisture and keeps them fresh and crunchy. However, too much moisture can increase growth of mold and bacteria, speeding up decay. That’s why it’s best not to wash produce ahead if you will be storing it for a few days. Special perforated plastic wraps hold in some moisture but allow excess amounts to evaporate. You can accomplish similar results by poking a few holes in standard plastic wrap.
Q: How much juice is considered a serving of fruit or vegetables?
A: Six ounces of fruit or vegetable juice is considered one serving, as long as it is 100 percent juice. Juice can be a good way to get many of the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals found in whole fruits and vegetables. Juice does not, however, supply fiber, and the calories in fruit juice can add up quickly while leaving you still hungry. Experts suggest that we don’t make juice a major part of fruit and vegetable intake. Most experts suggest that we drink fruit juice for no more than one, or at most two, servings of fruit per day. The American Academy of Pediatrics also encourages children to eat whole fruit and recommends limiting fruit juice to four to six ounces a day for children one to six years old. Choose carefully: a “juice cocktail” or “juice beverage” means it is not 100 percent juice. Right above the Nutrition Facts panel you can find the exact percentage of juice in the product clearly stated. Also, look carefully at label information because it will usually refer to an eight-ounce serving.
Q: What should I eat to make sure I get enough magnesium?
A: Many Americans get less than recommended amounts of magnesium, because they skimp on the major sources of this important mineral. If you follow suggestions to eat at least three servings of whole grains daily, and frequently include dried beans, green leafy vegetables and nuts in a balanced, mostly plant-based diet, you should get plenty of magnesium. The style of eating that the American Institute for Cancer Research calls the New American Plate is a great way to keep a healthy balance in your diet without feeling like you must always count everything you eat. Limit lean meat, fish or poultry to no more than one-third of your plate at each meal, and enjoy a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans occupying at least two-thirds of your plate.
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The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) offers a Nutrition Hotline online at www.aicr.org or via phone 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday, at 1-800-843-8114. This free service allows you to ask questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. A registered dietitian will respond to your email or call, usually within 3 business days. AICR is the only major cancer charity focusing exclusively on how the risk of cancer is reduced by healthy food and nutrition, physical activity and weight management. The Institute’s education programs help millions of Americans lower their cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. Over $77 million in funding has been provided. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.All active news articles