AUG
29

5 Tips for Packing a Healthy, Kid-Approved School Lunch

Healthy lunches are important. When kids skip lunch, they’re more likely to have trouble concentrating in the classroom, lack energy for after-school sports, and overeat low-nutrient after-school snacks.

When packing your child’s lunch, the goal is to choose items that pack a nutritional punch and appeal to your child. Use these tips to pack lunches your child will eat (and like!) rather than trade, throw away, or bring back home. 

myplate

Balance it out.
Using MyPlate as a guide, try to get all major food groups represented in your child’s lunch. Here are some ideas:

Cedar's hummus singles Veggies – Add greens, tomato slices, or cucumber slices to sandwiches. Add avocado or guacamole to wraps. Swap the sandwich bread for a lettuce wrap. Try ‘finger veggies’ like baby carrots, celery sticks, mini peppers, cherry tomatoes, and sugar snap peas. Serve with a healthy dip like hummus, baba ganoush, or tzatiki. 

Kind fruit bitesFruit – Bananas, grapes, and Clementine’s are easy-to-eat options for kids. If your child passes up apples, pears, or peaches, try serving them sliced. Dried fruit counts as a serving of fruit, too! Try raisins or easy-to-chew dried apricots, apples, or cherries. Swap fruit snacks for Kind Fruit Bites—the only ingredients are dried fruit!

SunbutterProtein – Opt for lean animal proteins, like chicken or turkey deli meat, tuna, Canadian bacon, or hard-boiled egg. (Remember, chicken, tuna, and egg salads can be made ahead of time and hastily spread on sandwiches in the morning. Try replacing half the mayo with plain Greek yogurt for an extra protein boost). If nuts are allowed at school, try nut-based trail mix, nut-based Kind bars, peanut butter, or almond butter. If your child goes to a nut-free school, try sunflower butter instead.

Pirate's booty popcorn Whole Grains – Swap refined grains for whole grain sandwich bread, wraps, and tortillas. Opt for whole grain crackers, like Wheat Thins or Triscuits. Popcorn is a whole grain, too! If you’re treating your child to a homemade baked good, try replacing half the flour with whole grain flour. Opt for quick breads made with a fruit or veggie, like zucchini bread, banana bread, or carrot muffins.

Organic Valley single serve milkDairy – Don't forget the dairy—kids’ bones are growing fast! Choose low-fat milk and pre-portioned cheeses, like string cheese or Baby Bells. Greek yogurt is a great choice. Opt for brands that sweeten with real fruit, like Chobani, Siggi’s, or Fage.

Make a plan.
Kids are far more likely to enjoy their lunch when they have a vested interest in it.
Involve kids in the planning process; sit down with your child before a weekend grocery trip and decide together what will go in school lunches. Determine which types of foods must go in each lunch (for example, a protein, a grain, a fruit and veggie, a dairy product, and an optional snack or sweet item), then make a checklist of things your child likes in each category. For example: “The vegetables I will eat in my lunch are: baby carrots, green pepper slices with ranch dip, cherry tomatoes, or a mini-salad.”

Add interest.
Kids, like adults, eat with their eyes first. Choose a reusable lunch bag or box with favorite characters or colors. Make foods as bright and colorful as possible (turmeric and beet juice make great natural dyes). Have fun with shapes and size—use cookie cutters on sandwiches or make mini-muffins. 

Stay food safe.  
Lunches with perishable foods like deli meat, dairy products, and cut fruits and vegetables should never be left out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours. For cold foods, invest in an insulated lunch bag and pack an icepack. Or, pack a frozen water bottle or box of 100% juice, and have your cold pack double as a refreshing noontime beverage. Pack hot foods like soup and stew in a thermos, and store in a separate compartment in your child’s lunchbox.

Gather feedback.
The best way to know if your child likes the lunches you pack? Ask them! Ask your child if you packed too much or too little food, if any items get mushy, discolored, or soggy by lunchtime, or if any items are too difficult for your child to open without an adult’s help. 

Kids Eat Right Month Badge

 

 

 

 

Courtney Mayszak, RDN, LDN 847.681.5513 courtney@sunsetfoods.com

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AUG
01

Cook County Soda Tax Affects Northbrook Sunset

After a hold-up in the courts, a new Cook County soda tax will go into effect tomorrow, August 2nd. The tax will collect $0.01 per ounce of sweetened beverages. This works out to $1.44 for a 12-pack of soda. The tax is expected to generate over $200 million dollars for Cook County each year. 

While soda taxes are controversial, I encourage shoppers to drink less soda. A robust amount of evidence links sugary drinks with a host of detrimental outcomes, such as obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, and dental disease. While sugary drinks are certainly not the only place you’ll find sugar in the diet, Americans do drink most of their sugar.

However, the Cook County tax is unique from most other soda taxes in that it includes artificially sweetened, or “diet”, beverages as well. The scientific evidence of harm from diet drinks is less certain than that of sugar-sweetened drinks.

And the policy doesn’t stop there. Here’s what's being taxed:

  • All beverages sweetened with sugar or a sugar-derivative (like high-fructose corn syrup). This includes soda, sports drinks, flavored water, fountain drinks, energy drinks, pre-made sweetened coffee or tea, and fruit-ades like lemonade.
    Note: It doesn’t matter how much sugar is in the drink —even if it only has 1g, it’s still taxed. When reading labels, remember that sugar goes by many names.
  • Low-calorie or calorie-free drinks that are sweetened with artificial sweeteners like Aspartame or Splenda.
  • Low-calorie or calorie-free drinks that are sweetened with natural, non-caloric sweeteners like stevia or monkfruit.
    Note: this means that even brands that are healthy alternatives to soda, like Bai, Hint, and Vitamin Water, are taxed.

Here’s what’s not being taxed:

  • 100% natural fruit or vegetables juice with no added sweetener (e.g. 100% orange juice).
  • Any drink in which the main (more than 50%) ingredient is milk. This includes soy milk, rice milk, and other milk substitutes.
  • Drinks for medical use (e.g. Ensure or Boost).
  • Meal replacement drinks (e.g. Slim Fast).
  • “Drinks” in syrup or powder form that the consumer combines with water to create a beverage.
  • Infant formula

Switching to an unsweetened beverage has always been good for your health. Now, it’s good for your wallet, too. If it’s time to make a swap, I recommend La Croix or Perrier. Both products are calorie-free, sugar-free, carbonated, and come in many tasty, natural flavors. Neither are included in the tax.

Cal Croix and Perrier products

A final note: if you can’t stomach the tax on your favorite drinks, our Highland Park, Lake Forest, Libertyville, and Long Grove stores do not tax sweetened beverages. 

Courtney Mayszak, RDN, LDN 847.681.5513 courtney@sunsetfoods.com

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JUN
12

Healthy Oils Part 1: Choosing Your Oils Wisely

Sunset’s selection of oils ranges from the familiar to the exotic. While there are many different types, not all oils are created equal. Each type of oil is unique, with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. The right oil for you depends on how you’re using it, your taste preferences, and what sort of health benefits you’re looking for. Here are some tips for choosing wisely.

Types of oils

Fats matter
Each type of oil has a different mix of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Each of these fatty acids has a different effect on our health. Here’s what each of them do:

  • Saturated Fat is sometimes referred to as “bad” fat that have been shown to raise “bad” LDL cholesterol, increasing risk of heart attack and stroke. Use these fats in moderation.

    Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, and usually come in the form of animal products like red meat, butter, cheese, and ice cream. Coconut oil and palm oil are exceptions to this rule, as they are plant sources of saturated fat. Unlike other plant-based fats, they are solid at room temperature.

  • Monounsaturated Fat (MUFA) is considered “good” fat. They have been shown to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise “good” HDL cholesterol. Diets rich in monounsaturated fats are associated with a decreased risk in cardiovascular disease. Monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil, and peanut oil are all good sources of monounsaturated fats. Oils that include the term “high-oleic” on their label have been modified to contain more monounsaturated fat. This is common for safflower and sunflower oils.

  • Polyunsaturated Fat (PUFA) is also considered “good” fat that has a positive effect on our cardiovascular system. These fats are liquid at room temperature. Many oils are mostly polyunsaturated fats. These include: corn, flaxseed, grape seed, safflower, sesame, soybean, sunflower, and walnut oils.

At this point, we’re not exactly sure what the most beneficial ratio of MUFA to PUFA is.  We do know they’re both good for us, and replacing saturated fats with MUFA and PUFA improves cardiovascular health.

Mind your omegas
Omega-3s and omega-6s are two types of polyunsaturated fat. Omega-3s reduce inflammation in the body, whereas omega-6s promotes inflammation Both are essential to the body, meaning the human body can’t make them and they must come from food. However, Americans tend to eat way too much omega-6s and not enough omega-3. A favorable omega-3 to omega-6 ratio reduces risk of inflammatory diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, type II diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Omega-6s are found soy oil, corn oil, grape seed oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil, which are often used to make popular processed foods like cookies, crackers, and chips. Oils that are good sources of omega-3s, like canola oil, walnut oil, and flax oil, are less popular, though healthier choices.

Know your smoke point
Not all oils can take the heat. When cooking with oil, smoke point is important. The smoke point is the temperature at which oil will begin to smoke. At this point, the oil chemically breaks down and produces free radicals that are harmful to health. Oils that are heated past their smoke point may also impart bitter, unpleasant flavors. High smoke point oils, like avocado oil and safflower oil, are best for high-heat cooking like grilling, frying, and stir-frying. Save low smoke point oils, like walnut oil and flaxseed oil, for salad dressings and garnishes.

Refined vs. unrefined
Oils come in refined or unrefined versions. Refined oils will say so on the label. Unrefined oils may use terms like “cold pressed” or “virgin” on their label. The more refined the oil, the higher the smoke point. This is because the refining process removes impurities that cause the oil to smoke. Because these impurities also serve as flavor compounds, refined oils have a more neutral taste. For example, choose refined coconut oil when you don’t want your dish to taste like coconut.

Choosing refined oils is a nutritional trade-off, however, as refined oils have fewer nutrients. For example, the “impurities” found in extra-virgin olive oil not only give olive oil its bold, botanical flavors, but are also antioxidants.

Savor the flavor 
Some oils have a neutral flavor that makes them versatile in the kitchen. Mild-tasting oils include canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, grape seed oil, and “light” (light in color and taste, not in calories) olive oil. Others lend themselves to bold flavors that can transform your meal. For example, avocado oil, coconut oil, and extra-virgin olive oil are fruity in flavor (unless they’ve been refined). Flaxseed oil and walnut oil have nutty and earthy flavors. Use peanut oil or sesame oil when you’re going for bold Asian-inspired flavors.

There’s so much to consider when shopping for oil! Here’s a handy chart to help you make the wisest choice in the aisle.

Oil comparison chart

Check back later this week for more tips on choosing and storing oils properly. 

Courtney Mayszak, RDN, LDN 847.681.5523 courtney@sunsetfoods.com

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JUN
09

Dietitian's Pick: Carlson Lemon Fish Oil

When it comes to meeting nutrient needs, I take a “food first” approach. But where food comes up short, supplements can help fill in those nutritional gaps. I wanted to take a minute to express my enthusiasm for Carlson fish oils: one of the only supplements I take.  

To meet our needs for omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA omega-3’s, we must eat fish at least twice a week. EPA and DHA are responsible for reducing inflammation, promoting healthy brains, hearts, skin, and eyes, even improving our mood. Cold-water fish like salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel are all excellent source of omegas. However, fish may not always work itself into our diet with that twice-a-week frequency. For diets light in seafood, a good fish oil supplement comes in handy.Carlson fish oil

Because adulteration in the supplement industry is a growing concern, brand reputation matters—especially for fish oil. Nordic Naturals and Carlson are two highly reputable fish oil brands that come to mind. Both products are superior in quality. If you’re interested in a taking a soft-gel capsule, either choice is a good one. Personally, I favor the versatility and (surprisingly!) pleasant taste of Carlson’s ‘The Very Finest’ lemon flavored fish oil liquid.

In addition to taste, I appreciate Carlson’s fish oil for its ratio of EPA and DHA. While there’s no official recommendation for which ratio is preferred, keep in mind that EPA and DHA play different roles in the body. EPA has stronger heart, mood, and joint health benefits, whereas DHA promotes brain development, memory, and cognition. At 800mg EPA and 500mg DHA per teaspoon, Carlson’s product has a healthy balance of the two. Though every fish oil supplement is different; if you have specific health concerns, choose one with a ratio that favors the benefits you’re looking for.

I enjoy making a quick lemon balsamic vinaigrette dressing with Carlson’s lemon fish oil. My recipe is simple: 1 tsp fish oil + 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil + 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar + a splash of lemon juice + salt and pepper.

I’ll also throw my fish oil into any dish that calls for both olive oil and lemon—think Mediterranean salads, taboulehs, yogurt dressing, hummus, and lemon chicken. It’s also perfectly fine all on its own. (If you’ve ever tried flavored olive oil before, it tastes a lot like lemon flavored olive oil). Don’t believe me? Taste for yourself at one of our upcoming demos! Plus score coupons and tasty Carlson recipes.  

6/11 – Libertyville – 11am-2pm
6/12 – Northbrook – 11am-2pm
6/19 – Lake Forest – 11am-2pm
6/26 – Long Grove – 11am-2pm 

Fish oil isn't the only type of oil that's worth our while. Check back next week for tips on choosing, storing, and cooking with other healthy oils. 

Courtney Mayszak, RDN, LDN 847.681.5523 courtney@sunsetfoods.com

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MAY
19

Attention Gluten-Free Shoppers: Embrace Whole Grains

Whole grains are important for everyone's health, especially those on gluten-free diets. Gluten-free cookies, crackers, cereals, breads, and other grain-based foods are often made with a blend of flours that mimic the texture of gluten. Typically, this blend includes corn, rice, or tapioca flour—all of which are gluten-free, though are relatively low-fiber, low-protein, and not fortified with important nutrients. That’s where gluten-free whole grains come in. 

Whole grains contain all 3 parts of the grain kernel—the bran, germ, and endosperm. Refined grains, on the other hand, consist only of the endosperm. The bran and the germ have been stripped away, leaving behind white, fluffy carbohydrate. Because the bran and germ are the most nutritious parts, whole grains contain more protein, fiber, B vitamins, and other nutrients compared to refined grains

Anatomy of a grain

The protein and fiber found in whole grains are important. These nutrients slow down digestion, leaving us feeling full for longer, and promoting a healthier blood sugar response.

The b-vitamins founds in whole grains are important as well, especially for those on gluten-free diets. Our government mandates that wheat-based (i.e. gluten-containing) flours and cereals be fortified with important b-vitamins like folate, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and iron. Gluten-free alternatives are not fortified, leaving gluten-free eaters at risk of developing deficiencies in these nutrients. Because whole grains are a natural source of b-vitamins, whole grains are a useful tool for helping those on gluten-free diets get the nutrients they need. 

Luckily, many whole grains are naturally gluten-free. Combine them with your favorite veggies, seasonings, and a generous glug of olive oil. Or enjoy their nutty, earthy flavor on their own!

How to cook gluten free whole grains

 

Courtney Mayszak, RDN, LDN 847.681.5523 courtney@sunsetfoods.com

 

 

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APR
26

Broccoli Rabe: Superfood & Culinary Hero

While eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is important, dark leafy greens are perhaps the best nutritional bang for your caloric buck. Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard, and broccoli rabe are like nature’s multivitamins. These greens pack in a laundry list of important nutrients (vitamins A, C, and K, folate, copper, manganese, potassium, iron, calcium, fiber, and antioxidants, to name a few) all for about 30 calories per cup. The more vibrant the shade of green, the more nutrient-rich the leaves.

broccoli rabe

Whereas spinach and kale may be familiar favorites, broccoli rabe is an unsung nutritional hero. Also called “rapini” or “broccoli raab”, this cruciferous vegetable resembles broccoli, but doesn’t form a large head. It has a nutty, robust, and somewhat bitter flavor. The leaves, buds, and stems are edible.

blanchingBroccoli rabe is delicious when blanched, then sautéed in olive oil, salt, and garlic. Blanching is a type of cooking process (think of it as an abbreviated boil). Place your greens in salted boiling water for only 30 seconds to a minute. Watch as the plant’s color goes from  green to greener. Remove with a strainer, then submerge in ice-cold water to stop the cooking process. The blanching process does two important things: it breaks down the plant’s fiber, making its nutrients more easily absorbed in our gut. Blanching also softens the greens, which cuts down the overall cooking time.

Still looking for inspiration about cooking with broccoli rabe? We’ve got you covered. Check out these recipes from our broccoli rabe grower. Better yet, watch (and taste!) a recipe being made in-person. Attend our live Broccoli Rabe Cooking Demos and taste this nutritional powerhouse for yourself. 

Broccoli rabe cooking demo invitation

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APR
17

Tempt Your Taste Buds With Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs are an opportunity to take flavor from bland to brilliant, without adding salt, sugar, or fat. In fact, a bunch of herbs contains a bunch of nutrients. In addition to vitamins and minerals, the oils in most herbs lend antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can deliver impressive disease-fighting health benefits. Whether you're using a bunch or just a pinch, fresh herbs add aromatic flavors and an attractive pop of color to your plate. 

Unsure of how to use fresh herbs in the kitchen? Fresh herbs fit into just about any dish. Keep in mind that in most cases, heat destroys the flavor and nutrients of fresh herbs, so they're best when added at the end of the cooking process. Exceptions are hardy, woody herbs like rosemary and sage, which can stand up to some heat. Otherwise there are no "rules" when cooking with fresh herbs—only that you and your guests enjoy eating them. Use the table below as a guide, but don't be afraid to get creative and use herbs in innovative ways! 

 Flavor ProfilePerfect For...World Cuisines to Inspire YouRecipes to Try
Basil
Basil 1
Bright, minty, and peppery with a bit of sweetnessAdd basil to salads, sandwiches, pizza, marinara sauce, and pasta. Pair with anything involving tomatoes. Or make homemade pesto. Italian
Greek
Thai

Summer Pasta with Figs, Pancetta, and Basil

Chives
atp gen gourm 0210 246 chives
Refreshingly light onion tasteThinly slice and use as a garnish for any savory dish. Chives are great in dips, in quesadillas, with eggs, and atop baked potatoes. They can also balance the heaviness of rich foods like cream sauces and risotto. Chinese
French
Tri-Colored Penne, Argula, Cherry Tomatoes, Chives, and Fresh Mozzarella 
Cilantro
Cilantro
Bright and citrusy, sometimes soapyAdd it to salsa, guacamole, soups, stews, salads, tacos, fish, and chicken dishes. Pairs well with any Mexican-inspired dish. Mexican
Indian                 
MiddleEastern 

BBQ Chicken Sandwich with Jalapeno Cilantro Coleslaw

Jicama Salad with Pomegranate Lime Dressing

Dill
atp gen gourm 0210 222 dill cm
Clean, grassy, tangy, and earthyPairs well with seafood (especially salmon) and anything involving cucumber. Add it to potato salad, omletes, yogurt dressing, and watery cheeses like cottage cheese, cream cheese, and goat cheese. FrenchBBQ Pork Ribs and Creamy Dill Potato Salad
Mint
mint1
Refreshingly sweet flavor with a cooling aftertastePairs well with lamb, stone fruit, berries, and chocolate. Add it to ice cream, frozen yogurt, iced tea, and mojitos. Indian
Mexican
Moroccan
Thai

Greek Spinach Salad

Lemon Mint Freekeh Salad

Parsley
parsley foodpedia dr steven lin
Grassy and slightly peppery. Curly parsley is less assertive that flat-leaf parsley (which is also called Italian parsley)Use it as a garnish for just about any savory dish. Chop it up and sprinkle it over eggs, grilled steaks, fish, chicken, lamb, rice, or vegetables. French
Greek
Italian
Herb-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Lemon Pepper Green Beans 
Oregano
Oregano
A hint of earthiness combined with a slight spicenessChop it up and add it to vinaigrette, pizza, rice, or tomato sauce. Pairs well with poultry and wild game. French
Italian
Greek
Sun-Dried Tomato Soup
Rosemary
rosemary2
A strong, sometimes pungent, pine-like earthy fragrance and flavorPairs well with garlic and olive oil. Add it to beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork, or potatoes. Simmer stews, soups, or sauces with a sprig on the surface; remove before serving. French
Italian
Greek
Roasted Lemon Chicken Sausages with Rosemary Garlic
Sage
sage
Mild to slightly peppery taste, with a touch of mint, eucalyptus, and cedarStands up well to bold, savory dishes, like cured meats, sausages, por dishes, rich and creamy dishes, and anything invovling brown butter. It's also an American staple in turky dishes and stuffing. Italian
French
Apple Sage Wild Rice Stuffing
Tarragon
2c569b95797e49bac05e3b22c1a9b320
A delicate anise or licorice flavor that's more sweet than strongPairs well with white wine vinegar and mustard. Add it to omelets, fish, and chicken dishes. Add it to stews, rice dishes, dips, and sauces.FrenchYogurt-Herb Dressing
Thyme
thyme3
Lemony, slightly minty, piney, and earthyInlcude it in a bouquet garni to season stocks, soups, and sauces. Pairs well with pork, lamb, or duck, as well as with other herbs like rosemary, parsley, sage, and oregano. Add it to stews, rice dishes, dips, and sauces. 

French
Italian
Greek
Moroccan
Caribbean

Leek and Goat Cheese Tart

Store Your Herbs Right
To keep fresh herbs from going to waste, treat them like fresh flowers. Place them in a small jar or glass with an inch of water at the bottom. Place a plastic bag loosely over the leaves. Store them in the fridge or on the counter top.Parsley bunch in a glass copy

 

OR freeze your herbs for later. Chop your herbs up and pack them into an ice cube tray. Fill each cell with olive oil and place them in the freezer until you're ready to up. Then simply add a cube to your dish, allow the oil to melt, and voila—a pop of herb flavor!

herbs ice cube tray

 

Meet Your Farmer: Meyer Farms 
Sunset's selection of fine culinary herbs comes from Meyer Farms in Wauconda, IL. Vern Meyer is a pioneer in the packaged herb industry, and Sunset was his first customer back in 1990! His family-run organic farm continues to grow a superior product. 

Screen Shot 2017 04 17 at 6.26.57 PM

Click here to learn more about cooking with fresh herbs!

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MAR
21

Sweet Nothings: Facts on Added Sugar

The Nutrition Facts label is getting a face-lift. Among other changes, such as updated servings sizes and more prominent calorie and percent daily values, a major change to the label involves added sugars. On the new label, added sugars will be listed separately from natural sugars. 


original and new nutrition facts label

Manufacturers have until July of 2018 to adopt the new label and declare added sugars. However, you may notice that some food labels are already beginning to adopt the new label.

What are added sugars? Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods and beverages when they are processed or prepared. This includes sugars that are added by manufacturers, as well as sugars you may add at home. Added sugars are linked with a rise in chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. 

Added sugars are found in processed foods. The largest sources of added sugars in Americans’ diet include: 

  • Soda, soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks
  • Candy
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Pies and cobblers
  • Pastries, sweet rolls, and donuts
  • Fruit drinks, such as fruitades and fruit punch 
  • Dairy desserts, such as ice cream

Added sugar goes by many names on ingredient lists. Pseudonyms for added sugar include: 

  • Agave nectar
  • Anhydrous dextrose
  • Brown sugar
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Beet sugar
  • Cane juice
  • Cane sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Crystal dextrose
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated corn sweetener 
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Glucose
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar 
  • Lactose
  • Liquid fructose
  • Malt syrup 
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Nectar (e.g. peach nectar, pear nectar)
  • Pancake syrup
  • Raw sugar
  • Sucrose 
  • Sugar cane juice
  • White granulated sugar


Some of these different forms of sugar may seem more wholesome than others, but our bodies generally do not differentiate between them. 

How are added sugars different from natural sugars? Natural sugars occur naturally in fruits and dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese. Natural sugars are found in smaller amounts in vegetables, beans, and some grains. 

Our bodies process all sugars, no matter the source, in very similar ways. However, there are big differences in the nutritional value of the foods in which those sugars are found. Foods with natural sugars are healthy foods that contain important nutrients. Besides sugars, fruits contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Dairy products contain calcium, vitamin D, and protein. 

So gram for gram, the sugar content of a candy bar may be similar to that of a couple oranges. However, the sugars in the candy bar are “empty calories” (i.e. calories that don’t offer any benefit besides energy), whereas the oranges provide vitamin C, fiber, and other health-promoting pytonutrients. It’s also important to note that the fiber in fruits and the protein in dairy products slow the digestion of sugars, leading to a healthier blood sugar response. 

natural versus added sugar

Why bother to declare added sugars? According to the FDA, the decision to declare added sugars “reflects our greater understanding of nutritional science…including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease.” A key recommendation of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is to reduce intake from solid fats, sodium, and added sugars because all have been linked to chronic disease. Solid fats and sodium are indicated on the nutrition label, whereas added sugars are not. The FDA recognizes that consumers are better able to make informed choices about added sugars when they know how much they normally eat. 

The FDA also notes that mandatory declaration of added sugars may also prompt reformulation of foods high in added sugars. A similar situation occurred with trans fats; once the labeling trans fats became required, manufacturers voluntarily began removing them from their products. 

How much is too much added sugar?
American Heart Association recommends no more than:

  • 6 teaspoons, or 24 grams, of added sugars for women
  • 9 teaspoons, or 36 grams, of added sugars for men

To put that in perspective, one 12-ounce can of soda contains about 38 grams of added sugars. Most Americans far exceed added sugar recommendations.

How can you reduce your added sugar intake? 
In light of National Nutrition Month, try replacing a source of added sugar with a natural sugar. For example:

  • For snacking on the go, swap out a granola bar for a banana or a handful of dried fruit
  • Sweeten plain yogurt with berries in lieu of pre-sweetened yogurt. 
  • Beverages account for almost half of all added sugars consumed by Americans. Switch to a non-caloric beverage, like water, unsweetened tea, black coffee, or carbonated water. 

Remember, our Registered Dietitian is here to help you satisfy your sweet tooth the healthy way. If you have a question about added sugar or the new Nutrition Facts label, contact Courtney at courtney@sunsetfoods.com or 847.681.5513. 

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JAN
13

Introducing Free Store Nutrition Tours

Many consumers plan to eat healthier, only to find their plans derailed at the supermarket. Sunset is here to help.

Your neighborhood Sunset Foods is hosting free store nutrition tours to help customers ‘shop for health.’ Designed to engage, educate, and empower shoppers, our interactive tours transform supermarket aisles into learning laboratories. The goal of the tours is to help participants do three things: identify the healthiest foods in the market, plan meals and snacks to meet nutrition goals, and evaluate products for nutritional value.

Our resident Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Courtney Mayszak, leads these nutrition tours. As Courtney guides shoppers through the aisles, she points out specific products that pack a nutritional punch and discusses strategies for smarter shopping. Shoppers will leave the tour knowing how to navigate the Nutrition Facts label, ingredient statements, and label claims.

Tours are personalized to meet the unique needs of each shopper. Customers with conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, or a gluten-related disorder are highly encouraged to take a tour. Choosing foods that help keep blood sugar or blood pressure in check, for example, requires a keen eye in the aisles. The information presented in our tours can be the first line of defense when it comes to preventing and managing chronic disease.

Tours are also ideal for those who normally do household shopping or cooking, such as parents or caretakers. Anyone seeking fresh ideas for meals or snacks would benefit from one of our tours.

While speaking with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist usually comes at a price, these tours are now free for Sunset customers.* This is an excellent opportunity to bring questions about nutrition to an expert who can answer them.

Nutrition tours are offered at all Sunset locations on a per-appointment basis. To schedule a tour, call 847.681.5513 or email courtney@sunsetfoods.com. Individuals or groups are welcome.

*Restrictions may apply. Inquire for more details.

nutrition all

 

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