Teaching About Added Sugars,
Saturated Fat, and Sodium
March is National Nutrition Month®, a great time to learn more about creating smart nutritional strategies for healthier living.
Among the key recommendations in the latest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the guideline that we limit our consumption of foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.
Although this guideline sounds relatively simple, it often can be misunderstood or hard to follow. For example, many people may not understand exactly what added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium are, what foods are high in them, and why these types of food and beverages should be limited.
At Health Edco, we have a diverse line of nutrition teaching tools covering a full range of nutrition education topics. Our nutrition education materials and models cover key healthy eating concepts, including the USDA’s MyPlate food guidance system, portion size, and the importance of balancing calorie intake with physical activity. We also have many one-of-a-kind, creative teaching tools specifically dedicated to explaining added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.
Read on to learn more about added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and discover just three of our many unique teaching tools that focus on these aspects of nutrition as they bring health education to life!
Added Sugars—Cold Case™: The Facts Against Sweetened Drinks Display
Beverages are a major source of added sugars in the diet of many Americans. Other examples of foods that are high in added sugars include candy, chocolate bars, doughnuts, cookies, and pastries. Added sugars refer to the sugar or syrup that is added to foods during processing or preparation. They differ from the natural sugars that occur naturally in unprocessed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and some grains.
Although our bodies process natural and added sugars in the same way, foods with natural sugars (such as fruits) tend to have a high nutritional value because they are often good sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, foods high in added sugars, such as soft drinks, provide extra calories but offer little nutritional value. Sugar contains about 4 calories per gram, which means that consuming a food or beverage high in added sugars can add a lot of extra calories without contributing any healthy nutrients.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people age 2 and older should get less than 10 percent of their daily calories from added sugars. In a 2,000-calorie diet, for example, a person should consume no more than 200 daily calories from added sugars, which is no more than 50 grams (about 12 teaspoons) of added sugars per day. Children younger than 2 years of age should avoid foods and beverages with added sugars.
sugar-filled beverage models to depict how much sugar is in popular drinks.
Our Cold Case: The Facts Against Sweetened Drinks Display offers a unique visual and tactile experience to explain how excess added sugars in the diet can quickly add up. The display features a cooler with six beverage models depicting cola, chocolate milk, orange juice, iced blended coffee, an energy drink, and a protein smoothie. Each model is weighted and contains the number of grams of liquid sugar consumed by drinking 20 ounces of the corresponding beverage every day for one week. The display includes a 20" x 16" display mat that highlights how excess liquid sugar consumption can contribute to the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and tooth decay. Detailed presentation notes discuss the differences between natural and added sugars, the health consequences of consuming too many foods and beverages high in added sugars, and ways to reduce added sugar consumption.
Looking for other great teaching tools that highlight added sugars in the diet and why they should be avoided? Check out our fun Fizzics of Soda™ Display, Sugarcoated: A Closer Look at Sugar™ Display, and Hidden Sugar Facts Test Tubes!
Saturated Fat—Fat Chance: A Closer Look at Fast Food™ Display
Many popular foods, including popular fast foods and baked goods, are high in saturated fat. Saturated fat is a kind of fat commonly found in animal products, such as meats and butter, as well as palm and kernel oils. Although fat is an essential nutrient and important energy source for the body, most of the fat we consume should be unsaturated fat. Sources of unsaturated fat include nuts, seeds, seafood, avocados, and olives or oils from plants, such as corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, sunflower, and canola oils. Too much saturated fat can raise levels of LDL cholesterol, sometimes called “bad” cholesterol, which can form deposits on artery walls and negatively affect cardiovascular health.
Fat is also high in calories and contains 9 calories per gram. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, less than 10% of daily calories for people ages 2 and older should come from saturated fat. A person who consumes a 2,000-calorie daily diet, for example, should consume less than 20 grams of saturated fat per day. Limiting saturated fat can be challenging: One fast food meal with a small cheeseburger, medium order of French fries, and a small chocolate shake can easily contain more than three-fourths of a person’s saturated fat for the day in a 2,000-calorie diet!
is a great way to teach about fat in fast foods.
Teaching different audiences about saturated and unsaturated fat is fun with our Fat Chance: A Closer Look at Fast Food™ Display. The display features 10 highly realistic fast food models, 10 test tubes that graphically display the amount of saturated and unsaturated fat in each food, a two-sided tent card that explains different types of fat; and presentation notes that discuss saturated, unsaturated, and trans fat; why it’s important to limit saturated and trans fats; and tips for making healthier fast food choices.
Looking for other great nutrition teaching models, displays, and activities that highlight the facts about fat? Check out our Fat Finders™ Display, Daily Saturated Fat Checker™, and Fat Facts Test Tube Set (5)!
Sodium—Stealthy and Unhealthy™ Sodium Display
Many Americans also consume too much sodium. When people think of sodium, they typically just think of the salt they add to foods with a saltshaker. However, sodium is primarily consumed as salt that is added during food processing and preparation, which means that many foods have a high sodium content before they reach a consumer’s table. Evidence suggests a link between increased sodium intake and increased blood pressure in adults.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people ages 14 and older should consume less than 2,300 milligrams per day of sodium. Younger children should consume less sodium. The average sodium intake is about 3,440 milligrams per day, far more than the recommended limit. In addition, the more calories people consume, the more sodium they tend to consume, too.
with our Stealthy and Unhealthy Sodium Display.
Our Stealthy and Unhealthy Sodium Display is a great way to teach how many foods we often consider healthy are actually high in sodium. The display features a giant (8" x 13") soup can that contains a giant saltshaker representing the average yearly sodium intake for most people. The can also contains two large artery models—one healthy and one diseased—that highlight how excess sodium intake can increase blood pressure and the likelihood of other major cardiovascular issues. Sure to grab attention, the display is ideal to raise awareness about the excess salt in many processed foods and to supplement lessons in heart health.
Looking for more great materials to teach about excess sodium consumption? Check out our Sodium Facts Test Tubes, which highlight the sodium content of 10 everyday food items!
Discover More Great Nutrition Education Resources
Health Edco’s wide range of innovative nutrition education materials, products, and displays cover all the important aspects of good nutrition and healthy eating, from essential nutrients and making healthier food choices to food groups, portion control and so much more! Discover more of our creative nutrition teaching tools in our nutrition education materials section.
The information contained in this article is not intended to replace the advice of a healthcare professional.
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