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Living Well In Yalobusha County

Calorie Dense Foods Can Be Fattening

By Pamela Redwine

When it comes to losing excess weight, most people focus on how much they are eating, meaning they watch portion sizes and count calories. While watching portions and counting calories is good, most people who restrict calories and lose some weight initially usually complain about increased hunger.

When people are hungrier, their commitment to eating less usually wanes over time and the weight is regained. Research suggests people could eat fewer calories and lose weight without having to fight chronic hunger if they focused on what they ate rather than on how much they ate.

 The key to long term weight control may turn out to be focusing on eating foods that keep hunger at bay at a lower calorie cost.  Calorie density, also known as energy density, is a measure of the amount of calories in a given weight of food. For example, a pound of lettuce has 77 calories, making it much less calorie dense than chocolate at 2172 calories per pound.


Low Calorie Density

Choose These More Often

 The items on the following chart are all relatively low in calorie density and high in moisture content and fiber. They are also low in fat. Listing foods by the calories per pound is a good way to compare their calorie density.

Category Products    Calories per pound     Calorie density

All Vegetables    65-195            very low

All Fruits                135-425        low

except avocado

Nonfat dairy        180-400        low

Nonfat milk, yogurt

Egg whites        226            low

nonfat egg substitute

High-water carbs    300-600        moderately low

potato, peas, beans,

Pasta, rice, barley,

Cooked cereals

Poultry and Fish    450-650        moderately low

Lean poultry

Lean fish, shellfish

High Calorie Density – Limit These Selections

Fat is an energy-dense food. Olive oil, lard, vegetable oil and shortening are all in the 4,000-calories-per-pound range. This is much higher than fruits and vegetables and other foods shown in the chart above. If you lower the fat in your diet, you should not replace it with refined carbohydrates like sugar.  It is important to choose your fats wisely.  Nuts, avocados, and olives all have good fats. Cheese, fatty meats, fried foods and processed foods have fats that are harmful for your heart.

Category Products    Calories per pound    Calorie density

Cheese, egg yolks,        1,500 – 2,000        high

cheddar, Swiss, Brie

Processed foods        1,500 – 2500        very high

Salad dressing, candies

Brownies, fudge, crackers

High fat products        2,500 – 3000        very high

chocolate candy, coconut

Peanut butter, nuts, seeds

High fat products        3000-3500        very high

bacon, margarine, butter

Mayonnaise Fats, oil    4000        extremely high

olive oil, lard, vegetable oil, shortening

There are nine calories per gram of fat compared to four calories per gram of protein and carbohydrate. So, one gram of fat will contain twice the amount of calories as a gram of protein or carbohydrates.  While that may not seem like a lot right now, high fat foods will provide twice the number of calories when compared to foods that are lower in fat and higher in carbohydrates and proteins.  It is also a good idea to avoid the simple or added sugars, because they are used rapidly by the body and leave you feeling hungry sooner than foods that don’t have the simple or added sugars. Complex carbohydrates, such as those found in vegetables, combined with fiber, digest in the body much slower and allow you to feel fuller over a longer period of time.

(Article Source: Communicating Food For Health Newsletter, October 2008)


Recipe of the Week

Roasted Vegetables

Makes: 8 servings      Prep: 30 minutes     Stand: 30 minutes     Bake: 30 minutes


1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed   •  1/4 tsp salt

2 zucchini, sliced  •  1 large sweet potato, peeled and sliced

1 onion, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces  •  1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary  •  1/4 tsp pepper   •  Salt to taste


1.  Sprinkle eggplant with salt, and let stand 30 minutes. Pat dry.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss together eggplant and remaining ingredients, and arrange in a single layer in 2 aluminum foil-lined jelly roll pans.

3.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender and golden brown. Season with salt to taste.

Per serving (not including salt to taste) Calories 109, fat 7.2g, Protein 1.4g, Car 10.7g, fiber 3.4g, Chol 0mg, Iron 0.4mg, Sodium 83mg, Calc 20mg

Recipe source: Southern Living 2008 Annual Recipes

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