HEALTHY EATING Get more of top 7 nutrients in diet

A gourmet oatmeal

A gourmet oatmeal

BY CAROLYN O’NEIL

There’s so much attention being paid to what we’re supposed to avoid when we dine out that it got me thinking about a new way to peruse restaurant menus.

I get the fact, of course, that we’re all supposed to avoid overeating, oversalting and over slathering our food with butter and cheese sauce to keep our arteries clear and our waistlines in check, but what about the health problems that happen because we aren’t getting enough of something? What should we be ordering more of?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “What We Eat in America” report, the seven most neglected nutrients are calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium and vitamins A, C and E.

Take the mineral calcium, for instance. Currently, nine out of 10 teenage girls fail to get enough calcium, which significantly impacts the likelihood of developing bone fractures now and osteoporosis later in life.

Teen years are the peak bone-building years. So, rather than suggesting these girls skip the soda and get water, parents should be encouraging their daughters to drink nonfat or low-fat milk when dining out.

Milk and milk products are the major source of calcium in the diet and provide other important bone-building nutrients, including vitamin D, protein, potassium and phosphorus.

Moms should be thinking about drinking milk, too. U.S. dietary guidelines recommend three cups of milk or milk products a day. May is Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, with the goal of beating this debilitating bone disease that affects one in two women older than 50.

Change your menu

Sure, you could pop a multivitamin pill to help cover nutrition shortfalls, but food sources of these nutrients also provide hundreds of other healthy compounds needed for optimal health.

• 97 percent not getting enough potassium (regulates blood pressure)

Fill the gap: citrus, cantaloupe, bananas, lima beans, potato, spinach

Menu tip: spinach salad with orange sections

• 96 percent not getting enough fiber (aids digestion, lowers cholesterol and linked to cancer prevention and appetite satiety)

Fill the gap: oatmeal, brown rice, whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables

Menu tip: brown rice sushi with cucumber salad

• 93 percent not getting enough vitamin E (supports immune system, healthy skin and works as anti-oxidant to lower risk of heart disease and cancer)

Foods to fill the gap: vegetable oils, avocados, nuts.

Menu tip: sliced avocado sandwich with low-fat mayo

• 70 percent not getting enough calcium (supports bone health and healthy blood pressure)

Fill the gap: fat-free or low-fat dairy (milk, yogurt, cheeses), almonds and canned salmon

Menu tip: carton of nonfat milk with handful of almonds as snack

• 56 percent not getting enough magnesium (needed for bone and muscle health, including heart health)

Fill the gap: bran cereal, spinach, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, salmon, halibut

Menu tip: grilled salmon with sautéed spinach

• 44 percent not getting enough vitamin A (needed for healthy skin, eyes and immune system)

Fill the gap: orange-colored fruits and vegetables such as carrots, squash, sweet potatoes and mangoes

Menu tip: oven-baked sweet potato fries brushed with olive oil

• 31 percent not getting enough vitamin C (healthy immune system, wound healing and healthy skin)

Fill the gap: Citrus, green peppers, red peppers, kiwifruit and strawberries

Menu tip: Grilled fish served with citrus salsa

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