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10 Steps To Create a Heart-Healthy Diet Plan – Cleveland Clinic

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Many diets are very specific about what you can’t eat. However, the most powerful (and empowering) diets help you focus instead on what you can and should eat. In fact, research shows that adding certain foods to your diet is just as important as cutting back on others.

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That especially holds true for a heart-healthy diet.

The connection between nutrition and your heart

Good nutrition and a healthy heart go hand in hand. For example, following a heart-healthy diet can help reduce your total cholesterol and bad (or LDL) cholesterol, lower your blood sugars and triglycerides, and decrease your blood pressure. For instance, potassium — which is found in many fruits and vegetables — can help lower your blood pressure.

Even more importantly, making good diet choices can also address risk factors for heart disease and heart-related conditions. That means eating healthier foods can reduce or even eliminate the chance you’ll develop certain health issues down the line.

What to eat and avoid with a heart-healthy diet

According to the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology Lifestyle Management Guideline on the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease (2019), a heart-healthy diet focuses on:

  • Vegetables.
  • fruit
  • nuts
  • Whole grains.
  • Lean animal protein.
  • Fish.

Heart-healthy diets should avoid:

  • Trans fats.
  • Saturated fats.
  • Red meat (beef, pork, veal and lamb).
  • Processed meats (hot dogs, salami, pepperoni, bologna).
  • Refined carbohydrates (white breads, crackers, salty snack foods, baked goods).
  • Sweetened beverages (such as soda).

However, moderation is key. It can be difficult to eliminate some of these things from your diet completely, so don’t feel guilty about occasionally having a small serving of an unhealthy indulgence. The trick is to keep the portion small.

In contrast, you shouldn’t overdo it on some recommended healthy foods either. For example, registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, notes you should limit fish that’s high in mercury, like albacore tuna, swordfish and king mackerel, to 6 ounces a week.

Heart-healthy nutrition tips

It can be overwhelming knowing what to eat (and how much to eat) to be healthy. Zumpano offers some tips on how to put together a balanced, heart-friendly diet.

Increase your fruits and vegetables intake

Your parents were right: Eat your fruits and veggies! These provide a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber – all things known to help prevent disease. If you have high blood pressure, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and grains is especially recommended.

Zumpano says to aim for a combined seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day: roughly 4 or greater for vegetables and two to four for fruit. If you don’t reach recommended serving sizes in a given day, don’t worry. It’s more about what your overall diet looks like in a week, so just load up on veggies or fruits in the following days.

One serving of fruit is equal to:

  • 1 medium-sized piece of fresh fruit.
  • 1/2 medium bananas.
  • 1/2 grapefruit.
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit.
  • 1/2 cup canned fruit (avoid heavy syrup and instead choose fruit water or in own juice).
  • 4 ounces 100% fruit juice (avoid sweetened juice).

One serving of vegetables is equal to:

  • 2 cups raw leafy salad greens.
  • 1 cup of cut up veggies.
  • 1 cup 100% vegetable juice.

How to increase fruits and vegetables in your diet

  • Buy pre-cut vegetables and fruit (fresh or frozen), and then bag them up for a snack or to add to a dish.
  • Have a vegetable-based soup or garden salad with light dressing with your usual sandwich at lunch.
  • Instead of a cookie, enjoy frozen banana slices topped with natural peanut butter and semi-sweet chocolate chips or frozen grapes dipped in 1 teaspoon of chocolate syrup.
  • Keep fresh fruit on your desk or workspace.
  • If you think you’ll be missing a meal, bring a homemade trail mix of your choice of 2 tablespoons dried fruit and 2 tablespoons roasted nuts and/or seeds along with you.
  • Make a fruit and veggie smoothie with produce that needs to be eaten quickly.

Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables

Where fruits and veggies are concerned, variety is the spice of a healthy life. Choosing food in a rainbow of colors ensures you’ll ingest a diverse array of nutrients. Eat carrots and oranges; tomatoes, strawberries and raspberries; plums and egg plants; blueberries and blackberries: green grapes, celery, spinach and kiwi; and yellow peppers and bananas.

Decrease saturated fats and trans fats

We all need fat in our diet, but not all fat is created equally. Trans fats and saturated fats are so-called bad fats. These raise your LDL (or bad) cholesterol, the kind that encourages plaque build-up in your arteries (that waxy substance). Red meat is high in saturated fat, as are certain kinds of cheese.

A better choice is consuming good fats, or monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. You’ll find these in nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, flaxseed, soy and fatty fish.

hints

  • Prepare your food with cooking oils such as olive oil or avocado oil, both of which contain healthier fats.
  • Eat two to three meatless meals weekly — try split pea soup, garbanzo bean salad, bean-based meatless burgers or tofu stir-fry.
  • Eat two skinless poultry meals each week.
  • Limit red meat to no more than one meal per week. Choose the leanest cuts of meat possible with skin and visible fat removed. Where possible, replace red meat with seafood or skinless poultry.
  • Eat omega-3-rich fish at least two to three times a week. This includes cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, trout, sardines and herring.
  • Include plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids — like chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds — on a daily basis by adding to meals such as oatmeal, soup, yogurt, smoothies or salads.

Substitute animal protein with plant protein

Animal proteins are the kind of protein found in beef, pork, lamb, poultry and eggs, as well as cheeses and yogurt. Although the American Heart Association recommends you eat 5.5 ounces of protein per day, the kind of protein you eat matters.

For example, animal protein often means you’re ingesting higher amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat— both of which contribute to weight gain and an increased risk of developing heart disease.

Luckily, there’s a solution. In addition to eating more veggies, you should eat more plant-based proteins. These are proteins found in food such as legumes (dried beans, peas and lentils) nuts and seeds. The American Heart Association recommends you eat minimally 5 ounces of plant protein per week.

An easy way to eat more plant-based protein is meatless meals. There are plenty of tasty recipes that provide good sources of protein but that also provide heart-friendly ingredients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

One ounce of protein is equal to:

  • 1/2 cup cooked beans, peas or lentils.
  • 1/3 cup or 3 ounces tofu.
  • 1 ounce nuts or seeds or 2 tablespoon peanut butter.
  • 1 ounce cooked seafood, meat or poultry.
  • One egg or two egg whites.

Eat more fiber

Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body can’t digest. It’s found primarily in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds and beans. As fiber passes through your body, it aids in digestion and helps eliminate waste.

When eaten as part of a healthy diet, fiber can reduce cholesterol. But that’s not its only health benefit. A diet rich in fiber helps control blood sugar, keeps your bowels running on a regular schedule, prevents gastrointestinal disease and aids in weight management.

Foods contain a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber. Each type has a unique effect on health:

  • Soluble (viscous) fiber: This kind provides the greatest heart benefits because it helps lower your total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, oat bran, barley, legumes (such as dried beans, lentils and split peas), flaxseed, root vegetables, apples, pears and citrus fruits.
  • Insoluble fiber: This is what people generally refer to as “roughage.” Insoluble fiber promotes regular bowel movements, adds bulk and softness to your poop, helps with weight regulation and helps prevent many gastrointestinal disorders. Good sources of insoluble fiber include wheat bran, whole wheat and other whole grain cereals and breads, nuts and vegetables.

To receive the greatest health benefit, you should eat a wide variety of fiber-rich foods. Overall, aim for a total intake of 25 or more grams of dietary fiber (soluble and insoluble) each day.

Increase whole grains

Zumpano says to stick to three to six servings of whole grains a day. Steer clear of processed or refined carbohydrates. This includes foods like white bread, white pasta and white rice.

Instead, it’s better to load up on what’s called unrefined or whole-grain carbohydrates. These foods provide more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber than refined carbohydrates.

Examples include:

  • Whole grain breads, crackers and cereals.
  • Whole wheat pasta.
  • Brown rice.
  • oats
  • Barley.
  • Bulgur.
  • quinoa

Examples of one serving of grains:

  • One slice of bread.
  • One small tortilla.
  • 1 cup ready to eat cereal flakes.
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta or cereal.
  • 3 cups of popped popcorn.

Choose low-fat or non-fat dairy products

Dairy is good for your heart, bone and blood pressure health. Zumpano recommends sticking to one to three servings of dairy per day, though. Plus, dairy products can have saturated fat, so it’s best to stick to lower- or non-fat versions of your favorites.

These include skim or 1% milk, 1% or nonfat yogurt or cottage cheese, and reduced-fat cheeses. If you cannot tolerate dairy products or choose not to consume them, consider a dairy alternative to meet calcium needs such as unsweetened almonds, soy or oat milk.

One serving of dairy includes:

  • 1 cup of milk.
  • 1 cup yogurt.
  • 1 ounce cheese.

Limit sweets, desserts and sugary drinks

It’s difficult to resist sugary foods such as a melt-in-your-mouth dessert or a super-sweet beverage. And (good news!) you don’t have to eliminate sugar from your diet completely — just limit your intake. Indulging in sugar a couple times a month is better than a few times a week.

If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation

Drinking alcohol is not encouraged on a heart-healthy diet. But if you do, drink in moderation. Moderate alcohol use is defined as no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. Be aware that alcohol should be avoided with some medical conditions or medications. Talk to your doctor about drinking alcohol.

Be mindful of portion control

When you’re trying to follow an eating plan that’s good for you, it may help to know how much of a certain kind of food is considered a “serving.” Here are some examples:

  • 1 cup cooked pasta or rice
    Serving size: 2 starches
    Reference size: tennis ball
  • 1 slice of bread
    Serving size: 1 starch
    Reference size: An adult hand
  • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables or fruit
    Serving size: 1 vegetable or fruit
    Reference size: baseball
  • 1 ounce low fat cheese
    Serving size: 1 medium fat protein
    Reference size: Pair of dice
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
    Serving size: 1 fat
    Reference size: Half dollar
  • 3 ounces of cooked meat
    Serving size: 3 proteins
    Reference size: Deck of cards
  • 3 ounces of tofu
    Serving size: 1 protein
    Reference size: Deck of cards

Talk to your doctor about a heart-healthy diet

Maintaining an active lifestyle can have considerable heart-health benefits. Following a healthy diet in tandem with getting regular exercise improves blood pressure, cholesterol and your overall heart health. But be sure to engage in exercise that gets your heart rate up, and do so for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.

No matter what physical activity you prefer, it’s best to check with your doctor before starting any exercise regimen or radically changing your eating habits. They can offer advice and support, as well as any referrals (like to a dietitian or nutritionist) for help planning a heart-healthy diet.

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Whole Grain Benefits

For the 55-and-over crowd, March 27-April 3, 2022 | Local News

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For information about services available to older adults, contact Pam Jacobsen, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 2102 Windsor Place, C, at 217-359-6500.

RSVP and the Stevick Center are administered by Family Service of Champaign County.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Active Senior Republicans in Champaign County’s monthly meeting will be held at 9:30 am on April 4 in the Robeson Pavilion Room A & B at the Champaign Public Library. This month’s speakers will be Jesse Reising, Regan Deering and Matt Hausman, Republican primary candidates for the newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.
  • Parkland Theater House needs four ushers each night for “The SpongeBob Musical,” opening April 14. There will be nine shows in total — April 14-16, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1. For details, call or email Michael Atherton, Parkland Theater House Manager, theatre@parkland.edu or 217-373-3874.
  • Parkland College also needs four volunteers for commencement. The commencement ceremony will be in person at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 8 pm May 12. Volunteers needed from 6:30 to 8 pm For details, contact Tracy Kleparski, Director of Student Life, at TKleparski@parkland.edu or 217- 351-2206.
  • The Milford High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a Senior Citizens Banquet at 6 pm April 22. The event will be held in the MAPS #124 Gymnasium (park at south doors at Milford High School. To RSVP, call Sandy Potter at 815-471-4213.

STEVICK CENTER ACTIVITIES

Knit or crochet for those in need:

Meditative Movement with Yoga:

  • 9 to 10:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Bingo:

  • 11 am to noon, second and fourth Tuesdays. Call 217-359-6500.

Bridge:

  • Noon to 3 pm Thursdays.

Euchar:

Card game 13:

  • To sign up to play, call 217-359-6500 and ask for Debbie.

Men’s group:

  • 9 am Monday-Friday. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation.

HOT LUNCH PROGRAM

The Peace Meal Nutrition Program provides daily hot lunches at 11:30 am for a small donation and a one-day advance reservation at sites in Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Sidney (home delivery only), Mahomet (home delivery only) and Homer.

For reservations, call 800-543-1770. Reservations for Monday need to be made by noon Friday.

NOTE: There is no change for home deliveries, but at congregate sites, you can get a carry-out meal.

Sunday:

  • BBQ pork sandwich, mini potato bakers, corn, creamy cole slaw, bun.

Tuesday:

  • Turkey pot roast with carrots and celery, Italian green beans, pineapple, whole grain roll.

Tuesday:

  • Savory sausage stew, broccoli, chunky apple sauce, biscuit, surprise dessert.

Tuesday:

  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, tomatoes and zucchini, apricots, whole-grain roll.

Friday:

  • Chef’s choice — regional favorites will be served.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

If you are 55 and older and want to volunteer in your community, RSVP (funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and the Illinois Department on Aging) provides a unique link to local nonprofits needing help. We offer support, benefits and a safe connection to partner sites.

Contact Pam Jacobsen at rsvpchampaign@gmail.com or 217-359-6500.

CURRENT NEEDS

Senior Volunteers.

  • RSVP of Champaign, Douglas and Piatt counties/AmeriCorps Senior Volunteers is your link to over 100 nonprofit organizations. Please contact Pam Jacobsen at rsvpchampaign@gmail.com or call 217-359-6500 for volunteer information.

Food for seniors. Handlers needed to unload boxes of food for repackaging at 7 am on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. We are looking for backup delivery drivers to deliver food to seniors. Contact Robbie Edwards at 217-359-6500 for info.

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Whole Grain Benefits

The future of nutrition advice

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By Lisa Drayer, CNN

(CNN) — Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as “What and when should we eat?” and “How can we improve the use of food as medicine?”

The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.

That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.

How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.

Below is an edited version of our conversation.

CNN: How is precision nutrition different from current nutrition advice?

dr Frank Hu: The idea of ​​precision nutrition is to have the right food, at the right amount, for the right person. Instead of providing general dietary recommendations for everyone, this precision approach tailors nutrition recommendations to individual characteristics, including one’s genetic background, microbiome, social and environmental factors, and more. This can help achieve better health outcomes.

CNN: Why is there no one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to what we should be eating?

Huh: Not everyone responds to the same diet in the same way. For example, given the same weight-loss diet, some people can lose a lot of weight; other people may gain weight. A recent study in JAMA randomized a few hundred overweight individuals to a healthy low-carb or low-fat diet. After a year, there was almost an identical amount of weight loss for the two groups, but there was a huge variation between individuals within each group — some lost 20 pounds. Others gained 10 pounds.

Martha Field: Individuals have unique responses to diet, and the “fine adjust” of precision nutrition is understanding those responses. This means understanding interactions among genetics, individual differences in metabolism, and responses to exercise.

CNN: How do we eat based on precision nutrition principles now?

Huh: There are some examples of personalized diets for disease management, like a gluten-free diet for the management of celiac disease, or a lactose-free diet if you are lactose intolerant. For individuals with a condition known as PKU (phenylketonuria), they should consume (a) phenylalanine-free diet. It’s a rare condition but a classic example of how your genes can influence what type of diets you should consume.

Angela Poole: If I had a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes or colon cancer, I would increase my dietary fiber intake, eating a lot of different sources, including a variety of vegetables.

fields: If you have high blood pressure, you should be more conscious of sodium intake. Anyone with a malabsorption issue might have a need for higher levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins and some minerals.

CNN: There is research showing that people metabolize coffee differently. What are the implications here?

Huh: Some people carry fast caffeine-metabolizing genes; others carry slow genes. If you carry fast (metabolizing) genotypes, you can drink a lot of caffeinated coffee because caffeine is broken down quickly. If you are a slow metabolizer, you get jittery and may not be able to sleep if you drink coffee in the afternoon. If that’s the case, you can drink decaf coffee and still get the benefits of coffee’s polyphenols, which are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes without the effects of caffeine.

CNN: How much of a role do our individual genes play in our risk of disease? And can our behavior mitigate our disease risk?

Huh: Our health is affected by both genes and diets, which constantly interact with each other because certain dietary factors can turn on or off some disease-related genes. We published research showing that reducing consumption of sugary beverages can offset the negative effects of obesity genes. That’s really good news. Our genes are not our destiny.

Another area of ​​precision nutrition is to measure blood or urine metabolites, small molecules produced during the breakdown and ingestion of food. For example, having a higher concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) strongly predicts one’s future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The blood levels of BCAAs depend on individuals’ diet, genes and gut microbiome. We found that eating a healthy (Mediterranean-style) diet can mitigate harmful effects of BCAAs on cardiovascular disease. So measuring BCAAs in your blood may help to evaluate your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage dietary changes that can lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.

fields: The environmental effects can sometimes be on the same magnitude as the genetic effects with respect to risk for disease.

CNN: Our individual microbiomes may be able to dictate what type of diet we should be consuming. Can you tell us about this emerging research? And what do you think of microbiome tests?

Poole: Research has shown that in some people, their blood sugar will spike higher from eating bananas than from eating cookies, and this has been associated with microbiome composition. Scientists have used microbiome data to build algorithms that can predict an individual’s glucose response, and this is a major advance. But that’s not an excuse for me to shovel down cookies instead of bananas. Likewise, if the algorithm suggests eating white bread instead of whole-wheat bread due to blood glucose responses, I wouldn’t just eat white bread all the time.

At the moment, I’m not ready to spend a lot of money to see what’s in my gut microbiome… and the microbiome changes over time.

Huh: Microbiome tests are not cheap, and the promise that this test can help develop a personalized meal plan that can improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol … at this point, the data are not conclusive.

CNN: How will nutrition advice be different 10 years from now?

Poole: I think you will receive a custom-tailored grocery list on an app — foods that you want to buy and foods that you want to avoid, based on your blood sugar responses to foods, your level of physical activity and more.

Huh: We will have more and better biomarkers and more affordable and accurate nutrigenomics and microbiome tests as well as better computer algorithms that predict your response to food intakes.

But these technologies cannot substitute general nutrition principles such as limiting sodium and added sugar and eating more healthy plant foods. In a few years, you may be able to get a more useful response from Alexa if you ask her what you should eat — but like other answers from Alexa, you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Are Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Healthy?

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In order to assess its nutritional value, first we must discuss the breakdown of this sandwich.

Typically, there are three main ingredients — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — each with different nutritional values.

Nutritional value of bread

Bread can be a part of a balanced diet. The nutritional value of bread depends on the type chosen.

For starters, whole-grain bread is the best option because it provides a higher amount of nutrients. Whole grain kernels have three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ (1).

Because whole grain bread retains all three parts, it’s higher in protein and fiber compared with other breads. These nutrients slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and keep you full longer (2, 3).

Whole grain bread is also richer in key nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, folate, and magnesium. Look for the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient in bread’s nutritional label (2).

Choosing sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel bread, is also an excellent choice. The sprouting process increases digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. Studies show sprouted bread has more fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and beta-glucan (4).

Sourdough bread is fine, too. Although it’s not as high in fiber and protein, it has a lower glycemic index than white bread.

Glycemic index measures how quickly food increases blood sugars. In general, foods with a lower glycemic index better support your overall health.

But keep in mind that glycemic index doesn’t tell the whole story. We must look at the meal as a whole — for example, what we add to the bread. Nutrients, like protein and fats, can help lower the overall glycemic load of a meal, and serving sizes also play a role (5).

As a guideline, look for whole grain breads that offer at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. We also suggest using bread that contains 3 grams of protein or more per slice.

If that’s not available, sourdough bread may be your next best option.

Summary

Choose breads that are higher in fiber and protein, like whole grain bread or sprouted grain bread. These varieties help slow absorption of sugars and keep you full longer.

Nutritional value of peanut butter

Many people find peanut butter delicious.

Nutritionally, it also delivers. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, important for all stages of life, especially growing children. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber.

Two tablespoons (32 grams) of smooth peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fats, and 2 grams of fiber (6).

Importantly, the majority of fats in peanut butter are unsaturated fats. Research consistently indicates that replacing saturated fats found in animal products with more unsaturated fats (like those in peanut butter) may lower cholesterol and improve heart health (7, 8).

For growing kids, healthy fats are vital for healthy development. Plus, fats help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play a synergistic role in supporting immune and brain health (9, 10).

Contrary to popular belief, conventional peanut butter doesn’t usually have more sugar than 100% natural peanut butter. However, it may have more salt (6).

When shopping, check the nutrition labels to ensure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients other than peanuts.

When enjoying natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanut butter. Not to fret — just give it a good stir! This helps mix the oils with the solids.

Pro tip: You can store peanut butter upside down in the fridge to keep it from separating again!

Summary

When available, choose 100% natural peanut butter, as it’s lower in salt. Remember to stir the peanut butter before eating to mix the oils with the solids.

Nutritional value of jelly

The PB&J sandwich isn’t complete without jelly or jam. What’s the difference, anyway?

Well, while jellies and jams have similar nutritional value and taste, there’s a slight difference: Jellies are made with fruit juice, while jam is made with the fruit juice and pulp (7).

Both jellies and jams contain pectin (artificially added to jelly), which has prebiotic effects that may improve gut health (8).

However, both are naturally high in sugar, so enjoy them in moderation. To have more say in the ingredients used, you can try making your jelly at home.

If you’re buying from a store, look for jellies with no added sugar in the ingredients list. Alternative names for added sugars include glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose.

Summary

Jellies are high in natural sugars and contain pectins that may have a beneficial effect in promoting good health. Try to choose jellies with no added sugars.

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