Leslie Beck compares calories, fat, sodium in foods
Published Wednesday, July 14, 2010 8:08AM EDT
Leslie, tell us what we're doing today. What are you testing?
Many of us are reading nutrition labels now and choosing foods that are lower in fat. But when choosing between two seemingly healthy foods at the grocery store – or a summer barbecue – it's not always easy to tell which one is better for you. Fat grams or calories alone don't always tell the whole story. So now we're going to pit summer food against food and choose the winner based on which one packs the strongest nutritional punch!
Ok, so let's get started: what's better for you?
1) Frozen Yogurt vs. Ice Cream?
- Baskin Robbins vanilla ice cream: 300 calories, 18g fat, 8 tsp sugar
- Baskin Robbins Maui Brownie frozen yogurt: 320 calories, 6g fat, 12 tsp sugar
This seems like a no-brainer. Frozen yogurt is lower in fat so it should be the better choice especially if you're watching your waistline. But not always! Low fat doesn't always mean low calorie. For example, 1 cup of Baskin Robbins Premium Vanilla ice cream delivers 300 calories, 20 grams fat and 32 grams, or 8 teaspoons worth, of sugar.
The same size serving of Baskin Robbins Low Fat Maui Brownie Madness Frozen Yogurt is actually a little higher in calories even though it's lower in fat. That's because it's got more sugar -- 48 grams or 12 teaspoons worth! And there's not much yogurt in here at all: if you read the ingredient list you'll see that "yogurt culture" is the very last ingredient. Read labels to be sure what you're getting.
2) Beef hot dog or chicken hot dog?
- Beef weiner (37g): 110 calories, 9g fat, 380 mg sodium
- Chicken weiner (37g): 90 calories, 6g fat, 480mg sodium
From a calorie and fat standpoint, the Schneider's chicken wiener is the winner here. It's lower in calories and fat than a regular Schneider's beef wiener. The chicken wiener has only 1.5 grams of saturated fat compared to 4 grams for the beef wiener. But, the chicken wiener does have 480 milligrams of sodium -- 100 milligrams more than the beef wiener. Compare brands -- ideally look for a hot dog with no more than 400 milligrams of sodium.
3) Potato salad vs. coleslaw?
- Potato salad (1 cup): 360 calories, 20g fat, 1,322mg sodium
- Coleslaw (1 cup): 94 calories, 3g fat, 28mg sodium
There's no doubt you'll get more nutrition and far fewer calories by choosing coleslaw made with a vinaigrette dressing. A one cup serving of homemade coleslaw has 94 calories and only 3 grams of fat. Homemade potato salad, on the other hand, has 360 calories and 20 grams of fat! And one cup has almost an entire day's requirement for sodium – 1300 milligrams! (Store bought potato salad can have as much as 620 calories and 44 grams of fat per cup!)
So choose the coleslaw. Cabbage also is an excellent source of vitamin C and phytochemicals linked to cancer prevention.
4) Spinach Dip vs. Hummus?
- Spinach dip (2 tbsp): 120 calories, 13g fat, 150mg sodium
- Hummus (2 tbsp): 60 calories, 3g fat, 110mg sodium
Most people would choose the spinach dip as the better choice because it sounds healthier. But if you're looking for something to dip your veggies in and want to save calories, pick the hummus. It has half the calories and a fraction of the fat of spinach dip. Thanks to mayonnaise and sour cream – the first two ingredients – spinach dip has 120 calories and 13 grams of fat per 2 tablespoon serving.
5) Dill pickle vs. dill pickle relish?
- Dill pickle (1): 5 calories, 1g sugar, 570 mg sodium
- Green relish (1 tbsp): 15 calories, 3g sugar, 95mg sodium
If you're trying to decide what to put on your burger, choose the relish instead of a sliced dill pickle. Yes, the relish 15 calories per tablespoon versus 5 calories for the pickle. But the dill pickle has 570 milligrams of sodium – a little more than one-third of your day's worth! A tablespoon of relish has only 95 milligrams.
6) Beer vs. gin and tonic?
- Beer, regular (341 ml): 150 calories, 0g fat, 3 tsp sugar
- Gin and tonic (tall): 200 calories, 0g fat, 6tsp sugar
Hmmm, a few too many of either and you'll end up eating more food because alcohol tends to rev up your appetite. But if you are looking for the lower calorie drink of the two, I'd opt for the bottle of beer. The 150 calories come from alcohol and carbohydrate – 12 grams worth. A gin and tonic has 200 calories and 6 teaspoons worth of sugar. Many people don't realize that tonic water is the same as pop -- it has 8 teaspoons of sugar per can! Even better, choose a light beer or wine sprizter.