Ask Dr. Judy!
We welcome you to submit your health questions to Dr. Judy. We'll post your question and her answer here so that you and others can be informed and empowered to make good decisions about your children's health.
Q: How many servings of fruits and vegetables should my kids be eating?
A: Aim to get your child to eat 5 fruits and vegetables per day. Limit juice to those that are 100% fruit juice and then limit to only one 4-ounce serving per day. Encourage them to try different vegetables, even though they may not initially be to their liking. Remember, it takes 10-15 tries to acquire a new taste. Don't give up after two to three tries. Encourage eating salad with or without salad dressing. Limit salad dressing to 2 tablespoons and mostly use vinaigrette dressings. Experts recommend that half of the dinner plate should be vegetables, either raw or cooked. Don't forget that eating soups and stews can help get those extra servings in. An optional multivitamin is a good insurance policy for those finicky vegetable eaters.
Q: Is high fructose corn syrup in prepared foods bad for my children?
A: Most nutritionists agree that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may have played a role in America 's obesity epidemic. New research suggests that we don't reach satiety eating even large quantities of HFCS and that those excess calories are converted to fat and stored in adipose tissue. This alarming trend has made many nutritionists and experts in the field recommend a switch from HFCS to other sweeteners. My recommendation is to reduce HFCS in your own diet and your family's diet to as little as possible.
Q: What's a trans fats and is it really bad for me?
A: Trans fats form when hydrogen is chemically added to liquid vegetable oil to create a more solid form by the process of “hydrogenation”. Trans fats pack a double health whammy. They raise the risk of heart disease by elevating “bad” cholesterol and probably lower “good” cholesterol greater than what one would see by eating naturally occurring saturated fats. So trans fats are at least as bad as saturated fats and may in fact be worse.
The Institute of Medicine recommends keeping trans fat intake to “as low as possible” or under 2-4 grams/day. What is surprising is that products that list “0” trans fats on the Nutrition Facts label are often not really 100% “trans free”. That's because the FDA allows products with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving to label themselves as “trans free”. But 0.5 grams can add up pretty fast if you eat lots of “trans free” products or more than one serving.
So here's what you need to do. First check the Nutrition Fact label for trans fats. If not zero, choose another product. Next check the ingredients list and make sure the product doesn't contain “hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils”.