Understanding nutrition terms can be difficult. Below are definitions for commonly used terms on this website.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Body Mass Index is a standardized ratio of weight to height, and is often used as a general indicator of health. Your BMI can be calculated by dividing your weight (in kilograms) by the square of your height (in meters).
Calorie is a unit of measurement for energy. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses 2,000 calories per day as a general reference level on nutrition labeling. Our upper limit of 750 calories for one meal represents about 37% of total calories for the day. Calories can be found on the nutrition label.
Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance present in all parts of the body including the nervous system, skin, muscles, liver, intestines, and heart. It is both made by the body and obtained from animal products in the diet. Cholesterol is manufactured in the liver for normal body functions including the production of hormones, bile acid, and vitamin D. It is transported in the blood to be used by all parts of the body.
The USDA's 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommend that total fat be limited to 20 to 35% of calories. Assuming 2,000 calories per day, the recommended fat intake for a full day is between 44 and 78 grams.
Fruits and/or vegetables
According to the FDA, fruits and vegetables are, in general, low in calories and fat but high in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. It is recommended that most adults consume approximately 2 cups of fruits and 2.5 cups of vegetables each day.
The amount of a food consumed in one eating occasion.
Lean proteins are foods that provide a rich source of protein, but little, if any, fat. Examples of lean proteins are: eggs, white meat poultry, lean beef, tofu, fish, and turkey.
Saturated fats are often called to as "bad" fats because they raise cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body, increasing the risk of heart disease. Saturated fats are generally solid at room temperature and mostly come from animal products. The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines recommend that saturated fat be limited to 10% of total calories. Assuming 2,000 calories a day, the maximum recommended saturated fat intake for a full day would be 22 grams.
Sodium is an essential mineral and electrolyte that supports many functions of your body. When consumed in moderation, sodium can be part of a healthy diet. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends that Americans consume no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) sodium per day.
According to the FDA whole grains provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are essential for good health. Whole grains are low in fat and a good source of dietary fiber. Some examples of whole grains include whole wheat, bulgur, bran, barley, wild rice, whole oats, buckwheat and quinoa.
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