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Nutritionally Speaking

These Succulent Chicken Dishes Will Help Consumers Eat Better in '80s

February 02, 1989|TONI TIPTON

Lack of time and confusion over how to implement new information are seen as two major obstacles to eating better in the '80s, in spite of increased public awareness of the importance of good nutrition. At least that's how a consumer trend analyst who spoke on the subject at a nutrition conference sponsored by the Dairy Council of California sees what's happening currently to consumer attitudes toward good nutrition.

As a result, a host of nutrients--including major and minor minerals--are being lost in the translation between better health and decreasing fat and cholesterol in the diet. Far too many Americans, it is believed especially women who are consumed by the desire to lose weight are suffering from malnutrition.

"Consumers understand that diet has short and long-term health effects, including looking and feeling healthier," said Amy Barr M.S., R.D., executive editor-at-large of McCall's Magazine. They "understand the basics of nutrition, but they don't know how to use the principles and standards that will help balance their total diets."

Furthermore, despite contemporary woman's increasingly demanding work schedule, her historic role as "keeper of the medicine and food cabinets," has not changed, according to Barr. So, while she may be acutely interested in fitness, diet and health and seems to have a good understanding of how they relate to one another, she just doesn't have enough time to do something about it.

The solution: Fine-tuned nutrition, Barr explained.

Not that nutrition has changed so much over the past few years; the four food groups, balance, variety and moderation are still stressed. But today's nutrition is defined in terms of how it can be incorporated into the family life style. This helps streamline the number of choices a woman needs to make regarding health.

But it's the way women streamline their choices regarding health that troubles dietitians. Recently, women have begun to develop a type of "food system," Barr claims. Here, instead of a balanced diet system they make food decisions based on what works for them in terms of scheduling--a form of trade-offs of one thing for another whether that thing is better health, better looks or more time.

"Even though they are worried about health and how it may help their longevity, their biggest concern is their obesity. And it is not even obesity, it's how they look. . . . You can talk health all you want, but it is how you look. . . . Our readers are living in a paradox. And, nutrition is a paradox," Barr said.

The problem with this, according to Barr, is that in the interest of time, fine-tuned nutrition usually means one-issue nutrition and the issue is typically one of calories. For example, dietary supplements continue to be popular alternatives to food as sources of vitamins and minerals. They are perceived, Barr said, as "a shortcut to better health."

Most people understand dairy products are high in calcium, but "we haven't gotten across to them that one of the reasons it (dairy products) is better than the supplements is that it is also higher in riboflavin and D vitamins." Likewise, "They would rather eat a fish oil tablet than eat fish. Meanwhile, they are eating butter on their rolls and are drinking whole milk. But if they take this pill, they are OK.

"People are looking for painless, good nutrition," Barr said. "If it is hard to do or if they really have to think about it beyond two seconds, they don't want it. Again, it is food system versus diet. It has got to be painless, good nutrition."

'Painless Nutrition'

To help women meet their goal of "painless good nutrition" here are some simple-to-prepare recipes. They avoid high-fat and cholesterol containing foods. But, they offer nutrients that promote good health.

One such nutrient is zinc. Although no deficiency of zinc is reported in the United States, vegetarians and people avoiding red meat are among those who tend to suffer from zinc shortage.

Zinc is important for normal growth, for normal cellular immune functions, for taste-bud sensitivity and for Vitamin A absorption. (Diets rich in Vitamin A may lower risk for some types of cancer.) It is found in high-protein foods such as oysters and beef liver. Whole-grain cereals also are a good source. Beef, lamb and pork contain three to four times as much zinc as fish. Legumes, peanuts and peanut butter are better sources than fruits and vegetables, which are poor sources.

While skinned chicken breast meat has been applauded as a low-fat source of dietary protein, its counterpart, dark meat has been overlooked. It's true that a three-ounce serving of roasted chicken breast without skin contains about 50 fewer calories (142) and almost three times less fat (3.07 grams) than dark meat, 198 and 11.4 grams, respectively, but the dark meat offers three times the zinc.

POLLO FAJITAS

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 clove garlic, minced

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