The recently released report from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans committee discussed that while most of Americans are over-nourished with calories, they still come up short in key nutrients, vitamin D, calcium, potassium and dietary fiber.
Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN, author of Nutrition At Your Fingertips, and founder/president of Zied Health Communications, LLC, advises, “The best way to fill these nutrient gaps includes following a meal pattern with a variety of fruits, veggies, whole grains, low fat dairy and lean protein foods.”
Vitamin D: 200 IU per day for women, however, this recommendation may increase soon.
Vitamin D aids mostly in healthy bones and calcium absorption. Since the body can make this vitamin by being in direct contact with the sun’s rays, experts recommend stepping outside without sunscreen twice weekly for 15 to 30 minutes, exposing the skin of the arms and legs, and especially the backs of thighs.
Foods that have it: oily fish, fortified foods
Best bets include salmon, tuna, sardines and vitamin D fortified milk, yogurt, breakfast cereal and orange juice. Just read the label. “Tuna Ties” are a favorite with Elisa’s family, mixing bow tie pasta with canned light tuna with dressed with a little mayo, and onion and garlic powder. Get more tuna recipes >>
Potassium: 4700 mg per day for women
Potassium plays an important role in maintaining proper fluid balance in the body for muscle contractions and helps counteract the effect of excess sodium in the diet.
Beyond bananas: fruits, vegetables, dairy, fish
Try sweet and white potatoes, raisins, tomato paste, halibut and white beans. Just 1/4 cup of California raisins counts as a full serving of fruit for adults and is a tasty way to help meet recommended daily fruit servings. Michelle Dudash, RD works closely with California Raisins and recommends tossing together baby spinach, raisins, chickpeas, and cucumber slices for a potassium-rich salad. For more nutritious and delicious recipes using this fruit, visit loveyourraisins.com.
Calcium: 1000 milligrams per day for women
Also necessary for strong bones and muscle contractions, eating enough calcium builds up body stores by the age of 30, helping prevent osteoporosis.
Not just in the dairy case: Dairy products, legumes, and greens
Besides milk, yogurt and cheese, foods naturally rich in calcium include collard greens, rhubarb, spinach, turnip greens, white beans, black-eyed peas, kale, okra, tofu and navy beans. For a calcium-rich lunch, Elisa recommends adding spinach, beans, almonds and small pieces of tofu to salads and tortilla wraps. Not sure how to prepare greens? Try these recipes for greens!
Dietary Fiber: about 25-35 grams per day for women
While fiber benefits the body by promoting good digestive health and lowering cholesterol, it also contributes to the feeling of fullness after eating, which is a plus for dieters.
Get things moving: minimally processed grains and fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds, legumes
Besides switching white grains to whole grains, Elisa recommends adding raspberries to yogurt and adding white beans to soup. Grabbing a handful of dried fruit, such as raisins, is great for fiber on the go.