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Coming to Terms with Diet Lingo; Seven Summer Diet Phrases Defined to Ease Consumer Confusion


DENVER, June 28 -- When someone mentions GI, do you start whistling patriotic tunes? Do you think that volumetrics is some kind of new exercise? If so, you aren’t alone in your confusion about several complicated scientific terms that are creeping into the lexicon of our diet-obsessed culture. What do these terms mean, and by mastering them will you get any skinnier? To ease the bewilderment, here’s a primer from the nutrition experts at the U.S. Potato Board (USPB) who, along with the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans and most of the scientific community, have long advocated for a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to maintain a healthy body weight and stave off chronic illness.

DASH - Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. DASH is an eating plan that is low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol and encourages the consumption of lots of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. The DASH plan grew out of research supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute which showed that blood pressure could be reduced by consuming foods high in certain key nutrients, namely potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fiber.

Macro and Micro Nutrients - Macro nutrients are required by the body in large amounts for growth and survival; generally the term refers to carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Micro nutrients are required by the body in minute amounts for growth and survival, such as vitamins and trace minerals like copper, iron, and zinc.

Nutrient Density - The amount of nutrients relative to the calorie value (nutrient density equals nutrients per calorie). Foods that are high in nutrient density, such as fruits and vegetables, provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals for relatively few calories.

Satiety - The physiological and psychological experience of “fullness” that comes after eating and/or drinking. Foods that have a high water and/or fiber content, such as fruits and vegetables, have been shown to promote satiety. Australian researchers examined the satiety value of 38 different foods representing all the basic food groups and found that potatoes ranked highest. Other foods ranking high in satiety were fish, oat porridge, oranges, apples, and whole wheat pasta.

Glycemic Index (GI) - Originally developed as a tool for the dietary management of diabetes, the GI generally describes the impact that a carbohydrate-rich food has on blood glucose levels relative to a reference food (typically either white bread or glucose). The GI has been gaining popularity among dieters as a planning tool for weight management and health promotion, although it remains a highly controversial measure among nutrition professionals.

Glycemic Load -- Glycemic Load (GL) represents the product of the GI of a carbohydrate-rich food multiplied by the amount (grams) of carbohydrate in a serving of the carbohydrate-rich food.

Volumetrics - An eating plan for losing or maintaining body weight. Volumetrics is based on research showing that the weight or “volume” of food eaten is what contributes to feeling satisfied after a meal. Foods that have a high water and/or fiber content but don’t carry many calories, like fruits, vegetables, and broth-based soups, are encouraged.

What should you do with your new vocabulary? “Use common sense. There are no magic bullets to weight loss. For example, the Glycemic Index may be marketed as the next big diet trend, but it is very confusing and is not supported by the majority of the scientific community as a tool for weight loss,” says Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, nutrition consultant for the University of Pittsburgh Center for Sports Medicine and the United States Potato Board. “The best diet direction this summer is not to follow a diet at all. Instead, enjoy the bounty of fruits and vegetables available this time of year. You’ll feel satisfied and get healthier without sacrificing flavor and fun.”


The USPB was established in 1971 by a group of potato growers to promote the benefits of eating potatoes. Recognized as an innovator in the produce marketing industry, the USPB was one of the first commodity groups to develop and use a nutrition label that was approved by the USDA and FDA. The label shows that a medium (5.3 ounce) potato is an excellent source of potassium, and a good source of vitamin C and fiber for 100 calories, no fat, cholesterol or sodium. Today the USPB continues to provide scientifically sound nutrition information to the public through education outreach efforts and its website. Headquartered in Denver, Colorado, the USPB represents more than 6,000 potato growers and handlers across the country.


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