All About Food: Healthy eating not always intuitive

I am always looking for new information about food that I can share with readers. Here is the latest.

One cup of Campbell’s regular condensed soup has 810 calories, and most people eat the whole can’s contents and that also means 2,030 mgs of sodium.

Popping into Starbucks for a cup of java? Well, you might like to know that your 20-ounce Venti White Chocolate Mocha, with 2% milk and whipped cream, has 580 calories, 14 grams of fat and 11 teaspoons of added sugar. It is worse than a McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese.

Olive Garden offers an entree with three different items: lasagna, lightly breaded chicken Parmigiana and creamy fettuccine Alfredo. That’s 1,450 calories, 33 grams of saturated fat and 3,830 mgs of sodium. If you order a garden fresh salad with dressing and a bread stick, you will raise the total to 1,740 calories and 4,960 mgs of sodium.

If you are a diet soda drinker thinking that it will help you lose weight, think again. New research from Johns Hopkins says that adults who drink diet soda are probably compensating by eating more meals and snacks.

Here’s another reason why fast-food restaurants are not good for you. A Florida middle school student found that 70% of her local fast-food restaurants had more bacteria in their soft drink ice than was found in the their toilet water.

I could go on, but I think it’s time for some balance. I love watermelon but was not aware that it is really filled with nutrients. Two cups have one-third of a day’s recommended amount of vitamin A and C, plus a good amount of potassium and lycopene, and only 90 fat-free, salt-free calories.

Mangoes are a great source of vitamin C. With one cup, you get 100% of your daily requirement as well as one-third of your vitamin A. Mangoes also contain potassium and fiber and are least likely of the fruits to have pesticide residue.

The New England Journal of Medicine did extensive studies about the consumption of nuts and health. They analyzed data from nearly 119,00 men and women on estimated nut consumption and found that people who eat just a handful a day are 20% less likely to die from any cause over a 30-year period. The researchers also found a 20% reduction in deaths from heart disease and an 11% less risk of dying from cancer.

Tired of endless dieting to lose weight? Here’s some surprising news. A new study revealed that walking your dog can burn off more pounds, up to 14 pounds annually on average, than some of the top weight-loss diets. Also the Journal of the American Medical Assn. found that people who are moderately overweight live longer than people who are of normal weight or very thin.

A recent relatively small study by the American Heart Assn. showed that hibiscus tea lowered blood pressure in a group of pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive individuals ages 30 to 70.

One group got three servings of tea each day, and one got three servings of a placebo with artificial hibiscus flavoring. The group that had the actual tea experienced a 7.2 drop in the systolic measurement, while the placebo group only had a 1.3 drop.

This is not a definitive study, but more research is in the offing. In the meantime, why not have a spot of tea?

TERRY MARKOWITZ was in the gourmet food and catering business for 20 years. She can be reached for comments or questions at