Nutrition News: Smoothie Calories, Menu Transparency Delay and a Healthy Trend in High School Sports

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Blueberry smoothie

Smoothie operators

“Do I absorb more sugar and calories when I drink fruits and vegetables in a smoothie as opposed to just eating them whole?” The question was put to The New York Times’ Well blog, which consulted a dietitian representing the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and returned with an answer: Yes, “very likely.”

Basically, the issue is one of “quantity,” the Times was told. You may well consume a lot in a short time when you drink a smoothie, without even realizing it. Plus, you may feel hungrier more quickly after you drink a smoothie than you would after eating whole fruit, because fiber, which slows down the sugar-to-blood-sugar conversion process, gets pulverized when the fruit is blended for smoothie consumption.

That’s just talking about smoothies you make at home, the Times notes. Store-bought smoothies often pack a big caloric punch along with added sugar, honey or other sweeteners — and may not even contain whole fruit at all.

Woman eating at a restaurant

Menu mysteries

You know those rules requiring restaurants nationwide to post on menu boards the calorie counts of the foods they sell? The national calorie disclosure regulation, which aims to help consumers be more aware of the calories they consume away from home (on average, about one-third of our overall calorie intake), was supposed to go into effect in December 2016, but now it’s been pushed back until May 5, 2017.

It will affect restaurants and other retail food establishments with at least 20 locations, many of which, by now, after repeated delays, are already in compliance with the bill. Others have opposed it. One proponent told Reuters she hopes the new date “will stick.”

Good sports? Good diet

Here’s a hopeful sign for young athletes today: High school sports programs are increasingly emphasizing a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet as a way of enhancing athletic performance. The New York Times calls the integration of nutritional guidance into high school sports — “long a standard part of professional and college programs,” it notes — a growing “trend.”

“Schools are starting to bring in dietitians to discuss the importance of nutrition with young athletes to complete the circle,” Molly Wong Vega, a Houston dietitian who works with several schools, told the Times. “Suggesting a snack of bell peppers with hummus may be a way to help increase vitamin A and C intake and give a little zinc as well,” which may aid muscle and tissue repair, she said. That’s something to cheer about.

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer.