Nutrition is much-discussed and most of us hear a lot about sugar and fiber and think we know a thing or two about all the things we ought and ought not consume each day. But once you add discussions about nutrients like potassium, iron, magnesium and other nutrients to the mix, some of that nutrition know-how starts to resemble an alphabet soup of jumbled, conflicting facts.For some clarity, and mild entertainment, why not join us for this quiz of your basic nutrition knowlege? In the process, you might just add some eating-better-and-smarter fun facts to your memory banks.Get out your pencil and give it a try:1. Which of the following has the most sugar?A. Can of Coke or Pepsi (12 ounces)B. Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice, original, no pulp (12 ounces)C. Kit Kat milk chocolate barD. Dannon Fruit on the Bottom lowfat peach yogurt (6 ounces) Answer: Coca-Cola. Classic Coke has 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar per 12 ounces. Second on the list is Tropicana orange juice, which has 165 calories and 33 grams of sugar per 12 ounces. (Note: An OJ serving is usually considered to be 8 ounces, but to compare we used 12 ounces). The yogurt has 150 calories and 26 grams of sugar. One Kit Kat (1.5 ounces) has more calories but less sugar than the rest — 210 and 21, respectively. Daily needs: For “Added Sugars,” the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than approximately 6 teaspoons of sugar for women (24 grams per day) — less than what you’d get with that little cup of yogurt — and 9 teaspoons for men (36 grams per day). Here’s the tricky part. The recommendations are only for “added” sugar; there are no clear recommendations for total sugar. However, the food industry in the U.K. has created Guideline Daily Amounts and suggests no more than 90 grams, or 22.5 teaspoons, of total sugar per day. This includes foods that naturally contain sugar, such as milk, fruit, vegetables and grains. Why it matters: The problem is that added sugar is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality above and beyond its role as empty calories. Additionally, too much added sugar is linked to obesity and related diseases. And about that orange juice: While it may not have added sugar, its nutrition profile differs significantly from whole fruit. For instance, one orange is approximately 75 calories, with 13 grams of sugar. Compare that to the 12 ounces of juice, which has 33 grams of sugar. According to the Tropicana website, you need about 3 1/3 oranges to make a 12-ounce glass of juice. 2. Which food has the most fiber?A. Avocado (1 cup) B. Oatmeal (1 cup) C. Pistachios (1 cup) D. Strawberries (1 cup) Answer: Pistachios have the most, with 12.7 grams. Avocados are a close second at 9.8 grams. Oatmeal has 4 grams per cup, and strawberries weigh in at 3.3 grams per cup. Daily needs: 30 to 38 grams for men and 21 to 25 grams for women. Why it matters: Fiber is loaded with health benefits. It reduces your risk of heart disease and diabetes and lowers cholesterol. Plus, foods with fiber help to keep you feeling fuller longer. 3. Which food has the most potassium? A. Apricots (1 cup sliced) B. Spinach (1 cup cooked) C. Honeydew melon (1 cup) D. Sweet red peppers (1 cup chopped) Answer: Cooked spinach has 839 milligrams. Apricots have 427 milligrams. Honeydew has 404 milligrams, and sweet red peppers have 314 milligrams. Other sources include raisins (1,086 milligrams of potassium per cup), potatoes (1,081 milligrams), bananas (537 milligrams) and, yes, even cucumbers (442 milligrams each). Daily needs: 4,700 milligrams Why it matters: Potassium is necessary for muscle contractions (including your all-important heartbeat), transmission of nerve impulses and the regulation of fluids and electrolytes. Diets rich in potassium blunt the adverse effects of salt on blood pressure (1 in 5 Americans has high blood pressure), may reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and may decrease bone loss. More than 90 percent of Americans are not meeting their recommended daily needs.4. Which food has the most iron? A. Salmon (3 ounces Atlantic, wild, cooked) B. Brazil nuts (1 ounce) C. Asparagus (1 cup) D. Eggs (1 cup, especially yolks) Answer: Brazil nuts have 3.23 milligrams; asparagus, 2.87 milligrams; one large cooked egg, 0.90 milligram; and the salmon has 0.88 milligram. Other sources of iron include cooked spinach at 6.43 milligrams per cup, chickpeas at 4.74 milligrams per cup, clams at 23.77 milligrams in 3 ounces, black beans at 3.61 milligrams per cup and prune juice at 3.02 milligrams per cup. Daily needs: Men should be getting 8 milligrams per day and women 18 milligrams. After the age of 50, the recommended requirement for women lowers to 8 milligrams, matching the men’s. Why it matters: Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood, and myoglobin, which carries oxygen in muscle tissue. It also helps regulate cell growth and differentiation. Many women are deficient in iron. If you don’t get enough, the deficiency limits oxygen delivery to the cells, resulting in fatigue, poor work performance and decreased immunity. 5. Which food has the most magnesium?A. Cashews (1 ounce dry roasted) B. Peanut butter, smooth (2 tablespoons) C. Broccoli (1/2 cup chopped and cooked) D. Rice, brown (1/2 cup cooked) Answer: One ounce of cashews has the most, 83 milligrams. Peanut butter ranks second at 49 milligrams. Next is the rice, 42 milligrams, and finally the broccoli, 16 milligrams. Daily needs: Men should get 400 to 420 milligrams and women 310 to 320 milligrams daily. Why it matters: Magnesium helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure and is involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Charles Platkin, Ph.D., M.P.H. is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of DietDetective.com.
How did you score?
(1 point per correct answer)
5 — Excellent! Nutrition Ph.D.
If you got all the answers right, you make wise choices in most situations! Congratulations!
3-4 — Good! Nutritionist
You’re doing well. Brush up on your nutrition knowledge.
0-2 — You need help!
You need some help making wiser, healthier choices.