- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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June 20, 2013
Nutrition info may soon appear on alcohol containers
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
Nutrition labels are tools to help consumers evaluate whether a food is a good choice within their diet. Should beer, wine and spirits carry similar labels?
The U.S. government is planning to allow liquor companies the option to include nutritional information on beer, wine and spirit containers. These labels will be called Serving Facts. The Serving Facts label will contain the following information:
- Serving size
- Percent alcohol by volume (optional)
Unlike food labels, alcohol labels will not list fiber, vitamin or mineral content.
Which brings us to the next question: Nutritionally speaking, what is alcohol's place in a healthy diet?
Alcoholic beverages generally have little to offer in term of vitamin and mineral content. This is also the case for protein and fat, unless they have milk products added. The carbohydrate content will vary based on the type of grain or fruit used, and any other flavorings added.
Gram for gram, alcohol has almost as many calories as fat. Since calories are key to weight management, the obvious assumption is that the addition of alcoholic beverages to one's diet would equate to weight gain. Interestingly, there is not strong scientific evidence demonstrating that alcohol consumption causes weight gain.
However, what has been shown is that as the number of drinks increases the nutritional quality of the diet decreases. This seems to be a stronger association for women than men. So not only do alcoholic beverages supply few nutrients but they also seem to alter food choices. However, more research is needed to better understand if calories from alcohol beverages are balanced with fewer calories from food or other lifestyle factors.
And of course, alcohol in moderation appears to offer some health benefits. Moderate drinking is generally defined as one drink for women and two drinks for men a day. It may:
- Reduce your risk of developing heart disease
- Reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack
- Possibly reduce your risk of strokes, particularly ischemic strokes
- Lower your risk of gallstones
- Possibly reduce your risk of diabetes
Even so, the evidence about the possible health benefits of alcohol isn't certain, and alcohol may not benefit everyone who drinks.
Importantly, there are those who should avoid alcohol for best health outcomes:
- Youngsters. Children or adolescents should not consume alcohol. Alcohol increases the risk of preventable injury and death from drowning, car accidents and other traumatic injuries.
- Pregnant women. Heavy drinking during pregnancy can produce a range of behavioral and psychosocial problems, malformations, and cognitive dysfunction in children. Alcohol even at moderate levels may may have behavioral or neurocognitive consequences.
- Individuals with chronic health issues. Alcohol should be avoided by individuals who can't limit their drinking to moderate levels, individuals taking medications that can interact with alcohol, and persons with specific medical conditions, such as liver disease
Will the Serving Facts label make you rethink your drink? Share your thoughts.
To your health,