By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., lead nutritionist for TheBestLife.com
Now that a new study found that regular nut eaters are less likely to develop a number of diseases, including biggies like heart disease and cancer, I feel even better about all the nuts I eat. While I do snack on nuts, I tend to use them more as part of a meal. Staying conscious of their high-calorie content, I often sub them in for other foods—not in addition to. For instance, instead of sprinkling feta on a salad, I’ll top it with sunflower seeds or pecans.
Besides being so tasty, nuts provide healthy fat—the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated types. These fats keep our cell membranes healthy, reduce the risk for heart disease, and play other roles in the body. Plus, you need a little fat in the meal for satiety (keeping you feeling full for longer).
Here’s how I use nuts (and seeds, which also have health-promoting properties) in meals:
In smoothies: 1 tablespoon of almond or peanut butter along with milk or soymilk and a banana makes a complete breakfast.
Atop cereal: The 2 to 3 tablespoons I typically add are often the only fat in my skim-milk-fruit-cereal breakfast.
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By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist
For years now, scientists have known that periodontal disease increases the risk for heart disease. Now, a new study in the Journal of the American Heart Association shows that if you take care of your gums you can reduce a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
A research team led by Columbia University in New York City examined the mouths of 420 middle-aged men and women for periodontal disease. (Periodontal disease is caused when bacterial plaque on the teeth move into the gums causing inflammation. This can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, causing “pockets” that become infected with bacteria, and eventually lead to tooth loss.) Researchers collected gum bacterial samples and used ultrasound to measure the thickness of the carotid arteries, which supply the brain with blood. Artery thickness is a marker for stroke and heart disease; if the carotid arteries get clogged with plaque, you can bet the coronary arteries leading to the heart are clogging as well.
Three years later, people whose oral health improved (read: they had fewer bacteria linked to heart disease in their mouth) had a much slower rate of carotid artery thickening than those whose periodontal disease was worse or remained the same. It doesn’t take much plaque to have devastating consequences. Picture this: a 0.033-millimeter-per-year increase in carotid artery thickness doubles the risk of heart disease and heart attack. In this study, people with gums that deteriorated, developed, on average, a 0.1-mm increase, meaning their heart disease risk shot up six-fold.
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As you know by now, trans fat is finally getting kicked to the curb. Trans fat, a packaged food additive also known as partially hydrogenated oil, is added to food for its preservative quality and contributes to artery clogging and cardiovascular disease. The FDA’s proposed ban hopes to prevent 7,000 deaths from heart disease and 20,000 deaths from heart attack per year.
Over the next 50 or so days, the FDA will be pouring over scientific data to determine if trans fat needs to be removed from the GRAS, or “generally recognized as safe,” list of foods. If trans fat are indeed determined to not be GRAS, any food product with trans fat will be deemed illegal for sale in the U.S. Under current guidelines, if a food product contains less than 0.5 grams trans fat, shown as partially hydrogenated oils on the ingredients list, the nutrition label can claim it has 0 percent. Sketchy stuff.
Trans fat won’t disappear completely, as it naturally occurs in some dairy and meat products. But the artificial stuff—created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil—is lurking in many of the popular food items on grocery store shelves. Peanut butter, popcorn, and frozen foods are the more well known products that contain trans fat, but those are just the tip of this fatty iceberg. Soon, trans fat will be banished from the supermarket, but until then, we’ve compiled a list of the trans fattiest foods at your local grocer.
Betty Crocker Bisquick and Canned Frosting
- Kellogg’s: Corn Pops, Eggo Cereal, Honey Smacks, Smorz, Mini Swirlz Cinammon Bun, Rice Crispies Cereal
- General Mills: Basic 4
- Post: Cocoa Pebbles, Fruity Pebbles, Oreo Os, Waffle Crisp
Coffee Mate Coffee Creamer (Multiple Flavors)
Duncan Hines Cake and Cupcake Mixes
Nabisco Fig Newtons
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The FDA is finally stepping up to remove trans fat from a list of chemicals known as GRAS – or generally recognized as safe. This morning, the Food and Drug Administration opened up a 60-day public call for comments, scientific data, and other information they can use to help guide their decision to issue an all-out ban on trans fat, also known as partially hydrogenated oil.
“Based on new scientific evidence and the findings of expert scientific panels, the [FDA] has tentatively determined that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), which are the primary dietary source of industrially-produced trans fatty acids, or trans fat, are not generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for any use in food based on current scientific evidence establishing the health risks associated with the consumption of trans fat, and therefore that PHOs are food additives,” says the formal announcement made by the agency.
If this is finalized, the FDA says “food manufacturers would no longer be permitted to sell PHOs.”
That’s news that has the dietetic community happy as heart-healthy clams. We reached out to several thought leaders from the dietetic community to hear their reactions to the trans fat ban news first.
Those foods are suspect, not only because of the link between trans fats and cardiovascular disease, but because of wide-reaching inflammation from a host of artificial products. This could give people a reminder to eat real food. — Mary Hartley, RD, our resident nutrition expert and a NYC-based dietitian
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Eli Sapharti is no stranger to the taunts that come from cruel children and ignorant adults. Over the years he’s been saddled with nicknames like, “Fat Boy” “Bubble Butt” “Bench Warmer” and more. Now, 105 pounds thinner, Eli boasts a body fat percentage of only 10% and he’s currently training to compete in the Physique Division of a Men’s Bodybuilding Competition in February 2014. We’re guessing he’s earned a few new nicknames that put a smile on his face.
Growing up, Eli remembers always being the kid who got picked last for sports teams, the one who endured teasing, bullying and being stuck in the dreaded friend zone when it came to girls. After a growth spurt in the 9th grade, his body lengthened and lost weight, but the pounds didn’t stay away for long. “I simply enjoyed food,” he explained. “As most over -eaters, I used food as my drug of choice. Horrible eating habits and zero physical activity led me to gain an incredible amount of weight.”
Eli knew he was unhealthy, he was aware his weight had crept up to a dangerous level but that awareness wasn’t enough to spur him into action. “It wasn’t like I didn’t know that I was very overweight and needed to lose weight,” he said. “I mean, I was suffering from high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, severe anxiety and panic disorder. That should have been enough to get me to do something about it, but it didn’t.”
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