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 (more…)
For many healthy-minded consumers, calorie postings on menus and menu boards greatly impact their decision when making food selections. While grabbing food on the go, it’s useful to know how this item will fit into a person’s allotted daily calories. Even though it may not feel like overeating, before you know it, you’ve consumed over half of the recommended daily calories.
For instance, see the calories in typical menu items. Seeing and internalizing the number of calories allows us to realize that snacks and seemingly healthy foods may, in fact, not be so healthy at all.
- Medium fries – 380 calories
- Gourmet cupcake – 300-600 calories
- Grilled chicken salad with dressing – 400 calories
Our country’s obesity epidemic is growing exponentially much like the waistbands of many Americans. Just twenty years ago, no states had obesity rates above 15 percent. Today, 38 states have obesity rates more than 25 percent and the U.S. national obesity rate is a record 37.5 percent. Americans are eating more of their food outside their homes, whether dining out, purchasing prepared food, or grabbing a vending machine treat. (more…)
Listen up parents! Making sure our preschool children get their ‘5 a day’ (servings of fruits and veggies) can be easy and painless… if you are prepared. Providing our kids with a healthy foundation, helping them acquire a taste for fruits/veggies will be something that stays with them for the rest of their lives. If they get used to eating fresh produce as kids, that will often translate in to adulthood.
Working with a pediatric population, parents repeatedly ask the same questions. So here’s what I tell them.
Kids can get overwhelmed when they see large portions. Serve appropriate amounts for the child’s age. A 2-3 year-old needs one cup fruits and one cup veggies while 4-8-year-olds should consume half a cup more, respectively, per day.
Offer a healthy snack consisting of fruits/veggies every afternoon. Before long kids will know what to expect and look forward to this healthy treat. A few ideas to get started include Fruit Kabobs with Yogurt Dip, Fresh Strawberry + PB Sandwich, and One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream.
Try a new fruit/veggie tomorrow. If today it’s pears, tomorrow try oranges. Mix it up and keep kids interested. Have them take a bite and if they don’t like it now, let them try it again another time. “I don’t like it now” doesn’t mean “I don’t like it forever.” (more…)
Today “gluten free” is all the rage, but what’s the science behind it? Let’s look at the three most common reasons why people follow gluten-free diets.
1. Being diagnosed with celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder in where the body triggers an attack on the intestines every time gluten is eaten. This destroys part of the small intestine that absorbs vital nutrients and results in malabsorption. For these people, eating food that contains gluten can cause significant pain. While the disease affects only 1% of healthy, average Americans, 97% of those affected have not yet been diagnosed.
2. Having a gluten sensitivity. While this sensitivity shares many symptoms with celiac disease, it fortunately does not share the same likelihood of intestinal damage.
3. Trying the latest and coolest ‘fad’ diet that received rave reviews for achieving (insert your favorite health claim) Lose Weight! / Eat Healthier! / Improve Skin Quality! People want to improve their health however they can, so why not give this a chance?
Why would someone choose to adhere to a gluten-free diet if they don’t have to? What is “gluten” and when did it get a bad reputation? Let me explain. (more…)
Parents are always juggling many priorities. However, in times when obesity, diabetes, food allergies, and picky eaters are so prevalent, the most important priority is the health of their families. With everyone’s busy schedules, it’s hard to provide healthy foods all the time and not reach for the wacky mac or frozen pizzas. But it is possible with a bit of planning and organization. Below are my best tips that can help your family get on the right track.
Be Organized! Create a shopping list at the start of the week. Take into account each family member’s food preferences. Make a tentative meal plan early in the week so you can buy all the ingredients you will need in advance. Try to prepare one main meal for everyone so you’re not a short order cook.
Cook Ahead! Pick a day at the beginning of the week that you’ll have available time (hard as it may be!) to prepare and store items in the fridge or freezer. Slice up fruits and vegetables and keep them in the fridge. This will help save time when preparing salads during the week and make grabbing healthy snacks easier. (more…)
Have you heard college students joke about the “Freshman 15”? The 10-15 pounds on average that students can gain throughout their college years is no laughing matter. These students are the future of our country and obesity contributes to deadly, costly health problems later in life. To reach this technology-savvy generation, here are some tips on leveraging smartphones, tablets, and social media avenues to stop the “Freshman 15” before it starts.
There are countless free smartphone and tablet apps available to help students make healthier lifestyle choices. What all these apps have in common is that you can choose to receive daily or weekly notifications to ensure compliance and motivation. Here are a few places to start: (more…)