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…)
Grain Brain is the catchy title of a new self-help diet book on the New York Times Advice and How-to Best Sellers lists. The author, neurologist David Perlmutter, makes the case for a slow death to brain cells caused by wheat, “carbs,” and sugar. Those foods, he says, are behind most of the common but incurable neurologic diseases including Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, anxiety, depression, and others. To prevent and treat those conditions, he recommends a diet of fish, seeds, nuts, and olive oil, sans the “carbs” from grains, milk, fruit, and sugary sweets. Grain Brain is in the same vein as Wheat Belly and other best-selling Paleo-type diet books.
David Perlmutter and his co-author, writer Kristin Loberg, followed the diet book formula: reel in the lay audience with indisputable scientific facts and then lead them to ungrounded conclusions because they all sound good. With technical expertise, Dr. Perlmutter explains the workings of the brain and central nervous system. He is up on the hot nutrition topics and buzzwords of the day: inflammation, free radicals, bacteria in the gut, and metabolic fuels.
Sure, we agree that neurological diseases are scary and seem to be everywhere, but are gluten and carbohydrates the cause? Not so fast. David Perlmutter is often called “cutting edge,” which means research verification is needed. (more…)
In 2003, a handful of young software developers from tiny Estonia wrote the code for a voice-over IP program and called it Skype. Derived from the words “sky” and “peer,” Skype was a video chatting and instant messaging application that allowed grad students studying abroad to chat with their significant others back home. OK, that wasn’t the only thing it was used for, but more than 10 years and $8.5 billion later—thanks Microsoft!—the uses of Skype have outgrown simple peer-to-peer communication.
The live and instant nature of Skype holds the senders and receivers of information accountable, making the program perfect for dietitians and personal trainers. Citing affordability and optimum time management, both our resident nutrition expert Mary Hartley RD, and the wellness team at Retrofit, among many others in their shared industry use Skype to counsel patients on diet and fitness.
“I could base an entire practice around Skype,” said Mary, who meets with clients in real life and over video chat. Living in New York City, Skype saves her and her patients gas money, traffic time, and office expenses. “Their (patients) appointments are booked on their Gmail calendars, they pay via PayPal before their appointment, and then we’re on,” said Mary. (more…)
When you hear Atkins, you probably immediately think “low-carb diet.” Most of us recall that name being synonymous with the fad of high-protein diets in the early 2000s. Now, the Atkins brand is resurfacing with a refreshed image and an attempt to break free of its previously held stereotypes.
A recent article in Advertising Age discussed the shifts in power at the diet food company and spoke with the current Chief Marketing Officer, Scott Parker. In addition to offering free online tools and selling Atkins brand foods in the grocery stores, Atkins is working to rework their image. Parker told Advertising Age that the company went off track several years ago and many lost sight of what the plan was really about.
“The diet fundamentally teaches you to eat a balanced menu, it never did tell you to eat nothing but bacon and eggs,” he said. “But that is what word-of-mouth became and people literally were doing their own makeshift diet and they didn’t have a very good experience because they didn’t do it correctly.”
They’ll be working hard to get their name out there, as the report stated Atkins Nutritionals, which did not return comment in time for publication, will be increasing their spending by 50 percent this year. This rebranding will take place as many similar diets have really hit the mainstream and one can assume Atkins wants to get a piece of that consumer pie. (more…)
Artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes often get a bad rap, but are they really as bad as they are made out to be? The results of a recent study suggests that maybe they aren’t; good news for all of us with sweet tooths. In the study three sweeteners were used to determine the effects on food intake, satiety, and glucose and insulin levels.
Researchers used sucrose, stevia and aspartame in the study. Stevia, a plant used as a natural sugar substitute, has come into popularity fairly recently in the United States, but has been used for centuries in South and Central America. The US Food and Drug Administration placed stevia on their Generally Recognized as Safe list. Any concern about the safety of stevia consumption comes from the eating and drinking excessive amounts, not from casual use.
As Americans, we’re competitive people. It’s in our blood. Speaking of blood and competition, a recently released infographic breaks down state by state statistics in categories like obesity, dental health, STDs, cancer rates, and several other quaint reminders of life’s frailty. Thanks to the Top Masters in Health Care—who meticulously compiled the data—you can now see how much better your state is compared to the other union territories! Naturally, we are most concerned with the obesity and health related numbers, and after a quick look, we noticed a disturbing trend. The statistical data suggested that obesity, loss of teeth and cancer were all closely correlated. How could this be? (more…)
Despite the dedicated work of doctors, bloggers, and health professionals everywhere, America remains one nation overweight. As we become more and more entrenched in a full fledged war against obesity, maybe the cartoonists will save us all. At least that’s what acclaimed diet and nutrition expert Marion Nestle hopes will happen with the release of her ninth book, “Eat, Drink, Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics.”
After a life time of publishing pointed literature on the subject of food politics, Nestle thought the humor of cartoons was the perfect medium. With over 250 of Nestle’s favorite food cartoons, she hopes to deliver cheeky and insightful criticisms at the food industry and its politics. She told USA Today that comics relay “complicated conceptual information at a glance, and if they are good, make it funny, sharp, ironic, and sometimes even sarcastic.” Our resident nutrition expert Mary Hartley, RD has followed Nestle’s career with great interest, and believes the lightheartedness of cartoons fit perfectly with Nestle’s sense of humor.
Students are going back to a healthier school environment this year, as schools continue to advance Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Last year, USDA added more fruit, vegetables and whole grains to the school lunch program. This year, those healthy advancements extend to school vending machines and school stores. Expect to see more of the foods we should encourage – whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and leaner protein – and less of the foods we should avoid – sugary, salty and fatty items. Read the guidelines in Smart Snacks in School, the USDA’s guide to the new nutrition standards.
Download this Printer Friendly Version for your home or classroom.
We took those guidelines one step further by translating them into brand name foods to help busy parents and even teachers know what to look for at the store. Our list contains only foods that meet the new standards. There are no cookies or soda (too much sugar), nor meat jerky (too much salt), and several snack bars didn’t make the cut because they exceed the 200-calorie limit. While our list doesn’t include every acceptable packaged food on the market – and let’s make it clear, we love snacks made at home from healthy, fresh ingredients – we hope our list will help school administrators, teachers and parents to identify better-for-you commercial snacks that are more apt to promote our kids’ healthy lifestyles. (more…)
The china said it all.
When Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN and author of “Read It Before You Eat It,” inherited her husband’s great grandmother’s antique china, she unpacked a lot of salad plates, but was miffed when the dinner plates were nowhere to be found. She called her aunt, who had long been steward of the china, to investigate. Turns out, the salad plates were the dinner plates.
“The dinner plates from the 1920s were like our salad plates today,” said Bonnie. “They just don’t compare to the giant plates at restaurants.”
Portion size has grown exponentially over the last 100 years. Factors like plate size, familial dynamics, and monetary investment in our food have contributed to an increased average portion size, and in turn, made America fat.
Bonnie was quick to point out that at fancy restaurants, the plate sizes are smaller, and customers tend to value those limited portions more because of the high cost. On the flip side, diners, drive ins, and dives are serving up “brontosaurus bones” on the cheap. No matter the price, people are going to eat what’s in front of them because if they paid for it, they’re gonna finish it. And Americans love to get more bang for their buck. “Value is very often associated with volume,” said Bonnie.
“If you feel like you have to eat as opposed to choosing to eat, then you belong to the ‘clean-plate club’ and it’s time to cancel your membership,” she told us. (more…)
You went for it. Frankly, we all did. With the franks – hot dogs. And burgers. Potato salad, someone’s aunt’s best apple pie, sodas, beer, and ice cream, too. You celebrated July Fourth like most Americans.
Today? Not feeling so hot. All is not lost. It’s actually pretty easy to put yesterday’s holiday bender behind you and focus forward on a healthful summer. It starts today, right now.
This isn’t a detox – we think your body is aptly equipped to handle that on its own but ONLY if you’re giving it what it needs. Another full day of beers and brats and your digestive system is going to boycott the whole idea of helping you out!
Stick to our July Fourth Recovery Menu and you’ll feel better throughout the day, not to mention how much more energy you’ll have to take on the rest of the weekend’s events. (more…)