Category Archives: Healthy Fats

Introducing the sixth taste … meet the flavor of fat

te of fatFoodFacts.com is curious as to how many in our community can name the five tastes. Think about it for a minute because we’re sure a few of them will roll off your tongue. And then you might get stuck.

They are as follows: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (or savory). Even though you may not have gotten all the way to umami, these are pretty familiar concepts and have to do with what our taste buds can identify in food. Now scientists say there’s actually a sixth and the new taste doesn’t appear to be incredibly tasty.

Move over sweet and sour, scientists say they’ve identified a distinct new taste: fat. And while fat has a reputation for making foods taste good (think bacon or french fries), researchers say in isolation it’s not so appealing.

The taste of fat, which researchers call “oleogustus” (a combination of the Latin terms for oil and taste), is a distinct flavor and, as a new study in the journal Chemical Senses reports, quite unpleasant.

Identification of this new taste could provide insight into ways to fight obesity and how to develop food products to optimize health.

To see if people could identify the distinct taste of fat, volunteers sampled a variety of tastes, including non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA), free fatty acids that are the building blocks of fat, and sorted them into groups with similar tastes. All of the food samples in the study had the same texture and only a difference in flavor. The volunteers wore nose clips during the experiment so their sense of smell would not sway their perception of taste.

Participants grouped the samples into piles that they self-identified as sweet, sour, salty and bitter. The bitter pile included nebulous flavors that participants could not quite label, such as umami (often described as meaty or savory) or fat.

In a second experiment, participants sampled only from the bitter pile, were able to isolate fat as its own flavor, and it was described as bitter and unpalatable.

“They were struggling to say something that they don’t have a word for,” the lead author of the study, Dr. Richard Mattes, a professor of food and nutrition at Purdue University, told CBS News. “They said things like irritating, nauseating — generic terms to say this is really unpleasant.”

Mattes suggested that the taste of fat might have been so unpleasant because of the high concentrations of flavors used in the study. He likened it to the same way bitter stimulus is unpalatable, except when it is used in lower concentrations or put in the right context like in coffee or wine.

Thus high qualities of the fat taste are a warning sign that food is bad or rancid.

“Depending on the form of fat in food, you either get a message that promotes or discourages ingestion,” Matte said.

Mattes believes that his work could help to improve the quality of fat modified products and how we understand taste.

“Taste, perhaps is not quite as limited a sense as we thought,” he said.

Fat is a taste and apparently it’s not a pleasant one. Instead it notifies us when a food has turned bad. When combined with other flavors like salt and sweet, however, we’re getting different signals about the taste.

FoodFacts.com wonders if science will ever discover the taste of health … a signature taste you identify upon eating foods that are good for your body that you immediately perceive as pleasant and want more of.

We’re waiting for that one. Science, are you listening?

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/scientists-discover-the-taste-of-fat-and-its-disgusting/

Low protein, high-carb diet as effective as calorie cutting?

protein and carb intakeWhen you’re looking for weight loss, which diet style do you follow? There are many out there these days from the traditional calorie cutting diet to the high protein, low carb diet to the high-carb, low protein diet. Each of these (and other eating styles) have their fans. Most people, however, who are attempting weight loss, try to restrict their calorie intake for a period of time. It’s simple to follow and calculate and it’s been proven to work. Cutting calories has also been proven to have other health benefits as well. But what about those other dietary styles?

Cutting calories through dietary restriction has been shown to lower cholesterol, improve insulin sensitivity, and even prolong life in mammals. Now, new research publishing on May 28th in Cell Reports shows that, at least in mice, low protein, high carbohydrate diets can provide benefits similar to those obtained with calorie restriction.

“We’ve shown that when compared head-to-head, mice got the same benefits from a low protein, high carbohydrate diet as a 40% caloric restriction diet,” says senior author Stephen Simpson, Academic Director of the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre. “Except for the fanatical few, no one can maintain a 40% caloric reduction in the long term, and doing so can risk loss of bone mass, libido, and fertility.”

The investigators compared three 8-week diets varying in protein-to-carbohydrate ratio under conditions where food was restricted or food was available at all times. Of the three, low protein, high carbohydrate (LPHC) diets offered when food was always available delivered similar benefits as calorie restriction in terms of insulin, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels, despite increased food intake.

Even though the mice on LPHC diets ate more when food was always available, their metabolism was higher than that of mice on the calorie-restricted diet, and they did not gain more weight. Calorie restriction did not provide any additional benefits for LPHC mice.

Additional research is needed to determine how LPHC diets affect long-term metabolic health and survival, as well as to what extent the type and quality of proteins and carbohydrates matter. “An important next step will be to determine exactly how specific amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, contribute to overall health span and lifespan,” says lead author Samantha Solon-Biet, also of the Charles Perkins Centre.

If the study’s results apply to humans, adjusting protein and carbohydrate intake could lead to healthier aging in a more realistic manner than drastically cutting calories. “It still holds true that reducing food intake and body weight improves metabolic health and reduces the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, and fatty liver disease,” says Simpson. “However, according to these mouse data and emerging human research, it appears that including modest intakes of high-quality protein and plenty of healthy carbohydrates in the diet will be beneficial for health as we age.”

This interesting information will, no doubt, be surprising for some. FoodFacts.com understands that high carbohydrate intake has not been a popular dietary option for quite some time. In fact, the opposite has been far more widely embraced. While dietary trends will always come and go, studies like this will give us a better view of the eating styles that are beneficial for our weight and our overall health.Getting guidance from medicine and science is a helpful tool that can better direct our dietary decisions.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150528124202.htm

Skipping meals? Increased belly fat may be the unhealthy results.

belly-fatToo busy for breakfast? Working through lunch? If these things are happening in your life on a consistent basis, it may be time to rethink your schedule.

A new study in animals suggests that skipping meals sets off a series of metabolic miscues that can result in abdominal weight gain.

In the study, mice that ate all of their food as a single meal and fasted the rest of the day developed insulin resistance in their livers — which scientists consider a telltale sign of prediabetes. When the liver doesn’t respond to insulin signals telling it to stop producing glucose, that extra sugar in the blood is stored as fat.

These mice initially were put on a restricted diet and lost weight compared to controls that had unlimited access to food. The restricted-diet mice regained weight as calories were added back into their diets and nearly caught up to controls by the study’s end.

But fat around their middles — the equivalent to human belly fat — weighed more in the restricted-diet mice than in mice that were free to nibble all day long. An excess of that kind of fat is associated with insulin resistance and risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

“This does support the notion that small meals throughout the day can be helpful for weight loss, though that may not be practical for many people,” said Martha Belury, professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University and senior author of the study. “But you definitely don’t want to skip meals to save calories because it sets your body up for larger fluctuations in insulin and glucose and could be setting you up for more fat gain instead of fat loss.”

The research is published online in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

Belury and colleagues were able to tie these findings to the human tendency to skip meals because of the behavior they expected to see — based on previous work — in the mice on restricted diets. For three days, these mice received half of the calories that were consumed daily by control mice. Food was gradually added so that by day six, all mice received the same amount of food each day.

But the mice that had been on restricted diets developed gorging behavior that persisted throughout the study, meaning they finished their day’s worth of food in about four hours and then ended up fasting for the next 20 hours.

“With the mice, this is basically binging and then fasting,” Belury said. “People don’t necessarily do that over a 24-hour period, but some people do eat just one large meal a day.”

The gorging and fasting in these mice affected a host of metabolic measures that the researchers attributed to a spike and then severe drop in insulin production. In mice that gorged and then fasted, the researchers saw elevations in inflammation, higher activation of genes that promote storage of fatty molecules and plumper fat cells — especially in the abdominal area — compared to the mice that nibbled all day.

To check for insulin resistance, the scientists used a sophisticated technique to assess glucose production. The liver pumps out glucose when it receives signals that insulin levels are low — for example, while people sleep, the liver supplies glucose to the brain. But that production stops after a meal, when insulin is released by the pancreas and performs its main task of removing sugar from the blood and shepherding the glucose to multiple types of cells that absorb it for energy.

With this research technique, Belury and colleagues found that glucose lingered in the blood of mice that gorged and fasted — meaning the liver wasn’t getting the insulin message.

“Under conditions when the liver is not stimulated by insulin, increased glucose output from the liver means the liver isn’t responding to signals telling it to shut down glucose production,” Belury said. “These mice don’t have type 2 diabetes yet, but they’re not responding to insulin anymore and that state of insulin resistance is referred to as prediabetes.”

Insulin resistance is also a risk for gaining abdominal fat known as white adipose tissue, which stores energy.

“Even though the gorging and fasting mice had about the same body weights as control mice, their adipose depots were heavier. If you’re pumping out more sugar into the blood, adipose is happy to pick up glucose and store it. That makes for a happy fat cell — but it’s not the one you want to have. We want to shrink these cells to reduce fat tissue,” Belury said.

Skipping meals may seem like an easy answer to an overcrowded schedule. As this study points out though, it may have some very negative effects for our bodies. FoodFacts.com is already aware that skipping meals does have a negative effect on weight. Now, this study draws a clear connection between skipped meals and belly fat. Let’s remember to take time out of our day at mealtimes. Making meals a part of our schedule instead of disposable time that can be rearranged is the healthy thing to do!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150519141508.htm

Omega-3 may be a promising intervention for childhood behavioral problems

disciplineWe’ve already come to understand that there are certain controversial ingredients that can play an important role in childhood behaviors like hyperactivity. Artificial dyes, names, have been found to cause hyperactivity and exacerbate ADHD behaviors in our kids. It is coming to light, however, that overall nutrition may play a larger role than we thought in negative childhood behaviors.

At the forefront of a field known as “neurocriminology,” Adrian Raine of the University of Pennsylvania has long studied the interplay between biology and environment when it comes to antisocial and criminal behavior. With strong physiological evidence that disruption to the emotion-regulating parts of the brain can manifest in violent outbursts, impulsive decision-making and other behavioral traits associated with crime, much of Raine’s research involves looking at biological interventions that can potentially ward off these behavioral outcomes.

A new study by Raine now suggests that omega-3, a fatty acid commonly found in fish oil, may have long-term neurodevelopmental effects that ultimately reduce antisocial and aggressive behavior problems in children.

He is a Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor with appointments in the School of Arts & Sciences and the Perelman School of Medicine.

Along with Raine, the study featured Jill Portnoy a graduate student in the Department of Criminology, and Jianghong Liu, an associate professor in the Penn School of Nursing. They collaborated with Tashneem Mahoomed of Mauritius’ Joint Child Health Project and Joseph Hibbeln of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

It was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

When Raine was a graduate student, he, his advisor and colleagues conducted a longitudinal study of children in the small island nation of Mauritius. The researchers tracked the development of children who had participated in an enrichment program as 3-year-olds and also the development of children who had not participated. This enrichment program had additional cognitive stimulation, physical exercise and nutritional enrichment. At 11 years, the participants showed a marked improvement in brain function as measured by EEG, as compared to the non participants. At 23, they showed a 34 percent reduction in criminal behavior.

Raine and his colleagues were interested in teasing apart the mechanisms behind this improvement. Other studies suggested the nutritional component was worth a closer look.

“We saw children who had poor nutritional status at age 3 were more antisocial and aggressive at 8, 11 and 17,” Raine said. “That made us look back at the intervention and see what stood out about the nutritional component. Part of the enrichment was that the children receiving an extra two and a half portions of fish a week.”

Other research at the time was beginning to show that omega-3 is critical to brain development and function.

“Omega-3 regulates neurotransmitters, enhances the life of a neuron and increases dendritic branching, but our bodies do not produce it. We can only get it from the environment,” Raine said.
Research on the neuroanatomy of violent criminals suggested this might be a place to intervene. Other brain-imaging researchers have shown that omega-3 supplementation increases the function of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a region Raine found to have higher rates of damage or dysfunction in criminal offenders.

Raine’s new study featured a randomized controlled trial where children would receive regular omega-3 supplements in the form of a juice drink. One hundred children, aged 8 to 16, would each receive a drink containing a gram of omega-3 once a day for six months, matched with 100 children who received the same drink without the supplement. The children and parents in both groups took a series of personality assessments and questionnaires at the start.

After six months, the researchers administered a simple blood test to see if the children in the experimental group had higher levels of omega-3 than those in the controls. They also had both parents and children take the personality assessments. Six months after that, the researchers had parents and children take the assessment again to see if there were any lasting effects from the supplements.

The assessments had parents rate their children on “externalizing” aggressive and antisocial behavior, such as getting into fights or lying, as well as “internalizing” behavior, such as depression, anxiety and withdrawal. Children were also asked to rate themselves on these traits.

While the children’s self-reports remained flat for both groups, the average rate of antisocial and aggressive behavior as described by the parents dropped in both groups by the six-month point. Critically, however, those rates returned to the baseline for the control group but remained lowered in the experimental group, at the 12-month point.

“Compared to the baseline at zero months,” Raine said, “both groups show improvement in both the externalizing and internalizing behavior problems after six months. That’s the placebo effect.

“But what was particularly interesting was what was happening at 12 months. The control group returned to the baseline while the omega-3 group continued to go down. In the end, we saw a 42 percent reduction in scores on externalizing behavior and 62 percent reduction in internalizing behavior.”

At both the six- and 12-month check-ins, parents also answered questionnaires about their own behavioral traits. Surprisingly, parents also showed an improvement in their antisocial and aggressive behavior. This could be explained by the parents taking some of their child’s supplement, or simply because of a positive response to their child’s own behavioral improvement.

The researchers caution that this is still preliminary work in uncovering the role nutrition plays in the link between brain development and antisocial behavior. The changes seen in the one-year period of the experiment may not last, and the results may not be generalizable outside the unique context of Mauritius.

Beyond these caveats, however, there is reason to further examine omega-3′s role as a potential early intervention for antisocial behavior.

“As a protective factor for reducing behavior problems in children,” Liu said, “nutrition is a promising option; it is relatively inexpensive and can be easy to manage.”

Follow-up studies will include longer-term surveillance of children’s behavioral traits and will investigate why their self-reports did not match the parental reports.

Omega-3s have already shown a number of beneficial health effects. It wouldn’t surprise FoodFacts.com at all if further study does show that one of those health benefits is improved behavioral problems in at-risk children. Any number of parents of ADHD children have turned to Omega-3s as a natural treatment and have attested to its positive effects for their kids.

Foods with real nutritional value do positive things for our bodies and brains. That’s always been true. It’s our own awareness of that truth that’s really just now being recognized.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150515134827.htm

Mediterranean diet may help stave off cognitive decline for older adults

150511124849_1_540x360We’ve been hearing more and more regarding the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. FoodFacts.com has always considered this diet as more of a lifestyle choice as it was born from the lifestyle of the Mediterranean population. Rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, and lean proteins (mostly fish), the diet allows for a wide variety of healthy food choices that offer both flavor and variety. The health benefits are truly impressive and we keep learning that there are new ones linked to Mediterranean-style eating. Here is another new addition to that already-impressive list.

Supplementing the plant-based Mediterranean diet with antioxidant-rich extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts was associated with improved cognitive function in a study of older adults in Spain but the authors warn more investigation is needed, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.
Emerging evidence suggests associations between dietary habits and cognitive performance. Oxidative stress (the body’s inability to appropriately detoxify itself) has long been considered to play a major role in cognitive decline.

Previous research suggests following a Mediterranean diet may relate to better cognitive function and a lower risk of dementia. However, the observational studies that have examined these associations have limitations, according to the study background.

Emilio Ros, M.D., Ph.D., of the Institut d’Investigacions Biomediques August Pi Sunyer, Hospital Clinic, Barcelona, and Ciber Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, and coauthors compared a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts with a low-fat control diet.

The randomized clinical trial included 447 cognitively healthy volunteers (223 were women; average age was nearly 67 years) who were at high cardiovascular risk and were enrolled in the Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea nutrition intervention.

Of the participants, 155 individuals were assigned to supplement a Mediterranean diet with one liter of extra virgin olive oil per week; 147 were assigned to supplement a Mediterranean diet with 30 grams per day of a mix of walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds; and 145 individuals were assigned to follow a low-fat control diet.

The authors measured cognitive change over time with a battery of neuropsychological tests and they constructed three cognitive composites for memory, frontal (attention and executive function) and global cognition. After a median of four years of the intervention, follow-up tests were available on 334 participants.

At the end of the follow-up, there were 37 cases of mild cognitive impairment: 17 (13.4 percent) in the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil group; eight (7.1 percent) in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts group; and 12 (12.6 percent) in the low-fat control group. No dementia cases were documented in patients who completed study follow-up.

The study found that individuals assigned to the low-fat control diet had a significant decrease from baseline in all composites of cognitive function. Compared with the control group, the memory composite improved significantly in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts, while the frontal and global cognition composites improved in the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil group.

The authors note the changes for the two Mediterranean diet arms in each composite were more like each other than when comparing the individual Mediterranean diet groups with the low-fat diet control group.

“Our results suggest that in an older population a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts may counter-act age-related cognitive decline. The lack of effective treatments for cognitive decline and dementia points to the need of preventive strategies to delay the onset and/or minimize the effects of these devastating conditions. The present results with the Mediterranean diet are encouraging but further investigation is warranted,” the study concludes.

If you’re interested in trying to follow a Mediterranean diet, it’s fairly simple to do and there are resources all over the internet that can help you. Mediterranean-style eating emphasizes vegetables, fruits and grains supplemented with fish and some other lean proteins in small amounts. It allows for flexible menus — you won’t be eating the same meals repeatedly. It also allows for tremendous flavors and doesn’t ignore your desire to eat well at the expense of being healthy. And most importantly, it’s really not a diet. It doesn’t have a beginning and an end. It’s really an eating style that’s simple to incorporate into your life. It’s definitely worth a look.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150511124849.htm

Saturated fats may be directly damaging your heart

Coconut_Oil_Industrial_Grad_500x500What is a healthy fat? Back in the 1990s, we were all in the middle of a “no fat” craze. You could go to the grocery store and find fat-free versions of almost anything, including cookies. Given a little time and a little knowledge, we finally came to understand that fats can actually be healthy. But not every fat is good for you. FoodFacts.com has seen plenty of research discussing this. We know that our community is fairly well versed on saturated vs. unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are detrimental to heart health. There is news, however, that those adverse effects are much more direct than we may have considered.

Olive oil is universally considered a much healthier alternative to meat fat. Plant-derived oils (such as olive oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil) largely consist of unsaturated fatty acids, whereas animal fat is richer in the saturated ones. After a typical meal, carbohydrates are the primary source of energy production by the heart. Under fasting conditions, however, free fatty acids become the major energy producer. Saturated fat in a diet is known to be detrimental to heart health, but its impact on the cardiac muscle has been studied only recently.

Interestingly, while saturated fatty acids are toxic to cells, unsaturated fatty acids are not only harmless but also provide protection against the damage done by saturated fatty acids. Studies conducted on many cell lines have indicated that saturated fatty acids can cause cell death involving the “endoplasmic reticulum stress (ER stress),” a cellular process known to be involved in the development of many diseases. A new paper, “Saturated fatty acids induce endoplasmic reticulum stress in primary cardiomyocytes,” just published in open access in “Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress in Diseases” by De Gruyter Open shows that there are striking differences in the accumulation of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in cardiac muscle cells, and that saturated fatty acids induce the death of these cells through the ER stress. In stalking contrast, unsaturated fatty acids protect the same cells from such damage.

A research group from the Montreal Heart Institute in Canada, led by Dr. Nicolas Bousette, evaluated the impact of palmitate and oleate on cellular fatty acid absorption, triglyceride synthesis, intracellular lipid distribution, ER stress, and cell death in primary cardiomyocytes. This is the first time that such phenomena were observed in cells directly derived from the heart, validating a critical role for saturated fatty acids in the development of heart diseases. Given a primary role for lipid metabolism in the development of type II diabetes, the current finding might suggest a probable role for saturated fatty acids in the development of heart conditions among diabetic patients. The current results and future research in this direction might improve our understanding on the possible connection between intracardiomyocyte lipid accumulation and the development of diabetic cardiomyopathy.

Saturated fats destroy cells. They can destroy cells in the cardiac muscle. What a great reason to reach for healthy fats for our cooking. While everything in moderation is a great rule, we should definitely be emphasizing healthy fats over unhealthy choices. It’s not hard to do and we can save our hearts from unnecessary stress.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150427101527.htm

Low-quality carbohydrate consumption linked to weight gain

950341751Losing weight is a difficult proposition for many. It’s also been complicated by the myriad of concepts applying to weight loss that permeate our culture. We’re sure you’ve heard just about all of them — no-carb, low-carb, gluten free, nutritional cleansing, the cabbage soup diet, calorie counting, low-sugar, no-sugar. We could go on and on. The thing is, they don’t always work. And even when they do, folks who’ve been on them would probably tell you they put the weight right back on after they finished. Is there an answer to this? Why is it so difficult for people to achieve long-term weight loss?

A study from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Police from the Tufts University led the research concerning the correlation of glycemic index and long term weight. Prior studies proved the association of glycemic index and diabetes but this is the first time long-term weight showed in the equation.

The researchers analyzed 16 years of follow ups from over 120,000 men and women in the continental United States. They particularly observed the types of protein consumed by the participants and its relation to weight gain or loss.

They concluded two things in their search. First thing is that increased consumption of seafood, yoghurt, nuts, skinless chicken and yoghurt has a strong correlation with weight loss. While, increased consumption of red meat- especially processed meat is strongly related to weight gain.

Consumption of dairy products, low-fat or full-fat, did not really affect their weights.

“The fat content of dairy products did not seem to be important for weight gain. In fact, when people consumed more low-fat dairy products, they actually increased their consumption of carbs, which may promote weight gain. This suggests that people compensate, over years, for the lower calories in low-fat dairy by increasing their carb intake”, explained author Dr. Jessica Smith from Friedman.

Variations with food combinations are also expounded. Research suggests that increased consumption of red meat as well as foods with high GL will more likely lead to weight gain than increased red meat consumption while eating more vegetables instead.

Increased consumption of nuts, fishes and other foods that promotes weight loss while eating high-quality carbs with less GL will probably enhance the weight loss effect but increased consumption of low quality carbs with higher GL will still lead to weight gain even if there’s an increased portions of nuts and fishes.

As have mentioned earlier, dairy and poultry products did not seem to affect the weight but research showed that there will still be weight gain if there’s an increased consumption of low-quality carbs.

Researchers recommend more nuts, fishes and other protein-rich foods while avoiding low quality carbs that can be seen from starches, grains and sugars.
Let’s have a short FoodFacts.com refresher course in carbs. Carbohydrates are in just about everything we eat. Low quality carbohydrates are often referred to as simple carbs. They contain smaller molecules of sugar that are easily absorbed by your body. The energy is stored as glycogen in our cells and if not used immediately they are converted into fat. These are generally found in processed foods — things like candy and desserts, sugary cereals, sodas and other sugary beverages and refined breads. These products, and others like them, fall higher on the glycemic index than quality carbs like whole grain breads, unprocessed whole grain cereals, green vegetables and fresh fruits.

We can see again that fresh whole foods are the healthiest, most beneficial dietary choices we can make. As often as possible, preparing foods in our own kitchens gives us the best opportunity for optimal health.

http://www.dailytimesgazette.com/study-finds-low-quality-carbs-culprit-weight-gain/4454/

Eat eggs and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes

egg1Does anyone remember the “no tat” craze during the 1990s? The grocery store shelves were lined with non-fat products — non-fat cheese, fat-free ice cream, fat-free cookies — even fat free bologna. Statistically, America actually got fatter while this was going on … all the time believing that we were doing the best thing for our health.

One of the biggest taboos during the fat-free era were eggs, or more specifically egg yolks. That’s when the egg white trend started. Long after most of those fat-free products disappeared from the grocery shelves, or at least took a back seat to lower fat or full fat items, the trend against whole fresh eggs continued. It did die down slowly but surely as new research and advice found that whole egg consumption (in moderation) is actually healthy. Today there’s more research showing more health benefits from the incredible, edible egg.

Type 2 diabetes is becoming increasingly widespread throughout the world. Research has shown that lifestyle habits, such as exercise and nutrition, play a crucial role in the development of the disease. In some studies, high-cholesterol diets have been associated with disturbances in glucose metabolism and risk of type 2 diabetes. In contrast, in some experimental studies, the consumption of eggs has led to improved glucose balance, among other things. However, there is no experimental data available on the effects of egg consumption on the incidence of type 2 diabetes. In population-based studies, too, the association between egg consumption and type 2 diabetes has been investigated only scarcely, and the findings have been inconclusive. Egg consumption has either been associated with an elevated risk, or no association has been found.

The dietary habits of 2,332 men aged between 42 and 60 years were assessed at the baseline of the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, KIHD, at the University of Eastern Finland in 1984-1989. During a follow-up of 19.3 years, 432 men were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

The study found that egg consumption was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes as well as with lower blood glucose levels. Men who ate approximately four eggs per week had a 37 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes than men who only ate approximately one egg per week. This association persisted even after possible confounding factors such as physical activity, body mass index, smoking and consumption of fruits and vegetables were taken into consideration. The consumption of more than four eggs did not bring any significant additional benefits.

A possible explanation is that unlike in many other populations, egg consumption in Finland is not strongly associated with unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking, low physical activity or consumption of processed meats. In addition to cholesterol, eggs contain many beneficial nutrients that can have an effect on, for example, glucose metabolism and low-grade inflammation, and thus lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. The study also suggests that the overall health effects of foods are difficult to anticipate based on an individual nutrient such as cholesterol alone. Indeed, instead of focusing on individual nutrients, nutrition research has increasingly focused on the health effects of whole foods and diets over the past few years.

Fresh eggs are real food. FoodFacts.com believes that focusing our diets as much as possible on fresh, whole foods benefits our health. More and more research is released almost daily testifying to the importance of our dietary habits. We strive for balance, moderation and nutritional quality in the foods we choose to consume. We hope you do, too!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150402081806.htm

Low-fat more effective than low-carb to reduce body fat

obesity-460_784309c (1)A while back, low-fat diets were a huge trend. Like all trends though, the tendency to purposely purchase food products designated as low fat, and/or counting fat grams for foods prepared at home quieted down. Instead, it was replaced by the low-carb diet. There are some people who swear by this style of eating. Counting fat grams was replaced by counting carbohydrate grams. People lost weight quickly and were able to keep it off for a longer period of time when compared with the low-fat diet. Not all diets are created equally though.

“Calorie for calorie, reducing dietary fat results in more body fat loss than reducing dietary carbohydrate when men and women with obesity have their food intake strictly controlled,” said lead study author Kevin D. Hall, PhD, senior investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland.

Nutrition recommendations for people with obesity often conflict as to whether restricting fat or carbohydrate is better for body fat loss.

“Ours is the first study to investigate whether the same degree of calorie reduction, either through restricting only fat or restricting only carbohydrate, leads to differing amounts of body fat loss in men and women with obesity,” Dr. Hall said.

The authors studied 10 men and 9 women with obesity. The average age of the participants was 24 years and their average body mass index was 36 kg per meter squared.

All participants were admitted to the metabolic ward of the NIH Clinical Center and resided there 24 hours per day. All food eaten was strictly controlled and the daily activities of the participants were monitored. For 5 days, everyone was fed a eucaloric baseline diet (consisting of 50% carbohydrate, 35% fat, and 15% protein) that gave them the exact number of calories they needed to maintain their body weight.

For the next 6 days, the participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups where they received a 30% reduced-energy diet by having either their fat or carbohydrate intake restricted.

After a 2- to 4-week washout period, all participants were readmitted and they repeated the same 5-day eucaloric diet. Those who had eaten 6 days of reduced-fat diet in the first phase now ate a reduced-carbohydrate diet, and those who had eaten the reduced carbohydrate diet now ate the reduced fat diet.

The researchers measured the amount of fat eaten and the amount of fat burned, and the difference between them determined how much fat was lost from the body during each diet. Compared to the reduced carbohydrate diet, the reduced fat diet led to a roughly 67% greater body fat loss.

FoodFacts.com wants to point out that regardless of trends or fads, we’ve all been aware that a low-fat diet is the healthiest option for everyone. It’s certainly the focus of a large amount of research every year. It’s featured in news articles and in television reports. It’s really not news. But the low-carb diet is actually an easier undertaking for most people. To reduce the fat in your body, you need to reduce the fat in your diet. And that means that proteins need to be lean and fruits and vegetable consumption needs to be increased. That’s the best eating style we can opt for!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150305151834.htm

Busy baking holiday cookies? Consider some healthy ingredient swaps!

cookie-swap-tableHoliday bakers are very busy right now! And if you’re one of them, you’re using a lot of butter, eggs and flour to create your favorite holiday cookies. All of us wonder each year if there’s any way we can make these sweet treats a bit healthier. It’s no secret that many of us have a tendency to end the holiday season a bit heavier than when we began the festivities. But it’s a difficult proposition. The holidays only come around once a year and no one wants to give us their favorite, once-a-year indulgences.

FoodFacts.com has discovered a few ideas for bakers that you may want to consider when you’re whipping up your next batch of holiday cookies!

Whole wheat flour for white flour
Add nutrients, flavor and texture. Whole wheat includes the outer shell of the grain, so it also provides more fiber, which helps digestion and even can lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease. For every cup of white flour, substitute 7/8 cup of whole-wheat. For nutty flavor and dense texture whole-wheat flour brings, just substitute half of the total flour.

Black beans for flour or as a fat substitute
You can swap out 1 cup flour for 1 cup black bean puree (about a 15 ounce can) in your recipes. Pureed white beans make a wonderful fat substitute as well. Use a one-to-one ratio when cutting out the oil or shortening.

Cut down the sugar
In most recipes, you can cut the sugar in half without sacrificing texture. To reduce sugar even more, here are some other options.

Coconut Palm Sugar: It has more vitamins and minerals than regular sugar. It also is lower in fructose (it’s mostly sucrose, while cane sugar is 50 percent fructose). It’s also easy, with a one-to-one ratio. Plus, the “coconut” taste doesn’t come through.

Unsweetened applesauce: One cup of unsweetened applesauce contains about 100 calories; a cup of sugar has more than 770. This swap is perfect for oatmeal raisin cookies. Substitute sugar for applesauce in a one-to-one ratio, but for every cup of applesauce you use, reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup.

Stevia: This natural sweetener is lower in calories and up to 300 times sweeter than sugar. But it can cost up to five times more. Be careful: A recipe calling for 1 cup of sugar should be swapped for only 1 teaspoon of liquid stevia (or about 2 tablespoons of stevia powder).
Honey: To substitute honey for white sugar, use 3/4 cup honey for every 1 cup of sugar. Honey adds a lot of moisture to a recipe, so reduce other liquids in the recipe by ½ cup for every 1 cup of honey added. Also, decrease oven temperature by 25 degrees to ensure your baked goods don’t brown too much.

Vanilla: Cut sugar in half and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Assuming the recipe originally calls for 1 cup of sugar, that’s already almost 400 calories cut out! You can’t sub this one in equal ratios, but next time you’re whipping up some cookies, try cutting 2 tablespoons of sugar and adding an extra 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Go easy on the eggs
Consider dried egg powder:  You’ll reduce calories and cholesterol. When adding dried egg powder to your cookie dough, add a little bit of liquid to give your powder the texture of regular eggs. Or, use egg substitutes, easy to find in the grocery store. If you’re committed to using real eggs, use only the egg whites.

Flax meal: Here’s an old vegan trick: Mix 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (aka flax meal) with 3 tablespoons of warm water, and whisk with a fork to combine. Let sit in the fridge for 5 to 10 minutes before subbing for one egg in any baked recipe. This is great in pancakes, quick breads and muffins.

Instead of butter
Pureed avocado: Butter and pureed avocado have nearly the same consistency at room temperature. The creaminess and subtle flavor of the avocado lends itself well to the texture of fudge brownies and dark chocolate flavorings. It can take some experimenting to get this swap perfect, but generally, using 1 cup of avocado puree per cup of butter works. Save calories, and get more vitamins and minerals.

Mashed bananas: The thickening power of ripe, mashed banana acts the same as avocado to replace fat in baking. The consistency is ideal and adds potassium, fiber and vitamin B6. One cup of mashed banana works perfectly in place of 1 cup of butter or oil.

Great ideas! Just a few swaps can make our holiday baking a bit healthier. While these won’t make our sweet treats any less indulgent … perhaps we can cut some of the guilt involved in eating a few more of them!
Happy Holidays!

http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/health/2014/12/18/exchanging-cookies-swap-ingredients/19919763/