Category Archives: saturated fat

A more detailed look at proposed nutrition label changes

nutrition.jpgBack in January, the FDA announced that it would be considering changes to the current nutrition labels that have been making a mandatory appearance on food products here in the U.S. for the last 20 years. We were excited by the idea and have been waiting to see what those changes would entail.

There’s news to report and we think you’ll be happy with the information that’s becoming available regarding the proposed changes.

First, here are some interesting facts on the background of our current nutrition labeling system. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that most food labels listed any nutrition information. At the time, labels with calorie or sodium counts were mainly used on products the FDA considered to have “special dietary uses,” for people with high blood pressure who were watching sodium, for instance. Most people were making meals at home then, so there wasn’t a huge demand for this information. That changed as more people started eating processed foods.

Noticing the trend, the White House pulled together a conference of nutritionists and food manufacturers in 1969. Nutrition labeling was voluntary at first. It wasn’t until 1990 that the FDA required nutrition labels for most prepared and packaged foods. We take it for granted, twenty-plus years later, that whatever packaged food we pick up in the grocery store will carry that familiar, easy-to-identify label that gives us necessary facts about that particular food item.

Plenty has changed in the last 20 years and the FDA is proposing several modifications to those labels to bring them current with today’s nutritional concerns. If approved, the new labels would place a bigger emphasis on total calories, added sugars and certain nutrients, such as Vitamin D and potassium.

The FDA is also proposing changes to serving size requirements in an effort to more accurately reflect what people usually eat or drink. For example, if you buy a 20-ounce soda, you’re probably not going to stop drinking at the 8-ounce mark. The new rules would require that entire soda bottle to be one serving size — making calorie counting simpler.

“You as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,” first lady Michelle Obama said in a press release. “So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”

The proposed labels would remove the “calories from fat” line you currently see on labels, focusing instead on total calories found in each serving. Nutritionists have come to understand that the type of fat you’re eating matters more than the calories from fat. As such, the breakdown of total fat vs. saturated and trans fat would remain.

The proposed labels would also note how much added sugar is in a product. Right now, it’s hard to know what is naturally occurring sugar and what has been added by the manufacturer.

“Now when Americans pull a product from the supermarket shelf, they will have a clear idea of how much sugar that product really contains,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said.

The FDA also plans to update the daily values for certain nutrients such as sodium, dietary fiber and Vitamin D. For instance, the daily limit for sodium was 2,400 milligrams. If the new rules take effect, the daily value will be 2,300 milligrams, administration officials said.

Food and beverage companies would also be required to declare the amount of Vitamin D and potassium in a product, as well as calcium and iron. Research shows Americans tend not to consume enough Vitamin D for good bone health. And potassium is essential in keeping your blood pressure in check.

Administration officials said about 17% of current serving size requirements will be changing, and the FDA is adding 25 categories for products that weren’t commonly around 20 years ago (think pot stickers, sesame oil and sun-dried tomatoes).

Most of the required serving sizes will be going up; no one eats just half a cup of ice cream, for instance. Others, like yogurt, will be going down.

“This will help people better understand how many calories they actually consume, especially if they plan to eat all the food in a container or package,” Brown said.

While the American Heart Association and advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest commended the FDA’s changes, they noted that there was more to do.

Both organizations said the FDA’s sodium recommendation was still too high. Brown said the association will continue to recommend sodium intake be limited to 1,500 milligrams a day.

CSPI said it will also request that the FDA include a daily value of 25 grams for added sugars. “Thus, the Nutrition Facts label for a 16.9-ounce bottle of soda would indicate that its 58 grams of added sugars represents 230 percent of the DV,” the group said in an e-mail.

With this announcement, the FDA has opened a 90-day comment period, during which experts and members of the public can provide input on the proposed rules. The FDA will then issue a final rule. Officials said they hope to complete the process this year. Manufacturing companies will then have two years to implement the changes.

FoodFacts.com is very excited by the changes outlined by the FDA for so many reasons. The changes in serving sizes are especially important because the currently, they don’t really reflect how most people consume foods. When people take a can of soup to the office for lunch they’re likely consuming the whole can — not half of it. The label that details two servings isn’t a realistic portrayal of consumption and can easily be misinterpreted. Do most people double the facts on the label to figure out what they’re eating? Do you count 15 potato chips out of a bag or a bowl to make sure that what the nutrition label details is what you’re actually eating? There are multiple examples of this scenario you can find looking at the nutrition labels detailed for products in the FoodFacts.com database. The truth is that right now, it’s far too easy to be fooled into thinking you’re consuming less of the things you’re supposed to be paying attention to than you in fact are.

These improvements to nutrition labels are welcome and long overdue. The fat, sugar and salt content of foods is a big issue for consumers and every change that can help us genuinely determine what we’re really eating is a welcome change for our health.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/27/health/nutrition-labels-changes/index.html

An unhealthy recipe revealed: the immediate effects of junk food on arterial health

There are some subjects that FoodFacts.com has always been aware of … and the subject matter here is one of them. We’ve been strong advocates of the “no junk food diet” – understanding that the controversial ingredients contained in junk food combined with their saturated fat content creates a recipe for poor health. New research coming from the EPIC Center for the Montreal Heart Institute makes a clear point regarding the effects of consuming just one meal of junk food.

The study focused on a comparison between the effects of junk food and a typical Mediterranean meal on the inner lining of blood vessels. This is called endothelial function and measuring it actually determines how the arteries dilate after eating. The dilation of arteries is linked to the risk of the development of coronary artery disease.
28 non-smoking men participated in the study. Prior to beginning, each participant had an ultrasound of a specific artery at the elbow crease after fasting for 12 hours. This reading was used to assess a baseline for endothelial function.

The first week, each of the men consumed a Mediterranean-style meal. This meal included salmon, almonds and vegetables cooked in olive oil. 51% of the total calories of the meal came from fat that was either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. At two hours and four hours after meal consumption, the mean received an ultrasound to determine the effect of the meal on their endothelial function.

The following week, the men consumed a different meal. This time it was a breakfast sandwich with an egg, sausage, a slice of cheese and three hash browns. This meal contained a total of 58% of calories from fat and was high in saturated fats. Again, they each underwent ultrasounds at two and four hours after meal consumption.

It was discovered that after consuming the meal high in saturated fats, the arteries of the study participants dilated 24% less than they did when fasting. After consuming the Mediterranean meal that was high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, the participants arteries dilated normally.

The study clearly indicates that junk food containing high levels of saturated fats is bad for your health no matter how infrequently you’re eating it. The effect is immediate and noticeable by your body. FoodFacts.com understands the importance of this detailed research that can plainly communicate the dangers of junk food consumption to our health and mark the differences that take place in our bodies immediately after eating different types of fats.

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121030062007.htm

Plant-based diets and their affect on coronary heart disease

FoodFacts.com wanted to share this important information regarding coronary heart disease with our community. This new information may have an impact on the dietary habits of you, your family or friends.

While we’ve always known that risk for coronary disease is impacted by one’s diet, and that a plant-based diet can, in fact, stop the disease from progressing or even actually reverse it, a new article is suggesting that fats in your diet play a large part in your risk of ever developing it.

W.C. Willet (Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health) has written an article linking consumption of fats to coronary heart disease risk. In publishing his report, Dr. Willett reviewed 95 various studies. What he found might help us understand how each type of dietary fat influences the development of coronary heart disease.

The findings state that trans fats are clearly related to the risk of coronary heart disease and should be completely eliminated from our diets. Noted is the presence of partially hydrogenated oils in so many food products. Also noted is the fact that both beef and dairy products contain natural trans fats.

Moving on to saturated fats, his findings indicate that consumption should be reduced and most optimally replaced by polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. In addition replacing saturated fats with specific carbohydrates (that do not contain added sugars) will reduce coronary heart disease risk even further.

While Dr. Willett also specifies that it may be important to achieve a low ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. While both of these are important to reduce the risk of heart disease, it is felt that Americans have a high intake of omega-6 from vegetables. He cites both corn and soybean oil as undesirable because they contain high levels of omega-6.

What he’s concluding is that by reducing red meat and dairy while increasing nuts, fish and better vegetable oils, we can improve our intake of the fatty acids that protect us from heart disease. But he goes further stating that diets emphasizing fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in refined starches, sugars and salt will do the most to reduce the possibility of developing heart disease. In other words, a plant-based diet is the way to go to ward off this disease.

FoodFacts.com wants you to have the information you need to make the best decisions for yourself and your family when it comes to dietary choices. Read more here: http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Nutrition/Diet/dietary_fat_and_coronary_heart_disease_0815120714.html

The Buzz on Trans-Fat

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Foodfacts.com mission is to educate consumers on making more educated and well-thought food choices. We’ve gotten many questions in the past regarding the controversy with trans-fat. We’re going to explain the background on trans-fats with tips on how to avoid them too!
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First, you have to be able to recognize trans-fat ingredients on a food label, because even though a product may lists 0g trans-fat, this may not be the case. Foods with less than 0.5g of trans fats per serving are considered by the government to be trans-fat free. However, if you eat peanut butter for instance, which normally contains a small amount of trans fat to reduce separation; chances are many won’t be eating just 1 serving. Therefore, you’ll be consuming more than just 0.5g, and this is not healthy.
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Partially Hydrogenated vs. Fully Hydrogenated

Fast food burgers, popcorn, pretzels, some sodas, breakfast cereals, and thousands of other products contain one common ingredient, partially hydrogenated oil. At first sight some may think, “well it’s only partially hydrogenated, so it can’t be that bad.” However partially hydrogenated oils are far worse than fully hydrogenated oils, because they are the culprits which contain trans-fatty acids.

When hydrogen is added to an oil (whether it be vegetable, canola, soy, etc.) the process is referred to as hydrogenation. This process changes the physical properties of the fat, often turning the product into a more semi-solid composition, such as margarine. This increases the melting point in frying foods, extends shelf-life, and produces a more appealing texture in baked goods.
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Fully hydrogenated oils have little to no remaining trans fat after the hydrogenation process. The consistency of this fat is more solid, even at room temperature. It’s physical properties make it too difficult for some to use during baking and frying methods, so it may be hard to find unlike partially hydrogenated fats. Also, this fully hydrogenated oil contains more saturated fat, often stearic acid which is normally converted in the body to oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat. This makes fully hydrogenated oils less harmful than that of partially hydrogenated.

And just to be extra clear, if a label reads “hydrogenated oil,” this doesn’t it’s necessarily free of trans-fat. These fats are used interchangeable, so make good decisions and be careful to scan ingredient lists for these fats!

A new genetically modified soybean

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Foodfacts.com recently came across an article which we found interesting pertaining to soybeans. Soybean oil has received some negative attention for including trans fats, which as we all know, has been linked to cardiovascular disease. The soybean industry took a hard hit with the limited amount of soybean oil sales and came up with a new solution, genetic modification. Check out the article below to learn more!

The soybean industry is seeking government approval of a genetically modified soybean it says will produce oil lower in saturated fat, offer consumers a healthier alternative to foods containing trans fats and increase demand for growers’ crops.

Demand for soybean oil has dropped sharply since 2005, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began requiring labels to list levels of trans fats, which have been linked to coronary heart disease. Vegetable oil does not naturally contain trans fats, but when hydrogen is added to make it suitable for use in the food industry, trans fats are created.

Agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. says oil from its new soybean will meet manufacturers’ requirements for baking and shelf life without hydrogenation, resulting in food that’s free of trans fats as well as lower in saturated fat.

The FDA approved the new bean, called Vistive Gold, earlier this year, and Monsanto and several state and national soybean groups are now seeking approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service said in an email to The Associated Press that it has no timeline for making a decision.

U.S. farmers harvested more than 3.3 billion bushels of soybeans valued at nearly $39 billion in 2010. But the Iowa Soybean Association said in a letter to APHIS the industry’s share of the food oil market dropped from 83 percent to 68 percent after the FDA enacted the labeling requirements. Iowa grows more soybeans than any other state.

“We believe because of the trans-fat labeling, 4.6 billion pounds of edible soybean oil was not used for food over a three-year period,” said Bob Callanan, a spokesman for the American Soybean Association. The oil was turned into biodiesel instead, and farmers got less money for their soybeans, he said.

Industry officials believe Vistive Gold could command as much as 60 cents more per bushel than other soybeans, raising a farmer’s income by thousands of dollars.

Jim Andrew, who grows 625 acres of conventional soybeans near Jefferson, Iowa, said he hopes Vistive Gold soybeans also will reduce consumers’ fears about biotech crops by providing a direct health benefit. Most genetically modified crops so far have been engineered to fight pests and increase harvests, benefiting farmers.

“I think it’s a case where we’re trying to modify crops to address specific needs to make other industries more efficient and healthier,” Andrew said.

St. Louis-based Monsanto introduced a first generation of the bean, called Vistive, in 2005 to reduce or eliminate trans fats in response to the labeling requirements. Vistive Gold retains those qualities and offers lower levels of saturated fat and higher levels of healthier monounsaturated fats.

Joe Cornelius, a Monsanto project manager who has worked on the Vistive soybeans for 15 years, said Vistive Gold could make a real difference in efforts to produce healthier foods. As an example, he said it could produce French fries with more than 60 percent less saturated fat.

“I don’t think we can say fried food will ever be a health food, but you can improve the nutritional profile of that food,” Cornelius said.

But Bill Freese, a science policy analyst with the Center for Food Safety, said Vistive Gold and other engineered crops don’t face rigorous enough testing. No animal feeding trials were conducted on the new soybean to see what would happen when it was consumed, he said.

And, the FDA approved it based on the agency’s review of a similar soybean produced by another company, not an actual review of Vistive Gold, he said, adding, “That struck me as very odd.”

Without proper scrutiny, genetically modified crops have a “high potential for harmful and unintended consequences,” such as increased toxicity that could make someone sick or decreased nutritional content, he said.

“Not every genetically modified crop is going to be dangerous,” Freese said. “The bottom line is we need to have a really stringent regulatory system, which we currently don’t have.”

Monsanto said it tested Vistive Gold extensively and found it to be safe. A notice posted on the APHIS website in June said its assessment of Vistive Gold indicated the bean wasn’t a risk to other plants.

Walter Fehr, an Iowa State University agronomist involved in soybean breeding research, said he thinks the federal government has a stringent and effective procedure for reviewing genetically modified crops and he saw no reason to question the soybean’s safety.

“People use different methodologies for different things, and scientists are very aware of potential negative side effects,” Fehr said.

(The Sacramento Bee)