Tag Archives: gluten

Celiac Disease- Why it may be on the rise.

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Foodfacts.com notices many of our followers struggle with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder which affects the small intestine after consuming gluten. We’ve come across on article that describes the possibly reasoning behind the rise of this disease. Check it out below!

(Yahoo Health) Nearly five times as many Americans have celiac disease today than in the 1950s, a recent study of 9,133 young adults at Warren Air Force Base found. Another recent report found that the rates of celiac disease have doubled every 15 years since 1974. The debilitating digestive disease is now estimated to afflict about 1 in 100 Americans. Why is exposure to gluten–a protein in found in barley, wheat, rye, and possibly oats, as well as other everyday products, including some brands of lipstick, vitamins and lip balms—making more people sick than ever before?

To find out more about celiac disease and the health effects of gluten-free diets, I talked to Christina Tennyson, MD of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University in New York City.

What is celiac disease? A debilitating digestive disorder, celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten. When people with the disease eat foods that contain gluten, a damaging reaction occurs in the lining of the small intestines, blocking its ability to absorb certain nutrients. This can lead to vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition, even if the person is eating a seemingly healthy diet.

What are the symptoms? One reason why this autoimmune disease often goes undiagnosed for as long as 10 years is that symptoms can vary from person to person. Among the more common warning signs of celiac disease are abdominal pain, bloating, gassiness, diarrhea, constipation, lactose intolerance, nausea and fatigue.
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How serious is it? Because celiac disease robs the body of vital nutrients, people who have it are at increased risk for anemia and osteoporosis. People who have celiac disease and don’t eat a gluten-free diet also face a higher threat of bowel cancer and intestinal lymphoma. The Air Force Base study found that during 45 years of follow-up, those with undiagnosed celiac disease were four times more likely to die.

What causes it? Although the cause isn’t fully understood, two genes are known to play a role, says Dr. Tennyson.
Why are rates rising? One theory is that today’s grain-based foods contain more gluten than they did in the past. Another is that kids are exposed to gluten at an earlier age, contributing to increased risk. A frequently proposed explanation is the “hygiene hypothesis,” the theory that we are too clean for our own good, resulting in weaker immune systems because we’re not exposed to as many diseases.
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Does a gluten-free diet help people lose weight? Many gluten-free foods are actually higher in calories than their gluten-containing counterparts and therefore lead to weight gain, reports Dr. Tennyson. “One of the pitfalls is that these foods are often highly processed and high in fat. Some ingredients that are used are low in fiber, such as white rice flour, tapioca and corn starch, causing constipation.” To avoid these problems, people with celiac disease should work with a nutritionist, she advises.

Does a gluten-free diet have any health benefits if you don’t have celiac disease? Possibly. In a randomized study in which neither the researchers nor the participants knew if the foods they were eating contained gluten or not, 68 percent of people who thought that a gluten-free diet improved their GI symptoms reported worsening of their symptoms when they were fed gluten-containing foods without their knowledge. However, the study only looked at 34 patients. Use of gluten-free diets for other conditions, such as autism, is highly controversial.

How trustworthy is gluten-free labeling? While products as diverse as lipstick brands to chocolate and many types of groceries carry gluten-free labeling, right now, there are no legal standards that have to be met in the US. In 27 other countries, food labeled as gluten-free food can’t have more than 20 parts of gluten per million. Nearly three years after the FDA’s deadline for a rule to define “gluten-free,” the agency is finally getting serious about tackling the dangerous risks people with celiac disease can face due to misleading labeling.

What’s the treatment? Although there’s no cure, symptoms can be effectively controlled through dietary changes to avoid all foods with gluten. However, if you think you might have celiac disease, don’t start a gluten-free diet until you’ve been tested for the condition, since eliminating gluten can cause misleading test results, cautions Dr. Tennyson. Because the disease can also spark vitamin and mineral deficiencies, patients may also need supplements. For people with severe small intestine inflammation, doctors sometimes prescribe steroids.

The Deal on Food Allergies – How to Avoid Potential Reactions

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Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

In the US alone, approximately 15 million people currently live with a food allergy. Of the 15 million, 6 million are children. Peanut allergies in children alone have tripled between 1997 and 2008; and more children are being diagnosed with life-threatening allergies. These numbers have been drastically increasing over recent decades for reasons which are poorly understood.
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There are eight major foods that account for approximately 90% of all food-allergy reactions in the U.S.: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (e.g., walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. Even the smallest trace of these foods can trigger a reaction for someone with a food allergy. If you don’t understand the biological mechanism, we can help summarize it:

• All foods contain proteins. Proteins are normally the component that trigger an allergic reaction.
• Some proteins are resistant to digestion in the digestive tract.
• When these undigested proteins pass through the body, Immunoglobulin IgE (an allergy related antibody), targets the protein as harmful to alert the immune system of its presence.
• The immune system then triggers a reaction to help rid/destroy the protein, which can range from a mild to severe reaction.

Currently, there is no cure for food allergies. Most people with a food allergy must stick to a lifelong avoidance of food allergens. Also, they must learn the signs and symptoms of reactions before a potentially dangerous situation. Early recognition and management of allergic reactions to foods are critical steps that must be taken to avoid serious health-related complications.
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How to avoid potential reactions:

Read Food Labels. Carefully go through all ingredients on the nutrition panel to search for any signs of a potential food allergen. Under the Food Allergen Labeling and consumer Protection Act of 2004, it is required that all nutrition labels list specific sources of ingredients if derived from the major 8 food allergens.
Also, many products are manufactured in one common factory. Most labels will list information pertaining to possible cross-contamination for various foods.

Choose Restaurants Wisely. Many public food establishments cook with the major 8 food allergens on a daily basis. However, there are some restaurants that cater to those with food allergies. Do your research to find an eating spot you find safe. Read reviews, call managers, talk to friends; get the information on the establishment.

Prepare your own foods. Whether you’re going to school, attending a party, or holding a business meeting, bring your own foods. It’s reassuring to have control of the ingredients in the foods you eat. Also, don’t be embarrassed to provide your own snacks, because there are millions of people with food allergies that do the same thing! Many people are very understanding of these circumstances.

Gluten-Free Labeling

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Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

FDA reopens comment period on proposed ‘gluten-free’ food labeling rule
Rule would help by creating a uniform and enforceable definition

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today reopened the comment period for its 2007 proposal on labeling foods as “gluten-free.” The agency is also making available a safety assessment of exposure to gluten for people with celiac disease (CD) and invites comment on these additional data.

One of the criteria proposed is that foods bearing the claim cannot contain 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten. The agency based the proposal, in part, on the available methods for gluten detection. The validated methods could not reliably detect the amount of gluten in a food when the level was less than 20 ppm. The threshold of less than 20 ppm also is similar to “gluten-free” labeling standards used by many other countries.

People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Celiac disease damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. About 1 percent of the United States population is estimated to have the disease.

“Before finalizing our gluten-free definition, we want up-to-date input from affected consumers, the food industry, and others to help assure that the label strikes the right balance,” said Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods. “We must take into account the need to protect individuals with celiac disease from adverse health consequences while ensuring that food manufacturers can meet the needs of consumers by producing a wide variety of gluten-free foods.”

The proposed rule conforms to the standard set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in 2008, which requires that foods labeled as “gluten-free” not contain more than 20 ppm gluten. This standard has been adopted in regulations by the 27 countries composing the Commission of European Communities.

The FDA encourages members of the food industry, state and local governments, consumers, and other interested parties to offer comments and suggestions about gluten-free labeling in docket number FDA-2005-N-0404 at www.regulations.gov1. The docket will officially open for comments after noon on Aug 3, 2011 and will remain open for 60 days.

(Food and Drug Administration)

One in Twelve U.S. Children May suffer from Food Allergies

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Foodfacts.com realizes that more and more children are now suffering from food allergies. Nearly 6 million U.S. children or about one in 12 kids are allergic to at least one food, with peanuts, milk and shellfish topping the list of the most common allergens, a new study finds.

Researchers conducted a nationally representative survey of the parents of more than 40,000 children. About 8 percent reported having a child who had a food allergy. Of those, about 30 percent said their child was allergic to multiple foods.

Among kids with food allergies, 25 percent were allergic to peanuts, 21 percent were allergic to milk and 17 percent had an allergy to shellfish. Those were followed by tree nuts (13 percent), eggs (nearly 10 percent), finned fish (6 percent), strawberries (5 percent), wheat (5 percent), and soy (just under 5 percent).

While the study was a snapshot of the prevalence of food allergies in America and did not track change over time, researchers said anecdotal evidence — including reports from schools and the numbers of patients coming in to allergists’ offices — suggests that the rate is rising.

“Eight percent is a pretty significant amount of kids,” said lead study author Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University and a pediatrician at Children’s Memorial Hospital, both in Chicago. “We are seeing a lot more cases. We are seeing a lot more in schools than we used to see. It does seem that food allergy is on the rise.”

The study is published in the July issue of Pediatrics.

Allergic reactions to foods can range from mild to severe. In the survey, about 61 percent of food allergic children had a mild to moderate reaction, including swelling of the lips and face, hives, itching, flushing or an eczema flare.

The remaining 39 percent had a severe or even potentially life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis — wheezing and trouble breathing, vomiting, swelling, persistent coughing that indicates airway swelling and a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

The foods most commonly associated with a severe reaction included tree nuts and peanuts, shellfish, soy and finned fish.eatingpeanutsduringpregnancymayincreasechildrensriskoffoodallergies_2248_800211243_0_0_7052658_300

“Especially for kids with multiple food allergies, it complicates their lives and makes it really tough on these kids to avoid multiple foods to stay healthy and stay alive,” Gupta said.

Parents of children with food allergies should always carry antihistamine and an epinephrine shot (i.e., an EpiPen) with them, Gupta said. Even with those close at hand, witnessing a child having a serious food reaction can be terrifying for parents, who don’t know how bad it’s going to get and need to decide within moments whether to administer the shot and call 911.

Often, reactions happen when parents least expect them — while they’re at a family gathering or some other social event, and the child accidentally ingests something.

Dr. Susan Schuval, a pediatric allergist at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., agreed that food allergies seem to be getting more common.

“We are seeing tons and tons of food allergies. There also seems to be an increase from what we’ve seen in the past,” Schuval said.

Right now, the only treatment available to most food allergic kids is avoidance. For parents and children, that means paying close attention to labels, taking precautions when eating out, bringing along their own food when they travel or go to social events such as birthday parties. It also means educating teachers, caregivers and other parents who may have their kids over to play about using an epinephrine shot and the seriousness of the allergy.

“They need to maintain their full alertness out of the home, in the schools and in restaurants,” Schuval said.

For some children, food allergies get better over time. Previous research has found many kids outgrow allergies to milk, egg, soy and wheat. Fewer outgrow peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish allergies.

A wheat allergy is different from celiac disease, in which wheat cannot be digested properly and, over time, damages the lining of the intestines.

For more information on food allergies and how to avoid them check out blog.foodfacts.com.

Information provided by: MSN News

7/6: National Fried Chicken Day! Read before you order!

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Here at FoodFacts.com, we like to keep our followers up-to-date with current trends, research, and events. Today we share with you that July 6, 2011 is deemed National Fried Chicken Day. In fact, July 6th has celebrated this “holiday” for many years now. Although we aren’t so sure how it was originated, we do know that many people do choose to celebrate this day, especially with the immense patriotism still lurking from Independence Day.

We too would like to celebrate this holiday, but in a more health-conscious manner. You see, fried chicken can be very high in trans-fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Therefore, we would like to take the time to reveal some products you may want to learn more about, prior to indulging. Today we have decided to feature the very popular chicken-based franchise, Chick-Fil-A.

We’ll start off with the breakfast Chicken Biscuit. This sandwich provides about 51% of the daily value for sodium alone. With only a 5.1 oz serving, and 440 calories, 1,230mg of sodium is quite a lot, especially to start off the day! biscuit2Although this sandwich is high in protein with 17g, and also carries a decent amount of iron, this still cannot compensate for the 8g of saturated fat and variety of controversial ingredients. You may want to replace ordering this ingredient-packed sandwich with an item more nutrient-dense and filling, such as the yogurt parfait with granola. This may be a better option for a morning meal or snack.

Then there’s the Spicy Chicken Sandwich Deluxe. The pros of this sandwich, it has a good amount of protein, vitamin C, and calcium, most likely from the tomato, lettuce, and single slice of cheese. However, this 570 calorie sandwich also contains 8g saturated fat, and 27g total fat. These amounts count for approximately 40-42% your daily value of saturated fat and total fat, which are undeniably very high numbers for one single sandwich. spicy_chicken_sandwich2We must also point out that this sandwich contains almost 100 different ingredients. Some of which include monosodium glutamate (MSG), high fructose corn syrup, a variety of coloring additives, and TBHQ, all controversial ingredients which we have thoroughly discussed in prior blog posts. To get your chicken “fix” without all the extra mess, you may want to instead try the char-grilled chicken garden salad, without dressing or on the side.

To find chicken and other recipes for today and the rest of the week, try the Foodfacts.com recipe page!

Will a gluten-free diet improve your health?

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Foodfacts.com is looking into gluten free diets. Sarah Cooper was a new mom in her mid-20s, busily juggling her family and a career as an electrical engineer, when everything came to a halt. She lost all her energy. She developed acne. And she began experiencing gastrointestinal problems: bloating, diarrhea, cramping, constipation. Her doctors, thinking something must be missing from her diet, put her on various vitamins, none of which helped.
“It was all I could do to go to work,” she says.
After years of failed treatments, Cooper’s luck changed. She saw a doctor who suspected she might have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that can appear at any age and is caused by an intolerance to gluten.
A protein found in wheat, barley, and rye (and countless food products — like bread and pasta — that contain those grains), gluten gradually damages the intestines of people with celiac disease, preventing the absorption of vitamins and minerals and setting off a slew of related health problems, which can include fatigue and bad skin.

Cooper tested negative for celiac disease, but the doctor advised her to try a gluten-free diet anyway.
“Within a week of eliminating [gluten], I started to feel markedly better,” says Cooper, now 36, from Melbourne, Australia. “It wasn’t a gradual feeling better; it was almost a crossing-the-street kind of thing.”
That was 10 years ago. The general practitioner who treated Cooper was ahead of his time, as most doctors are only now starting to realize that some people who don’t have celiac disease may benefit from diets free of (or low in) gluten.
In fact, experts now believe that celiac disease represents just one extreme of a broad spectrum of gluten intolerance that includes millions of people like Cooper with less severe — but nevertheless problematic — reactions to the protein.
While celiac disease affects about 1 percent of the U.S. population, experts estimate that as many as 10 percent have a related and poorly understood condition known as non-celiac gluten intolerance (NCGI), or gluten sensitivity.

“This is something that we’re just beginning to get our heads around,” says Daniel Leffler, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a gastroenterologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston. “There is a tight definition of celiac disease, but gluten intolerance has been a moving target.”

Growing awareness of gluten sensitivity has led some people who struggle with gut problems but have tested negative for celiac disease to take matters into their own hands and try a gluten-free diet, even though it’s an extremely difficult diet to follow.
Sales of gluten-free products increased 16 percent in 2010, according to the Nielsen Company.
“Gluten is fairly indigestable in all people,” Leffler says. “There’s probably some kind of gluten intolerance in all of us.”

The spectrum of gluten intolerance

Experts now think of gluten intolerance as a spectrum of conditions, with celiac disease on one end and, on the other, what’s been called a “no man’s land” of gluten-related gastrointestinal problems that may or may not overlap.
Leffler estimates, for instance, that half of the approximately 60 million people in the U.S. who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are probably sensitive to gluten. (Gluten allergies, which are similar to other food allergies, also fall on the spectrum but affect only about 0.1 percent of the population.)

Gluten intolerance of any kind — including celiac disease — is often underdiagnosed (or misdiagnosed) because it manifests itself in many and murky ways that can baffle doctors.
People with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity usually have stomachaches, gas, and diarrhea — as do people with IBS.

Celiac patients can also develop headaches, tingling, fatigue, muscle pain, skin rashes, joint pain, and other symptoms, because the autoimmune attack at the root of the disease gradually erodes the wall of the intestine, leading to poor absorption of iron, folate, and other nutrients that affect everything from energy to brain function.
People with gluten sensitivity sometimes experience these far-reaching symptoms as well, though it’s less clear why.
Gluten intolerance “starts in the intestines as a process, but doesn’t necessarily stay in the intestines. It may affect other organs,” says Alessio Fasano, M.D., medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, in Baltimore.
Celiac disease can be definitively diagnosed using a two-step process: Doctors test the patient’s blood for the presence of intestine-attacking antibodies activated by gluten, and, if those tests come back positive, they order a biopsy (or series of biopsies) to look for intestinal damage, any evidence of which confirms the diagnosis.

Gluten sensitivity, on the other hand, is a gray area that “lacks any defining medical tests,” Leffler says. People who fall into this group exhibit the classic symptoms of celiac disease yet have no detectable intestinal damage, and test negative for certain key antibodies (though in some cases they may have elevated levels of others).
Gluten sensitivity is a kind of “non-diagnosis,” in other words — a diagnosis by default for those who don’t have celiac disease but feel better on a gluten-free diet.
A recent study by Fasano and his colleagues offers some clues about what gluten sensitivity is, and how it differs from celiac disease. Although they show no signs of erosion or other damage, the study found, the intestines of gluten-sensitive patients contain proteins that contribute to a harmful immune response, one that resembles — but is distinct from — the process underlying celiac disease.
Blood tests that can diagnose gluten sensitivity by measuring these and other proteins are in the works, but they are still a ways off.
“The reason we don’t have tests yet is mainly because we don’t have a clear definition of [gluten sensitivity],” Fasano explains.

How much gluten is OK?

People with celiac disease must commit to an absolutely gluten-free diet, as eating the protein can, over time, increase a person’s risk of osteoporosis, infertility, and certain cancers, in addition to worsening short-term symptoms.
“You’re going to be on this diet for life, and it has to be extremely strict. Even crumbs can turn on the autoimmune process typical of celiac disease,” Fasano says. “If you make a mistake with celiac disease, you pay the price on the spot, but there can be a cumulative price, too.”
Recommendations for people with gluten sensitivity aren’t as clear-cut. Unlike celiac disease, gluten sensitivity hasn’t been linked to intestine damage and long-term health problems, so some experts say that people on the less severe end of the spectrum should feel comfortable eating as much gluten as they can handle without feeling sick.
“Some people can be exquisitely sensitive and have to be as strict as people with celiac disease, while others can eat a pizza,” Fasano says.

The impact that gluten can have on those without celiac disease was illustrated by a recent study in Australia.
When gluten-sensitive people were asked to eat bread and muffins every day that, unbeknownst to them, had been laced with gluten, 68 percent saw all their old symptoms come back rapidly, compared with 40 percent in a similar group that ate only gluten-free products.
“People complained that they felt like they were pregnant, had gut pain…and tiredness increased,” says the lead researcher, Jessica Biesiekierski, a Ph.D. candidate at Monash University Department of Medicine and Gastroenterology.
Sarah Cooper participated in the study and felt like she had been “hit by a bus” after the first day of gluten snacks. Her symptoms got so bad that she had to drop out halfway through the six-week study.
People with gluten sensitivity who don’t respond this way aren’t necessarily in the clear, however. Experts like Marlisa Brown, a registered dietitian in private practice in Long Island, N.Y., and the author of “Gluten-Free, Hassle-Free,” worry that gluten could have long-term negative consequences that just haven’t been identified yet.
Even if you feel better, “definitely don’t try to add it back in,” she urges. Brown counts herself among the gluten sensitive.
After enduring sinus infections, hair loss, sensitive skin, and fatigue since she was a little girl, and despite a negative celiac-disease test in her 20s (which she thinks may not have been thorough enough), Brown finally cut out gluten in her late 40s.
“I felt better in a week,” she says.

Gluten-free doesn’t equal healthy

If you suspect your body can’t tolerate gluten, the first thing you should do is get tested for celiac disease. If the test comes back negative, try a gluten-free diet for a week to see if you feel better, Leffler says.
Cutting out gluten is the most reliable way to determine if you are, in fact, sensitive to the protein — and if you are sensitive, it’s the only treatment.
However, Leffler stresses that you should get help from a dietitian to make sure that you avoid hidden sources of gluten (like soy sauce and salad dressing), and that you don’t miss out on the vitamins that wheat products provide.
Even though celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Gwyneth Paltrow have reportedly cut out gluten to “detox,” there’s nothing inherently healthier about a gluten-free diet.
“It can be very healthy, or it can be junk food,” says Dee Sandquist, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Some of the many gluten-free products on the market can be unhealthy, Fasano says, because manufacturers add extra sugar and fat to simulate the texture and satisfying fluffiness that gluten imparts.
Another potential pitfall is that gluten-free products are less routinely fortified with iron and vitamins B and D than regular bread products, Sandquist says.
“Vitamins B and D are the ones particularly at risk of being deficient in [gluten-sensitive] people.”
If you plan to go gluten free, select more fruits, vegetables, and lean meat, and more naturally gluten-free grains like brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat, rather than just buying prepackaged products labeled “gluten free,” Sandquist says.
She adds, however, that gluten-free products are “evolving” and may become healthier overall as manufacturers develop ways to fortify them.

Article provided by Carina Storrs

Baby Health: Facing The Facts Of Gluten Allergy

Gluten Free | Foodfacts.com

Gluten Free | Foodfacts.com

Foodfacts.com members know by now that food allergy remains one of the most persistent forms of allergic reaction. No one knows why people have certain allergic responses to different types of food. But it is a fact that once a person is exposed to the food allergen, the symptoms will surely follow. Continue reading

Living With and Getting Relief from Gluten Intolerance

Gluten Intolerance | Foodfacts.com

Gluten Intolerance | Foodfacts.com

(Courtesy of What Can I Eat)

Editor’s Note: Food Facts members know only too well by now the importance of gluten free products. Here is some interesting information from our friends at What Can I Eat

Many people who use alternative products that are Gluten Free, already have some understanding of how Gluten intolerance can affect their lives.  I thought it might be good though to give a little real life reminder. Continue reading

Healthy Gluten Free Recipes

Gluten Free Recipe: Blackened Tuna

Gluten Free Recipe: Blackened Tuna

Here’s a delightfully delicious and healthy recipe for all members of the family.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Serving Size:
Servings:
1 1/2 Pounds     Tuna, Yellowfin
2 Tablespoons     McCormick Cajun Seasoning
2 Tablespoons     Botticelli 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons     Salted Butter
Preparation:
Step 1: Generously coat tuna with cajun seasoning. Step 2: Heat oil and butter in a skillet over high heat. Step 3: when oil is nearly smoking add tuna steaks. Cook 3 to 4 mins per side or until blackened. Continue reading