Review: Food Should Taste Good


 

logoDisclosure Agreement: Review of FSTG was due to compensation. We Dish Nutrition tested each product thoroughly and gives high marks to only the very best. Opinions expressed at We Dish Nutrition are own. 

By: Nikki Nies

I was first introduced to Food Should Taste Good (FTSG) product last fall.  Anyone who know me well, knows that chips are not a temptation food for me.  Offer me chips and I have no problem saying no, however, I am always willing to try new foods and I’m glad I was introduced to FSTG products.

The founder, Pete Lescoe’s career in restaurants and grocery stores confirmed that when real ingredients are good, the food and quality of the product will reflect it. The first flavors of chips created were multigrain and jalepeno, polar opposites in flavor, but part of the foundation of FSTG’s success. Since 2006, all FSTG products have been gluten free, cholesterol free, with no preservatives or additives, zero grams trans fats or MSG, certified Kosher and many are certified vegan.

FSTG story hasn’t been without its bumps, but I’m happy to hear how the company has responded to less than stellar responses to their line of Buffalo and Potato & Chive chips. The line of Buffalo chips were discontinued when it was clear its cousin, Jalepeno was holding down the spicy needs of consumers just fine!  Additionally, using the mulitgrain recipe as a starter for other creations, the recipe was adapted to form the popular Blue Corn chip.

In less than a decade, FSTG has expanded its line of chips, including kettle cooked chips, brown rice crackers and pita puffs.

IMG_8937

I recently tried the kimchi and blue corn chips for the first time. If you can get past the blue hue in the chip, which I love, the blue corn chips have the right balance of nutty flaxseed and corn.  I’m grateful FSTG assists its consumers on what to pair the chips with because I would be lost without that assistance! I wouldn’t know that blue corn chips would be great with roasted sweet potato hummus or baked cauliflower and white cheddar dip. So thank you FSTG!

While I love the pack of flavors in each chip, I would love the chips even more if they were made from 100% whole grains. I know FSTG has come a long way since 2006 and I’m sure there’s talk in the works to incorporate more whole grains, if not, 100% whole grains in FSTG products.  I understand that FSTG’s multigrain was part of the initial groundwork of FSTG, but revamping the line of products without multigrain could be beneficial.

Next time you’re in the store, check out the nutrition fact label of FSTG! Their line of products remind us that food that tastes good doesn’t necessarily have to be bad for you. For example,

Nutrient profile for Kimchi tortilla chips: Serving size: 12 chips; 140 calories; 7 g total fat; 17 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber and 2 g protein.

I was impressed to see that the serving sizes are reasonable and one can walk away content with one [maybe two] servings of FSTG chips.

nongmo-samplefbpostFSTG has made a lot of initiatives to provide only the best quality of products, we can all go to bed happy to know FSTG products have been verified by the non-GMO project.  In the spirit of transparency, the third party certification provides consumers more confidence in the quality of ingredients in FTSG.  With verification process underway, new product labeling is in the works. Check out the upcoming changes coming to your FTSG products!

What FSTG flavors are your favorite? What flavors do you wish FSTG would add to their line?

Check out FSTG’s Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | eNewsletter | Contact | Site 

Photo Credit: FSTG

It’s an Egg-cellent Idea!


93935ddc76ee03c515d43e550bd86e02By: Nikki Nies

The topic of breakfast being the most important meal of the day has been driven into the ground quite nicely.  In addition, it’s a well known fact Santa Clause lives at the North Pole. Yet, the best breakfast options and how to make them are still up for discussion.  It’s not a coincidence that when impending storms are on hand people run to the grocery store for milk, bread and eggs.  With that said, 9/10 homes have eggs on hand in their fridge, but can be hesitant to use due to the controversy its affect on cholesterol levels and inconsistent recommendations of egg intake.

While the yolks of eggs contain the cholesterol, that doesn’t mean you have to shy away from eggs.  In moderation, which means no more than seven eggs per week, having eggs can be advantageous and without concern of increased risk of heart disease*.  Furthermore, in comparison to sodium, trans fat and saturated fat found in the accompaniments of eggs, sausage, ham, hash browns and the oil used to deep fry the foods, the cholesterol content found in chicken eggs is minimal. Also, using cholesterol free eggs or egg whites, which doesn’t contain the yolk part of the egg is recommended.

It’s unfortunate eggs receive such a bad wrap! If one’s mindful of the quantity of eggs consumed, more positive attention can be directed to eggs beneficial nutrient content

So, whether you’re already at the recommended seven eggs a day, there’s no harm in mixing up how you make your eggs! While I’m a sunny side up kind of gal, I vow to try a different use of eggs!

Fun Ways to Eat Eggs:

Original Image by Jodimichelle via Flickr
Original Image by Jodimichelle via Flickr
  • Omelettes, frittatas and quiches: Great way to get your daily recommended intake of vegetables,fruits and healthy oils
  • Hard Boiled: keeping a few hard boiled eggs on hand at all times is a great snack to take on the go; additionally can help cook eggs in advance in case of concerns of consumption prior to expiration date
  • Eggs Benedict
  • Mayo free egg salad. Can be eaten between two slices of bread, English muffin or as is!
  • Breakfast, lunch and/or dinner burrito: By adding eggs in a burrito filled with lean turkey, tomatoes and cheese, you’ll have your family asking for more! Also,make sure to add a spoonful of guacamole for extra flavor and texture!
  • Poached: by cooking in only water, it’s one of the healthiest ways to make eggs. You can’t beat the presentation either!
  • Deviled: many people put their own spin on deviled eggs.  Mix up the traditional recipe with curry powder, chopped celery and mayo!
  • Steamed (Chawan Mush): much easier than one would think, especially in clean up!
  • Egg Soup
  • Eggnog: doesn’t have to be designated to only December! Swap out the whip cream for a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg
  • Rolled Omelet (Tamagoyaki): A traditional Japanese way of frying eggs
  • Tea Eggs: A traditional Chinese snack, soak hard boiled eggs in a mixture of soy sauce and tea

What egg-cellent ways do you make eggs? What ways do you plan to incorporate eggs into your meals?

*Seven eggs may be too much for those with diabetes, with 186 mg of cholesterol per one large egg, this may significantly increase risk of heart disease.  It’s recommended that those with diabetes, heart disease and/or high cholesterol, cholesterol intake should not exceed 200 mg per day.  To translate, that means no more than 4-6 eggs per week!

Photo Credit: Pinterest 

Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/expert-answers/cholesterol/faq-20058468

http://www.eggnutritioncenter.org/health-professionals/patientclient-education/

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/eggs/

Should I Stop Eating Eggs to Control Cholesterol? (Diet Myth 4)

http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/cooking-ideas/20-quick-and-easy-ways-cook-eggs

http://www.rd.com/slideshows/leftover-egg-yolks-clever-uses/

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/good-eggs-for-nutrition-theyre-hard-to-beat

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/14/ask-well-how-many-eggs-can-i-eat/?_r=0

http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/eggs-and-cholesterol

Chili’s Hot Flavors + [Some] Nutrients


https://www.youtube.com/edit?video_id=AET_RtM6oxE

By: Nikki Nies

Unlike a typical restaurant review, which includes the evaluation of wait staff service, ambiance, and/or décor, we’re reviewing restaurants a bit differently! Sensational Sustenance is redirecting one’s attention to the nutrient content of specific menu items! We aim to not only evaluate the flavors in the entrees, but how nutrient rich entrees are in relation to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans using our own proprietary score sheet:  Healthy Food Critic’s Ultimate Review Form for Restaurant Entrees.  I recently made a trip to Chili’s to check out what dishes they have and Chili’s Restaurant Evaluation!

Described as a “family-friendly chain serving classic Tex-Mex & American fare in a Southwestern-style setting”, Chili’s originated in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but has done a tremendous job in expanding to a national level, with over 1500 locations ubiquitously found throughout the 50 states.  Since inception of their Tex Mex regular menu, the company now proudly offers a nutrition menu, allergen menu, vegetarian menu and offer veggie burgers supplied by Kellogg Company.  It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Chili’s, so my first impression of it’s menu as “vibrant” “loud” and “inviting!” I was ready for a delicious ride of flavors!

While perusing the menu, I chuckled that the Lighter Choice (LC) options were in the back of the menu.  While the acronym LC is sprinkled throughout the menu, it’s not until you’ve passed the appetizers, make your own burgers campaign, the quesadilla section and pass Go to collect your $100 that you reach the LC section.  With a closer look at the LC section, there’s an explanation of the dishes under 650 calories or less that a consumer can grasp the concept of LC.  After debating between salmon or tilapia, I opted for the Mango Chile Tilapia (550 calories) described as “with 6 pepper blend, drizzled with spicy habanero mango glaze and topped with chopped mango, cilantro, house made pico de gallo and fresh diced avocado.  Served with rice and steamed broccoli” at $10.99.

Original Image by Mike Mozart via Flickr
Original Image by Mike Mozart via Flickr

When I ordered my tilapia, I was asked if I wanted to the broccoli and/or rice with the tilapia or if I wanted any of the other sides Chili has to offer.  I thought about ordering the Spiced Panko Onion Rings, Homestyle Fries, Sweet Potato Fries, Southwestern Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Loaded Mashed Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes with Black Pepper Gravy, Sweet Corn on the Cob, Black Beans and/or Cinnamon Apples.  However, if you deviate from the original menu listing, the alternative options to broccoli and rice didn’t seem to elevate the nutritional content of the dish. Therefore, I kept the order as is.

hvkWhen the dish arrived, I was pleased by vivid variety of flavor, with the distinct mango and habanero smelled great! The visual layout of the dish, a rectangle dish instead of the usual circular dish, made it easy to eat–combining broccoli or rice with the tilapia for a good blend of flavors.

After evaluating the dish, I was able to retrieve further nutrition information on the mango chile tilapia on Chili’s website: 550 calories; 21 g of fat; 4.5 g of saturated fat; 0 g trans fat; 70 mg cholesterol; 1600 mg of sodium; 56 g of carbohydrates; 8 g of fiber; 13 g of sugar; 38 g of protein.  In comparison to the evaluations’ healthy option measures, the tilapia met some, but not all parameters.  The breakdown:

Healthy Option Parameters1 Mango Chile Tilapia Nutrient Content
600 calories or less 550 calories ✓
At least 50% is fruit or non-starchy vegetables Contained mango, avocado, steamed broccoli and tilapia  ✓
Grain based item are at least 50% whole grains No indication of whole grain rice  
Total fat is less than 30% of total calories Total fat was 34.5% of calories–550 calories contain 190 calories from fat
Sodium is less than 750 mg 1600 mg
Low in added sugars N/A
Less than 10% of calories from saturated fat 4.5 g of saturated fat ✓

1Healthy Option Parameters are based upon the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for American

Visually, I would estimate I received ½ cup steamed broccoli, ½ cup rice and 3-4 oz. of tilapia.  Based on recommended healthy portions, I would say this was “just about [the] right” amount of food. In hindsight, I’m glad I stuck with the rice and broccoli as my sides as they added the right balance of flavors to counteract spiciness of the pico de gallo and habanero from the tilapia.

I was beyond impressed with the flavors of the mango chile and found the price was accurately listed.  In my eyes, fish is always, and appropriately so, more expensive than meat options. Again, in regards to this dish, my senses walked away very satisfied, rating the dish “liking very much.” The necessary flavors for an interesting dish were present, with evidence that thought was put into the development of the dish.

I understand Chili’s is promoting their “make their own” burgers, but instead of using LC as a obligatory side note, Chili’s could profit from using LC as a more health conscious fast casual restaurant.  They certainly scored better in my book in comparison to my recent trip to Maggiano’s.

Photo Credit: Printable Coupons

MSNW Thesis Presentation!


By: Nikki Nies IMG_8331

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to present my Master’s in Nutrition and Wellness thesis presentation with my fellow colleagues! With the generous help and mentoring from Dr. Bonnie Beezhold, we successfully presented on the Associations with stress: A cross-sectional comparison of wellness in older adults.  My main focus on the study was health and lifestyle factors’ affect on depressive symptoms of the two sites: vowed religious community and independent retirement community.

Background: In the U.S., we have an aging population; the U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2050, 20% of the U.S. population will be over the age of 65. According to the American Psychological Association, older adults are likely to report less stress than younger generations, but still report stress levels higher than what they think of as a healthy range. In older adults, increased stressful life events can lead to an increase in depressive symptoms.

Many lifestyle factors, including diet, can impact our mood and stress levels. Older adults do not meet dietary guidelines for their age, they often eat less fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and more total fat and saturated fat than recommended. Poor dietary choices in the elderly can have negative outcomes on physical and mental health. Aging is also associated with increasing BMI and body fat which are related to increased blood pressure, blood glucose and lipids.

We were given an opportunity through our contact with Father David to work with the Benedictine Monks at St. Procopius Abbey, the institution that founded our university. This is a group of older men who live in a cohesive community based in religious values. This opportunity made us curious about the impact of living environment on stress and other health and lifestyle factors, and so our research question was shaped by this population. Past literature indicated that a religious community can positively impact wellness, a 32 year follow up study of 144 nuns and 138 laypersons in Italy found that those living in a religious community had a more stable blood pressures, a common measure of stress, throughout the study compared to the control group. Another study, in the Netherlands focused on the relationship between a Monastic lifestyle and mortality. In the 1,523 Benedictine and Trappist Monks, the religious lifestyle was associated with longer life expectancy. Based on the previous literature, we hypothesized that older adults living in a vowed religious community would have less stress and healthier dimensions of mental and physical wellness than those living in a retirement community.

Major Results: When analyzing the data, we found that the distribution of the data was not normal therefore we used nonparamtetric tests to assess the data. The sample consisted of 67 independent older adults aged 65 years and older. Of whom, 52% were in the vowed religious community and 48% were living in the independent retirement community.  39% of our sample were men and 61% of our sample were women. 75% of our sample was white. Activity hours or hours spent related to paid work or volunteer hours was significantly different by group with a large effect size. The vowed religious community spent significantly more time in work-related activity than compared to the independent retirement community. Additionally, we hypothesized that the vowed religious community would have higher scores on the spirituality and well-being scale. Interestingly, no significant differences were observed by group. There was also no significant associations found with the social support scale.

Depression: 5.5% of older Americans have been diagnosed with depression. The DSM-V provides standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders.  In addition, past literature repeatedly finds women report more depression than men.  Symptoms include low mood, physical symptoms and evidence of chronic diseases. The consequences can be costly and serious. A quote that characterizes this condition well states, “…everyone feels blue sometimes, but depression is sadness that persists and interferes with daily life.”

We used the Geriatric Depression Scale 15 questionnaire (GDS-15) as it’s been identified as appropriate to use with older adults to successfully diagnose depression, but has high reliability and validity.  The fifteen questions are scored based on a point system, with a higher GDS score indicative of depression. 7.6% of our participants reported depression, which was higher than the overall reported depression for older adults in America at 5.5%.

Based on review of literature, we wanted to investigate whether reported depressive symptoms differed between the two major living sites.  Our hypothesis was that older adults living in a vowed religious environment would report less depression. We conducted a Mann-Whitney U test and found there was a significant difference between the living groups, with the vowed religious group reported a higher mean depression score than the community group, indicating they were more depressed. The null hypothesis was rejected. Since research shows that depression differs by gender, we conducted another test by gender, but there was NO difference in depression scores when we compared males and females in the whole sample (p=.297).

We went on to investigate relationships between depressive symptoms and health and lifestyle factors since there is a lot of research showing depression is multifactorial. We conducted Pearson’s correlations with higher GDS scores and the significant correlations are shown here. Depression scores were associated with associated with higher perceived stress, and negatively associated with social support, indicating that as stress increased, depression increased, and as social support decreased, depression increased. Depression scores were also associated with living in the vowed religious community. The alternative hypothesis was accepted. Again, depression is usually associated with gender, but in this population it was not.

Since these factors were significantly related to the GDS scores, we conducted a multiple linear regression to investigate how much of the variance in depression scores we observed between living groups. We entered perceived stress, social support, and living environment into the regression model, and found that 21% of the variance in depression scores between the two living groups was explained. Perceived stress makes the strongest unique contribution, and is the only statistically significant contribution to depression scores when gender and social support are controlled for. Perceived stress uniquely explained 8% of the total variance in depression scores in our population. The alternative hypothesis was accepted.

So coming back to our result of the vowed religious group reporting significantly more depression based on what we measured, we ran correlations with depression scores in the vowed religious group alone, and found that as stress and trans fat intake increased, depressive symptoms increased. Furthermore, those that consume a large amount of trans fats have been found to have a 48% risk of depression due to the low grade inflammatory status and endothelial dysfunction (Villegas et al., 2011).re

These results show  a linear relationship between these variables and we cannot draw causal conclusions.  Therefore, my null hypothesis was rejected.

Our study was the first to compare levels of depression in different cohesive environments in older adults, surprisingly, our vowed religious participants reported more depression than those living in a retirement community. We obviously did not measure all factors related to development of depression, but did find stress was a contributor. For example, in study led by Fagundes et al. they evaluated relationships between depressive symptoms and stress-induced inflammation. Of the 138 participants, the more depressive symptoms produced more interleukin-6 in response to the stressor.

Another study led by Aziz et al., 2013 looked at how perceived stress, social support and home based physical activity affect older adults’ fatigue, loneliness and depression on 163 participants. The findings indicated higher social support predicted lower levels of loneliness, fatigue and depression.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the vowed religious community had a lower level of wellness than the independent retirement community. They consumed more sweets, drank less alcohol, reported more depression & had higher body fat & heart rates. Spirituality was similar in both environments, and that factor was the biggest predictor of lower stress. Dietary practices may also be related to lower stress, such as eating less sweets, getting more vitamin D and drinking responsibly.

While there is still work to be done on the manuscript, it was a great relief to get this portion of the thesis complete! We want to thank all the participants, the Benedictine Nutrition department and Dr. Bonnie Beezhold for their extensive involvement!

Photo Credit: Highland Hospital and Fairfield County 

Kids LiveWell


KLW_homepage_spot_ad_webBy: Nikki Nies

Dining out is meant to be filled with fun, however, a little planning ahead of time can make it healthy too! Thanks to the National Restaurant Association’s partnership with the Healthy Dining Finder on the Kids LiveWell Program, parents have more access to list of healthier restaurants options.

Restaurants that participate in the Kids LiveWell program promise to offer menu options that focus on increased fruit and vegetable intake, lean protein, whole grains and low fat dairy.  These provisions are on top of the limitation of unhealthy fats, sugars and sodium.  Do these menu options sound familiar? Perhaps, it reminds you of the Dietary Guidelines?

Criteria to be considered Kids LiveWell full meal including entree, side and drink

  • 600 calories or less
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total fat
  • ≤ 10% of calories from saturated fat
  • < 0.5 grams trans fat
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total sugars (added and naturally occurring)
  • ≤ 770 mg of sodium
  • 2 or more food groups

Criteria to be considered a nutritious side item:

  • 200 calories or less
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total fat
  • ≤ 10% of calories from saturated fat
  • < 0.5 grams trans fat
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total sugars (added and naturally occurring)
  • ≤ 250 mg of sodium
  • 1 food group

With more than 42,000 restaurants participating in this health initiative, your family should not have too much trouble finding healthy options that meet your taste preference. Restaurant  establishments include: Au Bon Pain, Bonefish Grill, Burger King, Burgerville, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Chevys Fresh Mex, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Corner Bakery Cafe, Cracker Barrel, Denny’s, El Pollo Loco, Friendly’s, IHOP, Joe’s Crab Shack, Outback Steakhouse, Silver Diner, Sizzler, T-Bones Great American Eatery and zpizza.

Due to Kids LiveWell three year anniversary, make sure to check out promotional offers that can be used as supported restaurants!  With all these great offers, you can dine out guilt free! What menu option are you going to try next?

Photo Credit:National Restaurant Association

Sources: http://www.restaurant.org/Industry-Impact/Food-Healthy-Living/Kids-LiveWell-Program

Trans Fat


By: Nikki Nies DeepFat141Cafe

There are two types of trans fat, the naturally occurring and synthetically made trans fat.  Naturally occurring trans fat can derive from the gut of animals, such as milk and meat products.  The second type of trans fat, artificial trans fat or trans fatty acids are made by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make more solid.  The industry gravitate to use of trans fats in their foods as their inexpensive to use, provide more texture and taste and contain a longer shelf life, which means rancidity decreases and profit increases for food companies.

The good news: changes are coming with trans fat! Recently, the FDA announced complete elimination of trans fat.  Until those changes are implemented and permeates the system, it’s still important to be aware of how bad tarns fat really are and why reading nutrition food labels is more imperative than ever!Until the 1990’s, we didn’t know how bad trans fats are for the public.  However, with increased research and awareness of the impact, more and more products are providing consumers easy access to information on the fat content and a breakdown of the ingredients.

The caveat: Products are allowed to advertise themselves  if they contain 0 grams to less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving!

Why are trans fat so bad you ask?

  • Raises “bad” LDL cholesterol
  • Reduces “good” HDL cholesterol, which adds to the clogging of arteries
  • Increase lipoprotein and triglyceride levels
  • Increases risk for heart attack, stroke and/or diabetes

I’m glad to see the government is recognizing the harm of trans fat trumps any potential “benefits.” On a label, you may recognize the artificially made trans fats as “partially hydrogenated oils.”  Thankfully, as of November 2013, the Food and Drug Administration no longer recognizes partially hydrogenated oils as listed as generally recognized as safe (GRAS)! Additionally, several nations, such as Denmark, Sweden and Canada and jurisdictions, California, New York City, Baltimore, and Montgomery County, MD, have taken measures that have either reduced or restricted the use of trans fats in food service establishments.

Until the new trans fat regulations are put into effect, how are you curbing your trans fat intake? What products have you been surprised to find contain artificially made trans fat?

Photo Credit: Stalking the wild breaded pork tenderloin in Iowa

Sources: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Trans-Fats_UCM_301120_Article.jsp

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/trans-fat/art-20046114

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/understanding-trans-fats

http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/fat/transfat.html

http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm079609.htm

Total Diet Approach to Healthy Eating


Print

Coco-what?!


By: Nikki Nies nutrition_cocomon_curry

In the last couple of years, there’s been hype around the use of coconut oil over other types of oil, due to its cholesterol lowering effects. There are two major types: virgin and refined.  Virgin coconut oi’s extracted from the fruit of mature coconuts without using high temperatures or chemicals.  Refined coconut oil is created using dried coconut meat that’s often bleached and/or deodorized.

I have to admit, I got sucked into the advertisements that coconut oil is an equivalent to olive oil.  I even bought a ___ container of coconut oil from Costco, that’s how committed I was.

A study let by Kai et al., 2011, looked into the efficacy of virgin coconut oil (VCO) in regards to weight reduction and overall safety of use in 13 female and 7  obese male Malay volunteers.  Weight, associated anthropometric parameters and lipid profile one week before and one week after VCO intake was documented. Organ function tests were used to assess the safety of VCO one week before and after use. The results showed only waist circumference was different from the initial visit, with a 2.86 cm reduction or a 0.97% change in measurement.  There was no change in lipid profile, but there was a small decrease in creatinine and alanine transferase levels. The study found no changes in women’s waist circumference or lipid profile, yet this product was seemed as safe to use on humans.

o-BENEFITS-OF-COCONUT-OIL-facebookUse of coconut oil is in conclusive.  Due to its high saturated fat content and more concrete evidence on the impact of fish oil, it’s recommended to use coconut oil sparingly.  Studies have shown that those using fish oil have a slight increase in their HDL levels, but also have a slight increase in their LDL levels.  There is strong evidence that the use of fish oil has a positive impact on one’s triglycerides, another type of fat that can increase one’s risk for heart disease.

With the limited research on the impact on hypercholesterolemia,Alzheimer’s disease, chronic fatigue, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome,thyroid problems and/or weight loss, if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have bought coconut oil.l  Like other types of tropical oils, such as palm oil and palm kernel oil, coconut oil’s high in saturated fat–specifically myristic acid and lauric acid.  Together, myristic and lauric acid have a greater total cholesterol raising impact than the palmitic acid found in meat and dairy products. Lauric acid decreases the Total:HDL cholesterol ratio due to the increase in HDL cholesterol levels.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s Nutrition Care Manual current recommendations for disorders of lipid metabolism:

  • Limit intake of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
  • Consume adequate energy to maintain or achieve appropriate weight.
  • Replace saturated fat with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat (MUFA and PUFA)
  • Increase intake of n-3 fatty acids, fiber (especially soluble fiber), vegetables, and fruits

Since I did buy the coconut oil, I’ll use it sparingly, but I now recognize the difference between the hype and see the lack of scientific evidence to back up the mass market claims of coconut oil. If you do end up using coconut oil, when sauteeing or baking up to 350F,  opt for the virgin coconut oil as it’ll provide items with that “tropical” taste.  As unrefined coconut oil’s tasteless, in up to 425F it can be used in stir frying or high heat sauteeing.

Bottom Line: While high in saturated fat, coconut oil doesn’t contain trans fat, like shortening.  The types of fat in oils is important to consider than the numerical quantity of fat in the diet.

Sources:

1. Cunningham E. Is There Science to Support Claims for Coconut Oil?. Journal Of The American Dietetic Association [serial online]. May 2011;111(5):786. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed June 23, 2014.

2. Kai Ming L, Yeong Yeh L, Chee Keong C, Rasool A. An Open-Label Pilot Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Virgin Coconut Oil in Reducing Visceral Adiposity. ISRN Pharmacology [serial online]. January 2011;:1-7. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed June 23, 2014.

3. Q: Does coconut oil improve cholesterol by raising good cholesterol, or should I use fish oil?. Mayo Clinic Health Letter [serial online]. August 2012;30(8):8. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed June 23, 2014

4.Coconut oil: Supervillain or superfood?. Harvard Heart Letter [serial online]. January 2014;24(5):7. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed July 5, 2014

5. Lawrence G. Dietary fats and health: Dietary recommendations in the context of scientific evidence. Adv Nutr. 2013;4:294-302.

FDA Proposed Nutrition Fact Label


By: Nikki Nies new_vs_old_nutrition_facts_label.jpg.662x0_q100_crop-scale

You may have heard murmurs about the FDA’s proposed nutrition fact label  later this year.  It seems appropriate for a revamp of the fact label, which was introduced to the food market in 1993.  Present day increased risk of chronic diseases, has caused question of what else can be done to decrease the risk of such said diseases.

The new proposed fact labels are intended to provide more attention to calories, serving size and to emphasize the amount of sugar derived from added sugar.With a larger font and less “clutter” on the new proposed fact label, will help people more quickly discern if a product should be purchased or not.

Now that we know the type of fat, not the amount, is more important for overall health, the new label would not list calories from fat, but list the amount of fat from trans and saturated fat.

Additionally, servings would better reflect what the average American eats, not a serving size of what the suggested serving should be.  For example, instead of listing it would list servings as a cup, etc. The amounts of potassium and vitamin D would also be required to be listed on the label as they are important for adequate bone growth and development.

With these proposed nutrition fact label changes, it is hoped it will help people make healthier choices.  Secondly, with high blood pressure, stroke and CVD risk a concern, by having cholesterol, trans fat, saturated fat potassium and sodium content available, it shall help in the decision process.

What’re your thoughts on the new proposed changes?  Do you already use nutrition facts labels when deciding to choose to purchase a food?

Sources: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm387114.htm

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm387418.htm

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

FDA’s new food label: much improved!

http://www.treehugger.com/health/new-nutrition-labels-force-packaged-food-makers-be-honest-about-portion-sizes.html

National School Lunch Program (NSLP)


By: Nikki Nies schoollunch

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is another USDA, federally assistance food program, striving to provide nutritious meals to children during the school day.  As of 2012, like the School Breakfast Program, the NSLP operates in over 100,000 public, private and non-profit schools nationwide, which feed over 31 million children a day.  To say that the NSLP is needed in schools would be an understatement.  Thankfully, since the introduction of NSLP, Congress has expanded the program to include the reimbursement of snacks for children during extracurricular activities and/or enrichment programs.

Schools that opt to participate in the program are provided cash subsidies and USDA foods for each meal served. To continue to qualify for the program, schools must comply with federal meal nutrition requirements and must offer free or reduced lunches to students. While the specific foods and how they are prepared can be decided by the facility itself, the nutrition requirements include:

  • Offer fruits and vegetables as two separate meal components;
  • Offer fruit daily at breakfast and lunch;
  • Offer vegetables daily at lunch, including specific vegetable subgroups  weekly (dark green, orange, legumes,  and other as defined in the 2010 Dietary  Guidelines) and a limited quantity of starchy vegetables throughout the week;
  • Offer whole grains: half of the grains would be whole grain-rich upon implementation of the rule and all grains would be whole-grain rich two years post implementation;
  •  Offer fluid milk that is fat-free (unflavored and flavored) and low-fat (unflavored only);
  • Offer meals that meet specific calorie ranges for each age/grade group;
  • Reduce the sodium content of meals gradually over a 10-year period through two intermediate sodium targets at two and four years post implementation;
  • Prepare meals using food products or ingredients that contain zero grams of trans fat per serving;
  •  Require students to select a fruit or a vegetable as part of the reimbursable meal

Children from families’ with incomes that meet or are below the 130% poverty level are eligible for free meals. Those from families that are between 130-185% of poverty level are eligible for a reduced price lunch, and are not allowed to be charged more than 40 cents. Children from families over the 185% poverty line will pay full price.

After reading these guidelines, it may sound like the USDA is setting schools up for success, but since schools have the autonomy to choose how foods are prepared and the numerous complaints about how “bad” the food is, I’m sad to see that the NSLP meals aren’t where they could be.  Additionally, there is a discrepancy since all schools have to do is “offer” these healthier foods.  Observations have found that many of the fruits are thrown in the trash after lunch! For anyone has ever gotten school lunch, how are the meals? What’s your take on the school’s ability to meet the above nutrition guidelines? How can the NSLP be improved?

Photo Credit: RubyUHart

Sources: http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/child-nutrition-programs/national-school-lunch-program.aspx#.UxFhJmRdWRA

http://frac.org/federal-foodnutrition-programs/national-school-lunch-program/

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-01-26/pdf/2012-1010.pdf

http://www.fns.usda.gov/nslp/national-school-lunch-program-nslp

http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/NSLPFactSheet.pdf