Food Evolution shows how science can allay fears

A Review of the Documentary “Food Evolution”

Photo Courtesy of Robyn Flipse.  From left to right, Mark Lynas, Alison Van Eenennaam, Emma Naluyima, Scott Hamilton Kennedy, and Neil deGrasse Tyson

This review was first published in Monsanto L.E.A.D News & Notes

Before the start of the world premier screening of the documentary, Food Evolution, director Scott Hamilton Kennedy came on stage and asked the audience three questions:

                                  “How many of you know what a GMO is?”

                                  “How many of you avoid GMOs?”

                                  “How many fear GMOs will harm you?”

By my estimate, at least 25 percent of the approximately 300 people who filled the theater raised their hands and kept them up for all three questions. At the end of the film when the audience was asked again who believes GMOs will harm you, only two hands went up, hesitantly.

What happened in between speaks volumes about the 92 minutes we all spent together in the dark watching the controversy over genetically modified food unfold on the screen while listening to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson narrate the tale.

Food Evolution was presented as part of DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary film festival, which showcased over 250 films in three venues in New York City from November 10 – 17, 2016. The description of the film in the event brochure said, in part, “As society tackles the problem of feeding our expanding population safely and sustainably, a schism has arisen between scientists and consumers, motivated by fear and distrust.” Not exactly a block-buster in the making, but the theater was packed.

The film was funded by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) FutureFood 2050 program. Their vision is, “A world where science and innovation are universally accepted as essential to a safe, nutritious, and sustainable food supply for everyone.” To celebrate the IFT’s 75th anniversary, they wanted to tell the story about how we’re going to feed the 9 billion people expected worldwide by 2050.

The movie opened with footage from several town hall meetings in Hawaii where the issue of growing Rainbow Papaya was being debated. One after another, fearful citizens expressed their concerns about using transgenic seeds to combat the ringspot virus that had decimated the papaya crop on the islands. The responses from elected officials confirmed the fears of the farmers and local population that planting genetically engineered crops would be harmful to their health. It also confirmed how little they knew about the science. We were only five minutes into the film and I couldn’t help but think it was going to be a lop-sided affair. Thankfully, I was wrong.

Appearances by Dennis Gonsalves, Ph.D., the Hawaiian native and plant virologist who developed the Rainbow Papaya and Mark Lynas, the British journalist and environmental activist who went from being an organizer of the anti-GMO movement in Europe to a supporter of the technology provided the calm and rational rebuttals to the confusion fueling the controversy. Their remarks were bolstered by the objective and evidence-based interviews with Dr. Robert Fraley, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Monsanto and Alison Van Eenennaam, Ph.D., Animal Genomics and Biotechnology Extension Specialist at the University of California, Davis. A hat tip to common sense and levity was offered by the Science Guy, Bill Nye.

Those who oppose genetically modified organisms also had their say, from anti-GMO advocate Jeffrey Smith and anti-GMO attorney Andrew Kimbrell to environmental activist Vandana Shiva and food activist Marion Nestle. The levity on that side of the debate was injected by Food Babe, Vani Hari.

The true strength of Food Evolution was the way it confirmed everyone’s biases. It left no doubt that genetic engineering is hard to explain and we are uncomfortable with what we don’t understand. It aptly demonstrated that there are many types of truth and people rarely change their minds once they believe something. And it allowed science to play a central character in the story whether we liked and accepted it or not. Which begs the question, whose science was it?

Food Evolution tells the story of how we can have a safe and a sustainable food supply by helping us put aside divisive emotional and ideological differences. It shows us a truth we can all share. Having seen other less balanced documentaries on the subject of food production in the U.S., I was pleased to see the fair treatment given to this controversial topic. I encourage anyone working in the food-nutrition-agricultural space to see Food Evolution and recommend it to students, journalists and others who are seeking science-based answers about food.

Cut sugars in your diet by replacing them with artificial sweeteners

Using Artificial Sweeteners Instead of Sugar: What’s the Scoop?

This blog was originally written for SplendaLiving.com. You can read that post here.

Do you know anyone who loves to walk through an electronics store just to see the hottest new gadgets on the shelves? How about those guys who like to browse hardware stores for the latest thingamajig they can’t live without? For me, it’s a trip to the grocery store. I love to see the changing array of fresh produce on display, the endcaps with new and improved versions of time-honored brands, and the latest flavor sensations to hit the yogurt, ice cream, and salad dressing aisles!

The common thread here is that the world is constantly changing and we like to keep up with what’s happening. That’s especially true in the world of food. So if you’ve noticed some increased buzz around the topic of low-calorie artificial sweeteners and a move away from added sugars in the foods and drinks you buy, I’ve got the scoop for you.

In January, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture released the latest edition of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. One of the key recommendations is to reduce our intake of added sugars to less than 10 percent of our total calories, or no more than 12 teaspoons a day if consuming a 2000 calorie diet. The Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations from the American Heart Association also call for a reduction in added sugars intake to help lower your risk for developing heart disease. As a result of these recommendations, the food and beverage industry has been working to reformulate many products to lower the added sugar content.

This means we may see new claims on the front of some food packages, changes in ingredient lists and in the nutrition facts panel. One way we can keep the sweet taste in foods and drinks at home while using less sugar is to replace some of that sugar with low-calorie artificial sweeteners, like SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. In fact, the more we cook and bake at home, the more options we have to reduce the added sugars in our diets. Let me show you how.

Menu Makeovers Save the Day

Let’s say your menu tonight includes a garden salad with French dressing, grilled chicken with barbecue sauce and a side of baked beans, a glass of lemonade and some homemade peach crisp for dessert. Did you know you could get more than 25 teaspoons of added sugars in that meal, even with modest portions? That’s more than double the amount of added sugars most of us should have in a single day!

One way to cut back on the added sugars in this meal is to replace the commercial products containing added sugars with your own salad dressing, barbecue sauce, and lemonade made with SPLENDA® Sweeteners. Another option is to use SPLENDA® Sweeteners to sweeten the lemonade and peach crisp. A third choice is to do all the above. If you’d like to give it a try there are plenty of SPLENDA® recipes to help you do all that and more.

If you want to substitute a SPLENDA® Sweetener for full sugar in your own favorite recipes just follow this helpful Measurement Conversion Chart to get the right amount whether using the granulated product, packets or Sugar Blends. You might also want to read my blog, Sugar Substitutes for Baking: SPLENDA® Sugar Blends and Baking with SPLENDA® Sweetener Products: Some Helpful Tips and Guidelines from Sue Taylor to get best results.

Every time you dip into a sugar bowl or honey jar is an opportunity to make a substitution that can lower your daily intake of added sugars – and more opportunities to use SPLENDA® Sweetener Products for a sweet alternative.

 I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

To learn more recipe tips for cooking and baking with SPLENDA® Sweeteners, visit the Cooking & Baking section of this blog.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

Dozens of different sugar substitutes are used to sweeten our food

A Sweetener by Any Other Name is Just as Sweet

This blog was originally written for CalorieControl.org. You can read that  post here.

The ingredients we use to sweeten our foods and beverages come from a wide variety of sources and have many different features and names.  In some cases, the only thing they have in common is that they all taste sweet! Some are ingredients found on our pantry shelves while others are already in the food and drinks we consume. Some have names we cannot easily pronounce while others are words we use in our everyday speech. And the list goes on.

There are so many terms used to describe the sweeteners available to us that it’s easy to become misled into believing some are better than others. We have all these terms because the ones used by the scientists who study sweeteners are different from those used by the food safety agencies that approve and regulate their use. And the terms used by health professionals who counsel people about the role of sweeteners in the diet differ from the ones used by the companies that sell them to us.

Given the heightened awareness of “added sugars” in our diets with the release of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the expected appearance of “added sugars” on the revised Nutrition Facts label due later this year, it seems like a good time to review just what we mean when talking about the sweeteners we consume.

Calories Not Nutrients

The main way all sweeteners can be classified is by whether or not they contain calories. The scientific terms used to describe this distinction are “nutritive” sweeteners, which contain calories, and “non-nutritive” sweeteners, which do not.

Terms for Non-nutritive Sweeteners

This list includes the terms permitted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approved food additives and ingredients, as well as those that are Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). This list also includes other terms that have crept into common usage but are not clearly defined by any official source.

  • Alternate or Alternative sweetener – any sweetener used to replace sugar, like aspartame; may include nutritive sweeteners, such as honey and corn syrup
  • Artificial sweetener – derived from plant-based sources or manmade, such as acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), advantame, aspartame, cyclamate, neotame, saccharin, sucralose
  • High-intensity sweetener – hundreds of time sweeter than sugar and therefore used in very small amounts, such as acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), advantame, aspartame, monk fruit extract (luo han guo), neotame, saccharin, stevia (rebaudioside A), sucralose
  • Intense sweetener – same as high-intensity sweetener
  • Low-calorie sweetener –used in such small amounts the caloric value is minimal, such as allulose and aspartame; can be used to describe a no-calorie sweetener combined with a bulking agent that has calories
  • Natural sweetener –any sweetener derived from plant-based sources; non-nutritive options include  stevia (Rebaudioside A), monk fruit extract (luo han guo), and the polyol erythritol
  • No-calorie sweetener –is not metabolized by the body and passes through it unchanged, such as acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), advantame, monk fruit extract (luo han guo) , neotame, saccharin, stevia (Rebaudioside A), sucralose
  • Noncaloric sweetener – same a no-calorie sweetener
  • Polyol –carbohydrates that are not sugars, but have the taste and texture of sugar with less than half the calories, such as D-Tagatose, erythritol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH) isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, trehalose, xylitol
  • Reduced-calorie sweetener –contain less than 4 calories per gram, like polyols, or products that are a combination of nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners
  • Sugar alcohol – same as polyol
  • Sugar replacer – same as alternate sweeteners, artificial sweetener and sugar substitute
  • Sugar substitute – same as alternate sweetener, artificial sweetener and sugar replacer; commonly refers to non-nutritive sweeteners in table-top packets
  • Synthetic sweetener –not derived from plant-based sources, such as acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), advantame, aspartame, cyclamate, neotame, saccharin
  • Zero calorie sweetener – same as no-calorie sweetener

Terms for Nutritive Sweeteners or “Added Sugars”

The terms in bold type are recognized by the Food and Drug Administration as ingredient names. The others also sweeten our foods and beverages and appear on food labels, but are not recognized by the FDA as ingredient names for “added sugars.”

  • Agave nectar
  • Anhydrous dextrose
  • Beet sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane juice
  • Cane sugar
  • Carob syrup
  • Coconut sugar
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Crystal dextrose
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Date sugar
  • Dehydrated cane juice
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Evaporated corn sweetener
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Fruit nectar
  • Glucose
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Liquid fructose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Nectars (e.g. peach nectar, pear nectar)
  • Pancake syrup
  • Raw sugar
  • Refiner’s syrup
  • Rice sugar or syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Sugar cane juice
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Table sugar
  • Turbinado
  • White granulated sugar

You may want to print out this list and keep it in a handy place so you won’t be confused the next time you’re reading a food label.

 

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian, cultural anthropologist and scientific advisor to the Calorie Control Council, whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness. Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets. Reach her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her blog The Everyday RD.

 

Let low calorie sweeteners take the place of added sugars in your diet

What’s New in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans?

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

If you don’t like mathematics or tracking what you eat, you may find it difficult to follow the recommendation to reduce the added sugars in your diet found in the latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Guidelines). Even if you do like math and record-keeping, you’re probably not going to be happy with how many of your favorite foods and beverages taste once the new limit on added sugars is applied. (Spoiler Alert: Keep reading for my advice on how to have a lower sugar diet that still tastes sweet!)

The new guidelines encourage us to limit our daily added sugars intake to less than 10 percent of our total calories as part of a healthy eating pattern. To figure out what your daily limit for added sugars is, you first need to know what your daily calorie requirements are. You can use this table in the Guidelines for an estimate of your daily calorie needs based on age, gender and physical activity level.

Once you know how many calories per day you should eat, take 10 percent of that number to know how many calories you can devote to added sugars. Now you must divide that number by 4 to determine the number of grams of added sugars you should try to stay under each day. Another option is to divide the sugar calories by 16 to calculate the daily number of teaspoons that shouldn’t be exceeded in your diet.

Tracking Added Sugars in Foods and Beverages

To stay within your allotted budget for added sugars you should keep track of the grams and/or teaspoons of added sugars consumed each day, along with your total daily calories. Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges with this step is that added sugars are not labeled on the nutrition facts panel of food products.

There are, however, a few ways to use the food label to find foods and beverages with less added sugar as noted in my previous blog, “Lowering Added Sugar in Your Meals.” Try these tips:

  1. Ingredients are listed by weight with the one used in the greatest amount coming first, so if an added sugar is at the end of a long ingredients list on a nutrition panel it is most likely not present in a significant amount.
  2. Foods and drinks made with no- and low-calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA®Sweetener Products, typically have less added sugar than their full sugar counterparts.
  3. The more types of sugar there are in the ingredient list, the more likely their combined weight would appear higher on the list.

Strategies to Reduce Added Sugars in the Dietary Guidelines

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans report also provides a few strategies to help us reduce added sugars from our foods and beverages:

  • omit the sugar
  • choose unsweetened drinks or ones containing less sugar
  • have sweetened drinks less often
  • have sweetened drinks in smaller portions
  • limit or decrease the portion size, or choose unsweetened or no-sugar added versions of grain-based desserts (cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, doughnuts, sweet rolls, and pastries) and dairy desserts (ice cream, frozen yogurt, pudding, and custard).

Let SPLENDA® Sweeteners Help You Reach Your Goal!

An easy-to-incorporate strategy I recommend is to replace some of the added sugars in your food and beverages with high-intensity sweeteners (also known as sugar substitutes or low-calorie sweeteners) like sucralose (the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® Sweetener Products) to retain the sweet taste that is such an important part of our eating experience.

Here’s what the new Guidelines say on the subject of low-calorie sweeteners: “High-intensity sweeteners that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) include saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), and sucralose. Based on the available scientific evidence, these high-intensity sweeteners have been determined to be safe for the general population.”

Replacing some added sugars with high-intensity sweeteners is a smart way to reduce added sugars in the diet while providing the sweet taste we want. For example, instead of the typical sweet tea with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you could try this Hot Spiced Tea and spread some No-Sugar Needed Triple Berry Jam on your sandwich.

Using SPLENDA® Sweeteners or other high-intensity sweeteners instead of added sugars is a strategy that can produce big results at the end of the day without doing all the math. For example, just by substituting one can of diet soda for a can of regular soda automatically eliminates 10 teaspoons of added sugars from your day no matter what other changes you may make. Adding a SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener packet instead of 2 teaspoons of sugar to three cups of coffee a day removes six teaspoons of sugar from your tally. And preparing this Berry-Cherry Pie with SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated replaces one cup of sugar in the traditional recipe (or 6 teaspoons per serving).

There are probably a number of other changes you will need to make to limit the added sugars in your daily diet. But being able to continue enjoying a little sweetness in your meals, with less added sugars, should help make those changes a lot easier to achieve.

I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

To learn more about Sugar Substitutes, visit the Sugar Substitutes section of this blog.
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well. 

 

Learn how fat soluble nutrients can be absorbed when using fat free dressing

Do Fat Free Dressings Block Nutrients in Salad?

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

LEARN HOW FAT SOLUBLE NUTRIENTS CAN BE ABSORBED WHEN USING FAT FREE DRESSING 

Hold the trash! It’s not time to discard all those bottles of fat free dressing you have stored on your refrigerator door just yet.

Yes, a study done at Purdue University did make quite a splash this week with its report you absorb more of the nutrients in your salad if your dressing contains fat, but it didn’t tell the whole story. What we really got was another example of the kind of research that proves why you shouldn’t change your diet based on a single study.

What the Salad Dressing Study Did Find

The researchers wanted to see what type of fat and how much of it produced the biggest change in blood levels of certain fat-soluble phytonutrients. Their study included 29 healthy subjects who had to eat 9 salads containing baby spinach leaves, chopped tomato, and shredded carrots, each with a different type and amount of dressing.

The dressings were made with 3 types of fat: canola oil for its monounsaturated fat, corn oil for its polyunsaturated fat, and butter for its saturated fat. The amount of dressing on each salad provided either 3 grams of fat, 6 grams, or 20 grams. This made a total of nine different salad samples.

After the subjects ate each salad, their blood was tested to measure their absorption of carotenoids. Carotenoids are compounds with names like lutein, lycopene, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin that are found in plants and have numerous health benefits. Because carotenoids are fat soluble, they are better absorbed when consumed and digested with fat.

As expected, higher levels of carotenoids were found in the subjects’ blood after eating salads with the higher amounts of fat. This held true for all three types of fat. The best absorption of carotenoids for the least amount of fat was seen with the canola oil, or monounsaturated fat.

What the Study Did Not Find

The study did not tell us what would happen if you ate other foods containing some fat along with those salads or put some fat-containing foods on them. Good nutrition science says you can use a fat free dressing and still absorb the carotenoids in your salad as long as another source of fat is consumed around the same time.

I have been advising clients for decades that a salad is not a meal unless you add some protein and a greater variety of vegetables than were included in this study. I also know that anyone who tries to get away with eating a plain salad and fat free dressing for a meal will not last long. Fortunately (in this case), the snack they reach for shortly afterwards will probably be high in fat.

So if you like to toss your salads with olives, nuts, avocado or cheese; top them with egg, chicken, salmon, tuna, falafel, steak or bacon; or follow them with lasagna, beef bourguignon or chicken tikka masala, go ahead and use that fat free dressing. Your carotenoid levels will be fine.

 How many different dressings to have in your house?

Added sugars can be replaced by low calorie sweeteners

Lowering Added Sugar in Your Meals

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

There’s so much in the news these days about the dangers of eating too much sugar I find myself tuning out the frightening warnings so I can enjoy my favorite gelato in peace. If you’ve stopped listening to those broadcasts, too, you’ll be happy to know you don’t have to stick to a sugar-free diet for it to be a healthy one.

What those reports about high added sugar diets fail to mention is that the people who consume them often have other dietary habits that contribute to poor health, like not eating enough fruits and vegetables or using too much salt. But research on people who eat well-balanced meals based on plant foods and healthy fats and oils, such as the Mediterranean Diet or DASH Eating Plan, shows us you can include some added sugar as part of a happy, healthy lifestyle!

That should be good news for anyone, like me, who doesn’t think they could survive on a diet with no added sugar. Instead, do as I do and strive to use less added sugar while choosing foods built on the principles of good nutrition. Let me explain how.

Naturally-Occurring Sugars Differ from Added Sugar 

Sugar is naturally found in fruits, vegetables, grains and milk products. It is what makes a fresh peach taste so sweet and why onions caramelize when heated. The foods these naturally occurring sugars are found in are an important source of key nutrients we need every day.

Many foods and beverages also have sugar and other sweeteners added to them to make them taste sweet or to perform other functions. Lowering the amount of these added sugars is the goal. The easiest way to know if added sugars are in the foods you buy is to check the ingredient list for any of these terms.

Recommendations for reducing the added sugars you consume start by knowing how much sugar you can eat. The amount can vary from 4 to 12 teaspoons of sugar a day for caloric intakes of 1000 to 2200 a day based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), although these recommendations may change with the release of the 2015 DGA. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends limiting added sugars to less than 10% of total calories, which would be 6 – 14 teaspoons a day for caloric intakes of 1000 – 2200/day.

Unfortunately, we cannot tell from reading a food label how much added sugar is in a serving of a food or beverage. That may change when food labels are redesigned, but until then, here are three simple tips that can help you follow a diet with less added sugar.

Tips to Finding Foods and Beverages with Less Added Sugar

  1. Ingredients are listed by weight with the one used in the greatest amount coming first, so if an added sugar is at the end of a long ingredients list on a nutrition panel it is most likely not present in a significant amount.
  2. Foods and drinks made with no- and low-calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, typically have less added sugar than their full sugar counterparts.
  3. The more types of sugar there are in the ingredient list the more likely their combined weight would appear higher on the list.

And if you’re confused by all the sugar claims you see on food labels, be sure to read my blog about how to read food labels.
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

Moderation and good genes provide clues to longevity

Bacon, Soda, and Longevity – What’s the Connection?

This post was written as a guest blog for Americans for Food and Beverage Choice. You can read the original post here.

Did you see the headlines earlier this summer proclaiming the world’s oldest person eats bacon every day? The story caught my attention since bacon is one of those “guilty pleasure” foods we all enjoy, and we now have evidence that a 116 year old woman has been eating it every day!

There are many other things that may have contributed to this woman’s long life, such as her genetic heritage (her grandmother lived to be 117!). She also naps regularly, eats three meals a day and has a loving family.

As with most things in a long life, it’s never that simple – Spoiler alert: bacon is not the key to longevity!

The same holds true for headlines that say drinking soda can cause obesity, type 2 diabetes, or heart disease. What’s missing from those unfounded statements is any evidence from randomized clinical trials to demonstrate cause and effect.

Like longevity, the research on what does cause these illnesses reveals a strong genetic component. They are also influenced by numerous environmental factors and lifestyle behaviors. It’s just not a simple matter of sipping a sugar-sweetened beverage or not. In fact, our overall dietary patterns   matter much more than any single food we may eat.

I’m sure it will make many people happy to know they can still enjoy bacon and their favorite soft drink and live a long life. The lesson here is that it’s not the bacon that will guarantee you’ll reach your 100th birthday or the sweet drink that will keep you from getting there. Eating balanced meals and getting plenty of physical activity are habits that can add years to your life.

Keep that in mind the next time you see an inflammatory headline providing a quick fix for all of your dietary woes.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

Knowing "how much" and "how often" are key yo making the best food chocies

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

This post was written as a guest blog for Americans for Food and Beverage Choice. You can read the original post here.

One of the liabilities of being a registered dietitian is that we are asked a lot of questions about food and nutrition, even when we’re not on duty. That happened to me recently while looking over menu choices at an international buffet. The woman in line next to me saw “Registered Dietitian Nutritionist” on my name badge so sought my opinion without any introduction.

Her question reminded me of how eager people are to have “yes” or “no” answers about eating certain foods when what they really need to know is “how much” and “how often.”

Let me explain.

Herbs and spices have long been used for medicinal purposes in addition to flavoring our food. Over time scientific studies have been able to demonstrate the health benefits of some of these ‘”traditional” therapies, like mint for an upset stomach and cinnamon for blood sugar control. But just like taking a drug, there is a right dose and right frequency that provide those benefits.

Now back to the woman on the buffet line. She wanted to know if she should take the Chicken Tikka Masala for her lunch since it had turmeric in it, and she heard turmeric can prevent tumor growth. She went on to say she had a strong family history of *** cancer and was concerned about finding a lump. While that is a lot of information to get from a complete stranger, I couldn’t help but wonder if she really believed a single meal from this buffet would lower her risk of cancer? I also hoped she was taking other steps to protect her health. Then I told her if she liked tikka masala this version looked very good.

This encounter reminded of how easy it is for people to think they shouldn’t consume any foods or drinks sweetened with sugar because they see headlines that proclaim “sugar is toxic” or “soda causes obesity.” While neither claim is true, what gets lost in the headlines is the “how much” and “how often” part of the discussion and the other factors that contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

Eating a wide variety of foods and balancing your energy intake with adequate physical activity are part of a healthy lifestyle. So are getting enough rest, managing stress and not using tobacco products. And if you enjoy sugar-sweetened beverages or those made with low-calorie sweeteners, they can be part of a healthy lifestyle, too.

It all comes down to how much and how often and what else you’re doing to make all of the pieces of a healthy lifestyle add up right. When you do you’ll find life really can be sweet with sugar and spice!

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

White vegetables have same health benefits as more colorful ones and many culinary advantages

White Vegetables Offer Health and Culinary Benefits

WHITE VEGETABLES HAVE SAME HEALTH BENEFITS AS MORE COLORFUL ONES AND MANY CULINARY ADVANTAGES

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

There’s so much talk about the health benefits of eating colorful fruits and vegetables, I think the white ones get over looked. That’s too bad because they are a source of important nutrients, just like the more colorful ones, and winter is the perfect time to incorporate the many white vegetables into your meals while they are in season.

The most popular white vegetables eaten year round are potatoes, onions, and cauliflower. But the cold weather months are when parsnips, turnips, and kohlrabi should be added to your shopping list. You’ve probably seen them in the produce aisle and walked right past them in pursuit of some dark green kale or bright orange squash, but don’t be deceived by their pale hue. They are nutrition powerhouses, too.

Another way to get more white vegetables into your diet is by adding more of the aromatic varieties to your recipes. Think garlic, shallots, leek, and ginger to provide a big boost of flavor to any dish. If your salads need more crunch during the long winter months when garden is bare, turn to white jicama and Jerusalem artichokes, also known as Sunchokes. Both can be eaten raw or cooked and stored in the refrigerator for 1-3 weeks.

And don’t forget mushrooms, my personal favorite! They are one of the most versatile white vegetables you can have in your kitchen. Mushrooms provide a meaty texture, the savory taste known as umami, and an important source of Vitamin D, which no other vegetable has. They are also low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium.

For recipes and information on storage and selections visit:

Fruits & Veggies More Matters

U.S. Potato Board

Mushroom Council

Claims on food labels do always mean what you think

Sugar Free Food Labels – What Do They Mean?

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Reading food labels provides us with valuable information that can make it easier to the find products that best fit our nutritional needs. They can also be confusing.

For example, did you know the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has definitions for “low sodium,” “low fat,” “low calorie,” “low cholesterol,” “sugar-free” and “lower sugar” – claims which appear on food labels? And did you know the claims “sugar free” and “no added sugar” don’t mean the same thing?

If you’re trying to control the amount of sugar in your diet, understanding what the different claims for sugar on food labels mean can help make your shopping trips less confusing – and that’s sweet!

How to Read Food Labels: First Things First

When reading food labels, the first thing you need to know is how the FDA defines the word “sugars.” When found on a food label it refers to all “one-and two-unit” sugars used in food. This includes white and brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey and many other ingredients that have one or two sugar units in their structure. The sugars found in fruit, fruit juice and milk products also fall under this definition of sugar, however, low calorie sweeteners such as SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose) the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, and polyols (sugar alcohols), do not.

Then there’s the word “free.” Even when products make the claim “sugar free,” “zero sugar,” “no sugar,” “sugarless” and “without sugar” they can have a small amount of sugar. However, this amount (less than 0.5 grams per serving), is so small that it represents an amount of calories and carbohydrates that would be expected to have no meaningful effect in usual meal planning.

This brings us to the claims “no added sugar,” “without added sugar” and “no sugar added.” They are allowed on foods that replace those which normally contain added sugars and have not had sugar or any other ingredient containing sugar added during processing. These foods differ from those with “sugar free” claims because they may contain naturally occurring sources of sugar, like a “no added sugar” ice cream containing lactose from the milk. They also can be sweetened with low calorie sweeteners.

How to Read Food Labels: What Sugar Free Foods Are Not

Now that you know what “sugar” and “free” mean in food labeling you need to know what those terms don’t mean. The most important distinction is “sugar free” does not mean “carbohydrate free.” While it’s true all sugars are carbohydrates, all carbohydrates are not sugars. Comparing the carbohydrate content on the Nutrition Facts panel of similar products where one makes a “sugar free” claim and the other does not will let you see if there really is much difference.

“Sugar free” and “no added sugar” claims also do not always mean “calorie free.” In fact, products carrying those claims must state “not a low calorie food” or “not for weight control” unless they meet the criteria for a low or reduced calorie food.

How to Read Food Labels: Sweetening Your Lower Sugar Diet

Once you’ve figured out what the best products are for you, you can add a little sweetness using one of the many SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener Products available, such as packets for your coffee and iced tea and the granulated form ideal for cooking and baking. If you want to add a little sugar, the white and brown SPLENDA® Sugar Blends contain a mix of sugar and sucralose for recipes where a little of both is best. You can find more ways to use all of these SPLENDA® Products in my earlier blog, Cutting Calories Every Day with SPLENDA® Sweetener Products.

Life can be sweet if you know how to read the labels!
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.