October 27, 2016

Making Sure ‘Healthy’ Means What It Says on Food Labels

Most consumers have learned to read food packages to learn about calorie counts, sodium amounts, and vitamin and mineral content in the foods they buy in the grocery store. But what about claims made on food packages? Does the term 'healthy' really mean what it says? The FDA has published final rules on the Nutrition Facts label on food products. An updated label will make the calorie counts in the product and the serving sizes easier to see and will also provide more information on added sugars and the content of vitamin D and potassium in the food. But even if you know something about nutrition and know what to look for on a food label, it can be difficult to know if the foods you buy add up to a healthy diet. Terms such as "good source," "healthy," or "low in fat" should only … [Read more...]

How Much Salt Do You Really Eat?

The FDA is warning consumers that they may be consuming far more salt than they think. Even if you don't salt your food at the table or while cooking, you are probably consuming a lot of sodium, especially if you eat prepared or processed foods. Most of the sodium in the American diet comes from supermarket foods and restaurant meals. So the FDA is working to gradually reduce the amount of sodium that processors add to food. Draft guidance for industry has been released that sets voluntary goals for reducing sodium levels in processed and prepared foods. Note that their guidance is voluntary, which means that processors and restaurants do not have to abide by the levels. The maximum sodium intake per day for adults should be about 2,300 milligrams, which is the amount in a … [Read more...]

FDA Wants to Reduce Sodium in the Food Supply

The FDA is planning to reduce sodium in the food supply. The link between sodium consumption and blood pressure is well documented. Most people need to reduce their sodium consumption to less than 2,300 mg per day. And most of that consumption, about 75%, comes from processed and prepared foods, not the salt shaker. Some companies have reduced sodium in their products, but many foods still contain a lot of salt. On average, Americans consume 3,400 mg of sodium every day, more than 50% above the recommended limit. Children also eat more than is recommended. Most children consume from 2,900 mg a day, and teenagers consume 3,700 mg per day. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. A lower sodium intake is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular … [Read more...]

Study Finds WIC Improves Preschool Children’s Diet

A study conducted by the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland, California has found that WIC (USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children) improves preschool children's diets. A change made in that program in 2009 provided more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat milk in the food voucher package. Diet quality improved for the 4 million children who are served by this federal program. Unfortunately, some in Congress want to cut this efficient and effective program. In the past few years, Republicans in Congress have tried to cut WIC funding, despite the fact that the program improves birth weight, decreases infant mortality, and improves food security. In fact, the program has faced an 8% cut in the past five years, and many WIC clinics … [Read more...]

New 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Released

The Obama administration has released new dietary guidelines for 2015 - 2020, as is standard every five years. They state that nutrition and health are closely related. A message from the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and USDA states that about half of American adults have preventable chronic diseases related to poor dietary habits. The focus of this edition is on disease prevention, not treatment. The main purpose of the Guidelines is to inform the development of Federal food, nutrition, and health policies and programs, such as the National School Lunch Program, Women Infants and Children (WIC) and the Administration on Aging. Since the rates of chronic illnesses have increased, the government wants Americans to focus more on healthy nutrition and more exercise. The most … [Read more...]

Report Finds Trans Fats Increase Mortality Risk

A study published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) has found that consumption of trans fats is associated with greater risk of mortality, a greater risk of dying from heart disease, and a greater risk of developing heart disease. Researchers in Canada reviewed 41 observational studies, which means the association cannot be "causal". But the certainty between trans fat consumption and coronary heart disease is "moderate", and the certainty between saturated fat and all mortality outcomes is "very low". Dietary guidelines recommend that saturated fats should be limited to less than 10% of daily calorie intake. The report concludes that "Saturated fats are not associated with all cause mortality, CVD, CHD (coronary heart disease), ischemic stroke, or type 2 diabetes, but the … [Read more...]

FDA Orders Manufacturers to Omit Trans Fats Within 3 Years

Today, the FDA finalized its determination that trans fats, made from partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), are not "generally recognized as safe" or GRAS, for use in human food. Food manufacturers will have three years to remove this ingredient from products. FDA's Acting Commissioner Stephen Ostroff said in a statement, "the FDA's action on this major source of artificial trans fats demonstrates the agency's commitment to the heart health of all Americans. This action is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year." Since 2006, food manufacturers have been required to include trans fat content information on nutrition labels on all food products. But manufacturers could put "0 grams trans fat" on the label if the product contained … [Read more...]

Spending Bill Cuts $93 Million from WIC

The huge spending bill passed by Congress last week cuts $93,000,000 from the Women Infants and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). That program gives low-income mothers and children vouchers for food that meets nutrition guidelines. WIC has been one of the most successful government programsĀ in history. Both WIC and SNAP add money to local economies. In fact, every five dollars in SNAP benefits generates nine dollars in community spending. And the food purchased by SNAP recipients generates 3,000 farm jobs. In addition, every study shows that WIC improves birth outcomes. Almost half of the participants in SNAP are children. Legislators did require the WIC program to add white potatoes to the foods on the allowed list, pandering to industry lobbyists. … [Read more...]

Does BPA Exposure Increase Blood Pressure?

A new study claims that exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) from drinking canned beverages increases blood pressure. BPA is a chemical used to line metal cans and makeĀ plastic bottles. It has been associated with hypertension in earlier studies. This new study was a randomized crossover trial with adults age 60 hayers and older. The participants were given the same beverage in 2 glass bottles, 2 cans, or 1 can and 1 glass bottle at a time. Urinary BPA concentration, blood pressure, and heart rate variability were measured 2 hours after each beverage was consumed. Each participant visited the study site three times. Urinary BPA concentration increased after consuming canned beverages by more than 1600% compared to the concentration after drinking beverages from glass containers. Systolic … [Read more...]

Groups Say Balanced Diet is Healthiest

Eighteen organizations have joined forces to promote a balanced diet as the healthiest for consumers. The collaboration is called "Back to Balance Coalition", which supports a "balanced, practical and achievable dietary guidance." The group has a new website. >Their philosophy is that empowering choice is more effective than restricting it, and that Dietary Guidelines should be practical, affordable, and achievable. They say that restricting food choices by classifying foods as "good" or "bad may create unhealthy behaviors. Recommendations should stress the "traditional core principles of dietary guidelines: balance, variety, and moderation." Polling data shows that dietitians and other health professionals prefer balanced information instead of prescriptive food policies. The … [Read more...]

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