How Fiber Fared in the New Food Label

24 May

After 9 arduous years of deliberations, the FDA finally rolled out the final rule on the new food label last week.

In a nutshell, the biggest changes you will notice by 2018 are outlined in the FDA’s infographic:

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Much of the food label media attention has centered on 3 of the most obvious changes:

  1. More realistic serving sizes (so long 1/2 cup of ice cream serving…)
  2. Addition of the added sugars line (bad news for the entire “fruited yogurt” industry…), and
  3. Changes in nutrients required (adding vitamin D and potassium and deleting vitamins A and C).

Most nutrition advocates are generally pleased with the direction of the food label change. First Lady Michelle Obama summarized the changes by saying, “Very soon you will no longer need a microscope, a calculator or a degree in nutrition to figure out whether the food that you’re buying is actually good for your kids, so that’s a phenomenal achievement.”

But how did fiber fare with this food label overhaul?

There are 2 changes with regards to fiber on the new food label:

  1. The FDA defined dietary fiber for the first time saying fiber, “includes naturally occurring fibers and only fibers added to foods that show a physiological health benefit”
  2. The Daily Value (DV) for fiber will be changing from 25 grams to 28 grams per day

With regards to the definition of fiber, the FDA determined that there is adequate scientific evidence to support the notion that the following added fibers may have beneficial health effects for humans:

  • Cellulose (improves bowel function)
  • Guar gum, pectin, locust bean gum and hydroxypropylmethylcellulose (lower blood total and/or LDL cholesterol values)
  • Psyllium husk (aka inulin and was added to the definition of fiber because of its role in bowel health)

This refined definition also means that all of the other functional (added or “fake”) fibers you find added to processed foods will not be able to count as dietary fiber since there is no evidence supporting their beneficial effect on health.

And what about the change in daily value from 25 to 28 grams? Well, let’s keep this in perspective: most Americans eat only 12-15 grams per day, so most of us would still benefit from eating more fiber. Whether that’s 25 or 28 grams probably doesn’t matter: we need to eat more plants and less processed foods with food labels on them.

Manufacturers will have to roll out the new food label by July 26, 2018. For companies with less than $10 million in annual food sales will be given an additional year to comply.

As renowned nutrition expert Marion Nestle so eloquently put it in her Scientific American blog post today, “But let’s keep this in perspective. Healthful diets are based on foods, not food products. We would all be healthier eating foods that do not come with Nutrition Facts panels, and saving most of those that do for once-in-a-while occasions.”

 

 

If Diets Don’t Work…What Does?

10 May

If Diets Don’t Work…What Does?

This weekend the New York Times attacked the topic of “Why You Can’t Lose Weight on a Diet”. The article, written by neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt led with, “The problem isn’t willpower. It’s neuroscience. You can’t – and shouldn’t – fight back.”

Dr. Aamodt is the author of the forthcoming book “Why Diets Make us Fat” and is herself a proponent of abandoning diets in favor of behaviors that will improve our health and extend our lives.

I had the good fortune to be featured along with with Sandra Aamodt on today’s KQED Forum radio program in San Francisco with host Michael Krasny. The purpose of the episode was to analyze research showing that diets do not result in long-term weight loss and how they might even lead to weight gain.

The precipitating publication that spawned interest in this topic was a recent article in the journal Obesity that followed “The Biggest Loser” competitors 6 years after their appearance on the show. As you can probably guess, 6 years out weight loss was not a foregone conclusion for the Biggest Losers.

Since the show’s finale, the 14 Biggest Loser participants analyzed in the study had regained 70 percent of the weight they initially lost. And perhaps even more interesting, these losers were burning approximately 500 less calories per day than other people their age and size.

The neuroscience tie-in that Sandra Aamodt is looking at questions what we know as the set point. The set point is that target weight your body is going to fight to keep you at, no matter how hard you try to get below it. And dieting that pushes your weight below your body’s set point results in you burning fewer calories and ultimately messing with your body’s metabolic rate.

One challenge lies in quantifying your “set point” or your body’s “metabolic rate”. These aren’t numbers on a scale or values in your blood that can be easily measured. Sandra and her team are instead analyzing the powerful interplay between cyclical feasting and fasting, one’s genetic makeup and ultimately their weight outcomes.

Her findings may surprise fad diet adherents: diets that require you to cut calories below your baseline needs have the opposite of their intended effect – they result in lower metabolic rates which ultimately impede weight loss and may even contribute to net weight gain.

So what’s a dieter to do? Here are a few takeaway messages from today’s show:

  • Embrace intuitive eating – learn to listen to your true hunger and satiety cues when making food choices
  • Don’t just blame your genes – genetics may play a role in obesity, but so does environment and lifestyle factors
  • Get moving – regular physical activity not only increases your energy output but it also can boost your resting metabolism, meaning you burn more calories at rest if you exercise than if you don’t
  • Learn from other losers – check out the National Weight Control Registry, a cohort of “Successful Losers” – those who have lost 30 pounds and kept it off for more than a year. See what they have in common and learn from their experiences.
  • Ditch the diets – no published data has ever found a particular diet or eating pattern to be the one that promotes sustainable weight loss; the diet industry is a $20 billion+ megalith that will do everything to convince you of the opposite!

So time to throw out your diet books and get back in tune with your body. Cutting calories too low doesn’t lead to sustainable weight loss and actually lowers your metabolic rate.

For more info on the tie in between our brain and our bodies, check out Sandra’s TEDTalk on Why Diets Don’t Work and listen to today’s Forum program from KQED here.

Lean Green Food Finds

17 Mar

Lean Green Food Finds

Disclaimer: I have a financial relationship with and was paid to represent the products in this blog post and associated TV segment.

With St. Patrick’s Day upon us, you may have Irish-inspired menu ideas on the brain. But when it comes to green food fare, your food choices can also be good for the planet. Here are my top picks for some lean, green food finds:

KIND: Simplified, Sustainable Ingredients

KIND

  • Looking to simplify your life? Why not start with your ingredient list! The shorter an ingredient list is, generally the more clean and wholesome the food will be.
  • KIND bars are packed with simple wholesome ingredients you can see and pronounce – not to mention they do not contain genetically engineered ingredients.
  • KIND Nuts & Spices have 5 grams of sugar or less per bar with no artificial ingredients or sugar alcohols, so they’re a bar you can feel good about eating.
  • To learn more check out www.kindsnacks.com

Pistachios: Eating Local…and Loaded with Lutein!

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  • Pistachios are an excellent option when it comes to nutrition and health; pistachios are among the lowest fat and lowest calorie snack nut out there. They’re packed with protein and fiber which help you stay full for longer.
  • Did you know the hint of green in pistachios comes from antioxidants like lutein?
  • If you’re trying to make an environmental impact by eating locally, pistachios are a great option. Over 99% of all pistachios grown in the US are from California
  • Wonderful pistachios come in a variety of delicious flavors like salt and pepper and sweet chili and a serving size of 49 pistachios has just 160 calories (1/2 cup in shell or ¼ cup out of shell)
  • For more information check out www.getcrackin.com

good2grow: BPA-Free for Me!

good2grow-healthy-juice-drink

  • Good2Grow Fruit & Veggie Blends & Juicy Waters are a great way to quench your kids’ thirst without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
  • All of the good2grow products are non-GMO, the bottles are recyclable and the tops are BPA-free.
  • The good2grow character sippa-top containers are reusable, which cuts down on waste seen with other disposable water and juice bottles.
  • For more information check out www.good2grow.com

Lowering Your Food-Based Carbon Footprint

  • Climate friendly foods favor plants over animals; if all Americans eliminated just ¼ pound serving of beef per week, reduction in global warming gas emissions would be equivalent to taking 4-6 million cars off the road
  • When selecting seafood, choose locally caught, sustainably managed fish or herbivorous farmed stocks like tilapia, catfish and carp. Check out www.seafoodwatch.org for sustainable seafood selections
  • Buying organic is another great way to positively impact your environment; organic production means the food is free from pesticides, herbicides, drugs, fertilizers and genetic modification

For these and other lean, green food finds, check out my segment on San Diego Living at: http://www.cw6sandiego.com/lean-green-and-eco-eats/

Not so Fat Tuesday Tips

9 Feb

Not so Fat Tuesday Tips

Fat Tuesday has arrived! It’s the hedonistic last hurrah before Lent begins tomorrow.

Today I had the opportunity to go on the San Diego Living show to demonstrate ways to celebrate Fat Tuesday without sacrificing your figure. (Click here for the link) Check out some my Mardi Gras diet makeover tips:

 

Get Your Good Fats On

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  • Not all fats are created equal. A study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology found that corn oil, like Mazola, helps lower cholesterol more than extra virgin olive oil
  • I love cooking with corn oil because of both its taste and nutrition benefits: corn oil has a very mild flavor profile and it also contains more cholesterol-blocking plant sterols than other cooking oils (4 times ore than olive oil and 40% more than canola oil!)
  • This Orange Rosemary Skillet Chicken Thighs with Wilted Kale recipe from Mazola.com is a great way to incorporate these good fats and to dress up a weeknight dinner just in time for Mardi Gras

 

Ply Your Guests with Pomegranate Juice

POM Wonderful

  • Forget those boozy, slushy Hurricane drinks that will pack on the pounds. This year I’m serving my drinks with a pomegranate juice base
  • Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice is 100% pomegranate juice, with no fillers or additives, no added sugar or preservatives and plus it’s gluten free
  • An 8 oz serving of 100% pomegranate juice contains juice from 2 whole pomegranates. Serve it up with alcohol, or without: check out the Pomtini recipe here or the Spiced Pom Cider recipe for a nonalcoholic offering

 

Practice the Pistachio Principle

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  • Snack calories can creep up on you, which is why I prefer to serve pistachios at my parties. Two preliminary studies suggest that eating in-shell pistachios may offer a visual cue about how much has been eaten, potentially curbing calorie intake.
  • Pistachios are one of the lowest-fat, lowest-calorie snack nuts. There are 49 pistachios in a 160 calorie serving (1/2 cup in shell or 1/4 cup out of shell), not to mention these guys are a good source of protein and fiber, tasty on their own, roasted and salted, or in delicious flavors like sweet chili and salt and pepper.

 

Sweet Scarletts to Seal the Meal Deal

Sweet Scarletts

  • I have a nasty sweet tooth, but I’ve found these wonderful Sweet Scarletts Texas Red Grapefruits can curb my cravings with their incredible flavor
  • Half of a medium grapefruit gives me 100% of my daily vitamin C, and they’re naturally fat, cholesterol and sodium-free in just 60 delectable calories
  • Tonight at my Mardi Gras party I’ll be wrapping up the festivities with bruleed Sweet Scarlett grapefruits with brown sugar for dessert.

 

Disclosure: I have a financial relationship with the brands featured in this post and the segment.

Buffalo Wing Popcorn

6 Feb

Buffalo Wing Popcorn

Need a last minute Super Bowl snack that will rock your Super Sunday with fiber and fire? Look no further than Buffalo Wing Popcorn.

This spicy caramel popcorn from Bon Appetit is the easiest, most delicious way to incorporate that timeless whole grain: popcorn.

Popcorn by itself has 4 grams of fiber in 3 cups of air popped popcorn. Once you add all this butter and sugar though….you don’t wanna know!

Buffalo Wing Popcorn

Ingredients

  • Nonstick spray
  • 8 cups plain, popped popcorn (made from 1/2 cup kernels)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Original sauce
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Coat parchment paper and a large bowl with nonstick spray and add popcorn to bowl. Set aside baking sheet.
  • Bring sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, swirling pan occasionally, until caramel is a deep amber color, 10-12 minutes.
  • Remove from heat; stir in hot sauce and butter (mixture will bubble vigorously). Return to a boil and cook another 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salt, baking soda, and cayenne. Working quickly – and carefully because the caramel is very hot – pour caramel mixture over popcorn and toss to coat.
  • Spread popcorn on prepared baking sheet and bake, tossing once, until dry, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool.