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2015 Dietary Guidelines: Piling it On

24 Feb

2015 Dietary Guidelines: Piling it On

Every 5 years, a panel of US nutrition experts convenes to produce a blueprint for how Americans should eat. This monstrous document – called the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) – is set to publish later this year.

The 2015 DGA Advisory Committee has been busy poring over research conducted since the last DGAs were published in 2010. This research sets the stage for what will become simple and straightforward (yet evidence-based) suggestions for improving the diet of an alarmingly overweight and obese population.

The 2010 DGAs were memorable in that they accompanied the introduction of MyPlate and ushered out the era of pyramid-based food guides.

Although it does not appear that the 2015 DGAs will feature any dietary bombshells, the committee did raise a few eyebrows with its preliminary advisory report released last week.

Among the recommendations are:

Cholesterol

  • The committee recommends lifting the 300 mg per day cholesterol limit citing a lack of evidence to support this approach to reducing heart disease risk.
  • This is an interesting, yet not-all-that-important development since most practitioners have long known that research supports focusing on the type of fat – and not cholesterol or total fat numbers – when providing instruction a heart healthy diet.

Caffeine

  • The committee asserts that drinking 3 to 5 cups of coffee per day is not linked to any long-term health risks, and, in fact, has been associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  • This is unusual in that questioning the safety of caffeine was never part of the larger discussion on chronic disease risk, and a focus on caffeine draws attention away from the real issues at hand which are excess calories from added sugars and fats that promote overweight and obesity.

Sustainability

  • For the first time, the DGAs may ask Americans to consider sustainability and environmental concerns when selecting foods.
  • While it is no surprise that a diet heavily reliant on animal products uses more non-renewable resources than a plant-based one, this recommendation seems to have really irked some lawmakers and animal food interest groups who claim the committee has no place recommending factors that are “extraneous” to the diet.

While it remains to be seen what exactly will make it to the final report, most health professionals agree that one move in the right direction with these DGAs appears to be the trend away from nutrient-specific recommendations (i.e., eat less saturated fat, eat more potassium) to more food-based recommendations  like eat more plants.

To provide public comment on the proposed 2015 DGAs until March 9, 2015 check out http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2015/comments/.

But First…Fix Your Fiber Problem

19 Feb

But First…Fix Your Fiber Problem

There’s no doubt that nutrition advice can be confusing, and sometimes downright contradictory.

One week egg yolks are good for you, the next they’re super bad. Does diet soda make you fat? Does diet soda help fight fat? As a Registered Dietitian, this nutrition nonsense is essentially my job security :)

But even I would agree: nutrition guidelines can get ugly. Case in point: the American Heart Association’s completely over-complex “Guidelines on Lifestyle Management to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk“.

Among other things, this 46 page publications advises adherents to:

  • Eat at least 30 grams of high-fiber foods each day
  • Eat fish twice a week
  • Get protein from vegetables and lean meats
  • Get 50% to 55% of calories from carbohydrates, 15% to 20% of calories from protein, and 30% to 35% of calories from fat (including just 7% of calories from saturated fat and less than 1% from trans fats)
  • Eat less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day
  • Minimize sugar, sodium and sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Drink no more than a moderate amount of alcohol

If you stopped reading after bullet point number 1 – you might just be ok.

And that is because earlier this week a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine with a very unique study design. The study showed that complex diet recommendations might not matter, and maybe all you need is fiber.

The study authors divided 240 obese subjects into 2 groups: one who got all of those above AHA dietary recommendations, and another group told to just eat 30 grams of fiber per day.

The results weren’t earth shattering, and both groups lost weight at the end of the year period: the AHA group lost 6 pounds on average and the fiber group lost 4.6.

What was interesting was that the fiber group actually did increase their fiber intake by 4.7 grams per day whereas the AHA group – with all of that additional info that didn’t really work to help lose weight – only ate an additional 1.3 grams.

Since the typical American eats only 10-12 grams of fiber per day – but needs more like 30 grams, a 4.7 gram per day increase from healthy foods like fruits and vegetables and whole grains is pretty promising.

What’s the take away message? Sometimes it pays to cut out the clutter and ignore the nutrition noise. Sticking to 1 recommendation, like working to increase fiber, can have a secondary effect of improving your overall diet.

Fiber Food Additive to Fight Appetite

20 Jan

Fiber Food Additive to Fight Appetite

Every fiber fan knows that fiber makes you feel full. But there comes a point when you can only rationalize so much roughage!

Well – lucky for you, scientists in the United Kingdom have isolated a food additive that promotes satiety, and its name is proponiate.

A small study published in the online journal Gut showed that people given the additive proponiate gained less weight over a 24-week period compared to those who were given inulin. The proponiate people also had less abdominal and liver fat than the inulin group.

Proponiate is produced when dietary fiber is fermented in the gut. By delivering proponiate to the colon, researchers theorized that they could increase peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon like peptide-1 (GLP-1) secretion, which in turn would reduce calorie intake and blunt weight gain in overweight adults.

Now you can’t run to the store to pick up proponiate just yet – or probably anytime soon. But maybe down the road? The scientists did comment that these findings may represent, “a novel route to improve weight management at the population level.”

 

Whole Grain Intake Massacres Mortality Rates

13 Jan

Whole Grain Intake Massacres Mortality Rates

It’s time to table that Wheat Belly BS & push your Paleo proclivities aside: a new study shows that eating whole grains is linked to lower mortality.

While it has long been known that high whole grain intake cuts heart disease and diabetes risk, these new findings represent a major step forward in tying whole grain intake to lower mortality rates.

The study – published in JAMA Internal Medicine – looked at data from over 74,000 females in the Nurse’s Health Study and 43,000 males from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Participants filled out diet questionnaires every 2-4 years for a period of 25 years. Findings were adjusted for age, smoking, BMI, physical activity, and other dietary components.

The researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that whole grain intake is linked to:

  • A 9% lower overall mortality rate
  • A 15% lower cardiovascular disease related mortality rate
  • Overall mortality drop of 9% and CVD mortality cut of 15% for every serving of whole grains you add per day
  • 6% lower total mortality and 20% lower CVD related mortality when the benefits of bran foods were taken into consideration.

Self-reported dietary data is always an inherent drawback to studies of these sorts – but the large sample size and impressive length-of-follow are 2 inspiring components of this publication.

What’s the take away? You do your body a long term favor by replacing refined carbs with whole grain goodness.

 

Hot Food Trends for 2015

8 Jan

Hot Food Trends for 2015

More than 20,000 new food and beverage items hit US grocery store shelves every year.

But what is going to be hot in 2015?

Here’s a round up of some of my favorite food trends for the New Year:

Thins are In

  • Consumers want more creative ways to control calories – and they’re thinning out their foods to prove it. Everything from sandwich bread to brownies is getting a thintastic makeover to satisfy cravings without overindulging.
  • I am loving Nonni’s THINAddictives almond thins for a satisfying 100-calorie snack made with real California almonds and fruit. The individual portion packaging makes this a great snack on the go, without going overboard! They come in 5 fabulous flavors, and you can find them at a local retailer near you.

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Big Bold Flavors

  • 90% of Americans eat at least 1 snack per day. In 2015, sweet is out and savory is in. Look to flavoring your foods with herbs and spices instead of sugar and sweets.
  • KIND Healthy Snacks recently introduced their KIND & Strong line of snacks, their first entree into the world of savory snacks. I love the Honey Smoked BBQ KIND & Strong bar, packed with tons of flavor and 10 grams of whey and soy-free protein. These guys are chock full of ingredients you can see and pronounce,  they’re gluten free, and like all KIND products, non-GMO too.

 

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Sprouted Grains

  • Whole grains are good, but sprouted whole grains are even better! This year sprouted grains are picking up steam and coming to a store near you!
  • Sprouted grains help block anti-nutrients and may help your body to absorb more valuable minerals and nutrients like calcium and iron.
  • Way Better Snacks has a line of sprouted grain, bean, and seed chips that are sure to satisfy in the New Year. My favorite are the Way Better Snacks Black Bean sprouted grain chips, which have 3 grams of fiber to keep me going throughout the day.

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Potatoes are on the Prowl

  • A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition demonstrates that people can eat potatoes and still lose weight. This is great news for those who want to incorporate their favorite foods, but keep it within a calorie budget.
  • One medium-sized, skin on potato has 110 calories, more potassium than a banana, and almost half your daily value for vitamin C. On top of that, potatoes are fat free, cholesterol free, have no sugar and 3 grams of fiber to boot!
  • Check out this awesome Roasted Potato Fries with Avocado Aioli recipe, with under 150 calories and just 5 grams of fat per serving. For more recipes featuring the nutritionally powerful potato, visit www.potatogoodness.com.

RoastedPotato

 

To learn more about food trends in 2015, check out my segment from Good Morning San Diego this week.

Sponsored Post Disclosure: I was compensated for product mention in this post & TV segment – thoughts & opinions are my own.