Although society is generally coming around to the fact that some types of fat can be good, trans fats unequivocally do not fall in that category. Research shows that eating trans fats can increase "bad" cholesterol and can raise your risk of heart disease. For these reasons, the FDA has stated that they're not "generally recognized as safe for consumption" (yeah, no kidding). However, some people think that the FDA's warnings and regulations don't go far enough. Members of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene published a brief in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease in which they argue that the administration hasn't made enough headway in its efforts to reduce trans fats. The brief focuses on the fact that the label "zero grams of trans fat" isn't necessarily true...and may in fact be dangerously misleading.
Although many consumers may not realize it, companies are actually allowed to label products that contain between zero and 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving as having "zero grams" of the harmful ingredient, per the FDA'S current labeling guidelines. So the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene set out to determine how common it actually is for foods labeled "trans fat-free" to still be made with the bad-for-you fats. Quick primer: Trans fats naturally occur in small amounts in meat and dairy products. More troubling, though, are the artificial trans fats created when hydrogen is added to liquid oil to make it solid; these are known as partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs).
Researchers examined the ingredient lists of 4,340 top-selling U.S. packaged foods, ranging from frozen meals to baked goods and snacks, looking for PHOs. They then used this information to estimate the trans fat content of each item. Out of the samples studied, nine percent contained the unhealthy man-made ingredients. The shocking part? Of the products with PHOS, nearly 85 percent claimed zero grams of trans fat per serving on the packaging.
Here's the scary thing: Products that fall under this cutoff could have anywhere from trace amounts of trans fats to nearly 0.5 grams per serving--but it's difficult to know how much they contain since the packaging simply says there are zero trans fats. "This labeling is cause for concern because consumers, seeing the zero grams trans fat on the Nutrition Facts label, are probably unaware that they are consuming trans fat, "says the report. Surprisingly, the food category with the most products containing PHOs in this research was seasoned processed potatoes.
Fortunately, the FDA is considering a ruling that would ban products containing PHOs unless the FDA has made and explicit determination that they are safe. Until that ruling passes, though, you best bet is to realize that the claim "trans-fat-free" can't be taken at face value--and to check the ingredients list on packaged foods, looking for PHOs and steering clear of anything that lists the harmful fats.
What else are you going to do with them? Eat them! It turns out they're not just edible, but the skin and the rind of some fruits is actually loaded with fantastic beauty and health benefits. Kimberly Snyder, celebrity nutritionist and author of 'The Beauty Detox Foods,' says there are many great ways to incorporate these nutrient-rich peels into your diet.
"The peel can contain up to three to four times higher a concentration of fiber as the fruit inside," says Snyder. "Fiber is an important part of the body's process when it comes to cleansing toxins from the body. Peels also contain a bevy of anti-aging antioxidants and vitamins." By the way, they're also very low in calories, fats, and sugars.
"For some citrus fruits like oranges, the peel has even higher levels of vitamin C than the juice," says Snyder. The peel of fresh orange also contains vitamin A, B vitamins, and minerals such a zinc, calcium, selenium, and manganese. But how re you supposed to eat them? Snyder suggests zesting citrus peels with a grater into you salad dressing or tossing a piece of the peel into smoothies. "I was recently in Thailand doing a few weeks of a cooking intensive, and we threw kaffir lime peel into the mortar and pestle for certain chili pastes."
What about banana peels? Sounds gross, but they actually increase serotonin levels, which can boost your mood. Like the fruit, they're a good source of potassium, but Snyder says they contain much more soluble fiber (which keeps your gastrointestinal tract moving). In some parts of the world like India and Asia it's common to cook or fry banana peels or use them in desserts. Try adding a piece into a smoothie or pureeing a few tablespoons and mixing into your cake recipes. Waiting till the fruit is more ripe will yeild thinner, tastier skin.
Watermelon rinds are another great option since thy contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, and citrulline. and amino acid that keeps dilate blood vessels to improve circulation. Peel off the green skin and put the white rind into your juicer along with the juicy pink parts.
Snyder does offer one important piece of advice when eating peels: buy organic. "Not only are organic foods generally more nutritious since they are usually grown in better quality soil, but they also do not contain pesticides," she says. While organic bananas are not typically much more costly than conventional ones, some organic produce can be pricey. When in doubt, consult the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" items with the most pesticides used. "If you plan on using the zest or peel of fruits, I would stick to organic as the pesticides can seep into the peel and it may not be possible to truly remove them through washing."
Don't forget the cores and seeds! Pineapple cores are less juicy and a bit harder, but are still very nutritious and filed with the enzyme bromelain, known to have anti-inflammatory and cleansing effects in the body," says Snyder. She also says eating a small amount of papaya seeds can have anti-parasitic, anti-bacterial effects, and can help with liver detoxification--hello, hangover cure.
Did you know that almost all yogurts are flat out bad for your waistline?
"Light yogurts, for instance, are absolutely terrible for you, and for more reasons than one.
First, most "light" yogurts are loaded with artificial sweeteners and/or high fructose corn syrup.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is one of the top 3 worst ingredients you could ever consume. First, as it's name suggests, it's made of primarily fructose, a sugar that easily spills over to fat storage when consumed in sizable quantities.
And artificial sweeteners are...well...artificial. So you really want to put chemically altered, man-made ingredients that don't exist in nature into your body? Us either.
Second, HFCS is made from genetically modified corn.
Third, HFCS spikes blood sugar and insulin like almost no other food or ingredient.
Bad news all around.
Bottom line, just because something is low calorie (i.e. "Light") doesn't make it a healthy choice, or even a choice that will positively affect your fat loss goals.
What about "fat free" yogurts?
Well, hopefully we all know and understand by now that fat isn't bad. Fat is a critical nutrient to both your health and your fat loss efforts and actually helps to naturally stabilize many important hormones in you body that play a key role in optimizing your body's fat-burning environment.
Secondly, most fat-free yogurts are loaded with sugar. Here's a plan: Let's get rid of the naturally occurring healthy fats and load up on sugar instead! Sounds like a plan to me...a really bad one.
So does that mean you should be avoiding all yogurts?
No, in fact, there's one type of yogurt that is highly recommend you use as part of your fat-burning diet...and that's Organic Plain Greek Yogurt.
First, Greek yogurt has double the protein of regular yogurt, so you get more protein punch in every spoonful.
Second, by choosing the plain variety you avoid all the extra, unnecessary, artificial ingredients along with calorie-boosting excess sugar.
Lastly, by going organic you'll avoid the hormones and antibiotics that are otherwise generally injected in the typical cow.
Greek Yogurt is my #1 pick for mid-meal snack and I enjoy a serving of Greek yogurt just about every day. You should give it a try!! I mix it with some kind of fruit, usually berries and some kind of nuts. Yummy!!
Dr. Courtney Conley will be a guest on Womans Radio Network on Tuesday September 16th, 2014 at 9:12 A.M. I will post more details as I get them. Please check it out!!
Maintaining a stable weight is never easy, and if you're a woman age 40 or over, it can be a daunting challenge. Weight gain does come more easily as people age, and it tends to accumulate in the abdomen. Increasing health risks. And both biology and behavior contribute to this.
The "spread" of increasing amounts of abdominal fat is not inevitable, and can be avoided with mindful living. While metabolic and hormonal changes do play a role in boosting weight gain, these can be offset with an increased focus on healthy living--a combination of eating less, moving more, and moderating stress.
WHY IS WEIGHT GAIN SO MUCH EASIER OVER AGE 40?
* Metabolic rate slows by about 5 percent every decade
Translated into calories, this means most women by age 50 need to consume about 200 calories less every day compared to calories eaten a age 30, just to maintain the current weight. And while exercise can contribute to weight maintenance, eating too many calories is the main reason for weight gain.
* Hormonal changes
While hormonal changes do not directly trigger weight gain, it becomes easier to gain weight with an altered hormone profile. Declining estrogen along with increasing cortisol levels (a response to dropping estrogen levels along with increasing stress) can both contribute to fat distribution in the body--even without weight change. Elevated cortisol levels can also shift where fat goes--to the middle--even without a change in weight.
* Muscle mass decreases with age, while fat increases
Contrary to popular belief, muscle does not "turn into" fat. This comes from eating too much, and not exercising enough. Losing muscle mass decreases how well your body uses calories, making weight gain easier.
To trim calories daily, it's the small, steady changes that matter most. Try these seven simple and tasty nutrient-rich food swaps that cut calories and maintain good taste:
Instead of: "Starchy sides" like pasta and mashed potatoes
Try: Zucchini linguini (thin strips if zucchini) spaghetti squash, mashed parsnips or cauliflower.
Instead of: High-calorie condiments like ketchup, regular mayonnaise, and barbecue sauce
Try: Whole-grain mustard, reduced-fat (not fat free) mayonnaise, Sriracha or hot sauce.
Instead of: Full-fat salad dressings and dips like blue cheese and ranch or sour cream dips
Try: Balsamic vinegar alone, a "reverse" oil and vinegar dressing (instead of 2/3 oil and 1/3 vinegar, reverse the proportions), dilute ranch dressing with buttermilk; replace full-fat sour cream with Greek yogurt for dips.
Instead of: High-calorie liquids like fruit juice based cocktails, sodas, juices
Try: Sparkling white wine, seltzer with fruit ice cubes or fresh sliced fruit, seltzer with a splash of real juice, a 12-ounce light beer, low calorie mixers for spirits like seltzer or diet sodas.
Instead of: High-fat salty snacks like fried potato, corn, or vegetable chips:
Try: Air-popped popcorn, raw carrots and celery (with some Greek yogurt dip), home-made oven baked pita chips.
Instead of: High-calorie sweet treats like ice cream, and candy
Try: Chocolate dipped strawberries or bananas, frozen Greek yogurt bars, frozen fruit or coconut water bars, frozen cherries (right from the bag).
The good news is mindful monitoring of calories--with a daily 30-minute brisk walk (contributing around 100 calories)--can "stop the spread" of unwanted abdominal weight gain.
Want a healthy snack? Consider passing the popcorn. A new study says the whole grain treat contains more of the "good for you" antioxidants called polyphenols than some fruits or vegetables.
The amount of polyphenols in popcorn was up to 300 milligrams (mg) per serving compared with 114 mg per serving of sweet corn and 160 mg per serving for all fruits, according to study findings of the American Chemical Society in San Diego. This is because polyphenols are diluted in the 90 percent water that makes up many fruits and vegetables, whereas they are more concentrated in popcorn, which averages only about 4 percent water, the study authors said.
In the average U.S. diet, fruits provide 255 mg of polyphenols per day and vegetables provide 218 mg per day. One serving of popcorn would provide 13 percent of the average daily intake of polyphenols per person in the United States, the Pennsylvania researchers said in a society news release.
The levels of polyphenols in popcorn reported in this study were higher than previoulsy believed. The levels were similar to those found in nuts and 15 times the levels found in whole-grain tortilla chips, the researchers said.
The investigators also found that the hulls of popcorn-the bits that tend to get caught in the teeth-have the highest concentrations of polyphenols and fiber.
"Those hulls deserve more respect," study author Joe Vinson, of the University of Scranton, said."
"However, Vinson warned, adding butter, salt and other calorie-laden flavorings can turn this snack into a bucketful of trouble."
"Air-popped popcorn has the lowest number of calories, of course," Vinson said. "Microwave popcorn has twice as many calories as air-popped, and if you pop your own with oil, this has twice as many calories as air-popped popcorn. About 43 percent of microwave popcorn is fat, compared to 28 percent if you pop the corn in oil yourself."
Vinson also added that eating popcorn shouldn't be an excuse to skip fresh fruits and vegetables. Popcorn lacks the vitamins and other nutrients found in fruits and vegetables that are essential for good health.
Popcorn is the "only snack that is 100 percent unprocessed whole grain. All other grains are processed and diluted with other ingredients, and although cereals are called 'whole grain,' this simply means that over 51 percent of the weight of the product is whole grain," Vinson said.
"One serving of popcorn will provide more than 70 percent of the daily intake of whole grain. The average person only gets about half a serving of whole grains a day, and popcorn could fill that gap in a very pleasant way," he noted.
The study was funded by the university and received no money from the food industry. The data and conclusions of research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.