The Official Trans Fat Ban!

Food/Health History Update:

Mark your calendars everyone because tomorrow is a very important day in United States nutrition history… Partially hydrogenated oils (also known as trans fats) will officially be illegal and will no longer be found in any food products sold in the United States.

Reminder- trans fats are a type of fat found in chemically produced partially hydrogenated oils, that, even in very small amounts, are responsible for raising cholesterol levels through the roof and increasing risk for heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. Frozen pizzas, solid margarines, frosting, packaged cookies and crackers, and fried foods like onion rings and fries are just some of the common foods where trans fats can be found.

Back in 2015, the FDA finally realized that trans fats were no longer safe for people to eat and removed them from the GRAS (“Generally Recognized as Safe”) list of ingredients. The FDA gave companies until June 18, 2018 (tomorrow!) to have them eliminated from all products. (See my post back in 2016 all about the ban.)

Now, the world is following suit (hopefully!). On May 14, 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched an initiative to eliminate trans fats globally. While many westernized countries have already eliminated trans fats or are in the process of doing so, countries in southern Asia, Oceana, and Central/South America are still consuming dangerously high amounts of these processed fats. WHO can’t actually create any worldwide law or ban, but it will be part of their strategic plan to help countries around the world achieve a trans fat-free food supply. And guess what (this blew my mind)…WHO has never called to completely eliminate anything other than a specific disease! – Shows you just how bad trans fats are!

Happy Father’s Day!

 

*Note- unfortunately the FDA has extended the June 18, 2018 deadline for trans fat removal under some conditions, but for the most part, they will all be eliminated. Read more here: https://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm449162.htm

Advertisements

How my Senior Capstone has solidified my decision to be a dietitian

As a nutrition major, I get to have a very unique experience for my Senior Capstone project. Instead of writing a long research like most students, I have the opportunity to teach a nutrition education class, along with four other students majoring in nutrition, to older adults at a local YMCA. Over the course of the semester, we teach six different classes on various nutrition topics. The topic this week- diabetes. We chose to teach about diabetes because over 25% of older adults have it and many cases go undiagnosed or unmanaged.

Before we gave the presentation, our advising professor thought it would be a good idea for us to learn how to check your blood sugar since that is a major part of living life with diabetes. She gave each of us our own blood sugar meter and got to check our own blood sugar. Since needles don’t freak me out, I was pretty excited about the opportunity. Our professor walked us through the process and I got my first ever blood sugar reading: 97mg/dL which is perfectly normal :).

 

testing-blood-sugar

Overall, it was a pretty eye opening experience. While it didn’t hurt that much, it is definitely not something I would want to do every day. (Diabetics may have to test their blood sugar up to eight times a day depending on how well-managed their blood sugar is.) I found it even crazier that people with diabetes can make so many dietary changes to prevent uncontrolled blood sugar and having to test blood sugar every day, yet many people don’t make the changes they need (usually because they don’t know what they need to do or how) and end up suffering the consequences.

While we taught the class, my classmates and I discovered that many of the participants had diabetes, but they couldn’t even identify what foods had carbohydrates in them (the main contributor to elevated blood sugar). I had a little bit of a light bulb moment during the class; I realized just how little the general public actually knows about nutrition, and that I often find myself assuming that people know so much more than they actually do, which can make my job as a (eventually) dietitian a lot harder.

That being said, this is just another reason why I want to be a dietitian. The fact up to 40% of premature deaths can be prevented by changes in health behaviors like diet and exercise makes me feel like my job as a dietitian will be meaningful and will hopefully have a positive affect on the people I work with.

Black Bean Pasta

Pasta. It is a staple in many diets. I grew up eating buttered noodles and my love for pasta never really went away. Unfortunately, pasta is filled with tons on empty calories (calories that have little or no nutritional value). All of the simple carbohydrates that are quickly and easily digested make blood sugar spike and then drop. This is what causes you to be hungry an hour or two after a big bowl of spaghetti.

Black bean pasta have become my favorite alternatives to regular, nutrient poor pasta. The only two ingredients are black beans and water, meaning no crazy additives or chemical preservatives. They are high in protein and fiber packing in almost 50% of your daily value of fiber per serving.

Also, compared to an equal amount of regular white pasta, black bean pasta have less than half the amount of carbs. For people who are on a low carb diet or have diabetes, this makes black bean pasta a great option.

Black Bean Noodles

Aside for all the great nutrients in black bean pasta, guess what the best part is? They taste great! I even like the black bean pasta better than regular pasta. They are cooked the same way and can be enjoyed in the same ways too. My favorite is with a drizzle of olive oil and grilled vegetables.

I use the “Explore Asian” brand. They are a little hard to find but you can buy them on their website. I have also recently discovered edamame pasta by the same brand and am looking forward to trying them!

Copenhagen, here I come! + blood sugar

Three weeks into school and I am knee-deep in homework, reading, and tests, but today was a surprising break from the daily grind. As I sat in my human nutrition class learning how various types of fiber influence blood glucose levels, an email notification popped up on the side of my computer screen. I usually ignore my emails during class, but this one couldn’t wait. The subject read “DIS Spring 2016 Registration Information”, and I nearly jumped out of my seat.

I was accepted to study abroad at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen next semester!

It has been a stressful two weeks since they received my application, waiting to hear their decision. Every time my phone vibrated this week, I anxiously hoped that it would be the email with my admission decision. Finally the anticipation is over and the countdown until I leave begins (Only 126 days, but who is counting?).

With all of the excitement, I could barely comprehend what the professor lectured on, but I did catch a few things about fiber. In many of my recipe posts, I discuss how high fiber foods are good at keeping you satisfied for long periods of time, but fiber also has other benefits. The one we focused on in class today was fibers impact on blood sugar.

I’ll try to keep this simple, but here is how it works:

  1. Food is consumed and the sugars are absorbed from the digestive system into the blood (blood sugar goes up)
  2. Insulin binds to the sugar in the blood and brings it into the cells (blood sugar goes down)

Having consistently high blood sugar (from eating lots of sugary foods) causes lots of insulin production. Too much insulin all of the time can cause the cells to become desensitized to insulin. This is a form of diabetes because the insulin is not able to reduce blood sugar levels.

How do you prevent this from happening?

One option is fiber (especially soluble fiber)!! When consuming a high fiber diet, nutrient absorption is slowed down, which means there are lower amounts of sugar in the blood after eating a meal. This also means less insulin is needed to absorb the sugar.

So make sure you get your daily dose of 28-35 grams of fiber per day (the average American eats less than half of that). Keeping blood sugar low is the key to managing the insulin response and reducing your risk for diabetes!

Here are some good sources of soluble fiber:
Broccoli
Carrots
Beans
Peas
Sweet Potato
Apples
Plums
Berries

*Note that intake of fiber does not cure diabetes, nor does it allow you to eat unlimited sugar, it just allows your body to have a healthier response to high sugar foods.

P.S. Look out for posts about my study abroad adventure as we get closer to my departure!