Not All Sugars Are Created Equal

When it comes to sugars in food, you’re far better off having a bowl of blueberries than a granola bar, a nutritionist says.

Added sugars just aren’t the same as natural sugars, noted Kara Shifler Bowers, a registered dietitian at Penn State PRO Wellness, a health center in Hershey, Pa.

“Natural sugars in fruit are different because fruits carry fiber as well as many antioxidants and vitamins such as A and C,” she explained in a Penn State Health news release.

Cutting back on added sugars can prevent a number of health problems.

Women should consume no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar each day. That’s equal to just two-thirds of a can of soda or 1.5 dessert-like yogurts. For men, the limit is 9 teaspoons, or 36 grams.

“The only danger in cutting out added sugars completely is that eventually, one may binge,” Shifler Bowers said.

Instead of suddenly eliminating added sugars, it might be a good idea to cut back gradually. Try limiting sugary sweets to special occasions.

“You crave what you eat,” Shifler Bowers said. “Your body can forget about foods, so to speak, so the longer you abstain from them, the easier it will be. You can still enjoy them at times, but you won’t need to eat the same amount.”

Watch what you eat because even seemingly healthy choices such as yogurt, fiber bars, protein bars and store-bought spaghetti sauce can have high levels of added sugars.

“In granola bars, the sugars help ingredients stick together,” Shifler Bowers said. “In spaghetti sauce, sugars are used to cut the acidity. Try snacking on fruit and nuts instead.”

Parents should wait as long as possible to introduce children to sugar, even sugar in juices.

“Their taste buds are still developing, so if they get used to sweet foods, that is what they are going to want to eat as they get older,” Shifler Bowers said.

Children aged 1 to 3 should have no more than 4 ounces of fruit juice a day.

“It’s really easy to consume a lot of sugar when drinking sweet beverages. Instead of juice, try offering children fruit such as melons or berries instead, so they get plenty of fiber,” Shifler Bowers said.

Source: HealthDay

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EU Curbs Trans Fats from 2021 to Boost Heart Health

The EU adopted a regulation on Wednesday to curb trans fat amounts in products like snack food as part of efforts to fight heart disease and strokes in Europe.

Industrially-produced trans-fatty acids, like margarine and some hardened vegetable fats, are popular among food producers because they are cheap and typically have a long shelf life.

But given their link to cardiovascular disease, trans fats have also been blamed for more than 500,000 deaths annually, according to World Health Organization figures.

The EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, set the limit from April 2, 2021 at two grams of industrially produced trans fats per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of fat in food.

It said the regulation also requires wholesalers to notify retailers of any food that contains more than the limit.

“The measure aims at protecting consumers’ health and providing Europeans with healthier food options,” the Commission said in a statement.

The European Food Safety Authority and other bodies have conducted studies pushing for the lowest possible consumption of trans fats.

In May last year, the WHO unveiled a plan to eliminate the use of trans fats, extending progress in wealthier countries to those in poorer ones.

Source: MedicalXpress


Read also at World Health Organization Europe:

Eliminating Trans Fats in Europe – A Policy Brief . . . . .

Infographic: Sugar in Food

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Source: FDA

Current Food Label vs New Food Label


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The new food label is mandated to be implemented in 2020. The amount of added sugar to the food product has to be shown in the new label.

Source: FDA

A New Way to Preserve Healthy Food with Natural Ingredients

Carolyn Trietsch wrote . . . . . . . . .

A natural antioxidant found in grain bran could preserve food longer and replace synthetic antioxidants currently used by the food industry, according to researchers at Penn State.

“Currently, there’s a big push within the food industry to replace synthetic ingredients with natural alternatives, and this is being driven by consumers,” said Andrew S. Elder, doctoral candidate in food science. “Consumers want clean labels — they want synthetic chemical-sounding ingredients removed because of the fact that they don’t recognize them, and that some of them (the ingredients) have purported toxicity.”

The Penn State researchers studied a class of compounds called alkylresorcinols (AR). Plants such as wheat, rye and barley produce ARs naturally to prevent mold, bacteria and other organisms from growing on the grain kernels. The researchers wondered if ARs could also preserve food in the same way from a chemical standpoint.

Along with using more natural ingredients, the food industry is also supplementing more foods with healthy oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Adding these healthy oils to foods that normally would not contain them could boost the health benefits of these foods to consumers. However, omega-3 rich oils have a shorter shelf life, which could cause these foods to spoil more rapidly.

“Most people consume omega-3s from marine sources,” said Elder. “As they break down, they can make the product smell and taste fishy. Consumers then throw these products out and don’t buy them again, and this results in an economic loss.”

Antioxidants are compounds that slow the rate at which omega-3 fatty acids degrade, preserving their health benefits and preventing food from spoiling as quickly. While consumers demand more natural ingredients, the food industry has struggled to find natural antioxidants that are as effective as synthetic ones.

“There are not many natural alternatives for synthetic antioxidants,” said Elder. “Our work is focused on identifying new natural antioxidants to extend the shelf life of food and meet consumer demands.”

ARs have health benefits for humans as well and can help protect against cancer, according to a review published in European Food Research and Technology, making them ideal natural additives. ARs also come from the bran layer of cereal plants, which the food industry usually discards or uses for animal feed.

“Bran is often a waste stream,” said Elder. “We’re taking something that’s usually discarded in a waste stream and turning it into something useful.”

The team developed a technique to extract and purify ARs from rye bran, then studied how well ARs were able to preserve omega-3-rich oils in emulsions, where two fluids do not fully mix — for example, vinegar and oil. The researchers chose to study AR action in emulsions because most people consume oils as emulsions, such as salad dressings. The researchers reported their findings online in Food Chemistry, and the study will be published in the January print edition.

The researchers found that ARs did act as antioxidants in an emulsion, preventing omega-3 oils from spoiling as rapidly as they did in emulsions with no antioxidants added. Then, they compared ARs to two antioxidants widely used by the food industry — alpha-tocopherol or Vitamin E, a natural antioxidant; and butylated hydroxytoluene, a synthetic antioxidant. However, ARs were not as effective as either the natural or the synthetic antioxidant.

Although the ARs did not work as well as other antioxidants in this round of experiments, the researchers noted that their AR extracts were not completely pure, which could have reduced the effectiveness of the ARs. Also, the researchers used a blend of different ARs that had different molecular structures. Future work looking at different types of ARs will reveal whether an individual AR type is more or less effective than conventionally-used antioxidants.

“We’re trying to identify natural antioxidants that are consumer-friendly, safe and effective,” said Elder. “We hope that one day this work will lead to ARs being available on the market and provide more options for the food industry to use.”

Source: The Pennsylvania State University

Too Much Salt Might Help Spur Irregular Heartbeat

A high-salt diet could raise your risk for a common heart rhythm disorder, new research suggests.

Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots or other complications. It affects millions of people worldwide and puts them at higher risk for stroke and, in rare cases, can lead to heart failure.

This study included 716 middle-aged men and women in Finland who were followed for an average of 19 years. During that time, 74 of the participants were diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.

Those with the highest levels of salt in their diet had a higher rate of atrial fibrillation than those with the lowest salt intake. After accounting for several other risk factors — including age, body fat, blood pressure and smoking — the researchers found that salt consumption was independently associated with the risk of atrial fibrillation.

But the study only found an association — it did not prove that a high-salt diet causes the heart rhythm disorder.

The study was published recently in the Annals of Medicine.

“This study provides the first evidence that dietary salt may increase the risk of new-onset atrial fibrillation, adding to a growing list of dangers from excessive salt consumption on our cardiovascular health,” said study author Tero Paakko, from the University of Oulu in Finland.

“Although further confirmatory studies are needed, our results suggest that people who are at an increased risk of atrial fibrillation may benefit from restricting salt in their diet,” Paakko said in a journal news release.

The chances of developing atrial fibrillation increase with age, and the condition affects about 7 in 100 people 65 and older.

“With estimates suggesting that over three-quarters of salt consumed is already added in processed foods, reducing salt intake at a population level could have a hugely beneficial impact on new-onset atrial fibrillation and overall cardiovascular disease,” Paakko said.

Source: HealthDay


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