#FNCE Recap: Poster Presentations on Whole Grains, Antioxidant Availability, and Improving Diet Quality

I stopped by the poster session at the 2012 Food Nutrition Conference and Expo to review some recent studies that were funded by Con Agra. I became interested when I heard that instead of focusing on “the bad” foods to take out, the studies had a focus on what could be “added in” to help improve eating habits and nutrient rich food intake.

Here is a summary of the three abstracts presented.

A Daily Popcorn Snack Increases Whole Grain Intake Without Changing Consumption of Other Food Groups

Author Block: K. Reimers, PhD1, N. LvI PhD2, J. Lowndes. MAZ* T. Angelopoulos, PhD3, V. Nguyen, NIS, RD2, J. Rippe, MD2;

1NutritionI ConAgra Foods, ino. Omaha, NEI 2Rippe Lifestyle Inst., Celebration, FL, 3Health Professions, Univ. of Central Florida. OrlandoI
• Results of this  study showed that popcorn – a 100% whole grain snack, can help people to increase their consumption of whole grains.
• Researchers looked at the diets of people who ate a daily snack of 100 calories of popcorn for three months without being asked to change anything else about their diets. There were 117 people, split up into a control and test group. Ages were 42-62 year olds.
• At the end of the three month period, those who ate popcorn as a snack increased their consumption of whole grains while also decreasing their consumption of refined grains.

My thoughts: Interesting outcomes, especially since we can encourage people to “add in” whole grains with examples of whole grain foods and they could naturally drop refined grains, which are more processed and not as quality nutrition. In addition, I think popcorn is a delicious, filling snack.

Antioxidant Availability of Commonly Consumed Vegetables in the U.S. Food Supply

Author Block: M. Andon, PhD, K. Reirners,  B. Meokna, MS, RD;
Nutrition, ConAgra Foods, Inc, Omaha, NE.

People who eat diets rich in fruits and vegetables tend to have a decreased risk of cancer and heart disease. This health benefit may be related in part to fruits’ and vegetables’ contribution of antioxidants to the diet.
• Researchers recently looked at the most common non-starchy vegetables in Americans’ diets to determine the vegetable that provides the highest level of antioxidants based on total consumption and antioxidant capacity — using the Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC) assay.
• They found that canned tomato products provide the greatest amount of antioxidants to Americans’ diets over any other commonly consumed vegetable. contribution to total vegetable intake. Canned tomato products (sauce, paste, and
tomatoes) accounted for 39% of the total per capita ORAC availability, onions 14%, green bell pepper 9%, iceberg lettuce 8%, raw tomatoes 7%, broccoli (raw and frozen) 7%, carrots 5%, celery 4%, cabbage 4%, and green beans (raw, canned, and frozen) 3%. Tomato paste had the greatest and canned green beans the lowest ORAC concentration.
• Canned tomatoes are also a convenient and economical way to increase vegetable intake.

My thoughts: Here is a case where canned may be better nutritionally than fresh — although I love me some fresh summertime heirlooms 🙂  I think there are lots of ways to get quick, nutritious meals on the table using canned tomatoes. Use canned diced tomatoes with any other non starchy vegetables, mix with quinoa or steamed brown rice and herbs.

Try tomato paste in a slow cooker sloppy joes or chili – here’s a recipe I created that has 5 different vegetables in it.

Frozen Single Serve Meals at Lunch Result in Improved Diet Quality

Author Block: K. Reimers, PhD1, Z. Yu, PhD2, S. Sinnett, MS2, S. Weston, MS2, V. Nguyen, MS, RD2, J. Rippe, MD2;
‘Nutrition Con/Ägra Foods, Inc, Omaha, NE, 2Flippe Lifestyìe Inst., Celebration, FL.

A recent study found that overweight or obese people who ate a portion-controlled frozen Healthy Choice meal in place of their typical restaurant or cafeteria lunch, without changing anything else about their normal diet or exercise routine, lost weight and improved their diet quality at the end of 30 days.
• Replacing lunch with a Healthy Choice meal led to decreases in total fat (fat intake for the day decreased by 30%, 84% at lunch), saturated fat (also down 30%), trans fat (down 44%) and sodium (down by about 900 mg/day) in the participants’ overall diets.
• While overall calories consumed per day decreased (by about 400-500 calories a day), the study participants’ intake of the food groups dairy, fruit and vegetables did not change.
• The researchers concluded that eating frozen, portion-controlled meals for lunch is a convenient and effective way to decrease daily calorie intake and improve diet quality.

My thoughts: I think these results were interesting. For people usually eating out, if they replace with a portion controlled meal and don’t make any other dietary changes, their nutrition – saturated fat, sodium, and calories decrease. I have learned through my nutrition counseling practice that many people don’t like to cook, have difficulty planning all their meals, or they feel too busy to think about food and eat as healthy as I’m recommending. They often resort to cafeteria and fast food and usually clean their plate. I’m a big proponent of meeting people where they are and helping them change. I spend time working with them on the root behavioral changes — we will work together on “quick and healthy” meals that involve little cooking, we will plan healthy meals and snacks. What I like about the portion controlled frozen meal option is that it makes it a bit less overwhelming for some people, especially if they already eat them. The portion control is good too for my clients who struggle with moderation. The fast food meal may be harder to put down at “comfortable full”.

Did you see any of the posters at FNCE? What are your thoughts on these papers?

Disclosure: I was compensated by Con Agra to review the poster abstracts for studies they funded and include a summary report in my blog.

It’s a Disease Not a Diet: Gluten Free Diets

By: Carlene Helble

It seems like the latest fad diet, is one associated with a serious disease. Going gluten free has become the latest ‘weight loss’ plan among many, but dropping pounds doesn’t come with dropping gluten.

Rebecca was recently interviewed by Fox 5 on Gluten Free dieting as a way to lose weight, made popular with “The G-Free Diet”  book written by Elisabeth Hasselbeck. See the video on Rebecca had to say on this myth.

America Fails in Eating Fruits and Vegetables

By: Elizabeth Jarrard

The National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance (NFVA) recently released a report that showed in an average day, only 6 percent of individuals consume the recommended amount of vegetables and 8 percent the recommended amount of fruit. The US’s report card didn’t look to great, and even received a couple Fs.

The societal cost of NOT eating fruits and vegetables: $56.2 billion (grew 9% each year over last 5 years), growing health care cost of treating diet-related diseases To put this in perspective, eight of the states with the lowest fruit and vegetable consumption are also in the top 10 states with the highest obesity rates.  William Dietz, M.D., Ph.D., director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity said,

“A diet high in fruits and vegetables helps maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk of several serious, chronic diseases. We need to continue our effort in making the healthy choice the easy choice.”

Fruits and vegetables are cancer fighters, heart protectors, and just plain delicious. And as Joan Salge-Blake RD, always says, “They’ll fill you UP before they fill you OUT.”

So how can you make the healthy choice and increase your fruit and vegetable consumption? Here are some great tips from the Fruits & vegetables: More Matters Campaign.

  • Pick up a banana or apple in the dining hall and eat it as a snack
  • Pack a healthy lunch, with at least
  • Add strawberries, blueberries, or bananas to your waffles, pancakes, cereal, oatmeal, or toast.
  • Top toasted whole-grain bread with peanut butter and sliced bananas.
  • Add vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms or tomatoes to your egg or egg white omelet.
  • Add some cooked dry beans to your salad. Or, if you have a sweet tooth, add chopped apples, pears, or raisins.
  • Have soup. You can stick with the basics like tomato or vegetable soup or mix up some minestrone or veggie chili to cut winter’s chill. When possible, choose soups with less sodium.
  • Try eating at least 2 vegetables with dinner
  • Snack on vegetables like bell pepper strips and broccoli with hummus
  • Stash bags of dried fruit at your desk for a convenient snack.
  • Drink a fruit smoothie made with whole fruit, ice cubes, and low-fat or fat-free yogurt.
  • Top a cup of fat-free or low-fat yogurt with sliced fresh fruit.
  • Canned, dried, and frozen fruits and vegetables are also good options. Look for fruit without added sugar or syrups and vegetables without added salt, butter, or cream sauces.
  • Ants on a log isn’t just for kids- put some natural peanut butter on celeries and top with raisins·

Food and Health Survey Results Indicate a Change

’77’ seems to be a key number in weight management, according to the 2010 Food and Health Survey.  77% of Americans are currently attempting to lose or maintain their post weight loss bodies.  However, another 77% report not meeting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guideline.

The Food and Health Survey’s goal is to assess the current population’s vision on eating and physical activity habits.  The organization responsible for producing the survey is the Nutrition and Food Safety at the International Food Information Council Foundation. The foundation’s senior vice president ,Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, states that Americans continue to hear about the importance of overall health, but from a large variety of sources.  She states that there are organizations all over, from the White House’s Let’s Move campaign to similar smaller programs, which are all concentrating on reducing the obesity epidemic. But in order to do that, you have to take baby steps.

Edge is referring to proper calculations of ‘calories in’ versus ‘calories out’.  The same survey indicated that 58% of the population does not concern themselves with the balance of calories, therefore eliminating a key weight loss or weight management tool.  Another issue is the public’s estimation of those calories.  Unless you are relying on a very up to date program, it’s possible to get incorrect numbers.  In addition, portion size, and keeping track of snacks throughout the day need to be taken into account. Everything adds up.

Here are some more survey stats:

  • 53% of the population is more concerned with sodium intake in their diets
  • 72% are consuming more fiber
  • 73% are consuming more grains
  • 64% were concerned about money issues with foods while in 2010 it increased to 73%.
  • When purchasing 86% of individuals buy because of taste, with price in second, health factor at 58% and convenience at 55%.
  • Overall, 73% of Americans are pleased with the types of foods they have offered at their local supermarkets.

For more information about the foundation or the survey, visit www.foodinsight.org.

Celiac Disease & Why the Gluten-Free Diet is No Joke

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of speaking with Shelley Case, RD, a dietitian from Canada who is an expert in Celiac disease and Gluten-free eating. I became interested in this subject due to the popularity of Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s book, The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide, and the way it had taken over the public by storm. In the hospital where I work, I noticed an increasing amount of people interested in Gluten-free options, and not because they had Celiac disease or a wheat intolerance.

I began to wonder why so many people were opting out of eating Gluten. I came to the conclusion that many people equated Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s physique with her Gluten-free diet. What people need to realize is that she suffers from a specific disease in which she cannot digest Gluten. The Gluten-free diet is not recommended for individuals that do not have Celiac disease or a similar intolerance to Gluten. Gluten-free eating can lead to nutritional deficencies, weight gain, more expensive groceries, and disordered eating habits.

source: WatchingTheView.com

Celiac disease is a serious disease that has many different consequences and varied symptoms that are hard to diagnose and treat. The majority of individuals have iron-deficiency anemia (approximately 66%), which is a non-GI symptom for a GI-specific disease. Sufferers of Celiac disease face certain issues that disappear once Gluten is removed from the diet. However, without the removal of Gluten, Celiac disease can cause many problems. Gluten is seen by the body as a foreign substance that the body attacks via antibodies. Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease and the antibodies attack the body, specifically the villi on the surface of the small intestine. This leads to problems with nutrient absorption and can also lead to intestinal lymphoma.

There is also non-Celiac Gluten intolerance and wheat intolerance – two disorders that are not Celiac disease and do not have the same long-term consequences. Individuals may feel better once they removed Gluten or wheat products from their diet. However, anyone who believes they may have Celiac disease should speak with their doctor about being tested for this disease before starting a Gluten-free diet. This is because once the Gluten is removed from the diet, the body stops making antibodies. The antibodies are used to determine through a blood test or gastric biopsy whether the individual has Celiac disease.

The bottom line is that Celiac disease is a major disorder that specifically responds to the Gluten-free diet. Those without this disease should not attempt to eat a Gluten-free diet, no matter which celebrities are endorsing it. It is also wise to do more research into a diet book and understand its message before diving headfirst into its recommendations; Hasselbeck’s book is for fellow sufferers of Celiac disease – not for every woman in America who wants to look like her.