Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dangerous Trans Fats

Trans fats are fats that remain hard at room temperature. These fats are formed when vegetable oils are heated at high temperatures in the presence of hydrogen. That is why they are called hydrogenated fats.

Trans fats are considered the most dangerous fats because they can thicken the blood, combine with calcium and cholesterol to form a thick, waxy substance that sticks to the walls of the blood vessels and make it hard for blood to flow through the arteries.

When blood flow is impeded, it means that oxygen-rich blood cannot get to the heart, lungs and blood vessels the way it should. This could lead to all kinds of problems involving those vital organs.

It means that the heart has to work harder, breathing could become difficult, and the brain could become foggy. Your blood pressure could also be affected as plaque builds up in the arteries, causing stiffening and requiring more pressure for the blood to flow through.

If the problem is serious enough, you could have a heart attack or a stroke. In many cases, a stroke happens when small pieces of plaque break away from the walls of the blood vessels and enters the circulation. At some point, a clot may form. This clot can then clog the artery and cut off the lifeblood from reaching the heart or brain. 

Lack of blood flow and oxygen to the heart or brain can result in a stroke. If not treated immediately, a stroke can be fatal.
Even a small amount of trans fat can be bad for you. That is why the government has set a limit of zero trans fat for humans.

However, food manufacturers can put anything under .5 grams of trans fat per serving in food without having to list the amount on food labels. Therefore, you have to know which foods might have some level of trans fat, even if it is not listed on the nutrition panel.

If the nutrition panel says zero (0), you will need to read the ingredients listing to see what types of fat might have been used in the manufacture of a particular product. If you see words like margarine, shortening, hydrogenated fat, hydrogenated vegetable oil, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, on the package, these are clues that the product is made with trans fat. Do your best to avoid such products.

Your next step: Talk to a registered dietitian.

Lactose Intolerance


If you have lactose intolerance it means that you cannot digest lactose, which is the sugar that is found in milk. This happens when your body does not produce lactase, an enzyme that is needed to break down the lactose or milk sugar.

How Do You Know If You Have Lactose Intolerance?

You may be lactose intolerant if you develop stomach symptoms within a few minutes to a couple of hours after consuming milk or other foods made with milk. The symptoms may be quite mild in some people, moderate in others and severe in the worse cases.

Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance

If you have any of the following symptoms after consuming milk or milk products, you may have lactose intolerance:
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea

What Should You Do If You Have Lactose Intolerance?
If your symptoms are mild, you might be able to consume a small amount of milk or milk product. Some people who are lactose intolerant are able to consume cheeses and yogurt without experiencing any serious symptoms, even if they cannot tolerate regular milk. You should pay attention to the signals in your own body and avoid those things that trigger a reaction. Always consult with your doctor to rule out any more serious medical condition.

Some supermarkets carry lactose-free or lactose-reduced milk. You might consider trying one of these if you are concerned about getting enough calcium. You can also get calcium from soy milk and other non-milk foods that have been fortified with calcium. 

Lactase enzyme, sold as an over-the-counter product is another option. This enzyme helps to digest the sugar in milk, making it easier for you to consume milk and milk products without the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

What Are Some Non-Dairy Foods That Contain a Good Bit of Calcium?

There are not many foods that provide calcium in amounts close to what you would get from milk, cheese, yogurt or other dairy products. However, there are a few foods that might help to fill the gap.

Here is a short list:

Rhubarb, frozen ....................... 348 mg per cup, cooked
Sardines with bone .................. 325 mg per 3 oz serving
Spinach, frozen ........................ 291 mg per cup, cooked
Salmon, canned, with bone ...... 181 mg per 3 oz serving
Soy milk, unfortified .................. 61 mg per cup
Orange ....................................... 52 mg per medium orange
Broccoli, raw ............................. 41 mg per cup
Pinto beans, cooked ................... 80 mg per cup
In comparison, milk would provide between 250 and 285 mg calcium per cup; Swiss cheese 224 mg per oz; and cottage cheese 87 mg per half-cup.


If you have lactose intolerance, talk to a registered dietitian to find ways of incorporating more calcium-rich foods in your diet. She can help you to get the calcium you from dairy foods that you can tolerate along with other calcium-rich, non-dairy foods while eliminating those dairy foods that you cannot tolerate.


MyPyramid - The Food Guide Pyramid Made Simple


MyPyramid is a simple guide, based on the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, that is designed to help you plan balanced meals and snacks. MyPyramid is divided into 5 parts. Each part represents one of five basic food groups. By choosing foods from each of these groups and eating the recommended portions everyday, you will be able to get most or all of the nutrients that you need for optimum health.

The Five Basic Food Groups

Here are the five basic food groups from MyPyramid along with the recommended intake for each group.

Grains. Choose from a variety of breads, cereals, crackers, rice and pasta. Make at least half of your daily intake whole grains. 1 serving of grain is about 1 slice of bread, 1 cup breakfast cereal or 1/2 cup of cooked rice, cereal or pasta. Actual portions may vary, particularly with breakfast cereals. Eat 6 servings per day.

Vegetables. Choose from dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale and collard greens, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, cabbage, asparagus, tomatoes, green beans, and the wide range of other vegetables available to you. Eat 2-1/2 cups per day.

Fruits. Choose from apples, mangoes, papaya, pomegranate, pears, peaches, cantaloupe, grapes, strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, kiwi, watermelon and many others. Eat 2 cups per day.

Milk and other dairy (or calcium-rich substitutes). Choose reduced fat milk, cheese, yogurt and/or other milk-based products. If you are unable to use dairy, consider soy milk and other foods fortified with calcium. Drink 3 cups per day. (2 cups for children ages 2 to 8)

Meat, fish, poultry and other protein-rich foods. Choose lean meat, poultry and fish. Also, dried beans and peas, nuts and seeds. Eat 5-1/2 ounces per day.

Note: Portions shown and recommended intakes are based a 2000-calorie diet for adults. You will need to make adjustments for young children. Additionally, if you are trying to lose weight (or gain), you will also need to adjust your intake accordingly. Need help? Talk to a registered dietitian.


MyPyramid incorporates the guidelines outlined in the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which include staying physically active, keeping within calorie limits and limiting the amount of fats, added sugars and salt (sodium) that you consume. Take these steps to a healthier you, starting right now.

Resources - Inside the Pyramid

Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Current Guidelines - 2005 Dietary Guidelines