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Choosing the Right Fats and Avoiding the "Bad" Proves to be Beneficial for Your Health


Choosing the Right Fats and Avoiding the Bad Proves to be Beneficial for Your HealthFor a long time, when you heard the word, "fat", in a conversation about nutrition, it was usually used in a negative fashion. But not all fat is bad for you, depending on the variety you consume. There are two types of fats when it comes to food and nutrition: saturated and unsaturated. Certain foods can contain one or both types, which can affect your overall health in vastly different ways. Recently, research illuminated just how important it is to you heart health when it comes to which fats make up the bulk of your diet.

Saturated Fat Basics

Saturated fats possess no double-bonds between carbon molecules because they are saturated with hydrogen molecules, hence their name. Foods containing saturated fats usually remain solid at room temperature. These are the bad fats—the heavy fats that are found in foods known for their negative effects on your health. Some popular foods containing saturated fatty acids include meats, cheeses, butter, fried foods, heavy creams and oils, baked goods, and pastries.

The Healthy Replacements

Unsaturated fats, on the other-hand, can actually be beneficial to your daily diet. Two different types—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated—can be found in foods and some oils. A recent study showed how you can support a healthy heart by swapping out saturated fats for both types of unsaturated fat.

A Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study of 127,000 cohort participants showed that replacing 5% of energy intake coming from saturated fats with an equivalent intake from polyunsaturated fatty acids was associated with a 25% decrease in heart health concerns. Replacing the equivalent intake with monounsaturated fats was associated with a 15% decrease for the same cardiovascular concerns.

"This shows that the replacement really matters. It's not enough to remove something from your plate and think you're doing yourself a favor," said co-lead author, Dr. Adela Hruby, of the Chan School of Public Health at Harvard, Boston.

What Foods and Supplements to Look For

Along with knowing the benefits that certain fats can provide, it is vital to know where to find these fats. Most unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Flax oil, palm oil, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, and canola oil can all be used for cooking instead of butter, shortening, and stick margarine.

When it comes to getting an extra heart health boost, there is also fish oil containing omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown in studies to also lower the risk of heart concerns, as well as support healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Coldwater fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring contain high amounts of nutritious omega-3 fatty acids.

The Role of Fats and Healthy Food Choices

There was a time where we thought any kind of fat was bad. Now with an increased understanding of the different fats and the roles they play in your health and nutrition, we know that some fats can actually be beneficial. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then to learn that the recipe to avoiding saturated fats includes choosing healthier foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and poultry. If you choose to eat meat, limit your red meat consumption, choosing fish and nuts instead to help increase your unsaturated fat intake.

In the end, not all fats should be thought of negatively. Making the healthy choice sometimes means choosing the right fats and making them work for you when it comes to achieving a healthier overall lifestyle.



Coconut Oil: The New "Do-It-All" Health Product!


Coconut Oil: The New Do-It-All Health Product!Coconut oil was originally heavily ostracized by the health community due to its relatively high saturated fat content. However, closer inspection has shown that the saturated fat in coconut oil differs from the saturated fat often found in animal products, which is primarily comprised of long-chain fatty acids. Coconut oil contains a high amount of medium-chain fatty acids, which are harder for the body to convert into stored fat and easier to burn off than long-chain fatty acids or triglycerides. Recently, there has been a boon in popularity of coconut oil and it has been lauded for its many uses. So what are these benefits and how can you add them to your daily health regimen?

Good for Cooking and for Skin

Among its many applications, coconut oil can be used for cooking. In fact, research has shown coconut oil to be a better choice over soybean oil and corn oil. Studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed that 94% of soy produced in the United States is genetically modified and may be nutritionally deficient. Virgin coconut oil, on the other hand, is extracted from fresh, ripe coconuts. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, virgin coconut oil has no sugar, carbohydrates, or cholesterol; and it contains phenolic compounds that may provide antioxidant support.

Besides being used for cooking, coconut oil has also gained a reputation for supporting healthy skin. A 2013 study in the Journal of International Dermatology found that virgin coconut oil improved skin barrier function in people dealing with certain skin concerns. It helps create smooth, soft skin by retaining moisture content because its fat content is able to eliminate moisture loss through the pores. If skin support wasn’t enough, coconut oil can be used in hair care. Its texture and antioxidant properties can promote healthy, smooth hair that possesses a natural shine.

A New Way to Boost Heart Health and Weight Management

The same properties that make coconut oil good for cooking apply to its ability to support weight management and heart health. Hydrogenated saturated fats are known to raise bad cholesterol levels (LDL). However, virgin coconut oil can help increase levels of good cholesterol (HDL). Coconut oil is also said to help decrease appetite and increase fat burning. Evidence points to its effectiveness at targeting abdominal fat. A recent clinical study involving women with excess abdominal fat who took coconut oil every day found that coconut oil consumption led to a significant reduction in both body mass index and waist circumference within a 12-week period. Another study on overweight males also showed a similar reduction in waist circumference after four weeks of daily coconut oil use.

The Evidence Is In

Research continues to grow about the multiple health benefits of coconut oil. From beauty care to weight management to cholesterol health, coconut oil is a multifaceted product to turn to for many of your daily wellness needs.



How Reading Nutrition Labels May Get Easier Due to Potential FDA Changes


How Reading Nutrition Labels May Get Easier Due to Potential FDA ChangesWhen it comes to nutrition and knowing what to put into your body each day, knowledge is everything. Misconceptions about what is good and bad for your daily health have been popping up for decades. Just as recently as the 1960s there were advertisements that hyped sugar as being a natural, fat-free energy booster. While our understanding of certain ingredients has changed over time, many people still struggle over eating healthily and know the true consequences of what they eat.

Nutrition labels are thought of as the great equalizer that can illuminate and educate consumers on food products. However, they have also been a hot-button issue between food companies, consumers, health experts, and the FDA for years; the main argument being that some labels may mislead people about the true nutritional value of an item. To rectify this, the FDA is proposing some new changes to help further clarify the real nutritional content of foods and beverages.

Adding Up the Sugar

Among the most important potential changes have to do with the tricky way some companies quantify sugar content. Under the new proposed rules, labels would have to include the daily percentage value of total sugar as they have done for other ingredients like fats, carbohydrates, and fiber. The amounts would have to be listed from highest percentage content to lowest.

With some products, the types of sugar—such as high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, etc.—would need to be listed individually. The new label guidelines also require that the sugar content, regardless of what ingredients it’s from, be totaled to give you a better idea of how much sugar can actually dominate a particular product.

Other Key Labeling Changes

Another important change that could immediately help a consumer identify unhealthy ingredients has to do with how the label is designed. If a product contains more than 20% of the daily recommended value of saturated fats or sugar, they would be listed in red and have the word “high” next to the percent value, so you will be able to clearly spot them when looking at the label.

The list of ingredients themselves would be separated by a bolded dot instead of a comma, making it easier to read. Major ingredients will be listed by their weighted percent of the product, while minor ingredients—defined as anything which makes up less than 2% of your daily value—would be listed separately, along with potential allergens at the bottom of the label. With the recent banning of trans-fats, they will no longer need to be included or listed at 0%. Lastly, if a product contains any caffeine, it will also need to be disclosed.

Moving Forward and Getting Support

In 2013, Congress passed the Food Labeling Modernization Act that instructed the FDA to update food labels with several changes, such as requiring food companies to use realistic serving sizes and prominently label the total calories per serving.

Adding the percent daily value for sugar was another requirement of the FDA in that law. Now, the FDA is issuing the formal proposal for these changes. In the next 75 days, they will continue to seek public comments. After that a final ruling will be made on all potential changes. The FDA already has the support of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which released a comment stating, “Modernization of nutrition and health information on food labels is an essential weapon in the fight against obesity” and diet-related conditions.

Knowledge can empower everyone to make better choices, providing that full disclosure is given so that people can make well-informed decisions. The proposed FDA label changes are taking the right step towards creating a trickle-down effect of better living, one label at a time.



Knowing the Different Remedies for Colds vs Sinus Infections


Knowing the Different Remedies for Colds vs Sinus InfectionsWhen you get those familiar symptoms of a runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes, and sneezing, you may quickly conclude that you must have a cold. But how can you be so sure? The fact remains that colds and sinus infections might appear similar, but they are two different things and their treatments can diverge.

The Common Cold Virus

A famous saying in health is that there is no cure for the common cold. While this may be true, it's important to understand the symptoms you're dealing with in order to aid the recovery process. Because the common cold is, in fact, a virus, antibiotics won't help. Essentially, you have to let a cold run its course, but therein lies the problem.

While there are plenty of remedies to help ease the symptoms of a cold, one of the biggest things you can do is get proper rest. It is common for people to work through colds or try to resume their normal daily activities, but this can make a cold stick around longer. While colds typically only last for a week, not getting proper rest can allow them to linger longer.

Common cold symptoms can include: Sore throat, cough, headache, stuffy nose, mucus buildup, sneezing, fatigue, swollen sinuses, and in some cases a low-grade fever in adults. The remedies you choose to combat your cold symptoms should be specific to that symptom. Taking a cold or sinus pill and expecting it to work on everything can be a mistake. Target a headache, runny nose, mucus buildup, and fever differently. Acitamenophine tablets can help ease headaches and other discomfort, but make sure not to exceed the recommended dosage. Drink plenty of hot fluids such as chicken soup to stay hydrated. If you have one, a neti pot can help drain thin mucus and flush out your sinuses with a mix of distilled water and salt.

A Sinus Infection and Its Symptoms

A sinus infection starts in the nasal passages. When the sinuses become inflamed it can be harder to get rid of than a common cold. While colds don't usually directly cause sinus infections, they can present an apt breeding ground for them. Camelia Davtyan, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), explains how this can happen.

"You touch your nose a lot when you're sick, and each time you bring more bacteria to the sinuses," she says. "Because your sinuses can't drain, the bacteria stay there and grow."

Symptoms of sinus infections, while similar to the common cold, can be slightly different, including: Sinus pressure behind the eyes and the cheeks, a runny or stuffy nose lasting more than a week, a persistent headache, dizziness when shifting position, fever, cough, mucus draining from your nose or down the back of your throat (postnasal drip), fatigue, and a decreased sense of smell.

If you think you have a sinus infection rather than a cold, see your doctor right away. Most sinus infections will go away after a course of antibiotics. While you wait for the antibiotics to do their job, you can also ease your symptoms through nasal irrigation and with over-the-counter nasal decongestants.

Protecting Your Immune System

Even before you feel any symptoms it's always important to boost your immune system. Supplements like vitamin C, zinc, and even a daily multivitamin can help aid daily nutrition, which in turn can give your immune system the consistent boost it needs to keep you feeling healthy each day.

Knowing the Difference and Attacking with the Right Remedy

It is commonplace for the symptoms of a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and headache to be chalked up to the common cold or allergies. The truth is, while some symptoms are similar, their origins and, consequently, methods of treatment can differ. Everyone deals with colds, sinus infections, and allergies at some point in time. Recognizing the differences and following the right treatments can help you feel better faster, allowing you to get back to operating at your best sooner.



Get the Low Down on Your Heart and Stress and Celebrate National Heart Health Month!


Get the Low Down on Your Heart and Stress and Celebrate National Heart Health Month!Valentine’s Day commercials, sales, and promos will often portray the heart as a symbol of love and happiness. But February is also National Heart Month—a time to put the health of your heart into greater focus.

Heart health challenges affect a vast amount of the population and are the leading health concern in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, it costs the United States over $300 million a year in health care services, medications, and loss of productivity. Focusing on the heart shouldn’t just happen one month a year, however. Your heart is your companion for life. Ensuring a healthy heart starts at a young age and continues through adulthood into your elderly years.

The Vast Connections of Heart Health

Heart health would be much simpler if there was one single way of supporting it. However, as the engine of your body, the heart is connected to many different important functions in your body. Because of this it can be influenced—in both positive and negative ways—from your body’s other systems. Blood pressure, diet, exercise, blood sugar, weight management, cholesterol, and stress cultivating a health heart is a balance of motivation, prevention and diligence—making sure you are trying to make the right choices for a healthy future.

Why Dealing with Stress Is, Well... Everything

With so many areas to focus on when it comes to your heart we want to focus on one of the most important factors influencing your long term heart health, stress. Like death and taxes, stress is a constant throughout your lifetime. Sometimes, everything doesn’t always go as planned; whether your car breaks down, you lose your job, or you can’t find your favorite pair of socks, there are all types of stressful situations, and everyone handles them differently.

Handling stress in the wrong way can lead to behaviors that negatively affect your heart. How do you handle stress? Under stress, do you answer yes to any of the following?

  • Eat to calm down?
  • Speak and eat very fast?
  • Drink alcohol or smoke?
  • Rush around but do not get much done?
  • Work too much?
  • Procrastinate?
  • Sleep too little, too much, or both?
  • Slow down?
  • Try to do too many things at once?

If you answer yes to a few of these, it could mean that you are not dealing with stress in the right way. Being under stress or dealing with stressful situations can set off a chain reaction within your body. Adrenaline is released as part of your “fight or flight” response, elevating your heart-rate, breathing, and blood pressure.

Stress can also lead to overeating and unhealthy eating, as well as induce bad decisions in attempts at stress management. Managing stress, therefore, is important.

Manage Your Stress and Choose a Healthy Heart

The effects of stress and how it relates to are currently undergoing many studies. But there are already proven ways in which you can manage stress to prevent long-term damage and potential heart disease. Exercise and diet—two staples that every expert agrees are at the core of good heart health—should be at the heart (pun very much intended) of creating good daily habits. Consistent exercise—at least 150 minutes of cardio per week—can be done in a variety of ways that is adaptive to all ages and athletic levels.

Eating habits can change as a result of constant stress, causing undereating, overeating, and poor choices in food. It’s the same with exercise—stress can zap your energy, hurt your sleeping patterns, and slow you down in general. It’s somewhat of conundrum; exercise helps keep stress away, but stress can keep you from having the energy to exercise.

Response Choices for a Healthy Heart

Even with all the modern medicine available in the world, we still can’t find the secret to alleviating stress. The truth lies in your behavioral reactions and response choices from stressful situations. Understanding how you deal with stress, and the decisions you make will affect the behaviors that can dictate a healthy or unhealthy heart. Take the time this month to learn what you can do to give your heart healthy outlook it deserves.


Is an Avocado a Day a Secret to Better Health?


Is an Avocado a Day a Secret to Better Health?Almost everyone knows the famous food-related piece of advice: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." But it may be time to rephrase that saying. Recent studies have shown that replacing bad fats (saturated fatty acids) with good fats (unsaturated fatty acids) can benefit cholesterol and help support both heart health and weight management. These studies point to the benefits of the Mediterranean diet as one pathway to better eating habits. One particular study focuses on the benefits of avocados as a novel way of introducing healthier fats into your diet.

Out with the Bad Fats and in with the Good!

Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the study sought to test the effect avocados had on traditional cardiovascular risk-factors by substituting the saturated fatty acids in the average American diet with unsaturated fatty acids found in avocados. Risk factors included: total cholesterol, triglycerides, small dense LDL, and non-HDL cholesterol.

Forty-five healthy, overweight, or obese patients ranging in age from 21 to 70 were selected. Placed on three different cholesterol-lowering diets, participants consumed an average American diet—consisting of 34% calories from fat, 51% carbohydrates, and 16% protein—for two weeks prior to starting one of the following cholesterol-lowering diets: a lower-fat diet without the consumption of avocado, a moderate-fat diet without avocado, and a moderate-fat diet that included eating one avocado per day.

An Avocado a Day...

When compared to the average American diet, LDL, commonly known as "bad choelsterol, was lower after consuming the moderate-fat diet that included an avocado. LDL was also lower for the moderate-fat diet without the avocado, but not as much; it was 8.3 mg/dL lower when compared to the avocado-a-day diet, which was 13.5 mg/dL lower.

"In the United States, avocados are not a mainstream food yet, and they can be expensive, especially at certain times of the year," said Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Ph.D, R.D., senior study author, Chair of the American Heart Association's Nutrition Committee, and Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. "Also, most people do not really know how to incorporate them in their diet except for making guacamole. But guacamole is typically eaten with corn chips, which are high in calories and sodium. Avacados, however, can also be eaten with salads, vegetables, sandwiches, lean protein foods (like chicken or fish) or even whole," she said.

Taking the First Steps to Better Heart Health

The focus behind many heart-healthy diets has been to change the types of fats consumed rather than eliminate them. The Mediterranean diet seeks to do this by going heavy on the vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, and foods rich in unsaturated fatty acids. Research on avocados now puts them in the same group and presents an easy way to start replacing bad fats with good ones. Although it can be tough always sticking to a particular way of eating, integrating an avocado into your daily eating habits can be a great starting point to support good heart-health and weight management. Start your avocado-a-day routine today!



Your Body Is the Battleground and a Cold Nose May Be a New Enemy


Your Body Is the Battleground and a Cold Nose May Be a New EnemyTalking in a nasal-like tone and feeling congested for weeks at time is no fun. Then again, neither is sneezing, coughing, or constantly burying your face in a tissue. The common cold is an inescapable part of being human, it seems, and while many advances have been made in modern medicine over the last two centuries, the elusive instant cure-all for it remains as mysterious as a supermassive black hole. While many remedies, exist, there is no one path to feeling better. However, a new study reveals an interesting fact about temperature and nose colds.

Cold Temps Can Influence... the Nose Cold?

One of the most common forms of the cold—the rhinovirus—has been the subject of previous studies conducted in various temperatures. However, earlier research only focused on how the virus reacted to colder body temperatures. This new study headed by author and Yale professor of immunobiology, Akiko Iwasaki, sought to further investigate the relationship between higher temperatures and the immune-response rate.

To investigate this relationship, Iwasaki extracted cells from subjects' airways. She then compared the immune-response of the cells exposed to the rhinovirus when the cells were incubated at 37oC (98.6oF) or the body's normal temperature. The same comparison was made with a lower body temperature of 33oC (91.4oF). Findings suggested that the innate immune-response to the rhinovirus was impaired at the lower body temperature when compared to the normal body temperature.

"In general, the lower the temperature, it seems the lower the innate immune response to viruses," noted Iwasaki. This gives weight to remedies like hot drinks and hot soup when you have a cold. Keeping your body temp warm is actually scientifically helpful to your immune system when fighting off a cold.

The Importance of the Immune Response

While you may not be able to avoid the common cold and other mildly annoying illnesses, you can do your part to strengthen your body's immune response. Raising your body temperature by staying warm, as shown in the study above, and even covering your extremities (especially the nose) can help your body respond better in fighting off the cold as explained by the body temperature studies above. Supplementing with certain vitamins and minerals like zinc, vitamin C, and Echinacea can also support the body's immune system. While everyone will experience the common cold at some point, it doesn't need to be a losing battle.



What Makes You Gain More Weight in Winter?


What Makes You Gain More Weight in Winter?Although cookies, hot chocolate, oatmeal, breaded dishes, and pasta are not exclusively associated with the winter season, there is something about the sharp, blanketing cold of winter that makes us crave these filling foods more often when it is chilly out. Can this be the reason people see winter as a season for weight gain? Why do we crave these foods; is it pop-culture advertising making these calorie-rich foods more appealing during the wintry season and holidays? Or does it go a little deeper, reaching into our primitive past?

Are You Eating Because You're SAD?

Being stuck indoors on cold nights can quickly lead to boredom. Even with all the distractions of the digital age, eating is still one of our favorite ways to pass the time. It's known that your mood can affect your appetite—and not always in a good way. Long, cold nights of winter bring out low moods—a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD)—so it's easy to understand why this can lead to overeating and weight gain. In an article by The Huffington Post, Susan B. Roberts, PhD, professor of nutrition at Tufts University, explains how our prehistoric ancestors—who had to constantly forage for food for survival—were wired to search for sugars, fats, and proteins.

"In prehistory, calories were in intermittent supply and very essential for survival," Roberts explains. "So it makes sense to have a mechanism to ensure that we really love calories and are willing to work to get them!"

Which Season Do You Eat More In?

With shorter days and colder weather it's natural to assume that less physical activity happens in fall and winter. A recent study published in the journal, Nature, done by Ira Ockene, MD, a cardiologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, confirmed that calorie intake does vary season by season. In the study, winter eating was associated with our conditioned, primitive impulse to stockpile food for winter. Researchers also found that the average calorie intake increased by 86 in the fall compared to the spring. In an interview, Dr. Ockene states that less sunlight and shorter days also prompt us to seek more food and eat faster.

However, scientific backing may not be needed to point out the obvious. Holidays eating traditions also play a major role in our winter dietary habits. From October through January we are hit with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and even Super Bowl parties, which have become occasions for friends and family to come together and indulge in calorie-rich foods and snacks. These calorie-laced holidays—coupled with lack of physical exercise—makes winter a prime time for a little weight gain. So what can you do?

Fortunately, it is possible to enjoy the holidays and indulge in a few guilty food pleasures if you're smart about your eating habits. Make yourself a deal: Enjoy some of the foods you normally wouldn't, but only eat one of them a day. If you know you'll be attending several parties, eat light and go for low-calorie foods such as salads, or fruit and vegetable platters. By staying conscious of your holiday calorie intake, you can help you stave off some both weight gain and some of the regret come the spring.



Recent Studies Reveal Powerful Heart Health Benefits


Recent Studies Reveal Powerful Heart Health BenefitsCertain diets, like the Mediterranean diet, have shown many benefits for heart health, cholesterol levels, and even weight management. Part of the Mediterranean diet focuses on replacing saturated fats with different types of vegetable oils or oils that contain unsaturated fats. One particular type of vegetable oil, linoleic acid, has been identified as being able to provide many different types of health benefits when utilized in your daily diet.

Data for a Different Kind of Oil

Linoleic acid is the main type of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid found in many vegetables oils, nuts, and seeds. Recently, it was studied as part of a comprehensive review by Harvard Public Health School researchers. Compiling data from 13 published and unpublished cohort studies involving a total of 310,602 individuals, Harvard researchers noticed a connection between the use of linoleic acid and reductions in heart-related concerns.

Lead author, Maryam Farvid, a visiting scientist and Takemi fellow in the Department of Nutrition, explained at length why linoleic acid can be an important component of a daily diet.

"Replacing either saturated fat or carbohydrates with vegetable oils and seeing significant benefits indicates that reduction in saturated fat or carbohydrates is not the only reason for the beneficial effects of linoleic acid. Instead, linoleic acid itself plays a special role in support of heart health. Randomized clinical trials have shown that replacing saturated fat with linoleic acid reduces total and LDL cholesterol. There is also some evidence that linoleic acid improves insulin sensitivity and blood pressure."

Other studies done by the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) found that women, specifically, can derive benefits from linoleic acid. Research found that women who consumed 1.5 grams of alpha-linoleic acid per day lowered their cardiac health risks by 46% compared to those who consumed less than 0.5 grams per day. Alpha-linoleic acid was also shown help to increase healthy HDL cholesterol levels, and decrease unhealthy LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Integrating Linoleic Acid Into Your Daily Diet

Various cooking oils—such as soybean, canola, sunflower, safflower, and corn oils—all contain linoleic acid and can replace creams, butters, lards, and other animal-based fats as your primary source of healthy fats that are crucial to supporting daily heart health. Soybean and canola oils contain the highest yield of linoleic acid. For a healthy snack, walnuts are also rich in this fatty acid. Linoleic acid can also be taken in supplement form in vegetable-based omega formulas containing flaxseed oil.

Prioritizing Heart Health

Heart health continues to be one of the top priorities in today’s society. While the focus on how to utilize fats for good health is still being researched, studies have shown that nature can provide a variety of nutritious fat substitutes from vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. With the growing popularity of the Mediterranean diet, the prevalence of healthy oils like linoleic acid will play a crucial role in carrying good heart health into the future.



FDA Requires Calorie Counts on More Food Items


FDA Requires Calorie Counts on More Food ItemsThe road to good health starts with the individual. Choices in diet, exercise, and supplementation will dictate the type of lifestyle you will have. But without the right knowledge, making those choices can be challenging. One of the biggest debates over personal nutrition has to do with the accuracy and visibility of nutrition information, and passing the necessary laws to enact the best health interests of society.

Ancillary Effects of the Affordable Care Act

With the passing of the Afforadable Care Act in 2010, media coverage was focused mostly on how it would affect individual and family health care plans. But the Affordable Care Act also enacted widespread changes to many different parts of personal health, including the accuracy of nutrition labels. Recently, two major regulations put into effect by the FDA were part of the menu label law attached to the Affordable Care Act.

Knowing Where Your Calories Come From

One of the main changes was aimed at retail food businesses that have 20 or more locations. These establishments are now required to post calorie counts next to all food and drink items. Businesses that fall into this category include: Sit-down and fast-food restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, and restaurant-style food in some grocery and convenience stores. It has also been noted that for the first time, these rules will apply to take-out and delivery foods, foods purchased at drive-through windows, and self-service foods at salad or food bars within the included establishments.

Another intriguing change applies to vending machines. Calorie counts will now be required to be displayed either on the front of the food package or on a calorie menu located somewhere visible on the machine.

"Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in a statement. "These final rules will give consumers more information when they are dining out and help them lead healthier lives."

Making the Calorie Counts Seen

With the backing of the National Restaurant Association—representing nearly one million food establishments and more than 13 million restaurant industry employees—these regulations are part of the larger movement towards greater personal health. While the choice will still come down to the individual, increasing the knowledge and health awareness of society as a whole helps make those healthy decisions a little easier.