Archive for February, 2007

It’s Still a Donut

In the US: Krispy Kreme unveils whole-wheat doughnut

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc., still recovering from the low-carb diet craze that starved the company’s earnings, unveiled a whole-wheat doughnut Monday. The 100 percent whole-wheat doughnut – with 180 calories – has a caramel flavoring and is covered with the doughnut maker’s original glaze.

This is what happens when “whole grain” is “healthy”…

In the UK: Public want food ‘traffic lights’

…simple red, amber and green guide to nutrition.

Under the scheme, cheese gets a red light; avocados get a red light; and a lot of boxed foods (read processed, refined foods) get green lights. One more example of a government pushing processed foods on the public.


February 27, 2007 at 2:24 pm 7 comments

Women Beware: Heart Disease & Stroke Risk

Fox News Nine, out of the Twin Cities headlined 90 Percent of Women at Risk for Heart Disease, Stroke on the heels of the American Heart Association release of updated guidelines for women at risk for heart disease and stroke.

The article opens with an ominous warning, “Michelle Bartell, 43, looks too young and too healthy to have had two heart attacks, and that is exactly the point of a new warning. It happened to her and it will happen to countless others. A new American Heart Association study shows 9 out of 10 women are at risk for heart disease or stroke.”

Just nine out of ten?

Truth be told every last person is “at risk” for heart disease or stroke, just as every last person is going to die, life itself comes with a sure “risk” of death – we just don’t know when.

The scare tactic headlines get your attention, but do little to help our understanding of real risk, over a lifetime, for women when it comes to heart disease and stroke.

Sadly the updated guidelines are little more than a “how to” manual to initiate drug therapy in every woman in America, as early as age 20 – the age they call for an initial risk assessement and start of intervention and treatment.

Even the recommendations, Evidence-Based Guidelines for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Women – 2007 Update, published in Circulation, state that, “…nearly all women are at risk for CVD, which underscores the importance of a heart-healthy lifestyle.”

Is it any wonder when you consider the criteria to be found “at risk” and therefore in need of intervention?

Have just one of the following in your initial risk assessment:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Poor Diet
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Obesity, especially central adiposity
  • Family History of premature CVD (in a male or female relative)
  • Hypertension
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Evidence of subclincal vascular disease
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Poor exercise capacity on treadmill test and/or abnormal heart rate recovery after stopping exercise

Basically no woman will be found who are not at risk if we look at the list above, and then also consider what qualifies as “optimal risk” to remove one from the “at risk” category – a Framingham Global Risk score of less than 10% AND a “healthy lifestyle” AND no risk factors above.

So then we’re off and running straight into the lifestyle modifications and intensive medical intervention.

Ah, yes, the lifestyle intervention – it pales in comparison to the intensive pharmacological intervention to be intiated as early as age 20; the treatment algorithm includes diet and exercise, underscored with a true lifestyle change – taking an assortment of drugs for the rest of your life!

This is “prevention”?

This is “risk reduction”?

This is the AHA “solution” to cardiovascular disease in women?

They have the gall to call this “evidence based”?

Just like the recent ADA update for diabetes, we find the AHA is now on the bandwagon to drug America – women in America – for the rest of our lives.

Not only that, they’re also intent on getting public policy in line with their insanity, “Population-wide strategies are necessary to combat the pandemic of CVD in women, because individually tailored interventions are likely insufficient to maximally prevent and control CVD. Pulic policy as an intervention to reduce gender-based disparities in CVD preventive care and improve cardiovascular outcomes among women must become an integral strategy to reduce the global burden of CVD.”

The media is taking this just as expected, as if it were the best thing next to sliced bread – in the WebMD section, heartwire, this was called a “bold prescription for the prevention of CVD;” and “with the goal to widen the window of opportunity for women to fight their number-one killer…”

A bold prescription? Interesting use of words there since it truly is a bold way to make every woman – healthy or otherwise – a target candidate for lifelong dependancy on prescription drugs!

“All women 20 years and older need initial CVD risk evaluation (medical history, physical exam, fasting glucose, lipids) and Framingham risk assessment; women with CVD need depression screening.”

The dietary recommendations are a guaranteed recipe to induce every symptom needed to score as “at risk” of cardiovascular disease – a low-fat diet, limiting meats and animal foods, that is rich with carbohydrates and completely fails to meet essential nutrients.

The recommendation reads, “[w]omen should consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables; choose whole grain, high-fiber foods; consume fish, especially oily fish at least twice a week; limit intake of saturated fat to less than 10% of energy, and if possible, less than 7%; cholesterol to less than 300 mg/day; alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink per day and sodium intake to less than 2.3g/day (approximately 1 tsp salt). Consumption of trans-fatty acids shoudl be as low as possible (eg, less than 1% of energy).”

ahem….this is “evidence based”?

Within the statement we find “the summary of evidence used by the expert panel can be obtained online as a Data Supplement at

Oddly, on this page referenced as the one to look to for additional information on the data presented in the statement – Evidence-Based Guidelines for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Women: 2007 Update – there isn’t any file to read to evaluate the so-called evidence used for the development of the dietary recommendations.

Wonder why?

It’s because there are no studies that can be used to support the dietary recommendations in the statement!

At the end of the paper we find “Appendix – Bibliography by Topic” and within that section, “Dietary Modification” with a laundry list of studies supposedly supporting the recommendations in the paper, that is followed by “Dietary Modification Meta-Analysis” with one citation as supportive.

This gives any reader the impression that there are mountains of data to support the recommendations.

How about we take a look?

  • Abbott et al investigated magnesium in the diet and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Willett et al investigated the relationship between calcium intake from diet or supplements and risk of ischemic heart disease in MEN.
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Bazzano et al reported results from a national survey of fiber intake and reduced risk of heart disease.
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Boniface et al reported on 16-year coronary disease mortality in Britain and fat intake.
    Intriguing , but nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Dauchet et al looked at fruit and vegetable consumption.
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Ellingsen et al investigated smoking and dietary advise in MEN.
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Erikka et al looked at vitamin K levels as a potential marker for heart disease, not stroke, in women.
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Howard et al – the Women’s Health Initiative null findings from last year are here?
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Hu et all appears in three separate citations – one for overall dietary pattern in MEN, one for alpha-linolenic acid and one for dietary protein.
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Jensen et al was on whole grain intakes
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Knoops looked at the Mediterranean dietary pattern and risk
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Kromhout et al looked at alcohol, fish, fiber and antioxidant vitamins and risk – funny, but the title includes that these “do not explain population differences in coronary heart disease mortality”
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Lee et al looked at vitamin C supplementation and risk
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Liu et al at fruit and vegetable intake, and in a second citation at breakfast cereal intake in MEN
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • McCullough et al investigated adhering to the dietary guidelines and risk
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Mukamal et al looked at coffee consumption
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Nestel et al was a drug trial
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Osler et al was a study to look at dietary scoring used in studies
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Sesso et al looked at flavonoid intakes and risk
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Steffen et al looked at whole and refined grains, fuits and vegetables to assess risk
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Trichopoulou et al is cited twice – both studies looking at survival among patients with CHD and the mediterranean diet in Greece
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • van der Schouw et al looked at phytoestrogens from diet and risk
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.
  • Yano et all looked at coffee and alcohol related to risk
    Nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.

Notice a pattern here?

How about the Meta-Analysis citation, perhaps that one is convincing enough?

Huxley et al, looked at studies to see the effects of dietary flavonol intake and CHD mortality – and once again, nope, not evidence to support a low-fat diet.

Twenty-nine references cited as supportive evidence for the low-fat diet recommendation within the document – not one actually shows such a diet will prevent cardiovascular disease or stroke in women.

Yet to any casual reader, this list in impressive and is assumed to be support for the recommendations within the document; that’s because it’s assumed citations are used properly, in context to what’s written and because they support of statements.

It’s also assumed those writing have the integrity to utilize the evidence accurately and truthfully.But after looking at the citations it’s clear this is not the case.

We have before us “evidence-based recommendations” without foundation in the science; without support in the data; being foisted upon us to follow without question because the AHA says it’s evidence-based.

As a woman, I am highly offended by these recommendations – they’re nothing more than a sure-fire way to make sure every woman in America is classified “at risk” so that intensive intervention and therapy may be initated to “save her” from herself and her poor diet, inactivity and get her on her lifelong pharmaceutical program early.

February 21, 2007 at 5:09 pm 6 comments

Scare Tactics to Bolster Grain Consumption

Be afraid, very afraid – if you don’t eat plenty of folic acid enriched grain products each day, you’ll have children with birth defects.

That’s the explicit message hot off the press, Could low-carb diets lead to birth defects?

“Blood levels of folate in young women are dropping, a disturbing development that could lead to increased birth defects and may be due to low-carb diets or the popularity of unfortified whole-grain breads.”


“Diet trends may have been be another factor, said Dr. Joseph Mulinare, a CDC epidemiologist who was the study’s lead author.

He noted that in 1998, the Food and Drug Administration began requiring that folic acid be added to breads, cereals and other products that use enriched flour. Whole-grain breads were not under that mandate because they already contain some folate.

Low-carb diets increased in popularity during the early 2000s. Women who avoided flour and bread products because of their carbohydrates may have also taken in less folic acid, Mulinare said.Eating certain foods also helps, especially breads, cereals and other products containing enriched flour.”

If you could see my face right now, you’d notice a very big eye roll as I shake my head at the insanity of this. Never mind that the survey didn’t actually look at the diet of those whose blood samples were found low in folate; never mind this is simply one more excuse to push eating processed grains; and never mind real whole food – vegetables, beans, fruits and some cuts of meat are exceptional foods to meet folate requirements.

One only needs to look at foods routinely consumed on a low-carbohydrate diet and compare them to the “miracle” folic-acid enriched grain products promoted in the above article to see the sham of this scare tactic designed to make you eat more processed grains!

World’s Healthiest Foods provides a comprehensive list of foods “rich” with folate – notice the top ten are NOT whole grains or enriched grains, but are real whole foods; in fact, in the longer list toward the bottom of the page, not one of the “excellent sources” are a grain or grain product, not one of the “very good” or even “good” sources are either – they’re ALL whole foods – meats, fruits, nuts, vegetables, roots, mushrooms, beans – with almost all of them not only allowed, but encouraged and mandatory in a carbohydrate restricted diet.

On the other hand, the Partnership for Essential Nutrition, an organization that is highly critical of carbohydrate restricted diets includes these foods as good choices to eat:

Bread, enriched white 1 slice 27
Breakfast cereals 1 ounce (approx 1 cup) Approx. 100-400. Check the label
Pasta, enriched ½ cup 53
Rice, white enriched ½ cup 54

No thanks, with just 2 cups romaine, 1 cup cooked spinach I’ll easily meet the 400mcg requirement without even specifically trying – if I add in tomatoes, cucumbers, some chickpeas and some more veggies and I can easily double that with real whole food that also come complete with an abundance of other essential nutrients without any added sugars, vegetable oils or processed grains!

UPDATE 02/21/07: A reader emailed with more foods as listed in the USDA Nutrient Database:

Liver – chicken – pan fried per 100mg: Folate, food mcg 560
Chicken liver pate: Folate, food mcg 321

compared with the “wonder” food:
Whole-wheat bread per 100mg: Folate, food mcg 50

February 20, 2007 at 6:31 pm 7 comments

The Big Fat Joke of our Dietary Recommendations in the US

I’ve received a number of interesting emails the last few days; asking everything from “where are you going with this?” to “that’s not a plant-based diet, and most definitely not a vegetarian diet, so what’s your point?”

Patience grasshopper, patience!

My point is this – over the last thirty-odd years we’ve been repeatedly told to limit meat, consume fewer eggs, choose low-fat dairy, use vegetable oils instead of animal fats for cooking, take the skin off our chicken and eat more chicken and fish; advised to have a few “vegetarian nights” for dinner; told to spread margarine, not butter, on our bread; pressured restaurants and fast food outlets to use partially hydrogenated oils to reduce saturated fat; reminded to eat more grains for fiber; and, at the end of the day, bought – hook line and sinker – the message that how we used to eat was bad, bad, bad and a diet with more plant-based calories was better for us.

Slowly but surely we have modified our diet and more calories now, than ever before, 73% in fact, come from plant-based sources; and we’ve grown obese, diabetic and disabled with increased incidence of degenerative disease. We’re also a nation slowly becoming dependent on prescription medications to relieve the symptoms of our poor dietary habits while we’re repeatedly told our health would improve if we just ate less meat, eggs, butter, saturated fat, and cholesterol.

Folks, these are not the problems in our diet.

Oh, we have modified our calories to consume more plant-based sources of calories, but we’re not eating closer to a vegetarian diet (nor do I think we have to).

What we’re eating is more and more processed foods with the majority of calories coming from three nutritionally poor, calorie dense sources – added sugars, added vegetable oils and refined grain products.

In fact, these three things – added sugars, added vegetable oils and processed grains – made up more than 60% of our daily calories in 2000. By 2004, little changed over four years, these three items still provided more than 60% of our daily calories.

These three items, that are providing most of our calories each day, aren’t really “foods” but are better thought of as “ingredients” since no one will readily sit with a sugar-bowl and eat spoon after spoon of sugar, take slugs from a bottle of corn syrup, chow down over a big bowl of flour, or pour a nice big glass of soybean oil to sip at the end of the day.

These ingredients however litter our food supply and are found in virtually all processed foods – those you’ll likely find in a box, jar, can or bag; those with a nutrition label on them detailing the fat, carbohydrate, fiber and protein, followed by the ingredients; frozen, refrigerated or stable on the shelf, these foods contain the ingredients that provide the majority of our calories each day.

As the past couple of posts highlighted, the devil is in the details – it’s not what you’re eating per se that appears to be a problem; but it’s what’s in what you’re eating that is adding not only significant calories each day, but a significant burden on your metabolism.

With more than 60% of calories from nutritionally bankrupt ingredients that provide little more than energy, should we be surprised we’re growing obese, diabetic and suffering an increase of degenerative disease?

Take a close look at what our diet looks like from the ERS data – in 2000 averaged 2,739-calories, with those calories coming from:

  • dairy, 285-calories (10.4%);
  • fruits 80-calories (2.9%);
  • vegetables, including potatoes and legumes, 133-calories (4.9%);
  • nuts, including peanuts, 90-calories (3.3%);
  • eggs 27-calories (1%);
  • meats, poultry and fish combined provide 374-calories (13.6%)
    red meats, including beef, pork, lamb and veal, 248-calories (9%);
    poultry, including chicken and turkey, 110-calories (4%)
    fish 16-calories (less than 1%)
  • grains, 634-calories (23%)
    whole grains, 32-calories (1.1%)
    refined grains, 602-calories (21.9%)
  • added sugars, 502-calories (18.3%)
  • added fats, 650-calories (23.7%)
    vegetable oils (mostly soybean), 276-calories (10%)
    shortening, 238-calories (8.7%)
    margarine, 40-calories (1.5%)

To determine the ratios of whole grain versus refined grain, I based the above calorie intakes on a 2002 Nutrition Research Newsletter that included the following, “Grains account for approximately 25% of energy consumption in the United States. However, an estimated 95% of grain available for consumption is refined.”

Our diet is appalling – not because we eat too much meat, not because we can’t give up eggs, and not because we love our butter…but because we’re replacing “real food” with processed foods rich with added sugars, added vegetable oils and refined grains!

And we’re eating like this thinking we’re choosing healthy foods because we’re told these foods are healthier for us – when we reach for the whole grain crackers, whole grain breads, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals touting whole grains, reduced fat salad dressings, and other “foods” we’re encouraged to eat – almost all contain one, two or all three of the offending ingredients.

Want an example of just how we’re encouraged to eat foods with these ingredients? The Mayo Clinic says “For a healthy breakfast on the go, munch dry, ready-to-eat cereal with a banana and drink a small carton of low-fat or skim milk. The best cereals are those that are higher in fiber. If counting calories, choose cereals that are lower in calories.”

Among the options suggested by the Mayo Clinic?

Basic Four
INGREDIENTS include: Sugar, Rice, Brown Sugar, Crisp Rice (Rice Flour, Malt Extract, Sugar, Salt),Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Corn Syrup Solids, Dextrose, Malt Syrup, Dried High Maltose Corn Syrup, and High Maltose Corn Syrup

With 200-calories per serving, 41.5% of those calories are from added sugars and added vegetable oil (partially hydrogenated vegetable oil); if 50% of the grains are refined, as the ingredients suggest, than another 12.5 grams of carbohydrate, or 25% more of the calories, are from refined grains, bringing the total calories from three ingredients – added sugars, added oils and refined grains – to 66.5% of the total calories in a serving.

It’s not just the Mayo Clinic serving up advice that leads directly to higher than anticipated consumption of added sugars, added vegetable oils and processed grains.

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans maintains a document “Food Groups to Encourage” that reads “Consume 3 or more ounce-equivalents of whole-grain products per day, with the rest of the recommended grains coming from enriched or whole-grain products. In general, at least half the grains should come from whole grains;” an implicit nod to continue eating processed foods, now just look for whole grain in the ingredients!

The American Heart Association makes the same recommendation and even offers manufacturers an opportunity to have the AHA Heart Check Mark on their products for consumers to identify those that are “heart healthy” – among those promoted as “heart healthy” – breads with added sugars and partially hydrogenated oils; ready-to-eat breakfast cereals including Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, Berry Berry Kix, and Trix; chocolate and strawberry flavored milks; microwave popcorn; and reduced fat crackers. The No-Fad Diet, an AHA publication, specifically includes donuts, fast food bacon biscuits and other fare as “healthy” when it is clearly the opposite!

And yet we blame Americans for being unable to make good choices?

The American Dietetics Association, in their Nutrition Facts Sheets, maintains a document, targeted toward the consumer, titled “Whole Grains Made Easy” – within it, a weeks menu with granola bars, pretzels, cornbread, ready-to-eat cereal, graham crackers, tortilla chips, veggie burgers and waffles; all included as “whole grain” foods to choose each day! Ignore that each is processed and includes one or more of the three ingredients above.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) includes sugar, processed foods and copious amounts of vegetable oils in their advice to those at risk for or diagnosed with diabetes. In their latest update to their Nutrition Recommendations and Interventions for Diabetes – 2006, they specifically state a low-carbohydrate diet (less tahn 130g of carbohydrate each day) is to be avoided and that “Individuals at high risk for type 2 diabetes should be encouraged to achieve the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommendation for dietary fiber…and foods containing whole grains (one-half of grain intake);” and “people with diabetes are encouraged to choose a variety of fiber-containing foods such as legumes, fiber-rich cereals…, fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products because they provide vitamins, minerals, and other substances important for good health.”

More food products, with added sugars, added vegetable oils and refined grains, encouraged as good choices.

And yet we blame Americans for being unable to make good choices?

While we’re repeatedly told to limit our consumption of red meat, butter, eggs and other animal foods, we’re also specifically encouraged to consume processed food products disguised as “healthful” because they’re a “source” of whole grains, low-fat, no cholesterol.

Ignore the added sugars, ignore the vegetable oils, ignore how much of a product is not whole grain…just don’t eat animal foods!

Our current diet is wrecking havoc on our metabolism; its nothing more than excessive sugars, oils and processed grain products, which leave our bodies wondering what its supposed to do with these calories coming in that do not include much in the way of essential nutrients to work with.

We’re reminded it’s all about calories, without much said about meeting essential nutrient requirements; we’re reminded to limit saturated fat, without much said about the detriments of excess polyunsaturated fatty acids providing excess omega-6 and the nutrient deficiency risk when limiting or replacing one type of food with another; and when we hear “food” mentioned by experts, it’s often a “food product” with little distinction between real whole food versus processed foods.

We’re left totally confused within the grocery store as more and more packages have labels touting their food product as superior to another because “insert health claim here;” manufacturers and retailers are gearing up to confuse us further with in-store promotions of whole grain products and other such “healthful” selections, totally ignoring the added sugars, vegetable oils and processed grains in those products you’ll be directed toward because they’re “healthier” for you.

Nutrition advice in the United States is a total joke, yet no one is laughing at the consequence of our folly that has resulted in an explosion of obesity, diabetes and other degenerative diseases.

Yet we continue down the path, warning incessantly about the terrible things in real whole food – saturated fat in meats and coconut oil; cholesterol in animal foods, especially eggs and butter; too much fat in nuts and seeds, too much fat in milk and cheese; while encouraging the consumption of vegetable oils, processed grains, fruits & vegetables and legumes; in a continued attempt to modify our dietary habits to include more plant-based foods, more vegetarian selections and include even fewer animal foods each day.

Just get with the program and all with be well.

But if you look at our food intake, and look at where it was forty years ago, thirty years ago, even twenty years ago, we’re eating similar levels of animal foods – what we’ve increased, significantly, is added sugars, processed grains and vegetable oils.

We do this without much thought, eat without realizing just how much more we are consuming calorie-wise, because added sugars, vegetable oils (soybean) and processed grains do not offer satiety or a level of nutrients our metabolism can use; all these ingredients offer is additional calories which short-circuit our metabolism and cause a host of problems from insulin resistance, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, high triglycerides, elevated blood sugars and more.

Over time these disturbances lead to diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

If we seriously want to halt the trends in obesity, reverse the epidemic of diabetes and stop the continued rise in degenerative diseases, we must – must – stop promoting processed food products as “healthful” options; better for us than real, whole foods that happen to include meat, dairy, eggs, oatmeal, qunioa, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, etc.

For over thirty years we’ve been sold a bill of goods that is directly causing our poor health and growing obesity – processed foods that contain added sugars, vegetable oils and processed grains – are adding significant hidden calories to our diet and not providing for essential nutrients that are critical for our health.

The experts wring their hands over the obesity epidemic while they refuse to consider the source of our inability to regulate appetite; they blame the population for making poor choices and lacking willpower; and they ignore that the foods they’re specifically encouraging are the problem. Until the powers that be have the guts to address the issue of processed foods and the damaging effects of excess ingredients in packaged foods, little is going to change regarding obesity or diabetes.

But you – you can read the consumption data yourself and begin to see exactly how our eating pattern has changed in ways no one is talking about. You can see with your own eyes just how much more added sugars, vegetable oils and processed grains we’re consuming in this country and then look at the various recommendations being made to consume that foodstuff.

Then, you can evaluate your own diet – see where you can make improvements to eliminate these ingredients adding calories, these foods that are not healthful to you and begin to eat a diet that truly is healthy….one rich with nutrients, rich with real, whole foods.

February 20, 2007 at 4:49 pm 10 comments

Diet Pattern from Another Perspective

The Economic Research Service of the USDA released food consumption data that provided the following in the overview, “In 2002, total meat consumption (red meat, poultry, and fish) amounted to 200 pounds per person, 23 pounds above the level in 1970. Americans consumed, on average, 18 pounds less red meat (mostly less beef) than in 1970, 37 pounds more poultry, and 4 pounds more fish. The types and amounts of food an individual chooses to eat not only affect his or her well-being, but also have implications for society as a whole.”

In the spreadsheets online, the ERS data for 2000 includes calorie consumption of 2,739-calories each day (not including alcohol). Because the data is presented differently than the FAO data I used in a previous post, it’s not an easy cut & paste into a spreadsheet to see where the calorie differences are found. After reviewing both sets of data however, the ERS data shows consumption of significantly less calories than FAO data for these items:

Added sugars ERS = 502-calories – FAO = 666-calories
Cereal GrainsERS = 635-calories – FAO = 869-calories
DairyERS = 285-calories – FAO = 387-calories

Other food consumption differences are minor, like butter is listed in the FAO data as 55-calories per day and 32-calories in the ERS data; FAO says fish in the US is 30-calories a day, the ERS says 16-calories a day.

The discrepancy is due to the calculation methods – the FAO calculates consumption based on production, imports, exports, wholesale waste and clearance from supply chain; the ERS takes that a step further and calculates estimated plate/kitchen waste along with surveys from eating habits (like what percentage of the population is known to toss egg yolks before making an omelet). In addition, unlike the FAO data which assumes, for example, “dairy is dairy” globally, the ERS bases the consumption estimate on type of dairy consumed (whole, low-fat, skim, etc.), so it more refined than the FAO data.

So, before I continue, I’m also going to present a quick scenario of a day of eating created from the ERS data since it also works out to 73% of calories from plant-based sources and 27% of calories from animal foods. Interestingly, if we use the ERS data, the calories from added sugars, cereal grains and vegetable oils now exceeds 60% of total calories per day.

So, based on the ERS dataset, the menu for a day might look like this:

1 serving frozen waffles
Pancake syrup
2-oz pork sausage
Coffee with sugar and non-dairy creamer
1 cup orange juice

Low-fat fruit yogurt
Bottled water

1 cup mixed salad greens, tomatoes, slice onion, salad dressing (composite to type)
Roast beef (3-oz) sandwich with mayonnaise, 1 slice nonfat american cheese
1 cup potato salad
1 can regular soda

1 apple
8 reduced fat Wheat Thins
1.5 tablespooon peanut butter

2.5-oz chicken breast, skinless, sauted in vegetable oil (soybean)
1 cup broccoli with margarine
1 cup brown rice (long grain)
1 cup lemonade (from powder mix)

Total Calories = 2738
Fat = 102g (34%)
Carbohydrate = 370g; Fiber = 23g; Net = 347g (51%)
Protein = 99g (15%)

The above menu is off by 3-calories, and like the FAO data menu is exact for meat, poultry, eggs, etc.

Like the previous menu, it is startlingly “healthy” if we measure healthfulness based on dietary guidelines in America – it contains low-fat dairy, reduced fat crackers, lean meats and favors margarine and vegetable oil for cooking.

Yet, it too is a nutritional nightmare – deficient now in Potassium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K; with excessive intake of sodium (63% more than recommended) and contains less fiber than recommended.

It also contains an unacceptably high 7.48g of trans-fatty acid – but hey, saturated fat only provides 8% of total calories.

I’ve added this post to add to our understanding of how we eat in the United States and to begin the next step of analysis of why this type of eating pattern may be directly related to our obesity epidemic and exploding prevalence of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

We’ll begin to tackle that issue next week!

February 17, 2007 at 4:45 pm 1 comment

What Does our Diet Look Like?

On Wednesday I ended my post with:

The changes in our diet over the last forty years begs an important question – how are we able to consume copious and increasing amounts of sugar, vegetable oils and cereal grains while continuing to eat a similar level of animal foods?

Just what is going on in our metabolism that even makes that possible?

That was written after detailing how our diet changed between 1961 and 2000 – changes that included an increase of 934-calories; 80% of them from increased consumption of added sugars, cereal grains and vegetable oils; all while we ate less red meat, butter, and eggs.

The shocker – as a nation we consumed an average 3,817-calories per person each day in 2000.

So, I had to wonder, what does 3,817-calories in a day look like?

Using the FAO data for each food group and type, I pulled a menu together in an attempt to reach 3,817-calories with, as per the consumption data, 156g of fat, 115g of protein, 20g of alcohol and 450g of carbohydrate.

In the process I had to choose foods rich with soybean oil, added sugars and include an adequate level of cereal grains to try to match the consumption pattern suggested in the data; I also limited animal fats and proteins to align with the data to reach the dietary pattern the FAO data suggests we consumed each day in 2000.

Lastly, I attempted to make this menu as realistic as possible, where an individual might think they’re eating healthy since recent surveys show the majority of people – 75% – actually do think they’re eating healthy.

What does such a day of eating potentially look like if we create a menu based on the consumption data from 2000?

1 serving frozen pancakes, microwaved
2.5 small brown-and-serve pork sausage links
Pancake syrup
Coffee with sugar and non-dairy creamer
1/2 cup orange juice

Morning Snack & beverage
Low-fat Fruit Yogurt

1 cup mixed greens salad, 1/2 cup diced tomatoes, 1 medium slice onion
2 TBS salad dressing (composite to type, soybean oil based)
2-oz lean roast beef, 1 slice american cheese (plastic wrap type), 2 regular slices rye bread, mayonnaise
3/4 cup potato salad
1 small apple
Lemonade (made from powdered mix)

Afternoon Snack(s) & beverages
1-ounce tuna in water mixed with mayonnaise
6 reduced fat Wheat Thins
1 can regular soda
1 peanut butter cookie (packaged, soft style)
Bottle of water

3.9-oz chicken, white meat, skinless (vegetable oil, soybean, used in pan to saute chicken)
1 cup noodles, 1 tsp butter
1 cup green beans with onions, from frozen, margarine in ingredients
7.5 ounces red or white wine

After Dinner Snack
1 cup skim milk
Pretzels, reduced fat dip

Total Calories = 3,830
Fat = 152g
Carbohydrate = 472g; Fiber 21g; Net 451g
Protein = 125g
Alcohol = 20g

Just a bit over the estimated calorie intake (+13 calories), but the menu is exact for intake of beef, fish, poultry, pork, butter and eggs; notable is that there isn’t an egg on the menu, it’s in the prepared foods.

In this menu, the cereal grains, added sugars and soybean oil is very very close to the consumption estimate from the FAO.

Overall, in the above menu, almost 57% of the calories come from three things – cereal grains, vegetable oils and added sugars.

Yet it doesn’t look like there are 4.5-tablespoons of soybean oil or a bit more than 3/4 of a cup of added sugars and with seven servings of grains, it’s well within the dietary recommendation of six to ten servings each day.

It’s also within the recommendation to keep saturated fat intake at or below 10% of calories, coming in with just 9% of calories from saturated fat.

But consider this – even with this level of calorie intake, the above menu does not meet the recommended intake for Potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Magnesium or Fiber! All those calories and anyone eating it is still deficient for essential nutrients, and even would consume 2.75-times the sodium without adding one shake of salt at the table!

And, while this menu contained just 9% of calories from saturated fat – a target most agree is desirable, no one would say the almost 12g (11.58g) of trans-fatty acids are acceptable, yet the above menu contains that much trans-fat!

This is but one scenario of a typical day’s menu that might align with the consumption data for the United States in 2000; few eat all types of meat and fish in one day; the FAO data and ERS data is based on consumption averages – so while in the real world one day may be chicken and fish and another day beef or pork, over a week or month we consume an average number of calories from those foods.

The scary thing is the above menu isn’t unreasonable for an average person to consume throughout the day, and many of the items I selected are considered “healthier” choices as per the dietary recommendations – the lowfat yogurt, wheat thins, tuna, rye bread, pretzels, skinless chicken breast, salad and green beans with onions, non-dairy creamer, skim milk, lean roast beef, and an apple – yet this menu is a nutritional nightmare – is it any wonder What We Eat in America, a report compiled using NHANES data, found chronic population-wide nutrient deficiency when published in 2005?

Which brings us to the second question asked above – just what is happening in our metabolism that allows us to eat that many calories?

We’ll explore that question next week…

February 16, 2007 at 3:56 pm 4 comments

Time Crunch…

Yesterday I wrote that I’d continue with a follow-up to my post – for those awaiting that post, please forgive my delay, an unanticipated schedule change here means I won’t be able to complete the post until later tonight!

Thanks for your patience!

February 15, 2007 at 4:58 pm Leave a comment

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