I was recently interviewed by Prevention magazine on new science regarding fat in our diet. Some of you remember the fat-free trend, where you’d eat a box of fat-free crackers and still be hungry (there are reasons for that). Then we went to fat substitutions and low-fat everything; real fat was out.
Turns out, we can eat all kinds of fats – naturally occurring is best – balance and moderation is still ‘in’.
- The type of fat we eat matters!
- Most of us need more long-chain omega-3s (EPA and DHA, specifically)
- Saturated fat is not all evil! Some is OK; make choices.
- Eating mono- and poly-unsaturated fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, fish) instead of refined carbohydrates is a better choice for cardiovascular health.
Click on this link for a handy reference chart that I created of some smart and tasty substitutions: Easy fat substitutions Vannice Prevention mag 2014
The article on healthy fats is here. I didn’t know the article title would be weight loss; the content refers to good health! Healthy fat update. Vannice Prevention 2014
“Choose your fat like you choose your friends; wisely!”©
FTC final Decision and Ruling is that Martek and ihealth, sellers of BrainStrong Adult are no longer allowed to make the claims of “improves memory in adults” or “prevents cognitive decline in adults”.
Find the complete ruling here: FTC Decision and Ruling Martek/ihealth Cognitive and Memory claims 8.14
The product most directly affected is BrainStrong Adult which contains 900 mg DHA along with some l-theanine and green tea extract. Distrubuted by i-health (formerly Amerifit).
In light of the abundance of research demonstrating Need and Benefit from consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 for pregnant women and young children, the FDA and EPA have issued an update of their 2004 advice.
This updated advice pertains to all women who are pregnant or may become pregnant and everyone who feeds young children.
Why this advice matters? Intake of EPA and DHA is deplorably low in the United States, particularly among pregnant women and young children. These nutrients are essential fats that must be consumed through diet.
The documented benefits during pregnancy and for young children are too numerous to list here; contact me if you’d like more information.
Recommendations, in brief (see link below for complete update):
1. Eat 8-12 ounces of a variety of fish* a week.
- That’s 2 or 3 servings of fish a week.
- For young children, give them 2 or 3 servings of fish a week with the portion right for the child’s age and calorie needs.
2. Choose fish lower in mercury.
- Many of the most commonly eaten fish are lower in mercury.
- These include salmon, shrimp, pollock, tuna (light canned), tilapia, catfish, and cod.
* “Fish” refers to fish and shellfish collectively
Draft Updated Advice (1 page PDF) – also attached
Consumer Health document + Instructions to comment
This is excellent news!
I’m thrilled to share news of my recent publication!
Nutritional consultant Gretchen Vannice, MS, RDN, has written a new position paper on dietary fats for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). Co-authored with Heather Rasmussen, PhD, RD, of Rush University Medical Center, the paper updates the 2007 position of the academy.
A summary of the key recommendations follows.
- The type of fat in the foods we eat is as important as the amount of fat we eat.
- Americans should increase consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and limit saturated and trans fats while consuming 20%-35% of their daily calories from fat.
- Dietary fat recommendations aren’t as simple as saturated or unsaturated because fatty acids within these groups influence health and disease risk in different ways. For example, the health impact of ALA is different from EPA omega-3; the health impact of lauric differs from stearic saturated fatty acids. Healthcare providers, dietitian nutritionists, the food and supplement industries, and the general public need to become aware of the specific fatty acids within the general fat categories.
- Fat is an important nutrient in the diet: some kinds of fats are essential for good health (omega-3s) while some are detrimental (trans fats).
- Many Americans have replaced saturated fat in their diet with refined carbohydrates, increasing their risk of diabetes and heart disease. Replacing saturated fats (typically solid fats) with polyunsaturated foods (typically liquid oils) and more vegetables is a healthier choice.
The Academy recommends a food-based approach that includes regularly consuming fatty fish, nuts and seeds, lean meats and poultry, low-fat dairy products, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. Dietary supplements can supplement essential fatty acids for general or specific health needs. JAND, 2014;114:136-153. For more information please contact Gretchen Vannice at email@example.com
Gretchen Vannice, MS, RDN, consults with industry, academia, and healthcare. A frequent speaker, she is also the author of Omega-3 Handbook A Ready Reference Guide for Health Professionals(omega3handbook.com).
Alan Kristol, PhD, long-time research investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center recently stated “ I suspect there are benefits to eating fish. You might decrease your chance of heart disease a bit. But there is no benefit at all for anyone to be taking supplements. “. *
At the same time, Dr. Kristol is the 2nd author of 2 studies (below) which report protective effects from very high levels of EPA and DHA from fish. These studies reported that consuming EPA and DHA from fish at levels much higher than what the average American consumes was protective against chronic diseases, even in people with diabetes.
Zeina Makhoul, Alan R Kristal, Roman Gulati, Bret Luick, Andrea Bersamin, Bert Boyer, and Gerald V Mohatt. Associations of very high intakes of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids with biomarkers of chronic disease risk among Yup’ik Eskimos. Am J Clin Nutr, Mar 2010; 91: 777 – 785.
Zeina Makhoul, Alan R Kristal, Roman Gulati, Bret Luick, Andrea Bersamin, Bert Boyer, and Gerald V Mohatt. High chronic intakes of eicosapentanoic (EPA) and docosahexanoic acids (DHA) are associated with desirable lipid profile and reduced C-reactive protein (CRP), and attenuate effects of obesity on triglycerides (TG) and CRP. FASEB J, Apr 2009; 23: 334.2.
Leave it to Dr. Bill Harris, a renowned omega-3 investigator, to provide a rational (and fact-based) approach to the omega-3 and prostate cancer risk discussion.
Perspective and context are wonderful.
As an independent expert, I was interviewed for a Feature article in this month’s issue of Natural Food Merchandiser. Adam Ismail, the outstanding executive director for the international omega-3 trade group ‘GOED’ (also the group that I support and have volunteered many hours), and two other men from industry are interviewed as well.
Answers to questions ranging from Why are omega-3s important, to What is Krill, what about vegetarians, and is there enough fish to supply demand are answered here.
Link to article here (may need to register to access)
or to entire magazine here.
It’s open to the first page of the article for you………
Let me know what other questions you may have!
You can also see my book at www.omega3handbook.com (book is available in paper and digital versions)
Thank you New Hope and Natural Food Merchandiser for the opportunity!
I was recently interviewed on this important topic. Read the article in this month’s issue of Natural Food Merchandiser Do youths need omega-3 too?
You can link to article here:
If you prefer, link to magazine here:
Please let me know if you have questions or comments. Children of all ages need the long-chain omega-3s found in fish and marine foods. All omega-3s are healthier fats, but EPA and DHA omega-3s provide the most health benefits.
We know that nutrition research is less than ideal, by design. People living in the free world resist being confined to existing in a room with strangers, away from family and friends, for months on end to eat severely restricted diets in order to provide linear nutrition research results. I understand.
Below are comments on the recent omega-3 and prostate cancer study from Ohio State Univ and Fred Hutch Cancer Research Centers (Brasky TM, et al. JNCI, 2013):
- If long-chain (LC) omega-3s increased prostate cancer, wouldn’t we have more prostate cancer in countries that for centuries have eaten a lot of fish? We don’t.
- The LC omega-3 level in men with no cancer was 4.5% and in men with cancer was 4.7%. In a study designed to evaluate omega-3 nutrients and prostate cancer risk (which this study was not), a positive association with omega-3 is highly unlikely.
- The investigators measured plasma levels. Plasma levels change quickly, dependent on diet, and do not reflect consumption over the long-term (in example, this is like measuring someone’s blood sugar level and associating the one reading with disease risk – not good).
- In fact, early studies showed lower risk of prostate cancer in men who had higher levels of omega-3s from fish.
- It’s interesting that the press mentioned omega-6 levels in a positive light when the associations were not significant.
- We don’t know if the source of the omega-3, from fish or supplements. We absorb the omega-3s from supplements as well as we do from fish, but there are many other beneficial nutrients in fish, and sometimes there are some with fish oil supplements.
- This study also reported more cancer among non-smokers; this one finding contradicts nearly all that we know about cancer and smoking.
I defer to perspective and wisdom here.
Thank you, colleagues and friends, for seeking my thoughts.
For those wishing to keep informed, the link below is a press release announcing that Monsanto is joining forces with DSM to grow and promote soybean oil engineered with the genetically modified omega-3, SDA (or stearodonic acid).
A couple comments:
1. Kudos to them for accurately stating that SDA can increase the amount of EPA omega-3 in the human body. Per research to date, SDA can increase EPA levels, but it does not increase levels of DHA omega-3. DHA is the omega-3 critical for optimal brain function and eye health, especially as we age. We don’t get that from SDA.
2. Monsanto also states that “we are much more efficient at converting SDA into EPA”. Per research to date, at most we convert 17% of SDA into EPA. Somewhere between 5-15% of the ALA omega-3 we eat – naturally found in flax, chia, and walnuts – converts into EPA. A difference of potentially 2% conversion is considered ‘much more’. I find that interesting.
Link to press release: