Hidden Fat in Your Favorite Foods – Issue 04

Dear Health-Conscious Friend,

There’s been lots of talk about eliminating trans fats from foods lately. And if you’re careful about consuming low-fat foods—you may be surprised to know they’re not as “trans fat free” as they claim to be!

In this Monday Edition of Health News Weekly™, I’ll tell you about the hidden fat that could be lurking in your favorite foods…about some new vitamin-rich carbonated beverages on the market…and some simple steps you can take for sweet relief from joint pain…

So, let’s get to it!

Feeling Thirsty? Try Diet Cola with a
Shot of Vitamins!

Layne Lowery

If you’re one of the health-conscious, calorie counting people who reject the excess sugars and calories in carbonated sodas—here’s some good news!

The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo, Inc. recently announced plans to introduce new carbonated drinks fortified with vitamins and minerals: Diet Coke Plus and PepsiCo Tava.

The companies plan to market the new drinks as “sparkling beverages.” This is an effort to counteract the negative association of traditional carbonated sodas and obesity. In a press statement, the Coca-Cola Company describes its product as Diet Coke with small amounts of vitamin B3, B6 and B12, as well as zinc and magnesium. Coke’s vitamin-enriched beverages hit store shelves in April.

The two beverage companies are stepping up their efforts to promote a more positive image of soft drinks—which account for 81% of Coca-Cola’s business. PepsiCo has a more diverse line of food and beverage products, including Frito-Lay, Quaker Oats and Gatorade.

Although soft drinks account for only 31% of PepsiCo revenues, the soft drink Pepsi-Cola is the company’s largest brand worldwide. PepsiCo’s vitamin-fortified drink Tava will contain vitamins B3, B6 and chromium. PepsiCo plans to release their new drink this summer.

Have You Heard The Skinny on Trans Fats?

Roz Roscoe, Staff Writer

If you enjoy the C-R-U-N-C-H of salty snacks and savor the creaminess of sweet treats—you have trans fats to thank for that! Even though trans fats might make your foods more appetizing… new research suggests eating even small amounts may TRIPLE your risk of heart attacks!

Data from a recent Nurses’ Health Study shows that women who ate the most trans fats were more than three times as likely to develop heart disease as those who consumed the least. Dr. Qi Sun, of the Harvard School of Public Health, and other researchers presented these study findings at the November 2006 annual meeting of the American Heart Association (AHA).

Dr. Sun and his colleagues examined levels of trans fat consumed by 166 study participants who developed heart disease between 1989 and 1995, and 327 women who did not. The women were divided into four groups depending on how much trans fat they ate.

Researchers determined that women who ate a daily average of 2.0 grams of trans fats per 1,000 calories were at highest risk for heart disease. But even those eating just 1.3 grams per 1,000 calories each day were at increased risk!

That’s not much, when you consider that your average serving of French fries has about 5 grams of trans fats… and even microwave popcorn has 1.1 grams.

Now, if you’re wondering why all the hooplah—here’s what makes trans fat so dangerous to your health…

Much Ado about Food Fat!

Trans fat forms when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil—a process called hydrogenation. This process increases the shelf life and flavor of foods containing fat. Scientific research proves that trans fats can raise your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol levels—and clog your arteries with sticky plaque.

This is because the heat processes used to create trans fats damage the chemical structure of healthy fat. The result is an unnatural type of fat your body doesn’t know how to process. In fact, some scientists believe that molecules from these chemically altered oils may even break off in your digestive tract and become cell-damaging free radicals!

Dr. Qi Sun and his research team recommended avoiding trans fat as much as possible. AHA President, Dr. Ray Gibbons, even recommends banning them altogether.

That’s a tall order—especially when you consider that trans fats are EVERYWHERE! Here are some U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates of the trans fats you’ll get in some favorite goodies:

Total Fat, Saturated Fat, Trans Fat
and Cholesterol Content Per Serving

Product Common Serving Size Total Fat g Sat. Fat g %DV for Sat. Fat Trans Fat g Combined Sat. & Trans Fat g Chol. mg %DV for Chol.
French Fried Potatoes (fast food) Medium (147 g) 27 7 35% 8 15 0 0%
Potato Chips Small bag (42.5 g) 11 2 10% 3 5 0 0%
Doughnut 1 18 4.5 23% 5 9.5 25 8%
Cookies (Cream Filled) 3 (30 g) 6 1 5% 2 3 0 0%
Candy Bar 1 (40 g) 10 4 20% 3 7 <5 1%
Cake, pound 1 slice (80 g) 16 3.5 18% 4.5 8 0 0%
Milk, whole 1 cup 7 4.5 23% 0 4.5 35 12%
Milk, skim 1 cup 0 0 0% 0 0 5 2%

In addition to the foods shown in this table, margarine… butter substitutes… and any food containing hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils contain trans fats—even if these fats are not listed on the label! Here’s why…

Congress passed legislation requiring trans fat labeling on every food product by January 2006. That’s a great help when you’re making food selections, however…

The government allows products with less than 0.5% trans fat per serving to sport a “trans-fat-free” label. Let’s face it—most folks eat more than one serving at a time.

So you might think you’re eliminating trans fats from your diet—and they’re still lurking there undetected. What’s worse, the U.S. Department of Agriculture can’t determine healthy limits because even small amounts of trans fats appear to be harmful!

With all the artery-clogging trans fats in the food supply—it’s little wonder heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States!

Here’s How to Make Heart-Healthy Choices!

The truth is, not all cholesterol and fat are bad. Fat is a major source of energy for your body and also helps your body absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K.

What’s more, your body needs fat to regulate insulin levels… trigger enzymes that convert food into energy… soothe inflammation… protect liver function… and to keep your body running like a well-oiled machine.

The key is to choose the right kinds of fat to promote optimum heart health. The best fat comes from natural plant, fish or animal sources with little to no processing. Here’s a quick look at your three main options:

  • Monounsaturated fats—considered to be the healthiest fats because they raise good (HDL) cholesterol levels and help lower bad (LDL) cholesterol; these fats are in olives, avocados, peanuts, almonds and apricots.
  • Polyunsaturated fats—a good source of essential fatty acids that lower triglycerides and fight inflammation; the best sources are fish, flaxseed, canola, soybean, walnuts, and pecans.
  • Saturated fat—comes from animals and dairy products like red meat, poultry, cheese, eggs, cream and butter; saturated fat remains stable at high heat, making it the preferred choice for cooking.

Many businesses are researching and testing new oils that will help preserve the shelf-life of foods—without the harmful health effects. In the meantime, check the trans fat content of your favorite foods.

Eliminating as much of these harmful fats as possible can help you protect and nourish your heart for years to come!

Fast Fact

Before you head to the drugstore for a high-priced inhaler filled with mysterious chemicals, try chewing on a couple of curiously strong Altoids peppermints. They’ll help clear stuffiness and congestion from your nose.

FDA Cracks Down on Illegal
Web Versions of Sex Drugs

Tonia Beverly, Contributing Editor

Ready to put a little more ‘zoom zoom’ in the bedroom? Well, think twice before you place an Internet order for the latest performance enhancers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to make Internet purchases of several illegal drugs that claim to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) and boost sexual performance.

The ‘suspicious seven’ sex enhancers—Zimaxx, Libidus, Neophase, Nasutra, Vigor-25, Actra-Rx, and 4EVERON—are “illegal drugs that contain potentially harmful undeclared ingredients,” according to an FDA news release.

Some of the substances in these drugs may interact with the nitrates commonly found in blood pressure and diabetes medications—and potentially cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure levels. People with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease often take nitrate medications. The FDA notes erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common problem in men with those conditions.

None of the drugs sold online have received FDA approval—which means there’s NO guarantee of their safety and effectiveness, or of the purity of their ingredients.

The FDA is advising consumers who have used any of these products to STOP using them and immediately consult their health care provider. The FDA also encourages anyone experiencing ED to seek guidance from a health care provider before purchasing a product to treat this medical condition.

Health E-Hints

Quick Tips for Arthritis Pain Relief!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 5 Americans have been diagnosed with arthritis–making it one of the nation’s most common health problems.

Some folks gulp down aspirin or ibuprofen in search of pain relief. If you don’t want to rely on these painkillers, here are some simple tips to help ease the soreness:

  • Apply heating pads or hot towels to the affected area for at least 20 minutes
  • Try to gently move stiff joints through their range of motion 10 to 20 times, 3 times daily.
  • Water exercises and swimming are excellent activities for easing joint pain and inflammation.
  • Keep your body weight within recommended limits to take the stress off weak joints.
  • Avoid heavy, repetitive strain and motion on affected joints.

You might find sweet relief from joint pain just by trying a few of these simple techniques! Be sure to consult your doctor if you have sudden joint pain… swelling… inflammation accompanied by fever… or joint pain with flu-like symptoms.