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Categories Heart disease, In the news, Uncategorized

Trans fats still a risk for coronary heart disease

Despite the recommendation of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) that trans fats should be banned, in line with current legislation in Denmark and New York City, the Government has today announced that it will neither ban the fats nor advise manufacturers to flag them up on food lables .

Trans fats are hydrogenated oils that remain solid at room temperature. They are harmful and have no nutritional benefits and, as they cannot be broken down in the digestive system, they accumulate and clog up arteries. Evidence is mounting that trans fats are implicated in cancer, multiple sclerosis, stroke, obesity and heart disease. They are found in many products, including deep fried foods, baked goods, ice creams, biscuits, snack bars and ready meals; cheap foods are more likely to contain trans fats as they are so convenient for manufacturers to use. Although Tesco and Sainsbury have stated that they will not use trans fats in their own brands, other convenience foods within the stores may be loaded with them.

Avoiding trans fats is not as simple as avoiding cigarettes or alcohol as consumers may find it difficult to know which foods contain them. The labels will not list ‘trans fats’ in the ingredients, but will list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. As these foods are found in many foods marketed for children it may be particularly difficult for parents of young children to identify the offending fats and protect their families; shopping with small children is difficult at the best of times and searching through ingredients may not be an option.

As the Government appear to be unwilling to support consumers to improve their health, it is important for people to educate themselves about which foods are safe to eat. Avoiding fried foods and packaged foods containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil will help. In addition, eating foods that are rich in essential fats such as oily fish, nuts, seeds and cold pressed vegetable oils may help to redress the balance.  To gain more advice on how to avoid the dangerous fats and boost levels of healthy fats, why not make an appointment with Emma at Smart Nutrition.

Categories In the news, Uncategorized

Are you missing out on vital nutrients?

The recently published National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) suggests that intakes of minerals are worryingly low  amongst Britons, and none more so than adolescents. The government’s food watchdog, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) gave 1000 adults and children over 4 years old a 4-day diet diary and the results were compared with UK dietary recommendations.

Girls between the ages of 11 and 18 had particularly worrying diets; instead of eating foods essential for growth and good health, they favoured foods and drinks high in sugar and fat such as processed foods, sweets and chocolate and fizzy drinks. Less than 7% teenage girls ate the recommended 5 daily portions of fruit or veg.

As a result, teenage girls get insufficient iron, iodine and calcium and both boys and girls are low in magnesium and potassium. 46% of girls had intakes of iron and magnesium below the Lower Reference Nutrient Intake (LRNI) (a level at which deficiency is likely) and 26% boys had intakes of magnesium below the LRNI. As teenagers gain more freedom from the family home, they often slip into bad habits. The FSA has launched a magazine called Blink on Facebook to attempt to reach this group.

Despite government recommendations that children do not drink any alcohol, the survey found that 4% of boys aged 13-15 years and 12% of girls of the same age usually drank alcohol once a week or more.

Adults also had low intakes of minerals. One fifth of men and half of all women failed to meet LRNI for selenium; the cancer busting antioxidant. One fifth of women fail to reach the LRNI for iron, leaving them at risk of anaemia and  67% of men and women fail to meet the 5 a day target.

Omega 3 fats were also low in the diets surveyed; 140g oily fish is recommended each week to stave off cognitive decline and inflammatory conditions such as eczema and arthritis. The survey showed that adults, on average, ate just 8g per week.

Speaking in the Guardian, Richard Watts, of the health charity Sustain suggests that tough rules imposed by the Government are most effective in improving diets, such as those dictating what goes into school dinners. Meanwhile, junk food marketing continues to negatively influence Britons whose health is at risk from vitamin and mineral deficiencies. 

Book an appointment with Smart Nutrition today to check that you’re getting enough nutrients.