Today’s Headlines: Diets, Trans Fats and Nuts

Getting on a diet may matter more than which one. When deciding to cut down on your calories, you probably spend a lot of time analyzing which diet would best fit your needs. But a new study released this week has found that decision may not be as important as you might think. “The team divided about 200 obese adults into two groups at random. Members of one group were allowed to choose either a low-carb or a low-fat plan. They were also allowed to switch diets after three months if they desired. Those in the comparison group were randomly assigned to one of the diets, regardless of their food preferences, and didn’t get an option to switch plans at any point. For 48 weeks, the participants used books and printed handouts as well as telephone and group counseling to follow their respective diets. After nearly a year of dieting, those in the choice group had lost an average of 12.5 pounds, while those in the comparison group had lost an average of almost 15 pounds.” While the researchers aren’t sure why choosing your own diet didn’t seem to help weight loss, they think that people pick diets with food they prefer, which they’re also more likely to eat more of. As one member of the team pointed out, “the findings are a reminder that to really lose weight, you have to make changes to your diet, and they may not always be changes you like.” (Reuters)

Time to say goodbye to trans fats. Health professionals have known for years that trans-fats, the artificial fats made during some forms of food processing, are bad for you. They’ve been shown to boost bad cholesterol and up your risk of heart disease and stroke. While some states and cities have banned their presence in food, the FDA is taking a national stance. “Artificial trans-fats are generally unsafe and food manufacturers will have to phase out their use over the next three years. The action is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year. Under the ruling, partially hydrogenated oils are no longer ‘generally recognized as safe’ or GRAS. That means food manufacturers would have to ask the FDA for permission to use them in food products. The FDA encourages consumers seeking to reduce trans-fat intake to check a food’s ingredient list for partially hydrogenated oils to determine whether or not a product contains partially hydrogenated oils.” The ruling will go into effect three years from now, giving manufacturers ample time to switch over their recipes. In the meantime, steer clear of anything that has partially hydrogenated oils. (NBC)

Nuts drop risk of death due to a variety of different diseases. Nuts have been in the limelight recently as purveyors of all sorts of health benefits. A new study out this week adds to the list of reasons to chow down. “Researchers looked at data from 120,000 men and women aged 55 to 69 who participated in the Netherlands Cohort study. Participants were asked questions about how frequently they ate tree nuts, peanuts, and peanut butter, and how much they consumed. Compared to those not eating any nuts or peanuts, the relative reductions in mortality rate for people who consumed at least 10 grams of nuts or peanuts per day were 23 percent regarding total mortality risk (all deaths), 21 percent for cancer, 17 percent for cardiovascular deaths, and 39 percent for respiratory deaths. Ten grams of nuts equals less than a half handful and eating more than 15 grams was not associated with further reduction in mortality risk. To support their findings, the researchers also conducted a meta-analysis of previously published studies on the effect of nut consumption on cancer and respiratory mortality. The research showed a similar pattern.” Unfortunately, the benefits didn’t extend to nut butters, so it’s best to stick to whole nuts for your daily dose. (CBS)