by Sarah Earhart MS, RD, LD, CDE
By now you have to have heard the latest and greatest from the nutrition world – the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans! Every 5 years, the guidelines are revised based on the current research in the nutrition field. The latest guidelines urge Americans to get off the SoFAS!
You might think SoFAS are those things couch potatoes sit on to watch television, but these guidelines are talking about a different kind of sofa. It is true; you should get off of the couch, but what the new dietary guidelines are referring to are those Solid Fats and Added Sugars (SoFAS).
What are solid fats? These fats are solid at room temperature. Compare olive oil to butter. At room temperature, olive oil is definitely liquid. Butter, left to soften on the counter for recipes, never turns to liquid. It will always stay in a semi-solid state. Another type of solid fat found in foods is Trans fat. These are commonly found in shortening, margarine, fast foods, fried foods, baked goods, crackers, chips, and cookies. Anytime you see the ingredient “partially hydrogenated oil” on a food label, you should automatically read “Trans fat” and put this product back on the shelf. These solid fats wreak havoc on cholesterol levels. They raise the bad cholesterol, LDL, and they lower the good cholesterol, HDL.
Solid fats are only one part addressed by the New Dietary Guidelines. Added Sugars make up the “AS” in “SoFAS”. Some examples of added sugars are sugar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, honey, brown rice syrup, and evaporated cane juice. The American Heart Association recently recommended that women eat no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar, and men eat no more than 150 calories a day from added sugar. The reason for this push to reduce added sugars is due to the effect added sugars have on weight, heart disease, and diabetes. Obesity is linked to several of the top causes of death in America, in particular heart disease and diabetes. Reducing your added sugars will help prevent obesity and, in turn, prevent many chronic diseases.
Think these reasons aren’t important enough not to eat them? Consider that in America, heart disease kills one person every 39 seconds; a tragedy that can be prevented by reducing your intake of SoFAS. This February challenge yourself to eat less and less of these SoFAS, and more and more of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and heart healthy fats such as canola oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds.