Nutrition Experts Chew The Fat At ASN Satellite Symposium
More research is needed to better understand the important role that dietary fats play in optimal health, said a panel of leading food and nutrition scientists Friday at an American Society for Nutrition (ASN) pre-annual meeting session.
More than 130 academic and industry food and nutrition scientists and registered dietitians attended the half-day ASN Satellite Symposium: Let’s Chew the Fat: Current Thinking on Dietary Fats and the Food We Eat, held from 1-5 pm at the San Diego Bayfront Hilton in conjunction with the ASN’s 78th Scientific Sessions and Annual Meeting and Experimental Biology 2014. The symposium was sponsored by the Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to expanding and translating potato nutrition research into science-based policy and education initiatives.
University of Massachusetts-Amherst food science professor and symposium co-chair Eric Decker, PhD, noted that several factors are driving the need for innovation and increased nutrition research.
“Americans continue to fail meeting dietary lipids recommendations,” said Decker, “although we have significantly decreased trans fatty acid consumption. As dietary recommendations have changed over the years, from the use of animal-based fats to tropical oils to hydrogenated oils, our fat intake has also changed, as has the potential health benefits. The need for more research is pressing, particularly in light of the many roles of fats in foods and the difficulties in changing the type of fat used in many foods.”
Co-chaired by Decker and Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, distinguished professor at The Pennsylvania State University, the symposium highlighted the latest research on the role of fatty acids in health and new technologies that are changing the types of fats used in food production. A cross-disciplinary group of food scientists were brought together with nutrition and industry scientists to cover a variety of topics, including:
Decker presented a comprehensive overview of the challenges and opportunities for utilizing healthy fats in foods. He described the chemistry behind why solid fats are needed in foods, and the challenges in changing the type of fat used in the production or cooking of many foods, such as French fried potatoes. He outlined the need for development of technologies, such as interesterification and organogels, that reduce fat absorption during frying to produce healthier finished products.
Co-chair Kris-Etherton offered a nutritionist’s perspective on existing worldwide dietary recommendations and emerging nutrition science on fat and fatty acids, with an analysis of their impact on health. Noting that many evidence-based dietary guidelines throughout the world recommend replacing saturated fatty acids with unsaturated fat, Kris-Etherton highlighted published clinical trials in support of current fat and fatty acid dietary recommendations.
In his presentation, Adam Drewnowski, PhD, University of Washington, explored the carbohydrate-fat seesaw and whether it is possible to construct a healthy diet based on dietary recommendations. Balancing energy-dense and nutrient-dense foods in the diet while maintaining affordability is key.
Kevin Fritsche, PhD, University of Missouri, provided a physiologist’s perspective on emerging nutrition science on fatty acids and health, focusing on research areas that explore how certain kinds of fatty acids affect inflammation status in the body and contribute to positive health outcomes.
Brent Flickinger, PhD, Archer Daniels Midland Co., discussed the realities of changing the fats in the foods that we eat. Flickinger outlined the potential impact on innovations in moving to the use of fatty acids post-trans fats, including creating more omega-3 and high oleic oils that deliver real health benefits to consumers.
Presenting on behalf of Cheryl Achterberg, PhD, The Ohio State University, Joanne Slavin, PhD, University of Minnesota examined how science-based dietary guidelines are developed and communicated to the public and what is needed to add to that body of evidence. Slavin focused on U.S. Dietary Guidelines, using fats, oils and vegetables like white potatoes as examples.
Maureen Storey, PhD, APRE president and CEO, noted that the satellite session also provided a unique forum in which to consider the current facts on the potato industry’s success in removing trans fatty acids (TFAs) from a variety of products.
“The potato industry removed trans fats from its products long ago,” Storey stated, “using new reduced- or trans fat-free oils and technologies and reformulating those products to virtually eliminate TFA without increasing saturated fat levels. It is important for the food and nutrition science communities to continue to research the health benefits of various dietary fats as well as the opportunities for innovative processing technologies that offer science-based solutions to the challenges of changing dietary fats.”
Several of the presentations are based on papers slated to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. A full video of the symposium will be available on ASN’s website in the coming weeks.
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