FDA Joins Modern Nutrition Thinking With Updates

Which afternoon snack do you think is healthier: a handful of almonds or a handful of Frosted Flakes?

According to the Food and Drug Administration’s current definition of the word “healthy,” you should grab the Frosted Flakes.

The agency announced this month that it will be reevaluating its regulations on which foods can be labeled “healthy,” as well as other nutrient claims, after decades of evolution in the field.

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 “Just because a food contains certain ingredients that are considered good for you, such as nuts or fruit, it does not mean that food can bear a ‘healthy’ nutrient claim,” FDA spokeswoman Lauren Kotwicki wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Times.

Current food regulations reflect the more simplistic views from the 1980s and 1990s. As such, food can only be marketed as healthy if it meets five criteria: fat, saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol and beneficial nutrients, such as Vitamin C or Calcium.

When the term “healthy” was first officially defined in 1994, low fat content was the primary focus for health professionals. Sugar content, processed chemicals and sodium levels were not yet on the FDA’s or most nutritionists’ radar.

For this reason, foods like Kellogg Co.’s Frosted Flakes and Pop-Tarts and Campbell’s SpaghettiOs can be marketed as healthy. Though they are all still high in sugar and processed chemicals, they meet all the current criteria, as they are low in fat and are fortified with vitamins.

Meanwhile, foods like salmon, avocado and almonds could not be marketed as healthy under the current regulations, because of their high content of fat per serving.

Kind, makers of the fruit and nut bars, discovered firsthand how outdated the FDA’s regulations are when they received a warning letter to stop using the word healthy on its packaging. As most of Kind’s bars are made with almonds and other nuts, they do not meet the requirement for low fat content.

Kind has since petitioned the FDA to change the requirements and has received support from doctors, dietitians and lawmakers around the country.

“We very much hope the FDA will change the definition of healthy, so that you don’t end up in a silly situation where a toaster pastry or sugary cereal can be considered healthy and a piece of salmon or a bunch of almonds cannot,” Kind Chief Executive Daniel Lubetzky said in an interview.

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Congress is pushing the FDA to make this issue a priority, as it affects how agricultural companies can market their products in the future. However, the process will still likely take several years.

If the FDA changes the definition, it will first propose updating the “healthy” definition, followed by a comment period for food makers and the public to submit their ideas and research what “healthy” means. Then the FDA will present its proposed rule change, followed by another comment period, the final rule and an implementation period to give food makers time to comply.

It would serve as a test case in a long list of necessary FDA regulation updates surrounding nutrition — changes many nutritionists agree are finally time to make.

5 Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Happy Halloween from ClaimLinx!

This time of year brings with it one of tastiest seasonal foods: Pumpkin. This year, chow down on those seeds or bite into that pie with a little less guilt. Pumpkin actually contains these 5 surprising health benefits:

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1. Skinny Food – In the perfect combination, pumpkin is rich in fiber and low in calories. That means it keeps you full without expanding your waistline.

2. Happy Heart – Nuts and seeds, including those from pumpkins, are packed with phytosterols, which studies show reduce LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.

3. Mood Booster – Pumpkin seeds are also rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which is a vital ingredient in the production of the serotonin, the body’s mood elevation chemical.

4. Stay Healthy – Your favorite fall treat, just like oranges, are a solid source of the essential nutrient Vitamin C, which helps to ward off sickness.

5. Power Up – Perfect for after a tough workout, pumpkin is full of the nutrient potassium, an important player when it comes to restoring the body’s electrolytes.

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Just remember when we’re talking about the benefits of the pumpkin, we’re talking about the seeds and pure pumpkin. Those sugary treats flavored with pumpkin won’t pack the same healthy wallop. But we won’t tell, if it’s just a taste …