This is the post you will find at Food and Nutrition Magazine blog "Stone Soup" from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:Stevia: What is it?
People usually think of stevia as the increasingly popular non-nutritive sweetener that is relatively new in the food industry. But actually, stevia is a genus of about 240 species, and only one of them is naturally sweet: Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni
, also known as sweetleaf.
The stevia leaf contains two kinds of compounds: steviosids (200-300 times sweeter than sugar) and rebaudiosides (300-400 times sweeter than sugar). The compound that is being used as a tabletop sweetener or general-purpose sweetener in foods is called rebaudioside A. In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration approved rebaudioside A — purified from Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni
— as a Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) substance due to the fact that there has been no evidence of any health risk associated with its consumption. However, the FDA has not approved the use of whole-leaf stevia or crude stevia extracts as a food additive. In the U.S., whole stevia leaves are sold as dietary supplements under the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act of 1994. Where it comes from and its history?
The stevia plant is native to South America, especially Paraguay, but also the northeast region of my country, Argentina.
As I said, stevia is now commonly used in the food industry, but its use dates back to Pre-Columbian times. Theguaranies
— indigenous people from this region of South America — used the plant as a sweetener for mate
tea and other drinks for hundreds of years, but it didn't attract the attention of Spanish colonizers at that time. It wasn't until later, in 1884, that the guaranies
presented stevia to Swedish scientist Moises Bertoni. With the collaboration of his friend, Ovidio Rebaudi, Bertoni performed the first studies on stevia and described and named its active compounds, rebaudiosides and steviosids. Since then, the stevia plant has been introduced in other countries like Japan, France, Spain, the U.S., Canada and China, one of the main producers of stevia today.What are stevia's benefits and risks?
Stevia has the same benefits other non-nutritive sweeteners have, which are that it contains no calories and has no effect on blood sugar, making it ideal for people losing weight or with diabetes. It's also used as an herbal supplement — supported by low-quality studies that suggest health benefits such as management of hypertension and high blood sugar. (See conclusion from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Evidence Analysis Library
On the risk side, after years of research, there is no conclusive evidence about the potential dangers of stevia for human health. In animal trials, however, stevia was associated with an increase in infertility.Bottom line
Remember that all sugar substitutes have some good and bad features, and that natural is not the same as safe (poisons are natural and can kill you!). Even natural sweeteners can be unhealthy, especially if used in excess. Rebaudioside A is safe when used, in moderation, as a non-nutritive sweetener.
“Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition” will be the focus of World Food Day in 2013.
The official World Food Day theme – announced at the start of every year by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – gives focus to World Food Day observances and helps increase understanding of problems and solutions in the drive to end hunger.
Today almost 870 million people worldwide are chronically undernourished. Unsustainable models of development are degrading the natural environment, threatening ecosystems and biodiversity that will be needed for our future food supply.
A food system is made up of the environment, people, institutions and processes by which agricultural products are produced, processed and brought to consumers.
Every aspect of the food system has an effect on the final availability and accessibility of diverse, nutritious foods – and therefore on consumers’ ability to choose healthy diets. What is more, policies and interventions on food systems are rarely designed with nutrition as their primary objective.
Addressing malnutrition requires integrated action and complementary interventions in agriculture and the food system, in natural resource management, in public health and education, and in broader policy domains.
What would a sustainable food system look like? Is it possible to get from here to there? What would need to change to move us in that direction? World Food Day 2013 is an opportunity to explore these and other questions, and help bring about the future we want.
This year the theme of the World Breastfeeding Week is Breasfeeding Support: Close to Mothers, which highlights breastfedding peer counselling. As a breastfedding mom (I nurse my baby girl 'til 9 months) I felt that lack of support from the health care system. Who should you talk to about breasfeeding medical problems? the pediatrician? the OB/GYN doctor? a nurse? I believe there is a lack of doctors specialized in breastfeeding.
So, this year WBW has five goals:1. To draw attention to the importance of Peer Support in helping mothers to establish and sustain breastfeeding.
2. To inform people of the highly effective benefits of Peer Counselling, and unite efforts to expand peer counselling programmes.
3. To encourage breastfeeding supporters, regardless of thei r educat ional background, to step forward and be trained to support mothers and babies.
4. To identify local community support contacts for breastfeeding mothers, that women can go to for help and support after giving birth.
5. To call on governments and maternity facilities globally to actively implement the Ten Steps, in particular Step 10, to improve duration and rates of exclusive breastfeeding.
To learn more visit the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action at http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/
Today, March 14th, is Registered Dietitian (RD) Day in the US. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) commemorates the RD day to promote the Registered Dietitian as the food and nutrition expert that can help people to live better lives through good nutrition. The first RD day was celebrated in March 2008, while the National Nutrition Month ® (NNM) started in 1973 as a nutrition week and then became a month long in 1980. This year the theme for the NNM was “Get your Plate in Shape”. You can find educational materials (both in English and Spanish) from the NNM here
The Academy developed these RD Day key messages directed to the public and the media:
- Registered Dietitians are the food and nutrition experts who can translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living.
- Registered Dietitians have degrees in nutrition, dietetics, public health or a related field from well-respected, accredited colleges and universities, completed an internship and passed an examination.
- Registered Dietitians use their nutrition expertise to help individuals make unique, positive lifestyle changes.
- Registered Dietitians work throughout the community in hospitals, schools, public health clinics, nursing homes, fitness centers, food management, food industry, universities, research and private practice.
- Registered Dietitians are advocates for advancing the nutritional status of Americans and people around the world.
As I posted before, in Argentina the dietitian day is celebrated on August 11th
. When is dietitian/nutritionist day in your country?
I am very excited to introduce you to Eat Well Global
and Eat Well Argentina
. What’s it all about? Eat Well Global, Inc
is a nutritionist-led travel media to help people to eat well not only at home but also when traveling around the globe.
It was founded by Julie Meyer, RD
, who is a great entrepreneur dietitian, nutrition writer and an awesome person to work with!
So, Eat Well guides
are written by local nutritionists and provide travelers (and why not locals) with exclusive information about typical foods, nutrition trends, food labeling, tips for people with food allergies or special dietary needs, markets, restaurants, and even recipes developed by local chefs. As most travelers today make use of electronic devices these guides are presented as applications (apps) for smart phones and tablets. (IPod touch, IPhone and IPad). Much easier to carry than a book!
Like I said, I have the great pleasure to work with Julie in developing Eat Well Argentina
. This is an example of how dietitians can work together, even when we are located in opposite hemispheres, to improve people’s health. We worked hard to put together all the contents...but what a wonderful learning experience! Guides from other countries are coming up (like China, Greece, Mexico), so check out www.eatwellglobal.com
for your next travel, where you will also find ongoing info on how to eat well across the globe.
I’m happy to announce that Eat Well Argentina
is now available at Apple Store: click here
. If you know foreign students or business people coming to Argentina or expats living here...pass the voice! They would love to hear where to order healthier delivery foods, how to eat vegetarian in the “beef country”, how to read food labels, how to ask for gluten-free (audio is included in the app), where to shop for food and much more! Also, many Argentineans will benefit from this easy-to-use and truthful information developed by dietitians.
Eat Well and be well!
The last part of these FNCE 2011 Highlights is dedicated to present some of the new food products that are being offered today in the U.S. market. The EXPO floor was amazingly big and full of goodies. More than 300 exhibitors presented their products, including specialized food products, food delivery equipment, nutrition assessment tools, computer programs, educational tools, cooking products, food management gear, etc.
Live culinary demonstrations were also showed by chefs and RD teams, with new dishes with quinoa, whole grains, cocoa and others.
Some of the new food products are:
Are your patients/clients tired of the same old liquid supplements? Blue Bunny® presented an ice cream called NUTRI-plus™, a real ice cream loaded with nutrients ideal for those that are not eating well. It comes in orange, vanilla and cherry chocolate flavors. A 4oz. cup contains 240 calories, 9 grams of protein and 10-20% of the daily value of most vitamins and minerals.
Nutritionally balanced meals ready to eat. Go Picnic™ makes boxed lunches that need no refrigeration, heating or preparation. They are easy to carry and are meant to be enjoyed anywhere. Also made with clean ingredients, with no trans fat, no added monosodium glutamate (MSG), no high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and no artificial flavors or colorings. My favorites were salmon + crackers and hummus + crackers, but in my opinion they are more like snacks than a “meal” as they lack in many components of My Plate....
No excuse not to eat fruit. Crispy Green® presented its new snack fruit: Crispy Cantaloupe, which is another of their freeze-dried fruits available in convenient single-serving (15-gram) bags or a "Grab and Go" 6-pack. It’s 100% fruit and nothing else!
Medical Nutrition going organic. PediaSmart® SOY is a complete formula designed to be used as a supplemental beverage or to be delivery through tube feedings for children 1 through 13 years. It has no corn, gluten, GMO ingredients.
YERBA MATE FOR EVERYONE! I was surprised to find the tradicional argentinean drink in one of the Expo booth. They offer the traditional loose herb (yerba mate) and a great variety of tea bags with flavored mate drinks as well as cold mate drinks. When I told them I was Argentinean they used me to test their products!! They taste real and are authentic as the yerba mate is imported from Argentina, Paraguay and south of Brazil. To learn more about mate click here.
Jack Canfield on FNCE 2011 closing session
Finally, I want to highlight the closing session which was very inspiring and motivating. Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul among other books, presented the Success Principles. My favorite quote was "If you want to be really successful, and I know you do, then you will have to give up blaming and complaining and take total responsibility for your life -- that means all your results, both your successes and your failures. That is the prerequisite for creating a life of success."
I hope you enjoyed these FNCE highlights and please share comments or other news. Thanks!
A food and nutrition organization in Argentina, the Consejo para la Información sobre la Seguridad de los Alimentos y Nutrición, CISAN
(Council For Food Safety And Nutrition Information) just launched a new website. Its mision is to provide cientific information about food safety to health care providers, communicators and consumers.
The public demands more and more reliable information about the quality and safety of the foods we consume. CISAN is one of the organizations aimed to provide this kind of information and to promote a balanced safe diet. Besides, CISAN incorporated three prestigious Argentinean institutions like the Argentinean Nutrition Foundation (Fundación Argentina de Nutrición
), ILSI Argentina
(International Life Sciences Institute) and the Argentinean Council for Biotechnology Information and Development Argenbio (Consejo Argentino para la Información y el Desarrollo de la Biotecnología, ArgenBio
It is essential for Argentina – as an important World food producer, mainly cereals, soy and beef (which are the 54% of the argentinean exportations)- to have an institution like CISAN that can provide useful resources about food safety. It also provides material from ILSI and from the European Food Information Council. Argentina faces similar challenges than the USA and other big food producer countries, in terms of adoption of new technologies and the role that these modern production foods play in our health. Do you have questions about transgenic? What do you know about Argentinean Soy? Or about the safety of plastic bottles? You will find this kind of info here: www.CISAN.org.ar
Gloria Tsang, RD, AODA
Country Representative for Canada just released her book Go Undiet
. She is also founder of HealthCastle.com and an example of an entrepreneur dietitian. As I said in the previous post, more and more dietitians are getting into new career venues.
Go Undiet is not another diet plan book. It is a guide designed to help people lose weight for good by making small changes one at a time. Congratulations Gloria and good luck with your book!