- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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June 4, 2008
Limit acrylamide in diet
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted new information about acrylamide in food and ways that we can reduce our intake of it. Yikes — has another strange chemical found its way into our foods? Apparently not. Read on.
In 2002, researchers in Sweden found the chemical acrylamide in a variety of carbohydrate-rich foods that are fried or baked at high temperatures. In large doses, this chemical has caused cancer in laboratory animals.
In response to concerns about the potential risk, the FDA began to analyze a variety of U.S. food products for acrylamide. Here's some of what they've found so far:
- Acrylamide forms from sugars and an amino acid (asparagine — a building block of protein) found naturally in foods that are fried, roasted or baked. This chemical is more likely to increase the longer foods are cooked with these methods, and the higher the temperature. Boiling or steaming of the same foods do not typically result in acrylamide formation.
- Plant foods such as potatoes, grain products (breads and breakfast cereals, cookies), and coffee are mentioned in the FDA release. Various forms of these foods are typically fried, baked or roasted. They do point out that acrylamide is not typically found in raw plant-based foods, dairy, animal foods (poultry, meat) or seafood.
Hmm ... it seems to me that mankind has been baking and frying foods at high temperatures for a long time. And haven't plant foods including grains, potatoes and coffee been staples? What to do?
The FDA discusses specific foods that are larger sources of acrylamide: French fries, potato chips, breakfast cereals, cookies, toast, and coffee. They do not recommend eliminating these foods from the diet. But, they've come up with some suggestions for a few of these items — namely potatoes, bread and coffee.
For potatoes, boiling or microwaving produces no acrylamide. Frying leads to highest acrylamide formation followed by roasting, then by baking. The darker the potato, the more acrylamide — so avoid cooking until dark brown. They have found that slicing potatoes and soaking them for 30 minutes before frying or roasting reduces acrylamide formation. Interestingly, storing potatoes in the refrigerator can increase formation of acrylamide during cooking.
For bread, if you toast it, toast to a light brown color and avoid "very brown areas."
For coffee, the FDA scientists have not found good ways to reduce acrylamide formation since the beans are roasted before brewing. (I hope that these scientists are working hard on this!)
My take? This acrylamide issue is something that will stay on my radar. There seems to be a commitment to continue research on this. From a practical standpoint I agree with the FDA — it's too early to eliminate a whole class of food (grain products), potatoes, and coffee from my diet. There are a few simple things I can do however.
I'll choose less processed cereals, and ones that I can cook (like oatmeal) more often. Toast — light brown. I'll continue to limit those French fries and chips (and entirely stop eating the brown crunchy ones). More often I'll boil or microwave the spuds and definitely take those taters out of the fridge (store them in a cool dark place). Maybe a lighter roast coffee.
It seems like almost every day more and more alerts like this come out. I'm reassured that they seem to reinforce similar messages: vary the diet, eat fewer highly processed foods, emphasize plant foods.
Thoughts? Confused by these food alerts? I'd like to hear your take.blog index Next page