Department of Nutritional Sciences
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Special Section: Department of Nutritional Sciences
Having a Cow Can Be a Heart-Healthy Choice Lean beef can contribute to a heart-healthy diet in the same way lean white meats can, according to nutritional scientists. The DASH diet—Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension—is currently recommended by the American Heart Association to lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease. People following the DASH diet are encouraged to eat fish and poultry, but not much beef. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about 26 percent of American deaths are caused by heart disease. “The DASH diet is currently the gold standard for contemporary diet recommendations,” said Michael Roussell ’11g NUTR, nutrition consultant. “The DASH diet emphasizes plant protein foods, poultry, fish, and small amounts of lean beef. Consumers often interpret this to mean that red meat is restricted on a healthy diet. Our research is showing that if you can keep your saturated fat levels controlled and lean-beef portions in check, you can incorporate lean beef into a heart-healthy diet and still see equal reductions as with white meat and fish.” Roussell worked with Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, and colleagues to test three diets that were equally low in saturated fat to see if there were differences in cholesterol levels at the end of each testing period. They reported their results in the December 2011 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The team tested the DASH diet, as well as the BOLD diet—Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet—and BOLD+—Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet plus additional protein. The additional protein in the BOLD+ diet included more beef, as well as other sources of protein like hummus, edamame beans, and cottage cheese.
The control diet, called the healthy American diet, consisted of 12 percent saturated fat per day—twice the saturated fat included in the three test diets—and 0.7 ounces of beef. The DASH diet included 1.0 ounce of beef, while the BOLD diet had 4.0 ounces of beef per day and the BOLD+ diet included 5.4 ounces of beef. The study began with forty-two subjects who all had elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol. Thirty-six completed the study and all subjects maintained their body weight within almost 5 pounds throughout the study periods. Each participant consumed each of the four diets for five weeks. They were given a week or two in between each diet to eat as they wished. Blood samples were taken at the beginning and end of each study period. Subjects were randomly assigned the order in which they received each diet. On average, participants experienced a decrease in both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol while on the three different diets. Total cholesterol decreased about 4 percent for subjects on the BOLD and DASH diets, while subjects on the BOLD+ diet experienced around a 5 percent decrease of total cholesterol. LDL cholesterol went down around 5 percent for those on the BOLD diet, about 4.5 percent while on the BOLD+ diet, and almost 6 percent while on the DASH diet. “To our knowledge, this was the first controlled-consumption study that showed an increase in lean-beef consumption while controlling saturated fat in the context of a heart-healthy diet associated with significant decreases in LDL cholesterol,” the researchers wrote. Working with Roussell and Kris-Etherton was Sheila West, associate professor of biobehavioral health.
Ultimate Volumetrics Diet Book Helps People Lose Weight, Manage Hunger Photo Credit: Nabil K. Mark and the Centre Daily Times
A new book by Barbara Rolls, professor of nutritional sciences and Helen A. Guthrie Chair in Nutrition, aims to help people control their hunger while also losing weight. “The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet” became available in stores and online in April. “There is no magic way to get around the fact that to lose weight you must reduce the calories you consume to below the number you burn,” Rolls said. “However, cutting calories doesn’t have to leave you feeling hungry. You can carefully choose the foods you eat so that you feel full and satisfied on fewer calories.” Rolls’ new book is based on her decades of research on diet and nutrition, which shows that lowering the calorie density—or calories per bite—of food can help people feel full while eating fewer calories. For example, in one study, she and her colleagues found that by using Volumetrics principles to reduce calories per bite by 30 percent and serving size by 25 percent, participants ate 800 calories less per day and never missed them. The new book contains a 12-week diet plan with chapters on “Building Your Meal Around Fruits and Vegetables,” “Managing Fat and Sugar,” “Eating Away From Home,” and “Maintaining Your Volumetrics Lifestyle.” For example, the chapter on “Building Your Meal Around Fruits and Vegetables” includes advice on how to boost vegetable intake by sneaking them into favorite foods. Rolls’ research has shown that preschool children consume nearly twice as many vegetables and 11 percent fewer calories over the course of a day when pureed vegetables are added to their favorite foods. In addition to a 12-week diet plan, the book also contains over 100 nutritionally balanced recipes that she and her staff—and even family members—created. Recipes include Greek Frittata, Caribbean Bean and Squash Soup, Zesty Roast Beef and Veggie Pocket, Pasta with Exploding Tomatoes and Arugula, and Alex’s Three-Layer Carrot Cake. Full-color photographs illustrate many of the recipes. The new book builds upon Rolls’ two previous books about Volumetrics principles, one of which topped the New York Times’ Paperback Advice Bestseller List in 2007.
Pasta with Exploding Tomatoes and Arugula Cherry and grape tomatoes are available year-round but the members of my lab staff especially love to make “exploding tomatoes” in the summer when farm-fresh tomatoes hit the local market. For a slightly different flavor, try this recipe with baby spinach or mixed spicy baby greens and change to Parmesan or part-skim mozzarella cheese. The arugula and tomato mixture—without the pasta—also makes a delicious topping for a prepared pizza crust. Makes 4 servings; about 2 cups each 8 ounces dry whole wheat pasta shells 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 2 teaspoons olive oil 2 1/2 ounces baby arugula, about 4 cups 1/2 cup (1 ounce) grated Romano cheese 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. 2. Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Drain. 3. Meanwhile, place the tomatoes and garlic on the baking sheet and drizzle the oil over them. Bake for 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are lightly browned and break open. 4. Toss the tomatoes and accumulated juices, warm pasta, and arugula in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the cheese and red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Nutritional Information Per Serving Calories 275 CD 0.98 Carbohydrate 50g Fat 5g Protein 12g Fiber 7g
Preference for fatty foods may have genetic roots A preference for fatty foods has a genetic basis, according to researchers, who discovered that people with certain forms of the CD36 gene may like high-fat foods more than those who have other forms of this gene. The results help explain why some people struggle when placed on a low-fat diet and may one day assist people in selecting diets that are easier for them to follow. The results also may help food developers create new low-fat foods that taste better.
They found that participants who had the “AA” form of the gene—present in 21 percent of the population—rated the salad dressings as creamier than individuals who had other forms of the gene. These individuals reported that the salad dressings were creamier regardless of how much fat was actually in them. The researchers also found that “AA” individuals liked salad dressings, half-and-half, olive oil, and other cooking oils more than those who had other forms of the gene. The results are published in a recent issue of the journal Obesity.
“Fat is universally palatable to humans,” said Kathleen Keller, assistant professor of nutritional sciences and of food science. “Yet we have demonstrated for the first time that people who have particular forms of the CD36 gene tend to like higher fat foods more and may be at greater risk for obesity compared to those who do not have this form of the gene. In animals, CD36 is a necessary gene for the ability to both detect and develop preferences for fat. Our study is one of the first to show this relationship in humans.”
“It is possible that the CD36 gene is associated with fat intake and, therefore, obesity through a mechanism of oral fat perception and preference,” said Keller. “In other words, our results suggest that people with certain forms of the CD36 gene may find fat creamier and more enjoyable than others. This may increase their risk for obesity and other health problems.”
The team gave the participants Italian salad dressings prepared with varying amounts of canola oil, which is rich in long-chain fatty acids. The participants were then asked to rate their perceptions of the dressings’ oiliness, fat content, and creaminess on a scale anchored on the ends with “extremely low” and “extremely high.”
“Fats are essential in our diets,” she said. “In our evolutionary history, people who were better able to recognize fats in foods were more likely to survive. Such forms of the gene, however, are less useful to us today as most of us no longer have to worry about getting enough fats in our diets.”
The team also gave participants questionnaires aimed at understanding their food preferences. Participants rated how much they liked each food on a scale anchored with “dislike extremely” and “like extremely.” Foods included on the questionnaire were associated with poor dietary intake and health outcomes, such as half-and-half, sour cream, mayonnaise, bacon, fried chicken, hot dogs, French fries, cheese, chips, cake, cookies, and doughnuts. The researchers collected saliva samples from the participants to determine which forms of CD36 they had. From the saliva samples, they extracted DNA fragments and examined differences in the CD36 gene contained within the fragments.
According to Keller, having certain forms of a gene that help in the perception and enjoyment of fats in foods might once have been an advantage.
In fact, she added, having such forms of a gene can be detrimental in today’s world of fat-laden convenience foods. “Our results may help explain why some people have more difficulty adhering to a low-fat diet than other people and why these same people often do better when they adopt high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins diet,” said Keller. “We hope these results will one day help people select diets that are easier for them to follow. We also think the results could help food developers create better tasting low-fat foods that appeal to a broader range of the population.” In the future, the team plans to expand the population they examine to include children.
New Metabolic Research Kitchen to Broaden Nutrition Research Capabilities Some children who refuse to drink milk may be unable to digest the white stuff, but others may simply dislike it. While it’s well known that genetics controls lactose intolerance, or the inability to digest the milk sugar lactose, it’s less obvious that genetics may also influence milk preference. Understanding the genetics of milk preference and intake among children is one area of research that nutrition scientists at Penn State aim to investigate using a new research kitchen in Chandlee Laboratory. The Metabolic Research Kitchen, which currently is under construction, is expected to be completed during the fall of 2012. According to Kathleen Keller, assistant professor of nutritional sciences and of food science and the new kitchen’s director, the main focus of the kitchen will be to better understand the environmental
and biological factors that influence childhood diet, nutrition, and chronic disease risk. “Some examples of studies that are in planning phases include determining the relationship between breastfeeding, iron intake, and childhood behaviors; determining the effects of food advertising on childhood obesity; and studying the relationship between parenting and childhood eating behaviors,” she said. “The lab also will function as an outreach and nutrition education facility to better serve the needs of parents and children in and around the Penn State community.” The laboratory will serve as a shared facility to be used by Keller, as well as other faculty members and undergraduate and graduate students in the department and the College of Health and Human Development. It will include a commercial-grade kitchen as well as observation rooms and a common eating area.
Kathleen Keller Joins Faculty Kathleen Keller joined the faculty of the department as an assistant professor in January 2012. Keller’s research focuses on genetic taste influences on the early development of food preference, behavioral aspects of food intake and obesity, food preferences in young children, and environmental and behavioral influences on obesity in children. Keller uses genetic techniques and functional
magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), among other methods, to investigate these topics. Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, Keller was an assistant professor at Columbia University since 2007, an assistant adjunct professor at Brooklyn College since 2005, and a research associate at the New York Obesity Research Center since 2004. She was a National Institutes of Health Post-Doctoral Fellow from 2001 to 2004. Keller earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Marquette University in 1995 and a Ph.D. degree in nutritional sciences at Rutgers University in 2001.
Special Section: Department of Nutritional Sciences
Photo Credit: Gene Maylock
Gary Fosmire Retires Following Distinguished Career Gary J. Fosmire, a member of the Penn State faculty for thirty-three years, retired as an associate professor of nutritional sciences in June 2011. In addition to being an associate professor, Fosmire also was the professor-in-charge of the nutrition undergraduate program. Fosmire is known for his research on essential trace elements, with an emphasis on zinc metabolism, as well as on the interactions between essential and toxic trace minerals. He also has studied nutrition and gerontology. In addition to his research record, Fosmire is highly regarded by both students and faculty for his devotion to students and to the art of teaching. His traditional approach of writing lecture notes on the blackboard by hand caught students’ attention, and his accessibility and openness kept students coming back to him for advice and guidance. As the professor-in-charge of the department’s undergraduate program, Fosmire played an important role in ensuring the teaching effectiveness of faculty in the department. In this role, he reviewed student and peer course evaluations with the department head, met with faculty members to discuss teaching, and offered suggestions to ensure that the program sustained its legacy of excellence in undergraduate education. For his devotion to teaching, Fosmire earned the Health and Human Development Alumni Society Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009. The award honors a college faculty member’s excellence in teaching and contributions to the art of teaching. Fosmire received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biochemistry and a Ph.D. degree in nutrition from the University of California, Berkeley. He was a member of the faculty at Penn State since 1978.
Fosmire was recognized for his accomplishments in teaching throughout his career at Penn State by being named a recipient of the HHD Alumni Society Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009. The award ceremony included a lecture in which he reflected on his experiences.
Birch and Kris-Etherton Receive American Society for Nutrition Awards Leann Birch Leann Birch, Distinguished Professor of Human Development and Family Studies and professor of nutritional sciences, has received the E.V. McCollum Award from the American Society for Nutrition. The award is given to a clinical investigator who is perceived by his or her peers as a major creative force, actively generating new concepts in nutrition and executing studies that test the validity of these concepts. Birch’s research investigates the individual, familial, and other contextual factors that influence development from infancy through adolescence related to food intake. This research focuses on both predictors and consequences of eating behavior, including the development of food preferences and problems associated with energy balance, particularly obesity, dieting, and disordered eating. One of her ongoing projects is an investigation of the relationships among feeding, sleeping, and growth in infants, and the subsequent influence of these factors on eating, growth, and weight status later in life. Birch’s other ongoing projects include research on the effects of altering energy density and portion size of meals and snacks on preschool children’s energy intake, and a ten-year longitudinal study of the development of the controls of food intake among young girls, with a focus on the emergence of weight concerns, dieting, and problems of energy balance, including childhood obesity and disordered eating. Birch is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2010 Bar-Or Award for Excellence in Pediatric Obesity Research from the Obesity Society, the 2003 Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Social and Behavioral Sciences from Penn State, and the 2000 Pauline Schmitt Russell Distinguished Research Career Award from the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State. She is the director of Penn State’s Center for Childhood Obesity Research. Birch received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State University, Long Beach. She earned master’s and Ph.D. degrees in psychology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The E.V. McCollum Award recognizes the late Elmer Verner McCollum, an American biochemist who was known for his work on the influence of diet on health.
Penny Kris-Etherton Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, has received the David Kritchevsky Outstanding Nutrition Career Award from the American Society for Nutrition in recognition of an outstanding career in nutrition. Kris-Etherton’s research focuses on cardiovascular nutrition. For over twenty-five years, she has conducted numerous controlled clinical nutrition studies designed to evaluate the role of diet on risk factors for cardiovascular disease. She and her colleagues have studied many different populations, including healthy people, overweight and obese people, and people at risk for cardiovascular disease. More recently, her group has examined molecular mechanisms at the gene level as a means to explain the effects of diet. Kris-Etherton has served on many national committees that have established dietary guidelines and recommendations, including the Dietary Reference Intakes for Macronutrients Committee of the National Academies, the 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, and the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association. She is a Fellow of the American Heart Association and National Lipid Association, and she is the recipient of many awards, including the 2007 Marjorie Hulsizer Copher Award from the American Dietetic Association, the 2005 Elaine Monsen Research Award from the American Dietetic Association Foundation, the 1998 Foundation Award for Excellence in Research from the American Dietetic Association, and the 1991 Lederle Award for Human Nutrition Research from the American Society for Nutritional Sciences. She currently serves as president of the National Lipid Association. Kris-Etherton has been a member of the Penn State faculty since 1979. She earned a bachelor’s degree in medical dietetics at the Rochester Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in nutrition at Case Western Reserve University, and a Ph.D. degree in nutrition at the University of Minnesota. She completed a dietetic internship at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1973, and she conducted postdoctoral research at Stanford University. The David Kritchevsky Outstanding Nutrition Career Award honors the late David Kritchevsky, an internationally recognized expert in the role of dietary fats in heart disease and cancer.
Special Section: Department of Nutritional Sciences
Children’s Health and the Environment In the United States, some 80,000 chemicals are registered for commercial use with the Environmental Protection Agency. According to Katarzyna Kordas, assistant professor, some of these chemicals, when combined with nutrient deficiencies, may contribute to cognitive, developmental, and behavioral problems in children. “If children are undernourished in some way, if they have micronutrient deficiencies, they may be more susceptible to the effects of environmental exposures of heavy metals on their development, cognition, and behavior,” says Kordas. In her most recent project, Kordas is focusing on children in Uruguay. “While population exposure to chemicals is monitored in developed countries, chemical use may not be regulated or monitored in some developing countries, including Uruguay,” she says. Kordas and her colleagues are working with children in several primary schools in Uruguay to test their blood, hair, and urine for heavy
metals, particularly lead, arsenic, and cadmium. The team also is collecting water, soil, and dust samples near the children’s homes and analyzing them for heavy metals to identify the sources of exposure. “One of the things we hope to do is to collect GPS information so we can make maps of where the children live and overlay them with any industries that may be in the area and see if we can make any correlation between the levels of the metals in these environmental samples and the levels of metals in the children’s bodies,” says Kordas. According to Kordas, lead exposure is associated with cognitive deficits in children, and many lead-exposed populations are also at risk for nutritional deficiencies. There is also some evidence that children who are deficient in dietary calcium also have higher blood lead levels. “Our ultimate goal,” she says, “is to design an intervention to help kids in Uruguay and, eventually, to examine these issues closer to home in Pennsylvania.”
Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni Society NDAS seeks to unite Nutritional Sciences alumni (and alumni of predecessor majors) in order to serve alumni, faculty and staff members, and students of the Department of Nutritional Sciences. Below is an update from the NDAS president about current activities and ways to get involved. Our annual alumni gathering was held at the Nittany Lion Inn in April. More than eighty alumni, students, and faculty members attended. Gordon Jensen, professor and head of the department, gave a department update, and NDAS past president, Christine Taylor ’77g, ’86g NUTR, discussed the Institute of Medicine’s vitamin D requirements. NDAS continues its commitment to honoring outstanding alumni, faculty members, and students. We successfully nominated two Nutritional Sciences alumni for awards presented by the HHD Alumni Society. Matthew Hayes ’06g NUTR, assistant professor of nutritional neuroscience at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, will receive the Emerging Professional – Graduate Degree Award, and Jill Jayne ’04 NUTR “rockstar nutritionist,” will receive the Emerging Professional – Undergraduate Degree Award. In addition, we presented our own John E. Smith Outstanding Senior in Nutrition Award to Ashley Rickard, and alumnus Mark McCamish ’80g NUTR was honored with our Outstanding Alumni Award in September. Finally, NDAS itself was selected by the HHD Alumni Board to receive the “MACS” Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement by an APG in the areas of mentoring, awards, communications, and social/professional activities.
The Department of Nutritional Sciences is now publishing a quarterly electronic newsletter. Please visit our website and click on the “Update Email Address” link if you are not receiving the electronic newsletter. Two students were selected to receive the Helen Wright Trustee scholarships, which were established several years ago with the support and endorsement of NDAS.
Connect with the Affiliate Program Group Website alumni.hhd.psu.edu/ndas LinkedIn “The Pennsylvania State University Nutrition and Dietetics Alumni Society” APG President Sandra Schlicker ’65 PREMED, ’67g NUTR email@example.com