The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), in conjunction with the Harvard School of Public Health, held the tenth annual Worlds of Healthy Flavors conference in January 2015. This conference brought together world-class nutrition researchers along with
“influential corporate chefs, nutrition executives, world cuisine experts, members of the media, and other influencers—to discuss opportunities for presenting American consumers with a wider range of healthy food and beverage options.”
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health spoke about the latest science, followed up by healthy cooking demonstrations by world-class chefs. Presentations are available at the Culinary Institute of America website.
According to the latest evidence cited by nutrition experts, it is wise to limit simple carbohydrate intake. They agreed that cutting back on carbohydrate intake could have great impact on overall health and body weight. Drs. Eric Rimm and David Ludwig discussed simple carbohydrate excess in terms of glycemic index, while others presented findings in terms of percentage of calories consumed.
But if simple carbohydrate should be reduced, what did they recommend in place? Some said it is premature to suggest more fat as a replacement for carbohydrate, while others presented evidence supporting relatively high fat diets (35-45% of calories). For example, a calorie restricted Mediterranean diet pattern relatively high in unsaturated fat diet has been shown to sustain weight loss over a 6-year period (Schwarzfuchs, 2012). Such diet patterns are rich in fish, olive oil, red wine, eggs, and cheese.
Active lines of questioning, like these, are needed to improve dietary advice. Progress is made when current ideas around diet and health are challenged and replaced as new evidence becomes available. A notable gap is in understanding the “whys” around food and health. Why is one diet better than another? Why might diets high in simple carbohydrate be less healthy than diets higher in fat/protein? These are among the many underlying questions that will lead up-to-date advice.
The epidemiological research, on which many of the presenters at this meeting rely, helps identify trends, generate hypotheses, and observe real life associations. Complementary research designs and studies of various types are essential to understanding the “why” behind observational research. There is much to learn about health-promoting foods and diets. Keeping a mind open to new research findings to understand why things work the way they do, along with observational research, are key to working together as nutrition and culinary experts to provide up-to-date ideas on healthy foods and beverages.
Schwarzfuchs, D, R Golan, and I Shai. “Four-Year Follow-up after Two-Year Dietary Interventions” N Engl J Med October 4, 2012;367(14):1373-1374.