Answers To the Nutrition Quiz

So, did you know most of the answers to the nutrition quiz I gave you yesterday? The Hostess Twinkies question was just for fun and I wouldn’t have expected you to know the answer.

1. What is a trans fat- trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been modified by adding hydrogen atoms to them making them more saturated. The term “trans” refers to the way the molecule bonds are configured (bonds can be cis or trans). Trans fats were first synthesized in the early 1900s and their special virtue is that they tend to stay solid at room temperature, making them ideal for processed foods. I think Crisco was the first commercially available trans fat product but I’m not certain. Trans fats are typically made from plant fats, particularly those derived from corn and soy beans. Your Hostess Twinkie wouldn’t be so appetizing if the fat used to make the product was in a liquid form sloshing around in the package. Trans fats are a problem only because they are associated with a greatly increased risk of heart disease. That has turned out to be enough of a problem that food manufacturers are working hard to find ways to make various food products withoiut having to use trans fats. I think New York City has banned trans fats in restaurants and many fast food chains have or are figuring out how to eliminate trans fats in their products. Personally I don’t believe that eliminating all trans fat-containing foods will have much of any impact on health given the very small percentage of total fats we consume that have been trans fats. But, why not?

2. How many calories per gram of fat, carbohydrate, and protein and so what? The answers are 9 calories per gram of fat and 4 calories per gram for carbohydrates and proteins. That means fats really concentrate the calories and that’s not good if one eats lots of fats and is concerned about weight. In scientific terms, it’s a good thing fats pack a lot of calories for the weight- just think how much people would weigh if they maintained the same energy stores as now but doing it in the form of protein or carbohydrate- it would be a disaster. So, think of fat as an engineering marvel not as an unsightly body component (it is also a great insulator on those cold winter days).

3. Supermarkets and corn- about 70% of foods at the supermarket are in part corn-derived. That’s pretty amazing. Much of the corn is in the form of high fructose corn syrup.  That figure also includes the portion of meats that are in part corn-derived (all that “corn-fed beef”).  Scientists can actually track the carbon molecules from corn and see how much of whatever food has the corn carbons.  If we are what we eat, we are mostly corn.

4. Calories and grams of sugar in a “regular” soda- a standard 12 oz soda has about 41 grams of sugar (mostly from high fructose corn syrup) or 8 teaspoonfuls for about 160 calories.

5. Twinkies- according to a program I watched on the Travel Channel the other day, last year 500 million Twinkies were eaten in the U.S.  That’s about 80 billion calories if my math is correct. Wow.  By the way, they get the cream inside the Twinkies by injecting the cream through the bottom of the Twinkie.

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