The science behind human nutrition is complex and rapidly changing. For decades the focus has been on consuming a balanced diet, while avoiding too much saturated fat, salt, and added sugars. Today, the dietary guidelines for the nation place much more emphasis on fruit and vegetable intake, because of our need to increase average intakes of antioxidants by two- or three-fold.
We have become, according to the USDA, a nation of people who are overfed yet also undernourished. Degenerative diseases with their roots in poor dietary choices are driving up health care costs upward and are now the leading cause of death.
It is becoming clearer that the problem with fat intake for most Americans is not just a matter of excess calories, but consuming an unhealthy mix of fats. For example, the typical western diet is far too high in omega 6 fatty acids and too low in omega 3 fatty acids. The imbalance in fatty acid intakes is emerging as a more decisive risk factor for cardiovascular disease than overall fat intake. And for this reason, the search is on across the food industry, and in several CSANR research projects, for ways to alter the fatty acid profile of foods and daily diets.
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