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January 2007 Archives

Trans fats headed for the exits

There's more progress on the road to dumping trans fats from our diets. Well, most of our diets, anyway.

Crisco — the shortening that millions of us have been baking with for nearly 100 years — has gone trans-fat free. Crisco was the first solidified shortening product made entirely from vegetable oil using the hydrogenation process — the same process that results in trans fatty acids. The goal was to come up with a product that could be stored at room temperature for a long time.

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Girl Guide cookies: trans fat holdout

So you'd think by now all the seats would've been abandoned on the trans fat bandwagon. Nope. Not quite.

Ever since family-owned Voortman cookies announced in November 2003 that it would get rid of trans fatty acids in its cookies just about every other maker of snack foods said it would do the same.

The list is no longer who's getting rid of the artery-clogging gunk, but it's down to a fairly short list of who hasn't. And a Canadian tradition figures far too prominently on that list.

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Take two cups and call me in the morning

Ah, caffeine. Wouldn't start a day without it. Helps chase away the sleepies and ease you into your day. It's Canada's drug of choice: as many as 80 per cent of us will have some caffeine at some point during every day of our lives.

While the medical experts agree that too much caffeine can do bad things to you (disturb your sleep, leave you anxious, jittery, restless and play with your heartbeat), an increasing number of studies are showing that it may be beneficial.

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Not without a doctor's note

Been sedentary for longer than you care to admit, but thinking of getting off the couch and getting active? You'll probably want to see your doctor first, just to make sure you won't keel over tying up your cross-trainers.

At least that's what the experts say. Most of us don't listen, though. I didn't — even though I was approaching a certain age when the medical world wants to probe every pore and cavity of your body.

Luckily, my body adapted well to pretty intense exercise and — so far — I haven't been one of those headlines you read after some marathons: "Death race: Old guy with bad heart keels over at finish line."

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Help's a click away

Some days it seems like the whole world's conspiring against you and your New Year's resolution to drop those extra pounds.

You're trying to be good, passing up on that daily cookie habit that could you know would go straight to your waistline if left unchecked. But there's food everywhere you look. Every second television commercial hawks some ooey, gooey, cholesterol-laden heap of comfort that's the perfect accompaniment to going through those obscene holiday credit card statements.

Yes, temptation is everywhere. But so is help.

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No magic pill

They're everywhere — all those annoying ads for things that will help us keep our New Year's resolutions. And since the top resolution of them all is losing weight and getting fit we're inundated with low-cost offers for joining gyms, the latest cheap home exercise equipment and weight-loss in a bottle.

The diet industry alone is estimated to be worth about $100 million US a year — including everything from mainstream weight loss clinics to the latest quick fix pill. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has slapped fines of $25 million on the makers of four brands of diet pills — Xenadrine EFX, One A Day Weight Smart, Cortaslim and TrimSpa — for misleading advertising.

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The (not so) great indoors

Environment Canada's weather guy — David Phillips — says last month was the warmest December on record for southern Ontario. The entire year was the second-warmest on record for all of Canada.

On Monday, Toronto recorded its warmest-ever start to a new year. That has those of us who prefer to exercise outside feeling pretty good. It's not often you can slip into a pair of shorts and go for a run in January.

Now, while it stayed fairly mild over the holiday season, there was one day where exercising outside was not an option — unless facing just-above freezing rain driven by strong easterly winds is your idea of a good workout. I may be fanatical when it comes to getting in my runs, but I'm not a lunatic.

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