Nutrition Glossary

We have compiled a very complete listing of nutritional terms that are applicable to both the Fitness and Well Being fields. We hope you find this resource useful in your continued efforts to expand your fitness and well being knowledge!


A B C D E F G H I L M N O P R S T


acceptable daily intake (ADI) aa(top of page)
The amount of chemical that, if ingested daily over a lifetime, appears to be without appreciable effect.

acesulfame K
aa(top of page)
Acesulfame K, or acesulfame potassium, is a low calorie sweetener approved for use in the United States in 1988. It is an organic salt consisting of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, sulphur and potassium atoms. It is 200 times sweeter than sucrose, has a synergistic sweetening effect with other sweeteners, has a stable shelf life and is heat stable. It is excreted through the human digestive system unchanged, and is therefore non caloric.

additives (food additives) aa(top of page)
Any natural or synthetic material, other than the basic raw ingredients, used in the production of a food item to enhance the final product. Any substance that may affect the characteristics of any food, including those used in the production, processing, treatment, packaging, transportation or storage of food.

Adverse Reaction Monitoring System (ARMS) aa(top of page)
A system operated by FDA which monitors and investigates all complaints by individuals or their physicians that are believed to be related to a specific food, food and color additives or vitamin and mineral supplements. The ARMS computerized database helps officials decide whether reported adverse reactions represent a real public health risk associated with food so that appropriate action can be taken.

aerobic exercise aa(top of page)
Aerobic exercise refers to the kind of fast paced activity that makes you "huff and puff." It places demands on your cardiovascular apparatus and, over time, produces beneficial changes in your respiratory and circulatory systems.

agrochemicals aa(top of page)
Term for artificially produced chemicals (such as feed additives, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers or pesticides) used in agriculture to improve crops or livestack production.

algin aa(top of page)
A compound which is extracted from algae and used in puddings, milk shakes and ice cream to make these foods creamier and thicker and to extend shelf life.

alitame aa(top of page)
A sweetener made from amino acids (L aspartic acid, D alanine, and a novel amide [a specific arrangement of chemical bonds between carbon, nitrogen and oxygen]). It offers a taste that is 2000 times sweeter than that of sucrose and can be used in a wide variety of products including beverages, tabletop sweeteners, frozen desserts and baked goods. Only the aspartic acid component of alitame is metabolized by the body. As a result, alitame contains 1.4 kcal/g. Since alitame is such an intense sweetener, however, it is used at very low levels and thus contributes negligible amounts of calories. It is highly stable, can withstand high temperatures in cooking and baking, and has the potential to be used in almost all foods and beverages in which sweeteners are presently used. FDA is currently considering a petition to approve its use in the United States food supply. Alitame has been approved for use in all food and beverage products in Australia, Mexico and New Zealand.

allergen (food allergen) aa(top of page)
A food allergen is the part of a food (a protein) that stimulates the immune system of food allergic individuals. A single food can contain multiple food allergens. Carbohydrates or fats are not allergens.

allergy (food allergy) aa(top of page)
A food allergy is any adverse reaction to an otherwise harmless food or food component (a protein) that involves the body's immune system. To avoid confusion with other types of adverse reactions to foods, it is important to use the terms "food allergy" or "food hypersensitivity" only when the immune system is involved in causing the reaction.

ally methyl trisulfide, dithiolthiones aa(top of page)
A type of sulfide/thiol found in cruciferous vegetables which may provide the health benefits of lowering LDL cholesterol and of maintaining a healthy immune system.

alpha carotene aa(top of page)
A type of carotenoid found in carrots which provides the health benefit of neutralizing free radicals that may cause damage to cells.

alternative agriculture aa(top of page)
A range of technological and management option farms striving to reduce costs, protect health and environmental quality, and enhance beneficial biological interactions and natural processes. Alternative agriculture techniques cannot be uniformly applied across all commodities or all regions of the country. Such practices typically require more information, trained labor, time and management skills per unit of production than conventional farming.

Alzheimer's disease aa(top of page)
This disease causes progressive memory loss and dementia in its victims as it kills brain cells (neurons). It is named after Alois Alzheimer who in 1906 first described the Amyloid ß Protein (AßP) plaques in the human brain that are caused by this disease. The drug Tacrine appears to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, but there is currently no way to stop the disease.

amino acids aa(top of page)
Amino acids function as the building blocks of proteins. Chemically, amino acids are organic compounds containing an amino (NH2) group and a carboxyl (COOH) group. Amino acids are classified as essential, nonessential and conditionally essential. If body synthesis is inadequate to meet metabolic need, an amino acid is classified as essential and must be supplied as part of the diet. Essential amino acids include leucine, isoleucine, valine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, methionine, threonine, lysine, histidine and possibly arginine. Nonessential amino acids can be synthesized by the body in adequate amounts, and include alanine, aspartic acid, asparagine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline and serine. Conditionally essential amino acids become essential under certain clinical conditions.

anaphylaxis aa(top of page)
A rare but potentially fatal condition in which several different parts of the body experience food allergic reactions simultaneously, causing hives, swelling of the throat and difficulty breathing. It is the most severe allergic reaction to an allergen and requires immediate medical attention when it occurs.

anemia aa(top of page)
Anemia is a condition in which a deficiency in the size or number of erythrocytes (red blood cells) or the amount of hemoglobin they contain limits the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the blood and the tissue cells. Most anemias are caused by a lack of nutrients required for normal erythrocyte synthesis, principally iron, vitamin B 12, and folic acid. Others result from a variety of conditions, such as hemorrhage, genetic abnormalities, chronic disease states or drug toxicity.

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) aa(top of page)
A government agency which resides in the United States Department of Agriculture and governs the field testing of agricultural biotechnology crops.

Anorexia Nervosa aa(top of page)
An eating disorder characterized by refusal to maintain a minimally normal weight for height and age. The condition includes weight loss leading to maintenance of body weight 15 percent below normal; an intense fear of weight gain or becoming fat, despite the individual's underweight status; a disturbance in the self awareness of one's own body weight or shape; and in females, the absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles that would otherwise be expected to occur.

anthocyanidins aa(top of page)
A type of flavonoid found in various fruits which provides the health benefits of neutralizing free radicals and possibly reducing the risk of cancer.

antibiotic resistance aa(top of page)
The ability of a bacterium to synthesize a protein that neutralizes an antibiotic.

antibiotics aa(top of page)
Antibiotics are used in animal agriculture for two reasons. First, to improve the rate of growth and the feed efficiency of animals so they produce more meat or milk on less feed. The second reason is to prevent and treat diseases, just as in humans.

antibody aa(top of page)
Protein produced by the immune system of humans and higher animals in response to the presence of a specific antigen.

anticarcinogens aa(top of page)
Substances which inhibit the formation of cancers or the growth of tumors. More than 600 chemicals are claimed to be anti cancer agents. These range from natural chemical constituent present in garlic, broccoli, cabbage and green tea to manmade antioxidants, such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and derivatives of retinoic acid.

antigen aa(top of page)
A foreign substance (almost always a protein) that, when introduced into the body, stimulates an immune response.

antioxidant aa(top of page)
Antioxidants protect key cell components by neutralizing the damaging effects of "free radicals," natural byproducts of cell metabolism. Free radicals form when oxygen is metabolized, or burned by the body. They travel through cells, disrupting the structure of other molecules, causing cellular damage. Such cell damage is believed to contribute to aging and various health problems.

antisense aa(top of page)
A piece of DNA that produces the mirror image, or antisense messenger RNA, that is exactly opposite in sequence to one that directs the cells to produce a specific protein. Since the antisense RNA binds tightly to its image, it prevents the protein from being made.

ascorbic acid aa(top of page)
Also known as vitamin C, it is essential for the development and maintenance of connective tissue. Vitamin C speeds the production of new cells in wound healing and it is an antioxidant that keeps free radicals from hooking up with other molecules to form damaging compounds that might attack tissue. Vitamin C protects the immune system, helps fight off infections, reduces the severity of allergic reactions and plays a role in the synthesis of hormones and other body chemicals. Green peppers, broccoli, citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, and other fresh fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamin C.

aspartame aa(top of page)
Aspartame is a low calorie sweetener used in a variety of foods and beverages and as a tabletop sweetener. It is about 200 times sweeter than sugar. Aspartame is made by joining two protein components, aspartic acid and phenylalanine.

asthma aa(top of page)
Asthma is a chronic medical condition, affecting approximately 10 million Americans (3 to 4 percent of the population). Asthma results when irritants (or trigger substances) cause swelling of the tissues in the air passage of the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Typical symptoms of asthma include wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing.

atherosclerosis aa(top of page)
A condition that exists when too much cholesterol builds up in the blood and accumulates in the walls of the blood vessels.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) aa(top of page)
Commonly called "hyperactivity," Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a clinical diagnosis based on specific criteria. These include excessive motor activity, impulsiveness, short attention span, low tolerance to frustration and onset before 7 years of age.


basal metabolism aa(top of page)
Basal metabolism is the energy (calories) a body burns when completely at rest. Basal metabolism rate (BMR) is the level of energy needed to keep involuntary body processes going. These processes include heartbeat, breathing, generating body heat, perspiring to keep cool, and transmitting messages to the brain. For a sedentary person, BMR accounts for about 60 70 percent of daily energy expenditure; the remaining 30 40 percent is from physical activity and from body heat produced after a meal. Physical activity is responsible for as much as 50 60 percent of the total energy expenditure in people who include frequent aerobic activity into their lifestyles

basophils aa(top of page)
Blood cells which when connected to immunoglobulin E antibodies release histamine or other substances causing allergic symptoms.

beta carotene aa(top of page)
A type of carotenoid found in various fruits and vegetables which provide the health benefit of neutralizing free radicals that may cause damage to cells.

beta glucan aa(top of page)
A soluble fiber in oats which provides the health benefit of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease by decreasing circulating blood cholesterol.

bias aa(top of page)
Bias occurs when problems in study design lead to effects that are not related to the variables being studied. An example is selection bias, which occurs when study subjects are chosen in a way that can misleadingly increase or decrease the strength of an association. Choosing experimental and control group subjects from different populations would result in a selection bias.

biodegradable aa(top of page)
Describes any material that can be broken down by biological action (e.g., dissimilation, digestion, denitrification). The breakdown of material (chemicals) by microorganisms (bacteria, fungus, etc.).

biological activity aa(top of page)
The effect (change in metabolic activity upon living cells) caused by specific compounds or agents. For example, the drug aspirin causes the blood to thin, that is to clot less easily.

biological controls aa(top of page)
An integrated pest management method which includes the use of living organisms to reduce the extent of pest problems. This includes the use of beneficial or predatory insects such as ladybugs and parasitic wasps to control crop destroying bugs.

biopesticide aa(top of page)
A biopesticide is any material of natural origin used in pest control derived from living organisms, such as bacteria, plant cells or animal cells.

biotechnology aa(top of page)
The simplest definition of biotechnology is "applied biology." The application of biological knowledge and techniques to develop products. It may be further defined as the use of living organisms to make a product or run a process. By this definition, the classic techniques used for plant and animal breeding, fermentation and enzyme purification would be considered biotechnology. Some people use the term only to refer to newer tools of genetic science. In this context, biotechnology may be defined as the use of biotechnical methods to modify the genetic materials of living cells so they will produce new substances or perform new functions. Examples include recombinant DNA technology, in which a copy of a piece of DNA containing one or a few genes is transferred between organisms or "recombined" within an organism.

blind (single or double) experiment aa(top of page)
In a single blind experiment, the subjects do not know whether they are receiving an experimental treatment or a placebo. In a double blind experiment, neither the researchers nor the participants are aware of which subjects receive the treatment until after the study is completed.

body mass index (BMI) aa(top of page)
Method used for determining overweight and obesity in adults. BMI is a calculation that divides a person’s weight in kilograms by height in meters squared (BMI = [kg/m²]. BMI can also be calculated in pounds and inches: BMI=[lbs/in²] X 703. The general guideline currently recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is that individuals with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight and those individuals with a BMI greater than 30 are considered obese.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) aa(top of page)
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, is also known as "mad cow disease." It is a rare, chronic degenerative disease affecting the brain and central nervous system of cattle. Cattle with BSE lose their coordination, develop abnormal posture and experience changes in behavior. Clinical symptoms take 4 5 years to develop, followed by death in a period of several weeks to months unless the affected animal is destroyed sooner.

rBST (bovine somatotropin) aa(top of page)
Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) is virtually identical to a cow's natural somatotropin, a hormone produced in its pituitary gland that stimulates milk production. Treatment with rBST can increase a cow's milk production by 10 percent to 15 percent.

Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) aa(top of page)
One of the most common microorganisms used in biologically based pesticides is the Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt bacterium. Several of the proteins produced by the Bt, principally in the coating the bacteria forms around itself, are lethal to individual species of insects. By using Bt in pesticide formulations, target insects can be controlled using an environmentally benign, biologically based agent. Bt based insecticides have been widely used by home gardeners for many years as well as on farms.

Bulimia Nervosa aa(top of page)
An eating disorder characterized by rapid consumption of a large amount of food in a short period of time, with a sense of lack of control during the episode and self evaluation unduly influenced by body weight and shape. There are two forms of the condition, purging and non purging. The first type regularly engages in purging through self induced vomiting or the excessive use of laxatives or diuretics. Alternatively, the non purging type controls weight through strict dieting, fasting or excessive exercise.

butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) aa(top of page)
A phenolic chemical compound used to preserve foods by preventing rancidity. It may also be used as a defoaming agent for yeast. BHA is found in foods high in fats and oils; also in meats, cereals, baked goods, beer, and snack foods.

butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) aa(top of page)
A phenolic chemical compound used to keep food from changing flavor, odor and/or color. It is added to foods high in fats and oils and cereals.


caffeic acid
aa(top of page)
A type of phenol found in various fruits, vegetables and citrus fruits which has antioxidant like activities that may reduce the risk of degenerative diseases, heart disease and eye disease.

caffeine aa(top of page)
Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance found in the leaves, seeds or fruits of over 63 plant species worldwide and is part of a group of compounds known as methylxanthines. The most commonly known sources of caffeine are coffee and cocoa beans, cola nuts and tea leaves. Caffeine is a pharmacologically active substance and, depending on the dose, can be a mild central nervous system stimulant. Caffeine does not accumulate in the body over the course of time and is normally excreted within several hours of consumption.

calcium aa(top of page)
A mineral that builds bones and strengthens bones, helps in muscle contraction and heartbeat, assists with nerve functions and blood clotting. Teens 18 years and younger should strive to consume about 1,300 milligrams per day. Individuals 50 years and older need about 1,200 milligrams per day. Everyone else should strive for about 1,000 milligrams per day. Milk and other diary foods such as yogurt and most cheeses are the best sources of calcium. In addition, dark green leafy vegetables, fish with edible bones, and calcium fortified foods supply significant amounts.

calorie aa(top of page)
A calorie is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one milliliter (ml) of water at a standard initial temperature by one degree centigrade (1°C).

carbohydrate aa(top of page)
Carbohydrates are organic compounds that consist of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. They vary from simple sugars containing from three to seven carbon atoms to very complex polymers. Only the hexoses (sugars with six carbon atoms) and pentoses (sugars with five carbon atoms) and their polymers play important roles in nutrition. Carbohydrates in food provide 4 calories per gram.

Plants manufacture and store carbohydrates as their chief source of energy. The glucose synthesized in the leaves of plants is used as the basis for more complex forms of carbohydrates. Classification of carbohydrates relates to their structural core of simple sugars, saccharides. Principal monosaccharides that occur in food are glucose and fructose. Three common disaccharides are sucrose, maltose and lactose. Polysaccharides of interest in nutrition include starch, dextrin, glycogen and cellulose.

carcinogens, natural and synthetic aa(top of page)
The basic mechanism involved in the entire process of carcinogenisis—from exposure to the organism to expression of tumors—are qualitatively similar, if not identical, for the synthetic and naturally occurring carcinogens. Consequently, both naturally occurring and synthetic chemicals can be evaluated by the same epidemiologic or experimental methods and procedures.

caries (see dental caries) aa(top of page)

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) aa(top of page)
The CDC, composed of 11 Centers, Institutes and Offices, aims to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury and disability.

carrageenan aa(top of page)
A compound extracted from Irish moss (a type of seaweed) that is used in puddings, milk shakes and ice cream to stabilize and keep color and flavor even.

catechins aa(top of page)
A type of flavonoid found in tea which provides the health benefits of neutralizing free radicals and possibly reducing the risk of cancer.

cholesterol (dietary) aa(top of page)
Cholesterol is not a fat, but rather a fat like substance classified as a lipid. Cholesterol is vital to life and is found in all cell membranes. It is necessary for the production of bile acids and steroid hormones. Dietary cholesterol is found only in animal foods. Abundant in organ meats and egg yolks, cholesterol is also contained in meats and poultry. Vegetable oils and shortenings are cholesterol free.

cholesterol (serum, or blood) aa(top of page)
High blood cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. Most of the cholesterol that is found in the blood is manufactured by the body, in the liver, at a rate of about 800 to 1,500 milligrams a day. By comparison, the average American consumes 300 to 450 milligrams daily in foods.

cholesterol (different types) aa(top of page)
Blood cholesterol is divided into three separate classes of lipoproteins: very low density lipoprotein (VLDL); low density lipoprotein (LDL), which contains most of the cholesterol found in the blood; and high density lipoprotein (HDL).

LDL seems to be the culprit in coronary heart disease and is popularly known as the "bad cholesterol." By contrast, HDL is increasingly considered desirable and known as the "good cholesterol."

chromosome aa(top of page)
Thread like components in the cell that contain DNA. They make proteins. Genes are carried on the chromosomes.

clinical trials aa(top of page)
Clinical trials undertake experimental study of human subjects. Trials may attempt to determine whether the finds of basic research are applicable to humans, or to confirm the results of epidemiological research. Studies may be small, with a limited number of participants, or they may be large intervention trials that seek to discover the outcome of treatments on entire populations. The "gold standard" clinical trials are double blind, placebo controlled studies which employ random assignment of subjects to experimental and control groups unknown to the subject or the researcher.

confounding variable or confounding factor aa(top of page)
A "hidden" variable that may cause an association which the researcher attributes to other variables.

collagen hydrolysate
aa(top of page)
A functional component of gelatin which may help improve some symptoms associated with osteoarthritis.

conjugated lenoleic acid (CLA) aa(top of page)
A type of fatty acid found in cheeses and some meat products which may provide the health benefits of improving body composition and decreasing the risk of certain cancers.

Continuing Survey of Food Intake of Individuals (CSFII) a(top of page)
A part of the National Nutrition Monitoring System which was the first nationwide dietary intake survey designed to be conducted annually. The survey is conducted by the USDA.

control group aa(top of page)
The group of subjects in a study to whom a comparison is made in order to determine whether an observation or treatment has an effect. In an experimental study it is the group that does not receive a treatment. Subjects are as similar as possible to those in the test or treatment group.

controlled experiment aa(top of page)
In this type of research, study subjects (whether animal or human) are selected according to relevant characteristics, and then randomly assigned to either an experimental group, or a control group. Random assignment ensures that factors known as variables, which may affect the outcome of the study, are distributed equally among the groups and therefore could not lead to differences in the effect of the treatment under study. The experimental group is then given a treatment (sometimes called an intervention), and the results are compared to the control group, which does not receive treatment. A placebo, or false treatment, may be administered to the control group. With all other variables controlled, differences between the experimental and control groups may be attributed to the treatment under study.

correlation aa(top of page)
An association, or when one phenomenon is found to be accompanied by another. A correlation does not prove cause and effect. Correlation may also be defined statistically.

crop residues aa(top of page)
Plant materials remaining from the former crop that are left on the soil surface after planting form crop residues. Crop residues reduce soil erosion, air and surface water pollution, conserve soil moisture, and improve the soil by adding organic matter.

crustacean aa(top of page)
Any of the various aquatic arthropods, including lobsters, crabs, shrimps and barnacles. Characteristically have segmented bodies, chitinous exoskeletons and paired, jointed limbs.

cultural controls aa(top of page)
An integrated pest management method which includes annual crop rotation to discourage pests and weed production.

cyclamate aa(top of page)
A sweetener which is 30 times sweeter than sucrose, calorie free and heat stable and works synergistically with other sweeteners. It is approved for tabletop use in Canada and more than 50 countries in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. Since 1970, however, the use of cyclamate has been banned in the United States on the basis of a study that suggested that cyclamates may be related to the development of bladder tumors in rats. Although 75 subsequent studies have failed to show that cyclamate is carcinogenic, the sweetener has yet to be reapproved for use in the United States.


dental caries aa(top of page)
Popularly known as cavities, dental caries occur when bacteria in the mouth feed on fermentable carbohydrates and produce acids that dissolve tooth enamel. Various conditions affect this process, such as heredity and the composition and flow of saliva. Any fermentable carbohydrate (starches and sugars) can serve as food for cavity causing bacteria. The amount of carbohydrate is not as important as how often these foods are eaten and how long they stay in the mouth. Widespread use of fluoride in water supplies and oral health products is credited with the dramatic decline in dental caries among children and adults alike over the past 20 years. Also, see "fluoride."

diabetes aa(top of page)
Diabetes is the name for a group of medical disorders characterized by high blood sugar levels. Normally when people eat, food is digested and much of it is converted to glucose—a simple sugar—which the body uses for energy. The blood carries the glucose to cells where it is absorbed with the help of the hormone insulin. For those with diabetes, however, the body does not make enough insulin, or cannot properly use the insulin it does make. Without insulin, glucose accumulates in the blood rather than moving into the cells. High blood sugar levels result.

diallyl sulfide aa(top of page)
A type of sulfide/thoil found in onions, garlic, olives, leeks and scallions which may provide the health benefits of lowering LDL cholesterol and of maintaining a healthy immune system.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans aa(top of page)
Issued by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services (USDA/DHHS) every five years, the Dietary Guidelines are based on scientific consensus and form the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy. The fifth edition, issued in 2000, contains ten guidelines. Its message, built around three actions "Aim, Build and Choose," strives to motivate Americans with the following advice: 1) Aim for Fitness 2) Build a Healthy Base and 3) Choose sensibly. This revised set of guidelines is the first to recommend daily physical activity and the first to include a guideline specific to food safety.

DNA aa(top of page)
Also known as Deoxyribonucleic acid. This is the molecule that carries the genetic information for most living systems. The DNA molecule consists of four bases (adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine) and a sugar phosphate backbone, arranged in two connected strands to form its characteristic double helix.

double blind placebo controlled study aa(top of page)
Considered the "gold standard" of clinical research studies, the double blind placebo controlled study provides dependable findings that are free of bias introduced by either the subject or the researcher. In this type of study, neither the subject nor the researcher conducting the study know whether the test substance or a placebo has been administered. For the results to be valid and to ensure that the subject cannot violate the "blindness," the placebo and the test substance must be virtually identical (i.e., look, smell and taste similar). The "blindness" of the study is crucial. It eliminates the possibility that a participant’s personal beliefs will undermine the study’s validity. It also prevents the researcher’s expectations from influencing the test results.


E. coli: O157:H7 aa(top of page)
The bacteria Escherichia coli: O157:H7 is a type of E. coli associated with foodborne illness. Healthy cattle and humans can carry the bacteria. It can be transferred from animal to animal and animal to human, and from animal to human on food. Transmission from person to person through close contact is a potential problem, especially among young children in daycare.

eating disorders aa(top of page)
Eating disorders may be classified as anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating, binge eating, or any combination of these. Each is based on specific diagnostic criteria.

ecologist aa(top of page)
An individual who studies the interrelationships between organisms and their environment.

ellagic acid aa(top of page)
A natural cancer fighting agent found in strawberries.

endocrine disruption aa(top of page)
Not considered as an adverse endpoint per se but as a step or mechanism that could lead to toxic outcomes, such as cancer or adverse reproductive effects.

enriched foods
aa(top of page)
Enriched foods are those that nutrients have been added to replace the nutrients which were lost during food processing. For example, B vitamins are lost in processing wheat to white flour and these are then added back to the flour.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) aa(top of page)
The EPA's mission is to protect human health and safeguard the natural environment—air, water and land—upon which life depends. Through regulation, EPA tries to ensure the human population and the environment are protected from environmental risks and exposures.

epidemiology aa(top of page)
The study of distribution and determinants of diseases or other health outcomes in human populations. It seeks to expose potential associations between aspects of health (such as cancer, heart disease, etc.) and diet, lifestyle, habits or other factors within populations. Epidemiological studies may suggest relationships between two factors, but do not provide the basis for conclusions about cause and effect. Possible associations inferred from epidemiological research can turn out to be coincidental.

epinephrine aa(top of page)
An adrenal hormone that stimulates autonomic nerve reaction. It is used in the treatment of anaphylaxis to open airways and blood vessels.

experimental group aa(top of page)
The group of subjects in an experimental study which receives a treatment.


fat replacers
aa(top of page)
Fat replacers are developed to duplicate the taste and texture of fat, but contain fewer calories per gram than fat. Fat replacers generally fall into three categories: carbohydrate , protein or fat based. The ingredients that are used to replace fat depend on how the food product will be eaten or prepared. For example, not all fat replacer ingredients are heat stable. Thus, the fat replacer that worked well in a salad dressing may not work well in a muffin mix.

fats (dietary fats) aa(top of page)
Fats are referred to in the plural because there is no one type of fat. Fats are composed of the same three elements as carbohydrates—carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, However, fats have relatively more carbon and hydrogen and less oxygen, thus supplying a higher fuel value of nine calories per gram (versus four calories per gram from carbohydrates and protein).
One molecule of fat can be broken down into three molecules of fatty acids and one molecule of glycerol. Thus, fats are known chemically as triglycerides.

Fats are a vital nutrient in a healthy diet. Fats supply essential fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, which is especially important to childhood growth. Fat helps maintain healthy skin, regulate cholesterol metabolism and is a precursor of prostaglandins, hormone like substances that regulate some body processes. Dietary fat is needed to carry fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and to aid in their absorption from the intestine.

fatty acid aa(top of page)
Fatty acids are generally classified as saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. These terms refer to the number of hydrogen atoms attached to the carbon atoms of the fat molecule. In general, fats that contain a majority of saturated fatty acids are solid at room temperature, although some solid vegetable shortenings are up to 75 percent unsaturated. Fats containing mostly unsaturated fatty acids are usually liquid at room temperature and are called oils. Also, see "fats", or "hydrogenation."

fertilizer aa(top of page)
Any organic or inorganic material, either natural or synthetic, used to supply elements (such as nitrogen, phosphate and potash) essential for plant growth. If used in excess or attached to eroding soil, fertilizers can become a source of water pollution.

ferulic acid
aa(top of page)
A type of phenol found in various fruits and vegetables and citrus fruits which has antioxidant like activities that may reduce the risk of degenerative diseases, heart disease and eye disease.

fiber aa(top of page)
Dietary fiber generally refers to parts of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and legumes that can't be digested by humans. Meats and dairy products do not contain fiber. Studies indicate that high fiber diets can reduce the risks of heart disease and certain types of cancer. There are two basic types of fiber insoluble and soluble. Soluble fiber in cereals, oatmeal, beans and other foods has been found to lower blood cholesterol. Insoluble fiber in cauliflower, cabbage and other vegetables and fruits helps move foods through the stomach and intestine, thereby decreasing the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.

5 A Day aa(top of page)
Refers to the dietary recommendation to consume five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. The tagline, 5 A Day, became a promotional message in campaigns to increase fruits and vegetable consumption.

flavanones aa(top of page)
A type of flavonoid found in citrus fruits which provides the health benefits of neutralizing free radicals and possibly reducing the risk of cancer.

flavones aa(top of page)
A type of flavonoid found in various fruits and vegetables which provides the health benefits of neutralizing free radicals and possibly reducing the risk of cancer.

fluoride aa(top of page)
Fluoride is a natural component of minerals in rocks and soils. Widespread use of fluoride in water supplies and oral health products is credited with the dramatic decline in dental caries among children and adults alike. All water contains fluoride, but it is sometimes necessary to add it to some public supplies to attain the optimal amount for dental health. Fluoride makes tooth enamel stronger and more resistant to decay. It also prevents the growth of harmful bacteria and interferes with converting fermentable carbohydrates to acids in the mouth.

folic acid aa(top of page)
Folic acid, folate, folacin, all form a group of compounds functionally involved in amino acid metabolism and nucleic acid synthesis. Good dietary sources of folate include leafy, dark green vegetables, legumes, citrus fruits and juices, peanuts, whole grains and fortified breakfast cereals.

Recent studies show, if all women of childbearing age consumed sufficient folic acid (either through diet or supplements), 50 to 70 percent of birth defects of the brain and spinal cord could be prevented, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.) Folic acid is critical from conception through the first four to six weeks of pregnancy when the neural tube is formed. This means adequate diet or supplement use should begin before pregnancy occurs.

Recent research findings also show low blood folate levels can be associated with elevated plasma homocysteine and increased risk of coronary heart disease.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) aa(top of page)
The Food and Drug Administration is part of the Public Health Service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the regulatory agency responsible for ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of all foods sold in interstate commerce except meat, poultry and eggs (which are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture). FDA develops standards for the composition, quality, nutrition, safety and labeling of foods including food and color additives. It conducts research to improve detection and prevention of contamination. It collects and interprets data on nutrition, food additives and pesticide residues. The agency also inspects food plants, imported food products and feed mills that make feeds containing medications or nutritional supplements that are destined for human consumption. And it regulates radiation emitting products such as microwave ovens. FDA also enforces pesticide tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency for all domestically produced and imported foods, except for foods under USDA jurisdiction.

Food Guide Pyramid
aa(top of page)
The Food Guide Pyramid is a graphic design used to communicate the recommended daily food choices contained in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The information provided was developed and promoted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

food idiosyncrasy aa(top of page)
Non allergic reaction to food or food component that occurs through unknown mechanisms.

food intolerance
A general term for any adverse reaction to a food or food component that does not involve the body’s immune system.

food irradiation aa(top of page)
The exposure of food to sufficient radiant energy (gamma rays, x rays and electron beams) to destroy microorganisms and insects. Irradiation is used in food production and processing to promote food safety.

food preservatives aa(top of page)
All preservatives prevent spoilage either by slowing the growth of organisms that live on food or by protecting the food from oxygen. Antimicrobials are preservatives that protect food by slowing the growth of bacteria, molds and yeasts. Antioxidants are preservatives that protect by preventing food molecules from combining with oxygen (air).

Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA)
aa(top of page)
A law (enacted in August 1996) which significantly amended the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) and thus provided increased protection for infants and children from pesticide risk. The new safety standard resulting from FQPA is a "reasonable certainty of no harm" standard for aggregate exposure using dietary residues and all other reliable exposure information.

food safety aa(top of page)
Food safety is a relative and not absolute matter. Relative food safety can be defined as the practical, certainty that injury or damage will not result from food or ingredient used in reasonable and customary manner and quantity.

foodborne disease aa(top of page)
Disease, usually gastrointestinal, caused by organisms or their toxins carried in ingested food. Also commonly known as "food poisoning."

fortified foods aa(top of page)
Fortified foods have nutrients added to them that were not present originally. For example, milk is fortified with vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus found naturally in milk.

Free radical aa(top of page)
Highly reactive substances that result from exposure to oxygen, background radiation, and other environmental factors. These free radicals cause cellular damage in the body. The damage may be repaired by antioxidants.

fructo oliogosaccharides (FSO) aa(top of page)
A type of prebiotic/probiotic found in Jerusalem artichokes, shallots and onion powder which may improve gastrointestinal health.

fructose aa(top of page)
Fructose is a monosaccharide found naturally in fruits, as an added sugar in a crystalline form and as a component of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

fruit aa(top of page)
Fruit is the usually edible reproductive body of a seed plant, especially one having a sweet pulp associated with the seed.

functional component aa(top of page)
Those components in food that provide special health benefits. The abilities of these functional components may reduce cancer risk, aid digestion, decrease risk of tooth decay or improve various other body functions or reduce disease risk.

functional foods aa(top of page)
Foods that may provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition. Examples include tomatoes with lycopene, thought to help prevent the incidence of prostate and cervical cancers; fiber in wheat bran and sulfur compounds in garlic also believed to prevent cancer.

fungicide aa(top of page)
A chemical that is mixed with wax and applied to fruits or vegetables to prevent mold and rot from developing.


galactose aa(top of page)
A monosaccharide occurring in both levo (L) and dextro (D) forms as a constituent of plant and animal oligosaccharides (lactose and raffinose) and polysaccharides (agar and pectin). Galactose is the sugar derived from digesting lactose (‘milk sugar”).

gallbladder disease aa(top of page)
There are several different forms of gallbladder disease: 1) Gallstones without symptoms. About 20% of women and 8% of men will develop gallstones. In most of these cases, gallstones do not produce symptoms and thus usually do not require treatment. 2) Biliary colic. This condition occurs when a gallstone intermittently blocks the duct that drains the gallbladder (cystic duct). Biliary colic usually causes severe, steady pain that lasts from 15 to 60 minutes to up to 6 hours. 3) Inflammation of the gallbladder (acute cholecystitis). This condition occurs when a gallstone becomes stuck in the cystic duct, causing severe abdominal pain that lasts longer then 6 hours. It is the most common complication of gallstone disease. 4) Chronic cholecystitis. This condition develops when there is long term (chronic) inflammation of the gallbladder. The wall of the gallbladder may be thickened and rigid. 5) Common bile duct stones (choledocholithiasis). This condition occurs when a gallstone passes through the cystic duct into the common bile duct. About 8 to 15% of people who have gallstones also have common bile duct stones. Most people who have common bile duct stones do not have symptoms. However, people who do have symptoms may develop life threatening complications, such as infection and inflammation of the bile duct or pancreas.

gastronomy aa(top of page)
The study and appreciation of good food and good eating, and a culture's culinary customs, style and lore. Any interest or study of culinary pursuits as relates essentially to the kitchen and cookery, and to the higher levels of education, training and achievement of the chef apprentice or professional chef.

gene aa(top of page)
A natural unit of the hereditary material, which is the physical basis for the transmission of the characteristics of living organisms from one generation to another. The basic genetic material is fundamentally the same in all living organisms; it consists of chain like molecules of nucleic acids—deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in most organisms and ribonucleic acid (RNA) in certain viruses—and is usually associated in a linear arrangement that (in part) constitutes a chromosome.

generalizability aa(top of page)
The extent to which the results of a study are able to be applied to the general population of people that is comparable to the population studied.
genetic engineering/genetic modification/genetic enhancement
The selective, deliberate alteration of genes (genetic material) by man. This term has a very broad meaning including the manipulation and alteration of the genetic material of an organism in such a way as to allow it to produce endogenous proteins with properties different from those of the normal, or to produce entirely different (foreign) proteins altogether. Other words applicable to the same process are gene splicing, gene manipulation, or recombinant DNA technology.

genome aa(top of page)
The total hereditary material of a cell, containing the entire chromosomal set found in each nucleus of a given species.

glucose aa(top of page)
A sugar, most commonly in the form of dextroglucose, that occurs naturally, has about half the sweetening power of regular sugar and does not crystallize easily. Glucose comes from grape juice, honey and certain vegetables, among other things.

glutamate aa(top of page)
Glutamate is an amino acid. It is necessary for metabolism and brain function, and is manufactured by the body. Glutamate is found in virtually every protein food we eat. In food, there is "bound" glutamate and "free" glutamate. Glutamate serves to enhance flavors in foods when it is in its free form and not bound to other amino acids in protein. Some foods have greater quantities of glutamate than others. Foods that are rich in glutamate include tomatoes, mushrooms, parmesan cheese, milk and mackerel.

glycerin aa(top of page)
A syrupy type of alcohol derived from sugar which is used in food flavorings to maintain desired food consistency.

glycerol aa(top of page)
A colorless, odorless, syrupy liquid—chemically, an alcohol—that is obtained from fats and oils and used to retain moisture and add sweetness to foods.

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) aa(top of page)
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) approval mechanism for a process to manufacture a given food or food additive. It is implemented instead of specific regulations (such as those used to dictate processes in simple food manufacturing, as in beef packing), due to the newness of the technology and may later be superceded (due to further advances in the technology).

grains aa(top of page)
Grains are the seeds or fruits of various food plants including cereal grasses. The examples of wheat, corn, oats, barley, rye and rice provide a partial list. Grain foods include foods such as bread, cereals, rice and pasta.

GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) aa(top of page)
GRAS is the regulatory status of food ingredients not evaluated by the FDA prescribed testing procedure. It also includes common food ingredients that were already in use when the 1959 Food Additives Amendment to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act was enacted.

guar gum aa(top of page)
A substance made from the seeds of the guar plant which acts as a stabilizer in food systems. Is found as a food additive in cheese, including processed cheese, ice cream and dressings.


HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) a(top of page)
The underlying approach under HACCP for preventing foodborne illness and promote quality is to identify the danger spots and try to avoid them. Instead of putting the burden on government to discover that a food safety problem exists, HACCP shifts responsibility onto the industry to ensure that the food it produces is safe. Food producers will have to prevent bacterial contamination from occurring in the first place. HACCP works by the following principles:

· Identify the likely health hazards to consumers in a given product.
· Identify the critical points in the processing where the hazards may occur.
· Establish safety measures to prevent the hazard from occurring.
· Monitor to make sure the safety measures are working.
· Establish an appropriate remedy if monitoring shows a problem.
· Establish detailed record keeping to document monitoring and remedies taken.
· Verify that the whole system is working.

health claims aa(top of page)
Claims that link food—or food components—in the overall diet with a lowered risk of some chronic diseases. Strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, only health claims supported by scientific evidence are allowed on food labels. Since this information is optional, many foods that meet the criteria don’t carry any health claim on their label.

helix aa(top of page)
A spiral, staircase like structure with a repeating pattern described by two simultaneous operations (rotation and translation). It is one of the natural conformations exhibited by biological polymers.

herbicides aa(top of page)
Herbicides are a class of crop protection and specialty chemicals used to control weeds on farms and in forests, as well as in non agricultural applications such as golf courses, public tracts of land and residential lawns.

high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) aa(top of page)
HFCS are formulations generally containing 42 percent, 55 percent or 90 percent fructose (the remaining carbohydrate being primarily glucose) depending on the product application. HCFS are used in products such as soft drinks or cake mixes.

Human Genome Project aa(top of page)
This project is, in simplest terms, a sequencing of the human genome. Information from the Human Genome Project is making it possible, for example, to identify the exact gene (or genes) that influences a person’s susceptibility to a disease, to develop new and better drugs, and to identify thousands of different polymorphisms. The full scope of the Human Genome Project’s potential to improve human health is only beginning to be appreciated.

hybridization of crops aa(top of page)
The mating of two plants from different species or genetically very different members of the same species to yield hybrids possessing some of the characteristics of each parent. Those (hybrid) offspring tend to be more healthy, productive and uniform than their parents—a phenomenon known as “hybrid vigor.”

hydrogenation aa(top of page)
Hydrogenation is the process of adding hydrogen molecules directly to an unsaturated fatty acid from sources such as vegetable oils to convert it to a semi solid form such as margarine or shortening. Hydrogenation contributes important textural properties to food. The degree of hydrogenation influences the firmness and spreadability of margarines, flakiness of pie crust and the creaminess of puddings. Hydrogenated oils are sometimes used in place of other fats with higher proportions of saturated fatty acids such as butter or lard.

hyperactivity (See Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).)

hypertension
aa(top of page)
Hypertension is the persistently elevated arterial blood pressure. It is the most common public health problem in developed countries. Emphasis on lifestyle modifications has given diet a prominent role for both the primary prevention and management of hypertension.


immune system aa(top of page)
The cells and tissues which are responsible for recognizing and attacking foreign microbes and substances in the body.

immunoglobulin E aa(top of page)
The antibody in the immune system that reacts with allergens.

incidence aa(top of page)
The number of new cases of a disease during a given period of time in a defined population.

insecticide aa(top of page)
Insecticides are a class of crop protection and specialty chemicals used to control insects on farms and forests, as well as non agricultural applications such as residential lawncare, golf courses and public tracts of land.

insoluble fiber aa(top of page)
A type of dietary fiber found in wheat bran, cauliflower, cabbage and other vegetables and fruits which helps move foods through the digestive system and thereby may decrease the risks of cancers of the colon and rectum. Insoluble fiber may also help reduce the risk of breast cancer.

integrated pest management (IPM) aa(top of page)
Integrated pest management is the coordinated use of pest and environmental information along with available pest control methods, including cultural, biological, genetic and chemical methods, to prevent unacceptable levels of pest damage using the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property and the environment.

intense sweeteners
(see low calorie sweeteners) aa(top of page)

isoflavones Daidzein, Genistein aa(top of page)
A type of phytoestrogen found in soybeans and soy based foods which may reduce menopause symptoms.


lactobacillus
aa(top of page)
A type of prebiotic/probiotic found in yogurt and some other dairy products which may improve gastrointestinal health.

lactose aa(top of page)
A sugar naturally occurring in milk, also known as "milk sugar," that is the least sweet of all natural sugars and used in baby formulas and candies.

lactose intolerance
aa(top of page)
Lactose intolerance is an inherited inability to properly digest dairy products, due to a deficiency in the amount of the enzyme, ß galactosidase in the small intestine. This enzyme is necessary for the hydrolysis of lactose (a disaccharide) into its constituent monosaccharides, glucose and galactose. Symptoms of lactose intolerance, including abdominal cramps, flatulence and frothy diarrhea, can increase with age.

lecithin aa(top of page)
A by product of the refining for soybean oil and is also found in eggs, red meats, spinach and nuts. Historically, lecithin has been used commercially in food processing as an emulsifier, instantizing agent and lubricating agent. Lecithin is a source of choline when digested; and is a critical component of the lipoproteins which transport fat and cholesterol molecules in the blood stream. Lecithin (choline) promotes synthesis of high density lipoproteins (i.e., HDLP also know as “good” cholesterol) by the liver, when it is consumed by humans.

lignans aa(top of page)
A type of phytoestrogen found in flax, rye and various vegetables which may provide the health benefits of lowering LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides thereby protecting against heart disease and some cancers.

listeria aa(top of page)
Listeria monocytogenes is a Gram positive bacterium, found in at least 37 mammalian species, as well as 17 species of birds and possibly some fish and shellfish. The bacteria can be isolated from soil, and is resistant to heat, freezing and drying.

Listeria has been associated with foods such as raw milk, soft ripened cheeses, ice cream, raw vegetables, raw and cooked poultry, raw meat and raw and smoked fish. Unlike other pathogenic bacteria, such as salmonella, listeria can survive and grow at temperatures as low as 5°C (41°F).
Acute infection with listeria may result in flu like symptoms including persistent fever, followed by septicemia, meningitis, encephalitis, and intrauterine or cervical infections in pregnant women. Possible gastrointestinal symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, alone or couple with other symptoms (mentioned above).

low calorie sweetener aa(top of page)
Low calorie sweeteners are non nutritive sweeteners, also referred to as intense sweeteners. Low calorie sweeteners can replace nutritive sweeteners in most foods at a caloric savings of approximately 16 calories per teaspoon. Thus, caloric reduction may be achieved when low calorie sweetened foods and beverages are substituted for their full calorie counterparts. Examples of low calorie sweeteners in use in the U.S. food supply are saccharin, aspartame and acesulfame K.

lutein aa(top of page)
A type of carotenoid found in most green vegetables which positively contributes to maintenance of eye vision.

lycopene aa(top of page)
Lycopene is a carotenoid related to the better known beta carotene. Lycopene gives tomatoes and some other fruits and vegetables their distinctive red color. Nutritionally, it functions as an antioxidant. Research shows lycopene is best absorbed by the body when consumed as tomatoes that have been heat processed using a small amount of oil. This includes products such as tomato sauce and tomato paste. Also, see functional foods.

lysine aa(top of page)
An essential, basic amino acid obtained from many proteins by hydrolysis.


Mad Cow Disease (See BSE (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy).)

mast cells
aa(top of page)
Tissue cells which when connected to immunoglobulin E antibodies release histamine or other substances causing allergic symptoms.

meta analysis aa(top of page)
A quantitative technique in which the results of several individual studies are pooled to yield overall conclusions.

metabolism aa(top of page)
The entire set of enzyme catalyzed transformations of organic nutrient molecules (to sustain life) in living cells. Conversion of food and water into nutrients that can be used by the body’s cells, and the use of those nutrients by those cells (to sustain life, grow, etc.).

methionine aa(top of page)
An essential amino acid; furnishes (to organism) both labile methyl groups and sulfur necessary for normal metabolism.

methyl cellulose aa(top of page)
A number of gummy substances, produced through reaction between cellulose and methyls. It is found in fruit butters and jellies and serves to keep these products from separating.

microorganisms aa(top of page)
Simple unicellular and structurally similar representatives of the plant and animal kingdoms. With few exceptions, the unicellular organisms are invisible to the naked eye and generally have dimensions of between a fraction of a micron and 200 micron.

mono & di glycerides aa(top of page)
Emulsifying agents found in shortening, margarine, cacao products and bakery products. Usually derived from soybean fat, these food additives keep food products from separating.

MSG (monosodium glutamate) aa(top of page)
MSG is the sodium salt of glutamic acid. Glutamic acid, or glutamate, is one of the most common amino acids found in nature. (see glutamate)
In the early part of the century, MSG was extracted from seaweed and other plant sources. Today, MSG is produced in many countries around the world through a fermentation process of molasses from sugar cane or sugar beets, as well as starch and corn sugar.

morbid obesity aa(top of page)
This is a state of adiposity or overweight, in which body weight is 100 percent above the ideal and a body mass index of 45 or greater.

mycotoxins aa(top of page)
Toxins produced by fungi. More than 350 different mycotoxins are known to man. Almost all mycotoxins possess the capacity to harmfully alter the immune systems of animals. Consumption by humans and animals of certain mycotoxins (e.g., via eating infected corn, nuts, peanuts cottonseed products, etc.) can result in liver toxicity, gastrointestinal lesions, cancer and muscle necrosis.


Nationwide Food Consumption Survey (NFCS) aa(top of page)
A survey conducted by the USDA roughly every ten years that monitors the nutrient intake of a cross section of the U.S. public.

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)
A series of surveys that include information from medical history, physical measurements, biochemical evaluation, physical examination and dietary intake of population groups within the United States. The NHANES is conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services approximately every five years.

natural toxins aa(top of page)
A naturally occurring substance (e.g., produced in some cases by disease causing microorganisms) which is poisonous to certain other living organisms.

nematodes aa(top of page)
Microscopic, wormlike organisms that feed on plant roots.

neotame aa(top of page)
A versatile, new no calorie sweetener composed of two elements of protein, the amino acids L aspartic acid and L phenylalanine, combined with two organic functional groups, a methyl ester group and a neohexyl group. It is approximately 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar and as such captures the “essence of sweetness.” with only a very small amount required for use. The chemical composition of neotame makes it stable for use in baking. The FDA has recently approved Neotame for use in a variety of food products and as a tabletop sweetener.

neural tube defect aa(top of page)
In simple terms, a neural tube defect (NTD) is a malformation of the brain or spinal cord (neurological system) during embryonic development. Infants born with spina bifida, where the spinal cord is exposed, can grow to adulthood but usually suffer from paralysis or other disabilities. Babies born with anencephaly, where most or all of the brain is missing, usually die shortly after birth. These NTDs make up about 5 percent of all U.S. birth defects each year.

According to the CDC, the use of sufficient folic acid is enough to eliminate the risk of NTDs. (see folic acid)

nitrite aa(top of page)
Nitrite is a safe food additive that has been used for centuries to preserve meats, fish and poultry. It also contributes to the characteristic flavor, color and texture of processed meats such as hot dogs. Because nitrite safeguards cured meats against the most deadly foodborne bacterium of all, Clostridium (C.) botulinum, its use is supported by the public health community.

The human body generates much greater nitrite levels than are added to food. Nitrates consumed in foods such as carrots and green vegetables are converted to nitrite during digestion. Nitrite in the body is instrumental in promoting blood clotting, healing wounds and burns, and boosting immune function to kill tumor cells.

nitrogen aa(top of page)
A nonmetallic element that constitutes nearly four fifths of the air by volume, occurring as a colorless, odorless, almost inert diatomic gas in various minerals and in all proteins. It is used in a wide variety of important manufacturers, including ammonia, nitric acid, TNT and fertilizers.

nitrosamines aa(top of page)
Nitrosamines are a digestive reaction product of nitrite, a food additive used to preserve meats, fish and poultry. (Also see nitrite.)

no till farming aa(top of page)
A methodology of crop production in which the farmer avoids mechanical cultivation (i.e., only one pass over the field). The plant residue remaining on the field’s surface helps to control weeds and reduce soil erosion, but it also provides sites for insects to shelter and reproduce, leading to a need for increased insect control.

nutraceuticals aa(top of page)
One term used to describe substances in or parts of a food that may be considered to provide medical or health benefits beyond basic nutrition, including disease prevention. Research indicates this term might not appeal to consumers. Also, see "functional foods."

nutrient density aa(top of page)
Nutrient dense foods are those that provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals and relatively fewer calories. The opposite of nutrient dense is calorie dense which are foods that mainly supply calories and relatively few nutrients.


obesity, or overweight aa(top of page)
Although precise definitions vary among experts, overweight has been traditionally defined as 10 percent to 20 percent above an optimal weight for height derived from statistics. Obesity is defined as body weight being 20% above normal. Some scientists argue that the amount and distribution of an individual's body fat is a significant indicator of health risk and therefore should be considered in defining overweight. Abdominal fat has been linked to more adverse health consequences than fat in the hips or thighs. Thus, calculations of waist to hip ratio are preferred by some health experts to help determine if an individual is overweight.

omega 3 fatty acids DHA/EPA aa(top of page)
A type of fatty acid found in fish and marine oils which provide the health benefits of reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and improved mental and visual function.

organic aa(top of page)
Organic defines agricultural products that are grown using cultural, biological and mechanical methods prior to the use of synthetic, non agricultural substances to control pests, improve soil quality an/or enhance processing. The USDA is currently addressing the issue of organic products, and aims to have official rules for what may be considered organic ready for the 1999 spring planting season.

Currently organic defines an agricultural process in which farmers use techniques such as crop rotation, cultivation, mulching, soil enrichment and the "encouragement" of predators and microorganisms which naturally keep pests away. The now widely accepted definition allows farmers to use natural pesticides, but nothing synthetic.

osteoporosis aa(top of page)
Osteoporosis is a skeletal disease in which the bones lose mass and density, the pores in bones enlarge, and the bones generally become fragile. Osteoporosis often is not diagnosed until a fracture occurs, most commonly in the spine, hip or wrist. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that about 1.5 million such fractures occur each year in the United States, at an estimated annual cost of $14 billion in 1995.

Osteoporosis is four times more common in women, whose bones are naturally thinner and less dense, than in men. Women start losing bone mass and density at an earlier age, and the process is accelerated by menopause, causing osteoporosis to manifest itself between the ages of 50 and 60. Research has shown that in addition to regular exercise, calcium intake during childhood, adolescence and early adulthood helps build a "bone bank" of calcium stores. While bone length is established by age 20, bone strength and density continue to develop through age 30.

outcomes research aa(top of page)
A type of research increasingly used by the health industry which provides information about how a specific procedure or treatment regimen results: the subject (clinical safety and efficacy), the subject's physical functioning and lifestyle, and economic considerations such as saving/prolonging life and avoiding costly complications.

oxidation aa(top of page)
The loss of electrons from a compound (or element) in a chemical reaction. When one compound is oxidized, another compound is reduced. That is, the other compound must “pick up” the electrons that the first has lost.


palatable aa(top of page)
Acceptable or agreeable to taste.

pathogens aa(top of page)
Virus, bacterium, parasitic protozoan, or other microorganisms that cause infectious disease by invading the body of an organism know as the host. Note that infection is not synonymous with disease because infection does not always lead to injury of the host.

pectin aa(top of page)
A natural gelling agent found in ripe fruit. Pectin is an important ingredient in making jams and jellies. Some fruits have high pectin levels (e.g., citrus fruit, blackberries, apples and red currants) but others are low in pectin (e.g., strawberries) so lemon juice is added to strawberry jam to help the set.

pesticide aa(top of page)
A broad class of crop protection chemicals including four major types: insecticides used to control insects; herbicides used to control weeds; rodenticides used to control rodents; and fungicides used to control mold, mildew and fungi.

In addition consumers use pesticides in the home or yard to control termites and roaches, clean mold from shower curtains, stave off crab grass on the lawn, kill fleas and ticks on pets and disinfect swimming pools, to name just a few "specialty" pesticide uses.

pheromones aa(top of page)
“Sex perfume” traps used to disrupt insect reproduction cycles.

phytate aa(top of page)
A chemical complex (large molecule) substance that is the dominant (i.e., 60 to 80%) chemical form of phosphorous within cereal grains, oilseeds, and their by products. Monogastric animals (e.g., swine) cannot digest and utilize phosphorus within phytate, because they lack the enzyme known as phytase in their digestive system, so that phosphorus (phytate) is excreted into the environment. When phytase enzyme is present in the ration of a monogastric animal, at a high enough level, the monogastric animal is then able to digest the phytate (thereby releasing that phosphorus for absorption by the animal).

phytochemical aa(top of page)
Phytochemicals are substances found in edible fruits and vegetables that may be ingested by humans daily in gram quantities and that exhibit a potential for modulating the human metabolism in a manner favorable for reducing risk of cancer. (see functional foods)

placebo aa(top of page)
Sometimes casually referred to as a "sugar pill," a placebo is a "fake" treatment which seems identical to the real treatment. Placebo treatments are used to eliminate bias that may arise from the expectation that a treatment should produce an effect.

polyols aa(top of page)
A type of sweetener used in reduced calorie foods. They differ from intense sweeteners in that they are considered nutritive; that is, they do contribute calories to the diet. Polyols are incompletely absorbed and metabolized, however, and consequently contribute fewer calories than sucrose. The polyols commonly used in the United States include sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol, maltitol syrup, lactitol, erythritol, isomalt and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates. Most are approximately half as sweet as sucrose; maltitol and xylitol are about as sweet as sucrose. Polyols are found naturally in berries, apples, plums and other foods. They also are produced commercially from carbohydrates such as sucrose, glucose, and starch for use in sugar free candies, cookies and chewing gum. Along with adding a sweet taste, polyols perform a variety of functions such as adding bulk and texture, providing a cooling effect or taste, preventing the browning that occurs during heating and retaining the moisture in foods.

post harvest waxes aa(top of page)
After a fruit or vegetable is picked, it continues to need moisture to stay fresh and edible. To help retain moisture, certain varieties of fresh produce are given new wax coating to replace the natural wax the fruit or vegetable loses during harvest and shipping. If a fungicide is mixed with the wax to prevent molding, retail stores must label the waxed produce.

prevalence aa(top of page)
The number of existing cases of a disease in a defined population at a specified time.

prion aa(top of page)
A prion is a rogue protein, that appears to cause Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

proanthocyanidins aa(top of page)
A type of tannin found in cranberries, cranberry products, cocoa and chocolate which may provide the health benefits of improving urinary tract health and of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

prospective study aa(top of page)
Epidemiological research that follows a group of people over a period of time to observe the potential effects of diet, behavior and other factors on health or the incidence of disease. In general, this is considered a more valid research design than retrospective research.

protein aa(top of page)
Chemically, a protein is a complex nitrogenous compound made up of amino acids in peptide linkages. Dietary proteins are involved in the synthesis of tissue protein and other special metabolic functions. In anabolic processes they furnish the amino acids required to build and maintain body tissues. As an energy source, proteins are equivalent to carbohydrates in providing 4 calories per gram. Proteins perform a major structural role in all body tissues and in the formation of enzymes, hormones and various body fluids and secretions. Proteins participate in the transport of some lipids, vitamins and minerals and help maintain the body's homeostasis.


randomization, or random assignment aa(top of page)
A process of assigning subjects to experimental or control groups in which the subjects have an equal chance of being assigned to each group. Randomization is used to control for known, unknown and difficult to control for variables. random sample A random sample is a procedure to select subjects for a study in which all individuals in a population being studied have an equal chance of being selected. using a random sample allows the results of the study to be generalized to the entire population.The term random also applies to assignments within controlled studies, or the division of subjects into groups. Random assignment ensures that all subjects have an equal chance of being in the experimental and control groups, and increases the probability that any unidentified variable will systematically occur in both groups with the same frequency.

Randomization is crucial to control for variables that researchers may not be aware of or cannot adequately control, but which could affect the outcome of an experimental study. random sampling A method by which subjects are selected to participate in a study in which all individuals in a population have and equal chance of being chosen. This helps to ensure the generalizability of the study results.

rapid assays aa(top of page)
These diagnostic tests use emerging technology to identify and remove impurities from foods before they reach the consumer. There are two major types of rapid assays. Antibody based assays link a "familiar" characteristic on a pathogen's surface (the antigen) to a substance known as an antibody. When this connection is made, the test registers "success." Similarly, nucleic acid based assays use the unique genetic materials of the cells to detect a pathogen.

recombinant DNA (rDNA) aa(top of page)
The DNA formed by combining segments of DNA from different organisms. reliability Whether a test or instrument used to collect data, such as a questionnaire, gives the same results if repeated on the same person several times. A reliable test gives reproducible results.

rennet aa(top of page)
An enzyme used to make cheese. Rennet is extracted from the lining of calves’ stomachs. New technologies have enabled the removal of the specific gene that produces rennet and have reproduced it in bacteria. This allows the production of rennet through a fermentation process, eliminating the need for extracts from calves’ stomachs.

research design aa(top of page)
How a study is set up to collect information, or data. For valid results, the design must be appropriate to answer the question or hypothesis being studied.

residual confounding aa(top of page)
The effect that remains after one has attempted to statistically control for variables that cannot be measured perfectly. A particularly important concept in epidemiological studies because knowledge of human biology is still developing. Unknown variables could exist that could significantly change conclusions made on the basis of epidemiological research.

retrospective study
aa(top of page)
Research that relies on recall of past data, or on previously recorded information. Often this type of research is considered to have limitations, because the number of variables that cannot be controlled, and because memory is not infallible.

risk aa(top of page)
A term encompassing a variety of measures of the probability of an outcome. It's usually used in reference to unfavorable outcomes such as illness or death. Be certain to distinguish between absolute and relative risk.

risk factor aa(top of page)
A risk factor is anything statistically shown to have a relationship with the incidence of a disease, however it does not necessarily infer cause and effect.

RNA Also known as ribonucleic acid. aa(top of page)
RNA is a molecule similar to DNA that functions primarily to decode the instructions carried by genes for protein synthesis.


saccharin aa(top of page)
Saccharin, the oldest of the non nutritive sweeteners, is currently produced from purified, manufactured methyl anthranilate, a substance occurring naturally in grapes. It is 300 times sweeter than sucrose, heat stable and does not promote dental caries. Saccharin has a long shelf life, but a slightly bitter aftertaste. It is not metabolized in the human digestive system, is excreted rapidly in the urine and does not accumulate in body.

salmonella aa(top of page)
Salmonella is a Gram negative bacterium, occurring in many animals, especially poultry and swine. In the environment, salmonella can be found in water, soil, insects, factory and kitchen surfaces, animal fecal matter, and raw meats, poultry (including eggs) and seafood.Acute symptoms of the illness caused by the Salmonella species include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and fever.

saponins aa(top of page)
The functional component of soybeans, soy foods and soy protein containing food which may lower LDL cholesterol and may contain anti cancer enzymes.

saturated fat aa(top of page)
Saturated fats are those in which all carbons contain a hydrogen, and therefore, no double bonds exist. In general, fats that contain a majority of saturated fatty acids are solid at room temperature, although some solid vegetable shortenings are up to 75 percent unsaturated. Some common fatty acids in foods include palmitic, stearic and myristic acids. Saturated fatty acids are more stable than unsaturated fatty acids because of their chemical structure. Stability is important to prevent rancidity and off flavors and odors. selective breeding This process allows for the transfer of only one or a few desirable genes, thereby permitting scientists to develop crops with specific beneficial traits and those without undesirable traits. Current technology allows scientists to alter one plant characteristic at a time, thereby not spending years trying to develop the tastiest and hardiest plants.

self fixer aa(top of page)
The innate ability of legumes like soybeans to “fix” nitrogen, which means to use the natural nitrogen in the soil and air. These natural nitrogen fixers replenish the nitrogen supply in the soil from which they were harvested. Breeders desire to develop other crops that can “fix” their own nitrogen which would thereby decrease farmers’ use of synthetic fertilizers while maintaining bountiful yields.

sodium nitrite aa(top of page)
A salt used in smoked or cured fish and in meat curing preparation. It acts as a preservative and color fixative. Can combine with chemicals in the stomach to form nitrosamine, a carcinogenic substance.

soluble fiber aa(top of page)
A type of dietary fiber found in psyllium, cereals, oatmeal, apples, citrus fruits, beans and other foods which increases the viscosity in the gut and acts to reduce high blood cholesterol levels which decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

soy protein
aa(top of page)
The protein found in soybeans and soy based foods which when consumed at the level of 25 grams per day may reduce the risk of heart disease.

spina bifida aa(top of page)
Spina bifida is a birth defect in which the infant is born with the spinal cord exposed. These children can grow to adulthood although they often suffer from paralysis and other disabilities. Also, see "neural tube defects (NTDs)."

stanol/sterol esters aa(top of page)
A functional component found in wood oils, corn, soy and wheat which may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels.

staple crops aa(top of page)
Those crops which are most common in people’s diets are considered staple crops. Staple crops of greatest importance include rice, wheat and maize (corn). These three crops provide 60 percent of the world’s food energy intake. And rice feeds almost half of humanity. Typically, staple crops are well adapted to the conditions in their source areas. For example, they may be tolerant of drought, pests or soils low in nutrients.

statistical power aa(top of page)
A mathematical quantity that indicates the probability a study has of obtaining a statistically significant effect. A high power of 80 percent, or 0.8, indicates that the study if conducted repeatedly—would produce a statistically significant effect 80 percent of the time. On the other hand, a power of only 0.1 means there would be a 90 percent chance that the research missed the effect—if one exists at all.

statistical significance aa(top of page)
The probability of obtaining an effect or association in a study sample as or more extreme that the one observed if there was actually no effect in the population. Based on the hypothesis that if there truly is no effect, the results of a study are unlikely to have occurred. A P value of less than five percent (P<0.05) means the result would occur less than five percent of the time if there were no effect, and is generally considered evidence of a true treatment effect or a true relationship.

stearate aa(top of page)
A saturated fatty acid containing eighteen carbon atoms in its molecular “backbone” that is essentially neutral in effect on coronary heart disease in humans (i.e., doesn’t appreciably increase low density lipoproteins in the bloodstream). Because of the heart disease neutrality and resistance to oxidation/breakdown, stearate containing oils are an excellent cooking oil choice.

sucralose aa(top of page)
Sucralose is the only low calorie sweetener that is made from sugar. It is approximately 600 times sweeter and does not contain calories. Sucralose is highly stable under a wide variety of processing conditions. Thus, it can be used virtually anywhere sugar can, including cooking and baking, without losing any of its sugar like sweetness.Currently, sucralose is approved in over 25 countries around the world for use in food and beverages. In the US, the FDA has been petitioned to approve the use of sucralose in 15 different food and beverage categories. sucrose Sucrose, a type of sugar, is a diglyceride composed of glucose and fructose. Also, see "carbohydrates."

sugar aa(top of page)
Although the consumer is confronted by a wide variety of sugars—sucrose, raw sugar, turbinado sugar, brown sugar, honey, corn syrup—there is no significant difference in the nutritional content or energy each provides, and therefore no advantage of one nutritionally over another. There also is no evidence that the body can distinguish between naturally occurring or added sugars in food products. sugar alcohols Ingredients used to add sweet flavors to food. Those often used instead of sugars include sorbitol, mamitol, and xylitol. Many fruits and vegetables contain sugar alcohols naturally. They’re also found in some sugarless gum, hard candies, jams and jellies. Besides adding sweetness, sugar alcohols also add texture, help foods stay moist, prevent browning when food is heated and give a cooling effect to the taste of food. They supply four calories per gram, but are absorbed slowly and incompletely and thus require little or no insulin for metabolism. They are not cavity producing because they are not metabolized by bacteria that produce cavities.

sulfites aa(top of page)
Sulfiting agents are sometimes used to preserve the color of foods such as dried fruits and vegetable, and to inhibit the growth of microorganisms in fermented foods such as wine. Sulfites are safe for most people. A small segment of the population, however, has been found to develop shortness of breath or fatal shock shortly after exposure to these preservatives. Sulfites can provoke severe asthma attacks in sulfite sensitive asthmatics. For that reason, in 1986 the FDA banned the use of sulfites on fresh fruits and vegetables (except potatoes) intended to be sold or served raw to consumers. Sulfites added to all packaged and processed foods must be listed on the product label.

sulphoraphane aa(top of page)
A functional component of cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, kale, horseradish) which provides the health benefits of neutralizing free radicals and possibly reducing the risk of cancer.

synergistic effect aa(top of page)
The effect achieved by the combination of two or more substances or organisms which neither alone could accomplish.


thermal effect of food
aa(top of page)
The increase in energy expenditure associated with the processes of digestion, absorption and metabolism of food; represents approximately 10% of a person’s total energy expenditure and includes facultative thermogenesis and obligatory thermogenesis; often called diet induced thermogenesis (DIT).

toxicologist aa(top of page)
A scientist who studies the nature, effects and detection of poisons and the treatment of poisoning.

toxicology aa(top of page)
The scientific study of the chemistry effects and treatment of poisonous substances.

traditional crop breeding aa(top of page)
For traditional crop breeding, breeders mix thousands of genes in order to transfer the protein products to enhance one or a few genetic traits. Therefore, the odds of something undesirable being transferred unintentionally are far greater in traditional breeding than in biotechnology.

trans fats aa(top of page)
Trans fats occur naturally in beef, butter, milk and lamb fats and in commercially prepared, partially hydrogenated margarines and solid cooking fats. The main sources of trans fats in the American diet today are margarine, shortening, commercial frying fats and high fat baked goods. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils were developed in part to help displace highly saturated animal and vegetable fats used in frying, baking and spreads. However, trans fats, like saturated fats, may raise blood LDL cholesterol levels (the so called "bad" cholesterol) but not as much as the saturates do. At high consumption, levels may also reduce the HDL or "good" cholesterol levels.

Type I diabetes aa(top of page)

Insulin dependent (Type I) diabetes is less common than Type II. This disease occurs when the pancreas can’t make insulin, or at least not enough. Often this form of diabetes begins in childhood or the young adult years, but people of any age can get it. Insulin shots are required daily. Type II diabetes Non insulin dependent (Type II) diabetes is the more common type of diabetes and people of African American, Hispanic and Native American decent are at higher risk of this disease. The disease develops slowly and usually becomes evident after age 40. Being overweight is a common risk factor. Often it can be controlled through diet, weight control and exercise.


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