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KS Hospital Takes Healthy Step with NuSun Oil

Tuesday, November 15, 2005
filed under: Utilization/Trade: NuSun

Patients and staff at the Goodland Regional Medical Center are eating healthier these days. That’s because NuSun™ is now the sole vegetable oil used in food preparation at the northwestern Kansas hospital.

Sarah Linton, GRMC’s director of nutrition services and diabetes education, says the transition occurred in early August when NuSun replaced hydrogenated soybean oil. Linton, a Goodland native and Kansas State University graduate, was already familiar with NuSun’s healthy traits, having utilized sunflower oil and kernels in a "food theme meal" project during her internship at a Colorado Springs, Colo., hospital. This summer’s publication of a Penn State University study documenting NuSun’s ability to help lower cholesterol* further confirmed to her the benefits of the mid-oleic sunflower oil.

Along with its absence of trans fats and not requiring hydrogenation, NuSun appealed to Linton because of its light flavor and ability to cook foods without altering their taste. Sunflower oil’s obvious importance to the High Plains agricultural economy was the proverbial frosting on the cake, she says.

Reaction from hospital patients and staff has been entirely positive, Linton affirms. New GRMC menus carry stickers informing everyone about NuSun’s use, and the hospital cafeteria has been decorated since August with NuSun table cards and sunflower posters. Flyers (published by the National Sunflower Association) discussing the Penn State study and outlining the health benefits of NuSun oil are also available for interested persons.

Lynn Hoelting, general manager of Mueller Grain Company in Goodland and chairman of the NSA High Plains Committee, also currently serves as chairman of the Goodland Regional Medical Center Board of Directors. Not surprisingly, he was wholeheartedly in favor of the center’s switch to NuSun and worked with the hospital to secure supplies of the oil.

Hoelting and Linton hope other area institutions will soon follow in GRMC’s footsteps and start using NuSun. One roadblock to date, they note, has been the simple availability of NuSun-branded sunflower oil. No area food service distributors presently offer a "NuSun" brand of oil (though, as Hoelting points out, most U.S.-produced sunflower oil these days is NuSun since NuSun hybrids now dominate the seed supply marketplace).

Hoelting says the High Plains sunflower industry hopes to educate food service distributors in the region on the benefits of — and market for — NuSun. “We want them to carry [NuSun] as a choice on their ‘laundry list’ of foods,” he states. “Hopefully this year’s bigger crop will help us do that, since having a consistently adequate supply is a big concern” for food manufacturers and distributors.

In the meantime, Linton raises the NuSun banner in the general Goodland area while speaking to community groups. She also visits about the oil — individually and at meetings — with fellow nutrition professionals. “It’s a good fit” for anyone concerned about a healthier diet, she affirms. — Don Lilleboe

* The Penn State study, published in the July 2005 Journal of the American Dietetic Association, reported that just two tablespoons of NuSun oil in place of saturated or trans fat will reduce total cholesterol by 5% and harmful LDL cholesterol by nearly 6%. Subjects on the NuSun diet in the study lowered their blood cholesterol (compared with the average American diet), while those utilizing olive oil did not. The study demonstrated that “the substitution of just a small amount of a healthy oil like NuSun for saturated or trans fat can significantly impact heart health,” stated head researcher Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton.

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