This Week’s Nutrition News Feed

by in Food News, December 11, 2013

nuts
In this week’s news: Why we should get cracking (nuts, that is); signs that diet soda is fizzling out (or would that be fizzing out?); and the true cost of healthy eating.

Pass the Cocktail Nuts
A recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine (and reported by the New York Times) looked at data from over 119,000 women and men in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Researchers found that study participants who ate nuts seven or more times a week had a 20% lower death rate than those who didn’t eat nuts over the same period of time. Even for those who only ate nuts less than once a week, the death rate was 11% lower. Participants ate a variety of nuts including pistachios, almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pecans, pine nuts, peanuts, walnuts and macadamias.

Diet Soda’s Bubble Bursts
Sales of diet soda are on the decline. During 2013, the sales of zero- and low-calorie soda dropped 6.8%, according to Wells Fargo, while regular soda sales declined 2.2%. Even though the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) says artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose are safe, some buyers are skeptical.

The Price of Healthy Eating
Many consumers complain that buying nutritious foods is difficult or impossible on a budget. To help assign an actual dollar amount to healthier food purchases, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health examined retail prices, looking at 27 studies in 10 developed countries. They found that the cost difference between a healthful and unhealthful diet was about about $1.50 per day.

“All-Natural” Still Not All That
Although plastered on many food labels, the phrase “all-natural”  doesn’t come with a clear definition. Getting the “all-natural” stamp doesn’t cost manufacturers much, nor does it require certification. Although the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and the FDA disagree on the advantages (or disadvantages) of the term, one thing is for certain: Consumers look for the label, even though it doesn’t necessarily mean that a food is healthy. At this time, it doesn’t look like the FDA or food manufacturers want to address the use or definition of the word.

Vegan Cuisine Goes Haute
In another sign that vegan cooking is no longer confined to brown rice and tofu-hijiki burgers, high-end chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten announced he will be opening a vegetarian and vegan restaurant in New York City in 2014.

Where’s the Beef? And the Poultry? (You Don’t Want to Know.)
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Yauk’s Specialty Meats of Windsor, Colorado is recalling about 90,000 pounds of meat and poultry products produced under unsanitary conditions. A safety inspector found rodent activity in the production, storage and retail areas of the facility which led to a USDA investigation. No illnesses have been reported at this time. Products were sold in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The products contain the establishment number “Est. 20309″ or “P-20309,” found inside the USDA Mark of Inspection. Get more information about the recall here.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

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