All Posts By Amy Reiter

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire and Wine Spectator, among other print publications, as well as for websites including The Daily Beast, MSN, Babble, AOL/Huffington Post and Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer.

Nutrition News: Diet and Diabetes, Workplace Wellness, Soda Tax

by in Food News, June 24, 2016

Veg out (if only a little)

The advice to eat your veggies is better than ever. Eating just a few more servings of healthful plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains) and slightly fewer servings of animal-based foods (meat, fish, eggs, dairy) every day can significantly reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes, a new study published in PLOS Medicine has found. Interestingly, while those who ate a plant-based diet with a modest amount of animal products lowered their Type 2 diabetes risk by 20 percent, the kind of plant-based foods they ate was key. Those who ate healthy plant-based foods saw a 34 percent drop in diabetes risk, while those who ate unhealthy plant-based foods (refined carbs, sugary foods, starchy veggies) actually slightly increased their Type 2 diabetes risk. “What we’re talking about is a moderate shift – replacing one or two servings of animal food a day with one or two plant-based foods,” senior author Frank Hu, a professor at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told The New York Times. Read more

Nutrition News: Whole Grains, Diet and Metabolism, Sleep and Weight

by in Food News, June 17, 2016

The whole truth about whole grains

We know whole grains are good for us, but do they have the same health benefits if they are ground up and used, say, as an ingredient in smoothies or flour in cereals? The New York Times’ Well blog has taken that question to nutrition experts and the answer is, basically, yes. “Whole” grains, in which the bran, the germ and the endosperm are all left intact (as opposed to “refined” grains, where the bran and the germ are stripped away), are beneficial either way. Some grains lose a bit of their fiber when ground, but taste better that way, the experts say, whereas others, like flax seed, are more nutritious when ground, because the body can absorb them better. The most-important thing, dietitian Maria Elena Rodriguez tells the Times, is to make sure products have three or more grams of fiber per serving and are marked “whole grains.” Read more

Nutrition News: Good Fats, Sugar Addiction, Running Mistakes

by in Food News, June 10, 2016

Embrace good fats

Is it finally time to stop fearing all fats? The low-fat trend — already under fire — just took another hit from science. Researchers in Spain have concluded that all fats are not created equal – and that some will not lead to significant weight gain, regardless of calorie content. The study tracked 7,447 middle-aged men and women over five years and found that those who were put on a Mediterranean diet — with lots of fresh fruits, veggies and lean proteins, as well as olive oil and nuts — without calorie restrictions lost a bit more weight than those who were assigned a low-fat diet with no restrictions in their caloric intake. Read more

Nutrition News: Unhealthy Behavior, Evaporated Cane Juice and Vegan Diets

by in Food News, June 3, 2016

What’s in a name?

Sugar by any other name would still taste as sweet. “Evaporated cane juice” may sound a lot healthier than “sugar,” but the Food and Drug Administration has decided it’s really the same thing. The agency has just released guidelines advising food companies to avoid using the term “evaporated cane juice” on labels and instead use the term “sugar,” which it has concluded is more accurate. (The FDA says it’s OK to modify it — as in “organic cane sugar” — as long as the word “sugar” is somewhere in there, NPR’s The Salt reports.) Food blogger Marion Nestle hailed the decision, telling The Salt: “Sugar is sugar, no matter what it is called. Now the FDA needs to do this with all the other euphemisms.” Suh-weet! Read more

Nutrition News: Late Family Dinners, Healthy Lifestyle and Cancer, Divorced Men’s Diets

by in Food News, May 27, 2016

Late family dinners

Parents who are perpetually running behind schedule with the family dinner probably have a lot on their plates, but one thing they can worry less about is dooming their kids to obesity just because the evening meal is served late. While previous research has indicated that meal timing could boost the risk of being overweight or obese for children, a new U.K. study examining data from more than 1,600 kids, ages 4 to 18, found that the risk of being overweight or obese was no higher among kids who ate between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. than it was among those served supper earlier in the day. Study author Gerda Pot, a visiting lecturer at King’s College London, told HealthDay News that she and her colleagues had “expected to find an association between eating later and being more likely to be overweight” and so found the study results “surprising.” Read more

Nutrition News: Smoothies, Calorie Disclosure Rules, Diet and High School Sports

by in Food News, May 20, 2016

Smoothie operators

“Do I absorb more sugar and calories when I drink fruits and vegetables in a smoothie as opposed to just eating them whole?” The question was put to The New York Times’ Well blog this week, which consulted a dietitian representing the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and returned with an answer: Yes, “very likely.” Basically, the issue is one of “quantity,” the Times was told. You may well consume a lot in a short time when you drink a smoothie, without even realizing it. Plus, you may feel hungrier more quickly after you drink a smoothie than you would after eating whole fruit, because fiber, which slows down the sugar-to-blood-sugar conversion process, gets pulverized when the fruit is blended for smoothie consumption. And that’s just talking about smoothies you make at home, the Times notes. Store-bought smoothies often pack a big caloric punch along with added sugar, honey or other sweeteners — and may not even contain whole fruit at all.

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Nutrition News: Healthiest Veggie-Cooking Methods, Pregnancy Obesity Risks, Silk For Fresh Fruit

by in Food News, May 13, 2016

Healthier veggie prep

We all know vegetables are healthy, but some ways of preparing them are healthier than others. In general, cooked beats raw, CNN reports, noting, “Studies show the process of cooking actually breaks down tough outer layers and cellular structure of many vegetables, making it easier for your body to absorb their nutrients.” And while the ideal method may differ slightly for different vegetables, the news site reports, as a rule of thumb it’s often best to steam (don’t boil) or microwave your veggies and “keep cooking time, temperature and the amount of liquid to a minimum.” Then throw in a wee bit of olive oil and you’re good to go. Read more

Nutrition News: Foods Nutritionists Avoid, Ugly Produce and Bloating Triggers

by in Food News, May 6, 2016

It’s what’s inside that counts.

When it comes to fruit and vegetables, maybe they should say that the best things come in ugly packages. A growing body of research indicates that produce with signs of stress — pockmarks, scales, dimples, strange shapes — may actually be nutritionally superior and taste better than perfect-looking produce. The scars on ugly fruits and veggies may be signs they have successfully battled environmental threats such as an insect or an infection and may indicate high antioxidant content, NPR’s The Salt reports. “There is some interesting data that when plants are stressed by insects or disease, they produce metabolites that are good for us,” Clemson University environmental biologist Brian Ward tells the site. Embrace the unsightly! Read more

Nutrition News: Coffee-Benefit Boosters, Fatty-Food Sleep Effects, Health Perks of Curcumin

by in Food News, April 29, 2016

Getting the most out of your cuppa joe

Coffee — it not only wakes us up and elevates our mood, but, research suggests, may also protect us against dementia and boost our memory and metabolism. However, Fox News warns, we may be unintentionally undercutting some of coffee’s benefits. The site lists eight caffeine-consumption mistakes to avoid, including buying coffee preground and storing it in its original bag, which increase the level of free radicals, using up the health-promoting antioxidants, as well as drinking it too early, drinking too much, overdoing it with the sugar and drinking the wrong roast. Also, if you’re the sort of person who lets your coffee sit there forever, which increases its acidity, you may be upping your risk of heartburn and indigestion. Plus, if you drink your cuppa joe within 20 minutes of brewing — when, let’s face it, it tastes best anyway — you maximize the antioxidant benefits as well.

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Nutrition News: Fast Food and Hormones, Nordic Diet, Family Meals

by in Food News, April 22, 2016

Fries with that hormone disrupter?

Yet another reason to skip fast food if you want to eat healthy: A new study indicates that fast food may expose those who consume it to chemicals called phthalates, which can disrupt hormones and even lower sperm count in men. Researchers at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health found that people who had consumed more than 35 percent of their calories from fast food in the previous 24 hours had significantly higher levels of two phthalate byproducts, DEHP and DiNP. The authors suggest that the phthalates may have gotten into food — possibly from sources like plastic gloves or conveyor belts — during preparation or packaging, and that the heat from cooking may exacerbate the issue.

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