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: 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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Nutrition News: Healthy-Eating Insurance Discount, “Activity Equivalent” Calorie Labeling and Walmart’s Cage-Free Eggs

by in Food News, April 15, 2016

Healthy Eaters and Financial Incentives

Why didn’t anyone do this before? The insurance company John Hancock is now offering its life insurance policyholders financial incentives — lower premiums, grocery-store discounts and cash back deals — for consuming healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. The company’s president, Michael Doughty, told USA Today that the program, the first of its kind, involves a loyalty card policyholders swipe at the supermarket register and is “designed to recognize that nutrition, and particularly nutrition combined with exercise, is really the best recipe for living a long and healthy life.” And he said, “If we can play a role in helping our customers in doing that, it’s going to be good for them and good for us as a company.” Right on.

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News Feed: FDA, Arsenic and Rice Cereal; Moderation’s Limitations; Low-Fat vs. Full-Fat Dairy

by in Food News, April 8, 2016

Arsenic in rice cereal

One of the first foods many parents feed their babies is about to get safer and healthier. The Food and Drug Administration has proposed a cap on the amount of inorganic arsenic (a potentially toxic and carcinogenic substance in some pesticides and insecticides) in infant rice cereals to 100 parts per billion, similar to Europe’s recommended limit. Rice cereal is the chief source of arsenic exposure for babies, the FDA said, noting that its testing determined that many U.S. retail brands are in already compliance with the new recommended guidelines, according to the Associated Press. Although the FDA has not recommended that parents avoid feeding their babies rice cereal altogether, the agency advised not relying on it exclusively and offering infants other iron-fortified baby cereals — such as oatmeal, barley or multigrain ones — as well. “The proposed limit is a prudent and achievable step,” the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition’s Susan Mayne told the AP.

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News Feed: Sugar in Juice; Chocolate and Exercise; Benefits of Japanese Diet Guidelines

by in Food News, April 1, 2016

The truth about juice

Sure, “100% fruit juice” sounds healthy, but guess what? Just one serving of many kid-targeted fruit juices, juice drinks or smoothies contains a full day’s worth of sugar, or more, according to new research published in BMJ Open. “Most people assume, wrongly, that fruit juice is healthy and contains little free sugar,” study author Dr. Simon Capewell, of the University of Liverpool, told Time, referring to added sugars, including glucose, fructose, sucrose and table sugar as well as honey and syrup. However, many of the products Capewell and his colleagues tested “contained up to six teaspoons of sugar in a standard 200 ml serving, twice the daily recommended limit for a young child,” he said. Smoothies were often even worse, containing as much as eight teaspoons of sugar — three times the U.K.’s recommended daily amount — in the standard serving. Whoa.

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News Feed: Big Breakfast News, Vegan Nutrition, Dieting Done Differently

by in Food News, March 25, 2016

Starting the Day Right

It’s a big week for breakfast news: A new study, published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, found that middle-school students who ate no breakfast or ate it only occasionally had double the risk of obesity as those who ate breakfast regularly. But students who ate “double-breakfast” — first at home and then at school — did not seem to be at any greater risk for obesity as those who ate only one breakfast, either at home or school. “It seems it’s a bigger problem to have kids skipping breakfast than to have these kids eating two breakfasts,” concluded study co-author Marlene Schwartz, of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. Meanwhile, the Deseret News weighed whether cereal, the sales of which have declined in recent years, is a breakfast food worth rescuing, and Time offered an eye-opening look at 10 healthy breakfast options enjoyed in countries around the world.

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