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: 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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Nutrition News Feed: Label Transparency, Ultra-Processed Foods, The Hearty-Breakfast Myth

by in Food News, March 18, 2016

Who farmed your food?

Curious about what’s in the packaged foods you eat, where the ingredients came from, and who produced them and how? More and more consumers are demanding this sort of information and transparency, and so companies big (Kellogg’s, Hershey, Wal-Mart and Campbell’s Soup, among others) and “niche” (Fish + People, The Real Co.) are responding through a variety of labeling initiatives. “Driving the efforts are consumers’ heightened concerns about health and the environmental and social impact of food production, as well as regulatory and safety worries,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Soon we’ll probably know a lot more about the people who produce our food — a development that is as sweet as it is empowering.

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News Feed: Raw Milk’s Revenge, Ugly Produce and Fasting

by in Food News, March 11, 2016

Raw milk or raw luck?

Oh, the irony! Just weeks after passing legislation making it legal to drink raw milk in West Virginia — despite warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration that unpasteurized milk may “pose a serious health risk” — members of the state’s House of Delegates celebrated by drinking raw milk. Guess what happened? A bunch of the lawmakers fell ill. Some of the delegates, including some of those who drank the milk and the guy who distributed it to his colleagues, insist that one had nothing to do with the other, blaming the illnesses on a stomach bug that was going around. “There’s nobody up there that got sick off that milk,” Delegate Scott Cadle, who sponsored the legislation and shared the milk, told the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “It’s just bad timing, I guess.” The West Virginia Bureau of Public Health is investigating.

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News Feed: Sleep-Friendly Dinners and Bedtime Snacks — and How Lack of Sleep Affects Your Appetite

by in Food News, March 4, 2016

Bedtime Snack Do’s and Don’ts

A little nosh before you hit the hay — what can be the harm? The Wall Street Journal suggests that some bedtime snacks may be better than others. For instance, for a solid night’s sleep, it’s best to steer clear of high-energy — high-fat and high-protein — foods, which can give your body a jolt, just when you’d like it to be settling down, and boost inflammation (although eating foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids during the day may reduce this effect). The best bedtime snack choices, Texas A&M Health Science Center neuroscientist David Earnest tells the Journal, are high-magnesium foods, like leafy greens and pumpkin seeds, which can relax your muscles and diminish restless legs syndrome; high-tryptophan foods, like milk, unprocessed turkey and hazelnuts, which can speed the onset of REM sleep; and fruit, especially melatonin-triggering cherries, bananas and pineapples. “Unless you’re exceeding the normal calories in a day consistently,” Earnest told the Journal, “late-night fruit should not be a problem.”

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News Feed: Wood Pulp in Cheese, Starbucks Sugar Shocker, Cage-Free Trader Joe’s

by in Food News, February 26, 2016

Cheese, please

Have we all been sprinkling wood on our pasta and pizza? Some suppliers of grated Parmesan cheese have been filling their products with cellulose — an anti-clumping additive made from wood pulp — or using other, less expensive cheeses and failing to disclose the actual ingredients on the label, Bloomberg Business reports. One cheese maker has estimated that 20 percent of hard Italian cheeses are mislabeled. Another told Bloomberg that only one-third of the 28 brands of grated Parmesan it tested appeared to be accurately labeled, in terms of protein levels and fillers. In response to a Bloomberg investigation, in which a lab test confirmed that several store brands contained high levels of cellulose, several stores have begun pulling the questionable products from their shelves.

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