All Posts By Toby Amidor

Nutrition Expert at FoodNetwork.com

Update: Health Experts Weigh in on Proposed Nutrition Label Redo

by in Food News, July 23, 2014

nutrition facts label
Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration released details of the proposed nutrition label makeover. Many experts have been weighing in on the new look, trying to determine if the changes will help consumers make better-informed decisions or simply add to widespread confusion about nutrition. Last week, The New England Journal of Medicine published two commentaries from health experts.

Added Sugars, Packaging Buzzwords
The first perspective was written by David A. Kessler, MD, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, author of The End of Overeating and a former FDA commissioner. Kessler believes that the FDA’s proposed changes could help nudge food buyers toward healthier decisions but argues that the new label does not go far enough.

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The 22 Days Vegan Diet Plan: Love It or Leaf It?

by in Diets & Weight Loss, July 21, 2014

swiss chard
Regulars in the celebrity-magazine rotation, including Jennifer Lopez, have credited their recent weight-loss success to the 22 Days vegan diet. It’s the same eating plan Beyoncé and Jay-Z popularized by posting food photos on Instagram. But is cutting out all animal products a healthy way to lose weight?

Why 22 Days?
The creator of this particular vegan diet, Marco Borges, is an exercise physiologist who believes veganism is the perfect way to achieve optimum wellness. His theory is that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, and so he developed the 22 Days Challenge in order to achieve his so-called “major breakthrough.”

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Can Butter Be Part of a Healthy Diet? (Seriously, Now.)

by in Healthy Tips, July 12, 2014

butter curls
The old butter-versus-margarine controversy has been thrust back in the spotlight. With more consumers favoring wholesome, natural foods, margarine has taken a backseat to butter. But can the full-fat delight actually be part of a healthy diet?

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Can Hypoallergenic Peanuts Live Up to the Hype?

by in Food News, Food Safety, July 10, 2014

traditional peanuts
Researchers claim they have a solution for those suffering from peanut allergies. But is a hypoallergenic peanut all it’s cracked up to be?

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5 Ways to Prevent Summer Weight Gain in Children

by in Healthy Tips, July 6, 2014

ice pops
A Harvard University study released last month found that kids gain weight more quickly over the summer than during the school year. With the warm weather and more opportunities to play outdoors, one might think the opposite is true. But it turns out there are several factors at play.

The study, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal Preventing Chronic Disease, compiled and analyzed the results of seven studies published since 1990. The studies were conducted among children ages 5 to 17. The researchers found that black, Hispanic and overweight children and adolescents were at highest risk of gaining weight quickly over the summer. The study determined that these adolescents gained weight because they spent more time in front of TV and computer screens and were more likely to eat unhealthy snacks. These children also may have slept less, as their summer days were less structured compared with those during the school year.

What Parents Can Do
There are several basic strategies that can help keep kids from gaining weight during summer vacation. Here are five.

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Taste Test: Healthier Crackers

by in Taste Test, June 21, 2014

crackers
Have you  browsed the cracker aisle lately? In addition to stocking the classic varieties, shelves are overflowing with versions made from whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. But are these options really what they’re cracked up to be?

The Criteria
For this taste test, we chose the plain or original flavor crackers. Each was tasted alone, without any toppings or condiments. The crackers were rated on calories, fat, fiber and sodium, along with ingredients (including preservatives and additives), flavor, texture and cost. Each brand was rated on a 5-point scale, with 5 being highest.

Kashi Original 7 Grain Snack Crackers (above)
Rating: 5.0
Cost (per ounce): $0.44
Nutrition Info (per serving: 15 crackers): 120 calories; 3.5 grams total fat; 160 milligrams sodium; 3 grams fiber
The Healthy Eats Take: With plenty of crackers per serving (15!) and a respectable amount of fiber, these delicious crackers won’t leave you hungry. The snacks have a hearty crunch and a well-rounded list of whole-grain ingredients, including millet, oats, hard red wheat, brown rice, barley, buckwheat and sesame seeds.

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Should You Skip Breakfast? (Sorry, the Answer Is Still No.)

by in Healthy Tips, June 19, 2014

egg in a hole
A study published earlier this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that skipping breakfast doesn’t affect weight loss in dieters. But if you think the findings offer permission to skip breakfast, think again.

The Study
Researchers examined the effect of skipping or eating breakfast on weight loss in 309 healthy overweight and obese people who ranged in age from 20 to 65. One group ate breakfast before 10 a.m., while the second group didn’t eat anything before 11 a.m. A third group consisting of 44 people who normally skipped breakfast and 52 people who normally ate breakfast were not given any instruction.

The study found that eating or skipping breakfast did not affect weight loss one way or the other. But does it truly not matter if you bypass breakfast?

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News Update: FDA Hints at Releasing Long-Awaited Salt Guidelines

by in Food News, June 18, 2014

bowl of salt
As blood pressure and health care costs for chronic disease continue to rise, the Food and Drug Administration is preparing to issue new guidelines on sodium. Americans currently take in about 3,400 milligrams (or 1½ teaspoons) of salt each day, a number well above the 2,300 milligrams per day (or 1 teaspoon) recommended upper limit. By advising food companies and restaurants to reduce sodium level in foods, the FDA hopes to lower the incidence of high blood pressure, strokes and other medical problems.

Voluntary Cutbacks
Talks of salt reduction have been swirling since 2010. Although the new salt guidelines were originally slated for release in 2013, the FDA told the Associated Press this week that the agency will be ready to issue the guidelines “relatively soon.” The FDA’s limits on sodium are expected to be voluntary, yet many food companies and retailers are planning to or have already cut back on salt in their products. Food giant ConAgra says it has already made a 20 percent reduction, while Walmart plans on slashing sodium by 25 percent in many products by next year. Subway restaurants have also claimed a 30 percent salt reduction in the chain’s offerings.

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What To Do When Food Gets Recalled?

by in Food News, Food Safety, June 2, 2014

paper plate and plastic utensils
With a number of sizable food recalls in recent news, it’s important to be aware of products that have been identified as posing a food safety risk and to know what to do when they are.

Recent Recalls
Walnuts and hummus dips were on the recent food recall hit list. Last month, Sherman Produce Company, based in St. Louis, voluntarily began recalling 241 cases of walnuts, after routine sampling of the product purchased by stores in Illinois and Missouri found traces of listeria. Also in May, Massachusetts food manufacturer Lansal Inc. (aka Hot Mama’s Foods) voluntarily pulled 14,860 pounds of their hummus in various retailers, including Target and Trader Joe’s. This was done after a single 10-ounce container tested positive for listeria.

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5 Star Ingredients of Latin Food with a Healthy Side

by in Healthy Recipes, May 29, 2014

pork tenderloin

The ingredients that make frequent appearances in the many variations of Latin cuisine are not only delicious, they can also provide numerous health benefits.

Guava
One delicious guava provides 37 calories, 3 grams of fiber and has twice the daily recommended dose of vitamin C. It’s also rich in potassium and phosphorus. Guava is also packed with the phytochemical quercetin, which may help reduce inflammation.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin a la Rodriguez with Guava Glaze and Orange-Habanero Mojo (above)

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