by Amy Reiter in Food News, June 10, 2016
by Sally Wadyka in Food News, June 9, 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
by Toby Amidor in Food News, Trends, June 4, 2016
The biggest buzz surrounding the revamped Nutrition Facts label recently unveiled at the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit is the news that added sugars (not just total sugars) will be required on food packaging. “‘Added sugar’ means anything that’s used to sweeten a product beyond any sugars that occur naturally in that food,” explains Libby Mills, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And once that info is on the label in black and white, you’ll no longer be able to kid yourself into thinking added sugars are found only in sweets, sodas and baked goods. “Sugar is added to a variety of ‘healthy’ foods — including salad dressing, tomato sauce, soups, breads and yogurt,” says Mills. “Places you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find it.”
The problem with added sugar is that it’s basically adding empty calories to whatever you’re eating. “You’re getting the calories without much nutrition to go with it,” says Mills. “And that can contribute to weight gain, tooth decay, diabetes and numerous other health issues. The American Heart Association guidelines call for no more than six teaspoons a day of added sugar for women and nine for men. Read more
by Amy Reiter in Food News, June 3, 2016
The United Nations declared 2016 the “International Year of the Pulses.” Pulses include dry beans, peas, lentils and garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas). Another trendy theme this year is reducing food waste. If you put both of those together, you get aquafaba, or the liquid used to soak beans. Instead of tossing it, try using it in some of these creative ways.
The History Behind Aquafaba
One of the main uses for aquafaba is as a replacement for eggs. Although prunes, applesauce and beans have been used to replace whole eggs, and egg substitutes like Bob’s Red Mill and Ener-G have been available for years, they don’t always do the exact job some recipes need, specifically meringues. Plus, some of the store-bought egg substitutes are costly. Read more
by Amy Reiter in Food News, May 27, 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
by Elizabeth Brownfield in Food News, May 25, 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
by Amy Reiter in Food News, May 20, 2016
Last week at the Partnership for a Healthier America Building a Healthier Future Summit in Washington, D.C., first lady (and PHA honorary chair) Michelle Obama unveiled the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s refreshed Nutrition Facts label. And while a label redesign may not seem like big news, it is. First, because this is the only time the label has significantly changed since it debuted 20 years ago. And second, because the FDA has been under mounting pressure from food manufacturers and consumers alike to re-evaluate what was criticized as an out-of-date tool for determining the nutritional value of packaged foods. Read more
by Amy Reiter in Food News, May 13, 2016
“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.
by Sally Wadyka in Ask the Experts, Food News, May 8, 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
by Amy Reiter in Food News, May 6, 2016
It’s not difficult to find a bottle labeled “extra virgin olive oil” — a term that’s not only ubiquitous, but that is also synonymous in most people’s minds with a high-quality product. Unfortunately, like many other words that end up on food labels, those don’t necessarily mean what they say. In fact, an estimated 70 percent of imported extra virgin olive oil isn’t actually extra virgin at all. It’s been refined and processed or made from poor-quality (possibly even rotten) olives.
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