Lots of external factors can throw us off our game when it comes to making healthy food choices and keeping our portions under control. We know, for instance, that the size and even the color of our plates can influence our perceptions of serving size and, consequently, the amount of food we eat. Now a new study, published in the journal Appetite, has found that the size of our dining companions can dramatically affect the amount of food we pile onto our plates and dig into as well.
All Posts In Food News
In this week’s news: Scientists give us the skinny on apples; olive oil earns another hearty endorsement; and local farms and organic research get some green.
Cold Comfort for Comfort Food Fans
What’s your go-to food when you’re feeling down? Carbs? Ice cream? You might as well reach for the carrot sticks and celery — or not snack at all. A new study has found that scarfing down comfort foods doesn’t actually boost mood more than eating healthier foods — or no food — does. Bad moods go away, the researchers determined, whether we eat that big pile of cookies or not. “We found no justification for people to choose comfort foods when they are distressed,” the researchers concluded, adding that they hoped their findings would lead people to skip the high-cal indulgences and “focus on other, food-free methods of improving their mood.” Read more
The name sounds strangely antiseptic, and the powdery flakes look suspiciously like what you’d sprinkle into the goldfish tank. But that does not deter certain cooks and bloggers (mostly vegetarian and vegan ones) from singing the praises of nutritional yeast. So what exactly is this supplement and what has it done to deserve a spot on the health food hot list? Read more
Does the One Percent Eat More Kale?
A 12-year study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health has determined that, although there’s still room for improvement, many Americans have bettered their eating habits over the past decade, upping their consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. That’s the good news. The bad? That positive trend was true only among those higher on the socioeconomic ladder and didn’t hold for lower-income individuals, making them vulnerable to health conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. “Declining diet quality over time may actually widen the gap between the poor and the rich,” study co-author Frank Hu told the Associated Press. Read more
A study out earlier this week has been generating lots of buzz with its finding that study participants on a low-carb diet lost more body weight and reduced their risk of heart disease compared to subjects on a low-fat diet. So should we be saying goodbye to all carbs?
The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, was a randomized trial that followed a group of 150 racially diverse men and women over one year. The subjects were divided into two groups: One group limited the amount of fat, while the second group limited the amount of carbs they ate. Neither group was asked to scale back on total calories or to alter physical activity.
After one year, researchers found that those in the low-carb group lost an average of 8 pounds more compared with those in the low-fat group. In addition, the low-carb group lost significantly more body fat compared with those in the low-fat group.
Wait, There’s More
It’s tempting to want to shout from rooftops, “low carb-diets rule!,” but that may not necessarily the case. The low-carb group was eating higher fat, but mainly from unsaturated sources such as nuts, fish and olive oil. Butter was sometimes eaten, but wasn’t a primary ingredient in their overall diets. Their total fat intake was more than 40 percent of their total calories. Read more
Hey, Kids: Do Try This At Home
Parents encouraging kids to reach for fruits and vegetables may frequently find their efforts undermined by a barrage of marketing that lures young eaters toward chips, candy, sugared cereals and other less-than-healthy snacks. But some marketers and grocers, including Wal-Mart and Giant Eagle, are now ramping up the appeal of healthier snacks by deploying colorful, kid-centric junk-food-style packaging and signage in the produce aisles. The CEO of Giant Eagle told NPR that when she first heard about the kid-oriented produce-section snack stations, she thought, “This is a win-win.” Apple slice, anyone? Read more
They used to be the stuff that fueled childhood nightmares: forkfuls of overcooked broccoli or endless orbs of bitter Brussels sprouts that had to be endured in order to tackle, finally, the chocolate ice cream. But today’s renditions of green vegetables don’t require nose-holding or the camouflage of cheese in order to win over legions of fans. From the once-maligned spinach that only Popeye fancied to the leafy kale that went on to wildly successful oversaturation, here’s a passel of formerly shunned vegetables (and a few equally undesirable fruits) that chefs have helped give miraculous makeovers. Read more
You’re feeling hungry and hankering for some comfort food, so you slip into your local diner and scan the menu, looking for healthy options. You know they’re in there, hidden among the burgers and fries, shakes and floats, waffles and three-egg omelets loaded with cheese. A spinach salad? A fresh fruit plate? A low-cal veggie soup, not too heavy on the sodium? The trick is to find them.
It’s Not You, It’s Your Microbiome
Don’t blame yourself if you can’t resist that cupcake. Blame your gut bacteria. A new study, published in the journal BioEssays, has found that the bacteria living within us, which are 100 times more numerous than our own cells, may affect the foods we crave as well as our moods. The tiny bacterial overlords, the theory goes, compel us to eat the foods they live best on — perhaps fat or sugar — overriding our healthy eating efforts and propelling us toward obesity. “Bacteria within the gut are manipulative,” says study co-author Carlo Maley, PhD. “There is a diversity of interests represented in the microbiome, some aligned with our own dietary goals, and others not.” Read more