by Amy Reiter in Food News, June 24, 2016
by Amy Reiter in Food News, June 17, 2016
Veg out (if only a little)
The advice to eat your veggies is better than ever. Eating just a few more servings of healthful plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains) and slightly fewer servings of animal-based foods (meat, fish, eggs, dairy) every day can significantly reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes, a new study published in PLOS Medicine has found. Interestingly, while those who ate a plant-based diet with a modest amount of animal products lowered their Type 2 diabetes risk by 20 percent, the kind of plant-based foods they ate was key. Those who ate healthy plant-based foods saw a 34 percent drop in diabetes risk, while those who ate unhealthy plant-based foods (refined carbs, sugary foods, starchy veggies) actually slightly increased their Type 2 diabetes risk. “What we’re talking about is a moderate shift – replacing one or two servings of animal food a day with one or two plant-based foods,” senior author Frank Hu, a professor at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told The New York Times. Read more
by Sally Wadyka in Food News, June 11, 2016
The whole truth about whole grains
We know whole grains are good for us, but do they have the same health benefits if they are ground up and used, say, as an ingredient in smoothies or flour in cereals? The New York Times’ Well blog has taken that question to nutrition experts and the answer is, basically, yes. “Whole” grains, in which the bran, the germ and the endosperm are all left intact (as opposed to “refined” grains, where the bran and the germ are stripped away), are beneficial either way. Some grains lose a bit of their fiber when ground, but taste better that way, the experts say, whereas others, like flax seed, are more nutritious when ground, because the body can absorb them better. The most-important thing, dietitian Maria Elena Rodriguez tells the Times, is to make sure products have three or more grams of fiber per serving and are marked “whole grains.” Read more
by Amy Reiter in Food News, June 10, 2016
You’re probably already aware that eating off extra-large plates can translate into consuming extra-large portions and that watching TV during a meal may distract you enough to make you overeat. The latest research on restaurant ambience examined how bright versus dim lighting affected diners’ food choices.
The study had several different prongs. The first involved a survey of 160 patrons at casual chain restaurants. Those sitting in brightly lit rooms were 16 to 24 percent more likely to order healthy foods (such as grilled fish or chicken and vegetables), while those in rooms where the lights were dimmer were more likely to order unhealthy items (like fried food or dessert). Plus, those eating in darker dining rooms ordered 39 percent more calories. Read more
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
“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.