Chances are when you hear the phrase “vegan meat,” you think of bland veggie burgers, mealy meatless sausages and the much-maligned Tofurky. But that’s about to change. Enter a new breed of meatless “meat” that’s carefully crafted and technologically engineered to truly replicate the tastes, smells and textures of the real thing — no animals required.
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According to the dictionary, the word “natural” means “having undergone little or no processing and containing no chemical additives.” But when it comes to seeing the word “natural” on a food label, the definition gets much murkier — so much so, in fact, that the FDA (which is currently reviewing the term and how it can define and regulate it) has recently extended its public comment period on the meaning of this word until May 10, 2016.
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.
Fish for brain health
You’ve heard fish is good brain food, but also worry about the effects of mercury in fish on your brain. What to do? New research tips the scales in fish’s favor. A recent study by Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago, indicates that eating a serving of seafood per week may protect the brains of older adults from the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease — especially among those at a higher genetic risk for developing Alzheimer’s. The study also concluded that, although those who ate seafood had higher levels of mercury in their brains, that mercury did not correlate to brain damage. “The evidence is quite clear that people who consume healthier forms of fish … are going to end up with healthier brains,” James T. Becker, an Alzheimer’s expert who was not involved in the study, told CNN.
Every nutrient, it seems, gets to have its day in the sun (and its time in the doghouse). First fat was the enemy, then good fats suddenly became all the rage. High-protein diets have come and gone. And while carbs have been demonized by some, the high-fiber content of complex carbohydrates is predicted to be the next big thing on the dietary horizon. Read more
Organic may be a good deal
If you pay the premium for pricey organic food when you shop for groceries, you may wonder if it’s worth it. A review study just published online in the journal Nature Plants has concluded that when it comes to sustainability — as measured by “productivity, environmental impact, economic viability and social wellbeing” — organic food is definitely worthwhile. Read more
There’s a debate raging around dairy, with some people advocating its consumption for a variety of health reasons, and others shunning it based on their own digestive or ethical concerns. But the newly released dietary guidelines are clear: They continue to recommend three servings per day of dairy as the best way to meet the requirements for calcium, potassium, vitamin D, vitamin A and magnesium. “The guidelines say that dairy is crucial, because for most Americans it is the primary source of those nutrients that many come up short on,” says Isabel Maples, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics.
But many Americans experience symptoms of lactose intolerance that make consuming dairy products particularly unpleasant. The gas, bloating and diarrhea are caused by an inability to digest lactose — the sugar that naturally occurs in cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk. Recently, however, science has started to tease out another possible explanation for many people’s post-dairy discomfort. “Researchers looked into why people who thought they were lactose-intolerant could drink goat’s milk without issue, even though it has as much lactose as cow’s milk,” says Bonnie Johnson, M.S., R.D., nutrition director, a2 Milk Company.
Move over, sweet and salty; hello, sweet heat. This flavor combo that gives a subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) burn to sweet foods has been steadily gaining traction. And it’s moving far beyond chile chocolate and jalapeno margaritas. This Valentine’s Day, check out some of the latest offerings to sport the sweet-hot flavor combo.
Here’s where we’ve spotted it:
New hurdle for genetically modified salmon
Looks like it’s going to be an upstream battle for purveyors of genetically modified salmon. A scant two months after U.S. authorities deemed it safe for human consumption, the FDA has issued a ban on the import and sale of genetically engineered salmon until the agency sets forth guidelines as to how it should be labeled — a step that, the Washington Post notes, could take years. The ban was issued in response to a bill recently passed by Congress. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, who had pushed for labeling, called it “a huge step in our fight against ‘Frankenfish,’” adding that she believes “mandatory labeling guidelines must be put in place as soon as possible so consumers know what it is they are purchasing.” Read more
Purple lovers, unite! We’ve spied (and tasted) a bunch of products made from antioxidant-packed purple corn and are happy to report much of it is really good!