by Elizabeth Brownfield in Food News, May 25, 2016
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has been under mounting pressure from food manufacturers and consumers alike to re-evaluate what was criticized as an out-of-date tool for determining the nutritional value of packaged foods.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.
by Sally Wadyka in Food News, May 2, 2016
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
by Amy Reiter in Food News, April 29, 2016
Ever since the dawn of the low-carb craze, bread has been on the outs. Diners ask for the breadbasket to be removed from their tables at restaurants, sandwiches are shunned, and toast is … well, toast. But new research may help prove that bread has been unfairly demonized, and that the loaf languishing in your kitchen is not the enemy you once thought.
by Amy Reiter in Food News, April 22, 2016
Getting the most out of your cuppa joe
Coffee — it not only wakes us up and elevates our mood, but, research suggests, may also protect us against dementia and boost our memory and metabolism. However, Fox News warns, we may be unintentionally undercutting some of coffee’s benefits. The site lists eight caffeine-consumption mistakes to avoid, including buying coffee preground and storing it in its original bag, which increase the level of free radicals, using up the health-promoting antioxidants, as well as drinking it too early, drinking too much, overdoing it with the sugar and drinking the wrong roast. Also, if you’re the sort of person who lets your coffee sit there forever, which increases its acidity, you may be upping your risk of heartburn and indigestion. Plus, if you drink your cuppa joe within 20 minutes of brewing — when, let’s face it, it tastes best anyway — you maximize the antioxidant benefits as well.
by Amy Reiter in Food News, April 15, 2016
Fries with that hormone disrupter?
Yet another reason to skip fast food if you want to eat healthy: A new study indicates that fast food may expose those who consume it to chemicals called phthalates, which can disrupt hormones and even lower sperm count in men. Researchers at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health found that people who had consumed more than 35 percent of their calories from fast food in the previous 24 hours had significantly higher levels of two phthalate byproducts, DEHP and DiNP. The authors suggest that the phthalates may have gotten into food — possibly from sources like plastic gloves or conveyor belts — during preparation or packaging, and that the heat from cooking may exacerbate the issue.
by Sally Wadyka in Trends, April 14, 2016
Healthy Eaters and Financial Incentives
Why didn’t anyone do this before? The insurance company John Hancock is now offering its life insurance policyholders financial incentives — lower premiums, grocery-store discounts and cash back deals — for consuming healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. The company’s president, Michael Doughty, told USA Today that the program, the first of its kind, involves a loyalty card policyholders swipe at the supermarket register and is “designed to recognize that nutrition, and particularly nutrition combined with exercise, is really the best recipe for living a long and healthy life.” And he said, “If we can play a role in helping our customers in doing that, it’s going to be good for them and good for us as a company.” Right on.
If you do a Google search for “apple cider vinegar,” you will undoubtedly come away with hundreds of articles touting its myriad magical powers. Depending on whom you believe, downing regular shots of vinegar will do everything from helping you drop pounds to improving your digestion and even preventing diabetes. “Vinegar has been used medicinally for thousands of years, but evidence supporting its use for health outcomes is limited and quite recent,” says Carol Johnston, Ph.D., R.D., a professor of nutrition at Arizona State University who studies the impact of vinegar on diabetes.