by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, April 10, 2014
by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, April 3, 2014
In this week’s news: Bean buffs have reason to rejoice; “plant-based protein” shapes up to be the other white meat; and vitamin D is back in the spotlight (make that the sunlight).
Bring On the Three-Bean Salad
Just one serving a day of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils appears to reduce “bad” cholesterol, a review of 26 controlled studies has found. According to the lead researcher, a single ¾ cup of these foods may lower LDL cholesterol by five percent, which can translate roughly to a five or six percent reduction in heart disease risk. Two factors may influence this. First, the foods have a low glycemic index, meaning that they keep blood sugar levels even (and eaters sated) by breaking down and getting absorbed into the body at a slow and steady rate. Second, they also appear to help rid our systems of the bad fats we ingest. The catch? We currently eat less than half a serving a day.
by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, March 27, 2014
In this week’s news: Vegetables save lives (seven-a-day is the new five-a-day); baseball stadiums cater to the Whole Foods set; and scientists keep putting monkeys on wacky diets.
For a Longer Life, Pass the Salad Tongs
Given all the nutrition studies out there, you might think researchers have tested every hypothetical in the book. Turns out there was a ginormous one missing. Earlier this week, researchers at University College London released the very first report to not just associate eating fruits and vegetables with reduced risk of death of any cause but also to put numbers to the benefit per serving: Eat seven or more portions of produce, and you’ll apparently be 42 percent less likely to die at any given point in time. (Note that the magic of statistics make this sound a little more exciting that in is: No matter how many carrots you eat, you will keel over, eventually.) Drawing on a Health Survey for England data set involving 65,226 people between 2001 and 2013, the study was also able to narrow things down by portion (five to seven servings might buy you a 36 percent reduction, and three to five could get you 25 percent). Fresh produce had the strongest effect, reducing risk by 16 percent per portion. Canned or frozen fruit appeared to increase death odds by 17 percent, most likely because of the foods’ sugar content say the researchers. Always a good bet? Salad, which was associated with a 13 percent gain in the longevity department.
by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, March 20, 2014
In this week’s news: Google lets us compare apples to oranges (nutrition-wise); “real food” wins the latest diet smackdown; and Bittman says butter is back.
Virtual Food Fights
Google’s new-ish nutrition comparison tool got a soak in the spotlight this week. The idea’s rather nifty: Type “compare” followed by, oh, “bacon and kale,” and let the search engine work its magic. Drawing on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database, the search tool presents everything from fat and calorie to vitamin and mineral content. Be forewarned: Because Google’s algorithm is always set up to send you results it thinks will be relevant, you’ll also get plenty of mouthwatering recipes and images of your foods together (bacon and kale salad, for instance).
by Dana Angelo White in Food News, March 18, 2014
In this week’s news: Doctors embrace the food-as-medicine concept; chocolate is awesome for a whole new reason; and saturated fat (slowly) comes back into the fold.
Get Me a Spatula, Stat!
Last weekend,the Napa Valley branch of the Culinary Institute of America hosted hundreds of physicians for a medical meeting involving kitchen aprons, not lab coats. The draw was the Healthy Kitchens/Healthy Lives conference, co-sponsored by the Harvard School of Public Health and part of a quickly growing trend of culinary-medical cross-pollination. Come May, for example, Tulane University will debut the country’s first teaching kitchen affiliated with a medical school. In New York, meanwhile, celebrity chefs David Bouley and Seamus Mullen have been working with doctors Mark Hyman and Frank Lipman, respectively, to develop menu items and eating philosophies representing a drool-worthy intersection of pantry and pharmacy. (Wild mushrooms with white truffle, sweet garlic, grilled toro and coconut foam, anyone?) Fueling the trend is some pretty delicious research: In one recent study of a nonprofit program, patients whose doctors wrote them “prescriptions” to redeem at local farmers markets saw their BMI drop by an average of 37.8% in a single year.
by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, March 13, 2014
It has been long accepted by the medical community that there is a connection between fat intake and heart disease risk. But recent studies, including one published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine, are calling into question the current recommendations.
by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, March 7, 2014
In this week’s news: time-warping with sprouted grains and hemp brownies; tracking down the four-leaf clover of kale; and betting the farm on farm-to-table real estate.
Sprouted Grains Hit the Big Time
Boomers might cop an eye roll when they hear of restaurant chain Panera Bread’s new launch. Come May, the Saint Louis-based company plans to roll out a line of sprouted-grain bagels made with rye, spelt and oat groats. Sprouts, all too familiar to those who lived through the 1970s, are grain seeds that have been soaked in water until they germinate. This results in a more nutrient-dense, higher protein food. Thanks to trendy grains like quinoa, sprouted versions have been making a comeback as protein-rich power foods (Au Bon Pain recently featured a sprouted grain roll on its menu), which is exactly how Panera plans to market it. The effort hasn’t been without its hiccups: An early version of the flax bagel made from whole seeds had to be reworked with a ground variety as consumers complained it tasted fishy.
by Toby Amidor in Food News, February 27, 2014
In this week’s news: The World Health Organization doesn’t sugarcoat its advice; fruits and vegetables feel the love (even in school cafeterias); and food labels get ready for their makeover.
No More Sweet Talk
Studies have associated sugar with everything from headaches to heart disease, and yet most of us still get 18% of our total caloric intake from the stuff. That’s about 22 teaspoons each day. Here in the United States, nutritionists have long lobbied to coax us down to about 10%. But the international community is taking an even harder line. This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) brought its recommendation down to 5%, or about 100 calories per day. The recommendation is yet another strong case for transparent food labels, but until the new ones come out, here’s a crib sheet for some of the most sugar-stuffed packaged foods: Ketchup, salad dressing, soup, crackers, flavored yogurt, spaghetti sauce, bread, frozen dinners, granola, protein bars, shakes and (yep!) sushi.
by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, February 27, 2014
The nutrition label currently on packaged food (above left) has been in place since the early 1990s. But earlier this year, the FDA announced that the Nutrition Facts label would be undergoing a makeover. This morning, the agency released details of the proposed label (above right).
One of the major changes is the emphasis on calories and serving sizes. The calories will appear in a larger, bold font, while the serving sizes will be a more accurate reflection of how most people eat today. For example, the serving size for ice cream has always been ½ cup. Now, the serving size will be a more realistic 1 cup. The 20-fluid ounce soda bottle that typically has 2.5 servings per container will now be labeled as one serving — so consumers will no longer need to calculate the total amounts on their own. Among other proposed changes:
by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, February 20, 2014
In this week’s news: Michelle Obama stumps for kale and more, while the dairy industry shelves its Got Milk campaign; obesity rates for young kids nosedive; and researchers show why Tetris might be good for your waistline.
Kale in the Green Room
Kale — the nation’s perpetually trendy produce item — took its vegetal celebrity to a whole new level last week, getting the late-night spotlight on the new Tonight Show. If First Lady Michelle Obama doing her best ‘tween impression and offering kale chips to a wigs-wearing Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell sounds like fun (and it kinda is), then this is for you.
In this week’s news: California takes a hard stance on soft drinks; marketers realize there’s more bread to be made in the gluten-free aisle; and an amino acid in spinach gets the spotlight.
California to Bust Soda’s Bubble?
Along with several medical experts, a California state senator proposed adding a warning label to the packaging of sodas not unlike what now appears on cigarette packaging. The wording — developed by a panel of national healthcare leaders — would read, “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.” According to data cited, one soda a day raises an adult’s chances of being overweight by 27 percent and a child’s by 55 percent.