by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, May 23, 2014
by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, May 16, 2014
In this week’s news: Gluten isn’t the only culprit in town; carbs, however, aren’t getting any slack; and a chef serves up a side of food politics.
Later, Gluten; Hello, FODMAPs
Studies show that 30 percent of us would like to cut down on our gluten consumption. For many, this stems from the belief that eating gluten can lead to gastrointestinal distress, an idea that drew attention after a 2011 Australian study. Thorough as that investigation was, the fact that it resulted in no real clues about why people might be so sensitive to gluten had puzzled the researchers. Recently, they headed back to the lab to give the experiment another go using an even more water-tight protocol. The results threw a wrench in prevailing thinking about gluten intolerance: Study participants reported little change in how they felt based on how much gluten they were or were not consuming. (Important note: Although gluten intolerance might be in question, celiac disease, an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten consumption, is real but rare.) What did seem to make some difference, the scientists note, was the amount of a specific category carbohydrate found in wheat, known by its acronym, FODMAPs.
by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, May 8, 2014
In this week’s news: A buzzkill study related to red wine emerges; a documentary suggests not all calories are created equal; and food dyes appear in unexpected places (et tu, pickles?).
Glass Half Empty, But Cheers Anyway
In 2006, Harvard scientists won the hearts of red wine and chocolate lovers everywhere by reporting that obese mice that were fed huge amounts of resveratrol — a polyphenol antioxidant found in those two foods — tended to live longer and stay healthier. Fast-forward eight years: Resveratrol supplements are a $30 million dollar industry, Dr. Oz enlisted the antioxidant for his “Ultimate Anti-Aging Checklist” and we’ve all been happily drenching ourselves in wine and chocolate. In light of this, a new Johns Hopkins study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine was, well, a bit of a downer. Researchers who studied a group of 783 elderly people in Tuscany’s Chianti region found no association between lifespan and the amounts of reseveratrol these individuals had consumed (presumably mostly through wine). That said, there’s still plenty of reason to raise a glass, says David Sinclair, the lead scientist behind the 2006 study. While it would take 100 to 1,000 times the amount of resveratrol you’d get from imbibing to have the kind of health impact he saw in mice, he points out that there are over three dozen other polyphenols in wine, many with similar and complementary sorts of benefits.
by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, May 1, 2014
In this week’s news: Tofu firms up its fan base; Butter Image Rehab 2014 continues; and a soda giant refreshes its ingredient list.
Tofu, Always Blending In, Takes a Mainstream Approach
Given tofu’s admirable protein content, lack of cholesterol and relatively high amount of calcium, you’d think health reasons might be its biggest selling points. Yet those qualities didn’t seem to matter so much among women ages 20 to 35 in new research from Brian Wansink’s Cornell Food and Brand Lab. When the researchers told the study’s non-tofu eaters about the health benefits, just 12 percent said they’d consider giving it a go. But when the scientists talked about price or showed an easy ten-minute recipe with the tagline “Cooks Like Chicken,” nearly 50 percent of non-users jumped on the bandwagon. Whether it tastes like chicken seems beside the point: The three most popular uses — tofu scramble, tofu stir-fry, salad mix-in — seem to accommodate just about any mystery meat.
by Dana Angelo White in Food News, April 29, 2014
In this week’s news: Peas get ready for their 15 minutes of fame; statins aren’t a get-out-jail-free card; and food shaming is counter-productive (enjoy your cookie, already!).
On the “Pulse” of the Food World
Ever wonder how they cram so much protein into a Larabar? Sure, the nuts help, but the real power player turns out to be a yellow pea powder that’s thrown into the mix, barely impacting flavor. Along with beans, chickpeas, and lentils, yellow peas fall into a subset of the legume family known as pulses. Although their cultural impact might not yet be on par with the “puffing gun,” a 1930s cereal-piece inflator that’s responsible for the Cheerios we know and love today, pulses are getting ground up and used in everything from soup to pasta and pound cake. The reason? Pulses are exceptionally high in protein (along with fiber, B vitamins, iron, and zinc) — and with more people trying to reduce their meat consumption, pulses seem to be the food of the hour. Cementing the trend: The United Nations announced it will observe the “International Year of the Pulse” in 2016.
by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, April 24, 2014
Given the premium often charged for organic fruits and vegetables, many shoppers have asked themselves if that pricier bunch of kale or pint of tomatoes is really worth it. For those who want reduce their exposure to pesticides, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its latest version of the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Each year, the advocacy group measures pesticide residues on conventionally grown produce and ranks fruits and vegetables from “dirty” to “clean.”
by Alia Akkam in Trends, April 18, 2014
In this week’s news: Mondays are the new January 1; “sad desk lunch” is no way to live; and salt gets a sprinkling of controversy.
T.G.I. … Monday?
New Year’s Day is notorious for being the time for all kinds of resolutions we know we’ll break (or simply ignore). Now, a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that we treat Monday like a weekly January first. Cue Twilight Zone music. When researchers looked at health-related Google queries from 2004 to 2012, they found a consistent spike on Mondays and Tuesdays, followed by a steady decline through the rest of the week — and finished off with a big plunge on Saturday. Enter the Monday Campaigns, an initiative put forth by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communications. To date, they’ve been keeping the Internet abuzz with Meatless Monday, now practiced in 31 countries worldwide. But there’s more to come, say the seize-the-Monday folks. Expect to see campaigns like Monday 2000, which encourages people to balance out their daily calorie counts, and a child-friendly Kids Cook Monday.
Step. Away. From. Your. Desk.
Did you know that 65 percent of Americans eat lunch at their desks or don’t take a break? Or that people who eat at their desks tend to eat more calories and snacks than those who eat out? Probably. Or you could have guessed. But don’t let that stop you from watching the hilarious new video from James Hamblin, MD, The Atlantic’s online health editor: “Sad Desk Lunch: Is This How You Want to Die?” The title speaks for itself, and if you like the video, check out Buzzfeed’s take. They made “the most delightful MD ever” into a gif.
by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, April 17, 2014
They simmer in stocks, accentuate pot roast and stand in as a crunchy, good-for-you snack between meals. But in the hands of deft chefs, taken-for-granted carrots are fast becoming the highlight of the dinner table.
“Carrots have a nice bright flavor, sweet, with the slightest bit of bitterness and astringency,” says Rob Marzinsky, executive chef of Fitler Dining Room, in Philadelphia. At the restaurant he combines a melange of carrots — yellow, white, Purple Haze and Kyoto red among them. The baby ones are roasted with whole spices and coffee beans, while the larger varieties are sauteed in shallot, ginger, jalapeno and the North African spice mixture, ras el hanout. Marzinsky then pairs them with farro from nearby Castle Valley Mill that’s dressed in ginger-carrot vinaigrette, a “pesto” made with carrot leaves and tangy yogurt.
by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, April 10, 2014
In this week’s news: Mondays get even more meatless; the world learns what happens when a household bans sugar (hint: a book deal); and coupon-clipping takes a healthier turn.
Hitting the Beach — and the Tofu
Why book Canyon Ranch when you can visit Grandma in Boca? Earlier this week, the Florida city announced that it was joining Meatless Mondays — a national movement that advocates exactly what the name suggests. The logic is this: Research suggests that when you eliminate a day’s worth of meat, you’re cutting 15 percent of saturated fat intake. That, in turn, may decrease your risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Twenty percent of Boca Raton’s residents are 65 or older, and with role models like Bill Clinton, whose health swami — Mark Hyman — was featured in the New York Times earlier this week, it might not be a surprise that the trend caught on.
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.
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.