Because Love is Love … Ben & Jerry’s Celebrates Gay Marriage Legalization with “I Dough, I Dough”

I_Dough_I_Dough_Flag_Pint-4779_LargeFoodFacts.com loves how Ben & Jerry’s engages the public with products that highlight the issues and causes of our time. Yes, we know it’s marketing. But unlike most food marketing, Ben & Jerry’s version actually helps people think about things they should be thinking about. Ben & Jerry’s creates a “voice with food” that is both unique and powerful. So it’s no surprise that they’re celebrating gay marriage with ice cream.

Equality has never tasted so sweet. On Friday, Ben & Jerry’s renamed its iconic “Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough” ice cream flavor to “I Dough, I Dough,” in celebration of the historic Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage nationwide.

For a limited time, the specially named flavor will be available at participating Scoop Shops in a commemorative pint sleeve. If you want to celebrate with your own pint at home, the sleeve can also be purchased online through the Human Rights campaign, with all proceeds benefitting the organization.

“Ben & Jerry’s is proud of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision against discrimination as it boldly stands up for equality for same sex couples everywhere,” Jostein Solheim, the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s, said in a press release.

The company is a longtime supporter of equal rights. Ben & Jerry’s writes on its website that in 1989, it was “the first major employer in Vermont to offer health insurance to domestic partners of employees, including same sex couples, and we haven’t spent one minute regretting it.”

In 2009, the company celebrated the legalization of gay marriage in Vermont by renaming the “Chubby Hubby” flavor to “Hubby Hubby.” A year later, one of Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops in Washington, D.C. served as the venue for a gay wedding, when same sex couples could first tie the knot in the district.

Ben & Jerry’s continues to be a great example of a better food marketing concept. It doesn’t always have to be a questionable strategy that involves a lack of transparency about food and beverage products. Strategies to boost product sales CAN be different. And no matter how you feel about Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, or the issues the company supports, the company is an important example of how food marketers can take a different approach, spread a message and be successful.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/26/ben-and-jerrys-gay-marriage-flavor_n_7672056.html

No more artificial flavors and colors for General Mills

TrixIf you are among the many thousands of parents who desperately avoid the cereal aisle when your little ones are shopping with you, you’re not alone. That cereal aisle is a mine field full of sugar and artificial everything. FoodFacts.com has done our fair share of wrangling with small children to remove that box of Lucky Charms from their tight grip. We know the story. The kids see the cereal on a television commercial. They play branded games on the cereal’s website. They come with you to the store and the boxes of the cereals we don’t want our kids to have are the ones that are easiest for them to reach. The packaging is brightly colored and features fun characters the kids are already familiar with. And then you’ve got a problem.

General Mills is the latest food manufacturer committed to helping you with that problem by 2017 Trix, Lucky Charms and other iconic cereals are getting a natural upgrade in the latest bid by a major food company to create healthier products.

General Mills (GIS) said Monday that it will phase out artificial flavors and colors from all of its cereals by 2017. The announcement is the latest from an ever-growing group of food retailers vowing to ax artificial ingredients, including Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Panera, Kraft Foods Group and Subway.

“We’ve continued to listen to consumers who want to see more recognizable and familiar ingredients on the labels and challenged ourselves to remove barriers that prevent adults and children from enjoying our cereals,” said Jim Murphy, president of General Mills cereal division, in a statement.

Packaged-food companies are losing market share and seeing revenue fall as consumers turn toward brands known for less processed, simpler, more authentic food. Many companies are trying to draw back customers’ attention by redoing products with fewer complex ingredients and taking stands against additives like antibiotics in meat.

Those that don’t will likely lose customers, says Kelly O’Keefe, a brand management professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.

“They need to be investing, they need to be changing out their product lines with better ingredients and they need to do it very quickly,” he says. “In the next two to three years, if you’re not moving in the right direction you’re going to see those brands fading rapidly into obscurity.”

General Mills cereals such as Trix and Reese’s Puffs will now be made with fruit and vegetable juices and natural vanilla. Trix will lose some colors in the process. The company began reformulating it about three years ago, and when the new version rolls out this winter, it will have just four colors instead of six. Blue and green didn’t make the cut because the company hasn’t identified a suitable natural alternative.

“We’re continuing to work on them, but they didn’t deliver on that vibrant color that we expect from Trix,” says Kate Gallager, a General Mills cereal developer. Reese’s Puffs, also rolling out this winter, will no longer be artificially colored, but Gallager says the difference is barely noticeable. The recipe changes will only affect cereals sold in the U.S. and Canada.

General Mills, whose cereals include Corn Chex, Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, Wheaties and Fiber One, declined to say how much it’s investing to upgrade ingredients, but the cost won’t be passed along to consumers, says spokesman Mike Siemienas.

Though consumers will likely eventually have to pay for all the ingredient changes food companies are making, O’Keefe says.

“(Companies) might be willing to take a slightly shallower profit for a couple years, but ultimately, if they’re not passing along the cost to the consumers, they’re not staying in business.”

Artificial ingredients are already absent from 60% of General Mills cereals, the company said. They either never had them or they were already replaced.

Reformulating cereals with marshmallows will be a focus next year, says the company, adding this may take longer than grain-heavy cereals. General Mills plans to have more than 90% of the cereal portfolio artificial-free by the end of 2016, with 100% free by the end of 2017.

The hardest part about switching from artificial ingredients to natural ingredients is maintaining consistent flavor and texture, according to Gallager. Natural dyes like turmeric for yellow, paprika for red and fruit and vegetable concentrates can sometimes impart too much flavor or don’t produce colors that are as bold.

Beyond cereal, General Mills says it’s already transforming multiple product lines to make them healthier.

So by 2017, Lucky Charms will be magically delicious without artificial colors and flavors. Depending on the other ingredients, you may or may not decide to allow for the inclusion of that adorable leprechaun in your food pantry. But you will have a little less to worry about. And grocery shopping with the kids may get a little easier.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/06/22/general-mills-artificial-ingredients-cereal/29101165/

Lose abdominal fat, get smarter and live longer. A fast-mimicking diet might just do the trick!

Scientists-say-five-day-fast-mimicking-diet-is-safeRemember all those crazy fad diets from when you were a teenager? The grapefruit diet. The cabbage soup diet. The 7 day fast diet. Most of us happily tried those and more. Of course we lost weight. We put it right back on though. And we were, most likely, grumpy and irritable through the process. There’s been some research that points to the idea that fasting may have a place in a healthy lifestyle. (Of course, no one’s mentioned anything about fasting on cabbage soup!) New Information is linking a fast-mimicking diet to many important health benefits.

New research led by USC’s Valter Longo shows that periodically adopting a diet that mimics the effects of fasting may yield a wide range of health benefits.

In a new study, Longo and his colleagues show that cycles of a four-day low-calorie diet that mimics fasting (FMD) cut visceral belly fat and elevated the number of progenitor and stem cells in several organs of old mice — including the brain, where it boosted neural regeneration and improved learning and memory.

The mouse tests were part of a three-tiered study on periodic fasting’s effects — testing yeast, mice and humans — set to be published by Cell Metabolismon June 18.

Mice, which have relatively short life spans, provided details about fasting’s lifelong effects. Yeast, which are simpler organisms, allowed Longo to uncover the biological mechanisms that fasting triggers at a cellular level. And a pilot study in humans found evidence that the mouse and yeast studies were applicable to humans.

Bimonthly cycles that lasted four days of an FMD which started at middle age extended life span, reduced the incidence of cancer, boosted the immune system, reduced inflammatory diseases, slowed bone mineral density loss and improved the cognitive abilities of older mice tracked in the study. The total monthly calorie intake was the same for the FMD and control diet groups, indicating that the effects were not the result of an overall dietary restriction.

In a pilot human trial, three cycles of a similar diet given to 19 subjects once a month for five days decreased risk factors and biomarkers for aging, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer with no major adverse side effects, according to Longo.

‘Strict fasting is hard for people to stick to, and it can also be dangerous, so we developed a complex diet that triggers the same effects in the body,’ said Longo, Edna M. Jones professor of biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute. Longo has a joint appointment at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. ‘I’ve personally tried both, and the fasting mimicking diet is a lot easier and also a lot safer.’

The diet slashed the individual’s caloric intake down to 34 to 54 percent of normal, with a specific composition of proteins, carbohydrates, fats and micronutrients. It decreased amounts of the hormone IGF-I, which is required during development to grow, but it is a promoter of aging and has been linked to cancer susceptibility. It also increased the amount of the hormone IGFBP-, and reduced biomarkers/risk factors linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease, including glucose, trunk fat and C-reactive protein without negatively affecting muscle and bone mass.

Longo has previously shown how fasting can help starve out cancer cells while protecting immune and other cells from chemotherapy toxicity.

‘It’s about reprogramming the body so it enters a slower aging mode, but also rejuvenating it through stem cell-based regeneration,’ Longo said. ‘It’s not a typical diet because it isn’t something you need to stay on.’

For 25 days a month, study participants went back to their regular eating habits — good or bad — once they finished the treatment. They were not asked to change their diet and still saw positive changes.

Longo believes that for most normal people, the FMD can be done every three to six months, depending on the abdominal circumference and health status. For obese subjects or those with elevated disease risk factors, the FMD could be recommended by the physician as often as once every two weeks. His group is testing its effect in a randomized clinical trial, which will be completed soon, with more than 70 subjects.

‘If the results remain as positive as the current ones, I believe this FMD will represent the first safe and effective intervention to promote positive changes associated with longevity and health span, which can be recommended by a physician,’ Longo said. ‘We will soon meet with FDA officers to pursue several FDA claims for disease prevention and treatment.’

Despite its positive effects, Longo cautioned against water-only fasting and warned even about attempting the fasting mimicking diet without first consulting a doctor and seeking their supervision throughout the process.

‘Not everyone is healthy enough to fast for five days, and the health consequences can be severe for a few who do it improperly,’ he said. ‘Water-only fasting should only be done in a specialized clinic. Also, certain types of very low calorie diets, and particularly those with high protein content, can increase the incidence of gallstones in women at risk’.

‘In contrast,’ he added, ‘the fasting mimicking diet tested in the trial can be done anywhere under the supervision of a physician and carefully following the guidelines established in the clinical trials.’

Longo also cautioned that diabetic subjects should not undergo either fasting or fasting mimicking diets while receiving insulin, metformin or similar drugs. He also said that subjects with body mass index less than 18 should not undergo the FMD diet.

For the study, Longo collaborated with researchers and clinicians from USC as well as from Texas, Italy and England. The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging.

FoodFacts.com is once again impressed by the power of diet in our health. This information is an impressive example pointing to the importance of diet on our longevity and function. It does sound as though the study authors will be pursuing further research and hopefully seeking out FDA approval for the fast mimicking diet as a preventive measure for disease and a boost for longevity. Food might be the real fountain of youth, after all.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150618134408.htm

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Food: Ingredient Word Clouds

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Food: Ingredient Word Clouds

Eating healthy can be tricky. Even when you make a conscious effort to make smart nutritional choices, it’s not always easy to know exactly what’s in your food. At the grocery store, shoppers can check the ingredient list on any packaged product, but when you’re out to eat, or grabbing something to go, you might not notice the long list of chemicals or additives that make up your favorite treats.

Foodfacts.com decided to have some fun with word clouds to illustrate just how extreme the difference is between whole, natural foods, and overly-processed, fast food menu items. As you might have guessed, fruits and vegetables are chock full of vitamins and minerals while processed foods like Culver’s fried cheese curds and Taco Bell’s epic Double Decker taco are brimming with complicated-sounding artificial ingredients.

Check out the word clouds below to see what different foods are made up of.

Taco Bell’s Double Decker Taco


 

Culver’s Wisconsin Cheese Curds


McDonald’s Big Mac


Black Beans


Quinoa


Broccoli


Obesity crisis may be bigger than we originally thought

shutterstock164062556We’ve been hearing that 30% of the population is overweight or obese for quite a while now. Thirty percent is a big enough number and certainly speaks to the prevalence of the condition of obesity. But today FoodFacts.com learned that it really may be much larger than that.

New estimates have revealed the extent of one of the biggest public health problems facing the US, as a research letter reports that more than two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese.

The authors of the research letter, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, are Dr. Graham A. Colditz and Lin Yang of the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO.

Their paper describes an analysis of the most recent data taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES, 2007-12) to calculate the prevalence of overweight and obesity.

Researchers had conducted a similar study around 20 years ago, analyzing data taken from 1988-1994 to work out the chronic disease burden associated with body mass index (BMI). The findings of that study were used to inform clinical practice and prevention strategies.

“Compared with 1988-1994, the distribution of the population’s weight status has increased in the past 20 years,” write the authors of the new research letter. “The rising trends in overweight and obesity warrant timely attention from health policy and health care system decision makers.”

In the new analysis, overweight was defined as a BMI between 25.0 and 29.9. Obesity was defined as a BMI of 30.0 and above and was divided into three different classes. BMIs of 30.0-34.9 were defined as class 1, BMIs of 35.0-39.9 were class 2 and BMIs of 40 and above were class 3.

Data were obtained for 15,208 men and women aged 25 and above in a sample representative of over 188 million adults. The researchers estimated that around 36.3 million men (39.96%) and 28.9 million women (29.74%) were overweight, with around 31.8 million men (35.04%) and 35.9 million women (36.84%) obese.

These findings make alarming reading when considering that overweight and obesity are associated with numerous chronic health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. There is also a financial cost to the problem; the American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that obesity costs $190 billion each year in weight-related medical bills.

Such is the scale of the problem that a Gallup Poll conducted in November 2013 found that obesity was considered to be the third most urgent health problem facing the US, behind cost and access but ahead of cancer and heart diseases, the two leading causes of death in the country.

Dr. Donna H. Ryan – professor and associate executive director for clinical research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge – suggests a number of possible triggers for the obesity epidemic.

These suggestions include changes to sleep patterns, increased availability of food and more sedentary lifestyles fueled by the decreased physical demands of many jobs and increased “screen time” with the use of televisions, computers and smartphones.

“Population-based strategies helping to reduce modifiable risk factors such as physical environment interventions, enhancing primary care efforts to prevent and treat obesity, and altering societal norms of behavior are required,” state the authors.

Dr. Ryan believes that society must learn to treat obesity as a disease rather than a consequence of a lack of willpower, becoming more accepting of people with the condition:

“If you have not had a friend, family member or colleague who has struggled with their weight and particularly if you haven’t tried to lose weight yourself, then it’s easy for you to ascribe negative stereotypical traits to overweight and obese people. It’s a lot like alcohol and drug addiction. Our society is more accepting of these conditions as a disease and less so for obesity.”

Previously, Medical News Today reported on a study finding that stepping on the scales daily and tracking the results on a chart is an effective way of losing weight and keeping it off.

We’ve been referring to obesity as a disease medically. But we know that in the minds of the population it isn’t necessarily viewed as other diseases. Instead, as the article states, obesity is looked upon more as a lack of willpower — some sort of a character flaw. It involves shame and sometimes shunning. It’s time to rethink our views in order to arrive at solutions for this tremendous health crisis.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295734.php

Burger King’s A.1. Hearty Mozzarella Cheeseburger … a flame grilled fast food problem

A1_Hearty_Mozzarella_detailSome new fast food offerings are easy to identify as bad choices simply by their name.
FoodFacts.com puts the new Burger King A.1. Hearty Mozzarella Cheeseburger squarely in that category. There’s very little way to imagine that this could be remotely passable as a “less bad” fast food option.

It gets worse when you read the description on their website: “Features two ¼ lb. savory flame-grilled beef patties, topped with thick-cut smoked bacon, melted Mozzarella cheese, fresh chopped lettuce, crisp cut onions, and featuring savory A.1.®Thick & Hearty sauce, all on a warm, toasted, brioche-style bun.” Bacon, mozzarella, A1 sauce, brioche style bun. FoodFacts.com could easily be reading: controversial ingredients, extra fat and calories, controversial ingredients, controversial ingredients.

Let’s find out what’s in there:

Nutrition Facts:
Calories:                      800
Fat:                               48 grams
Saturated Fat:            21 grams
Sodium:                      1420 mg.

That’s a lot of calories, fat, saturated fat and sodium for one burger. We didn’t even get to the fries yet – which will most certainly push the sodium content of this meal well over the daily recommended intake. It’s pretty bad.

What do the ingredients look like?

BRIOCHE-STYLE BUN: Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Yeast, Dried Honey Blend (Cane Refinery Syrup and Honey), Soybean Oil, Contains 2% or less of each of the following: Salt, Wheat Gluten, Dextrose, Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Natural Flavors, Monoglycerides, Ascorbic Acid, Enzymes, Sunflower Oil, Vegetable Proteins, Wheat Maltodextrins, Calcium Phosphate, Wheat Dextrose, Corn Starch, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour, Calcium propionate (to retard spoilage). HAMBURGER PATTIES : 100% USDA inspected Ground Beef (Fire-Grilled), THICK SLICED BACON: Cured with Water, Salt, Sugar, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite. MOZZARELLA CHEESE SLICED (PROCESSED): Cultured Milk, Skim Milk, Water, Cream, Whey, Sodium Citrate, Salt, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Natural Flavor, Enzymes, Soy Lecithin, A.1.® STEAK SAUCE: Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Raisin Paste, Orange Puree, Spice, Xanthan Gum, Dried Onions, Dried Garlic, Caramel Color., Lettuce, Onion

While FoodFats.com can understand that this new burger might sound good to some, we’re really unhappy with the nutrition facts and the ingredient list certainly leaves something to be desired.

It’s summertime. Get out and fire up a grill. Choose some healthy toppings for your burger. Change it up with turkey or chicken. You’ll be doing your body a healthy favor. We’re also positive it will taste a lot better, too.

http://www.bk.com/menu-item/1-hearty-mozzarella-cheeseburger

Only at Taco Bell … the new Mountain Dew Sangrita Blast

Dew_Sangrita_FtnIt’s only at Taco Bell. Honestly, that’s too much as it is. This new drink is that special.

Take a look at the image on the Taco Bell site. It’s red soda. Hence the “Sangrita” reference we suppose. And all we can say is please don’t drink this.

If you visit the Pepsico website, you’ll find that you can choose a custom size in order to determine the nutrition facts. FoodFacts.com quickly figured out that this was the way Pepsico could have consumers believe that this new beverage isn’t so bad. Unfortunately, most folks in a fast food restaurant aren’t drinking 8 ou. Beverages. So for the purpose of this post, we’ve customized our nutrition facts for the Mountain Dew Sangrita Blast to a 16 ou. Beverage with 25% ice in our cup.
Nutrition Facts:
Calories:                 190
Fat:                          0 grams
Sugar:                     53 grams

In every 16 ou. cup, you’ll find 13 and a quarter teaspoons of sugar. But FoodFacts.com knew that it couldn’t end there. There’s more to discover about the Mountain Dew Sangrita Blast. And it certainly has everything to do with what meets the eye. Anytime we see an oddly colored food or beverage, we can pretty much count on the idea that we are not going to like the ingredient list. And we certainly weren’t wrong about that here.

CARBONATED WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CITRIC ACID, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, SODIUM CITRATE, GUM ARABIC, CAFFEINE, RED 40, SODIUM BENZOATE (PRESERVES FRESHNESS), POTASSIUM SORBATE (PRESERVES FRESHNESS), CALCIUM DISODIUM EDTA (TO PROTECT FLAVOR),GLYCEROL ESTER OF ROSIN, SUCROSE ACETATE ISOBUTYRATE, BLUE 1

Red 40 and Blue 1 are what you’re seeing in that image. They’re accompanied by high fructose corn syrup, natural and artificial flavor, sodium benzoate, calcium disodium EDTA and caffeine.

The world did not need a brand new chemical concoction to ingest … especially not one with over 13 teaspoons of sugar. Needless to say, we won’t be going near this.

http://www.pepsicobeveragefacts.com/home/product?formula=F0000002029&form=FTN&size=8

New York City proposes new sodium rules for restaurants

image3Salt is in the news often these days. And even if you don’t have any apparent reasons to be careful of your sodium intake, it’s probably a good idea to become more salt sensitive. It’s definitely a culprit in health problems that can “sneak up on you.” Honestly, we’re all eating too much salt, even if we don’t know we are.

And that’s where New York City comes in. New York is no stranger to proposing regulations surrounding food and beverages. New York City has banned trans fats at restaurants, posted calorie counts on menus and tried, unsuccessfully, to limit the size of sodas. Now the city is taking aim at a new edible adversary: sodium.

Under a plan to be presented by the de Blasio administration on Wednesday, many chain restaurants would have to post a warning label on the menu beside any dish that has more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, the daily limit recommended by many nutritionists.

The amount is akin to a teaspoon of salt, and foods that contain it — like a half-rack of ribs at T.G.I. Fridays (2,420 milligrams), or the chicken fajitas at Applebee’s (4,800 milligrams) — would be denoted by a small icon of a saltshaker.

The measure, which requires approval by the Board of Health, could take effect as soon as December. It is the first foray by Mayor Bill de Blasio into the kind of high-profile public health policies championed by his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg.

“It’s quite difficult for consumers to understand which products might have too much sodium in them,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, a deputy commissioner at the city’s Health Department, who pointed to links between high sodium intake and a greater risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

Attempts by the city to regulate New Yorkers’ eating habits have often been resisted by restaurant groups, which call such rules onerous and an infringement on consumer rights. Mr. de Blasio’s sodium proposal was no exception.

“Restaurants in New York City are already heavily regulated at every level,” said Melissa Fleischut, president of the New York State Restaurant Association. Pointing to various federal and local rules, she added, “The composition of menus may soon have more warning labels than food products.”

If passed, the proposal, which was reported by The Associated Press, would affect mainly restaurants with 15 establishments or more in New York City, along with some movie theaters and ballpark concession stands. Officials said about 10 percent of menu items would require labels.

Still, many fast-food staples would escape the labeling threshold, like a Whopper with cheese at Burger King (1,260 milligrams of sodium) or KFC’s chicken potpie (1,970 milligrams).

“It’s a rather conservative choice of benchmark,” said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition group. “It seems pretty generous to the restaurant industry: Up to a whole day’s worth of sodium, and you don’t have to put an icon on your menu,” Mr. Jacobson said. But, he added, “Hopefully it will guide people away from these kinds of meals.”

This is not the first time that a New York City mayor has taken on salty foods. Mr. Bloomberg introduced the National Salt Reduction Initiative to encourage chains to lower the amount of sodium in their products voluntarily.

By the end of this year, Mr. Bloomberg’s effort to print calorie counts on menus is going national: The Food and Drug Administration is to require calorie counts in national restaurant chains, movie theaters and pizza parlors.

Those rules could pose a legal wrinkle for the city’s sodium plan, since states and localities would be forbidden to add their own nutrition labels to places covered under federal rules. City officials said their plan would pass muster because the saltshaker functions as a “warning label,” not a nutritional one.

There are a few things that FoodFacts.com takes issue with – like someone saying that soon there will be more warning labels than food items listed on menus. Here’s a thought. Perhaps restaurants should commit to preparing and serving foods with livable sodium levels. Then they wouldn’t have to “litter” their menus with small salt shaker images. The health of consumers should be a significant concern for all kinds of restaurants – fast food, fast casual, and sit down establishments alike. Consumers are responsible for the popularity and profitability of all of them. You’d think they’d be more concerned about helping consumers stay healthy, and able and capable of patronizing their locations for years to come. Until they are, it’s probably a good idea to use those images of salt shakers on their menus (not just in New York City, but everyplace else as well) so we know what we’re eating.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/10/nyregion/de-blasio-administration-wants-high-sodium-warnings-on-menus.html?_r=1

Really good food news: more chocolate, less heart disease

CS79798816FoodFacts.com is well aware that healthy eating is often associated with the idea of “getting used to something.” In other words, healthy foods sometimes require a learning curve … kale chips, anyone? Sometimes, those of us who pursue healthy lifestyles are rewarded from the heavens. Dark chocolate is actually good for your body.

A surprising number of studies have found that dark chocolate can reduce the risk of death from a heart attack, decrease blood pressure and help those with chronic fatigue syndrome.

The question for many chocolate lovers has been at what point are you having too much of a good thing. That is, is there an optimal “dose” for chocolate eating?

A new study published in the journal Heart on Monday looked at the effect of diet on long-term health. It involved 25,000 volunteers and found that the answer to how much chocolate can be good for you is – a lot. Study participants in the high consumption group – those who ate 15 to 100 grams of chocolate a day in the form of everything from Mars bars to hot cocoa – had lower heart disease and stroke risk than those who did not consume the confection.

A hundred grams is equivalent to about two classic Hershey’s bars or – if you’re going fancy – five Godiva truffles. In terms of calories you’re looking at 500-535. To put that into perspective, the Department of Agriculture recommends men consume 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day depending on their height, body composition and whether they are sedentary or active.

This association in the study was valid even after researchers adjusted for a wide range of risk factors, such as age, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity and other dietary variables.

“The main message is that you don’t need to worry too much if you are only moderately eating chocolate,” Phyo Myint, a professor at the School of Medicine at the University of Aberdeen and one of the study’s lead authors, said in an interview.

Higher levels of consumption were associated with a large number of other positives in the study: lower BMI, waist:hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, inflammatory proteins. As compared with those who ate no chocolate, those who ate high amounts saw a 11 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and 25 percent lower risk of associated death.

The study also noted that more of the participants in the study ate milk chocolate versus dark chocolate which has long been considered healthier. This might suggest that beneficial health effects may apply to both, the researchers said.

“Our results are somewhat surprising since the expectation was that benefits of chocolate consumption would be mainly associated with dark chocolate rather than the commercially available products generally used in a British population which are high in sugar content and fat,” the study’s author wrote.

So what’s the theory behind how this works?

Myint explained that chocolate is full of flavonoid antioxidants and that previous studies have shown that intake of chocolate results in improved function of the endothelium, or inner lining of the blood vessels. Chocolate has also been shown to increase HDL or “good” cholesterol and decrease LDL or “bad” cholesterol.

He also said many chocolate bars that were probably consumed by study participants contained nuts which are known to be good for heart health.

While Myint said it seemed clear that there wasn’t a big risk to chocolate eating for the study participants, he said that the results of the study should be read with a few caveats. First, it looked at people ages 39 to 70 and nearly all the study participants were white. He also emphasized that in a sample size this large, there were also a number of participants who ate a lot of chocolate but did not see the same benefits as others.

“Indeed some people had worse outcomes when eating that amount of chocolate so the findings need to be taken with extreme caution,” he said.

While the study provides evidence that there’s no need to avoid chocolate in your diet to protect your cardiovascular health, it probably is too soon to run out and gorge on chocolate bars.

Charles Mueller, clinical assistant professor of nutrition at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, points out that there’s no definitive conclusion about cause and effect and that it’s possible that chocolate eaters engage in other behaviors or eat other foods that are good for the heart.

“Cocoa beans are not unlike red peppers, green peppers and broccoli and stuff like that. They are full of phytochemicals that are good for you. But if you are overweight, and you are thinking of protecting yourself by eating chocolate you are being kind of silly. Chocolate is just one small element in a full range of a good diet,” Mueller said.

Once again, it appears that “chocolate happiness” goes beyond the general euphoria most people experience while eating it. Unlike the previously mentioned kale chips, there’s no learning curve here. With common sense and moderation, we can really enjoy chocolate understanding we’re actually doing something good for our bodies.

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/health/2015/06/21/study-chocolate-lower-risk-heart-disease/29085213/

Bye-bye trans fat: Food manufacturers have three years to remove partially hydrogenated oils from products

TransFats-CircledWe here at FoodFacts.com have been waiting patiently as the FDA reviews the non-existent pros and the many cons related to trans fat in our food supply. We’ve been rewarded for our patience.

Based on a thorough review of the scientific evidence, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today finalized its determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS for use in human food. Food manufacturers will have three years to remove PHOs from products.

“The FDA’s action on this major source of artificial trans fat demonstrates the agency’s commitment to the heart health of all Americans,” said FDA’s Acting Commissioner Stephen Ostroff, M.D. “This action is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.”

This determination will significantly reduce the use of PHOs, the major source of artificial trans fats, in the food supply. In 2013, the FDA made a tentative determination that PHOs could no longer be considered GRAS and is finalizing that determination after considering public comments.|

Since 2006, manufacturers have been required to include trans fat content information on the Nutrition Facts label of foods. Between 2003 and 2012, the FDA estimates that consumer trans fat consumption decreased about 78 percent and that the labeling rule and industry reformulation of foods were key factors in informing healthier consumer choices and reducing trans fat in foods. While trans fat intake has significantly decreased, the current intake remains a public health concern. The Institute of Medicine recommends that consumption of trans fat be as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally-adequate diet.

“Studies show that diet and nutrition play a key role in preventing chronic health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and today’s action goes hand in hand with other FDA initiatives to improve the health of Americans, including updating the nutrition facts label,” said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “This determination is based on extensive research into the effects of PHOs, as well as input from all stakeholders received during the public comment period.”

The FDA has set a compliance period of three years. This will allow companies to either reformulate products without PHOs and/or petition the FDA to permit specific uses of PHOs. Following the compliance period, no PHOs can be added to human food unless they are otherwise approved by the FDA.

The FDA encourages consumers seeking to reduce trans fat intake to check a food’s ingredient list for partially hydrogenated oils to determine whether or not a product contains PHOs. Currently, foods are allowed to be labeled as having “0″ grams trans fat if they contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, including PHOs, the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods.

Many companies have already been working to remove PHOs from processed foods and the FDA anticipates that many may eliminate them ahead of the three-year compliance date.

While many food manufacturers have already begun the removal of partially hydrogenated oils from foods, many others have not. PHOs have certainly received the negative publicity and attention that would spur manufacturers to act. But a quick review of ingredient lists of processed foods tells us that there were companies that remained unconvinced that the FDA would take this action – even if it did take them a while. Time’s up.

It would be difficult to believe that in 2015 it’s impossible for any food manufacturer to find a replacement for PHOs that will not affect the quality, texture and flavor of their products. As a matter of fact, FoodFacts.com might venture to say that healthier options could actually improve product quality. It might cost the manufacturer a little more money, not simply for production and purchasing but research as well. At the end of the process, we’ll all be better off and the food manufacturers will be doing their part to ensure that the consumers they rely on for their profits actually live longer, healthy lives (and continue to be able to make product purchases). Funny, we don’t think they’d put up much of a fight if they thought about it in those terms. Do you?

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150616160256.htm