Monthly Archives: January 2013

Hold the fries and reduce the risk of prostate cancer

FoodFacts.com has never been a fan of fried food, especially those from fast food chains. There are plenty of reasons … high fat and sodium content and a variety of controversial ingredients being a few. Today we read some new information regarding deep fried foods that should give everyone pause before deciding to dig in.

Coming out of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research center, a new study is showing a link between regular consumption of deep-fried foods, like french-fries, fried chicken and doughnuts and a higher risk for prostate cancer. In addition, this association seems to be a bit stronger in regards to more aggressive forms of the disease.

Deep-fried food consumption any more than once a week may raise prostate cancer risk. Men who indicated that they eat French fries, fried chicken, fried fish or doughnuts at least once a week were at an increased risk for prostate cancer in comparison to those men who said they ate these foods less than once a month.

In fact, men who reported eating one or more of these foods more than once weekly showed an increased prostate cancer risk from 30 to 307%. And that weekly consumption was associated with a more aggressive form of the cancer. Researchers considered factors like age, race, family cancer history, and BMI when figuring the association.

It is thought that deep frying may incite the formation of carcinogens in food. When oil is heated to the proper temperature for deep frying carcinogenic compounds can form. These would include acrylamide which is found in carb-heavy foods like French fries, heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which form when meats are cooked at high temperatures, aldehyde (a compound found in perfumes) and acrolein which is a chemical in herbicides. All of these compounds are toxic and increase with the recycling of the oils used for frying (a common practice in fast food restaurants). In addition, foods cooked at high temperatures contain high levels of advanced glycation endproducts, known as AGEs. These have been linked to chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Deep fried foods contain among the highest levels of AGEs.

This new study reviewed data from prior studies that involved over 1500 men who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and over 1400 healthy men of similar age. All of the men involved were Caucasian and African-American from the Seattle area. They ranged in age from 25 to 74. Participants filled out questionnaires about their usual food choices, including deep-fried foods. While deep-fried foods have previously been linked with other cancers, including breast, lung, pancreas, head, neck and esophagus, none had ever looked at the risks they may pose for prostate cancer.

The study acknowledges that deep-fried foods are usually eaten outside the home, and therefore may point to a high consumption of fast foods in relationship to the development of prostate cancer.

FoodFacts.com wants to reiterate that every consumer should think twice before sitting down to a meal at a fast food restaurant. Fast food meals contain too many controversial additives to count, contain tremendous levels of fat and sodium, and because the deep-fried options are cooked at high heat levels, can contain carcinogenic compounds that have been linked to numerous forms of cancer … prostate cancer being the most recent association. It’s really not worth it.

Read more here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130128142849.htm

Consumer voices heard by PepsiCo … removing brominated vegetable oil from Gatorade!

We know that everyone in our FoodFacts.com community is an active, educated, involved food consumer. And we know how happy it makes all of us when major food and beverage manufacturers are moved by our voices and the voices of food consumers everywhere! So we knew you would be excited about this great news!

PepsiCo Inc. has announced that is removing a controversial ingredient from its Gatorade drinks. This is following concerns voiced by consumers as well as an online petition begun by a 15-year-old from Mississippi. While PepsiCo is denying that the change is not due to the petition, we’re pretty sure it had something to do with it.

Brominated Vegetable Oil is a food additive that contains bromine. Bromine is found in fire retardants. There has been research done that indicates that drinking large quantities of beverages containing brominated vegetable oil can be toxic. It’s been shown to build up in human tissue and breast milk and animal studies has been found to cause reproductive and behavioral problems.

Brominated Vegetable Oil was an ingredient in Gatorade’s Orange and Lemonade flavors as well as a few other.

Sara Kavanagh, the 15-year-old from Mississippi started her petition on Change.org, which is an online petition platform. Her picture is included in this blog post. The petition asked PepsiCo to remove Brominated Vegetable Oil from its Gatorade products. Her petition received over 200,000 signatures. A spokesperson for Gatorade said that the removal of the controversial ingredient had been in the works for quite a while and that it had nothing to do with the petition. But Sarah Kavanaugh believes that the over 200,000 signatures her petition collected helped them make the move.

“When I went to Change.org to start my petition, I thought it might get a lot of support because no one wants to gulp down flame retardant, especially from a drink they associate with being healthy,” the girl said via a statement on Change.org. “But with Gatorade being as big as they are, sometimes it was hard to know if we’d ever win.” She described the news as “awesome.”

Sarah, FoodFacts.com thinks it’s awesome as well. We’re happy that PepsiCo responded to your petition and the voices of other health-conscious consumers. And we want to remind our community that by remaining active, involved and vocal, we can make changes in our food supply!

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/01/28/pepsico-replacing-gatorade-ingredient-also-found-in-fire-retardants/?intcmp=HPBucket#ixzz2JJkluzAe

Healthy changes may be coming to a nutrition label near you!

Throughout our site’s history, FoodFacts.com has listed nutrition labels and ingredient lists for thousands of products. With the 20 year anniversary of the federal requirement for nutrition labels to appear on every packaged food product in our grocery stores, we found this interesting news regarding the possibility of a further evolution of this important tool for health-conscious consumers and wanted to share it with you today.

A Food and Drug Administration study recommends changing nutrition labels in order to display total calorie and nutrition content for the entire food package, instead of just one serving.

It appears that a different kind of nutrition label that clearly shows the total number of calories and nutrients in the whole package, instead of just a single part of it can, in fact, help people make healthier food choices.

The FDA conducted a survey involving almost 9500 U.S. adult consumers. The participants were each shown one of the ten different nutrition labels that present calories and nutrient content per serving or per container in a few different manners.

The FDA researchers found that consumers were better able to determine the health value of a variety of different products when the nutrition facts illustrated were for the entire container’s contents – or for both a single serving AND the entire package.

Participants were asked how healthy they thought different products were, including how much fat, for example, was in one serving. They then compared types of chips or frozen meals to determine which was healthier. It appeared to be easier for consumers to determine nutrient content when presented with facts for the whole package. A bag of chips, for example, might contain five servings. Then they need to do the math for the single serving as applied to the whole bag. Given the nutritional information for the whole bag, it was easier for them to determine whether or not it would work with their dietary requirements.

To make products appear healthier, some companies have started increasing the number of servings listed per container, thus lowering the number of calories per serving. And unfortunately, especially in those instances, the consumer is eating a larger quantity than what the manufacturer has specified as a single serving. Manufacturers have a lot of flexibility in how they determine serving size. And this appears to be leading to consumer confusion.

Researchers noted that it isn’t yet known whether or not clearer nutrition facts would affect how consumers reach their food purchasing decisions. It also remains unclear if the FDA will issue changes to labeling requirements because of these findings. What is clear is that introducing a requirement to list nutrition facts for BOTH a single serving as well as the entire package would simplify the information for the purchaser. It’s worth pointing out that there are some products already doing this.

On the FoodFacts.com website, you’ll already find this information for every product in our database. We’re one step ahead on the issue, as we’ve also considered the possibility that “doing the math” is made much simpler for consumers when they know the content for the whole package. We think this is a great way for people to understand more about what they’re eating and we’re all for the FDA making a change that can help everyone make healthier choices in the grocery store.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/food-labels-confuse-people-fda-study-article-1.1246816#ixzz2IwsJbNhM

Protection from Type-2 Diabetes may come from the simplest of sources

In recent months, FoodFacts.com has followed a number of different findings regarding nutrition and how it relates to Type-2 Diabetes. We know that this common form of diabetes affects our population in great numbers, and has major implications for the health and well being of so many. Today we wanted to share with you a recent study that indicates that beta carotene might actually help protect those with a predisposition to the disease.

We already understand that beta carotene (a member of the carotenoid group of fat-soluble compounds) is converted in the body to Vitamin A (retinol) and protects eye health, immune system health as well as supporting skin and mucus membranes. Beta Carotene is found in a number of fruits, grains, oil and vegetables – most especially carrots.

Coming out of the Stanford University of Medicine, the research used “big data” to observe how gene variants linked with a higher risk for Type 2 Diabetes along with blood levels of substances that had already been related to Type 2 Diabetes risk.

“Type-2 diabetes affects about 15 percent of the world’s population, and the numbers are increasing,” according to the study’s senior author Dr. Atul Butte, an associate professor of systems medicine in pediatrics at Stanford University Medical Center. He also explained that “Government health authorities estimate that one-third of all children born in the United States since the year 2000 will get this disease at some point in their lives, possibly knocking decades off their life expectancies.”

The risk of diabetes was influenced by beta carotene and gamma tocopherol’s interaction with the common gene variant and the researchers then became interested in studying a specific protein – SLC30A4 and its impact on the disease. Researchers believe that this protein is abundant in certain cells in the pancreas which produce insulin and helps the cells import zinc. . Zinc causes a release of insulin in the the pancreas to the muscles, liver and fat tissue. This offsets the buildup of glucose in the blood, preventing the development of Type 2 Diabetes.

It was noted that while there are many genetic risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes, none of those alone or even together can account for the prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes in the worldwide population.
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Researchers are planning to take this work further through additional studies involving lab mice fed purified beta carotene and gamma tocopherol. This could help scientists understand how these substances impact the production of the SLC30A4 protein.

FoodFacts.com will be keeping an eye out for these future studies. In the meantime, let’s all eat our carrots anyway. There’s so much we already know they do for our health … this might just be another added benefit!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122162246.htm

Nutrition, muscle mass and strength as we age

FoodFacts.com wanted to share this important information with our community regarding how nutrition can help us combat a natural aging process.

A new review from the International osteoporosis Foundation Nutrition Working group has identified nutritional factors that contribute to sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is the gradual loss of muscle mass that occurs naturally as people age. Sarcopenia leads to a higher risk of fractures and other industries as muscle strength plays a role in the aging population’s tendency to fall.

The review focused on protein, Vitamin D, Vitamin B and an acid-based diet.
Evidence was reviewed from worldwide studies on how protein, acid-base balance, Vitamin D and Vitamin B affect sarcopenia.

“The most obvious intervention against sarcopenia is exercise in the form of resistance training. However, adequate nutritional intake and an optimal dietary acid-base balance are also very important elements of any strategy to preserve muscle mass and strength during ageing,” said Professor Jean-Philippe Bonjour, co-author and Professor of Medicine at the Service of Bone Diseases, University of Geneva.

The review found that protein plays an important role in muscle health. It recommends an intake of between 1 and 1.2 g/kg of body weight per day for muscle and bone health in the elderly. In addition, it found that Vitamin D also plays an important role in the development and maintenance of muscle mass and function. The review recommends Vitamin D supplements for seniors as the optimal way to ensure proper levels are maintained.

It also found that excessive consumption of acid-producing foods like meat and whole grains with a low consumption of fruits and vegetables may have negative effects on musculoskeletal health. Higher consumption of fruits and vegetables which help to balance acid levels will be advantageous for both bones and muscles. In addition, the review suggests that Vitamin B12 can help to improve muscle strength and function.

Dr. Ambrish Mithal, co-author and Chair and Head of Endocrinology and Diabetes division at Medanta, New Delhi underlined the need for further research in the field.
“Strategies to reduce the numbers of falls and fractures within our aging populations must include measures to prevent sarcopenia. At present, the available evidence suggests that combining resistance training with optimal nutritional status has a synergistic effect in preventing and treating sarcopenia,” said Mithal.

“We hope that further studies will shed light on other effective ways of preventing and treating this condition,” he added.

FoodFacts.com hopes that our community takes this information to heart for themselves and their family members. Nutrition affects our health in so many ways. The small dietary adjustments that can be made to improve our lives are simple. If you consider vitamin supplementation for yourself or your family, you may want to consider these products from FoodFacts TRI Nutritionals: https://www.foodfactstri.com/shop-by-health-concern/shop-by-health-concern/bones-and-joints/vitamin-d-3-1000-iu and https://www.foodfactstri.com/shop-by-health-concern/energy/vitamin-b-12-500-mcg-100-count. Whatever your choices are, FoodFacts.com encourages everyone in our community to do your best to incorporate this important advice into your lifestyle.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/255169.php

Strawberries and Blueberries are kind to your heart

FoodFacts.com is always thrilled to hear about how food can have positive effects on our health. For us, it’s always been about how our diet can affect our well-being. Our community members know how we feel about packaged, prepared foods and artificial, controversial ingredients. Today, we want to share with you some news about some simple fruits that might actually make a world of difference to your cardiovascular health.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States and the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom conducted a study among over 90,000 women between the ages 25 and 42. The women completed questionnaires about their diet every four years for 18 years.

During the study, 405 heart attacks occurred. Those women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries had a 32% reduction in their risk of heart attack compared to women who ate the berries once a month or less. This was true even for women who ate an otherwise healthy diet rich in fruit and other vegetables.

Women who ate at least three servings of blueberries and strawberries each week had fewer heart attacks than those who did not incorporate these fruits into their diets at the same levels. Blueberries and strawberries contain high levels of compounds that have cardiovascular benefits.

Dietary flavonoids are found in high levels in both blueberries and strawberries. In addition, they are contained in grapes, wine, blackberries, and eggplant. Flavonoids have acknowledged cardiovascular benefits. In addition, there is a sub-class of flavonoids – anthocyanins – that might help to dilate arteries and counter the effects of plaque build up in the vascular system.

The reason the researchers focused on blueberries and strawberries was pretty simple. These are the most often eaten berries in the United States. Because of this, the researchers acknowledged that it’s possible that other foods might produce the same effect.

FoodFacts.com has always been a proponent of the American Heart Association’s advice regarding eating a balanced diet that includes berries as part of a plan that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. We encourage our community members to remain conscious and colorful in their food choices. We understand that variety in our diets will not only keep eating interesting, but healthy as well. A little green, a little orange, a little red, a little purple might very well go a long way for your heart – as well as your taste buds. It’s also more appealing to the eye … and we all have to see our food before we eat it. If you like what you see, you really are more likely to enjoy the meal. We don’t live in a one-dimensional world. Our plates should reflect that … taste, color, texture. Strawberries and blueberries for heart health can add a wealth of dimension to our plates.

Read more about the study here:   http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130114152954.htm

GMO Inside needs our help getting GMOs properly labeled or completely out of our breakfast cereals

FoodFacts.com is aware of our community’s strong feelings regarding the genetically modified ingredients in our food supply. We know how important to is to you to educate yourself, shop carefully, and stay aware of the latest developments in the GMO controversy. When we saw this information today, we knew our community needed to know the details of how they can lend a hand in the ongoing battle over GMO labeling.

GMO Inside is a group devoted to the rights of food consumers to know if the foods they are purchasing contain genetically modified ingredients. They have announced that they are calling on Kellogg’s and General Mills regarding the GMO ingredients in their breakfast cereals and effectively start over with consumers by labeling or removing those ingredients from their products. It’s called the “Fresh Start” action and you can help to move these breakfast cereal giants in the right direction.

During the month of January at http://gmoinside.org/take-action/ , GMO Inside needs all of us to to sign petitions, phone both of these companies to request non-GMO products, and comment accordingly on the Facebook profiles of each company and their brands. For Kellogg’s, the brands include Corn Flakes, POPS, Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Special K. They are also the manufacturer of MorningStar Farms products and Keebler. General Mills boasts Lucky Charms, Cheerios, Chex and Kix as well as the Pillsbury and Betty Crocker brands. There are plenty more, these are just examples for both companies.

In addition to the effort to get the brands to label or remove GMO ingredients, GMO inside is also asking both brands to withhold funding from any opposition to the new Washington State ballot initiative for labeling GMO ingredients. This will come up for a vote during the next election season. It is important to note that both Kellogg’s and General Mills are selling their products in Europe, WITHOUT GMO ingredients.

The GMO Inside “Fresh Start” initiative has already gained over 5,000 signatures on their petition.

FoodFacts.com and GMO Inside share the same philosophies on the controversial topic of GMO ingredients. GMOs have never been proven to be safe for consumers. We find new studies constantly that raise serious issues about health issues that may be linked to genetically modified foods. And in addition, we are aware that the planting of GMO crops has actually increased the use of the pesticides and herbicides, proving harmful for farmers worldwide.

We urge our community to take action and visit the GMO Inside link to support this very important initiative.
Read more: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fresh-start-for-2013-national-coalition-calls-on-us-cereal-giants-to-take-gmos-out-of-our-breakfasts-2013-01-17

You, the flu and Vitamin C

FoodFacts.com understands that everyone in our community and, for that matter, just about everyone in the nation, is more concerned than usual this year about flu season. This year, the influenza virus is widespread and especially virulent. The Center for Disease and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that everyone over the age of 6 months receives the flu vaccine. Unfortunately, many people are not happy about the vaccine and refuse it. Generally, the efficacy of the flu vaccine is a constant question. Often, it does not prevent influenza in the folks that have been vaccinated and some even speculate as to whether or not it may, in fact, cause the virus sometimes.

There is evidence that implies that Vitamin C in high doses can prevent or even cure the influenza virus. Studies suggest that the dosage would need to be up to 5 grams per day for flu prevention and 1 gram each hour for treatment of those experiencing flu symptoms. An analysis was published back in 2007 during a major worldwide flu outbreak that covered Vitamin C and its influence on the virus.

The study suggests that Vitamin C can prevent and treat, not only the flu, but all types of viral infections. Because Vitamin C is actually a nutrient that the body cannot make itself, it must be obtained through food and supplements. Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) improves the body’s overall immune function, thus helping it to stave off and/or rid itself of influenza virus.

While there are many foods that are rich in Vitamin C, it is felt that consumption of these foods will not provide the dosages necessary to fight the flu. In order to achieve the high dosages recommended, supplementation is the way to ensure correct amounts. If you feel that turning to the effects of Vitamin C on the virus this flu season, FoodFacts.com suggests making sure the quality of the supplements you choose be as high as possible, especially considering the dosage needed to benefit from the Vitamin’s effects. You may want to consider the FoodFacts TRI Nutritionals brand of Vitamin C that can assure you of its purity and quality: https://www.foodfactstri.com/shop-by-health-concern/immune-system/c-1000-mg-caps

FoodFacts.com hopes that you and your family stay safe and healthy this flu season.
http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Nutrition/Vitamins/influenza_vaccine_vitamin_c_0106121036.html

Just don’t eat it … now fast food is linked to asthma and eczema in children

FoodFacts.com has always been in the “don’t eat fast food” camp. If you look at any of the fast food products detailed on our site, you’ll see that the ingredient lists are horrendous; the products are packed with fat and sodium. Generally speaking, there is just no good reason to eat these products. Except if you’re a child being enticed by the “cool” element that seems to be linked to fast foods for kids.

In a new international study shows that kids who eat fast food three or more times a week are more likely to have severe allergic asthma, hay fever and eczema. In fact, the results have researchers thinking that fast food may be playing a role in the increase in these conditions.

More than 300,000 13 and 14 year olds from over 50 countries and over 180,000 6 and 7 year olds from over 30 countries participated in the study. These participants were all part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Children. This is the largest study of its kind.

The parents of the younger children and the teenagers themselves were asked questions about their symptoms of asthma, eczema and hay fever as well as their diet weekly. The severity and frequency of their symptoms were analyzed. In addition to the questions regarding their health symptoms, researchers noted their consumption of specific foods that were associated with their influence (good or bad) on health. These foods included: vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, bread, butter, margarine, rice, pasta, nuts, milk, eggs and fast food or burgers. The questions included the frequency of their consumption of those food categories – never, occasionally, once or twice a week or three or more times each week.

After the researchers applied controls that could affect the result, it was found that the ONLY type of food that had the same links between both age groups was fast food. The researchers felt that this link added plausibility to the idea that fast food was the cause.

All of the teenagers involved in the study who consumed fast food also displayed severe symptoms of all three conditions. It didn’t matter if they were male or female or what country they lived in.

Teens consuming three or more servings of fast food every week showed a 39% increased risk of severe asthma. Younger children displayed a 27% increase for hay fever and eczema.

In contrast, teens consuming fruit three times or more every week showed an 11% reduction in symptoms and the reduction of symptoms in younger kids was 14%.

While the researchers noted that the study does not prove a cause and effect relationship between fast food and these conditions, they stressed that the results do create the need for further research.

FoodFacts.com is aware of the growing asthma problem for children around the world. We are hopeful that the analysis conducted within this international study will spur further research into the possible link between fast food and a condition affecting millions of children which can often be debilitating and even deadly.

Read more: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/254909.php

New study confirms that foods labeled as “whole grain” aren’t always as healthy as consumers might think

FoodFacts.com has always taken issue with the labeling of some food products as whole grain when they contain the controversial ingredients consumers in our own community actively look to keep out of their diets. The term “whole grain” has come to be somewhat synonymous for some consumers with healthy. And it’s just not always the case.

A new study coming out of the Harvard School of Public Health is showing that the standards used for the classification of foods as “whole grain” are not consistent and sometimes misleading to consumers.

The study focused on five different industry and government guidelines for whole grain products:

• The Whole Grain Stamp … this is a widely-used packaging symbol for products containing at least 8 grams of whole grains per serving. It was created by the Whole Grain Council which is a non-governmental group that’s supported by the food industry.
• Products with any whole grain as the first listed ingredient.
• Products listing whole grain as the first ingredient without added sugars in the first three ingredients.
• Products with the word “whole” before any grain anywhere in the ingredient list.
• Products with a ratio of total carbohydrate to fiber of less than 10 to 1, which is about the ratio of carbohydrate to fiber in whole wheat .

Over 500 grain products in eight categories were analyzed. The categories included cereals, cereal bars, granola bars, breads, bagels, English muffins, cracker and chips. Each product was analyzed for its nutrition content and ingredient list, as well as the presence or non-presence of the Whole Grain Stamp on its packaging.

The research found that those grain products carrying the Whole Grain Stamp were, in fact, higher in fiber and lower in trans fats. Unfortunately they also contained significantly higher sugar and calorie levels compared to those products that did not picture the stamp on their packaging. The next three focal points (which are from the USDA recommended criteria for these products) also had questionable results in terms of sugar and calorie levels. The products with a carbohydrate to fiber level of less than 10 to 1 (the American Heart Association standard) proved to be the best examples of healthier products. They were higher in fiber, lower in trans fats, sugar, sodium and calories than products not meeting the ratio.

We know that consuming whole grain foods can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, helps to control weight and decreases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Dietary Guidelines for the U.S. now recommend consuming at least three servings of whole grains every day. Unfortunately there is no single standard for the definition of a “whole grain” product.

If you’re a FoodFacts.com community member, or if you visit our FoodFacts Facebook page, you know that there are products labeled as “Whole Grain” that don’t carry acceptable ratings on our site. We’ve always attempted, and will continue, to call your attention to those brands that are misleading consumers to believe that their products are healthy for you simple because the words “Whole Grain” are on their packaging.

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130110170827.htm