Monthly Archives: January 2014

Avocados can help between meal hunger

Good fats from lean proteins, vegetables and legumes add a lot to our health and our diets. But we have to admit, some are even tastier than others — and present numerous interesting possibilities to add flavor to our meals. At FoodFacts.com, we’re big fans of avocados for those very reasons.

Technically a fruit, avocados can substitute easily for sandwich spreads, or added to salads or stuffed with tuna or chicken. They can be incorporated into salad dressings, added to home made salsa or combined with with vegetables for new and different flavors. We’ve always appreciated how this good-for-you food can be enjoyed in so many ways.

Now it appears that the addition of avocado to your meals can help you curb between meal hunger.

Research published in the November issue of the Nutrition Journal showed that overweight people who ate half of a fresh avocado with their lunch were more likely feel full and not want to snack more after their meal.

According to the study’s authors, this might help with weight management and may even reduce risk for disease, like Type 2 diabetes.

“Satiety is an important factor in weight management, because people who feel satisfied are less likely to snack between meals,” lead researcher Dr. Joan Sabate, chair of the department of nutrition at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, Calif., said in a press release. “We also noted that though adding avocados increased participants’ calorie and carbohydrate intake at lunch, there was no increase in blood sugar levels beyond what was observed after eating the standard lunch. This leads us to believe that avocados potential role in blood sugar management is worth further investigation.”

The study involved 26 overweight but otherwise healthy adults who were asked to include avocados in their lunch either by replacing an item they would have eaten with the fruit, or eating avocado in addition to their regular meal.

Those that added half of an avocado were found to be 40 percent less likely to want to snack after lunch over a three-hour period, and 28 percent less likely to munch on something else up to five hours after the meal, compared to when they didn’t eat the avocado.

Avocado-eaters also were found to report more meal satisfaction, about 26 percent higher up to three hours after the meal, compared to after eating a standard lunch.

The researchers said that more studies need to be conducted to be able to say for sure that the results would be applicable to the average person,. They want to look deeper at avocados’ effects at glucose and insulin levels, which are markers for diabetes.

This is a great idea for those of us who find ourselves looking for a little something extra between lunch and dinner. Try adding avocados to your lunch. You’ll not only be adding high levels of antioxidants, folate and fiber to your meal. You may just find yourself feeling fuller, longer!

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/eating-fresh-avocados-may-chase-away-hunger-pains/

McDonald’s tells its employees not to eat McDonald’s

McDonald’s maintains a resource website specifically for its employees.  Sadly, that site has recently been giving tips lately that its employees haven’t exactly appreciated.  A few of the special nuggets of advice have been telling workers to work a second job and sell their belongings for quick cash.

But the latest advice given by the website is actually helpful — although odd, considering the source.  McDonald’s employee website is advising its workers not to eat McDonald’s.  Actually, it doesn’t refer specifically to McDonald’s, but does explain the unhealthy nature of a fast food meal … and tells workers to avoid such meals.

An image posted on the site labels a McDonald’s-like meal of hamburger, fries, and a coke as an “unhealthy choice,” and warns employees against consuming such foods, which are “almost always high in calories, fat, sugar, and salt.”

“It is hard to eat a healthy diet when you eat at fast-food restaurants often,” the site goes on to say. “Many foods are cooked with a lot of fat, even if they are not trans fats. Many fast-food restaurants do not offer any lower-fat foods. Large portions also make it easy to overeat. And most fast food restaurants do not offer many fresh fruits and vegetables.”

“In general,” the site suggests, “eat at places that offer a variety of salads, soups, and vegetables.”

In a statement made to CNBC, McDonald’s insisted the website’s tips “continue to be taken entirely out of context.”

Not exactly sure what could be “out of context” about advising employees that fast food is an unhealthy choice. FoodFacts.com thinks it’s actually very good advice.   We also think that perhaps this could have just been a big mix-up and the firm McDonald’s hired to publish content to their employee site didn’t actually realize that the content was, in fact, meant for the employees of a fast food chain.  There are any number of possibilities here.  But we think the obvious take away might just be that McDonald’s is trying to steer their own employees away from the products they serve every day.  Which, when it comes right down to it, really says a mouthful.

What your body craves in winter

It’s cold and snowy and rainy in most parts of the country right about now. It’s getting darker a lot earlier and even on nicer days, the sunshine is escaping us. We can also be dealing with dry skin, achy joints and generally unpleasant moods. The winter doldrums are upon us and we may be thinking about heavier, heartier, more comforting meals.

But those may not be what our bodies are actually craving during the cruel winter months. Turns out that what our bodies consider comfort food in low temps is pretty different than what our brains think we want.

Here are some dietary tips that will keep our bodies happier as the temperatures drop.

Drink milk
It’s not just about our days getting shorter in winter, it’s also about spending less time outdoors. And that means less vitamin D from the sunlight. We need about 200 IUs of vitamin D every day. The best source for that important vitamin in the absence of abundant sunshine is fortified milk. Just one 8 ounce glass every day will help you ward off winter colds and keep you healthier until the days become longer again.

Include oily fish and almonds in your diet
It’s cold outside! We’ve got the heat up inside. And that’s the best recipe for dry skin. Of course, we’re using lotion to help the situation. But including healthy fats in your diet will help keep your skin from drying out to begin with. Fats don’t just protect the cells on the inside of your body, they provide protection for your outer layer as well. So increase your oily fish intake with salmon and grab some almonds as a snack to boost your omega-3s during the winter months.

Carbs help chase away the blues in winter
At some point or another, every one of us has experienced the winter “blues.” Shorter sunlit hours and colder temperatures have a lot to do with that. Serotonin is what helps keep our mood elevated and we need more of it during the winter. So that means our brains need to produce more. Carbs help your brain restore the necessary level of serotonin to keep us whistling a happy tune in the cold. Choose carbs carefully with thought given to calorie consumption and you’ll help yourself feel happier and more alert this winter.

It’s not your imagination … you really are hungrier
Colder temperatures actually do trigger hunger. Eating increases your body temperature and warms you up, so your brain tells you to eat more. It’s not only easier to gain weight in winter, it’s also easier to consume larger amounts of fat, sugar and salt. Try keeping healthy broth based soups available, as well as low-calorie, healthy snacks that will keep you fuller longer. And don’t give in to the unhealthy cravings that you think might be more satisfying.

Drink more water
You can dehydrate more easily in winter — especially if you’re exercising. Because it’s colder outside, you may not realize you’re sweating and it’s time to replace fluids in your system. In addition to staying hydrated, water can help keep you calories consumption at bay. In addition to upping your water consumption, pay attention to water-rich fruits and vegetables during this time of year.

With a little extra attention focused on our dietary habits during the winter chill, FoodFacts.com is confident we can get through the season with softer skin, a happier outlook and without packing on excess pounds!

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/39851450/ns/health-healthy_holidays/t/good-for-you-winter-comfort-foods/#.Us4TUIuzKph

Your brain on junk food …

Was there a word just on the tip of your tongue recently that you couldn’t quite remember? Are you having a difficult time staying focused at the office? Or maybe you’re having trouble remembering events from your not-so-distant past that were once easily accessible to you. Don’t be too quick to pass it off as an age-related issue or a momentary mental “glitch.” It may very well be diet-related!

A new study coming out of the University of New South Wales in Australia has linked a diet high in sugar and fat to restricted cognitive abilities — after just one week! It is thought that the results of this study may improve the current understanding of how obesity and excessive weight gain affect the body.

FoodFacts.com has reported on older studies that have linked obesity with mental health difficulties like depression. But is hasn’t been clear whether or not unhealthy dietary habits actually affect the brain. This new study sought to clarify this by evaluating cognitive changes in rats fed a diet high in both sugar and fat.

For a one week period, the test animals were assigned one of three meal plans — a healthy diet, an unhealthy diet emphasizing cake, chips and cookies, and a healthy diet taken with sugar water. The first and second meal plan groups represented control and treatment groups respectively. The third plan was experimental and attempted to isolate the effect of excessive sugar intake.

It was found that in both the treatment and experimental group, the subjects exhibited cognitive impairments after only one week. These impairments were exhibited as a reduced ability to recognize certain objects. The results suggest that even a temporary diet high in sugar and fat may have serious consequences. Researchers were surprised at the speed with which the cognitive deterioration took place. In addition, preliminary data may suggest that this damage is not reversed when the subjects are switched back to a healthy diet.

In addition, these rats had signs of inflammation in their brain’s hippocampal area — a cerebral center associated with spatial memory. This suggests that the inflammatory responses recorded in obese people may not be limited to fat tissue.
Researchers are hopeful that these results are relevant to people. They noted that while nutrition affects the brain at every age, it is critical as we age and may be significant in preventing cognitive decline.

So the next time you reach for a high fat, high sugar food option, it might be important to remember the results of this study. And if you’re having trouble reaching for that information, well … let’s say that might just be your brain on junk food! It’s time for us all to consider the way our diets affect our brains, as well as the rest of our bodies.

Read more here: http://health.yahoo.net/articles/obesity/one-week-junk-food-could-impair-your-memory

GMO-free original Cheerios coming to a grocery store near you

If you’re concerned about purchasing products containing probable GMO ingredients, you’ll want to make note of this story.

General Mills Inc. has announced that it has begun producing original Cheerios WITHOUT any genetically modified ingredients. The 73-year-old breakfast cereal is one of the highest-profile brands to make this change, responding to the growing number of complaints in regard to the use of genetically modified ingredients in packaged foods.

This change is only being made to original Cheerios. Other varieties, like Honey Nut Cheerios, Multi-Grain Cheerios and Apple Cinnamon Cheerios are still being manufactured using the same ingredients. General Mills began working towards this change in the manufacturing of original Cheerios about a year ago and began the actual manufacturing process of the GMO-free cereal several weeks ago. They are stating that they expect the new product to be available to consumers “shortly,” once the products have made their way through the distribution system and onto shelves nationwide.

You’ll be able to identify the new GMO-free version of the cereal easily. These Cheerios will carry the label “Not Made With Genetically Modified Ingredients.” General Mills does note, however, that the product could contain trace amounts due to contamination in shipping or manufacturing.

We know that the FoodFacts.com community is well-versed in the debate regarding GMO ingredients in our food supply. GMO critics are calling this major move by Cheerios a victory in the fight against the use of genetically modified ingredients. There are initiatives proposed in several states calling for the labeling of GMO ingredients in our food supply.

While many advocacy groups have petitioned major food manufacturers to change their policies and begin producing their brands without the use of genetically modified ingredients, most large companies have rejected these efforts. They argue that there is no proof of health concerns resulting from the use of GMOs. Most are also against GMO labeling, saying that this would be a costly measure and reinforces a misconception about genetically modified ingredients.

General Mills spokesperson Mike Siemienas stated that “There is broad consensus that food containing GMOs is safe, but we decided to move forward with this in response to consumer demand.” Because the primary ingredient in Cheerios is oats, a crop that isn’t grown from genetically modified seeds, the transition just required General Mills to find new sources of cornstarch and sugar.

“Even that required significant investment,” Mr. Siemienas said. He didn’t provide a figure, but said that the hurdles would make it “difficult, if not impossible” to make Honey Nut Cheerios and other varieties without GMOs.

GMO Inside, a campaign that advocates GMO labeling, said Cheerios is the first major brand of packaged food in the U.S. to make the switch from containing GMOs to marketing itself as non-GMO. Other companies have also said they plan to change. Whole Foods Market Inc. said it will require by 2018 that all food in its stores containing GMOs, disclose the fact on labels. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and Kellogg Co.’s Kashi, which markets its cereals and snacks as having “natural ingredients,” have both said they are working on taking GMOs out of their food.

But it is a lengthy and expensive process. Kashi says only 1% of U.S. cropland is organic and around 70% of packaged foods contain GMOs.

This voluntary change by General Mills in the manufacturing of original Cheerios may encourage other large manufacturers to follow suit. While it may be difficult and expensive to source the ingredients and change their processes, a brand as large as Cheerios embracing what companies view as a difficult transition can certainly begin a trend in food manufacturing.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303370904579297211874270146

Are Kashi and Bear Naked misleading consumers with “natural” claims?

In early December two class action lawsuits were certified by the United States District Court for the Southern District of California against two popular “natural” product companies — Kashi and Bear Naked Inc. The lawsuits claim that both companies have misled consumers with false claims of “100% Natural” or “Nothing Artificial” ingredient lists. The court has ruled that the plaintiffs have proven that some of the “natural” ingredient claims are not true and some of the ingredients used were synthetic.

FoodFacts.com is all too familiar with manufacturer claims of “natural” ingredients. There are many ways companies can make that claim legally, regardless of whether or not we would consider it true. Kashi and its subsidiary Bear Naked Inc. certainly wouldn’t be the first companies to assert that their claim of “natural” ingredients” is consistent with current federal law.

This lawsuit specifically states that Kashi and Bear Naked products were found to contain Alph-Tocopherol Acetate and Hexane-processed soy ingredients. Hexane is listed as a federal hazardous pollutant and was identified as a toxic contaminant by the California Assembly in 1993.

Kashi is a leader in the natural foods market and has successfully branded itself as a nutritional, environmentally conscious manufacturer. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit hope to show that Kashi is deceptive about its branding and misleads consumers to believe that their products do not contain artificial ingredients. They assert that as a result of their misleading labeling, Kashi has been able to sell products to hundreds of thousands of consumers nationwide.

In addition, plaintiffs claim that Bear Naked labeled products containing potassium carbonate, glycerin and lecithin as “100% Natural”. These ingredients are all recognized synthetic chemicals under federal regulations.

Both companies deny that their labeling is misleading. Kashi and Bear Naked state that their claims are truthful and consistent with federal law. The trail will begin for both lawsuits on February 11, 2014.

It’s definitely worth noting that the use of the word “natural” by food manufacturers is in decline. That seems to be a direct result of lawsuits like these. FoodFacts.com believes that consumers are getting smarter about the branding practices of mainstream food manufacturers. But we also think that those same consumers can develop a strong relationship with companies like Kashi and Bear Naked because they aren’t necessarily viewed as mainstream manufacturers (even though they’re owned by Kellog’s). These aren’t the first lawsuits against these two companies. It’s worth keeping an eye out for the results. We’ll all be happier consumers when we can count on any manufacturer’s “natural” and “nothing artificial” claims.

http://www.examiner.com/article/court-certifies-lawsuit-against-kashi-bear-naked-for-false-natural-claims