Monthly Archives: May 2014

Balsamic, Apple Cider, Sherry Wine: New report offers insight into the many different health benefits of many different vinegars.

Health Benefits of Different VinegarsDo you enjoy a variety of different varieties of vinegar in salad dressings? Maybe you experiment with different vinegars in your cooking. There are so many different options: traditional balsamic, white balsamic, apple cider, sherry wine, red wine. They all add different flavors to everything from salad dressings to sauces. Did you ever consider that you might be doing more than adding flavor to your food when using different vinegars?

A report published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in the Journal of Food Science shows that certain types of vinegar could actually offer significant health benefits.

According to the studies cited in the article, vinegar is rich in antioxidants, which could reduce accelerated aging and even slow the development of certain cancers or degenerative brain disorders. The authors of the report also point to vinegar’s antibacterial properties, its ability to reduce the effects of diabetes, and its contribution to improved cardiovascular health and blood pressure. Vinegar is also said to help athletes recuperate after intense physical effort.

Finally, the report notes that individuals who consume certain types of vinegar on a daily basis have been shown to have lower appetites: a finding that could be applied when developing weight loss plans for obese patients.
The authors at the IFT nonetheless indicated that further research will be necessary to validate any claims regarding vinegar’s health benefits.

We have to admit that some of us here at FoodFacts.com have heard what we assumed to be old wives tales regarding the use of apple cider vinegar as a weight loss aid. We’ve also heard that it’s a great replacement for over-the-counter sinus medication. Then there are some claims about balsamic vinegar and its ability to lower blood pressure and stabilize cholesterol levels. We’re pretty sure you’ve heard some similar claims about these as well as other vinegar varieties. We plan on finding new and interesting ways to incorporate vinegars into our meal preparations. This is a great idea not only to bring new and interesting tastes into our dishes, but also to add a new dimension to the health benefits we may receive from our foods!

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/05/26/vinegar-benefits_n_5392828.html

Is junk food just as harmful as smoking? A U.N. Official thinks so. Maybe we should listen.

Junk food as harmful as cigarettesFoodFacts.com spends a lot of time talking about the harmful effects of bad food. We focus on the dangers of excessive calorie consumption, added sugars in our diet, unreasonable amounts of sodium in food products, and the possible health implications of controversial ingredients. We know that our community feels as strongly as we do about the condition of our food supply and pays careful attention to their own diets. Some might agree that they consider their food consumption just as significant as other healthy habits they incorporate in their daily lives — things like exercise and staying away from cigarette smoking. So if consuming healthy food is just as important as not smoking, it might stand to reason that unhealthy food is just as harmful as smoking a cigarette.

Now, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to food Olivier De Schutter warned that obesity is a bigger global health threat than tobacco use, lamenting that it isn’t taken as seriously as it should be.

A United Nations official called for greater regulation of unhealthy foods, saying junk food is just as bad for global health as tobacco.

Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said the world needs to come together to regulate diet. “Unhealthy diets are now a greater threat to global health than tobacco,” he said in a speech at the opening of the World Health Organization’s annual summit. “Just as the world came together to regulate the risks of tobacco, a bold framework convention on adequate diets must now be agreed.”

De Schutter voiced frustration that the world hasn’t taken obesity seriously enough. “It has been two years since my report on nutrition and the right to food, and ten years since the World Health Organization (WHO) launched its Global Strategy on Diet Physical Activity and Health,” he said. “Yet obesity continues to advance—and diabetes, heart disease and other health complications along with it. The warning signs are not being heard.”

The Special Rapporteur has previously agitated for greater governmental action on junk foods, including taxing unhealthy products, regulating fats and sugars, cracking down on advertising for junk food, and rethinking agricultural subsidies that make unhealthy food cheaper.

“Governments have been focusing on increasing calorie availability,” he said, “but they have often been indifferent to what kind of calories are on offer, at what price, to whom they are made available, and how they are marketed.”

Somehow, consumers have been conditioned to think little, if anything at all, about the possible risks associated with our food supply. Amidst all the new research regarding calories, fat, sugar, sodium and controversial ingredients, it appears that there are consumers who don’t clearly see the dangers that can be involved. If you want to take a look at that, read an internet article regarding unhealthy food and ingredients. Then make sure you read the comments that follow the article. That’s where you’ll find average consumers NOT taking these issues as seriously as they might. You’ll find people wondering what they’re actually expected to eat, saying that risks are overstated as well as consumers who are under the impression that simply because the FDA said something is fine, it really must be. And let’s not forget that there’s plenty of conflicting information out there. Just yesterday, we focused our blog on brominated vegetable oil. Some of the articles written on the topic insist that the amount of this controversial ingredient found in beverages and food products can’t possibly be harmful — even though it’s been found to be bioaccumulative. Confusing?

Maybe the simple statement that junk food is just as unhealthy as cigarette smoking is exactly the kind of message that can clarify the discussion for millions of consumers. The conversation certainly deserves to be advanced.

http://time.com/104999/u-n-official-says-junk-food-just-as-bad-as-cigarettes/

Coca-Cola Company to remove brominated vegetable oil from U.S. soft drinks

Coca Cola Company Removes Brominated Vegetable OilBrominated vegetable oil is a highly controversial ingredient that’s banned in many different countries worldwide, but is still, for some reason allowed for human consumption here in the U.S. You can find it in some citrus-flavored soft drinks. The Coca-Cola company has announced that they will be removing brominated vegetable oil from soft drinks sold in the U.S.

FoodFacts.com is obviously very happy with this news. But we still certainly wonder why it remains true that there are several ingredients other countries have seen fit to ban that still degrade our food supply here in America.

Though there are exceptions running both ways, it’s generally accurate to say, “Food regulations in the European Union are much stricter than in the United States.”

This especially holds true for chemical preservatives; there are many for which you can say, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows this substance in food and drink, but it is banned in the EU, and possibly elsewhere too.”

For example, the chemical azodicarbonamide is, according to FDA regulations, “Generally Recognized As Safe” in food — in densities no greater than 45 parts per million. But in most of the world, azodicarbonamide is used primarily in the manufacture of rubber and plastics. Various governments in Europe and Australia consider azodicarbonamide a “respiratory sensitizer” that can trigger asthmatic reactions, and in Singapore, using azodicarbonamide in food warrantshigh fines and lengthy prison sentences.

Azodicarbonamide made American headlines last February when the Subway sandwich chain, presumably responding to a petition started by a health-food blogger, announced that it would henceforth stop using the chemical in its bread.

And this week another company, presumably in response to a petition, announced plans to alter its recipes so that the products it sells in America are more in line with its offerings elsewhere in the world: the Coca-Cola company will stop adding bromiated vegetable oil to its American drink products. Brominated vegetable oil contains bromide, which has proven useful as a flame retardant, though Japan and the European Union ban it for human consumption.

Why the wide discrepancy between the U.S. and worldwide views of such chemical additives? Is the United States too lax about food safety where chemicals are concerned — or is the European Union too strict?

Charles Vorhees is a Cincinnati toxicologist who studied the neurological effects of BVOs in the early 1980s. In 2011 Vorhees said, “Compounds like these that are in widespread use probably should be reexamined periodically with newer technologies to ensure that there aren’t effects that would have been missed by prior methods … I think BVO is the kind of compound that probably warrants some reexamination.”

There are definitely cases of people who developed massive health problems after excessive consumption of bromide. Consider this example from the 2011 SciAm article:

In 1997, emergency room doctors at University of California, Davis reported a patient with severe bromine intoxication from drinking two to four liters of orange soda every day. He developed headaches, fatigue, ataxia (loss of muscle coordination) and memory loss.

In a 2003 case reported in Ohio, a 63-year-old man developed ulcers on his swollen hands after drinking eight liters of Red Rudy Squirt every day for several months. The man was diagnosed with bromoderma, a rare skin hypersensitivity to bromine exposure. The patient quit drinking the brominated soft drink and months later recovered.

While you’ll read a lot of news that speaks pointedly about the amounts allowed in food products being far too small to cause harm, you may want to consider some other ideas as well:

Brominated vegetable oil has been shown to bioaccumulate in human tissue and breast milk, and animal studies have found it causes reproductive and behavioral problems in large doses.

Bromines are common endocrine disruptors, and are part of the halide family, a group of elements that includes fluorine, chlorine and iodine. When ingested, bromine competes for the same receptors that are used to capture iodine. This can lead to iodine deficiency, which can have a very detrimental impact on your health.

Bromine is a central nervous system depressant, and can trigger a number of psychological symptoms such as acute paranoia and other psychotic symptoms. Bromine toxicity can also manifest as skin rashes, acne, loss of appetite, fatigue, and cardiac arrhythmias.

The Coca-Cola Company is taking a big step and we’re happy to know that soon Fanta and Fresca will be sold without the brominated vegetable oil. And for all the claims of “a little won’t hurt anyone,” we’d like to emphasize the bioaccumulation of the ingredient. To us, that basically means that there’s really no such thing as just a little brominated vegetable oil. The U.S. needs to catch up with other countries and begin banning chemical additives that citizens abroad don’t need to worry about in their food supply.

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/coca-cola-to-remove-flame-retardant-from-american-drinks-050614.html

Pre-packaged sandwich wraps from Hormel. The real deal on Rev.

Hormel RevHormel’s been busy airing commercials for their Rev sandwich wraps.  The commercials are all about physical fitness, being the best you can be, participating in sports and achieving goals.  Somehow or another an ad agency managed to connect the dots between those things and a sandwich wrap.  Go figure.

While FoodFacts.com might not see the sense behind that connection, Hormel does.  Supposedly their Rev wraps are just the thing anyone needs to be able to maximize performance.  All 8 varieties deliver between 15 and 17 grams of protein … enough to power plenty of physical activity.  Sounds great, right?

Before you go grabbing a Rev wrap on your way to the gym though, you might want to read on and find out what’s going on beyond all that protein.

Let’s take a look at the Italian Style Rev Wrap.  There are actually 81 ingredients in this one.  That’s a lot for a wrap that contains pepperoni, genoa salami, mozzarella cheese in a rolled flatbread.  Here’s the list:

Flatbread (Flour Enriched [Wheat Flour, Barley Malted Flour, Niacin Vitamin B3, Iron Reduced,Thiamine Mononitrate Vitamin B1, Riboflavin Vitamin B2, Folic Acid Vitamin B9] , Water, Wheat Gluten Vital, Soy Flour, Contains 2% or less of the following: [Sugar Brown Liquid, Oats Fiber,Soybeans Oil, Olive Oil Extra Virgin, Spices, Baking Soda, Prunes Juice Concentrate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Wheat Protein Isolate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Propionate, Yeast,Cellulose Gum, Fumaric Acid, Salt, Guar Gum, Calcium Sulphate, Carrageenan, Xanthan Gum, Maltodextrin, Annatto Color, Enzymes] ) , Cheese (Cheese Mozzarella Low Moisture Part Skim [Milk Part Skim, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes] , Cheese American [Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes] , Water, Cream, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, Sorbic Acid) , Salami Genoa(Pork, Beef, Salt, Contains 2% or less of the following: Citric Acid [Dextrose, Water, Spices,Sodium Ascorbate Vitamin C, Lactic Acid Starter Culture, Sodium Nitrate Nitrite, Garlic Powder,BHA, BHT, Citric Acid] ) , Pepperoni (Pork, Beef, Salt, Contains 2% or less of the following: Citric Acid [Water, Dextrose, Spices, Lactic Acid Starter Culture, Oleoresin of Paprika, Garlic Powder,Sodium Nitrate Nitrite, BHA, BHT, Citric Acid] )

We can easily live without plenty of the ingredients in this wrap.  Curiously, though, it contains only 290 calories.  We’re going to assume that there isn’t much meat and cheese inside that flatbread.  It also contains 20 grams of fat, 10 mg of saturated fat, 55 mg of cholesterol, and 960 mg of sodium.  So besides those 15 grams of protein, there’s really not a whole lot else in there that’s doing much for your body — or fueling your workout or sports performance.

It’s our considered opinion that a different option that contains leaner protein, better fats, and real ingredients would be a better boost.  Nice try Hormel, but we’ll “rev” up without the wraps.

 

https://www.hormel.com/Brands/HormelRevWraps.aspx  

 

Kellogg’s dropping “Natural” labeling on certain Kashi products in response to another lawsuit

Kellogg's Drops Natural Claims from Certain Kashi ProductsThe latest in an unending series of manufacturer responses to lawsuits regarding false “natural” claims …

Cereal giant Kellogg’s says it will no longer use the labels “All Natural” or “Nothing Artificial” on certain Kashi products as part of an agreement to settle a class-action lawsuit. The company will also pay $5 million to settle the suit.

In a statement, Kashi’s corporate parent, Kellogg Co. said it stood by its advertising and labeling practices but that it would change its formulas or labels nationally by the end of the year.

The suit had accused Kashi of misleading people by using the phrase “All Natural” or “Nothing Artificial” on products that contained a variety of synthetic and artificial ingredients. Among the ingredients listed in the suit were pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate, hexane-processed soy ingredients, ascorbic acid, glycerin and sodium phosphate.

The settlement was filed May 2 in U.S. District Court in California and is subject to court approval.

As people look to stick to diets they feel are wholesome, companies have flooded supermarket shelves with products marketed as being “natural.” But more recently, numerous lawsuits have challenged their use of the term on products that contain ingredients some say don’t fit that definition.

The mounting legal challenges have prompted several companies to remove the word from packaging. PepsiCo Inc., for instance, changed its “Simply Natural” line of Frito-Lay chips to “Simply,” even though the ingredients didn’t change. Likewise, its “Natural Quaker Granola” was changed to “Simply Quaker Granola.”

PepsiCo also agreed to remove the words “all natural” from its Naked juices to settle a lawsuit that noted the drinks contained artificial ingredients.

The Food and Drug Administration says it doesn’t have an official definition for the term “natural,” noting that a food product has likely been processed and is “no longer the product of the earth.” But the agency notes that it has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances.

While FoodFacts.com certainly understands the FDA’s stance regarding artificial colors and flavors, we do wonder about their definition of synthetic substances. And yes, they are right about food products likely having been processed, but we’d love for them to take a good look at the ingredient lists for some organic and gluten-free food products. While some of these packaged organic and gluten-free foods could technically be called processed, their ingredient lists look nothing like their counterparts. We have to believe that if some manufacturers can manage to use ingredients that can easily be defined as natural, they probably all can. That said, we also think that the FDA can come up with a definition for natural that could bring an end to the false claims — and the lawsuits.

http://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/suit-prompts-kelloggs-drop-natural-labels-kashi-products-n100391

New findings say 80% of meat labels could be meaningless … so who do you trust?

Meat Labeling May Be MeaninglessIn the world of food products, consumers have come to recognize that their most complete understanding of what’s actually in the foods they consume comes from reading labels. Food labels are regulated. So we trust them. And for the most part, that trust isn’t misplaced. Sure, there are some problems with food labels. In fact, the FDA is in the process of developing new standards for those labels that will make them clearer and more precise. Those standards have to do with fat, calories and serving sizes. It’s all about transparency and clarity. But what about other claims made on food labels? We already know that claims of “all natural” have come under heavy fire, causing many manufacturers to stop making those claims. Are other such claims as transparent as they should be?

A new report by the advocacy group Animal Welfare Institute finds that “sustainably produced” claims on meat and poultry packages lack transparency, suggesting there are big gaps in verifying that animals are raised humanely.

A new report finds that the government was unable to provide proof that many meat and poultry producers are living up to many of their feel-good labeling claims.

The advocacy group Animal Welfare Institute spent three years requesting documentation from the USDA about companies that boast their animals are well cared for or raised in accordance with high environmental standards. The USDA failed to supply documentation supporting these sorts of claims—which range from “Humanely Raised and Handled” to “Sustainably Farmed”—for 20 of the 25 products AWI investigated.

The findings suggest that whether or not the animals in question are actually being raised humanely or in an eco-friendly manner, there are big gaps in verifying those claims and giving consumers access to that information. “We’re not suggesting that all these claims are misleading or that the claims we reviewed were misused,” says Dena Jones, manager of AWI’s Farm Animal Program. “But that’s the problem—we don’t know,” she notes. “That doesn’t give any assurance to the consumer.”

In the five cases in which AWI did receive relevant documents about labeling claims, the evidence, in Jones’s opinion, was inadequate, often consisting of a one- or two-sentence statement by the company that the animals were being raised appropriately—and no additional information about animal cage size, feed or water quality.

These claims are considered added value, Jones says, and people pay top dollar because of them. For example, the online grocery service FreshDirect sells its own brand of boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets—raised without antibiotics—for $6.99 per pound, whereas they sell a humanely raised and organic competitor’s cutlets for $11.99 per pound. And if the explosion of the organic market is any indication, these claims could be poised to bring in even more sales; in 2013, organic foods soared in size, to approximately $35 billion. “To most people, these claims mean you are getting something above the standard of conventional industry.” And with such prices at stake, companies should have to prove it, she says.

Indeed, these labels have become a major selling point with consumers. “The larger conventional meat companies, they see the success that our sector has had,” says Christopher Ely, co-founder and farmer liaison for Applegate, which makes meat and dairy products, many of which are certified organic. And they want a piece of the warm-and-fuzzy meat pie. “Everybody is jumping in.”

Many companies do pay an outside organization, such as Certified Humane or Global Animal Partnership, to supply guidelines and perform audits to make sure their practices are in line with the statements on their labels. (The third-party labels that AWI cites as trustworthy are Animal Welfare Approved, American Humane Certified, Certified Humane, Food Alliance, USDA Certified Organic and GAP, which verifies products sold at Whole Foods Markets.) But other companies may feel empowered to make exaggerated—or very vague—claims, Jones notes, and the various certification groups have distinct standards for what many of these terms require.

“There aren’t scientifically established and consumer-agreed-upon definitions for ‘humanely raised’ or ‘sustainably raised’,” says Lindy Miller, an agricultural extension educator at Perdue University. “So it becomes very hard to write or enforce regulations.” This leaves the marketplace in moderate chaos—as it was a couple decades ago for the term “organic” before the USDA took over a centralized labeling program. Simply arriving at a unified definition of organic took years and resulted in hundreds of pages of regulatory documents. Terms such as “humane” and “sustainable” are far murkier, and open to interpretation. “It’s not like ‘cage-free’ or ‘free-range,’” which have relatively specific, self-explanatory implications, says Jones.

Applegate was one of the 20 companies for which the USDA failed to supply any documentation supporting a “humanely raised” label. Jones points out that the company had previously verified that claim through Certified Humane but no longer does. Ely explains that Applegate now allows its individual producers to select their certification process but assures that each of its producers does get verified for humane handling. (He also asserts that they file thorough documentation with the USDA each time they apply for a new product label to be approved.)

Ensuring accountability for how an animal was raised becomes even more complicated because the company requesting USDA label approval is rarely the same one that has actually raised the animal. Most major distributors buy their animals from suppliers all over the country. Applegate, for example, might acquire animals from 1,500 different individual farms this year alone, Ely notes. And the USDA, which is tasked mainly with ensuring that food is safe and unadulterated, “does not have authority to regulate animal-raising facilities,” says Catherine Cochran, a USDA spokesperson, adding that they do “require processors to substantiate that they meet the claims presented on their product labels.”

And just because the USDA was not able to supply AWI with documentation does not mean that it does not exist. As Miller notes, when proprietary information—such as a company’s list of suppliers or their animal feed blend—does not generate a human safety concern, the USDA will respect the company’s trade secrets and not release the documents to the public. This policy, he notes, could be adding to the confusion and lack of transparency about how these claims are being verified.

Nevertheless, AWI plans to submit a petition to request that the USDA require third-party certification for all labeling claims about sustainability and animal welfare.
“In the end,” says Ely, “it’s going to be about the trust of the label and the company.”
If you’re concerned about this situation and agree that manufacturers should be required to follow standards for sustainably and humanely raised meat and poultry, you can add your voide to the discussion here: http://awionline.org/action-ealerts/shouldnt-humane-labels-be-accurate.

FoodFact.com is a fan of transparency. We have the right to understand the foods we’re eating — and that right reaches beyond packaged food products. Ultimately we as consumers are the judge and jury for every food product in our grocery stores. Our voices count and need to be heard.

http://awionline.org/action-ealerts/shouldnt-humane-labels-be-accurate

Beech-Nut introduces 100% natural baby food

Beech-Nut_ProductFamily_03.21.141.jpgWhat a concept! Beech-Nut has introduced baby food whose only ingredients are the actual foods. Has to make you wonder what took them so long. Now babies can enjoy honey crisp apples, butternut squash, beets, pears & pomegranate, pineapple with pears and avocados and a whole host of other real foods. Of course, for parents and caregivers who aren’t “purists”, the “classic” Beech-Nut baby food is still available. Those foods are in the jars with the longer ingredient lists.

After years of decline in the baby food category, Beech-Nut Nutrition realized that moms trusted food they prepared in their own kitchens more than the “watered down” and “processed” food they were getting from leading brands. To address those concerns the company recently launched a completely new line of 100% natural products inspired by the creativity of millennial moms.

Beech-nut says they talked to moms and consistently found they were saying, “Homemade is the best that I can do for my baby. I may not know how but that would be the gold standard.” A spokesperson commented, “Increasingly we were seeing a lot of things online and a lot of other data points. When we started connecting the dots we saw a plethora of books at a Barnes and Noble on how to make your own baby food at home. You saw baby blogs and a lot of other support online for mom to make her own baby food. It came down to moms feeling that the category was watery, runny, it wasn’t real food. So they were choosing to help solve it; that being moms meant taking three hours out of their week or an hour out of their day to make their own baby food. We sat with those moms and asked them why they are doing this. It really came down to the control: “I want to know what’s in my baby’s food. A lot of the stuff I see on the shelves has things in there I either don’t know what they are or I don’t put it in when I make it at home, so I don’t want to feed that to my baby.”

Before we say anything else, FoodFacts.com really does think this is a great step for a mainstream baby food manufacturer. But really, it’s 2014. This thought just occurred to them? Beech-nut just now realized that more and more moms are making their own baby food? They’ve only just found nutrition blogs, new mom blogs and blogs about healthy cooking for your family? None of these are new. And, frankly, they’ve been popular for years. The trend away from mainstream baby food brands has been growing steadily for quite a while now. There are even infomercial products that help moms make their own baby foods. It’s sad that it took declining sales to get the company to take a look around take note.

The tag line on the Beech-Nut website for the new products reads “Because everyone deserves real food. Especially babies.” Welcome to the 21st century, Beech-Nut. We can only hope that your mainstream counterparts find their way here at some point as well.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnellett/2014/04/30/beech-nut-takes-transparency-to-new-level-with-launch-of-100-natural-food-for-babies/

http://beechnut.com/foods/

Teens consuming sports drinks and energy drinks more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors

Sports and Energy Drinks linked to unhealthy behaviors in teensFoodFacts.com has no doubt that, by now, most parents are fully engaged in dissuading their teens from the consumption of energy drinks. There’s been so much news about emergency room visits and deaths linked to these beverages. In addition, most parents of teens are aware that teenagers are particularly drawn to them. Just walking into your local convenience store after school hours will give you a clear picture of how true that statement actually is. And while sports drinks aren’t in the news for possible links to hospital visits and deaths, they’re certainly a subject of controversy. Both product categories contain too much sugar, bad ingredients, caffeine and possible stimulants. Both are nutritionally vacant. And both are unnecessary as part of any healthy diet.

Now a new study reveals that the consumption of these beverages may, in fact, be linked to other unhealthy behaviors in teenagers. Researchers at the University of Minnesota and Duke University in Durham, NC, have found an association between weekly consumption of sports and energy drinks and higher consumption of other sugary drinks, cigarette smoking and use of screen media.

The high sugar, calorie and caffeine content of sports and energy drinks is an area of concern for health care professionals and these drinks have experienced a surge in popularity in recent years. National data have shown that although there has been a fall in consumption of soft drinks and fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks have tripled in consumption among adolescents.

The researchers behind the new study – which is published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior – gathered data from 2,793 adolescents across 20 public middle and high schools in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area during the 2009-10 school year.
The students reported data on their height, weight, how often they drink sports and energy drinks, how often they eat breakfast, how much physical activity they engage in, how much time they spend playing video games and watching TV, and whether or not they smoke.

Despite consumption of sports drinks being linked to higher levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, overall, the researchers found that consumption of sports and energy drinks contributes to a growing cluster of unhealthy behaviors among adolescents.

The study finds a link between smoking, high consumption of other sugary drinks, and prolonged time watching TV or playing video games with weekly sports and energy drinks consumption.

Lead author Nicole Larson, PhD, from the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, explains:

“Among boys, weekly sports drink consumption was significantly associated with higher TV viewing; boys who regularly consumed sports drinks spent about 1 additional hour per week watching TV, compared with boys who consumed sports drinks less than once per week.

Boys who consumed energy drinks at least weekly spent approximately 4 additional hours per week playing video games, compared with those who consumed energy drinks less than once per week.”

Dr. Larson and her team say that future research and interventions should do more to promote healthy hydration habits in adolescents and target the clustering of behaviors that present health risks to youth.

The position on these drinks from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is that sports drinks should only be consumed by adolescents after vigorous and prolonged physical activity.

The AAP asserts that energy drinks, meanwhile, should not be consumed as they offer no health benefits and increase risks for overstimulation of the nervous system.
Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that around 73% of children consume caffeine on a daily basis. The CDC also reported that 20% of teenagers who consume energy drinks believe them to be safe.

A recent study from researchers at Iowa State University suggested that the drinks’ labeling may be to blame for the misperception of energy drinks as not being harmful. Current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines do not require caffeine and other stimulants to be listed in product labeling.

Also, although the FDA says that up to 400 mg of caffeine a day is not associated with adverse effects in adults, the administration has not issued any caffeine recommendations for children and adolescents.

We’re all aware that it’s harder to set rules for teenagers regarding food and beverage consumption. As our kids grow, they spend less time in the home. With after school activities, friends, sports and parties, teens are under the watchful eyes of their parents and caregivers less than they were when they were younger. Of course, we want that for them. A growing sense of independence is important for their development. Ultimately, we can’t forbid sports or energy drinks from them. What we can do, however, is engage them in honest conversation about the effects of these beverages. Studies have shown, that while they may not acknowledge it, the words of parents and caregivers have more influence over teen behaviors than many believe. These are important conversations. In addition to helping keep kids away from readily available beverages that can hurt their health, conversations like these can also turn their attention towards the importance of understanding what’s actually in the foods and beverages they choose to consume. And that can help them make better choices nutritionally for the rest of their lives.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/276411.php

Here’s a new reason to consider a gluten-free diet

Gluten Free Diet May Help Prevent DiabetesEvery now and again a dietary trend captures the attention of the population. The gluten-free diet has certainly been such a trend. In fact, that trend continues to grow daily, as more and more consumers learn of the benefits so many have already experienced. Keeping in mind that the gluten-free diet’s main and original purpose is to accommodate the dietary needs of those with Celiacs disease or gluten sensitivity, the diet has now been embraced by those not suffering from these conditions.

Gluten-free eating has been credited with weight loss, improved general health and increased energy. While it may appear difficult to incorporate into an existing lifestyle, thousands have attested to the idea that it’s actually a lot easier than it initially appears, especially with the introduction of so many gluten-free food products on our grocery shelves. Now there’s a new reason to consider gluten-free.

New experiments on mice show, that mouse mothers can protect their pups from developing type 1 diabetes by eating a gluten-free diet. According to preliminary studies by researchers at the University of Copenhagen, the findings may apply to humans.

More than 1% of the Danish population has type 1 diabetes, one of the highest incidence rates in the world. New experiments on mice now show a correlation between the health of the pups and their mothers eating a gluten-free diet. Our hope is that the disease may be prevented through simple dietary changes, the researchers say.

“Preliminary tests show that a gluten-free diet in humans has a positive effect on children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes. We therefore hope that a gluten-free diet during pregnancy and lactation may be enough to protect high-risk children from developing diabetes later in life,” says assistant professor Camilla Hartmann Friis Hansen from the Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences.

Findings from experiments on mice are not necessarily applicable to humans, but in this case we have grounds for optimism, says co-writer on the study professor Axel Kornerup from the Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences.

“Early intervention makes a lot of sense because type 1 diabetes develops early in life. We also know from existing experiments that a gluten-free diet has a beneficial effect on type 1 diabetes,” he says.

Experiments of this type have been going on since 1999, originally initiated by Professor Karsten Buschard from the Bartholin Institute at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, another co-writer on the study.

“This new study beautifully substantiates our research into a gluten-free diet as an effective weapon against type 1 diabetes,” Karsten Buschard explains.

The experiment showed that the diet changed the intestinal bacteria in both the mother and the pups. The intestinal flora plays an important role for the development of the immune system as well as the development of type 1 diabetes, and the study suggests that the protective effect of a gluten-free diet can be ascribed to certain intestinal bacteria. The advantage of the gluten-free diet is that the only side-effect seems to be the inconvenience of having to avoid gluten, but there is no certain evidence of the effect or side-effects.

“We have not been able to start a large-scale clinical test to either prove or disprove our hypothesis about the gluten-free diet,” says Karsten Buschard.

Assistant Professor Camilla Hartmann Friis Hansen is hoping that it will be possible to continue the work.

“If we find out how gluten or certain intestinal bacteria modify the immune system and the beta-cell physiology, this knowledge can be used to develop new treatments,” she says.

FoodFacts.com looks forward to more research on the health benefits of the gluten-free diet. We do think that as research continues, more will be discovered. After all, so many gluten-free consumers who state that they’re enjoying better health, more energy and healthy weight loss can’t simply be imagining their results. We think there’s more than meets the eye for a gluten-free lifestyle and we’re excited to learn more about its positive health effects.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140508095836.htm

Under the Bun: Dunkin Donuts Chicken Apple Sausage Breakfast Sandwich

Dunkin Donuts Chicken Apple Sausage Breakfast SandwichWe’re going under the bun with the latest from Dunkin Donuts — the Chicken Apple Sausage Breakfast Sandwich. The big attraction here is the chicken apple sausage. It not only promises fast food consumers more flavor, it also holds the added benefit of a more healthful selection than regular pork sausage. But is that just a perceived benefit? And, more importantly, are the ingredients in the chicken apple sausage — and the entire sandwich, for that matter — worth that benefit?

We’ll start with the nutrition facts for the sandwich:
 

Calories:                         360
Fat:                                 11 g
Saturated Fat:                   4 g
Cholesterol:                    120 mg
Sodium:                         1240 mg
Sugar:                              7 g

If all you’re simply concerned about calories and fat, this may not appear to be the worst choice you can make at Dunkin. If you compare it to the Sausage, Egg and Cheese Bagel sandwich at Dunkin, this new option contains 260 fewer calories, 15 fewer grams of fat, and 7 fewer grams of saturated fat. There’s also less sodium and a bit more cholesterol in the Chicken Apple Sausage sandwich.

FoodFacts.com wants to get to the “meat” of the situation — the ingredient list. For us, that’s the defining factor for any product, fast food sandwiches included. So let’s take a look:

Sausage (Chicken, Water, Corn Syrup, Sugar Brown, Apples Dehydrated, Contains 2% or less of the following: [Salt, Sodium Lactate, Dextrose, Sodium Phosphate, Parsley, Sodium Diacetate, Flavors Natural, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrate Nitrite] ) , English Muffin(Wheat Enriched Bleached Flour [Wheat Flour, Barley Malted Flour, Niacin Vitamin B3, Iron Reduced, Thiamine Mononitrate Vitamin B1, Riboflavin Vitamin B2, Folic Acid Vitamin B9] ,Water, Wheat Starch, Yeast, Sugar Cane Fiber, Contains 2% or less of the following: [Corn Syrup High Fructose, Chicory Root, Corn Flour Yellow Degerminated, Corn Meal Degerminated Yellow, Wheat Durum Flour Whole, Wheat Gluten, Vinegar, Calcium Propionate,Salt, Dextrose, Soybeans Oil, Calcium Sulphate, Fumaric Acid] ) , Eggs (Eggs Whites, Water,Eggs Yolks, Corn Starch Modified, Flavors Natural Sauteed [Soybeans Oil, Triglycerides Medium Chain, Flavors Natural] , Salt, Flavors Artificial Butter [Propylene Glycol, Flavors Artificial] , Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Peppers Black Coarse Ground) , Cheese Cheddar Reduced Fat (Milk Pasteurized Part Skim, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto Color)

While the chicken apple sausage does, in fact, contain less fat than traditional pork sausage, it’s important to point out that it still contains sodium nitrate. So the benefits consumers may perceive are limited to fat content and don’t extend to the ingredients. Add to that some high-fructose corn syrup, natural and artificial flavors plus propylene glycol and you’ve pretty much got a very typical fast food breakfast sandwich.

Our conclusion for Dunkin Donuts Chicken Apple Sausage Breakfast Sandwich is simple. We can come up with more than a few better ways to spend 360 calories for our morning meal. This one is lighter in fat and calories than some other choices, but the ingredient list is a definite turn-off.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/food/sandwiches/breakfastsandwiches/new_chicken_apple_sausage_breakfast_sandwich.html
http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Sandwiches-Wraps/Dunkin-Donuts-Chicken-Apple-Sausage-Breakfast-Sandwich-/92402