Monthly Archives: May 2014

High-protein breakfasts may decrease women’s risk of diabetes

High Protein Breakfasts Lower Women's Risk of DiabetesThere has been some news in the last year regarding the health benefits of a big breakfast. More specifically, there seems to be a link between consuming a bigger meal earlier in the day and lightening up on lunch and dinner and maintaining a healthy weight. It appears most of us here in the U.S. have that a bit backwards. We seem to go light on breakfast and even lunch and then consumer our biggest meal at dinner. Today we read new research linking a woman’s consumption of a high protein breakfast to a decreased risk of diabetes. That’s another vote for the big breakfast.

In healthy individuals, the amount of glucose, or sugar, in the blood increases after eating. When glucose increases, levels of insulin increase to carry the glucose to the rest of the body. Previous research has shown that extreme increases in glucose and insulin in the blood can lead to poor glucose control and increase an individual’s risk of developing diabetes over time. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has found that when women consumed high-protein breakfasts, they maintained better glucose and insulin control than they did with lower-protein or no-protein meals.

“For women, eating more protein in the morning can beneficially affect their glucose and insulin levels,” said Heather Leidy, an assistant professor of nutrition and exercisephysiology. “If you eat healthy now and consume foods that help you control your glucose levels, you may be protecting yourself from developing diabetes in the future.”

Kevin Maki, of Biofortis Clinical Research, completed the study in collaboration with Leidy. They studied women aged 18-55 years old who consumed one of three different meals or only water on four consecutive days. The tested meals were less than 300 calories per serving and had similar fat and fiber contents. However, the meals varied in amount of protein: a pancake meal with three grams of protein; a sausage and egg breakfast skillet with 30 grams of protein; or a sausage and egg breakfast skillet with 39 grams protein. Researchers monitored the amount of glucose and insulin in the participants’ blood for four hours after they ate breakfast.

“Both protein-rich breakfasts led to lower spikes in glucose and insulin after meals compared to the low-protein, high-carb breakfast,” Maki said. “Additionally, the higher-protein breakfast containing 39 grams of protein led to lower post-meal spikes compared to the high-protein breakfast with 30 grams of protein.”

These findings suggest that, for healthy women, the consumption of protein-rich breakfasts leads to better glucose control throughout the morning than the consumption of low-protein options, Leidy said.

“Since most American women consume only about 10-15 grams of protein during breakfast, the 30-39 grams might seem like a challenging dietary change,” Leidy said. “However, one potential strategy to assist with this change might include the incorporation of prepared convenience meals, such as those included in this study.”

Leidy said the study provides a good model to initially examine the effect of higher-protein breakfasts on glucose and insulin responses since only healthy, non-diabetic women with appropriate glucose control were included in the study. Based on the study’s findings, the researchers are hopeful that the consumption of protein-rich breakfasts also would benefit individuals with pre-diabetes, although future research is needed to confirm.

The only problem has with any of the comments made here is the suggestion about incorporating prepared convenience meals into one’s diet in order to gain the benefits of that high-protein breakfast without consuming additional calories. We don’t particularly like that idea. We can come up with a few others that might work without the help of prepared products. Uncured turkey bacon comes to mind, as well as black beans as healthier, lower-fat protein sources that can work well with eggs for breakfast. Much better idea!

What’s really in the beef served at Taco Bell?

Taco Bell Beef IngredientsFast food is one of our pet peeves here at We try to keep up with the newest introductions from the major chains and bring our community members the facts about nutritional content and ingredients. Those reports generally aren’t positive – and this one is no different.

Today we’re talking about Taco Bell beef. Shouldn’t be a tremendous problem, should it? But sometimes beef isn’t simply beef. Taco Bell admits that its product is 88 percent beef. Read below to find out what makes up the other 12 percent:

According to Taco Bell’s website, the company says that the mystery ingredients have “weird names” but they’re “all safe and approved by the FDA,” ABC News reports.

“Each ingredient helps make our Seasoned Beef taste great. Many of them are items you might use at home such as salt, peppers, and spices. Ingredients like oats and sodium phosphates help make sure the texture is right,” Taco Bell officials said.
The company also said it uses only USDA-inspected, “100 percent premium real beef” and no monosodium glutamate, or MSG, which is a flavor enhancer.
“We believe it’s important that consumers make informed decisions about what they eat, and so for many years have provided details of our ingredients on our website,” Rob Poetsch, Taco Bell spokesman, told

Here are some of the ingredients and what Taco Bell has to say about them:

“It sounds weird, but it’s actually a form of mildly sweet sugar we use to balance the flavor. You may have had it the last time you had a natural soda,” Taco Bell says.

“This is a form of yeast that gives our seasoned beef a more savory taste,” the company says.

“Actually, it’s derived from corn, which is a food staple in Mexican culture as well as many others. We use a small amount as a thickener and to maintain moisture in our seasoned beef. It’s common in many foods like yogurt,” Taco Bell states.

“When you prepare as much seasoned beef as we do, you don’t want it to separate. That’s what soy lecithin does. It helps (with moisture) to bind substances that would otherwise separate — like oil and water. It’s a common ingredient in many grocery staples, like chocolate bars and salad dressings,” says Taco Bell.

Taco Bell says it uses this “to help make sure our seasoned beef is the right texture.”
“They’re also commonly found in deli items, cheeses, coffee drinks and desserts,” the company says.

Taco Bell says, “This safe acid occurs in almost all living things, and we use a very small amount to manage the acidity to get the right flavor.”

Taco Bell says the caramel color “is caramelized sugar, which is a commonly used food coloring (also found in cereals and pancake syrup). Cocoa Powder doesn’t add any flavor to our recipe, but it helps our seasoned beef maintain a rich color.”

Taco Bell: “It’s a naturally occurring sugar that we use to improve the taste of our seasoned beef.”

We were especially disturbed by Taco Bell’s explanation of caramel color because it isn’t simply caramelized sugar. Two of the four types of caramel color used in food products contain known carcinogens, so the simple term “caramelized sugar” is truly misleading.

In addition, that statement about Taco Bell providing detailed ingredient information on their website … well, we guess that really depends on your idea of detailed. This is what we found on their site regarding their seasoned beef: made with 100% premium beef, seasoned with our signature recipe. We don’t see any ingredient details in that statement. is (as could be expected) not excited about Taco Bell’s detailed statement regarding the ingredients in their beef. We actually expect beef to be just that … beef. And we expect seasonings to be things like salt, cayenne pepper, chili peppers, garlic, cilantro or any of a host of other actual seasoning. We’re pretty certain that most in our community feel the same. A little ingredient insight goes a long way. Taco Bell can do better. Consumers deserve it.

Dannon commits to more nutritional yogurt with the Partnership for a Healthier America

Dannon and the Partnership for a Healthier AmericaWe’ve been questioning the nutritional quality of many of the mainstream yogurt brands for quite a while. There are plenty of products out there with bad ingredients and far too much sugar. We have been noticing, over time, that Dannon has been making some improvements to their ingredient lists in some of their products. has been pleased with the changes overall and have been hopeful about further changes coming down the road.

Dannon has recently announced along with the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) at the 2014 Building a Healthier Future Summit, a landmark commitment to further improve the nutrition profile of its yogurt products. As part of its four-part commitment, Dannon will further improve by 10 percent the nutrient density of its products in part by increasing nutrients that are encouraged in a healthy diet, while reducing total sugar and fat, and will invest in nutrition education and research focused on healthy eating habits.

Since Dannon started making yogurt in 1942, the company’s mission has been to bring great taste and better health through food to as many people as possible. Today, the company is committed to this more than ever—and this pledge to PHA, which works with the private sector and PHA Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama to help end the childhood obesity crisis, is an investment in helping make a real difference in how Americans eat.

“We applaud Mrs. Obama and Partnership for a Healthier America for their commitment to the health and future of our children and adults,” said Dannon’s President and CEO Mariano Lozano. “As the largest maker of yogurt in the United States today, it’s a privilege and a responsibility to continually improve the cultured dairy foods we carefully prepare every day for the millions of families who enjoy our products. Dannon’s commitment to Partnership for a Healthier America represents another big step in our journey to help address the issue of obesity in America.”

Dannon’s commitment goals are based on the latest nutrition science and authoritative guidance from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), which recommends that Americans consume more nutrient dense foods, like yogurt. Nutrient dense foods are those that provide more vitamins and minerals, like vitamin D and potassium, and less fat, sugar and salt. Most yogurts – already nutrient-dense – provide three of the four nutrients of public health concern most lacking in American diets as identified by the 2010 DGA: calcium, potassium and Vitamin D. Additionally, eating yogurt is associated with less weight gain and yogurt is a more easily digestible dairy option for individuals with lactose intolerance and, according to research, associated with better diet quality and healthier dietary patterns. To that point, two weeks ago, the US government authorized the inclusion of yogurt in certain Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food packages, recognizing the importance of yogurt to an increasingly diverse and vulnerable part of the US population.

“Busy families reach for yogurt as an easy snack and nutritious addition to lunch boxes across the country every day. Dannon’s commitment to reduce sugar and fat in more of its products makes healthier choices even easier for millions of parents and families,” said PHA CEO Lawrence A. Soler. “We are pleased to welcome Dannon into the PHA family.”

Dannon plans to achieve these ambitious goals by 2016 through a combination of introducing new innovations and reformulating existing products. Recipe developers and other experts at Dannon will build on their learnings from last year’s reformulation of the company’s bestselling children’s product, Danimals® smoothies, in which the company reduced sugar by 25 percent while maintaining great taste, texture and convenience. Dannon’s new introduction of a Greek yogurt, Danimals SuperStars, specifically designed for the preferences and nutritional needs of kids, already meets the strict criteria announced.

Specifically, The Dannon Company pledges to do the following by 2016:
Improve the nutrient density by 10% of the Dannon product portfolio overall by increasing nutrients that are encouraged in the diet, like Vitamin D, and decreasing total sugar and fat.

-  Reduce the amount of total sugar in Dannon products to 23 grams or less (per 6 ounce serving) in 100% of products for children and 70% of the company’s products overall.

- Reduce the amount of fat in Dannon products, so that 75% of products will be low-fat or fat-free.

- Invest $3 million in nutrition education and research focused on healthy eating habits.

These are great commitments! It’s always exciting to see major brands like Dannon embrace change for health. While there are still some concerns (artificial colors and natural flavors in a few of the varieties), Dannon is certainly headed in the right direction!

Soda sales drop as more Americans develop a taste for healthier options

U.S. Soda Sales DropEveryone in our community is well aware about our feelings about soda … a nutritionally bankrupt chemical concoction that has no place in a healthy diet. If some feel that our opinions might be a bit strong, we can point them to the ingredient lists of these products which feature items like phosphoric acid, sodium benzoate, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, Red 40, Yellow 6, and aspartame.

We’re pleased that new soda consumption research is showing that others are getting the same idea. Americans’ taste for soda has dropped to its lowest point in the past two decades, according to research by the Beverage Digest publication. Last year, the average American consumed 44 gallons of carbonated soft drinks, a drop of about 14 percent from 1998.

People are becoming more aware of what kinds of food they consume, said Denise Holston-West, a dietitian with the LSU Agricultural Center.

“Now they are probably watching what they put in their mouths because it can have impacts way down the line,” said Holston-West, an instructor for the Smart Bodies program that educates children on healthy eating.

Nutrition education programs, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate and first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, are helping teach consumers to become conscious of what they eat, she said.

Also, Holston-West said, consumers now have more beverage options than ever, with several varieties of fruit juices, bottled waters and sports drinks available.

The problem with sodas, according to Lori Gardiner, a Baton Rouge dietitian who specializes in weight management, is that carbonated drinks provide no nutrition, just calories.

“By the time you eat all the things you should, there is not a lot of room for empty calories,” Gardiner said. “That’s where excess weight would come from.”

Soda consumption is a particular concern for children. When kids consume more carbonated beverages, they often drink them instead of more beneficial choices, Holston-West said.

“They are displacing what we recommend for their milk consumption because they are drinking soft drinks or sports drinks or energy drinks,” she said.

Americans also are drinking fewer diet drinks, according to the Beverage Digest data. Last year, consumption of diet sodas sweetened with no-calorie sweeteners fell by 6 percent over the previous year.

Many consumers fear that the artificial sweeteners used in diet drinks are dangerous, Holston-West said. Aspartame, the most popular diet drink sweetener, has been studied 25 times, she said, and has been judged safe.

It’s an encouraging report, to say the least. We’re hoping that as more and more consumers become concerned with the quality and healthfulness of their diets, we’ll see a continuing trend away from soda. There are so many other beverage options with better ingredients (and taste) that make breaking the soda habit easier than many imagine. Making a pitcher of lemonade or iced tea or flavoring water with fruits or herbs are all healthier alternatives.

It’s great to learn that we’re headed in the right direction. Sometimes getting back to basics is the ultimate sign of good taste!

Health benefits of Pringles???

Pringles May Speed Removal of Toxins from the BodyThat’s right. It appears that Pringles potato chips may actually provide surprising health benefits. That’s because of a previously maligned (and some would say unpleasant) ingredient — Olestra.

Pringles potato chips, which were invented by Procter & Gamble Co. and eventually included a zero-calorie fat substitute called olestra that P&G developed in collaboration with the University of Cincinnati, might have medicinal qualities, according to UC researchers.

P&G was embarrassed by reports of gastrointestinal side effects suffered by some people who ate the potato chips after olestra was added to Pringles in 1996, but it turns out that the synthesized, non-absorbable fat substitute can speed the removal of toxins from the body.

A clinical trial led by UC researchers demonstrated that olestra, which is also known by the brand name Olean, can reduce the levels of serum polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in people who had been exposed to the toxic chemical.

“Olestra is a fat that passes through the body, and remarkably it has revealed a potential health benefit of removing PCBs,” said Ronald Jandacek, an adjunct professor in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at UC’s College of Medicine who was principal investigator in the study.

High levels of PCBs in the body are associated with an increase in hypertension and diabetes, according to UC.

“Olestra’s effect on PCB removal is apparently the result of solubilizing (dissolving or liquefying) fat-soluble compounds like PCBs in the intestine, and the solubilization reduces absorption of these compounds into the body,” Jandacek said.

The yearlong study involved 28 residents of Anniston, Ala., who had high levels of PCBs. The town once had a factory that made PCBs, which were banned in 1979 but were once used in everything from electrical equipment to paints, plastics, rubber products and copy paper.

Fourteen of the people in the study consumed 12 Pringles a day made with vegetable oil. The other 14 residents in the study consumed 24 Pringles a day made with olestra. The serving sizes varied to control for calorie count.

Those who ate the olestra chips had an 8 percent increase in the PCB rate of removal from their bodies, while those who ate the chips with vegetable oil had a 1 percent increase in the rate of removal.

“The findings showed that the rate of PCB disappearance from the participants that ate olestra was markedly faster during the one-year trial than that before the trial,” Jandacek said.

“Our early work with animal studies predicted that we would see this effect in people,” said Jandacek, who was the principal investigator on a 2005 study that found that olestra removed toxins from animals.

In the clinical trial involving people, Jandacek joined with the research group of Dr. James Heubi of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, who is affiliated with UC’s Department of Pediatrics and the UC Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training, as well as researchers at the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Jacksonville State University College of Nursing.

There are many different varieties of Pringles potato chips. The fat free versions contain Olestra, which was introduced during the “fat-free everything” days of the 1990s. The negative publicity surrounding the unpleasant effects some experienced eating foods containing Olestra took the spotlight off of the ingredient pretty quickly. certainly finds the study results fascinating, but we feel that it’s important to keep in mind that in addition to the publicized effects of this synthetic fat, Olestra also reduces the body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble carotenoids (such as alpha and beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and canthaxanthin) from fruits and vegetables. We’ll still avoid the ingredient!