Monthly Archives: September 2014

High protein diets may help lower blood pressure

SONY DSCTrendy diets. There always seems to be a new one and there always seem to be people who are willing to swear by it. Every once in a while, though, there’s a diet trend that actually proves itself over time. Eventually that diet is much more than a trend, it’s something that people can really rely on to take off excess weight AND help them live a healthier life style.

The high-protein, low carb diet comes to mind in this specific category. Thousands of dieters have attested to the idea that this specific style of eating has not only helped them shed pounds, but has also aided their health and well being. New research regarding high protein diets is revealing that those claims may actually be linked to an important health benefit.

Adults who consume a high-protein diet may be at a lower risk for developing high blood pressure (HBP). The study, published in theAmerican Journal of Hypertension, by researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), found participants consuming the highest amount of protein (an average of 100 g protein/day) had a 40 percent lower risk of having high blood pressure compared to the lowest intake level.

One of three U.S. adults has hypertension and 78.6 million are clinically obese, a risk factor for the development of hypertension. Because of the strain that it puts on blood vessel walls, HBP is one of the most common risk factors of stroke and an accelerator of multiple forms of heart disease, especially when paired with excess body weight.

The researchers analyzed protein intakes of healthy participants from the Framingham Offspring Study and followed them for development of high blood pressure over an 11-year period. They found that adults who consumed more protein, whether from animal or plant sources, had statistically significantly lower systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure levels after four years of follow-up. In general, these beneficial effects were evident for both overweight (BMI ≥25 kg/m2) and normal weight (BMI <25 kg/m2) individuals. They also found that consuming more dietary protein also was associated with lower long-term risks for HBP. When the diet also was characterized by higher intakes of fiber, higher protein intakes led to 40-60 percent reductions in risk of HBP.

“These results provide no evidence to suggest that individuals concerned about the development of HBP should avoid dietary protein. Rather, protein intake may play a role in the long-term prevention of HBP,” explained corresponding author Lynn Moore, associate professor of medicine at BUSM. “This growing body of research on the vascular benefits of protein, including this study, suggest we need to revisit optimal protein intake for optimal heart health,” she added.

FoodFacts.com is betting that this new and exciting information won’t come as any surprise to those embracing a high-protein diet. For years they’ve been touting its health benefits with things like increased energy and simple weight control. They’ll be thrilled to learn of tangible health improvements directly related to the high-protein diet. It’s certainly something to consider for our own dietary habits as well!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140911125920.htm

Baskin-Robbins picks up on the latest Fall trend with new Pumpkin Cheese Cake Ice Cream

mainLogoIt appears we no longer need to see the leaves falling from the trees around us to know that Fall has finally arrived. We just wait to see fast food chains and packaged food and beverage manufacturers introduce their new pumpkin-flavored anything to know that the new season is upon us. Pumpkin coffee, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin tea, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin pudding … there’s pumpkin everywhere!

Baskin-Robbins didn’t miss out on the pumpkin trend this year, introducing Pumpkin Cheese Cake Ice Cream.

We’re slowly discovering that many of the pumpkin options being offered don’t include any actual pumpkin, containing instead natural and/or artificial flavors. So FoodFacts.com had to investigate Baskin-Robbins latest fall addition.

We found out that in fact Pumpkin Cheese Cake Ice Cream DOES, in fact, include pumpkin in its ingredient list! But don’t get too excited — there’s more news ahead, and it isn’t all good.

Let’s start with the nutrition facts for a 4 ounce serving:

Calories:                          260
Fat:                                    12 grams
Saturated Fat:                    7 grams
Sugar:                               27 grams

Baskin-Robbins refers to a single 4 ounce scoop as a large serving. We’re not in agreement with their serving size assessment. 4 ounces of ice cream is the basic single serving size detailed on most packaged ice creams — and it’s not what most people are consuming as a serving. So we need to keep that in mind. We also need to keep in mind that the 4 ounce serving detailed on the Baskin-Robbins website contains almost 7 teaspoons of sugar, most of which (as indicated by the ingredient list) is added sugar. Please don’t misunderstand, we know it’s ice cream, but this one does appear to be somewhat over-sweetened. In addition, the ingredient list is really unpleasant, at best. Take a look:

Cream, Nonfat Milk, Cinnamon Cream Cheese Flavored Ribbon [Sugar, Cream Cheese (Pasteurized Milk and Cream, Cheese Culture, Salt, Carob Bean or Xanthan or Guar Gum), Invert Sugar, Water, Corn Starch, Spice, Caramel Color, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Natural Flavors, Annatto (Color)], Pumpkin Pie Base [Solid Pack Pumpkin, Brown Sugar (Sugar, Cane Molasses Syrup), Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Spices, Orange Juice Concentrate, Propylene Glycol, Cellulose Gum, Salt, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Citric Acid, Yellow 6], Sugar, Ginger Snaps [Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar, Molasses, Soybean Oil, Leavening (Baking Soda, Calcium Phosphate), Ginger, Salt, Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier), Sulphur Dioxide], Corn Syrup, Cheesecake Base [Corn Syrup, Water, Cheese Blend (Nonfat Milk, Cellulose Gum, Lactic Acid, Cultures), Buttermilk, Natural Flavor, Lactic Acid, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative)], Whey Powder, Stabilizer/Emulsifier Blend (Cellulose Gum, Mono and Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Polysorbate 80), Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Blue 1.

Well over 50 ingredients. Artificial color. Natural Flavor. Carrageenan, Polysorbate 80. High Fructose Corn Syrup. And that’s just a handful of the controversial ingredients featured in this ice cream. There are so many sugar additions in this list — Sugar, Brown Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Molasses — even someone with a sweet tooth might think this is overkill. Even Ben & Jerry’s Cheesecake Brownie ice cream contains less sugar per serving — and honestly, those sugar additions are actual sugar unlike what we’re finding in this new Baskin-Robbins flavor.

It occurs to us that if we’re craving pumpkin flavor, it makes sense to cook with this beautiful fall vegetable. We can find organic pumpkin puree and prepare an actual cheese cake — one that doesn’t include the ingredients featured here. O.k. – it’s won’t be ice cream. But the weather’s cooling down anyway.

So Baskin-Robbins, while you did manage to include pumpkin in this new pumpkin-flavored offering, we’ll definitely be skipping the Pumpkin Cheese Cake Ice Cream. There are better treats out there to satisfy our fall food cravings!

https://www.baskinrobbins.com/content/baskinrobbins/en/products/icecream/flavors.html?popupurl=/content/baskinrobbins/en/products/icecream/flavors/pumpkin-cheesecake-ice-cream.html

Under the Bun: Wendy’s Smoked Gouda Chicken on Brioche

iStock_000019738970SmallWendy’s newest sandwich offering almost sounds like it shouldn’t be fast food. Smoked Gouda Chicken on Brioche has a rather upscale ring to it, which was probably the intent. But let’s not forget that a fast food menu item with some higher end ingredients is still a fast food menu item.

That’s certainly true here. Plus it appears to be a bit “overloaded.”

FoodFacts.com went under the bun to find a lightly breaded, boneless chicken breast, topped with horseradish Dijon sauce, sliced red onions, spring-mix greens, caramelized onion sauce and smoked Gouda cheese on a toasted brioche bun. Have to wonder if you can still find the chicken with all the “fixins” they’re including here.

Let’s look a little closer, starting with the nutrition facts:

Calories:               600
Fat:                       28 g
Saturated Fat:       8 g
Cholesterol:       100 mg
Sodium:           1550 mg

We feel it’s important to mention that most fast food consumers choose chicken sandwiches because they feel, intuitively, that chicken sandwiches are a healthier choice than burgers. Their intuition would be incorrect here. Dave’s Hot ‘n Juicy quarter pound burger contains 20 less calories, 3 additional grams of fat, the same read on cholesterol and less sodium than the new Smoked Gouda Chicken on Brioche. Might as well have the burger.

The ingredient list for this new sandwich is huge. Take a quick look:

Bun: Enriched Wheat Flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Water, Sugar, Yeast, Buttermilk Powder (whey solids, enzyme-modified butter, maltodextrin, salt, guar gum, annatto and turmeric [color]), Egg Yolks, Butter, Salt, Dough Conditioner (wheat flour, DATEM, contains 2% or less of: silicon dioxide [flow aid], soybean oil, enzymes [wheat], calcium sulfate, salt), Dry Malt, Calcium Propionate, Dough Conditioner (degermed yellow corn flour, turmeric and paprika [color], contains 2% or less of: natural flavor), Egg Wash (eggs, water). CONTAINS: WHEAT, EGG, MILK. Chicken: Chicken Breast, Water, Seasoning (salt, autolyzed yeast extract, sugar, flavor, chicken, maltodextrin, gum arabic, silicon dioxide, lactic acid, sunflower oil, canola oil, dextrose, grill flavor [from canola oil], citric acid), Modified Potato Starch, Sodium Phosphates. Breaded With: Wheat Flour, Water, Salt, Modified Corn Starch, Leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate), Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Natural Flavor, Lactic Acid, Extractives of Turmeric. Cooked in Vegetable Oil (soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, citric acid [preservative], dimethylpolysiloxane [anti-foaming agent]). Cooked in the same oil as menu items that contain Egg and Fish (where available). CONTAINS: WHEAT. Horseradish Dijon Spread: Soybean Oil, Water, Horseradish, Egg Yolk, Dijon Mustard (water, vinegar, mustard seed, salt, white wine, pectin, citric acid, tartaric acid, sugar, spice), Distilled Vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt, Sugar, Xanthan Gum, Natural Flavor, Garlic (dehydrated), Onion (dehydrated), Corn Syrup, Molasses, Spice, Caramel Color, Oleoresin Rosemary, Tamarind. CONTAINS: EGG. Carmelized Onion Sauce: Onions, Sugar, Rice Vinegar, Caramelized Sugar, Modified Food Starch, Contains less than 2% of Caramel Color, Natural Smoke Flavor, Natural Extractives of Onion (with glycerine and other natural flavors), Salt, Xanthan Gum. Smoked Gouda Cheese: Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto Color, Natural Smoke Flavor. CONTAINS: MILK, Red Onion, Spring Mix Greens: Baby Lettuces (red & green Romaine, red & green oak, red & green leaf, lolla Rosa, tango), Spinach, Mizuna Arugula, Tatsoi, Red Chard, Green Chard.

That’s just too many ingredients for any one sandwich — and about a dozen of them are controversial.

So while the sandwich may sound like an upscale, “fancier” option, let’s not be fooled into thinking it’s actually a healthier option. Less than desirable nutrition facts and ingredients definitely place the new Smoked Gouda Chicken on Brioche on our avoid list. If you can’t contain your curiosity, you should hurry to your nearest Wendy’s, as thankfully, this one is only available for a limited time.

https://www.wendys.com/en-us/nutrition-info

Fresh fruit lovers may be reducing their risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 40%!

200472_10150133383738407_5646118_nIf you eat fresh fruit every day because you enjoy it, you may be doing something really important for your health without knowing it!

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US. Each year, 600,000 people die from heart disease and 130,000 die from stroke. But a new study finds that the risk of developing cardiovascular disease could be reduced by up to 40%, simply by eating fresh fruit every day.

The research team, led by Dr. Huaidong Du from the University of Oxford in the UK, recently presented their findings at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2014.

The results of their study came from an analysis of 451,681 individuals from five rural and five urban areas of China who were a part of the China Kadoorie Biobank – a study set up to investigate genetic and environmental causes of chronic diseases.

Dr. Du notes that numerous studies have indicated that improvements in diet and lifestyle are critical to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). But she points out that the majority of these studies have come from Western countries, with very few from China.

“China has a different pattern of CVD,” explains Dr. Du, “with stroke as the main cause compared to Western countries where ischemic heart disease is more prevalent. Previous studies have combined ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, probably due to the limited number of stroke cases in their datasets.”

She adds that given the difference in risk factors and physiology between ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, the team was particularly interested in how fruit consumption influenced the risk of these stroke subtypes.

The more fruit consumed each day, the lower the risk of CVD
Study participants had no history of CVD and were receiving no treatment for high blood pressure at baseline.

At the beginning of the study, the researchers asked the participants how much fresh fruit they ate. Fruit consumption was divided into five categories: never, monthly, 1-3 days a week, 4-6 days a week and daily.

During 7 years of follow-up, 19,300 participants developed heart disease and 19,689 had stroke, of which 14,688 were ischemic and 3,562 were hemorrhagic.

Dr. Du and her team found that participants who ate fruit every day had a 25-40% lower risk of CVD, compared with those who never ate fruit. In detail, those who ate fruit daily had a 15% lower risk of ischemic heart disease, a 25% lower risk of ischemic stroke and a 40% reduced risk of hemorrhagic stroke. Furthermore, the more fruit a person ate, the lower their risk of CVD. The average daily fruit intake was 1.5 portions (approximately 150 g).

In addition, the researchers found that participants who reported eating fruit daily had lower blood pressure at baseline, compared with those who reported never eating fruit. “We also found that the beneficial effect of fruit on the risk of CVD was independent of its impact on baseline blood pressure,” adds Dr. Du.

The team then carried out a separate analysis to see how fruit consumption affected all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in 61,000 patients who had high blood pressure or CVD at study baseline.

Overall, the researchers found that participants who ate fruit daily had a 32% lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who never ate fruit, as well as a 40% lower risk of death from stroke and a 27% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease.

Commenting on their findings, the team says:
“Our results show the benefit of eating fruit in the healthy general population and in patients with CVD and hypertension. Fruit consumption is an effective way to cut CVD risk and should not only be regarded as ‘might be useful.’

Policies are needed to promote the availability, affordability and acceptability of fresh fruit through educational and regulatory measures.”

It does seem like no one really ever complains about eating fruit. Kids love fresh fruit — apples, bananas, pears, berries, melon — all are sweet and tasty. And for adults, seasonal varieties of fruit keep our diets interesting and flavorful. Remember the old adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Worthwhile advice. FoodFacts.com hopes we all take it!

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/281903.php

New study links energy drinks to caffeine syndrome and heart problems

Heart attackAfter years of hearing about the possible relationship between energy drinks and emergency room visits and even deaths, FoodFacts.com is excited to share this important information. Finally there’s been a study conducted that takes a good look at the effects of energy drinks.

Energy drinks can cause heart problems according to research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2014 by Professor Milou-Daniel Drici from France.

During the two year study period, 257 cases of adverse effects related to energy drinks were reported, of which 212 provided sufficient information for food and drug safety evaluation. They found that 95 of the reported adverse events had cardiovascular symptoms, 74 psychiatric, and 57 neurological, sometimes overlapping. Cardiac arrests and sudden or unexplained deaths occurred at least in 8 cases, while 46 people had heart rhythm disorders, 13 had angina and 3 had hypertension.

Caffeine syndrome was the most common problem, occurring in 60 people. It is characterized by a fast heart rate (called tachycardia), tremor, anxiety and headache. The study analyzed adverse events reported between 1 January 2009 and 30 November 2012. Some 15 specialists including cardiologists, psychiatrists, neurologists and physiologists contributed to the investigation and results were compared to published data in the scientific literature.

The researchers found that consumption of the 103 energy drinks in France increased by 30% between 2009 and 2011 up to over 30 million liters. The leading brand made up 40% of energy drinks consumed. Two-thirds of drinks were consumed away from home.

Professor Drici said, “So-called ‘energy drinks’ are popular in dance clubs and during physical exercise, with people sometimes consuming a number of drinks one after the other. This situation can lead to a number of adverse conditions including angina, cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and even sudden death.”

Around 96% of these drinks contain caffeine, with a typical 0.25 litre can holding 2 espressos worth of caffeine. Caffeine is one of the most potent agonists of the ryanodine receptors and leads to a massive release of calcium within cardiac cells. This can cause arrhythmias, but also has effects on the heart’s abilities to contract and to use oxygen. In addition, 52% of drinks contain taurine, 33% have glucuronolactone and two-thirds contain vitamins.

“In 2008 energy drinks were granted marketing authorization in France. In 2009 this was accompanied by a national nutritional surveillance scheme which required national health agencies and regional centers to send information on spontaneously reported adverse events to the A.N.S.E.S, the French agency for food safety.”

Rare but severe adverse events were also associated with these drinks, such as sudden or unexplained death, arrhythmia and heart attack (myocardial infarction). Their literature search confirmed that these conditions can be related to consumption of energy drinks.

Drici added,”Patients with cardiac conditions including catecholaminergic arrhythmias, long QT syndrome and angina should be aware of the potential danger of a large intake of caffeine, which is a stimulant that can exacerbate their condition with possibly fatal consequences.

“The general public need to know that so-called ‘energy drinks’ have absolutely no place during or after physical exercise, as compared with other drinks designed for that purpose. When used in long alcoholic cocktails, the caffeine in ‘energy drinks’ enables young people in dance clubs or elsewhere to overcome the unwanted effects of alcohol, leading to an even greater intake of caffeine.

“Patients rarely mention consumption of energy drinks to their doctors unless they are asked. Doctors should warn patients with cardiac conditions about the potential dangers of these drinks and ask young people in particular whether they consume such drinks on a regular basis or through binge drinking.”

Energy drinks are too popular. They’re too popular among teens, young adults and adults. And regardless of whether or not any direct links have been found between the enormous increase of emergency room visits and deaths that have involved energy drink consumption, these drinks are dangerous. This new research certainly reflects that and is just the beginning of what we’re certain will be many new revelations regarding the importance of avoiding energy drinks.

http://www.science20.com/news_articles/caffeine_syndrome_energy_drinks_linked_to_heart_problems-143804

Almond milk comes to Dunkin’s menu!

iStock_000012631569SmallIf you’re vegan or avoiding dairy, Dunkin’ Donuts has great news for you!

Dunkin’ Donuts, through a partnership with Blue Diamond, is now offering Blue Diamond vanilla flavored Almond Breeze Almondmilk for customers desiring a dairy-free option. According to a press release, certain locations throughout the country will now be able to accommodate customers looking to avoid dairy. When asked, Dunkin’ said that almond milk is the first dairy-free option they have ever offered in most locations nationwide, although some franchises already offer soy milk that is purchased locally. Most of their traditional donuts do not contain milk or eggs, but since they can come in contact with such products, they can’t be labeled as “vegan.”

“Based on an increasing number of customer requests, we began to explore options for expanding our menu with a non-dairy alternative to milk and cream,” said John Costello, president of global marketing and innovation for Dunkin’ Brands, the chain’s parent company. “We believe adding Almond Breeze Almondmilk now gives our guests a unique and delicious new way to enjoy our famous coffee or lattes.”

To draw attention to the addition of almond milk last week offering various prizes to participants. To find a Dunkin’ near you that has almond milk, go to the store locator on DunkinDonuts.com and look for a location with an “AM” symbol next to it.

FoodFacts.com knows that many of our own community members look for dairy free options that they consider healthy. We’re sure this will be a welcome addition to the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee line-up that will be readily embraced by consumers.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2014/09/05/dunkin-adds-almond-milk-menu/hb2q7YkMwhXKwtAaU0fVKJ/story.html

Live from your local Scoop Shop …. Saturday Night Live Ice Cream flavors from Ben & Jerry’s!

promo_bandj-snlEven FoodFacts.com loves the occassional ice cream. But it has to be real ice cream made with real ingredients. You know the kind … thick and creamy. Ice cream that actually melts because when real ice cream warms up that’s what it does, leaving a wonderfully thickened liquid in the bottom of its small cup.

For consumers everywhere, Ben & Jerry’s is the favored brand of ice cream. And in many ways — like their move against GMO ingredients — there are good reasons for that. More, than anything though, consumers love hearing about the new flavors Ben & Jerry’s is constantly introducing to their customers. And that’s what we’re featuring here today.

Are you ready for some crazy deliciousness? Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is releasing four brand-new flavors in conjunction with Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary. The newest flavors include “Lazy Sunday,” based on the infamous Lonely Island sketch, as well as “Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch,” inspired by the crazy, but well-meaning, bow-wearing girl played by Kristen Wiig, as well as two additional yet-to-be-announced flavors. We can’t tell you yet about the other two, but a little birdie may have hinted that the remaining funny flavors will be announced in the next couple of months!

Lazy Sunday, of course, is based off of a love for delicious cupcakes. (Sorry, no red vines included!). The flavor features cake batter ice cream with chocolate and yellow cupcake pieces and chocolate frosting swirl.
And you won’t be “sorry” about the decadent Gilly flavor, made with chocolate and sweet cream ice creams, with caramel clusters, fudge-covered almonds, and marshmallow swirl.

“Our fans have a great sense of humor and we share their affinity for the comic genius of Saturday Night Live,” said Lisa Sholk, Ben and Jerry’s Marketing Manager. “We loved the challenge of creating ice cream personalities for these iconic sketches.”

For the purists among us here are the ingredients listed on the Ben & Jerry’s website.

Lazy Sunday:
Cream, Skim Milk, Water, Liquid Sugar (Sugar, Water), Dried Cane Syrup, Wheat Flour, Sugar, Egg Yolks, Soy Bean Oil, Corn Syrup, Coconut Oil, Butter (Cream, Salt), Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Cocoa, Eggs, Vanila Extract, Chocolate Liquor, Natural Flavors, Salt, Guar Gum, Baking Powder (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Corn Starch, Monocalcium Phosphate), Turmeric (for color), Soy Lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Carrageenan.

Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch:
Cream, Skim MIlk, Liquid Sugar (Sugar, Water), Water, Corn Syrup, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Roasted Almonds (Almonds, Peanut Oil), Dried Cane Syrup, Sugar, Coconut Oil, Egg Yolks, Cocoa, Egg Whites, Rolled Oats (Wheat), Salt, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla Extract, Butteroil, Guar Gum, Natural Flavors, Pectin, Rice Syrup, Brown Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, Carrageenan, Paprike Extract (color) Molasses, Baking Soda, Sea Salt, Canola Oil.

We’ve still got some work to do with both of these flavors — like getting rid of the natural flavors and the carrageenan.

If these sound good to you remember you won’t be able to buy packaged pints of your favorite SNL flavor at the local grocery store, because these flavors are only available in scoop or pint form at Ben and Jerry’s scoop shops across America.

http://www.thedailymeal.com/news/live-ben-and-jerry-s-it-s-saturday-night-live-ice-cream/61914

New study finds food labels mislead consumers about trans fat. Surprised?

????????????????????????????????????Nope. Not a bit. That’s because current food labels do mislead consumers when it comes to trans fat.

People may be consuming more trans fat than they think, as a result of misleading food labels, according to a study from the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Researchers examined 4,340 top-selling packaged foods and found that 9 percent contained partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fat. But of those foods, 84 percent claimed on their packaging to have “0 grams” of trans fat.

The amount of trans fat in these products varied from small traces to almost 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, the researchers said.

Under the rules of the Food and Drug Administration, foods that contain less than 0.5 g of trans fat per serving must be labeled with “0 g” of trans fat.
“This labeling is cause for concern because consumers, seeing the 0 g trans fat on the nutrition facts label, are probably unaware that they are consuming trans fat,” the researchers wrote in their study, published in the in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

Trans fat is a specific type of fat that is formed when hydrogen is added to liquid oils to turn them into solid fats. The FDA has tentatively determined that partially hydrogenated oils are not “generally recognized as safe” for consumption. If the FDA makes a final determination, trans fat would become an illegal food additive.

People who consume trans fat may be at higher risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes, studies have suggested.

The food products examined in the study ranged from cookies to salad dressing and canned soup.

“Our analysis demonstrates that industrial trans fat is still common in U.S. packaged foods, particularly in some food categories,” the researchers said.
For example, half of the foods in the potato chips category, and 35 percent of cookies contained trans fat, according to the report.

FoodFacts.com has been reporting on this phenomenon for years. Long story short — only educated and nutritionally aware consumers understand that 0 trans fat doesn’t always equal 0. As long as the product in question contains less than .5 grams, the manufacturer is permitted to list trans fat content as 0. The concern of course, is that if the consumer eats more than a single serving of that product, the trans fat can quickly add up. Take cookies for example, which were included in this research. An average serving size of cookies as listed on most packaging is three cookies. If you eat six cookies that contain .5 grams of trans fat per serving of three, you’ve consumed one gram of trans fat. Throw some canned soup in the mix for the day and maybe some potato chips and it’s really difficult to know exactly how much trans fat you’ve consumed in that 24 hour period.

This is a great reminder for those who already understand the facts about trans fat — and a great learning opportunity for those who didn’t yet understand — that just because you think it doesn’t contain trans fat, doesn’t mean that’s the case. We’re crossing our fingers that the proposed trans fat ban does become reality. In the meantime, let’s all remember that when it comes to nutrition labels, not every 0 represents the same thing.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/consumers-beware-misleading-labels-hide-trans-fats/

There’s an all-important ingredient missing from Starbucks famous Pumpkin Spice Latte … and it’s not the espresso

starbucks (1)You probably can guess that FoodFacts.com has the utmost respect and admiration for Food Babe, Vani Hari. She’s never afraid to take on food manufacturers and challenge them to change. Her efforts have led to many successes that are helping consumers enjoy healthier options. Hari’s writing has prompted petitions that forced Subway to remove azodicarbonamide from its bread, criticized pizza chains for using MSG, and even convinced Chick-fil-A to phase out chicken given antibiotics.

Hari’s latest investigation is aimed at Starbucks, specifically its pumpkin spice latte, with an August 25 blog post titled “You’ll never guess what’s in a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte. (Hint: You won’t be happy).”

As with many of her investigations, the Food Babe’s most pressing concern begins with Starbucks’ failure to disclose ingredients for all of its beverages online. Hari writes:

While they list some ingredients on their website, they still do not list the ingredients in their most popular items: their drinks! This includes all of their lattes, frappuccinos, macchiatos, smoothies, etc.

Indeed, Starbucks.com lists the ingredients only for all its food items — but no beverages. However, the issue is something the company says it’s working to amend.

“With more than 170,000 ways to customize your Starbucks beverage, listing ingredients can be very complex. We’ve been working on listing our core beverage recipes online via Starbucks.com, same as we do with our food, and hope to have an update in the near future,” a media spokesperson said Wednesday via email.

The Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte is a superstar in the coffee world. It has millions of afficionados. Consumers wait patiently for the beverage to reappear in Starbucks locations nationwide every fall. Unfortunately, it appears that it lacks an all-important ingredient. There’s no actual pumpkin in the beverage.

In her post, Hari goes on to list several “harmful” ingredients found in Starbucks’ most popular beverage, the PSL, including IV caramel coloring, Monsanto milk, pesticide residue, artificial flavors, preservatives, and sulfites.

The ingredient list reads as follows:

Milk, Espresso (Water, Brewed Espresso Coffee), Pumpkin Spice Flavored Sauce (Sugar, Condensed Nonfat Milk, High Fructose Corn Syrup or Sweetened Condensed Nonfat Milk (Milk, Sugar), Annatto (for color), Natural and Artificial Flavors, Caramel Color (class IV), Salt, Potassium Sorbate (preservative)), Whip Cream (Whipping Cream, Starbucks Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Caramel Color (class IV)), Pumpkin Spice Topping: Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Clove, Sulfites.

While Starbucks did not respond to questions about the Food Babe’s pumpkin spice latte blog post — including whether it has affected the company’s decision to make any changes to the drink — the media representative confirmed that the company is actively working to remove the caramel coloring from its beverage syrup.

“We are actively looking at phasing out caramel coloring, though we don’t have timing to share,” the media spokesperson said. “In any instances where it is used in our beverages, the level is well below the No Significant Risk Level (NSRL) and safe to consume.”

While Hari’s claim that the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte contains absolutely no real pumpkin is also true, it appears Starbucks is going with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” stance. According to the spokesperson, the coffee giant won’t be giving in on that one anytime soon.

“The idea behind the Pumpkin Spice Latte has always been to have an espresso-forward beverage, which is core to what Starbucks is known for, infused with pumpkin-inspired flavors and spices of the fall season,” she said. “The PSL has become the company’s most popular seasonal beverage of all time, and we have no plans to change the recipe.”

So, if we’ve got this right, Starbucks most popular, widely embraced fall beverage will continue to offer consumers the great taste of pumpkin without ever including any pumpkin in its ingredient list. It was designed to bring you the taste of pumpkin with natural and artificial flavor (not to mention at least a few other questionable ingredients) and it’s just fine the way it is. Except for the caramel coloring — which Starbucks is “working on” replacing, but isn’t ready to do quite yet.

Hmmm. Kind of makes you wonder how the Pumpkin Spice Latte managed to rise to its current stratospheric level of popularity. Go Food Babe.

http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/cleanplatecharlie/2014/08/starbucks_to_food_babe_no_plans_to_put_real_pumpkin_in_pumpkin_spice_latte.php

Can high salt intake be related to the risk for multiple sclerosis?

World Multiple Sclerosis DaySalt. It seems like it’s always in the news. Too much is unhealthy. Too little might be unhealthy. The majority of our sodium intake is coming from the processed foods in our grocery stores, not from the salt shakers in our kitchens. Certain food products are just about guaranteed to contain more sodium than others. The list goes on. But no matter how the latest news is reported, a few basic ideas remain consistent. We need sodium in our diets to help our bodies function properly, but too much is unhealthy — and the majority of us are getting much too much. And much too much can result in things like high blood pressure and the buildup of fluid in people with congestive heart failure and kidney disease. But are there any other health problems that can be linked to our excessive salt habit?

A novel study has unveiled that there might be an association between salt consumption and multiple sclerosis (MS) risk.

Currently, multiple sclerosis is considered to be an autoimmune disease. Previous studies have indicated that salt may alter the autoimmune disease. Keeping that factor in mind, researchers carried out the study to know if salt has a direct effect on the course of the disease.

The study was of observational nature. For the study, participants with relapsing-remitting MS were recruited and were divided into two groups. The first group had 70 patients. For two years in the follow-up period, clinical, radiology and sodium intake data was gathered.

For a year after enrolment, blood and urine samples were taken. Researchers measured level of salt and creatinine, a marker of inflammatory activity, in urine samples. Other things measured were serum sodium and vitamin D levels, as low level of it has been linked with MS.

The second group had 52 volunteers. Urine samples were collected and were assessed as per the same procedure used in the first group. Researchers found that volunteers who had high salt intake were four times more like to have severe MS symptoms.

Researchers considered the factors like age, gender, disease duration, smoking status, vitamin D levels, body mass index and treatment. When comparison was done on individual basis, people having moderate or high salt were found to witness around three times more progression in the systems and four times more likely to experience exacerbating symptoms.
“Findings suggest further research into whether dietary salt reduction could ease MS symptoms or slow the progression of the disease might now be warranted”, affirmed researchers.

FoodFacts.com can’t help but mention the onslaught of research we’ve seen lately revealing new insights into our food and ingredient consumption. This particular study showing a link between sodium and the progression of of multiple sclerosis symptoms is eye-opening and very unexpected. As we learn more about the unfortunate effects of excessive sodium consumption, we are encouraged by the idea that the preparation of fresh foods, in our own kitchens contributes to our health and well being. Just another reason to avoid the processed foods that contain too many and too much of a long list of things that don’t contribute to our health.

http://newsmaine.net/20449-high-salt-intake-may-be-linked-increased-ms-disease-activity-study