Category Archives: almonds

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

The newest great debate: almond milk

iStock_000024341410SmallHere at FoodFacts.com we have a pretty clear idea about how consumers have embraced almond milk. There are many in our community who absolutely adore it. They go to great lengths to find brands with clean ingredient lists. They’re thrilled that there’s a common alternative to cow’s milk that isn’t soy based, that’s not lacking in flavor and is actually healthy.

Now, though, because of a simple article out of Mother Jones a great debate about the finer points of almond milk is raging across the Web.

Blame Tom Philpott, a Mother Jones food writer whose inflammatorily-titled essay, “Lay Off the Almond Milk, You Ignorant Hipsters,” has been raising ire, defensiveness, and amusement since it was published last Wednesday.

“What’s the point of almond milk, exactly?” Philpott asks in his perplexingly annoyed screed, just 16 lines before deftly answering his own question (to avoid lactose and soy, to boycott the less-than-compassionate dairy industry, and to still have something to put on your cereal). He admits that he’s a bit clueless about the whole thing. “Evidently, I’m out of step with the times on this one. ‘Plant-based milk’ behemoth White Wave reports that its first-quarter sales of almond milk were up 50 percent from the same period in 2013,” he writes, adding that the company’s CEO announced during a May earnings call that almond milk now makes up about two-thirds of the country’s plant-based milk market, beating out soy milk (which has a 30-percent market share) and other players like rice and coconut milks.

Still, he goes on to swipe at almond-milk drinkers for being fooled into thinking the following: that the beverage is packed with nutrition, that it’s free of additives, and that it’s worth its price, concluding that “the almond-milk industry is selling you a jug of filtered water clouded by a handful of ground almonds.” Which is not quite a shocker to anyone who has ever bothered to read a nutrition label.

So what is Philpott — who chooses to drink the fermented milk product kefir — so worked up about, exactly? It’s kind of unclear. But that hasn’t stopped all sorts of foodies, vegans, and lactose-intolerant folks from weighing in.

Celeb nutritionist and NYU professor Marion Nestle also stands with Philpott, responding to his piece in an email to Yahoo Health. She notes, “Oh what fun. I couldn’t have done this better myself.” Regarding almond milk being a good option for those with concerns about dairy or soy, she says, “Option for what? Milk is not essential in the diet. The nutrients it provides are provided by many other foods. If people like the taste of almond milk it can be used like cow’s milk, but its nutritional value is pretty low unless people drink a lot of it.”

Beth Greenfield, over at Yahoo, raised a few points with a little help from Matt Ruscigno, a California-based vegan nutritionist and athlete (who agrees, incidentally, that there’s some marketing magic involved in selling a product that is mostly water):

Hipster factor: “It’s a million-dollar market — it’s not just hipsters,” Ruscigno wisely notes. “It’s mostly moms and everyday people looking for an alternative to dairy milk out of concern for animals, lactose intolerance, and other health concerns.”

Environmental footprint: Philpott has a fixation on almonds this week; on Monday, he wrote about how increased demand for the nut is contributing to California’s drought. Now he’s worried about all the water in almond milk cartons. “The water that’s added isn’t wasted, we are drinking it,” Ruscigno points out. “It’s not like beef, where it becomes runoff. He acts like it’s the same.” And what about the cruelty factor of dairy? Philpott admits that the industry of producing cow milk is “nasty.” Not nasty enough to quit the kefir, apparently.

Inflated price: “If we are talking about value, we have to point out that dairy is subsidized by the U.S. government in almost every step,” Ruscigno notes. “It’s artificially cheaper. If that wasn’t the case, then dairy milk would cost way more. It’s unfair to only point to almond milk’s expenses and ignore the big culprit.”

Additives: Philpott calls out commercial almond milk for containing additives such as carrageenan, a seaweed-derived thickener with much-debated health concerns, and vitamins (such as D and the synthetic A palmitate, the latter of which is found in kefir, by the way). Fine. True enough. But there’s a really, really easy solution: Make your own almond milk. It’s slightly cheaper, more delicious, and a cinch to pull off. Here are two awesome options from nut-milk-loving friends, one basic, the other a bit fancy. As for the missing nutrients? Make it up in other places. Simple.

FoodFacts.com would like to point out that while it is certainly true that many mainstream brands of almond milk do, in fact, contain additives like carrageenan, it is absolutely possible to find brands that do not. And while Ms. Greenfield is correct that it’s pretty simple to make your own almond milk — and we know many people who do — if you aren’t so inclined, it’s not incredibly difficult to find a brand without additives.

In regard to almond milk being “filtered water clouded by a handful of ground almonds” and not much more, Philpott is being rather short-sighted. Almond milk isn’t cow’s milk, so its nutritional benefits are going to be different from its counterpart. That doesn’t make almond milk nutritionally vacant. Quite the contrary, it does have its unique benefits. If Philpott looked a bit closer he would find that almond milk is heart healthy, containing no cholesterol or saturated fat and being high in Omega 3 fatty acids. It’s high in the antioxidant vitamin E so it may help to prevent cancer and stave off signs of aging. It’s also rich in flavanoids that may help prevent degenerative diseases like osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes. While cow’s milk is fortified to provide vitamins and minerals like copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and selenium, all of these occur naturally in almond milk. And let’s not forget that almond milk is naturally low in fat and calories, containing only 40 calories and 3 grams of fat per serving — and that fat is healthier fat than the fat we consume from cow’s milk.

So while Marion Nestle is correct that cow’s milk is not essential to the human diet, for those humans who like pouring milk over their cereal or their oatmeal or in their coffee or tea who are looking for an alternative, we still think there are plenty of benefits to almond milk. There’s really no debating it.

https://www.yahoo.com/health/almond-milk-the-great-divider-92163928887.html

Control hunger … snack on almonds

FoodFacts.com knows that there snacking has become an issue of sorts here in the U.S. There are so many unhealthy snack choices that surround us daily. Our grocery shelves are filled with them. Most contain countless questionable ingredients, too much salt and too much sugar. And our snack habits have contributed to our current struggles with obesity. We need some help choosing snacks that will work to curtail hunger that don’t work to put on the pounds. Today we read some interesting information that may provide that help.

A new study published in the October issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that study participants eating 1.5 ounces of dry-roasted, lightly salted almonds every day experienced reduced hunger and improved dietary vitamin E and monounsaturated (“good”) fat intake without increasing body weight.

An estimated 97% of Americans are consuming at least one snack per day. In light of increasing snacking frequency and snack size among U.S. adults, combined with continued increases in obesity rates and widespread nutrient shortfalls, it becomes increasingly important to identify snacks that pose little risk for weight gain while providing health benefits.

The newly published four-week randomized, controlled clinical study, led by researchers at Purdue University, investigated the effects of almond snacking on weight and appetite.
The study included 137 adult participants at increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Participants were divided into five groups: a control group that avoided all nuts and seeds, a breakfast meal group and lunch meal group that ate 1.5 ounces of almonds each with their daily breakfast or lunch, and a morning snack group and afternoon snack group that each consumed 1.5 ounces of almonds between their customary meals. All almond snacks were eaten within approximately two hours after their last meal and two hours before their next meal.

Participants were not given any other dietary instruction other than to follow their usual eating patterns and physical activity. Participant compliance to consuming almonds was monitored through self-reported dietary intake assessments and fasting vitamin E plasma levels. Despite consuming approximately 250 additional calories per day from almonds, participants did not increase the total number of calories they ate and drank over the course of the day or gain weight over the course of the four-week study.

“This research suggests that almonds may be a good snack option, especially for those concerned about weight,” says Richard Mattes, PhD, MPH, RD, distinguished professor of nutrition science at Purdue University and the study’s principal investigator. “In this study, participants compensated for the additional calories provided by the almonds so daily energy intake did not rise and reported reduced hunger levels and desire to eat at subsequent meals, particularly when almonds were consumed as a snack.”

The new study suggests snacking can be a weight-wise strategy, depending upon the foods consumed. The combined positive effects of daily almond consumption seen in participants on hunger, appetite control, and vitamin E and monounsaturated fat intake without any impact on body weight suggests almonds are a smart snack choice that can help support a healthy weight.

FoodFacts.com likes this research for a number of reasons. We know folks like to snack. And we know that healthy snack options aren’t always as convenient as people might like. Often, grabbing that bag of chips or snack cake off the rack is easier than planning and preparing a snack to travel with you during the day. Almonds are actually pretty convenient. They don’t require preparation. They travel easily. And portion sizing is simple. They’re healthy for many reasons and they can stave off hunger until your next meal. Easy. Satisfying. Nutritionally valuable. We should all give this a try!

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/267214.php

Arginine may have anti-diabetic effect

As FoodFacts.com reports on new findings regarding the increase in Type 2 diabetes in our population, we always keep in mind that almost 400 million people worldwide are living with chronic diabetes – 90% of whom are suffering from Type 2 diabetes which is largely lifestyle-related. Today we read promising new information regarding the effects of the amino acid arginine as it relates specifically to the treatment of this common form of the condition.

New experiments conducted by researchers from the University of Copenhagen show that the amino acid arginine — found in a wide variety of foods such as salmon, eggs and nuts — greatly improves the body’s ability to metabolise glucose. Arginine stimulates a hormone linked to the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and works just as well as several established drugs on the market. The research findings have just been published in the scientific journal Endocrinology.

In new experiments, researchers from the University of Copenhagen working in collaboration with a research group at the University of Cincinnati, USA, have demonstrated that the amino acid arginine improves glucose metabolism significantly in both lean (insulin-sensitive) and obese (insulin-resistant) mice.

“In fact, the amino acid is just as effective as several well-established drugs for type 2 diabetics,” says postdoc Christoffer Clemmensen. He has conducted the new experiments based at Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. He is currently conducting research at the Institute for Diabetes and Obesity at Helmholtz Zentrum München, the German Research Centre for Environmental Health in Munich.
To test the effect of the amino acid arginine, researchers subjected lean and obese animal models to a so-called glucose tolerance test, which measures the body’s ability to remove glucose from the blood over time.

“We have demonstrated that both lean and fat laboratory mice benefit considerably from arginine supplements. In fact, we improved glucose metabolism by as much as 40% in both groups. We can also see that arginine increases the body’s production of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), an intestinal hormone which plays an important role in regulating appetite and glucose metabolism, and which is therefore used in numerous drugs for treating type 2 diabetes,” says Christoffer Clemmensen, and continues:
“You cannot, of course, cure diabetes by eating unlimited quantities of arginine-rich almonds and hazelnuts. However, our findings indicate that diet-based interventions with arginine-containing foods can have a positive effect on how the body processes the food we eat.”

The new findings provide optimism for better and more targeted drugs for treating type 2 diabetes; the outlook is long-term, but promising.

FoodFacts.com is always excited by the prospect that future treatments for Type 2 diabetes – and any other debilitating health condition – may actually become dietary in nature. Whole, fresh, natural foods contain the nutrients we need to help us maintain optimal health … and they may just prove to help our bodies in ways we are just beginning to realize.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130909121954.htm

One in Twelve U.S. Children May suffer from Food Allergies

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Foodfacts.com realizes that more and more children are now suffering from food allergies. Nearly 6 million U.S. children or about one in 12 kids are allergic to at least one food, with peanuts, milk and shellfish topping the list of the most common allergens, a new study finds.

Researchers conducted a nationally representative survey of the parents of more than 40,000 children. About 8 percent reported having a child who had a food allergy. Of those, about 30 percent said their child was allergic to multiple foods.

Among kids with food allergies, 25 percent were allergic to peanuts, 21 percent were allergic to milk and 17 percent had an allergy to shellfish. Those were followed by tree nuts (13 percent), eggs (nearly 10 percent), finned fish (6 percent), strawberries (5 percent), wheat (5 percent), and soy (just under 5 percent).

While the study was a snapshot of the prevalence of food allergies in America and did not track change over time, researchers said anecdotal evidence — including reports from schools and the numbers of patients coming in to allergists’ offices — suggests that the rate is rising.

“Eight percent is a pretty significant amount of kids,” said lead study author Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University and a pediatrician at Children’s Memorial Hospital, both in Chicago. “We are seeing a lot more cases. We are seeing a lot more in schools than we used to see. It does seem that food allergy is on the rise.”

The study is published in the July issue of Pediatrics.

Allergic reactions to foods can range from mild to severe. In the survey, about 61 percent of food allergic children had a mild to moderate reaction, including swelling of the lips and face, hives, itching, flushing or an eczema flare.

The remaining 39 percent had a severe or even potentially life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis — wheezing and trouble breathing, vomiting, swelling, persistent coughing that indicates airway swelling and a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

The foods most commonly associated with a severe reaction included tree nuts and peanuts, shellfish, soy and finned fish.eatingpeanutsduringpregnancymayincreasechildrensriskoffoodallergies_2248_800211243_0_0_7052658_300

“Especially for kids with multiple food allergies, it complicates their lives and makes it really tough on these kids to avoid multiple foods to stay healthy and stay alive,” Gupta said.

Parents of children with food allergies should always carry antihistamine and an epinephrine shot (i.e., an EpiPen) with them, Gupta said. Even with those close at hand, witnessing a child having a serious food reaction can be terrifying for parents, who don’t know how bad it’s going to get and need to decide within moments whether to administer the shot and call 911.

Often, reactions happen when parents least expect them — while they’re at a family gathering or some other social event, and the child accidentally ingests something.

Dr. Susan Schuval, a pediatric allergist at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., agreed that food allergies seem to be getting more common.

“We are seeing tons and tons of food allergies. There also seems to be an increase from what we’ve seen in the past,” Schuval said.

Right now, the only treatment available to most food allergic kids is avoidance. For parents and children, that means paying close attention to labels, taking precautions when eating out, bringing along their own food when they travel or go to social events such as birthday parties. It also means educating teachers, caregivers and other parents who may have their kids over to play about using an epinephrine shot and the seriousness of the allergy.

“They need to maintain their full alertness out of the home, in the schools and in restaurants,” Schuval said.

For some children, food allergies get better over time. Previous research has found many kids outgrow allergies to milk, egg, soy and wheat. Fewer outgrow peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish allergies.

A wheat allergy is different from celiac disease, in which wheat cannot be digested properly and, over time, damages the lining of the intestines.

For more information on food allergies and how to avoid them check out blog.foodfacts.com.

Information provided by: MSN News

5 Healthy Snacks that will give you energy

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Some snacks enhance energy levels, while others leave us feeling depleted. The key to choosing a satisfying snack that will give you energy to burn is understanding how certain foods fuel energy.

Not all calories are equal. High-calorie processed foods can certainly provide a quick boost, but the result is fleeting and inevitably followed by a low period when blood sugar plummets. Energy-efficient snacks, on the other hand, balance high-quality calories with the nutrients needed to convert calories into enduring energy.

If that’s not enough to appeal to your appetite, consider this: Increased energy naturally improves your mood. Try these five energy-enhancing snacks for a happy high.

1. Almonds
Almonds are packed with a potent combination of energy-enriching nutrients, including manganese, vitamin E, magnesium, tryptophan, copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and phosphorus. Magnesium has been called a miracle mineral because of its multifunctional capabilities: In addition to being an essential part of more than 300 biological processes, magnesium aids in the production of energy, supports the immune system, improves sleep patterns, relaxes muscles, relieves stress and anxiety, and boosts mood.

The protein and fiber in almonds stabilizes blood sugar and slows digestion, which helps regulate energy, so you have steady reserves over time. Healthy fats like the kind found in almonds have been found to curb appetite and prevent overeating that can result in weight gain and its accompanying feelings of fatigue. The fat and fiber in almonds also contribute a feeling of satiety that helps prevent mindless snacking. For these reasons, almonds and other nuts are frequently recommended as part of a healthy diet for people looking to lose weight.

Rev it up: Spread almond butter on whole-grain crackers, or combine a handful of raw almonds with unsweetened dried fruit for a satisfying snack full of fiber and protein.

yogurt

2. Yogurt
Yogurt is full of calcium, phosphorus, protein, tryptophan, molybdenum, and zinc. It’s also a great source of vitamins B2 (riboflavin), B5 (pantothenic acid), and B12 (cobalamin). Thanks to its liquid-like state, the nutrients in yogurt are assimilated quickly and easily during digestion, which means you get an immediate boost of energy. Yogurt’s high protein content means that energy also has staying power.

Protein-rich snacks like yogurt can even pump up your probability for ditching the pounds. Since protein takes time to digest, you’ll feel satisfied for longer — which means less snacking and fewer calorie splurges throughout the day.

Yogurt also supplies the brain with tyrosine, an amino acid that boosts blood levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, resulting in a mood and mental boost. In a number of studies, tyrosine has also been effective at fighting fatigue.

Rev it up: Control your sugar intake by opting for unsweetened yogurt, and up the energy ante by adding chopped walnuts or ground flaxseed — both will add protein and omega-3 fatty acids for extended energy. Sweeten to taste with a drizzle of raw honey or pure maple syrup.

pineapple

3. Pineapple
Pineapple is one of summer’s most popular fruits simply because it’s so delicious. But if you want more reasons, look no further: A rich source of manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B1 (thiamin), copper, fiber, and vitamin B6, this juicy fruit is a super snack for fueling energy.

Thanks to high levels of naturally occurring sugar (fructose), dietary fiber, and water, fresh pineapple is nature’s equivalent of a kick in the pants. The carbohydrate-rich fructose breaks down quickly for an immediate energy boost, while the fiber slows digestion for long-lasting results. Pineapple’s energy-extending capabilities don’t stop there: Manganese and thiamin are both essential in energy production and help metabolize carbohydrates. And the vitamin B6 in pineapple plays a part in converting tryptophan into serotonin in the brain for a natural mood booster.

In terms of energy, digestion is one of the costliest bodily functions. The good news: Pineapple contains bromelain, which contains a number of enzymes that help improve digestion. In addition, eating fluid-filled foods like pineapple can help prevent dehydration, one of the most common culprits of zapped energy. Water is necessary for every bodily function, including converting calories into energy, and even a slight dip in fluids leads to physical and mental fatigue.

Rev it up: Pair pineapple with protein-rich yogurt or nonfat cottage cheese. The combination of carbs and protein is ideal for stable and enduring energy.

A wheat field with blue sky background

4. Whole wheat snacks
Whole grains — especially whole wheat — are full of essential nutrients that energize both body and brain, including fiber; manganese; magnesium; iron; protein; carbohydrates; and vitamins B1, B2, and B3. Whole wheat is loaded with energizing B vitamins, which fight fatigue, maintain energy levels, stabilize blood sugar, improve sleep patterns, coordinate nerve and muscle activity, and boost mood.

Simple carbs like white bread and sweets provide a quick surge of energy, but the results are temporary. What’s more, the energy comes courtesy of a spike in blood sugar; once that subsides, you’ll feel depleted and fatigued. The complex carbohydrates in whole wheat, however, are absorbed more slowly, which translates into stable blood sugar levels for hours at a time and gradual, lasting energy.

Carbs are also full of tryptophan, the amino acid precursor to the feel-good chemical serotonin produced in the brain. Too much tryptophan can trigger a spike in serotonin that leads to drowsiness, though, so the key is to pick healthy carbohydrates such as whole grain toast, which is full of fiber, to slow digestion and regulate the flow of serotonin. That way, you’ll get a happy mood boost without the drowsiness.

Rev it up: Combining whole grains with protein is a classic energy-extending combination. Try whole-wheat crackers dipped in low-fat cottage cheese, or top whole wheat toast with your favorite sugar-free nut butter.

edamame

5. Edamame
Edamame, or boiled soybeans, are a great pick-me-up because they’re easy to make, easy to transport, and fun to eat right out of the shell. Soybeans are full of nutrients that contribute directly to a boost in energy as well as mood.

A single cup of edamame provides 116 percent of the recommended daily amount of tryptophan, which helps regulate appetite, enhance sleep, and improve mood — three factors that play a significant role in affecting energy levels. In the same serving, you’ll get 57 percent of the recommended amount of protein, 43 percent of your daily omega-3 fatty acids, 41 percent of fiber, and 49 percent of your daily iron — all important contributors to sustained energy.

Soybeans are also super-rich in molybdenum, an essential trace mineral that helps cells function properly, facilitates the use of iron reserves, aids in metabolizing fat and carbohydrates, enhances alertness, improves concentration, and helps balance blood sugar levels. All of these functions are crucially linked to the production and sustainability of energy. Molybdenum also helps prevent anemia, a common culprit of iron-deficiency-related fatigue.

Plus, soybeans are packed with folate, a natural mood booster that’s been shown to increase serotonin levels and improve symptoms of depression.

Rev it up: Combine half a cup of soybeans with equal parts shredded carrots, presoaked sea vegetables such as hijiki or wakame (two types of seaweed), and a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar for a savvy salad loaded with protein, fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. Optional: Top with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds.