Category Archives: calories

Panera Bread brings back the Steak & White Cheddar Panini

panera_horiz_logoWe know that Panera Bread has plenty of fans. There’s plenty of variety on the menu. The food is tasty. And people feel as though a meal from Panera is a better choice than a meal from McDonalds. The chain carries its own “health halo” — the food is fresher, it tastes like actual food and so Panera has been deemed a better option than average fast food.

In some ways fans are right — Panera Bread isn’t McDonald’s. But to be honest, it’s not that far away from it. And the reintroduction of the Steak & White Cheddar Panini proves the point.

Let’s take a look at the sandwich and find out what’s really going on in there.

The nutrition facts apply to a whole sandwich. Remember that at Panera, you can order a half sandwich as part of a combo with pasta, salad or soup. If you simply order the sandwich, though, it will come full size. Let’s get to those facts:

Calories:                     960
Fat:                             36 grams
Sodium:                     1860 mg.

Wow. That’s just too much of everything! After eating this sandwich, you’ve only got another 540 mg to consume for the rest of the day. And you’ll be spending 960 calories out of your average 2000 calorie a day diet on one sandwich.

Here are the ingredients:

French baguette (unbleached enriched wheat flour [flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], water, salt, natural base [calcium diphosphate, malted barley flour, dextrose, distilled monoglycerides, rye flour, sunflower lecithin, wheat flour, enzymes, ascorbic acid], yeast [yeast, sorbitan monostearate, ascorbic acid]), beef sirloin tip (beef sirloin, seasoning [spice, dehydrated garlic, sea salt, canola oil]), white cheddar cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, microbial enzymes), caramelized red onions (red onions, balsamic vinaigrette [water, soybean oil, sugar, balsamic vinegar, distilled vinegar, contains less than 2% of salt, spices, xanthan gum, dehydrated garlic, natural flavors]), horseradish sauce (soybean oil, water, prepared horseradish [horseradish, vinegar, salt], egg yolks, distilled vinegar, corn starch- modified, salt, sugar, xanthan gum, natural flavors including mustard oil).

So it’s not McDonald’s. The ingredient list is a far cry from the Big Mac. But there are still far too many items in the list — and we’re not fans of natural flavor. Especially when all those ingredients cost 960 calories and come with three quarters of our daily sodium.

We can think of better lunch options. And while we understand that many find Panera Bread to be a solution to the fast food dilemma, FoodFacts.com just can’t get on board.

https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/menu-categories/sandwiches-panini.html#steak-white-cheddar-panini

Fast food menus claiming less calories … sort of

fast food slimmingFoodFacts.com ran across some seemingly encouraging news today regarding calories and fast food menus. As we read further, though, we realized that there’s a bit of a “smoke and mirrors” component going on with these claims.

A comprehensive new report is revealing that fast-food chains have been cutting calories on their menus.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, menu items introduced by big chain restaurants—including McDonald’s, Chipotle, and IHOP—had, on average, 60 fewer calories than items released in 2012. That’s a 12 percent drop in calories.

The study looked at 19,000 menu items served in 66 of the 100 largest restaurant chains in the U.S. from 2012 to 2013. The biggest drops were in new main course offerings (67 calories), followed by new children’s (46 calories) and beverage (26 calories) items.

However, the overall mean calories didn’t budge. The burger chains aren’t cutting the calories of their signature burgers; they’re just adding healthier items, such as salads, to the menu. Time posits that the lower-calorie menu additions are popping up because restaurants with 20 or more locations in the U.S. have to list calorie counts on menus.

But according to the study’s lead author, Sara N. Bleich, 200 extra calories a day can contribute to obesity.

“You can’t prohibit people from eating fast food, but offering consumers lower calorie options at chain restaurants may help reduce caloric intake without asking the individual to change their behavior—a very difficult thing to do,” Bleich said in a statement.

“This voluntary action by large chain restaurants to offer lower calorie menu options may indicate a trend toward increased transparency of nutritional information, which could have a significant impact on obesity and the public’s health,” Bleich said.

On the other hand, FoodFacts.com just wants to put out there that these voluntary actions by large fast food chains may be more about seeking to change public perception than an attempt to increase nutritional transparency of menu items. Since there is no chain that’s actually reformulating their signature items in attempt to decrease calories, we do have to think this might be true. While it’s important for fast food restaurants to introduce lower calorie options, as long as their main offerings remain as they are, it’s somewhat misleading to say that menus are slimming down. It all depends on what the consumer chooses to eat, not on the concentrated efforts of chains to reduce calories in items across their menus.

http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/10/12/fast-food-menus-are-slimming-down–theres-catch

Changes in chain restaurant menus haven’t improved calorie and sodium levels

We’ve looked at the many different reasons fast food is not a healthy choice here at FoodFacts.com. Fast food chains (and other chain restaurants) have come under fire fairly consistently for serving foods containing too many calories, too much sodium and too much fat. It’s gotten to the point where many of those chains have replaced or added menu items that they are claiming are better consumer choices. Seems like everyone should be happy with their response, doesn’t it? Maybe not …

Although a number of chain restaurants have announced healthy menu changes over the years, the overall calorie and sodium levels in main entrées offered by top U.S. chain restaurants assessed from 2010 to 2011 have remained the same, according to a study published today in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The study, “Changes in the Energy and Sodium Content of Main Entrées in U.S. Chain Restaurants from 2010 to 2011,” evaluated the nutritional content changes of more than 26,000 regular menu entrées in a year by 213 major U.S. chain restaurants nationwide. It also looked at entrées among restaurants that included children’s menus.

“Restaurant menus did not get any healthier over time,” said Helen Wu, a policy and research analyst at the Institute for Population Health Improvement at UC Davis Health System.

Between the spring of 2010 and spring of 2011, Wu and Roland Sturm, senior economist at the RAND Corp., reviewed restaurant websites for nutrition information. They found that, even with all the substitutions and reformulations eateries made to their menus, restaurants made no meaningful nutrition changes overall. The average entrée in 2010 contained 670 calories and remained at 670 calories one year later. Sodium levels only dropped from 1,515 milligrams per entrée to 1,500 milligrams at follow-up.

The study was conducted at a time when restaurants faced ongoing internal and external pressures to increase healthier menu offerings. For example, the study examined restaurant menu changes in the year following passage of a federal menu-labeling mandate, which was passed as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. More than three years later, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not issued final regulations directing chain restaurants to post calorie information on menus, though some restaurants, such as McDonald’s, have already started posting calorie counts on their menu boards.

“The implementation of a national menu labeling law could be an important strategy to accelerate progress on menu nutrition in restaurants by encouraging more substantial menu nutrition changes,” Wu said.

“Maybe some more encouragement is needed, as in the Choose Health LA Restaurants program that the Department of Public Health started in September,” Sturm said. “Restaurants participating can post a large decal in their window if they offer smaller portion sizes and healthier children’s meals with less fried food and more fruits and vegetables.”

In the United States, 82 percent of adults eat out at least once a week. Previous research has shown that increased consumption of food away from home is associated with increased consumption of calories, fat and sodium. Currently, two-thirds of U.S. adults and nearly one-third of children and teens are obese or overweight.

Regardless of their menu promotions, the majority of fast food chain offerings remain unhealthy choices for the population. It’s fair to say that even some of the less caloric options coming from the chains should be avoided. After all, calories aren’t everything and ingredient lists count. FoodFacts.com hope that studies like this will help more consumers become more nutritionally aware of the foods they are consuming. It’s so easy to be swayed by claims of healthier menu choices. The reality of the claims by chain restaurants often doesn’t match the rhetoric. We should all dig a little deeper to find the truth about fast food.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131001091507.htm

Don’t count on nutrition labels for your calorie count

We know that those in our FoodFacts.com community are vigilent about nutrition labels and ingredient lists for the foods they purchase. It’s the best way to be as educated as we can regarding what’s really in the products we’re taking home with us from the grocery store. Today, however, we came across some information we want to share with you about possible inaccuracies regarding the calorie counts on nutrition labels. Experts are now telling us the numbers listed might be incorrect.

Some recent studies have shown that it’s not just the ingredients that count for calorie counts. It’s also the amount of processing that is required to prepare the food. So whatever slicing, chopping, mashing might be necessary to get that food into its package can affect the number of calories you’re actually consuming. In fact, even chewing those foods might, in fact, release some calories during the digestion process when it comes to the ingredients that aren’t used by the body. None of these variables are accounted for in the current calorie calculations used on nutrition labels.

Science has understood for quite a while that calorie counts are actually estimates. But now, researchers are focusing on the issue and asking for a revamp of the system used. That way, consumers would have a more accurate depiction of the number of calories they are consuming from the products they purchase.

David Baer, a research physiologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center headed a study that showed that almonds have 20% fewer calories than previously thought. They are now looking into testing other food products. While the inaccuracies of nutrition label calorie counts are generally small, it is thought that for some foods, the count can differ from the estimate by up to 50%.

A device called a bomb calorimeter is one way that’s used to measure a food’s calorie count. There are many factors the bomb calorimeter cannot take into account. But old methods are still used today, because food manufacturers have simple ways to make their calorie calculations.

There are foods – for instance, those high in fiber – that are not digested as well as others. That would mean that we actually get less calories from them then we’re currently aware of. For other foods, however, we’re actually consuming a higher amount of calories than suggested by the listing on the nutrition label.

Further research coming out of Harvard University’s FAS Center for Systems Biology has shown that processing food changes its calorie count. So for example, pureed carrots would carry a different calorie count than whole carrots. That’s because the processing of the vegetable takes some of the work out of digesting the vegetable. The processed vegetable will contain more calories than the whole vegetable.

While some researchers are saying that the differences in actual calories versus those estimated by current calculation formulas on nutrition labels really wouldn’t affect us that much, others who are advocating for a calculation revision say that it would be best to give consumers the most accurate information possible. This would help people make the most informed choices possible about their food choices.

Changing the current system would not be an easy task. But researchers might be able to improve the biggest gaps in the system … like adjusting for food processing.

FoodFacts.com is pleased to see increased concern regarding the need for consumers to make the most educated and informed food choices possible. While we know changes to the calorie calculation system make take some time to reach us, we think it’s in every consumer’s best interest and will keep an eye out for whatever improvements are being considered.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/02/04/calorie-labels-inaccurate-experts-say/#ixzz2JzKLRbqe

Are calories the only thing we should be worrying about?

Today, Food Facts heard about the roll-out of McDonald’s “Favorites Under 400 calories promotion. As of today, you’ll be able to walk into your local McDonald’s and view signage listing the products on the McDonald’s menu that are under 400 calories each. The promotion has been timed around the Summer Olympics in London that begin with opening ceremonies this coming Friday, July 27th, 2012.

It’s no secret that McDonald’s came under fire for sponsoring the games. With obesity rates on the rise worldwide, folks in the medical profession as well as health advocates everywhere were questioning whether or not this particular company should be one of the “faces” of this ancient event that promotes athleticism and sportsmanship. So … it appears as though this was McDonald’s answer to its naysayers.

In the first place, it’s important to note that there aren’t really that many menu items on the “Favorites Under 400 Calories” list. And the products featured are single items – not meals. You won’t find a burger with fries and a coke on it. Instead, you’ll find a burger – a regular, small burger. We all know that’s not the burger most folks are ordering from their menu and that it’s fairly rare that anyone is going to order any burger without some sort of meal accompaniment.

But more importantly, Food Facts feels compelled to ask – just how are we defining healthy these days??? If an item is under 400 calories, does that actually make it desirable to eat? We don’t think so. And we wanted to take the time to point out some of the less-than-desirable ingredients you’ll find in a few of the products on the new McDonald’s list.

Filet O Fish sandwich: A few of the controversial ingredients you’ll find in this item are: Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Barley Malted Flour, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Azodicarbonamide and Polydorbate 80. But it does come in at 380 calories.

 

Sausage McMuffin: The controversial ingredients for this product include: Barley Malted Flour, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, MSG, BHA, BHT, Caramel Color, Propyl Gallate, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, and Sodium Benzoate. But it’s on the list at 370 calories.

 

Grilled Chicken Ranch Snack Wrap: A few of the ingredients you may not want to consume include: Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Hyrolyzed Protein, Polysorbate 80, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil and Sodium Benzoate. This weighs in at 270 calories.

There are more products to examine and we’d like to encourage our blog followers to go into our database and search them out. You can find an image of the “Favorites Under 400 Calories” signage here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/23/mcdonalds-favorites-under-400-calories_n_1695885.html   Take a look inside these products that are being heralded as “better to eat” than the Big Mac and make some educated choices. And, more importantly, educate others about your own educated choices.

For some people, calories are a big concern. But Food Facts likes to think that if people understood the ingredient list, calories wouldn’t be the ONLY concern.

Read more about the McDonald’s “Favorites Under 400 Calories” promotion: http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/07/23/low-cal-menu-mcdonalds-new-ploy-woo-its-critics
http://jezebel.com/5928496/mcdonalds-swears-its-a-perfectly-healthy-olympic-sponsor

The scoop on diet frozen meals

Every day, FoodFacts.com looks into the benefits and drawbacks of hundreds of different food products in our database. Sometimes we surprise even ourselves with the information. And sometimes, we know that the measure of nutritional value of a food product is really determined by the lens through which it’s being observed.

For instance, when it comes to frozen diet meals, there are a few different ways to observe nutrition. You might say that would be a simple matter of calories and fat — and then all the brands would qualify as healthy options for those seeking to reduce their weight. But there are a few other manners in which to look at these frozen meals and determine whether or not they should be part of a diet plan at all.

FoodFacts.com has a “rule of thumb” — that is to be wary of any food product with a long list of ingredients. Generally speaking, the longer the list, the more likely you are to find ingredients you don’t recognize and that may, in fact, be controversial. And generally speaking, in most cases, frozen diet meals feature these long ingredient lists. There are certainly exceptions, but the majority of frozen diet meals contain ingredients that you wouldn’t find in your fridge or your pantry. We thought we’d take a look at four common ingredient concerns for these meals.

Sodium
The recommended daily allowance for sodium for adults is about 2300 milligrams. That’s about a teaspoon. You’ll find that most diet frozen meals contain about 30% of the RDA for a 2000 calorie per day diet. That’s a lot of salt — especially when you consider the portion sizes of the diet meals This can vary slightly up or down depending on meal content and brand. Excessive sodium consumption can lead to high blood pressure, or hypertension, which is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.

BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
BHT is an antioxidant that is used as a preservative, keeping foods from oxidizing and spoiling. You’ll find BHT in a wide variety of processed foods. It is popularly used in frozen foods. BHT may be carcinogenic. Other side effects of this food additive include elevated cholesterol, liver and kidney damage, infertility, sterility, immune disorders, increased susceptibility to carcinogens, and behavioral problems. While BHT isn’t present in every frozen diet meal, it’s not an uncommon additive and something you may want to carefully watch out for.

Sodium Benzoate
Manufacturers have used sodium benzoate for a century to prevent the growth of microorganisms in acidic foods. The substances occur naturally in many plants and animals. Sodium Benzoate can cause hives, asthma, or other allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Again, not every frozen diet meal contains sodium benzoate, but it’s a fairly common ingredient and one you want to keep an eye out for.

Disodium Inosinate
An expensive flavor enhancer usually used with the cheaper Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) alternative. It comes from the nucleotide Inosine monophosphate (IMP) commonly found in mushrooms and meats. Nucleotides are information-carrying molecules (seen in DNA) and help with the body’s metabolic processes. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration but like MSG, is associated with certain allergic reactions after consumption. Again, if you’re purchasing diet frozen meals, read the labels carefully – this is not an unusual ingredient.

While it’s certainly tempting to go the route of frozen diet meals while trying to lose weight, we all need to keep in mind that it would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to cook lasagna with meat sauce for 270 calories per serving. Even if you use skim-milk cheeses and 97% lean ground beef, you’ll have a problem bringing it in at under 300 calories. The point is it’s not diet food. Most of the food featured in frozen diet meals, regardless of brand, isn’t meant to be diet food. Hence, the food additives and ingredients you can’t pronounce and the high levels of sodium. They have to add to the food to make it appetizing.

So if you’re trying to lose weight, the healthiest option would be to stick to foods that will work within your diet goals. Grilled chicken and turkey, fish, and lots and lots of fresh vegetables will fill you up, nourish your body and help you to reduce your caloric intake. The additives you’ll find in diet frozen meals won’t do any of that for you.

What foods can you get with $1?

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At Foodfacts.com we feel the need to emphasize the rising obesity epidemic occurring in the US. Since 1980, the prevalence of obesity has nearly tripled among children and adolescents in the US. Obesity trends reviewed by the CDC show that communities with relatively low-incomes tend to have larger numbers of obese children. It has been argued for many years that calorie-dense processed foods have played a major factor in these growing numbers, due to their commonly low prices. Below is a chart based upon research by Adam Drewnowski, an obesity researcher and epidemiologist at the University of Washington, that shows $1.00 is more likely to get you a bag of potato chips than a fresh apple.

Click around the chart to see the price ranges of different foods based on calories, sugar, and sodium!

                         
(Chart by Ration)

fries

Are you Happier with the “New” Happy Meal?

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Foodfacts.com would like to report that McDonald’s president, Jan Fields, announced today that the major fast-food franchise will now be serving healthier happy meals for their younger customers.

Regardless of criticism, this is quite a big deal for many of the advocates of child nutrition. McDonald’s has been seen as a major antagonist against the fight to end childhood obesity for many years now. McDonald’s previous happy meal combinations ranged anywhere from 500-700 calories per serving, with sodium numbers going through the roof. The new happy meal will be approximately 470 calories, compared to the previous 570 calorie option. Also, saturated fat will now be reduced from 20 to 14 grams, which is still pretty high, but a good start. However, we assume these happy meals will still contain a decent amount of sugar. We’re not quite sure of the exact number yet, but the previous happy meal contained about 89 grams of sugar (or 22 teaspoons).

So what exactly are they changing? The soda is gone. Instead of kids getting a Coke or Sprite, they’ll be receiving low-fat milk. Also, apple dippers (slices) will be served, IN ADDITION to a smaller serving of french fries. The caramel dipping sauce normally associated with their apple slices will not be included. Also, parents may choose to scrap the fries all together and get 2 bags of apple dippers instead, which we’re sure some are likely to do.

We have not come across any information pertaining to a change in the chicken nuggets, or burgers. We assume these famous staples will remain untouched during this happy meal makeover.

We’re excited to hear the reactions and feedback from our followers on this announcement as to whether or not you feel this is just a ploy for press, or a step in the right direction for fast-food.

Top 10 Scariest Food Additives

Here at foodfacts.com, we like to keep our readers informed of all current and up-to-date information regarding health and food. Here is a recent news article discussing the 10 scariest food additives in some of the most popular food products most can find in their pantry.

There was a time when “fruit flavored” and “cheese flavored” meant “made with real fruit” and “made with real cheese.” Today? It’s artificial everything. Most of the food at your local supermarket is no more authentic than Snooki’s tan. Our fruit comes packaged in Loops, our cheese delivered via Whiz. Sure, it’s edible, but there’s no way your great grandparents would recognize this junk as food.

The problem with additives runs deep. The FDA currently maintains a list of ingredients called Everything Added to Food in the United States (EAFUS), which features more than 3,000 items and counting. Thankfully, most EAFUS ingredients are benign, but a few of them do have potentially harmful effects. Why they’re legal is a mystery to us. Some of them might be backed by powerful lobby groups, while others probably survive simply because some guy at the FDA has too much paperwork on his desk and hasn’t made time to adequately review the data.

Below are 10 of the most dubious ingredients hiding in your food, compliments of Eat This, Not That! 2011. Even if you’re not convinced of their danger, you have to admit this: The more filler ingredients you cut from your diet, the more space you have for wholesome, nutritious foods.

Scary Ingredient #1: Olestrapringles
A fat substitute synthesized by Procter & Gamble. Because human digestive enzymes can’t break down the big molecules, Olestra contributes 0 calories to your diet.

Why it’s scary: In the late ’90s, Frito-Lay released Olestra-enhanced WOW chips and Procter & Gamble introduced Fat Free Pringles. Both products were required to carry warning labels to notify customers about the risk of “loose stools.” Within 4 years, some 15,000 people had dialed in to a hotline set up specifically to handle adverse-reaction complaints. Apparently the complaints didn’t move the FDA, because in 2003, the administration revoked the warning-label mandate. If you want to take your chances with diarrhea, go ahead, but first consider this: Olestra also appears to interfere with the body’s ability to absorb some crucial nutrients like beta-carotene and lycopene. To counteract the effect, processers add some nutrients back, but it’s unlikely that all the blocked nutrients are adequetly replaced.

Furthermore, just last week I tweeted that an animal study at Purdue University found that fake fats like Olestra may cause more weight gain than real fat.

Where you’ll find it: Lay’s Light chips, Pringles Light chips

Scary Ingredient #2: Caramel Coloring
An artificial pigment created by heating sugars. Frequently, this process includes ammonia.stove-top

Why it’s scary: Caramel coloring shows up in everything from soft drinks and sauces to breads and pastries. When made from straight sugar, it’s relatively benign. But when produced with ammonia it puts off 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, chemicals that have been linked to cancer in mice. The risk is strong enough that the California government, a bellwether for better food regulation, categorized 4-methylimidazole as “known to cause cancer” earlier this year. Unfortunately, companies aren’t required to disclose whether their coloring is made with ammonia, so you’d be wise to avoid it as much as you can.

Where you’ll find it: Colas and other soft drinks, La Choy soy sauce, Stove Top stuffing mix

Scary Ingredient #3: Saccharin
An artificial sweetener discovered by accident in the 1870s.sweet-n-low

Why it’s scary: Studies have linked saccharin to bladder tumors in rats, and in 1977, the FDA required warning labels on all saccharin-containing foods. In 2000, the agency changed its stance and allowed saccharin to be sold without warning labels. But that doesn’t make it entirely safe. A 2008 Purdue study found that replacing sugar with saccharin in rats’ diets made them gain more weight, proving once again that you should be aware of these faux fat foes.

Where you’ll find it: Sweet ‘N Low, TaB cola

Scary Ingredient #4: Potassium Bromate
A compound that conditions flour and helps bread puff up during baking.

Why it’s scary: Potassium bromate causes thyroid and kidney tumors in rats, and it’s banned from food use in many countries. In California, products containing potassium bromate are required to carry a cancer warning. Fortunately, negative publicity has made the additive relatively rare, but until the FDA banishes it, you should remain on the lookout.

Where you’ll find it: Johnny Rockets Hoagie Roll

Scary Ingredient #5: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Petroleum-derived antioxidants and preservatives.
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Why they’re scary: The Department of Health and Human Services says BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” yet the FDA allows it to be used anyway. BHT is considered less dangerous, but in animal research, it too has resulted in cancer. Oddly, the chemicals aren’t even always necessary; in most cases they can be replaced with vitamin E.

Where you’ll find it: Goya lard, Golden Grahams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Orbit gum

Scary Ingredient #6: Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
A semi-solid fat created when food processors force hydrogen into unsaturated fatty acids.sandwich

Why it’s scary: Partially hydrogenated fats are the principle sources of trans fat in the American diet, and a Harvard study estimated that trans fat causes 70,000 heart attacks every year. The good news: Partially hydrogenated oils are beginning to slowly retreat from our food. Progressive jurisdictions like New York City are starting to restrict the allowable amounts in restaurants, and many chains are switching to healthier frying oil. Still, the battle isn’t over. At Long John Silver’s, for example, there are still 17 menu items with more than 2 grams of the stuff. According to the American Heart Association, that’s about the maximum you should consume in a single day.

Where you’ll find it: McDonald’s McChicken, Long John Silver’s Broccoli Cheese Soup

Scary Ingredient #7: Sulfites
Preservatives that maintain the color of food, and by releasing sulfur dioxide, prevent bacterial growth. fig-enwton

Why it’s scary: Humans have used sulfites to keep food fresh for thousands of years, but some people—especially asthma sufferers—experience breathing difficulties when exposed. In the 1980s, unregulated use resulted in at least a dozen deaths, prompting the FDA to slap warning labels on wine bottles and develop new guidelines for proper use. Now restaurants can no longer soak fresh ingredients in sulfites. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, there have been no known deaths since the new legislation took hold. The bottom line: If you’re among the majority of people not sensitive to sulfites, consumption won’t hurt you. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor for a test.

Where you’ll find it: Wine, Sun-Maid Mixed Fruit, Jolly Ranchers, Fig Newtons

Scary Ingredient #8: Azodicarbonamide
A synthetic yellow-orange dough conditioner bagel

Why it’s scary: This chemical is used most frequently in the production of industrial foam plastic, and although the FDA has approved its use for food in the States, the United Kingdom has labeled it a potential cause of asthma. In a review of 47 studies on azodicarbonamide, the World Health Organization concluded that it probably does trigger asthmatic symptoms. The WHO concluded, “exposure levels should be reduced as much as possible.” I’ll put it more concisely: Avoid it.

Where you’ll find it: Dunkin’ Donuts bagels, McDonald’s burger buns

Scary Ingredient #9: Carrageenan
A thickener and emulsifier extracted from seaweed.popsicle

Why it’s scary: Seaweed is actually good for you, but carrageenan is a mere seaweed byproduct. Through animal studies, it has been linked to cancer, colon trouble, and ulcers. It isn’t certain that carrageenan harms humans, but avoiding it is clearly the safer option. Most studies examined degraded forms of the additive, and research from the University of Iowa found that carrageenan could be degraded through the normal digestive process.

Where you’ll find it: Weight Watchers Giant Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream Bars, Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches, Creamsicles

Scary Ingredient #10: Ammonium Sulfate
An inorganic salt that occurs naturally near active volcanoes and is used commercially to nourish yeast and help bread rise.4036996_orig

Why it’s scary: This nitrogen-rich compound is most often used as fertilizer, and also appears commonly in flame retardants. Thankfully, the ingredient only sounds scary—a 2006 Japanese rat study found the additive to be non-carcinogenic. Both the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the FDA deem it safe.

Retrieved from: Yahoo.com

Food Additves to Avoid: Acesulfame-K

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Foodfacts.com wants to make you more aware of what controversial ingredients are being put into our foods. Acesulfame-K, also known as acesulfame potassium, represents one of the food additives used for sweetening aliments and drinks. Our body does not metabolize this food additive, so it is passed in urine, thus having no caloric value. This makes it a viable alternative to sugar in numerous diet drinks and foods. However, caution is required when consuming foods containing this artificial sweetener, as it is not totally safe.
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Comparison between Acesulfame-K and Other Sweeteners
It is possible to compare the saccharinity of food additives, in order to determine which one is more potent. In terms of sweetness, acesulfame-K is:

■One-quarter as sweet as sucralose
■Nearly half as sweet as saccharin
■Equal to aspartame
■Between 180 and 200 times as sweet as table sugar (sucrose)
Keep in mind that acesulfame-K is frequently mixed with other similar food additives, such as aspartame or sucralose.

Foods Containing Acesulfame-K
Acesulfame-K is often added to baked foods or to foods that have a long shelf life, because this food additive does not decompose in the presence of heat. Aspartame, on the other hand, is not stable in such conditions. Acesulfame potassium is added to a wide range of products, some of the most important being:
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■Alcoholic drinks
■Chewing gum
■Gelatin desserts
■Syrup
■Yoghurt
It is best to check the ingredient list, in order to see whether acesulfame-K or other similar food additives are included. However, this artificial sweetener is not only present in foods and drinks, but also in pharmaceutical products, such as chewable and liquid drugs, as acesulfame potassium is able to improve their taste. Acesulfame-K does not promote dental caries, but there are many other numerous reasons to avoid it, as it may pose serious threats to your health.

Reasons to Avoid Acesulfame Potassium
Acesulfame-K has been approved by the US FDA, but there are several potential problems correlated with consumption of this food additive. Even though there are many studies that attest its safety, acesulfame potassium is still suspected of causing benign thyroid tumors. In rats, the development of such tumors took only 3 months, a period in which the concentration of this additive in the consumed food was between 1 and 5 percent. This is a very short period of time, so the substance is believed to have significant carcinogenic properties.

Methylene chloride, a solvent used in the manufacture of acesulfame potassium, is the substance that may give the food additive its potential carcinogenic characteristics. In addition, exposure to methylene chloride for long periods of time may lead to such side effects as:
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■Breast tumors
■Chronic respiratory disease
■Depression
■Headaches
■Kidney and liver problems
■Leukemia
■Lung tumors
■Mental confusion
■Nausea
■Visual disturbances
Acesulfame potassium may also increase the appetite, by tricking the satiety signals of our body. When consuming products that contain this artificial sweetener, cravings for extremely sweet foods may develop. In these conditions, taste perception is changed and the taste of fruits and vegetables do not feel tasty anymore.

Insulin secretion increases considerably when consuming foods rich in acesulfame-K. Also, the feelings of low blood sugar will intensify. All these problems make the safety of acesulfame potassium questionable. Additional long-term studies may be required for revealing the true benefits and downsides of this artificial sweetener.

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