Category Archives: food facts

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It’s time to rethink the snacks we put in our children’s travel bags

Summer traveling for families doesn’t just mean making new memories made up of fun activities and amazing adventures. For many, it also means carefree eating (read: disregarding nutritious foods and mindless munching unhealthy snacks). More often than not, parents pack their children’s bags with treats that may be filling, but are poor in nutrition and even pose risks to their health.

FoodFacts.com recently stated in a recent blog post that 43% of products marketed for children contain artificial food coloring, based on the new study published on Clinical Pediatrics. Many consumers are unaware that artificial food additives used to enhance color and flavor, and prolong shelf life are made from by-products of petroleum. You read that right – petroleum, that liquid mixture mined from the earth and refined to produce gasoline. So, before you head off to your family getaway this summer, you may want to rethink those bags of candies and chips you are packing for your children.

While we only discussed the known facts about Red Dye #40, it’s also worth noting other food colorants that are in our foods: Blue Dye #1, Blue Dye #2, Citrus Red Dye #2, Green Dye #3, Red Dye #3, Yellow Dye #5 and Yellow Dye #6. According to various studies, artificial food dyes can cause serious health problems including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Hyperactivity and other behavioral problems
  • Allergic reactions
  • Damage in chromosomes
  • Organ damage
  • Birth defects
  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Hypoglycemia

When it comes to packing food for children, it wouldn’t hurt to grab ideas from well-known chefs. Take these turkey rolls that restaurateur and celebrity chef, Richard Blais, packs for his daughter, for instance. They’re tasty and healthy, and your kids can take them anywhere.

Barring any restrictions (such as quarantine regulations in specific borders, transportation rules and so on), here are healthy snacks you should be putting in your children’s travel pack:

  • Fresh or dried fruits
  • Sliced vegetables
  • “Good” candies
  • Raw nuts and trail mix
  • Homemade snacks like the aforementioned turkey rolls, healthy muffins and granola with dried fruits concoctions

Download the All My Food Facts app to find out if your favorite travel snack is good for you! Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.

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Foods you should eat to stay healthy this summer

Summer is officially here, and it is time to sit back and relax! Whether you’re off to epic outdoor adventures or just staying put for low-key backyard or poolside barbecues, there’s no doubt that the tranquility of the season makes eating, all the more, one of life’s simple pleasures.

Thankfully, summertime brings an abundance of fruits and vegetables available for us. So, while you’re gallivanting and gormandizing, FoodFacts.com lists foods that can help you stay in tip-top shape during the summer months.

Corn

Make corn your official side dish for those grilling sessions with family and friends! Corn contains two specific antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, which help form macular pigment that filter out the sun’s ultraviolet rays. To put it simply, corn is a natural sunblock that can help protect your skin from damages caused by the sun.

Tomatoes

Tomato is rich in lycopene that help protect your skin from sunburn, making it another great produce that you can add to your line of defense against the blazing summer sun. Bear in mind that tomato increases its lycopene content when processed and/or cooked.

Berries

Berries make for a delicious and healthy snack whether you’re eating them off of a bowl at home or off of a container when you’re on the road. Munching on berries can significantly improve your diet as they are rich in antioxidants and fiber. These fibrous fruits can help you combat constipation, which is a common problem when traveling.

Green tea

Green tea is one of the most highly recommended foods for detoxing and hydrating. It should be a staple regardless of where you are. In her article, A Top Chef’s Tips for Keeping It Healthy While Traveling, celebrity chef Marisa Churchill recommends bringing your own supply so you’ll always have some on hand and consuming 20 ounces of green tea per day.

Water

Water still remains the best way to stay cool and hydrated during the scorching summer months. Drink 16-32 ounces, plus additional amounts when you’re being active to replenish the loss from perspiration. Be sure to always have water with you when you are traveling. You may also want to consider bringing a portable water filter so you can have access to clean, drinking water wherever you go.

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Know your ingredients with All My Food Facts app: India Tree Nature’s Colors Decorating Set

Additives are used by food manufacturers to enhance the quality and appearance of our foods. In the recent years, there’s been plenty of talk about artificial food colorings (AFC), in particular, and the potential harm they pose on our health. At the center of these talks is Red Dye #40, the most commonly added artificial food coloring according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). To date, there hasn’t been a definitive consensus from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) whether or not Red Dye #40 is, indeed, toxic.

While health practioners, experts and concerned consumers engage in the exhaustive ongoing debate, FoodFacts.com digresses from the probable harmful effects of artificial food colorings, and shifts the conversation to urge consumers to opt for natural food colorings. There is an abundance of resources for natural food dyes such as spinach, turmeric, beets, blueberries and even bugs. Natural food colorings are not as luminous and shelf-stable as AFCs. However, natural food colorings are preferred by health-conscious parents and influencers in the food industry because they’re not plagued by controversies and they’re obviously the healthier choice.

One of the more popular natural food dyes in the market is India Tree Nature’s Colors Decorating Set, which is made with vegetable colorants. We used the All My FoodFacts app and we’re happy to see its health score.

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Note: The product information shown above is only a general overview of India Tree Nature’s Colors Decorating Set. Sign up on our website for personalized specifications on which products are good for you and which you should avoid based on your dietary data, or you can get the All My FoodFacts app on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

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Red Dye #40

Food dyes are added to our foods to make them look more appetizing. There are actually plenty of natural food dyes available for our consumption, such as beets, spinach and turmeric. However, natural food dyes are highly sensitive to light and heat. Their colors, as well as taste, may be altered dramatically at any given phase of the food manufacturing process, including the final packaging and delivery stages.  This is one reason why food manufacturers generally prefer artificial food dyes over natural food colorants.

Artificial food dyes are more iridescent and more shelf-stable than natural food dyes. They also come in each of the primary colors, therefore allowing manufacturers to mix them up and produce a wide array of other hues.

Red Dye #40 is the most commonly used artificial food coloring, according to Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). It should be of no surprise to learn that it appears in numerous candies. As a matter of fact, candies that suggest any fruit content are most likely to have the said colorant. Red Dye #40 is actually present in other foods that are neither red nor bright. Some of them include, potato chips, barbecue sauce and peanut butter.

Whether natural or synthetic, most of the dyes that we ingest are excreted from our bodies. However, FoodFacts.com wants to remind you of what health experts and advocates alike have been saying for a long time: Red Dye #40 has potential to cause serious harm to the body.

Here are some quick facts released in the recent years about Red Dye #40:

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates that manufacturers disclose the existence of Red Dye #40 in their products on their labels. However, the FDA doesn’t require them to specify how much.
  • The CSPI reports that Red Dye #40 and other artificial food dyes can cause allergic reactions in some people.
  • Research shows that Red Dye #40 can cause hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in children.
  • 43% child-oriented products contain Red Dye #40 and other artificial food dyes.
  • Red Dye #40 contains p-Cresidine, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services believes to be cancer-causing.
  • Despite the outcry of CSPI, health advocates and consumers, which includes a petition to ban certain artificial food dyes, there is still no clear consensus from the FDA that Red Dye #40 is toxic.

It is highly recommended that you take caution in consuming foods that contain Red Dye #40. Below are other names that the said colorant go by:

  • FD&C Red No. 40
  • Allura Red
  • Red 40
  • Red No. 40
  • FD and C Red No. 40
  • Allura Red AC
  • C.I. 16035
  • C.I. Food Red 17

FoodFacts.com has always made it explicit that consumers like you be proactive in learning the ingredients contained in your foods. Use the All My Food Facts app to check food labels. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

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It’s National Candy Month, too!

June is quite the contradictory month. It’s not only National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, it’s also National Candy Month! That’s right – the National Confectioners Association is celebrating chocolates, candies, gums, mints and all kinds of sweets this month!

FoodFacts.com absolutely advocates making better food choices through the awareness of healthy and unhealthy ingredients contained in our food. However, we also appreciate the men and women who create treats that play a special role in commemorating significant cultural and historical events in the United States. In fact, most American confectionery companies are family-owned, and directly contributes to the US economy in the agriculture, manufacturing, retail and shipping sectors.

That said, we are joining the millions of Americans celebrating in National Candy Month, but we are doing so in a healthy and equally-fun way! Here’s how you can get in the candy spirit without compromising your health goals.

Bite-sized portions

When trying to cut down calories, abstaining from sweets and salty foods is usually the first step. Nutrition experts believe, though, that the occasional treats can be a part of your balanced diet, as long as you pay attention (and have control) of the quantity. Sarah-Jane Bedwell, RD says, “Everyone should allow themselves a daily treat because there is no reason why a 100- or 200-calorie snack can’t fit into a healthy diet.”

Get your sweets from “good” stores

Proponents of the organic food movement as well as veganism have helped launch more than just a handful of businesses that cater to their respective audiences. It should be of no surprise to find that there are now organic and vegan candy stores that give us relatively better options for sweet treats.

Keep it dark

When it comes to chocolates, the darker the better. Dark chocolates contain less sugar and are more filling than milk chocolates. This superfood can actually give your body plenty of health benefits. They are rich in antioxidants and can aid in blood flow improvement, and lower blood pressure and the risk of heart diseases.

Make your own treats

Today’s top food influencers share plenty of hacks for making healthy versions of popular sweets like Butterfinger, Snickers and Twix. These foodies also constantly come up with brilliantly innovative health-conscious treats that allow you to succumb to your sweet tooth, guilt-free.

Make fruit candies

While we’re on the subject of making your own treats…

Take advantage of the abundant supply of fruits this season and grab some ripe, blemish-free fruits such as mangoes, cranberries and California apricots. The best and easy way to turn fruits into candies without the added sugar is to dry them. You can dry fruits on your burner, in the oven or under the sun!

Tip: Use the all my food facts app to find out how your favorite candies fare on our health score. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

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Know your ingredients with All My Food Facts app: Market Pantry Blueberries Whole Fruit

Fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber that provide vital nutrients for the body’s proper nourishment and maintenance. People who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of their overall healthy diet reduce their risk of chronic diseases.

While getting your fruits from the produce section of your supermarket is ideal, a lot of shoppers take their supply from the refrigerated aisle. Packaged fruits may not always be as good as fresh fruits, but some of them are not exactly as bad as generally perceived.

Packaged fruits may be just as healthy for you as whole fruits, just as long as they’re fresh. Take this store brand, for instance. FoodFacts.com used the All My FoodFacts app on Target’s Market Pantry Blueberries Whole Fruit and found that it has an excellent health score.

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When it comes to packaged fruits, be sure that they are chilled at a temperature of 40°F or below. Check the label for both packaging and use-by dates, and consume within five or six days before the vitamin C and carotenoid levels begin to drop.

Note: The product information shown above is only a general overview of Market Pantry Blueberries Whole Fruit. Sign up on our website for personalized specifications on which products are good for you and which you should avoid based on your dietary data, or you can get the All My FoodFacts app on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

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Safety tips for handling fresh produce

Eating fresh produce is integral in achieving a balanced, healthy diet. However, over 80% of the United States’ population do not meet the recommended daily consumption for both fruits and vegetables. This National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, our goal is definitely to get people to eat more fresh produce, but we should also send caution about food poisoning from the consumption of these foods.

Food becomes contaminated through a variety of ways. For fruits and vegetables, they may come in contact with harmful bacteria in the soil or water from which they are grown, or during storage and preparation after they are harvested. Eating contaminated produce may lead to foodborne illnesses; and they are especially more common in the warm summer months when foodborne bacteria multiply faster, and fruits and vegetables are often eaten raw.

FoodFacts.com shares some safety tips in handling fresh produce to avoid foodborne illnesses (also called “food poisoning”).

Choose Right

Whether it’s from a grocery store, farmers’ markets or roadside stands, be sure to inspect produce properly and avoid the ones that are damaged or have bruises. Whole, uncut produce is always preferable, but for pre-prepared fruits and vegetables like sliced cantaloupe or bagged lettuce, grab only those that are chilled in the refrigerator or on ice.

Note: Segregate fruits and vegetables from raw meat, poultry and/or seafood in your cart, and place them in separate shopping bags.

Store Properly

Proper storage is important in maintaining the quality of fruits and vegetables. Perishable goods, especially pre-cut, peeled or packaged, must be refrigerated at a temperature of 40°F or below. Some produce, such as apples, potatoes, onions and garlic, are better stored at room temperature.

Preparation Tips

When dealing with produce, be sure to begin with clean hands. Wash hands with soap and warm water. Cut and discard any damaged or bruised areas before preparing and/or eating fruits and vegetables.

Washing

  • Do NOT use soap or detergent.
  • No matter where you got the produce – homegrown or from any merchant – it’s highly recommended that you wash them thoroughly with running water to rid them of as much chemicals as possible.
  • Even if you plan to take the peel off of fruits and vegetables, washing the outer layer is still necessary to remove dirt and bacteria. For firm produce such as watermelon and zucchini, use a produce brush.
  • Dry washed produce with a clean paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may still be present.

Putting together

  • Always keep raw meat, poultry and seafood (as well as cutting board, knives, utensils and dishes used to prepare them) separate from produce that will be eaten uncooked.
  • If possible, use different cutting boards and other kitchen tools for meat, poultry and seafood, and for fresh produce.
  • Or, wash cutting boards and other kitchen tools with soap and hot water between preparing raw goods and produce.

 

If you or a family member have contacted foodborne illnesses, call your healthcare provider immediately. For serious cases, take afflicted to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

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Know your ingredients with All My Food Facts app: Great Value Green Tea

When it comes to detoxifying, there are certain foods that are proven to be effective. FoodFacts.com recently shared a list of cleansing foods that boost digestion and flush the gastrointestinal tract clean, and green tea is one of them.

Drinking plenty of fluids is essential in detoxing. Needless to say, water intake is very important in the process, but adding green tea into the mix could only be beneficial to your body. Green tea is rich in antioxidants; it contains more than white, black and oolong teas. Among the antioxidants that green tea contains is catechin.

Catechins increase the body’s production of detoxifying enzymes as well as the liver’s function to break toxins down. Additionally, the caffeine found in green tea is a natural energizer and a diuretic, which eases bloating by countering water retention. Green tea is a wonderful detox food as it simultaneously helps you flush toxins out and, at the same time, gets you rehydrated.

Cleansing (and clean-eating, in general) doesn’t have to break the bank. We took a look at a store brand, Walmart’s Great Value Green Tea, with the All My FoodFacts app. It fared just as excellent as the better-known brands, and comes with a lower price tag.

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Note: The product information shown above is only a general overview of Great Value Green Tea. Sign up on our website for personalized specifications on which products are good for you and which you should avoid based on your dietary data, or you can get the All My FoodFacts app on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

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Clean-eating without going over your budget

There’s a question that lingers in the minds of people who want to make better food choices: How can I eat clean and not hurt my budget? At local grocery stores, a family-sized bag of chips is cheaper than a container of mixed greens; and fast food chains are perpetually coming up with value-meal promotions, which sell ready-to-eat food and convenience in their pitches.

The sad truth is, for many people, buying healthy foods means living above their means. It doesn’t take a genius to see why a parent would purchase a full meal that comes with plenty of sides and drinks for $20 for his or her family, instead of opting to spend more on ingredients as well as more time in the kitchen preparing healthy meals. Unfortunately, food choices among many households in the United States are dictated by income; and those resorting to unhealthy choices are more susceptible to developing serious health conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

FoodFacts.com shares these money-saving tips that will, not only help you eat cleaner, but only allow you to have enough to live a quality life.

Apply supply-and-demand principle

When putting an effort in adding more fruits and vegetables in your daily diet, be sure to consider the ones that are in-season. Merchants drop the prices of seasonal produce due to their abundance. Also, the flavor and nutrition of these fruits and vegetables are at their peak during their natural harvest season. This summer, the produce to buy are strawberries, cherries, peaches and plum!

Up-size your supplies

In addition to seasonal fruits and vegetables, you save on staples such as grains, nuts and spices when you buy them in large sizes and/or in bulk. Large sizes minimize packaging costs for the supplier, therefore there is less manufacturing expenditure passed on to the consumers. Bulk-buying does make you spend more upfront, but it saves you more money and time in the long run.

Freeze fruits and vegetables

Bought too much of the in-season produce? Put them in the freezer. Frozen fruits and vegetables will make great ingredients for your next fruity smoothie or cleansing vegetable juice!

Skip the all-organic diet

While the growing awareness on the health benefits of organic food is undeniable, not many people can afford it. Sure, the gap between the prices of organic and non-organic foods is not as high as generally perceived, but it’s still the amount of money that many individuals and families can’t afford to shell out. The good news is, there are certain produce that minimally absorb chemicals when they are conventionally grown such as corn, cabbage, avocados, onions and pineapples.

Buy store brands

Don’t veer away from store brands! Whole Foods 365, Wegmans and Trader Joe’s, for instance, have products that offer the same nutritional value as the brands they carry on their shelves at cheaper prices.

Make your own sauces and dressings

Forgo store-bought sauces and dressings. These not only cost more as compared to homemade concoctions, but they are full of added sugar, sodium and whatnot. Take some olive oil and spices and you’ve got yourself your own sauce and dressing, minus the preservatives.

Get creative with leftovers

Don’t throw food away! Cut back on food waste by freezing leftovers, and eating them at a later time. You can also search up recipes that use the same or similar ingredients to repurpose them into new dishes.

The all my food facts app can help you identify ingredients that will aid in your clean-eating efforts. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

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Know your ingredients with All My Food Facts app: Arbonne Essentials Chocolate Protein Shake

Protein shakes are made from a protein powder combined with other ingredients, mixed into a liquid such as water or milk. They are a supplement that many people use for enhancement in order to reach health and fitness goals.

Protein shakes are typically consumed after a workout and as a replacement for a meal. Added to one’s daily diet, protein shakes provide excellent benefits, such as weight control, muscle building and better nutrient absorption.

This week on FoodFacts.com’s Know your ingredients with All My FoodFacts app series, we are featuring Arbonne Essentials Chocolate Protein Shake Mix. We are pleased to find that it scored a B+ in our health grading system!

Arbonne Essentials Chocolate Protein Shake Mix is vegan; it contains proteins from plants such as pea, cranberry and rice. Plant-based proteins are naturally low in sodium and cholesterol. They are also rich in phytonutrients that fight diseases and cholesterol-lowering fiber. The mix also contains flax seeds and chromium, which are great in regulating diabetes, plus all these other vitamins and minerals:

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Arbonne Essentials Chocolate Protein Shake Mix is only available for purchase from one of the independent consultants that belong to the company’s network. There are similar chocolate-flavored vegan protein shake mixes that can be bought from groceries and health stores. However, none of them fare as well as Arbonne Essentials Chocolate Protein Shake Mix. For instance, we took a look at one of the store products with the All My FoodFacts app, and this is what we found.

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Note: If you are able to get protein naturally, please continue to do so. Some of the best sources of protein among plants are: beans, peas, nuts, seeds, soy and lentils. 

Find out if the protein mix you’re using is doing your body more harm than good with all my foodfacts app. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!