Category Archives: health diet

Pre-packaged sandwich wraps from Hormel. The real deal on Rev.

Hormel RevHormel’s been busy airing commercials for their Rev sandwich wraps.  The commercials are all about physical fitness, being the best you can be, participating in sports and achieving goals.  Somehow or another an ad agency managed to connect the dots between those things and a sandwich wrap.  Go figure.

While FoodFacts.com might not see the sense behind that connection, Hormel does.  Supposedly their Rev wraps are just the thing anyone needs to be able to maximize performance.  All 8 varieties deliver between 15 and 17 grams of protein … enough to power plenty of physical activity.  Sounds great, right?

Before you go grabbing a Rev wrap on your way to the gym though, you might want to read on and find out what’s going on beyond all that protein.

Let’s take a look at the Italian Style Rev Wrap.  There are actually 81 ingredients in this one.  That’s a lot for a wrap that contains pepperoni, genoa salami, mozzarella cheese in a rolled flatbread.  Here’s the list:

Flatbread (Flour Enriched [Wheat Flour, Barley Malted Flour, Niacin Vitamin B3, Iron Reduced,Thiamine Mononitrate Vitamin B1, Riboflavin Vitamin B2, Folic Acid Vitamin B9] , Water, Wheat Gluten Vital, Soy Flour, Contains 2% or less of the following: [Sugar Brown Liquid, Oats Fiber,Soybeans Oil, Olive Oil Extra Virgin, Spices, Baking Soda, Prunes Juice Concentrate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Wheat Protein Isolate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Propionate, Yeast,Cellulose Gum, Fumaric Acid, Salt, Guar Gum, Calcium Sulphate, Carrageenan, Xanthan Gum, Maltodextrin, Annatto Color, Enzymes] ) , Cheese (Cheese Mozzarella Low Moisture Part Skim [Milk Part Skim, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes] , Cheese American [Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes] , Water, Cream, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, Sorbic Acid) , Salami Genoa(Pork, Beef, Salt, Contains 2% or less of the following: Citric Acid [Dextrose, Water, Spices,Sodium Ascorbate Vitamin C, Lactic Acid Starter Culture, Sodium Nitrate Nitrite, Garlic Powder,BHA, BHT, Citric Acid] ) , Pepperoni (Pork, Beef, Salt, Contains 2% or less of the following: Citric Acid [Water, Dextrose, Spices, Lactic Acid Starter Culture, Oleoresin of Paprika, Garlic Powder,Sodium Nitrate Nitrite, BHA, BHT, Citric Acid] )

We can easily live without plenty of the ingredients in this wrap.  Curiously, though, it contains only 290 calories.  We’re going to assume that there isn’t much meat and cheese inside that flatbread.  It also contains 20 grams of fat, 10 mg of saturated fat, 55 mg of cholesterol, and 960 mg of sodium.  So besides those 15 grams of protein, there’s really not a whole lot else in there that’s doing much for your body — or fueling your workout or sports performance.

It’s our considered opinion that a different option that contains leaner protein, better fats, and real ingredients would be a better boost.  Nice try Hormel, but we’ll “rev” up without the wraps.

 

https://www.hormel.com/Brands/HormelRevWraps.aspx  

 

Too much salt = aging cells in obese teens

salt.jpgWe’re always hearing about the negative effects of high salt intake. Too much sodium in our diets has been linked to higher risk of stroke, heart disease and certain types of cancers. Yet, it’s difficult for many people to avoid. Considering the idea that most of the sodium we consume is as a result of processed foods and not the salt shakers at our kitchen tables, the only way we can confidently reduce our sodium intake is to prepare our meals at home from scratch. And that’s something that becomes even more challenging when we focus on teenagers, who are out and about and generally eat their way through the day outside of our kitchens. Concerns about what high levels of sodium mean for overweight and obese teens are just now coming to light.

In a new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology & Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity & Metabolism Scientific Sessions 2014, researchers found that overweight teenagers who consume too much salt exhibit signs of faster cell aging.

In their study, the researchers divided 766 subjects, who were between 14 and 18-years old, into two groups based on whether they consume more than 4,100 mg of salt a day or less than 2,400 mg of salt a day. The subjects in both groups notably consume more than the American Heart Association’s recommended 1,500 mg of salt serving per day.

The researchers observed that the protective ends of the chromosome called telomeres, which naturally shorten with age, were much shorter in overweight and obese subjects with high salt intake but not in teens with normal weight but high salt intake.

“Even in these relatively healthy young people, we can already see the effect of high sodium intake, suggesting that high sodium intake and obesity may act synergistically to accelerate cellular aging,” said study lead author Haidong Zhu, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Regents University in Augusta, Georgia.

Zhu said that overweight teenagers who want to reduce their risk of heart disease should consider reducing their salt intake and this may even be easier than losing weight.

“Lowering sodium intake, especially if you are overweight or obese, may slow down the cellular aging process that plays an important role in the development of heart disease,” Zhu said. “Lowering sodium intake may be an easier first step than losing weight for overweight young people who want to lower their risk of heart disease.”

Zhu also pointed out that most of the salt in the diet comes from processed food and urged parents to prepare fresh and healthier foods more often.

“The majority of sodium in the diet comes from processed foods, so parents can help by cooking fresh meals more often and by offering fresh fruit rather than potato chips for a snack,” Zhu said.

Encouraging teens to eat real food can be a challenge. Certainly it’s good advice to cook fresh meals as often as possible. Yet, even parents who prepare meals from scratch every day face the issue that teenagers are spending less time in the home than they did when they were younger. FoodFacts.com likes the idea of choosing a variety of healthier snacks for the home, in hopes of finding a few that teens can seek out when they’re outside the home. It may help us help them to make healthier choices when we’re not there to guide them.

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/4648/20140321/high-intake-of-salt-in-obese-teens-causes-cells-to-age-faster-study.htm

Happy National Nutrition Month! How do you “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right?”

eatting right.jpgMarch is National Nutrition Month. This is the time for us all to focus on broadening our nutritional awareness and our healthy eating habits. This year’s theme, “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right,” is also encouraging us to focus on the flavor of healthy eating.

FoodFacts.com thinks that this is a great new direction for the occasion! Too many Americans still associate healthy eating with a lack of flavor. Some of us even have some bad memories of our moms attempting to include different versions of health foods into family favorites. My own mom was no exception. Many decades ago, when adding bran to your diet was a popular, healthy addition, my mother got a little carried away. Growing up in an Italian household, meatballs were a Sunday meal staple. She decided to substitute bran for the bread in her meatballs one Sunday. It was rather unforgettable and it would be difficult to accurately describe the look on my dad’s face when he bit into a meatball. If you know anything about Italian Sunday meals, you know they’re rather long, boisterous affairs. That one wasn’t. At all.

We’ve come so far in defining healthy eating and healthy habits. These many decades later, there are so many flavorful ways to incorporate healthy foods (and healthy cooking) into our diets. We can “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” without sacrificing taste or meal satisfaction. So we want to share some ideas with our community to help you get the most enjoyment from your healthy diet.

Fruit in the fridge
Apples, pears, bananas, grapes, peaches, apricots, cherries, melons, berries … we love them all. We sometimes notice though, that we don’t get as much of them as we would if we have them readily available. Many of us like to choose a variety of them, slice up those that aren’t bite size and mix them together in a container to keep in the fridge. Great mid-afternoon snack. Perfect for taking care of a little craving after dinner.

Parfaits for breakfast
They’re appealing. They’re tasty. And when you make them yourself, they’re healthy. Good quality plain yogurt, low-fat granola and the fruit of your choice make for an interesting and satisfying breakfast. Kids love these, too. They look like dessert!

Meatless Monday
We really like this idea. With all the research that’s come out regarding plant-based diets, the mediterranean diets and the benefits of plant-based proteins, many of us here really enjoy reserving one day of the week for meatless meals. It allows us to be creative and experiment. This winter we’ve enjoyed a variety of soups — mushroom barley, potato, tomato and broccoli to name just a few. Beans and root vegetables can make a great, flavorful stew. Let’s move away from the idea that vegetarian meals can’t be hearty and delicious.

Nuts and seeds
In the last twelve months or so we’ve seen some great, meaningful research some out about a variety of nuts and seeds. Walnuts, almonds and chia seeds come to mind, but there are so many options. Sprinkle them in oatmeal or yogurt. Enjoy them over salads. Incorporate them into sauces. They add a distinctive crunch and depth of flavor to whatever dish in which they’re included!

Kids in the kitchen
Looking for ways to encourage your kids to make better food choices? Get them cooking! Kids are naturally creative souls and there’s no better way to put that creativity to work. Their involvement in food preparation actually helps them to try new foods and gets them excited about their meals. Even if they’re not old enough to slice and dice, there are still many different ways they can help out. They can learn to measure and mix ingredients, choose different herbs and spices and help to create new recipes. They’ll love it and you’ll have a great time. And who knows, with a little encouragement you may have a future Bobby Flay or Mario Batali in the family!

However you choose to celebrate National Nutrition Month, make it healthy and delicious for the whole family! “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” throughout March and all year long!

Celebrate Valentine’s Day and National Heart Health Month!

Tomorrow as we celebrate Valentine’s Day, let’s all do our best to celebrate National Heart Health Month as well! February is the time we think about romance and flowers and, of course, our hearts. But it’s also National Heart Health Month, the time we should be thinking of taking the very best possible care of our hearts as well. So while you’re planning a special meal for your sweetheart tomorrow evening, please take good care to include the foods that will be kind to both your hearts!

It’s pretty easy to do and it can be quite delicious too.

To start your evening off, you might want to enjoy a glass of red wine together. Containing the flavanoids Catechins and reservatrol, red wine may help improve your levels of “good cholesterol.

You’ll also want to prepare a spinach salad, instead of traditional lettuce. Thanks to high levels of of lutein, folate, potassium, and fiber, spinach is a heart-healthy choice. It also makes for a more interesting salad on a special evening.

Seafood is certainly thought of by many as a food of love. And salmon is the food of the heart. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can effectively reduce blood pressure and keep clotting at bay.

Have berries for dessert! Mix it up with blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. You’ll be sharing Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids), anthocyanin (a flavonoid), ellagic acid (a polyphenol), vitamin C, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, fiber with your soulmate. It’s a great way to say “I love you.”

Oh and don’t forget the dark chocolate for an extra boost of flavanoids and some added sweetness. It’s not just a flavorful indulgence, a little dark chocolate is really good for your heart.

Make this year’s holiday of the heart a special one, not only for romance, but for your health too. While FoodFacts.com adores the flowers and the food and the music and the expressions of love, we do think that taking care of our health is not only the best gift we can give ourselves, but our sweethearts as well!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Surprising comfort foods that can help shed holiday pounds


As the holiday season comes to a close and we get ready to welcome the new year, our thoughts may be turning to weight loss. All those holiday indulgences may have tipped our scales in the wrong direction! So we’re recommitting to our healthy diets as we begin the new year and planning to get rid of the excess pounds we happily put on enjoying the season. FoodFacts.com has some surprising ideas that might just help.

Have a cup of hot chocolate
No — not the cup from the fast food chain by the office. Made in your own kitchen, hot chocolate can actually help with weight loss. Cocoa is high in antioxidants which lower your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone related to a build-up of belly fat. In a study from Cornell University, hot chocolate was found to have a concentration of antioxidants up to five times greater than black tea.

Enjoy a first course bowl of chicken soup
Adding a first course broth or vegetable-based soup before a meal can help you consume fewer calories. The water content helps fill you up, reducing your hunger before eating your main meal. A Penn State study found that eating soup prior to the main meal can reduce calorie intake by 20%.

Pot Roast equals more protein
Carefully prepared, pot roast — or any protein — is actually a weight loss tool Protein fights fat. Because your body works hard to break down protein for energy, you’re actually burning more calories as you digest it. And because it takes protein longer to leave your stomach, you’ll be fuller for longer after eating it. Studies show that people who increased their protein intake to 30% of their dietary intake consumed about 450 fewer calories each day.

Add a side of roasted carrots
Roasted carrots are full of sweet flavor. Carrots are high in water and fiber, so they’re great when you’re hungry. But when they’re roasted they actually help you burn more calories. The antioxidant content of the roasted vegetable actually contains three times the antioxidants of raw carrots.

Roast some potatoes
As it turns out, not all white foods help pack on the pounds. We’ve heard about white flour actually contributing to inflammation problems. We’ve heard that white rice is not as beneficial as brown rice. But the white potato is actually a fine source of many important nutrients. In addition, they contain a disease-fighting chemical called allicin. This anti-inflammatory chemical can contribute to weight loss. In addition, white potatoes are known to be a satisfying addition to a meal.

Enjoy a glass of red wine with your dinner
Many studies have been conducted regarding the benefits of red wine for your heart. But it does appear that there are other important benefits as well — one of which is fighting off excess weight. While there’s nothing conclusive, studies do suggest that the antioxidant resveratrol may inhibit the production of fat cells. There’s another substance occurring naturally in red wine called calcium pyruvate that appears to help fat cells burn more energy. Enjoy one glass for about 150 calories and you can help your heart and your weight.

While these may not be the first things we think of when seek to change our eating habits for weight loss, they really are better, healthier (and more flavorful) ideas. Diet products contain mountains of bad ingredients and they leave us hungry. Diet plans may work for a while, but odds are, the weight will come back. Intelligent changes to our regular diet that we actually enjoy can make a world of difference for our weight. So as you think ahead to taking off some weight in 2014, try some of these ideas. A new approach might just do the trick!

Holiday Cheer: Buche De Noel Edition

The big day is upon us!  The house is decorated, the tree is lit, the presents are wrapped and the meal planning is well underway!  FoodFacts.com wanted to make sure that we showcase one of our favorite courses from the holiday feast – dessert!

No matter what your tradition, dessert will certainly play a big role in tomorrow’s meal.  And many home chefs look forward to putting their skills to work in the creation of a beautiful and tasty Buche de Noel (or Yule Log).  These cakes can truly be works of art – and banquets of holiday flavor.  Unfortunately as beautiful and flavorful as the cake may be, it’s also very rich and typically packs a big punch in the fat and sugar categories.  The traditional recipe for Buche de Noel contains:

Calories: 276
Fat: 17.7g
Saturated Fat: 10.4g
Sugar: 22.9g

We’re pretty sure we can do better, while still keeping this beautiful cake moist, flavorful and fun.

For the cake, you’ll need:

  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoon(s) organic vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup(s) whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup(s) cake flour, sifted
  • 1/4 cup(s) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2/3 cup(s) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt

For the filling and frosting, you’ll need

  • Organic Agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon(s) instant espresso powder or coffee granules
  • 4 teaspoon(s) dried egg whites (see Tips), reconstituted according to package directions (equivalent to 2 egg whites)
  • 1/4 tspn creme of tartar
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup(s) brewed coffee, room temperature or cold
  • 1/4 cup(s) organic half-and-half

 

Directions

  1. Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a large (12-by-16 1/2-inch) rimmed baking sheet (half sheet pan) with parchment paper; coat the paper and pan sides with cooking spray. Place eggs (in the shell) in a stand mixer bowl or large mixing bowl, add warm tap water, and set aside to warm the eggs and bowl.
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, swirling occasionally, until the white flecks of milk solids in the bottom of the pan start to turn golden brown, 4 to 8 minutes. Scrape into a medium bowl. Let cool to room temperature, then add 2 teaspoons vanilla. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk whole-wheat flour, cake flour, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a medium bowl; set aside.
  4. Drain the water and break the eggs into the warmed mixing bowl. Add sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until thick and pale light yellow, 5 to 15 minutes (depending on the power of your mixer). To test if it’s beaten well enough, lift the beater from the batter: as the batter falls off the beater into the bowl, it should mound for a moment on the surface.
  5. Gently fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture with a whisk, in two additions, until just incorporated. Gently fold about 1 cup of the batter into the reserved butter. Then gently fold the butter mixture into the bowl of batter with a whisk until just incorporated, being careful not to overmix. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking sheet, spreading completely to the sides.
  6. Bake the cake until puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool in the pan on a large wire rack for 10 minutes. Gently run a knife around the edges and turn the cake out onto the rack; remove the parchment and let cool completely. Once cool, cover with 2 overlapping pieces of plastic wrap and a clean, damp kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out. (The cake can be held this way for up to 4 hours before assembling the Yule Log.)
  7. To prepare filling and frosting: Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler. Combine agave nectar, instant coffee, reconstituted egg whites, cream of tartar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in the top of the double boiler. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Place over the simmering water and beat on high speed until the frosting is glossy and has the texture of very thick shaving cream, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla until just combined.
  8. Leaving the towel and plastic wrap over the cake, invert it onto a work surface with a long edge nearest you. The towel will now be on the bottom, with the plastic wrap directly beneath the cake. Combine coffee and half-and-half in a small bowl. Brush the top of the cake with the coffee mixture; let it soak in and continue brushing on more until all of it is absorbed.
  9. Spread about two-thirds of the frosting evenly over the cake. Using the plastic wrap, lift the long edge and roll the cake into a log lengthwise. Cut a 3 to 4-inch “branch” off one end at an angle. Place the longer log on a serving platter, seam-side down. Use a little frosting to attach the branch to the main log. Cover the cake and branch with the remaining frosting. Make decorative ridges in the frosting with a fork to resemble bark. Let the cake stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Or refrigerate, uncovered, for up to 1 day.

Here’s how the nutrition facts stack up for the revamped recipe:

Calories:  178
Fat: 5g
Saturated Fat: 3g
Sugar: 8g

 

That’s a pretty significant difference.  It’s important to remember, especially around the holidays, that we can enjoy our favorite meals – and desserts.  We can all find lighter versions of much-loved traditional foods that don’t sacrifice flavor and will help to make our holidays happy and memorable!

FoodFacts.com wishes everyone in our community the happiest of holidays and a healthy and prosperous new year!

Good news from Noosa Yoghurt

Have you ever read the ingredient list for a typical mainstream yogurt brand? You’ll typically find a list that looks a lot like this example for strawberry yogurt:

Milk Nonfat Grade A Cultured, Sugar, Strawberries, Water, Contains 1% or less of the following: (Corn Starch Modified, Pectin, Flavors Natural, Fruit Juice, Vegetables Juice, Carrageenan, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Citrate, Lactic Acid, L Bulgaricus, S Thermophilus, Bifidobacterium Lactis)

Most of the yogurt available today in our grocery stores is promoted as a “diet” food option. Generally, you’ll find that most brands are low in calories and fat, while high in sugar and protein. Unfortunately, they also almost all contain controversial ingredients. And just about every fruit-flavored variety contains “natural flavors” (which are a long list of ingredients that manufacturers don’t need to disclose which can contain controversial items. Click here for details: http://blog.foodfacts.com/the-facts/controversial/natural-flavoring. In the example above, while the yogurt contains actual strawberries, natural flavors are added to boost that flavor for consumers, making the product more flavorful and, therefore, more desirable.

FoodFacts.com has always had a problem with this idea. Yogurt really wasn’t a diet product back in the old days. It’s nutritionally rich in protein, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. It has nutritional benefits beyond those of milk. Lactose-intolerant individuals can sometimes tolerate yogurt better than other dairy products, because the lactose in the milk is converted to glucose and galactose, and partially fermented to lactic acid, by the bacterial culture. While its origins are unknown, it is actually ancient. The oldest writings mentioning yogurt are attributed to Pliny the Elder, who remarked that certain “barbarous nations” knew how “to thicken the milk into a substance with an agreeable acidity.” That would have been sometime before 79 A.D.

We’re pretty sure the yogurt that Pliny the Elder was talking about didn’t contain natural flavors – or carrageenan, in the example given above (or high fructose corn syrup or aspartame, or artificial food dyes – to name a few other ingredients you can find in different yogurt brands.)

So where do we find a fruity yogurt that’s made more like it used to be when Pliny the Elder talked about it back in the days of the Roman Empire?

We’re glad you asked, because we’ve got good news from Noosa. This is a relatively new yogurt (or yoghurt – according to Noosa) that was developed in and named after the Noosa area of Australia. It is termed Australian-style Greek Yoghurt and there’s good reason for us all to be on the lookout for these products.

We’ve got nine Noosa fruit flavored yoghurt varieties in our database. Exactly one of them contains one controversial ingredient (that would be the lemon flavor). That means you can choose from eight other varieties that contain absolutely nothing controversial at all. Try finding a fruit flavored yogurt that can say the same thing (it’s really difficult to do). So we wanted to spotlight Noosa Yoghurt and give them a big FoodFacts.com thumbs up!

Here’s the “not so” skinny on the products.  The strawberry rhubarb flavor (which would compare to our mainstream brand example above) has a completely clean ingredient list. It’s not low fat or low calorie (so you’ll have to plan your daily diet to accommodate the product). The eight ounce container of strawberry rhubarb yoghurt contains 300 calories. It also contains 13 grams of protein and 29 grams of sugar.

Now before we condemn that sugar content, please consider that the mainstream brand example we used contains 18 grams of sugar. While that’s considerably less, it’s still rather high on the general sugar scale – but the point is, so are many yogurts on our shelves. And frankly, it’s at 300 calories, it really does fit in with a “diet” plan. This would work well as an under 400 calorie breakfast option.

Every single review of this product points decidedly in the absolutely delicious direction. Words like “thick”, “creamy”, “tastes like pie”, “really satisfying”, “you won’t feel hungry afterward” help you get the picture of a nutritionally rich, very flavorful yogurt option that’s actually a real product.

We’re excited.

So, Noosa, we love this! Have to confess, though, that we’d love it a little bit more if you also carried a line that was lower in fat and sugar. FoodFacts.com really hopes you’re working on that! But in the meantime, kudos to you for providing us with fruity yogurt options with real ingredients.

http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Yogurt/Noosa-Yoghurt-Strawberry-Rhubarb-8-oz/90221

New evidence linking diet and depression

Our mission here at FoodFacts.com has always been to educate consumers about the foods we eat and how dietary choices affect our daily lives. One of the issues we’ve posted about in the past has been how junk foods and fast foods can affect those with severe, chronic depression. Food choices count for those who are depressed and proper nutrition is especially important for our mental health. Today we found new information that expands on those concepts, re-emphasizing the importance of our healthy eating habits.

It appears that a healthy diet may reduce the risk of severe depression, according to a prospective follow-up study of more than 2,000 men conducted at the University of Eastern Finland. In addition, weight loss in the context of a lifestyle intervention was associated with a reduction in depressive symptoms.

“The study reinforces the hypothesis that a healthy diet has potential not only in the warding off of depression, but also in its prevention,” says Ms Anu Ruusunen, MSc, who presented the results in her doctoral thesis in the field of nutritional epidemiology.
Depressed individuals often have a poor quality of diet and decreased intake of nutrients. However, it has been unclear whether the diet and the intake of foods and nutrients are associated with the risk of depression in healthy individuals.

A healthy diet characterized by vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, poultry, fish and low-fat cheese was associated with a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms and a lower risk of depression during the follow-up period.

Increased intake of folate was also associated with a decreased risk of depression. Vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, meat and liver are the most important dietary sources of folate. In addition, increased coffee consumption was non-linearly associated with a decreased risk of depression.

In addition, participation in a three-year lifestyle intervention study improved depression scores with no specific group effect. Furthermore, a reduction in the body weight was associated with a greater reduction in depressive symptoms.

Adherence to an unhealthy diet characterized by a high consumption of sausages, processed meats, sugar-containing desserts and snacks, sugary drinks, manufactured foods, French rolls and baked or processed potatoes was associated with an increased prevalence of elevated depressive symptoms.

The study was based on the population-based Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) Study. The participants, over 2,000 middle-aged or older Finnish men were followed-up for an average of 13-20 years. Their diet was measured by food records and food frequency questionnaires, and information on cases of depression was obtained from the National Hospital Discharge Register. The effects of the three-year lifestyle intervention on depressive symptoms were investigated in the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study (DPS) with 140 middle-aged men and women randomized to intervention and control groups.

Depression is one of the leading health challenges in the world and its effects on public health, economics and quality of life are enormous. Not only treatment of depression, but also prevention of depression needs new approaches. Diet and other lifestyle factors may be one possibility.

FoodFacts.com understands that depression can be an enormously painful and chronic condition. It can often be treated with debilitating medications that may or may not be effective. Those medications can cause their own set of side effects that vary among individuals. Mental health problems are a rough road. Dietary and lifestyle interventions both for treatment and prevention of depression might help to smooth an otherwise rocky path for millions worldwide.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916103530.htm

Your healthy diet may lower your risk of pancreatic cancer

FoodFacts.com is always seeking new information that provides additional motivation for us all to stay committed to our healthy diet and lifestyle. Let’s face it, with so many processed foods and beverages surrounding us, as well as an enormous number of rather sedentary activity choices, we can all use a little extra inspiration from time to time! Today we read about a new study just published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that gives us plenty of encouragement for staying with our personal commitment to live the healthiest lifestyle we can.

According to this new research from the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, people who reported dietary intake that was the most consistent with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans had a lower risk of pancreatic cancer.

Previous studies investigating the relationship between food and nutrient intake and pancreatic cancer have yielded inconsistent results. The U.S. Government issues evidence-based dietary guidelines that provide the basis for federal nutrition policy and education activities to promote overall health for Americans. The authors evaluated how closely study participants’ diets matched the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as measured by the Healthy Eating Index (HEI-2005), and then compared their risk of pancreatic cancer.

Researchers calculated HEI-2005 scores for 537,218 participants in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study (ages 50-71 years), based on responses to food frequency questionnaires. Pancreatic cancer risk was then compared between those with high and low HEI-2005 scores, accounting for the influence of other known pancreatic cancer risk factors.

Among the study participants there were 2,383 new cases of pancreatic cancer. Overall, the investigators observed a 15% lower risk of pancreatic cancer among participants with the highest HEI-2005 score compared to those with the lowest HEI-2005 score. This association was stronger among overweight or obese men compared to men of normal weight, but there was no difference for normal vs. overweight or obese women. While the authors adjusted for known risk factors such as smoking and diabetes status, they caution that other health factors not collected in the questionnaires may be associated with a more healthful diet and might explain some of the observed reduced risk. They also noted that diet is difficult to measure and the HEI-2005 was not designed specifically for the purpose of overall cancer prevention.

Researchers noted that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are issued to promote overall health, including the maintenance of a healthy weight and disease prevention. Study findings support the hypothesis that a high-quality diet may also play a role in reducing pancreatic cancer risk. Future studies are needed to confirm these findings.

FoodFacts.com thinks that all of us who are committed to nutritional awareness and healthy habits should celebrate these findings, and others, that bring to light new benefits arising from our diligence. We encourage everyone in our community to spread the good news about the health benefits we can all repeat from that commitment!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130815172335.htm

There may not be a “safe” level of sugar

FoodFacts.com has always been very concerned about added sugar in the American diet. We know that unless we do our best to avoid processed foods and sugary beverages, our diets will continue to contain far too much sugar. The majority of the sugar found in our diets isn’t coming from the sugar bowls on our tables; it’s coming from the food and beverage products we’re purchasing at our grocery stores and fast food restaurants. The unreasonable amount of sugar consumed in the U.S. has contributed to the obesity crisis as well as the sharp rise in diabetes and heart disease. Today we found more information about sugar consumption that we should all be aware of.

Consuming the equivalent of three cans of soda on a daily basis, or a 25% increased added-sugar intake, may decrease lifespan and reduce the rate of reproduction, according to a study of mice published in the journal Nature Communications.

Researchers from the University of Utah conducted a toxicity experiment on 156 mice, of which 58 were male and 98 were female.

The experiment involved placing them in room-sized pens called “mouse barns” with a number of nest boxes. The researchers say this allowed the mice to move around naturally to find mates and explore the territories they wished.

The mice were fed a diet of a nutritious wheat-corn-soybean mix with vitamins and minerals. But one group of mice had 25% more sugar mixed with their food – half fructose and half glucose. Mice in a control group were fed corn starch in place of the added sugars. The National Research Council recommends that people should have no more than 25% of their daily calories from foods and beverages with added sugar.

This study in mice suggests that consuming the equivalent of three extra sodas a day could decrease your length of life. This is the equivalent of consuming three cans of sweetened soda a day alongside a healthy, no-added-sugar diet.

Results of this most recent research showed that after 32 weeks in the mouse barns, 35% of the female mice who were fed the added-sugar foods died, compared with 17% of female
The research also showed that male mice on the sugar diet produced 25% fewer offspring compared with the male mice in the control group.

However, the results reported no difference between the mice fed the healthy diet and those fed the added-sugar diet when looking at obesity, fasting insulin levels, fasting glucose levels and fasting triglyceride levels.

The study authors say of the findings:

“Our results provide evidence that added sugar consumed at concentrations currently considered safe exerts dramatic adverse impacts on mammalian health. This demonstrates the adverse effects of added sugars at human-relevant levels.”

The researchers add that the strength of this study is built on how the mice were tested in a natural environment they are accustomed to, providing more accurate results.

Wayne Potts, professor of biology at the University of Utah and the study’s senior author, says:

“Mice happen to be an excellent mammal to model human dietary issues because they have been living on the same diet as we have ever since the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago.”

FoodFacts.com finds this information especially important specifically because our population consumes so much processed food and beverages. It would be quite difficult for any consumer to keep conscious track of the amount of added sugars in their daily diet and would require notation of every product they consume – from their morning coffee or mocha or latte, instant flavored oatmeal for breakfast, granola bar snack, canned soup at lunch to the rice mix they’re preparing as a side dish for dinner. You get the idea. It’s not enough to be aware that processed foods contain added sugar. It’s important to avoid added sugar. And the best way to avoid added sugar is to prepare our own foods at home in our own kitchens. When we do, we can be confident of the amount of sugar in our diets, and avoid the serious health issues that can arise from the “sugar culture” we’re surrounded by in our grocery stores and fast food establishments.

Read more here: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/264788.php