Was there a word just on the tip of your tongue recently that you couldn’t quite remember? Are you having a difficult time staying focused at the office? Or maybe you’re having trouble remembering events from your not-so-distant past that were once easily accessible to you. Don’t be too quick to pass it off as an age-related issue or a momentary mental “glitch.” It may very well be diet-related!
A new study coming out of the University of New South Wales in Australia has linked a diet high in sugar and fat to restricted cognitive abilities — after just one week! It is thought that the results of this study may improve the current understanding of how obesity and excessive weight gain affect the body.
FoodFacts.com has reported on older studies that have linked obesity with mental health difficulties like depression. But is hasn’t been clear whether or not unhealthy dietary habits actually affect the brain. This new study sought to clarify this by evaluating cognitive changes in rats fed a diet high in both sugar and fat.
For a one week period, the test animals were assigned one of three meal plans — a healthy diet, an unhealthy diet emphasizing cake, chips and cookies, and a healthy diet taken with sugar water. The first and second meal plan groups represented control and treatment groups respectively. The third plan was experimental and attempted to isolate the effect of excessive sugar intake.
It was found that in both the treatment and experimental group, the subjects exhibited cognitive impairments after only one week. These impairments were exhibited as a reduced ability to recognize certain objects. The results suggest that even a temporary diet high in sugar and fat may have serious consequences. Researchers were surprised at the speed with which the cognitive deterioration took place. In addition, preliminary data may suggest that this damage is not reversed when the subjects are switched back to a healthy diet.
In addition, these rats had signs of inflammation in their brain’s hippocampal area — a cerebral center associated with spatial memory. This suggests that the inflammatory responses recorded in obese people may not be limited to fat tissue.
Researchers are hopeful that these results are relevant to people. They noted that while nutrition affects the brain at every age, it is critical as we age and may be significant in preventing cognitive decline.
So the next time you reach for a high fat, high sugar food option, it might be important to remember the results of this study. And if you’re having trouble reaching for that information, well … let’s say that might just be your brain on junk food! It’s time for us all to consider the way our diets affect our brains, as well as the rest of our bodies.
Every new year brings with it new food choices and consumer trends in nutrition. So what are dietitians expecting 2014 to bring? FoodFacts.com has looked into what the experts have to say that might help shape the contents of our grocery store shelves in the coming 12 months. Have you been thinking about any of these trends as they pertain to your own diet?
Dieticians predict that consumers will continue their interest in going wheat-free in the new year. While there’s no factual evidence supporting wheat or gluten free diets for weight loss or health (unless someone has a sensitivity or disease), consumers are finding wheat-free eating a fast tool for weight control. Wheat-free diets will make it to the top of the list for popular diet plans in 2014.
The decline of the low-fat diet
Dietitians are expecting that the low-fat diet will be the least-embraced diet plan of the year. Low-carb diets may pick up in popularity, while interest in low-fat eating falls off. We might attribute this to the renewed interest in healthier eating and ingredients as consumers become more concerned about how low-fat foods are produced.
Healthy eating becomes a bigger focus for food shoppers
More and more consumers are becoming educated shoppers. Ingredients and nutrition labels are a bigger concern than ever and consumers everywhere are spending more time considering the nutritional value of their purchases. This trend is expected to continue and grow in the coming year, giving food manufacturers a bigger opportunity than ever to respond to consumer concerns.
The continued lack of sound nutritional information
While it’s a good thing that consumers are more concerned than ever about the nutritional value of the foods they consume, dietitians are reporting that most of the nutritional information consumers are using is based on personal beliefs and popular concepts that are half-truths. Shoppers aren’t relying on actual published research for their information. This trend is also, unfortunately, expected to continue into the new year.
Increased interest in local and sustainable foods
Dietitians tell us that more and more consumers are looking to be more eco-conscious at the grocery store. The trend with their clients seems to be towards increasing purchases of locally produced and more sustainable foods.
The search for more and better nutrition and diet information is on
The majority of dietitians agree that American’s interest in nutrition and weight loss information will continue to grow in 2014. We hope that instead of relying on friends, relatives and articles from less-reliable sources, consumers turn to FoodFacts.com and other viable information resources in answer to their nutrition-information quest. We’ve got some big plans for the new year that will help nutritionally-conscious consumers stay committed to their healthy lifestyles!
FoodFacts.com wishes everyone in our community the happiest, most prosperous and healthiest of new years. Have a wonderful 2014!
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!
FoodFacts.com has always heard consumers claim that healthy diets are much more expensive than diets consisting of processed and fast foods. We’ve always held to the idea that this isn’t necessarily a true statement. Fresh, whole foods aren’t necessarily going to break the budget bank for most people. And frankly that box of Hamburger Helper with five servings probably won’t leave leftovers in your refrigerator. But if you purchased a pound of ground beef, a bag of pasta, mushrooms, carrots and sour cream and followed a few simple directions, you’ll have actual stroganoff with enough leftovers for lunch the next day.
Fresh, whole foods help us in so many ways. They help us fight the obesity crisis and provide us the necessary nutrients that keep our bodies healthy, reducing the risk of any number of diseases and conditions.
Just how much more expensive is it for us to maintain a healthy diet?
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have placed the additional cost at $1.50 more than it would be without an emphasis on healthy eating. They reviewed 27 different studies on the cost of healthy foods vs. unhealthy foods and were able to estimate the daily cost of a healthier diet.
“Conventional wisdom has been that healthier foods cost more, but it’s never been clear if that’s actually true or exactly how much more healthier foods might cost,” said lead study author Mayuree Rao. “We found that the healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day, and that’s less than we might have expected.”
Rao and her team looked at studies done after 2000 that compared healthy and unhealthy version of certain foods – for example, lean beef vs. a fattier cut, and studies that compared healthy and unhealthy diet patterns, such as a diet rich in fruits and vegetables versus a diet without fresh produce.
The studies they analyzed came from 10 countries, including the United States, Canada and several European nations. The food prices were converted to international dollars and adjusted for inflation.
The researchers evaluated the prices based on a specific food’s price per serving, as well as the price per 200 calories of that food item. They evaluated the diet patterns based on the price per day (three meals’ worth) and the price per 2,000 calories – the FDA’s standard daily intake recommendation for adults. This ensured the researchers were looking at the price variations from all angles.
Some food groups showed more of a difference in price than others. Meat had the highest price difference; healthier versions cost 29 cents more per serving on average than the less healthy option. Grains, snacks and dairy, on the other hand, showed minimal price differences between healthier and unhealthier versions.
On a broader scope, the healthiest diets appear to cost consumers about $1.50 more per day than the unhealthiest diets. This means consumers who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, for example, pay about $1.50 more per day than those who eat a diet made up mostly of processed foods.
While $1.50 per day is probably less than the average consumer assumes healthier food choices actually cost, that same small amount can mean different things to different people. For lower-income families, it can add up pretty quickly. And that does indicate that budgets can be a barrier to healthier eating for some segments of the population.
But there will definitely be others who will be surprised to learn that for about the price of a cup of coffee, they can grocery shop with their health in mind. Healthy eating is simpler than most people think. And a $1.50 daily investment might save a lot of money on preventable health concerns later on in life. Whatever we can do to improve our diets can go a long way towards improving our health and quality of life.
This year, McDonald’s has decided that it won’t be doing its usual national roll-out of the “beloved” McRib sandwich. It’s currently leaving it up to individual franchise owners to decide whether or not to include it on their menu.
We hear year after year after year how many millions of consumers are die-hard devotees of this strange and unusual “rib” sandwich. We must admit we don’t know any of these consumers personally. And we do have difficulty imagining the existence of a large army of people clamoring for this “rib that isn’t a real rib” sandwich. It is our guess that we’ll have a better read on how many devoted fans the McRib really has after the numbers of franchisees offering the sandwich at the end of 2013 is counted up. But we are guessing that the release of this photo picturing the raw, frozen McRib may have something to do with an unexpected downturn in that number.
Do you want to eat that?
We sure don’t! O.k. FoodFacts.com didn’t want to eat it before we saw that photo. That’s because we’re pretty well-versed in its contents. The ingredient list here is far from pretty:
McRib Pork Patty (Pork, Water, Salt, Dextrose, BHA, BHT, Propyl Gallate, Citric Acid) , McRib Bun (Flour Enriched [Wheat Flour Bleached, Barley Malted Flour, Niacin, Iron Reduced, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid (Vitamin aB)] , Water, Yeast, Corn Syrup High Fructose Contains 2% or less of the Following: (, Salt, Corn Meal, Wheat Gluten, Soybean(s) Oil, Soybean(s) Oil Partially Hydrogenated and/or, Ammonium Sulfate, Calcium Propionate, Calcium Sulphate (Sulfate), Cottonseed Oil, Dextrose, Dough Conditioner(s) [Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Datem, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Mono and Diglycerides, Ethoxylated Mono-And Diglycerides, Monocalcium Phosphate, Enzyme(s), Guar Gum, Calcium Peroxide] , Barley Malted Flour, Soy Flour, Soy Lecithin, Sugar, Wheat Flour Cultured) , McRib Sauce (Water, Corn Syrup High Fructose, Tomato(es) Paste, Vinegar Distilled, Molasses, Flavor(s) Natural Smoke, Food Starch Modified, Salt, Sugar, Beet(s) Powder, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Onion(s) Powder, Sodium Benzoate, Soybean(s) Oil, Spice(s), Xanthan Gum, Pepper(s) Chili) , Pickle Slices (Cucumber(s), Water, Vinegar Distilled, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Alum, Potassium Sorbate, Flavor(s) Natural, Polysorbate 80, Turmeric Extractives) , Onion(s) Slivered
But now we have this pre-cooked visual to accompany this very disturbing ingredient list.
The image of this indistinguishable frozen white slab JUST HAS to turn at least some consumers off to the concept of consuming one sandwich that contains well over 70 ingredients (a whole host of them being REALLY bad), 26 grams of fat (including 50% of your RDI of saturated fat) and 980 mg of sodium.
Let’s face it, the McRib really never had anything going for it in terms of healthy eating. After the release of this image, honestly, it has even less.
FoodFacts.com is well acquainted with folks trying their best to lose weight. We’re constantly adding “diet” food products to our database. You know the ones we’re talking about. Under 400 calories. Incredibly small portion sizes. And ingredient lists a mile long with far too many controversial ingredients. Changing dietary habits and lifestyle will actually help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Otherwise, they’ll go back to those same diet products for years, without much significant result. Today, though, we read some very interesting information that might just help us eat less. And if you are trying to lose weight, adding this simple action to more conscious eating and healthier lifestyle habits might just be worth a try!
Researchers from Brigham Young University (BYU) and the University of Minnesota say their study, published in The Journal of Consumer Psychology, shows that looking at too many pictures of food can make it less enjoyable to eat.
“In a way, you’re becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food,” says Ryan Elder, professor at BYU and co-author of the study. “It’s sensory boredom – you’ve kind of moved on. You don’t want that taste experience anymore.”
The researchers recruited 232 participants who were asked to carry out experiments that involved viewing and rating pictures of various foods.
In one experiment, half of the participants were asked to look at 60 pictures of sweet foods, including cake, truffles and chocolates. The other half of the participants were asked to look at 60 pictures of salty foods, including chips, pretzels and French fries.
Both groups rated each food based on how appetizing they thought it was.
All subjects were then required to eat a salty food, specifically, peanuts. They then rated how much they enjoyed eating the peanuts.
Results of the experiment showed that the participants who viewed the photos of the salty foods enjoyed the peanuts significantly less, compared with those who viewed the sweet foods, even though they had not viewed pictures of peanuts, just other salty foods.
The researchers say the reason for this is that over-exposure to images of food increases a person’s satiation.
Satiation is defined as a reduction in enjoyment as a result of repeated consumption. For example, a person enjoys the first slice of cake more than the fourth slice, as they have become tired of eating the same food.
The study authors say:
“We provide mediation evidence to show that satiation manifests because considering a food engenders spontaneous simulations of the taste of that food item, which by itself is enough to produce satiation.
These findings establish sensory simulations as an important mechanism underlying satiation, and provide behavioral evidence that simple evaluations can produce sensory-specific satiety.”
Jeff Larson, also a professor at BYU, notes that if a person wants to continue enjoying food consumption, it is best to avoid looking at too many food-related photos.
“Even I felt a little sick to my stomach during the study after looking at all the sweet pictures we had,” he says.
But he notes that their findings could be useful for those who want to avoid a particular unhealthy food. If a person wants to avoid eating chocolate, for example, he says they may want to look at more pictures of it.
However, Prof. Elder warns that there is a stipulation: “You do have to look at a decent number of pictures to get these effects. It’s not like if you look at something two or three times you’ll get that satiated effect.”
FoodFacts.com can think of a number of ways to put this information to good use in more ways than just weight loss or weight control. If someone is craving fast food, viewing repetitive images of their favorite meal might help them avoid it. Processed boxed or canned foods might be avoided in the same way. Maybe we just found a “healthy diet aid” accessible through the internet and social media. Food for thought!
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!
FoodFacts.com is always talking about the health benefits of a balanced diet that emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables. There are so many nutrients derived from the colorful varieties we’re lucky enough to be able to choose from! We know that getting our five servings a day of fruits and vegetables helps to reduce our risk of heart attack and stroke, in addition to diabetes, obesity, and even some types of cancer. Today we read about a new study that points to a lowered risk of bladder cancer for women who increase their fruit and vegetable consumption!
Researchers from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center reported on this new study in The Journal of Nutrition. The authors explained that fruits and vegetables have been extensively studied for their possible effects on the risk of cancer, including bladder cancer. Fruits and vegetables contain several nutrients, phytochemicals, as well as antioxidants which potentially protect from cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute2, there are approximately 72,570 new cancer bladder cases and 15,210 deaths caused by bladder cancer annually in the United States.
Song-Yi Park, PhD., and colleagues set out to determine what effect high fruit and vegetable intake might have on invasive bladder cancer risk. The team carried out a prospective analysis involving 185,885 older adults who participated in the Multiethnic Cohort Study. The study was set up in 1993 to examine the relationship between dietary, lifestyle, genetic factors, and the risk of cancer.
The researchers gathered and analyzed data over a 12.5-year period. During that time 152 females and 429 males developed invasive bladder cancer.
After making adjustments for some variables which influence cancer risk, such as age, the scientists discovered that those with the lowest bladder cancer risk were women who ate the most fruits and vegetables.
Dr. Park and team found that:
• Women with the highest yellow-orange vegetable intake had a 52% lower risk of developing invasive bladder cancer compared to women with the lowest consumption.
• Women with the highest consumption of vitamins A, C, and E were the least likely to develop bladder cancer.
• Fruit and vegetable consumption appeared to have no effect on male bladder cancer risk.
FoodFacts.com certainly stands behind the idea that five servings of fruits and vegetables every day is a good idea for everyone. This new information, however, gives all women yet another reason to be vigilant about their fruit and vegetable consumption. Keeping your fruit and veggie choices interesting and colorful makes it easy to include them in your daily diet. And your optimal daily diet will help you enjoy good health for years to come!
FoodFacts.com is always thrilled to hear about how food can have positive effects on our health. For us, it’s always been about how our diet can affect our well-being. Our community members know how we feel about packaged, prepared foods and artificial, controversial ingredients. Today, we want to share with you some news about some simple fruits that might actually make a world of difference to your cardiovascular health.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States and the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom conducted a study among over 90,000 women between the ages 25 and 42. The women completed questionnaires about their diet every four years for 18 years.
During the study, 405 heart attacks occurred. Those women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries had a 32% reduction in their risk of heart attack compared to women who ate the berries once a month or less. This was true even for women who ate an otherwise healthy diet rich in fruit and other vegetables.
Women who ate at least three servings of blueberries and strawberries each week had fewer heart attacks than those who did not incorporate these fruits into their diets at the same levels. Blueberries and strawberries contain high levels of compounds that have cardiovascular benefits.
Dietary flavonoids are found in high levels in both blueberries and strawberries. In addition, they are contained in grapes, wine, blackberries, and eggplant. Flavonoids have acknowledged cardiovascular benefits. In addition, there is a sub-class of flavonoids – anthocyanins – that might help to dilate arteries and counter the effects of plaque build up in the vascular system.
The reason the researchers focused on blueberries and strawberries was pretty simple. These are the most often eaten berries in the United States. Because of this, the researchers acknowledged that it’s possible that other foods might produce the same effect.
FoodFacts.com has always been a proponent of the American Heart Association’s advice regarding eating a balanced diet that includes berries as part of a plan that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. We encourage our community members to remain conscious and colorful in their food choices. We understand that variety in our diets will not only keep eating interesting, but healthy as well. A little green, a little orange, a little red, a little purple might very well go a long way for your heart – as well as your taste buds. It’s also more appealing to the eye … and we all have to see our food before we eat it. If you like what you see, you really are more likely to enjoy the meal. We don’t live in a one-dimensional world. Our plates should reflect that … taste, color, texture. Strawberries and blueberries for heart health can add a wealth of dimension to our plates.
Read more about the study here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130114152954.htm