Category Archives: healthy eating

90% of children in the United States are eating too much salt!

?????????????????????????????????????More news about the over consumption of salt here in the United States … and it’s definitely not what we want to hear.

American kids are eating far too much salt, mostly from processed foods sold in stores, putting them at risk for high blood pressure and heart disease later in life, federal health officials said last week.

A report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 90 percent of American children ages 6 to 18 consume too much sodium daily.

Those children eat an average of about 3,300 mg of sodium daily even before salt is added at the table, according to the CDC study based on national surveys in 2009 and 2010. That exceeds dietary guidelines calling for less than 2,300 mg per day.

The CDC noted that one in six young Americans already has elevated blood pressure – a condition closely linked to high sodium intake and obesity that can lead to heart attack and stroke.

The report found that 43 percent of the sodium came from 10 popular types of foods, including pizza, sandwiches like cheeseburgers, cold cuts and cured meats, pasta with sauce, cheese, salty snacks like potato chips, chicken nuggets and patties, tacos and burritos, bread and soup.

“Most sodium is from processed and restaurant food, not the salt shaker,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement. “Reducing sodium intake will help our children avoid tragic and expensive health problems.”

Dinner was the largest single source of sodium, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the daily intake, the study found.

The report said 65 percent of the sodium intake came from foods purchased in stores, with most of the sodium already in the products when purchased. Fast food restaurants including pizza places accounted for another 13 percent, the CDC said.

Meals offered at school accounted for 9 percent of total sodium consumption. Teenagers ate more sodium than younger children, according to the study that drew from interviews with more than 2,000 school-aged children.

The study found a need to reduce sodium “across multiple foods, venues and eating occasions,” the CDC researchers said. In particular, processed foods should have less sodium, the researchers said, citing efforts in Britain that reduced total sodium consumption
by 15 percent over seven years.

This new information is so concerning for future generations of Americans. FoodFacts.com wants to emphasize that this report echos the idea that the majority of sodium in our diets does not come from the salt shakers on our kitchen tables. Instead, sodium is coming from the processed foods on our grocery shelves, restaurants and fast food restaurants. Our kids are not strangers to any of those sources. And the list detailed here is pretty eye-opening. While we can’t confine our kids to our kitchens, we can commit to cooking more fresh, healthy foods in our homes and making them readily available to our children. Our kids’ healthy futures depend on it.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/09/09/in-10-us-children-eat-too-much-salt-says-cdc/

Live from your local Scoop Shop …. Saturday Night Live Ice Cream flavors from Ben & Jerry’s!

promo_bandj-snlEven FoodFacts.com loves the occassional ice cream. But it has to be real ice cream made with real ingredients. You know the kind … thick and creamy. Ice cream that actually melts because when real ice cream warms up that’s what it does, leaving a wonderfully thickened liquid in the bottom of its small cup.

For consumers everywhere, Ben & Jerry’s is the favored brand of ice cream. And in many ways — like their move against GMO ingredients — there are good reasons for that. More, than anything though, consumers love hearing about the new flavors Ben & Jerry’s is constantly introducing to their customers. And that’s what we’re featuring here today.

Are you ready for some crazy deliciousness? Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is releasing four brand-new flavors in conjunction with Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary. The newest flavors include “Lazy Sunday,” based on the infamous Lonely Island sketch, as well as “Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch,” inspired by the crazy, but well-meaning, bow-wearing girl played by Kristen Wiig, as well as two additional yet-to-be-announced flavors. We can’t tell you yet about the other two, but a little birdie may have hinted that the remaining funny flavors will be announced in the next couple of months!

Lazy Sunday, of course, is based off of a love for delicious cupcakes. (Sorry, no red vines included!). The flavor features cake batter ice cream with chocolate and yellow cupcake pieces and chocolate frosting swirl.
And you won’t be “sorry” about the decadent Gilly flavor, made with chocolate and sweet cream ice creams, with caramel clusters, fudge-covered almonds, and marshmallow swirl.

“Our fans have a great sense of humor and we share their affinity for the comic genius of Saturday Night Live,” said Lisa Sholk, Ben and Jerry’s Marketing Manager. “We loved the challenge of creating ice cream personalities for these iconic sketches.”

For the purists among us here are the ingredients listed on the Ben & Jerry’s website.

Lazy Sunday:
Cream, Skim Milk, Water, Liquid Sugar (Sugar, Water), Dried Cane Syrup, Wheat Flour, Sugar, Egg Yolks, Soy Bean Oil, Corn Syrup, Coconut Oil, Butter (Cream, Salt), Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Cocoa, Eggs, Vanila Extract, Chocolate Liquor, Natural Flavors, Salt, Guar Gum, Baking Powder (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Corn Starch, Monocalcium Phosphate), Turmeric (for color), Soy Lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Carrageenan.

Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch:
Cream, Skim MIlk, Liquid Sugar (Sugar, Water), Water, Corn Syrup, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Roasted Almonds (Almonds, Peanut Oil), Dried Cane Syrup, Sugar, Coconut Oil, Egg Yolks, Cocoa, Egg Whites, Rolled Oats (Wheat), Salt, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla Extract, Butteroil, Guar Gum, Natural Flavors, Pectin, Rice Syrup, Brown Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, Carrageenan, Paprike Extract (color) Molasses, Baking Soda, Sea Salt, Canola Oil.

We’ve still got some work to do with both of these flavors — like getting rid of the natural flavors and the carrageenan.

If these sound good to you remember you won’t be able to buy packaged pints of your favorite SNL flavor at the local grocery store, because these flavors are only available in scoop or pint form at Ben and Jerry’s scoop shops across America.

http://www.thedailymeal.com/news/live-ben-and-jerry-s-it-s-saturday-night-live-ice-cream/61914

Don’t eat that! It will spoil your appetite! Junk food just might do exactly what your mother warned you about …

Assorted Junk FoodYou have at least one memory from your childhood featuring your mom or your grandmother or some other well-meaning adult admonishing you in a harsh tone. “Don’t eat that! It will spoil your appetite!” It might have been cookies, or candy or chips. Inevitably, it was very close to dinner time. And odds are, you weren’t pleased by the words.

As it turns out, junk food really might spoil your appetite — on a more permanent basis.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales Australia conducted several studies to see how junk food would impact rats’ weight and dietary preferences. Of course, they found the obvious—junk food “makes rats fat.” But they also determined that junk food-fed rats experienced a reduced desire for novel foods, which is important as this appetitive tendency, innate in animals, typically encourages rats’ to pursue a balanced diet.

“Eating junk food seems to change the response to signals that are associated with food reward,” commented Prof. Margaret Morris, Head of Pharmacology from the UNSW Australia’s School of Medical Sciences and a study co-author.

How did the researchers come to this conclusion?

For several weeks, the team fed one group of animals a diet of healthy rat food, and they fed another group of rats a diet that included not-so-healthy human foods such as pie, dumplings, cookies and cake. Both groups of rats were also given cherry and grape sugar water to drink. The junk food-fed rats wound up weighing 10 percent more than their healthy food-fed counterparts.

In one of the experiments, the team taught these rats to associate cherry and grape sugar water with different sound cues. The healthy rats responded appropriately to the sound cues—that is, if they had just consumed grape sugar water and then heard another cue for grape sugar water, they wouldn’t drink more of it. Junk food-fed rats, on the other hand, would respond to sound cues in an unhealthy manner—if they heard a noise associated with grape sugar water, they would drink said sugar water even if they had just consumed a lot of it. (The same findings hold for cherry sugar water.)

In other words, it appears junk food-fed rats don’t seem to realize when they’ve overindulged in a food (the flavored sugar water); instead, they respond to the sound cues just the same, whereas healthy rats stop responding to the food they just ate.

“We know a lot about food and nutrition and what we should be doing, and yet we’re getting fatter and fatter,” Morris says. “Our sort of diet appears to override an animal’s ability to know it’s just eaten something—they’re just eating indiscriminately, if you will.”

In another experiment, the researchers wanted to see whether the apparent disruption of the reward mechanism persisted after the junk food-fed rats were placed on a healthy diet. Even after a week on healthy rat chow, the formerly junk food-fed rats still acted the same way, treating both solutions indiscriminately, according to Morris.

“It suggests that whatever changes happen in the brain may persist for a while,” she says.

The study, while pertaining to rats, has a lot of troubling implications for humans. Rat behavior often gives insight into human behavior—which means we should think deeply about junk food’s psychological and public health impacts.

Science is constantly offering us new perspectives on our health and our foods. FoodFacts.com can say with confidence that those new perspectives simply uphold what nutritionists, dietitians, researchers, and educated consumers have known all along. Junk food is nutritionally vacant. What it does provide, unfortunately, are high levels of sugar, salt and fat, contributing to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. And according to the study detailed here, it can interfere with our normal tendencies to balance our diets, thus leading to more of the same. Now that’s a new perspective — not to mention yet another significant reason to stay far away from junk food.

http://www.newsweek.com/junk-food-addictive-avoid-trying-new-foods-266803

Ohio’s Legendary Pink Cookie Banned from Cafeterias

YouTube-screenshot-WEWS-NewsChannel5-AFP-Getty-Images-Jim-WatsonWe’re all pretty happy about the new nutritional standards for our schools. It’s great to know that there are now real rules in place that govern the fat, sugar, salt and calorie content of the foods our kids choose to consume while they are in their school environment. But there are some things in some places that some people really just don’t want to let go of. And that’s what today’s blog post is all about.

Now, thanks to federal regulations, students in all 11 taxpayer-funded public schools in Elyria, Ohio cannot enjoy the famous Elyria pink cookie anymore.

This cookie is no ordinary cookie, according to The Chronicle-Telegram, the Cleveland suburb’s local newspaper.

It’s a velvety, cake-like, scrumptious delicacy glazed with a huge dollop of sugary pink icing. Cleveland magazine dubbed the Elyria pink cookie the “Best Cafeteria Cookie” in 2009. Locals will even call up asking for special bulk orders of the tasty treat.

The originator of the Elyria pink cookies, Jean Gawlik, formulated the legendary confection almost 40 years ago using a simple, personal recipe her late mother had given her. It includes lots of butter, a couple different kinds of sugar, some Crisco and sour cream.

As local ABC affiliate WEWS notes, the cookie has been a staple on the local school menu since roughly the Carter administration.

This year, though, students in the Elyria must say goodbye to all that because of calorie restrictions.

“We can’t have them in the cafeteria for sale, period,” Scott Teaman, who runs the district’s cafeteria services, told The Chronicle-Telegram. “The guidelines for snacks are very strict, and there is no wiggle room.”

FoodFacts.com would have to bet that there are plenty of home cooks in Elyria who already know the recipe for the scrumptious pink cookie. While we know it will be missed, we’re certain it won’t die as a community tradition. We do understand that folks are upset — but we’re willing to go out on a limb here and say that the beloved pink cookie will live on. And we’re happy about that. We do still, though, think it’s best that we all stick to the nutritional standards currently being enforced in our schools.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/08/23/now-michelle-obama-has-caused-americas-best-cafeteria-cookie-to-be-outlawed/#ixzz3Bq6ThJrL

The most important meal of the day may not be as important as we think

222979_10150199008818407_4160974_nWe all heard it when we were kids. And our kids still hear it now. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” We also heard, “You can’t be at your best without eating breakfast” and, “Breakfast fuels your morning.” Any combination of those statements has been emphasizing to us all that our day can’t possibly begin without sitting down to a good, healthy breakfast.

But that’s actually been debated for years. Adding to the ongoing debate about what makes for good food habits is another new study refuting the long-held notion that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s certainly not the first study to suggest this, but just one in a chain that has suggested that breakfast may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Earlier this year, another team had reported that when overweight and obese participants were asked to skip or eat breakfast, both groups lost the same amount of weight. Now, the new research, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, finds that normal weight breakfast eaters also aren’t necessarily any better off than breakfast skippers, at least metabolically speaking.

The study, conducted at the University of Bath, had 33 normal weight men and women either eat a breakfast (of at least 700 calories) before 11 a.m. or skip it all together. They recorded various metabolic markers – resting metabolic rate, cholesterol, and blood glucose – over a period of six weeks to see if there were any measurable differences between the two groups.

And there really weren’t any big ones. The only discernible difference was that breakfast skippers ate fewer total calories over the course of the day, which counters the image of the breakfast skipper binging later on to make up for the loss. The downside was that they did burn fewer calories over the course of a day. Meanwhile, breakfast eaters were more active in the morning, but this mainly offset the extra calories they’d consumed for breakfast.

In terms of metabolic profiles, the two groups looked pretty close. The breakfast group, especially at the end of the six weeks, did have slightly more stable blood sugar levels over the course of a day than breakfast skippers.

“I almost never have breakfast,” study author James Betts told The Times. “That was part of my motivation for conducting this research, as everybody was always telling me off and saying I should know better.” He added that he doesn’t have plans to change his routine.

Other studies have suggested that skipping breakfast is linked to considerably poorer cardiovascular health: One large study last year, which followed nearly 27,000 men over a period of 16 years, showed that skipping breakfast was linked to a 27% increased risk of coronary heart disease. The authors said this is likely due to the connections between extended fasting and blood pressure, cholesterol, and insulin resistance.

It’s worth mentioning that the current study was very small and short-term, and it will need to be repeated with more people and over a longer period of time. It may be that the effects of breakfast-skipping add up over time, and the results only evident after several years.

The bottom line is still that you should do what feels right. If you wake up famished and can’t make it more than an hour without feeling woozy, you should probably eat breakfast. But if you don’t even think about eating till midday, then you’re probably fine to skip it. There’s so much individual variation in nutrition and metabolism that the idea that eating breakfast is either a good thing or a bad thing is getting pretty hard to swallow.

It’s possible that some of the old food cliches that have become standard beliefs over generations may not be as true as we once thought. There are still a few, though, that FoodFacts.com believes might still be worth repeating to future generations. “Eat your vegetables, they’re good for you.” “You are what you eat.” “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” And while breakfast might eventually prove to NOT be the most important meal of the day, we do think there’s still something to be said for it. A healthy meal in the morning just might set the tone for the rest of the choices we make during the day.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2014/08/23/why-breakfast-may-not-be-the-most-important-meal-of-the-day/

A new take on eating healthy combines vice and virtue to achieve goals

iStock_000023805834SmallIf consistent healthy eating proves to be a challenge, there seems to be a possibility that total dedication may not be as effective in achieving a healthy lifestyle as you think.

Variety may trump virtue when it comes to the struggle to eat healthy, says a Vanderbilt marketing professor who studies consumer self-control and endorses “vice-virtue bundles” combining nutritious and not-so-nutritious foods.

“We suggest a simple … solution that can help consumers who would otherwise choose vice over virtue to simultaneously increase consumption of healthy foods (virtues) and decrease consumption of unhealthy foods (vices) while still fulfilling taste goals — ‘vice-virtue bundles,’” Kelly L. Haws, associate professor of management at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management, said.

The idea is to not give up entirely foods that provide pleasure but aren’t nutritious. Instead, the focus should be on lowering the portion of the “vice” foods and correspondingly raising the portion of a healthy food to replace it.

In a series of experiments, Haws and her colleagues found that people have a “taste-health balance point” — a proportion of vice and virtuous foods that make up one serving — which they find satisfactory. For most, the perfect vice-virtue bundle is made up of a small (1/4) to medium (1/2) portion of vice. So if a vice-virtue bundle was made up of fries and slices of apple, it might take a small or very small serving of fries to satiate the need for the vice food.

Haws is among five researchers who lay out their findings in “Vice-Virtue Bundles,” a paper under review for publication.

Vice-virtue bundles could also be the answer for many in the food service industry who are actively seeking out healthy food options that consumers will voluntarily choose, Haws said.

“Given that consumers consistently find vice-virtue bundles to be attractive, managers should consider adding vice-virtue bundles to their product lines,” Haws said.

“For restaurants and food vendors that already offer pure vice and virtue options, vice — virtue bundles provide an opportunity for product line expansion through existing items rather than through development of completely new offerings.

“This provides a potential opportunity for cost-savings, as many food establishments devote considerable resources to developing new product offerings, which can in turn increase inventory or production costs.”

This round of research did not mix in any pricing or marketing components, but the researchers say it would be easy for restaurants to pursue such experiments on their own.

“With the right marketing and the right choice sets, we believe that vice-virtue bundles offer exciting directions for future research and practice aimed at maximizing health without compromising tastes,” the researchers concluded.

Haws’ research interests are related to consumer behavior, with a focus on issues relevant to consumer welfare, specifically with respect to food/health and financial decision making. Her interests include consumer self-control, strategies for improving food consumption and behavioral pricing.

So what would you like to find in your vice-virtue bundle? FoodFacts.com can think of a few ideas. How about a good-sized serving of your favorite vegetable with a very small side of fries? A serving of roasted chicken with a very small serving of mac and cheese? Baked salmon with just a spoonful of scalloped potatoes?

While the information is an interesting possibility, there are more of a few of us that agree that just a little taste of that mac and cheese paired with a regular serving of baked chicken just might make us crave a little more of the mac and cheese. Maybe it’s just us …

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140811180253.htm

When it comes to salt, too little may be just as bad as too much

iStock_000014891232SmallWe know that high levels of sodium in our food supply are a serious problem. As also know that most of the sodium we consume daily isn’t coming from the salt shakers on our kitchen tables. Instead sodium resides in the myriad of processed foods residing on our grocery store shelves. High salt intake is in the news often with reports of a variety of health problems that can result from a high-sodium diet. But now, it appears that too little daily sodium might be bad for us too.

If the body takes in too much salt, there is a higher risk of hypertension, kidney problems, heart failure, stroke, and heart attacks. In a study focused on the effects of salt on blood pressure, nutritionists found out that those with moderate salt intake did not benefit from lessening their salt consumption as much as those who have high salt intake did.

In another study that focused on heart disease and death, researchers concluded that those with extremely low salt diets are not necessarily healthier. In fact, they said that extremely low salt intake can lead to health hazards.

A third study, however, said that there is a connection between less salt intake and better health.

All three studies were published on the August 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), it is recommended that a person consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day, TIME reports. To have an idea, a teaspoon of salt has about 2,300 mg of sodium.

One of the things that all three studies have in common is that they all confirm that too much salt is indeed bad for the body.

New York Daily News reports that the average daily consumption of salt worldwide is about 7.5 to 15.0 grams, which translates to three to six grams of sodium. The number is well above the limit of 1.5 to 2.4 grams of sodium that is recommended by different organizations.

Dr. Andrew Mente of the McMaster University in Ontario and the chief author of the blood pressure study said:

“If people are eating a very high level of sodium and they reduce their intake, you get a large reduction in blood pressure. But if you’re eating moderate level of sodium—about what most North Americans eat—and you reduce it to a lower level, you’re not really getting much in return as far as blood pressure reduction is concerned.”

With the debate on salt still ongoing, one thing is for sure. The average salt intake worldwide is more than the recommended amount, and it should be changed. Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Politcy at Tufts University said:

“The big picture is that high sodium is bad and should be reversed, and there’s just some controversy over how low you should go. Whether it should be 2 grams or 1.5 grams or 2.5 grams per day, that’s all theory. Right now it’s close to 4 grams per day. Let’s get it down below 3, and the we can argue how low it should go. But right now it’s clearly way too high.”

FoodFacts.com understands that the debate over the “perfect” amount of sodium we should consume daily may not yet be agreed upon by the experts. And while we understand the importance of that debate – especially in light of these new studies – we strongly believe and advocate for the preparation of fresh, whole foods at home in our own kitchens. The less we rely on processed products, the easier it will be for all of us to achieve a perfect balance of sodium in our daily diets.

http://www.inquisitr.com/1416601/salt-debate-too-little-salt-is-bad-too/#rQYF8IxstfDLzbU4.99

Up to 15% of coconut water brands may contain more sugar than their labels reveal

coconutWe love transparency in food labeling. FoodFacts.com believes that every consumer has the right to know exactly what’s in the foods and beverages we’re purchasing. It’s necessary for so many reasons — from food allergies, to ingredient concerns, to the health requirements many consumers must adhere to under doctors’ advice.

Often there are products introduced that we all feel good about — products with known health benefits that become trends almost instantly. Unfortunately, some mainstream manufacturers begin production and adulterate those healthy products, offering additional ingredients that consumers aren’t expecting. Almond milk is a great example of this. An otherwise healthy trend, many brands of almond milk feature ingredients that health conscious consumers aren’t comfortable with. It appears that the same may be true for coconut water.

iTi Tropicals, an importer of 100% pure coconut water in bulk, is alleging that as much as 15% of the imported coconut water contains added sugars that are not being declared on the product labels.

Lawrenceville, NJ-based iTi engaged an independent laboratory, Krueger Food Laboratories, to determine if commercially available coconut waters are properly labeled. “iTi is concerned that the continued sale of coconut waters with undeclared added sugars and other ingredients threatens to jeopardize consumer confidence in the category,” according to a statement from the company. “iTi, therefore, feels it is incumbent on the industry to take proactive steps to put an end to this misleading practice. By releasing the summary of the results of these analyses, iTi hopes that retailers and brand-holders will strive to ensure the ingredients added to coconut water are properly labeled.”

iTi released its survey of market data revealing that coconut water products with added sweeteners represent about 75% of the coconut water market.
“Consumers may not realize there are essentially two categories of coconut water products: (1) those with no added sugars and (2) those with added sugars. It may be challenging for consumers to identify all products with added sugars because testing by a reputable laboratory revealed that some of the sweetened coconut water products, which represent about 15% of the market, fail to declare added sugars,” the iTi statement said.

The market leaders in the unsweetened category represent 25% of all volume sold, according IRI data, and include brands such as Coco Libre, Naked, Purity Organics, Zico, and Zola, which supply 100% pure coconut waters without added sugars declared on the label or found in the products, according to iTi.

“Consumers of these products are demonstrating an interest in the pure coconut water taste and the lower levels of total sugars they provide. As consumers continue to look for products without added sugars, we believe the unsweetened coconut water is poised for rapid growth. For that growth to occur, companies will need to properly label added sugars to allow consumers to distinguish the sweetened and the unsweetened varieties of coconut water. Unfortunately, our testing of coconut water beverages in the market has revealed that numerous brands that are not properly labeling their products with added sugars,” the iTi statement said.

The added sugar category represents 75% of all volume sold and includes brands such as Vita Coco and Goya who combined represent 60% of all volume sold in the United States. These products declare the added sugars and generally contain more sugars than the 100% pure coconut water. For example, according to the product label of the market leader Vita Coco, it contains “less than 1% natural fruit sugar.” While one percent may sound like a small number, it can represent approximately 25% of the total sugars in the product.

In addition, iTi identified 12 canned and bottled brands packed in Thailand that contain undeclared added sugars. These inexpensive added sugars sweeten the products and help mask the taste of the naturally occurring minerals in pure coconut water and in some cases are even used to replace coconut water sugars. The practice offers unfair economic advantages to the perpetrators; it also hurts iTi (which markets only 100% pure coconut water in bulk, as an ingredient, with no added sugars) and it also harms companies that properly label their products. This latter group represents approximately 15% of the total market and brings the total sweetened category to 75%, according to iTi.

This particular story goes beyond the adulteration of almond milk with ingredients like carrageenan, because that carrageenan is identifiable on labels. It’s disturbing to understand that there are brands of coconut water avoiding the declaration of added sugar on their labels. This flies in the face of regulations, misleads consumers and adds to the already existing problem of sugar consumption. The last thing health conscious consumers need or want is to unknowingly purchase products that introduce more sugar into their diets. This study offers valuable insight on what can be going on behind a nutrition label that manufacturers don’t want to reveal.

http://www.beverageworld.com/articles/full/16734/coconut-water-supplier-iti-alleges-adulteration-of-15-of-imports#sthash.zo3l6daR.dpuf

Parents: here’s another great reason to spend more time in your own kitchen!

cooking togetherHere at FoodFacts.com, we spend a lot of time talking about the importance of preparing meals at home. You know the reasons we’re such strong proponents of home cooking — better ingredients, less salt, less sugar and healthier fats are among the finer points. But we should never forget to include the idea that home-cooked meals that utilize fresh ingredients win on flavor over processed foods every single time.

For parents, especially, cooking at home is a significant aspect of raising healthy kids. With the obesity crisis at unprecedented levels, home cooking makes a real difference in the lives of our children. It also helps our kids develop a taste for foods that aren’t chicken nuggets so that they’ll actually embrace the vegetables and fruits that are an important part of their healthy diet. It seems that new information has revealed that eating home-cooked meals does exactly that!

Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, suggests that the amount time parents spend on food preparation at home influences children’s food intake decisions made in the laboratory without parental supervision.

“In general, research shows that children tend to eat inadequate amounts of nutrient-rich foods while eating large amounts of sugary and fatty foods,” Shehan said. “It’s encouraging to see that parents can possibly affect the quality of their children’s food choices outside the home by spending more time cooking.”

The main findings showed that children whose parents reported more time spent on food preparation at home independently chose to eat meals that were lower in energy density (a measure of calories per gram) than children whose parents reported less food preparation time. In other words, the children whose parents reported more time on food preparation tended to make healthier food choices in the lab than children whose parents spent less time at home on food preparation, even without parental supervision.

The study, conducted through Penn State’s Department of Food Science and Department of Nutritional Sciences, involved 61 children between ages 4 and 6 and their parents. Each family in the study participated in two laboratory visits, where children tasted and rated their liking of a variety of foods and were then given unlimited access to these foods without adult instruction or interference. Children were allowed to eat as much or as little of any of the foods presented, which included highly energy dense foods such as chicken nuggets and chocolate chip cookies, as well as lower calorie foods such as grapes and broccoli. Meanwhile, parents completed questionnaires addressing various topics including their home food environment, their child’s food preferences and habits, and their family’s socioeconomic status.

To elucidate the neural mechanisms of such age-related changes in taste preference and sensitivity, electrophysiological experiments examined taste response characteristics of chorda tympani nerves. These nerves mediate gustatory information from the tongue to the brainstem. The researchers observed no significant differences in activity of the chorda tympani nerves by taste stimuli across the different age groups.

This research suggests parental home food preparation may influence children’s food intake patterns, even when children are eating outside the home. Future research studies are needed to see whether encouraging increased amounts of home food preparation or teaching parents food preparation skills will improve children’s eating habits.

“Even after controlling for family income and whether or not children had a parent at home full time, we found that children whose parents spend more time cooking make better choices,” Shehan added. “Our food preferences develop early in life, so getting young children to eat nutritious foods can help them stay healthy in the long run.

What we serve at home appears to develop taste preferences in children and that’s important. We all know kids love chocolate chip cookies, but that broccoli you’re preparing, or that whole grain pasta with vegetables that they really love — they’re going to look for those foods when they aren’t at home, too. And for every parent that’s struggled to find the time to put a home-cooked healthy meal on the table at the long day, that’s a great motivation to continue those healthy habits for the whole family!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140729224914.htm

Russia takes McDonald’s to court for selling food with too much fat and too many carbs

1406288418000-AP-HONG-KONG-SUSPECT-MEAT-66054766Russia has been in the news on a daily basis these days. But what we’re watching on our news networks each night has nothing to do with the news we’re sharing with our community here. This fascinating story focuses on Russia taking a stand regarding the food supply of its citizens. And they’re up in arms against McDonald’s.

Nearly a quarter-century after McDonald’s startled and delighted Soviets with their first taste of American fast-food culture, the company’s now facing a suit that could ban it from selling some of its signature products.

The Russian consumer protection agency said last Friday it is taking the company to court for selling foods that contain more fats and carbohydrates than are allowed by national regulations.

The suit comes amid especially high tensions between Moscow and Washington over the Ukraine crisis; the United States has slapped an array of sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine for allegedly supporting separatist rebels who are fighting in eastern Ukraine.

There’s no demonstrable connection between the McDonald’s suit and the tensions, but the consumer protection agency, Rospotrebnadzor, has a history of actions that appear to dovetail Russia’s political agenda. As tensions between Russia and Georgia escalated before their 2008 war, Russia banned the import of Georgian wine and mineral water — two of its major export products — for failing to meet sanitary norms. Last year, as tensions heated up over Ukraine’s desire to sign a trade pact with the European Union, Russia banned imports of chocolates made by the company of Petro Poroshenko, a tycoon who supported the EU deal and is now Ukraine’s president.

Rospotrebnadzor said on its website that it brought the case after inspections of two of the company’s restaurants in Novgorod.

According to the statement, some food was found with microbial contamination and several items had caloric values two to three times higher than allowed by national regulations. Products that were mentioned for incorrect nutritional information were cheeseburgers, Royal Cheeseburgers — the local equivalent of the Quarter Pounder — fish sandwiches and several milkshake varieties.

The suits asks that sale of McDonald’s products that do not meet the regulations be declared illegal, but it was not clear what penalty the company could face. The two restaurants in Novgorod were to be fined 70,000 rubles ($2,100).

McDonald’s prompted the ire of Russian nationalists earlier this year after it closed its outlets in Crimea.

The animosity is a far cry from the fascination that Muscovites had for McDonald’s when it opened its first outlet in the Soviet Union in 1990; customers waited in hours-long lines to experience the efficient service and reliable availability of items — rare novelties in the Soviet era.

We do get the idea that the lawsuit is likely spurred by current political tensions. It wouldn’t be the first time that politics influenced business — in Russia, or any other country, for that matter. FoodFacts.com does find it interesting, though, that Russia appears to have national regulations regarding fat and carbohydrate content in foods.

While it just can’t be that Russia’s consumer protection agency never realized that McDonald’s was breaking their national rules before, it does make you wonder even more about our own “rules” here in the U.S. T

his is never an easy subject. Land of the free that we are, Americans generally don’t like the government sticking its nose in our private lives. Unfortunately for all of us, in the last three decades or so the rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes have skyrocketed “coincidentally” with the proliferation of massive numbers of processed food choices, fast food restaurants and casual fast food eateries around our nation. When you read a story like this one, it does lead you to question if we might not all be better off with better regulations surrounding the foods that are adding to, if not fueling, the health problems that increasingly afflict massive numbers of our citizens every day. It’s a complicated question, but it’s certainly worth some real discussion.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/07/25/russia-mcdonalds-food-has-too-many-calories/13190573/