Category Archives: Healthy Lifestyle

Mediterranean diet may help stave off cognitive decline for older adults

150511124849_1_540x360We’ve been hearing more and more regarding the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. FoodFacts.com has always considered this diet as more of a lifestyle choice as it was born from the lifestyle of the Mediterranean population. Rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, and lean proteins (mostly fish), the diet allows for a wide variety of healthy food choices that offer both flavor and variety. The health benefits are truly impressive and we keep learning that there are new ones linked to Mediterranean-style eating. Here is another new addition to that already-impressive list.

Supplementing the plant-based Mediterranean diet with antioxidant-rich extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts was associated with improved cognitive function in a study of older adults in Spain but the authors warn more investigation is needed, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.
Emerging evidence suggests associations between dietary habits and cognitive performance. Oxidative stress (the body’s inability to appropriately detoxify itself) has long been considered to play a major role in cognitive decline.

Previous research suggests following a Mediterranean diet may relate to better cognitive function and a lower risk of dementia. However, the observational studies that have examined these associations have limitations, according to the study background.

Emilio Ros, M.D., Ph.D., of the Institut d’Investigacions Biomediques August Pi Sunyer, Hospital Clinic, Barcelona, and Ciber Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBEROBN), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, and coauthors compared a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts with a low-fat control diet.

The randomized clinical trial included 447 cognitively healthy volunteers (223 were women; average age was nearly 67 years) who were at high cardiovascular risk and were enrolled in the Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea nutrition intervention.

Of the participants, 155 individuals were assigned to supplement a Mediterranean diet with one liter of extra virgin olive oil per week; 147 were assigned to supplement a Mediterranean diet with 30 grams per day of a mix of walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds; and 145 individuals were assigned to follow a low-fat control diet.

The authors measured cognitive change over time with a battery of neuropsychological tests and they constructed three cognitive composites for memory, frontal (attention and executive function) and global cognition. After a median of four years of the intervention, follow-up tests were available on 334 participants.

At the end of the follow-up, there were 37 cases of mild cognitive impairment: 17 (13.4 percent) in the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil group; eight (7.1 percent) in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts group; and 12 (12.6 percent) in the low-fat control group. No dementia cases were documented in patients who completed study follow-up.

The study found that individuals assigned to the low-fat control diet had a significant decrease from baseline in all composites of cognitive function. Compared with the control group, the memory composite improved significantly in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts, while the frontal and global cognition composites improved in the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil group.

The authors note the changes for the two Mediterranean diet arms in each composite were more like each other than when comparing the individual Mediterranean diet groups with the low-fat diet control group.

“Our results suggest that in an older population a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts may counter-act age-related cognitive decline. The lack of effective treatments for cognitive decline and dementia points to the need of preventive strategies to delay the onset and/or minimize the effects of these devastating conditions. The present results with the Mediterranean diet are encouraging but further investigation is warranted,” the study concludes.

If you’re interested in trying to follow a Mediterranean diet, it’s fairly simple to do and there are resources all over the internet that can help you. Mediterranean-style eating emphasizes vegetables, fruits and grains supplemented with fish and some other lean proteins in small amounts. It allows for flexible menus — you won’t be eating the same meals repeatedly. It also allows for tremendous flavors and doesn’t ignore your desire to eat well at the expense of being healthy. And most importantly, it’s really not a diet. It doesn’t have a beginning and an end. It’s really an eating style that’s simple to incorporate into your life. It’s definitely worth a look.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150511124849.htm

Does who you eat with affect how much you eat?

food_0It’s an interesting question. Do our dining companions influence our consumption? Are there friends or family members we sit down for a meal with somehow affecting the amount of food we consume during any given meal? A new study from UNSW Australia says the answer is “Yes!”

This psychological effect, known as social modelling, leads people to eat less than they normally would if alone when their companion consumes a small amount of food.

Study lead author, Associate Professor Lenny Vartanian of the UNSW School of Psychology, says that in social situations the appropriate amount of food to eat can be unclear.

“Internal signals like hunger and feeling full can often be unreliable guides. In these situations people can look to the example of others to decide how much food they should consume,” he says.

Associate Professor Vartanian and his colleagues analysed the results of 38 studies in which the amount of food that people ate in company was measured. The results are published in the journal Social Influence.

“The research shows that social factors are a powerful influence on consumption. When the companion eats very little, people suppress their food intake and eat less than they normally would if alone,” he says.

“If the social model eats a large amount, people have the freedom to eat their normal intake, or even more if they want.”

The effect is observed in many different situations: with healthy and unhealthy snack foods, during meals, when the diner has been deprived of food for up to day, and among children, and it occurs independent of people’s body weight.

“It even occurs when the companion is not physically present and diners are simply given a written indication of what that other person ate,” says Associate Professor Vartanian.

The effect appears to be stronger in women than men, and this may be because women tend to be more concerned about how they are viewed by others when they are eating.

“Or the explanation could be more mundane, that undergraduate males participating in the research are over-enthusiastic about an offer of free food,” he says.

The research shows that the modelling effect is stronger in older children than in younger children, which also suggests that relying on external rather than internal cues for how much to eat is a learnt behaviour.

“Media reports usually focus on how portion size affects how much we eat, but this modelling effect deserves as much attention, because of its big impact on people’s ability to regulate their intake of food,” says Associate Professor Vartanian.

The next time any of us at FoodFacts.com enjoys a meal out with a friend or family member, we may not be thinking so much about the far-too-big portion size we’re being served. We may actually spend some time observing the eating patterns of our dining partners. Perhaps by staying aware of those, we’ll actually be able to control our own consumption. It’s an interesting concept and one we might be able to apply on an immediate level as part of our healthy lifestyles!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150511095612.htm

Another reason to stay away from fast food: new book claims fast food kills the gut bacteria that help you stay slim

fastfood (1)When we hear the word bacteria, our first inclination is to think of illness and things we should stay away from. Standing water, for instance, could be “crawling with bacteria.” Gas station bathrooms, uncleaned countertops, sticky seats in restaurants and bars are generally related in our minds to “nasty bacteria.” Bacteria gets a bad rap — and sometimes it should. There are harmful bacteria, but there are also beneficial bacteria. Those should be residing in our gut. What happens when those beneficial bacteria are killed off? What can cause that to happen?

While highly processed ingredients and huge portions typically aren’t doing you any favors, new information says they can also kill off the beneficial gut bacteria that help burn calories.

The findings are the result of research into the links between gut bacteria and health conducted by genetic epidemiology professor Tim Spector of King’s College London.

He found that diets composed of a relatively small number of ingredients, most of which are highly processed, are toxic to these bacteria. In fact, many of them can die off within days of beginning such a diet.

Spector will elaborate on the research in his upcoming book, “The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat,” which focuses on the role that a diverse diet plays in fostering a healthy microbes in the human body.

In one study discussed in the book, Spector enlisted his 23-year-old son, Tom, who agreed to spend 10 days eating nothing but McDonald’s chicken nuggets, fries, burgers and Coca-Cola.

“Before I started my father’s fast food diet there were about 3500 bacterial species in my gut, dominated by a type called firmicutes,” the younger Spector, a genetics student told The Australian.

“Once on the diet I rapidly lost 1,300 species of bacteria and my gut was dominated by a different group called bacteroidetes. The implication is that the McDonald’s diet killed 1,300 of my gut species,” he said.

This discovery suggested to his father that many cases of obesity may not simply be due to overeating.

“Microbes get a bad press, but only a few of the millions of species are harmful and many are crucial to our health,” Professor Spector told The Australian.

“What is emerging is that changes in our gut microbe community , or microbiome, are likely to be responsible for much of our obesity epidemic, and consequences like diabetes, cancer and heart disease,” he said. “It is clear that the more diverse your diet, the more diverse your microbes and the better your health at any age.”

Previous studies made similar findings: Professor Rob Knight of the University of Colorado Boulder, who collaborates with Spector, famously showed that transferring gut bacteria from obese humans to mice could make the rodents gain weight.

Spector’s book claims that the diversity of microbes in the human body has decreased almost a third over the last century. But there’s also good news: Foods like dark chocolate, garlic, coffee and Belgian beer may help increase gut microbes.

Some of these claims cannot be independently verified, as the noted study isn’t published publicly nor readily available in a peer-reviewed journal. In addition, while mouse studies have found links between gut microbes, dietary changes and obesity, the evidence remains less clear in humans. As Robert Knight of the University of Colorado wrote in a recent review in the British Journal of Nutrition: “It remains a challenge to identify the key pathogenic microbiota and to establish a causal (rather than associative) relationship between specific microbes or community states and a given physiological or disease phenotype.”

In large part, the idea that fast food (and highly processed ingredients of all kinds) kills beneficial gut bacteria and throws bodies out of balance, inviting excessive weight gain is a theory. It is, however, a theory on which FoodFacts.com would like to see more credible studies done. While we’re at it, we’d like to see those studies include more than fast food. We think that other highly processed foods — foods from boxes and cans — should be studied as well. Let’s remember the big coincidence surrounding the obesity crisis. It’s a relatively new phenomenon that corresponds directly with the infiltration of highly processed foods in our diets over the last 30 years or so. Our grocery shelves are lined with unnecessary highly-processed everything, fast food is available everywhere (in some areas, every few blocks) and most people aren’t taking the time to cook actual food. It does seem that we’ve traded our health for convenience, with encouragement from food manufacturers and fast food chains. While we wait for further study and exploration, let’s all remember that real food doesn’t have any ingredient list — real food IS the ingredient list. Protein, produce, grains, nuts, seeds, beans … we all know what they are. Go to the grocery store and buy ingredients.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/junk-food-kills-helpful-gut-bacteria-study-finds/

Craving snacks late at night? Blame your brain

150505121418_1_540x360We’ve all been there. It’s late. You’re watching television. Somehow, you find yourself in front of your open refrigerator or freezer or snack drawer or cabinet. “Just a little something,” you think to yourself. But inexplicably that “little something” doesn’t seem to be enough. And that is how pints of ice cream can “disappear” after 11 p.m.

What’s going on with that?

Researchers at BYU have shed new light on why you, your friends, neighbors and most everyone you know tend to snack at night: some areas of the brain don’t get the same “food high” in the evening.

In a newly published study, exercise sciences professors and a neuroscientist at BYU used MRI to measure how people’s brains respond to high- and low-calorie food images at different times of the day. The results showed that images of food, especially high-calorie food, can generate spikes in brain activity, but those neural responses are lower in the evening.

“You might over-consume at night because food is not as rewarding, at least visually at that time of day,” said lead author Travis Masterson. “It may not be as satisfying to eat at night so you eat more to try to get satisfied.”

The study, which appears in academic journal Brain Imaging and Behavior, also reports that participants were subjectively more preoccupied with food at night even though their hunger and “fullness” levels were similar to other times of the day.

Masterson, who carried out the research for his master’s thesis under faculty advisor James LeCheminant, said the intent was to better understand if time of day influences neural responses to pictures of food.

The researchers teamed up with BYU neuroscientist Brock Kirwan to use functional MRI to monitor the brain activity of study subjects while they viewed images of food. The participants viewed 360 images during two separate sessions held one week apart–one during morning hours and one during evening hours.

Subjects looked at images of both low-calorie foods (vegetables, fruits, fish, grains) and high-calorie foods (candy, baked goods, ice cream, fast food). As expected, the researchers found greater neural responses to images of high-calorie foods. However, they were surprised to see lower reward-related brain reactivity to the food images in the evening.

“We thought the responses would be greater at night because we tend to over-consume later in the day,” said study coauthor Lance Davidson, a professor of exercise sciences. “But just to know that the brain responds differently at different times of day could have implications for eating.”

Nevertheless, researchers noted that the study is preliminary and additional work is needed to verify and better understand the findings. The next research steps would be to determine the extent that these neural responses translate into eating behavior and the implications for weight management.

Masterson, who is heading to Penn State University to work on his PhD in the fall, said the study has helped him pay better attention to how food makes him feel both in the morning and the evening. And as for his late-night eating habits?

“I tell myself, this isn’t probably as satisfying as it should be,” he said. “It helps me avoid snacking too much at night.”

FoodFacts.com wonders if a greater understanding of our brains can actually help us stave off late night cravings. Can we talk ourselves out of late-night snacking? Or perhaps, at least, help ourselves understand that the “little something” we want would actually be enough for us earlier in the day? We’re not sure. But the weekend is coming and we’re going to quietly put those pints of ice cream back in our freezer and test this out!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150505121418.htm

Bacon Guacamole Flatbread from Dunkin, for breakfast

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 1.10.58 PMDunkin’s latest breakfast mash-up combines eggs, bacon and guacamole for a new twist to start your morning. While we here at FoodFacts.com didn’t have the most enthusiastic response to the new breakfast sandwich, there may be some who find this appealing. Our own take is that fast food guacamole is closer to a spread than the guacamole we personally enjoy. Not our favorite thing.

Since we know there will be folks who look at this and think differently, we thought we’d do a little exploring for you to find out what’s really in this new sandwich, besides the traditional Dunkin “un-egg-like” looking egg. Here’s what we found:

Nutrition Facts:

Calories:                          360
Fat:                                  17 grams
Saturated Fat:                5 grams
Sodium:                          850 mg

Ingredients:

Multigrain Flatbread: Whole Wheat Flour, Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Multigrain Blend [Wheat Sourdough (Water, Fermented Wheat Flour), Wheat Grains, Rye Grains, Oat Grains, Flaxseed, Rye Sourdough, Millet Seed, Teff Seed, Salt, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative)], Yeast, Soybean Oil, Sugar, Dough Conditioner [Water, Emulsifiers (Mono and Diglycerides, DATEM), Guar Gum, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Natural Flavor, Enzymes], Contains 2% or less of the following: Oat Hydrocolloid (Oat Bran, Oat Fiber), Wheat Gluten, Salt, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Natural and Artificial Flavor; Fried Egg: Egg Whites, Water, Egg Yolks, Modified Corn Starch, Natural Sauteed Flavor (Soybean Oil, Medium Chain Triglycerides, Natural Flavor), Salt, Artificial Butter Flavor (Propylene Glycol, Artificial Flavor), Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Coarse Ground Black Pepper; Guacamole Spread: Hass Avocado, Tomato, Onion, Salt, Lime Juice Concentrate, Cilantro, Jalapeno Pepper, Garlic, Jalapeno Powder; Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese: Pasteurized Part-Skim Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto (Color); Bacon: Pork, cured with: Water, Sugar, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Smoke Flavoring, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite.May contain trace amounts of Soy.

First we need to point out the instances of natural and artificial flavor found in this list. Then we need to emphasize the use of artificial butter flavor made of propylene glycol and artificial flavor which we find especially disturbing. We also don’t understand the need for natural sauteed flavor, either. Both the natural sauteed flavor and the artificial butter flavor are in the eggs, which for some reason have a rather long list of ingredients. This seems to be a fast food trend and is something that most people should find off-putting, to say the least.

Both the nutrition facts and the ingredients are fairly standard for a fast food breakfast sandwich. There’s nothing good here, no matter how appealing the sandwich might appear.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/dunkindonuts/en/menu/food/sandwiches/breakfastsandwiches/bacon_guacamole.html

Saturated fats may be directly damaging your heart

Coconut_Oil_Industrial_Grad_500x500What is a healthy fat? Back in the 1990s, we were all in the middle of a “no fat” craze. You could go to the grocery store and find fat-free versions of almost anything, including cookies. Given a little time and a little knowledge, we finally came to understand that fats can actually be healthy. But not every fat is good for you. FoodFacts.com has seen plenty of research discussing this. We know that our community is fairly well versed on saturated vs. unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are detrimental to heart health. There is news, however, that those adverse effects are much more direct than we may have considered.

Olive oil is universally considered a much healthier alternative to meat fat. Plant-derived oils (such as olive oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil) largely consist of unsaturated fatty acids, whereas animal fat is richer in the saturated ones. After a typical meal, carbohydrates are the primary source of energy production by the heart. Under fasting conditions, however, free fatty acids become the major energy producer. Saturated fat in a diet is known to be detrimental to heart health, but its impact on the cardiac muscle has been studied only recently.

Interestingly, while saturated fatty acids are toxic to cells, unsaturated fatty acids are not only harmless but also provide protection against the damage done by saturated fatty acids. Studies conducted on many cell lines have indicated that saturated fatty acids can cause cell death involving the “endoplasmic reticulum stress (ER stress),” a cellular process known to be involved in the development of many diseases. A new paper, “Saturated fatty acids induce endoplasmic reticulum stress in primary cardiomyocytes,” just published in open access in “Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress in Diseases” by De Gruyter Open shows that there are striking differences in the accumulation of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in cardiac muscle cells, and that saturated fatty acids induce the death of these cells through the ER stress. In stalking contrast, unsaturated fatty acids protect the same cells from such damage.

A research group from the Montreal Heart Institute in Canada, led by Dr. Nicolas Bousette, evaluated the impact of palmitate and oleate on cellular fatty acid absorption, triglyceride synthesis, intracellular lipid distribution, ER stress, and cell death in primary cardiomyocytes. This is the first time that such phenomena were observed in cells directly derived from the heart, validating a critical role for saturated fatty acids in the development of heart diseases. Given a primary role for lipid metabolism in the development of type II diabetes, the current finding might suggest a probable role for saturated fatty acids in the development of heart conditions among diabetic patients. The current results and future research in this direction might improve our understanding on the possible connection between intracardiomyocyte lipid accumulation and the development of diabetic cardiomyopathy.

Saturated fats destroy cells. They can destroy cells in the cardiac muscle. What a great reason to reach for healthy fats for our cooking. While everything in moderation is a great rule, we should definitely be emphasizing healthy fats over unhealthy choices. It’s not hard to do and we can save our hearts from unnecessary stress.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150427101527.htm

The third hottest pepper in the world now in your french fries …. Jalapeno Ghost Pepper Fries from Wendy’s

wendys-new-logo (1)Some of us like a little heat in our food sometimes. Tabasco sauce can be fun added to a burger. Jalapenos in a taco or added to a sauce can give food a kick — and also some additional flavor. But how much heat is too much heat?

Wendy’s has introduced Jalapeno Ghost Pepper Fries. Unless they’ve added almost no real ghost peppers in this dish, odds are very few people will be able to enjoy it, even if they’re big fans of hot food. If you’ve ever watched a cooking show that features ghost peppers, you’ll see chefs boil the peppers, discard them and use just a few tablespoons of the liquid in the dish they’re preparing. Even then, the finished product can be too hot for some to handle. And with good reason.

In 2007, Guinness World Records certified that the ghost pepper was the world’s hottest chili pepper, 900.5 times hotter than Tabasco sauce; the ghost chili is rated at more than 1 million Scoville heat units (SHUs). Classic Tabasco sauce ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 SHUs. However, the bhut jolokia was superseded by the Trinidad moruga scorpion in 2012 ]which was in turn replaced by the “Carolina Reaper” on December 26, 2013.

That makes the ghost pepper the third hottest chili in the world. Imagine a pepper that’s over 900 times as hot as Tabasco sauce. Then imagine including it in a dish for fast food consumers, who may not understand the punch this pepper can pack.

Our suspicion is that there’s little, if any, ghost peppers in these new Wendy’s fries. So let’s investigate a little and see what we can find out.

Small French Fries: Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (contains one or more of the following oils: canola, soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, corn), Dextrose, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (to maintain natural color). Cooked in Soybean Oil, Vegetable Oil (may contain one or more of the following: canola, corn, cottonseed), Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid (preservative), Dimethylpolysiloxane (anti-foaming agent). Cooked in the same oil as menu items that contain Wheat, Egg, and Fish (where available). Seasoned with Sea Salt. Cheddar Cheese Sauce Water, Cheddar Cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), Milk Ingredients, Cream Cheese (pasteurized milk and cream, cheese culture, salt, carob bean gum), Modified Cornstarch, Soybean Oil, Palm Oil, Whey, Sodium Phosphate, Cream, Cheese Culture, Milk Fat, Parmesan Cheese (pasteurized part-skim milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzyme), Butter, Sodium Phosphate, Salt And Sea Salt, Sodium Alginate, Carob Bean Gum, Mono & Diglycerides, Annatto And Apocarotenal (for color), Lactic Acid. CONTAINS: MILK. Cheddar Cheese, Shredded Cultured Pasteurized Milk, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto Color, Potato Starch and Powdered Cellulose (to prevent caking), Natamycin (natural mold inhibitor). CONTAINS: MILK. Ghost Pepper Sauce Soybean Oil, Sour Cream (cream, modified corn starch, lactic acid, gelatin, guar gum, mono and diglycerides, sodium phosphate, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate [preservatives], acetic acid, citric acid, phosphoric acid, natural and artificial flavors), Buttermilk, Jalapeno Pepper, Egg Yolk, Salt, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Cilantro, Sugar, Spice, Xanthan Gum, Onion (dehydrated), Oleoresin Paprika, Garlic (dehydrated), Acetic Acid, Ghost Pepper, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Oleoresin Rosemary. CONTAINS: EGG, MILK. Diced Jalapenos Jalapenos.

The Ghost Pepper sauce actually contains more jalapeno pepper than ghost pepper — which is the fifth ingredient to last in the list. And that list, just for the ghost pepper sauce, contains 34 ingredients. Without any percentages given for the use of the actual pepper, it’s difficult to understand why the fries carry any sort of ghost pepper moniker. There are natural and artificial flavors used and those must be to mimic the flavor of something (probably peppers.)

The new Jalapeno Ghost Pepper Fries from Wendy’s have very little to do with ghost peppers. This is marketing ploy to generate consumer interest for a new product. While we’re sure the fries do have a kick of heat, eating these has little resemblance, if any, to eating any dish prepared with ghost peppers. Foodfacts.com likes trying new and interesting foods. We even enjoy a little heat every now and again. But we also like transparency regarding the foods we choose to consume. Wendy’s isn’t doing that here. We’d probably be saying no to this anyway, just based on the length and content of the ingredient list. But the idea that there’s barely any ghost pepper in a sauce for which the fries are named seals the deal. Not trying this one.

https://www.wendys.com/en-us/nutrition-info

Some things are better left behind … Burger King revives Chicken Fries

Tenant_burgerKing2We never understand why fast food seems bent on destroying perfectly healthy lean protein. With very few exceptions, there really aren’t any healthy chicken options on fast food menus. They generally all have far too many ingredients, many of which are controversial and bleak nutrition facts. It doesn’t make much sense.

Sometimes it’s even worse. Sometimes once a fast food chain has retired an unhealthy chicken option, they bring it back years later telling us consumers were begging them to do so. Someone, somewhere was obviously imploring Burger King to bring back Chicken Fries.
And here they are.

Just in case you missed them the first time around, FoodFacts.com wants to familiarize you with the sad facts behind the fries.

For the record, you get 9 pieces in an order of Chicken Fries. Nutrition facts here do not include any of the dipping sauces you can choose from (BBQ, Honey Mustard, Ranch, Zesty, Buffalo and Sweet & Sour). These are for the fries only:

Calories:                     290
Fat:                              17 grams
Saturated Fat:           3 grams
Sodium:                     780 mg

That’s a lot of fat for nine thin Chicken Fries. It’s also too much salt. How does that happen to chicken, anyway? Take a look:

Ingredients: UNCOOKED CHICKEN BREAST STRIP FRITTERS WITH RIB MEAT: Chicken Breast with Rib Meat, Water, Seasoning (Salt, Modified Corn Starch, Flavoring), Modified Potato Starch, Sodium Phosphates: BREADED WITH: Bleached Wheat Flour, Modified Wheat Starch, Rice Flour, Salt, Spices, Dextrose, Paprika, Monosodium Glutamate, Dehydrated Garlic, Dehydrated Onion, Soybean Oil, Maltodextrin, Natural Flavor, Extractives of Paprika. BATTERED WITH: Water, Bleached Wheat Flour, Corn Starch, Modified Wheat Starch, Maltodextrin, Potato Starch, Modified Corn Starch, Methylcellulose, Mono and Diglycerides, Leavening (Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), PREDUSTED WITH: Bleached Wheat Flour, Modified Corn Starch, Dextrose, Monosodium Glutamate, Salt, Maltodextrin, Corn Starch, Sugar, Soybean Oil, Paprika, Spice, Onion Powder, Extractives of Paprika, Garlic Powder, Turmeric, Natural Flavors. Breading set in Vegetable Oil.
Burger King might consider changing the name of Chicken Fries to MSG Fries. They certainly qualify.

Fast food menu items like Chicken Fries illustrate how processing destroys the benefits of lean protein like chicken. To be honest, we don’t care who was begging Burger King to bring Chicken Fries back. They were best left behind for good.

http://www.bk.com/menu-item/chicken-fries

http://www.bk.com/pdfs/nutrition.pdf

Where rocky doesn’t meet the road … new Rocky Road Iced Coffee from Dunkin Donuts

1426141519371Rocky road ice cream. Rich chocolate ice cream laden with nuts and marshmallows. For many, this is a comforting childhood memory. So it’s no surprise that Dunkin Donuts saw an opportunity to capitalize on that memory and introduce their new Rocky Road Iced Coffee.

How did Dunkin manage to get the flavors of nuts and marshmallows into coffee?

FoodFacts.com thought that was a great question, so we did a little investigating.

As far as flavored iced coffees are concerned the new Rocky Road Iced Coffee is similar in nutrition facts. Here are the numbers for a medium with cream (the numbers for whole milk and skim milk aren’t yet available on their website):

Calories:             260
Fat:                      12 grams
Sugar:                 36 grams

Still too much sugar going on, but that’s common for a beverage like this one.

Let’s move onto the ingredient list and see if we can find out how these flavors were incorporated into the new coffee:

Brewed 100% Arabica Coffee; Rocky Road Flavored Swirl Syrup: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Cocoa processed with alkali, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Salt.

And there you have it. Rocky doesn’t meet the road in the new Dunkin Rocky Road Iced Coffee. It’s all about artificial and natural flavors.

Like many flavored products, Rocky Road Iced coffee isn’t getting its flavor from the actual ingredients that are used to make traditional rocky road ice cream. We like the flavors in our coffee (and our food) to come from what the flavor is supposed to be — in this case nuts and marshmallows. Since they don’t, we won’t be trying it.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/dunkindonuts/en/menu/beverages/icedbeverages/coffee0/iced_coffee.html?DRP_SWEET=None&DRP_FLAVOR=Rocky+Road+Swirl&DRP_SIZE=Medium&DRP_BLEND=Original&DRP_DAIRY=None

Exercise won’t save you from a bad diet

woman-at-gym-drinking-juiceSince way back in the 1980s, exercise has been much more than a fad and bigger than a trend. It’s a given for most people. It’s how we believe we stay healthy, thin and fit. FoodFacts.com wants to start off saying that exercise IS incredibly important for all of us for a myriad of reasons. But we’re learning more and more that exercise isn’t the only thing you need to incorporate into your routine to be living a healthy lifestyle.

In a fascinating and scorching editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, three authors argue that the myth that exercise is the key to weight loss – and to health – is erroneous and pervasive, and that it must end. The evidence that diet matters more than exercise is now overwhelming, they write, and has got to be heeded: We can exercise to the moon and back but still be fat for all the sugar and carbs we consume. And perhaps even more jarring is that we can be a normal weight and exercise, and still be unhealthy if we’re eating poorly. So, they say, we need a basic reboot of our understanding of health, which has to involve the food industry’s powerful PR “machinery,” since that was part of the problem to begin with.

The major point the team makes – which they say the public doesn’t really understand – is that exercise in and of itself doesn’t really lead to weight loss. It may lead to a number of excellent health effects, but weight loss – if you’re not also restricting calories – isn’t one of them. “Regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and some cancers by at least 30%,” they write. “However, physical activity does not promote weight loss.”

Plus, in the last 30 years, exercise has stayed about the same, while overweight and obesity have skyrocketed. So something else must be at play – like the type of food we’re eating. That part has gotten steadily worse over the years, as highly-processed sugary foods and sodas have taken over as our go-to choices. “According to the Lancet global burden of disease reports,” they write, “poor diet now generates more disease than physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking combined.” This is a disturbing statistic. But it gets worse.

The related and larger issue is that even normal weight people who exercise will, if they eat poorly, have metabolic markers that put them at very high risk of chronic illness and early mortality. “Up to 40% of those with a normal body mass index will harbour metabolic abnormalities typically associated with obesity, which include hypertension, dyslipidaemia, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease.”

And the crux of the issue is this: We’re continually “fed” the idea that all that’s behind the rise in obesity is lack of exercise, or sedentariness. There have certainly been a lot of studies and popular articles suggesting that sitting is our downfall. Instead of effective messages about diet and health that science actually knows to be true, “members of the public are drowned by an unhelpful message about maintaining a ‘healthy weight’ through calorie counting,” the team writes, “and many still wrongly believe that obesity is entirely due to lack of exercise. This false perception is rooted in the Food Industry’s Public Relations machinery, which uses tactics chillingly similar to those of big tobacco.”

What we know to be true is much simpler: “Sugar calories promote fat storage and hunger,” the write. “Fat calories induce fullness or satiation.” For every additional 150 calories in sugar (i.e., a can of soda) a person consumes per day, the risk for diabetes rises 11-fold, regardless of how much or little we exercise. The single most effective thing people can do for their weight, they write, is to restrict calories – and even more, restrict carbohydrates.

So if this is all true, and research seems to suggest it is, how will it change? It might take quite a lot of work to shift our psychology around food, especially since advertising is so saturated with the message that carbohydrates are good for us. The celebrity endorsements might need to be tweaked, the authors say, and certainly the way foods are advertised and, perhaps, created, need to be shifted. The public should be repeatedly hit with the message that whole, natural foods, where possible and affordable is the best way to go. If you’re trying to lose weight, reduce your calories (especially sugars) – don’t think exercise alone will cut it. And even if you’re normal weight, you can’t subside solely on junk and stay healthy.

The authors end with this powerful finale: “It is time to wind back the harms caused by the junk food industry’s Public Relations machinery. Let us bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity. You cannot outrun a bad diet.”

Again we see science pointing out the idea that even fit people who exercise regularly who don’t have an issue with keeping their weight in a healthy range can be plagued by the metabolic problems normally associated with obesity. If you’re eating a 2000 calorie a day diet, but those calories are coming from bad food, you can look great but still have a health problem. Those fast food breakfast sandwiches that boast an under 400 calorie count are still fast food. That processed cereal with only 250 calories people are enjoying for breakfast is still processed and contains added sugar. The list can go on. The message is about nutritional quality and where we find it.

Let’s get smarter about our lifestyle. Let’s find nutritionally beneficial foods we like eating and prepare them in our own kitchens where we have control over the sugar, salt and fat we add to the dishes we prepare. And let’s keep right on getting ourselves to the gym and out for a run, understanding that our healthy lifestyle is about everything we do with and for our bodies. It’s not just about the exercise.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/04/24/exercise-wont-save-us-sugar-and-carbs-are-our-bodily-downfall/