Category Archives: healthy snacks

Really good food news: more chocolate, less heart disease

CS79798816FoodFacts.com is well aware that healthy eating is often associated with the idea of “getting used to something.” In other words, healthy foods sometimes require a learning curve … kale chips, anyone? Sometimes, those of us who pursue healthy lifestyles are rewarded from the heavens. Dark chocolate is actually good for your body.

A surprising number of studies have found that dark chocolate can reduce the risk of death from a heart attack, decrease blood pressure and help those with chronic fatigue syndrome.

The question for many chocolate lovers has been at what point are you having too much of a good thing. That is, is there an optimal “dose” for chocolate eating?

A new study published in the journal Heart on Monday looked at the effect of diet on long-term health. It involved 25,000 volunteers and found that the answer to how much chocolate can be good for you is – a lot. Study participants in the high consumption group – those who ate 15 to 100 grams of chocolate a day in the form of everything from Mars bars to hot cocoa – had lower heart disease and stroke risk than those who did not consume the confection.

A hundred grams is equivalent to about two classic Hershey’s bars or – if you’re going fancy – five Godiva truffles. In terms of calories you’re looking at 500-535. To put that into perspective, the Department of Agriculture recommends men consume 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day depending on their height, body composition and whether they are sedentary or active.

This association in the study was valid even after researchers adjusted for a wide range of risk factors, such as age, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity and other dietary variables.

“The main message is that you don’t need to worry too much if you are only moderately eating chocolate,” Phyo Myint, a professor at the School of Medicine at the University of Aberdeen and one of the study’s lead authors, said in an interview.

Higher levels of consumption were associated with a large number of other positives in the study: lower BMI, waist:hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, inflammatory proteins. As compared with those who ate no chocolate, those who ate high amounts saw a 11 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and 25 percent lower risk of associated death.

The study also noted that more of the participants in the study ate milk chocolate versus dark chocolate which has long been considered healthier. This might suggest that beneficial health effects may apply to both, the researchers said.

“Our results are somewhat surprising since the expectation was that benefits of chocolate consumption would be mainly associated with dark chocolate rather than the commercially available products generally used in a British population which are high in sugar content and fat,” the study’s author wrote.

So what’s the theory behind how this works?

Myint explained that chocolate is full of flavonoid antioxidants and that previous studies have shown that intake of chocolate results in improved function of the endothelium, or inner lining of the blood vessels. Chocolate has also been shown to increase HDL or “good” cholesterol and decrease LDL or “bad” cholesterol.

He also said many chocolate bars that were probably consumed by study participants contained nuts which are known to be good for heart health.

While Myint said it seemed clear that there wasn’t a big risk to chocolate eating for the study participants, he said that the results of the study should be read with a few caveats. First, it looked at people ages 39 to 70 and nearly all the study participants were white. He also emphasized that in a sample size this large, there were also a number of participants who ate a lot of chocolate but did not see the same benefits as others.

“Indeed some people had worse outcomes when eating that amount of chocolate so the findings need to be taken with extreme caution,” he said.

While the study provides evidence that there’s no need to avoid chocolate in your diet to protect your cardiovascular health, it probably is too soon to run out and gorge on chocolate bars.

Charles Mueller, clinical assistant professor of nutrition at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, points out that there’s no definitive conclusion about cause and effect and that it’s possible that chocolate eaters engage in other behaviors or eat other foods that are good for the heart.

“Cocoa beans are not unlike red peppers, green peppers and broccoli and stuff like that. They are full of phytochemicals that are good for you. But if you are overweight, and you are thinking of protecting yourself by eating chocolate you are being kind of silly. Chocolate is just one small element in a full range of a good diet,” Mueller said.

Once again, it appears that “chocolate happiness” goes beyond the general euphoria most people experience while eating it. Unlike the previously mentioned kale chips, there’s no learning curve here. With common sense and moderation, we can really enjoy chocolate understanding we’re actually doing something good for our bodies.

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/health/2015/06/21/study-chocolate-lower-risk-heart-disease/29085213/

Ice cream for the greater good from Ben & Jerry’s

Save Our SwirledPolitically correct ice cream. Ice cream with a cause. Socially conscious ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s may have defined a new category of our favorite sweet treat with Save Our Swirled.

The Ben & Jerry’s website describes the new flavor as follows: “It’s a swirled-class flavor you can’t resist, & a climate change message you can’t ignore.” Save Our Swirled boasts Raspberry Ice Cream with Marshmallow & Raspberry Swirls & Dark & White Fudge Ice Cream Cones. Sounds pretty decadent. And it may just be the first ice cream with a message. Save Our Swirled invites you to join the AVAAZ climate movement, and sign a petition that calls on world leaders to tackle climate change at the upcoming summit in Paris with the goal of working towards 100% Clean Energy by 2050.

FoodFacts.com can get behind the ice cream with a cause concept — can’t we all? It’s a tremendous idea. But what’s this new Save Our Swirled flavor all about anyway? Let’s take a look.

Every half cup serving of Save Our Swirled, carries these nutrition facts:

Calories:                            250
Fat:                                    12 grams
Saturated Fat:                  8 grams
Sugar:                               27 grams

Fairly typical ice cream nutrition facts. Nothing out of the ordinary here. A bit high in sugar, but it is ice cream — a small indulgence every now and again. But let’s find out what’s really in there.

CREAM, SKIM MILK, WATER, LIQUID SUGAR (SUGAR, WATER), CORN SYRUP, SUGAR, RED RASPBERRY PUREE, COCONUT OIL, EGG YOLKS, DRIED CANE SYRUP, RED RASPBERRY JUICE CONCENTRATE, COCOA (PROCESSED WITH ALKALI), EGG WHITES, NATURAL FLAVORS, PECTIN, VEGETABLE JUICE (COLOR), XANTHAN GUM, GUAR GUM, COCOA, MILK, SOY LECITHIN, SALT, VANILLA EXTRACT, CARRAGEENAN.

It’s not perfect yet. We’ve still got carrageenan listed as the last ingredient. We’ve certainly seen worse though and do want to point out that most of the ingredients used aren’t controversial.

So if you’re craving social consciousness and you’re looking for a treat, Ben & Jerry’s Saved Our Swirled may be the way to go. Just don’t eat the whole pint in one sitting. We’re looking to solve the world’s problems, not add to them!

http://www.benjerry.com/flavors/save-our-swirled-ice-cream

Americans still eat too much junk: 61% of food purchases are highly processed

processed-foods-and-snacksIf we look at the news, we see that American consumers have become much more aware of nutrition and diet. Our voices are being heard by food manufacturers, fast casual chains and even some fast food giants. Manufacturers are removing ingredients we find objectionable. Fast food is becoming less desirable. And Panera Bread recently committed to removing over 150 controversial ingredients from their menu items. All seems to be well in food land, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, that’s not exactly true. FoodFacts.com was disturbed to learn that according to new information, most of the foods we buy are highly processed and loaded with sugar, fat and salt.

We like junk food so much that 61% of the food Americans buy is highly processed, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And almost 1,000 calories a day of person’s diet come solely from highly processed foods.

Not all processed food is the same, however. The USDA classifies processed food as any edible that’s not a raw agricultural commodity, so even pasteurized milk and frozen fruits and vegetables count. “It’s important for us to recognize that a processed food is not just Coca-Cola and Twinkies—it’s a wide array of products,” says study author Jennifer Poti, a research assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

So in the first study of its kind, researchers scrutinized our diets by analyzing a massive set of data of the foods we buy while grocery shopping. The stats came from 157,000 shoppers, who tracked their edible purchases with a barcode scanner from 2000-2012, for anywhere from 10 months to 14 years.

Using software that picked out words in the nutrition and ingredient labels, the 1.2 million products were placed into one of four categories : minimally processed—products with very little alteration, like bagged salad, frozen meat and eggs—basic processed—single-ingredient foods but changed in some way, like oil, flour and sugar—moderately processed—still recognizable as its original plant or animal source, but with additives—and highly processed—multi-ingredient industrial mixtures that are no longer recognizable as their original plant or animal source.

No surprise, our favorite categories are those last two. More than three-quarters of our calories came from highly processed (61%) and moderately processed (16%) foods and drinks in 2012. Best-selling products were refined breads, grain-based desserts like cookies, sugary sodas, juice, sports drinks and energy drinks.

Preferences for highly processed foods were remarkably stable over time, Poti says, which likely has implications for our health, since the study also found that highly processed foods were higher in saturated fat, sugar and salt than other purchases. But interestingly, no U.S. study has yet looked at the link between highly processed foods and health outcomes like obesity and diabetes, Poti says.

To be clear, the researchers aren’t pooh-poohing processing, per se. “Food processing is important for food security and nutrition security of Americans,” Poti says. The study wasn’t able to capture the full spectrum of our diets—loose spinach doesn’t come with a barcode, after all—and the authors acknowledge that food purchasing doesn’t always directly translate to dietary intake. But the results suggest that we might want to swap some bags of chips for, say, cans of beans. “Foods that required cooking or preparation”—like boxed pasta and raw eggs—”were generally less than 20% of calories purchased throughout the entire time period,” Poti says.

So we’re getting it, but we’re not getting it. FoodFacts.com often wonders if average consumers associate nutritional awareness with more obvious junk food … fast food and fast casual chains, soda and specific controversial ingredients that have received lots of negative publicity. Is it harder to associate a box of instant mashed potatoes with the term “junk food,” than it is to link a Big Mac to the phrase? Does everyone understand what highly processed foods actually are? Or are foods in boxes and cans somehow immune to the association because they live on our grocery store shelves?

We’ve still got so much work to do.

http://time.com/3888102/processed-food-sugar-fat/

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

Baskin Robbins Whaddaya Say Creme Brulee Ice Cream … what’s inside the unusual new flavor

baskin-robbins1We’re not big fans of Baskin Robbins ice cream. FoodFacts.com is positive when the original 31 flavors debuted, their ingredient lists looked nothing like they do today. And while the tremendous choices offered are a great selling point for the company, they do resemble the fast food version of ice cream. There are just too many questionable ingredients lurking in even the simplest flavor Baskin Robbins offers.

The newest flavor, however, is far from simple. Whaddaya Say Creme Brulee offers the taste of the popular dessert cold in a cone or cup. We’re not entirely sure there are any number of ice cream aficionados clamoring for a creme brulee flavor. But it’s here. Now let’s take a look at what’s actually inside it.

Nutrition Facts for a large 4 ounce serving:

Calories:                     260
Fat:                              11 grams
Saturated Fat:            7 grams
Cholesterol:               55 mg
Sugar:                         31 grams

Fairly average nutrition facts for ice cream. While the sugar content is a bit high, there’s nothing out of the ordinary here. Ice cream is a sweet treat best enjoyed in moderation. It’s made from milk, cream, eggs and sugar with chocolate, caramel, vanilla, nuts or fruits — to name just a few flavor additions that make ice cream so much fun to eat.

What’s used to create Whaddaya Say Creme Brulee?

Cream, Creme Brulee Ribbon (Sugar, Corn Syrup, Water, Caramel Color, Pectin, Natural Flavor, Vanilla Extract), Nonfat Milk, Creme Brulee Candy (Sugar, Corn Syrup), Sugar, Corn Syrup, Creme Brulee Flavored Base (Corn Syrup, Water, Brown Sugar, Caramel Color, Natural Flavor), French Custard Base [Sugar, Sugared Egg Yolk (Egg Yolks, Sugar), Water], Whey Powder, Stabilizer/Emulsifier Blend (Cellulose Gum, Mono and Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Polysorbate 80).

There are some recognizable ice cream ingredients in here — cream, milk, sugar, egg yolk. But there’s also Caramel Color, Natural Flavor, Carrageenan and Polysorbate 80.

We never really considered turning the hot, creamy, sugary dessert that is creme brulee into an ice cream. Part of the fun of real creme brulee is breaking through the torched sugary crust on the top to reach the custard underneath. Can’t do that with ice cream. But what we really can’t do are those nasty ingredients we try hard to avoid.

Though somewhat less offensive than the ingredient lists of other Baskin Robbins flavors, we’re still saying no to Whaddaya Say Creme Brulee. Not happening here.

https://www.baskinrobbins.com/content/baskinrobbins/en/products/icecream/flavors.html

Protecting against Alzheimer’s with the MIND diet

150319104218-largeDealing with Alzheimer’s is one of the most debilitating experiences possible. This heartbreaking disease destroys memories, families and lives. Multitudes of research with no cure. What if you could protect against Alzheimer’s with your food?

With the MIND diet, a person who eats at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day — along with a glass of wine — snacks most days on nuts, has beans every other day or so, eats poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week and benefits.

A new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND, could significantly lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, even if the diet is not meticulously followed, according to a paper published online for subscribers in March in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Rush nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, PhD, and colleagues developed the “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay” (MIND) diet. The study shows that the MIND diet lowered the risk of AD by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well.

“One of the more exciting things about this is that people who adhered even moderately to the MIND diet had a reduction in their risk for AD,” said Morris, a Rush professor, assistant provost for Community Research, and director of Nutrition and Nutritional Epidemiology. “I think that will motivate people.”

Morris and her colleagues developed the MIND diet based on information that has accrued from years’ worth of past research about what foods and nutrients have good, and bad, effects on the functioning of the brain over time. This is the first study to relate the MIND diet to Alzheimer’s disease.

“I was so very pleased to see the outcome we got from the new diet,” she said.

The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets, both of which have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, like hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Some researchers have found that the two older diets provide protection against dementia as well.
In the latest study, the MIND diet was compared with the two other diets. People with high adherence to the DASH and Mediterranean diets also had reductions in AD — 39 percent with the DASH diet and 54 percent with the Mediterranean diet — but got negligible benefits from moderate adherence to either of the two other diets.

The MIND diet is also easier to follow than, say, the Mediterranean diet, which calls for daily consumption of fish and 3-4 daily servings of each of fruits and vegetables, Morris said.

The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, including 10 “brain-healthy food groups” — green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine — and five unhealthy groups that comprise red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

With the MIND diet, a person who eats at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day — along with a glass of wine — snacks most days on nuts, has beans every other day or so, eats poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week and benefits. However, he or she must limits intake of the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three), to have a real shot at avoiding the devastating effects of AD, according to the study.

Berries are the only fruit specifically to make the MIND diet. “Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” Morris said, and strawberries have also performed well in past studies of the effect of food on cognitive function.

The MIND diet was not an intervention in this study, however; researchers looked at what people were already eating. Participants earned points if they ate brain-healthy foods frequently and avoided unhealthy foods. The one exception was that participants got one point if they said olive oil was the primary oil used in their homes.

The study enlisted volunteers already participating in the ongoing Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP), which began in 1997 among residents of Chicago-area retirement communities and senior public housing complexes. An optional “food frequency questionnaire” was added from 2004 to February 2013, and the MIND diet study looked at results for 923 volunteers. A total of 144 cases of AD developed in this cohort.

AD, which takes a devastating toll on cognitive function, is not unlike heart disease in that there appear to be “many factors that play into who gets the disease,” including behavioral, environmental and genetic components, Dr. Morris said.

“With late-onset AD, with that older group of people, genetic risk factors are a small piece of the picture,” she said. Past studies have yielded evidence that suggests that what we eat may play a significant role in determining who gets AD and who doesn’t, Morris said.
When the researchers in the new study left out of the analyses those participants who changed their diets somewhere along the line — say, on a doctor’s orders after a stroke — they found that “the association became stronger between the MIND diet and [favorable] outcomes” in terms of AD, Morris said. “That probably means that people who eat this diet consistently over the years get the best protection.”

In other words, it looks like the longer a person eats the MIND diet, the less risk that person will have of developing AD, Morris said. As is the case with many health-related habits, including physical exercise, she said, “You’ll be healthier if you’ve been doing the right thing for a long time.”

Morris said, “We devised a diet and it worked in this Chicago study. The results need to be confirmed by other investigators in different populations and also through randomized trials.” That is the best way to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the MIND diet and reductions in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, she said.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging. All the researchers on this study were from Rush except for Frank M. Sacks MD, professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Department of Nutrition, at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Sacks chaired the committee that developed the DASH diet.

FoodFacts.com is looking forward to additional research on the MIND diet. The power of nutrition is an amazing thing. Time after time, it’s proven that it goes beyond what we perceive as good health. Nutrition can also be the answer to chronic, deadly diseases — diseases we thought there were no answer for. We love hearing great news like this and will keep you posted on future developments.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150319104218.htm

The surprise inside isn’t the same as it used to be

cracker-jack-chocolate-peanut-butterRemember Cracker Jacks? Popcorn pieces covered in caramel. Chewy, crunchy, gooey, sweet, salty … Cracker Jacks were as delicious as they were fun. And who could forget the prize inside? Before you figured out that Cracker Jacks were a great snack, you wanted a box because of the prize.

Cracker Jacks are still with us.There’s still a prize inside. And now there are flavors. And the newest flavor is Chocolate Peanut Butter, which doesn’t seem very Cracker Jack like. But FoodFacts.com knows that time marches on.

So how do they make these new Chocolate Peanut Butter Cracker Jacks anyway?

FoodFacts.com did a little investigating. We found out that the prize inside isn’t just the toy that’s hiding in the package anymore. And it’s not necessarily one we were looking for.

In every half cup of new Chocolate Peanut Butter Cracker Jacks you’ll consume:

Calories:              100
Fat:                       .5 grams
Sugar:                  17 grams

Ingredients: Sugar Syrup, Syrup, Popcorn, Salt, Cocoa Powder (processed with alkalai), Maltodextrin (made from corn), Dextrose, Butter (Cream, Salt), Natural and Artificial Flavors (Artificial Peanut Butter Flavor, Artificial Chocolate Flavor, Natural Chocolate Flavor WONF), Cocoa Powder, Medium Chain Triglycerides, Glycerol, and Soy Lecithin, Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients

We’re not completely thrilled by the ingredients here. We’ve certainly seen better. The original is much better. We could even make our own version of these and make some improvements.

While we’ve always thought about the prize inside as the toy you needed to eat your way down to, these new Cracker Jacks give the term a new meaning. And there are some prizes that really aren’t worth winning.

http://www.fritolay.com/snacks/product-page/cracker-jack/cracker-jack-original-caramel-coated-popcorn-peanuts

Taking a turn in the wrong direction — unhealthy eating outpaces healthy eating globally

BLT-10-010710-FaWe get a lot of good news regarding the increase in fruit and vegetable consumption around the world. So FoodFacts.com was dismayed to read a new study containing information conflicting with the idea that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the quality of their diets.

Worldwide, consumption of healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables has improved during the past two decades, but has been outpaced by the increased intake of unhealthy foods including processed meat and sweetened drinks in most world regions, according to the first study to assess diet quality in 187 countries covering almost 4.5 billion adults, published in The Lancet Global Health journal.

Improvements in diet quality between 1990 and 2010 have been greatest in high-income nations, with modest reductions in the consumption of unhealthy foods and increased intake of healthy products. However, people living in many of the wealthiest regions (eg, the USA and Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand) still have among the poorest quality diets in the world, because they have some of the highest consumption of unhealthy food worldwide.

In contrast, some countries in sub-Saharan Africa and some countries in Asia (eg, China and India) have seen no improvement in their diet quality over the past 20 years.

The authors warn that the study presents a worrying picture of increases in unhealthy eating habits outpacing increases in healthy eating patterns across most world regions, and say that concerted action is needed to reverse this trend.

Led by Dr Fumiaki Imamura from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge in the UK, a team of international researchers analysed data on the consumption of 17 key food items and nutrients related to obesity and major non-communicable diseases (eg, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and diet-related cancers) in countries around the world, and changes in diets between 1990 and 2010.

This analysis was performed by the Global Burden of Diseases Nutrition and Chronic Diseases Expert Group (NutriCoDE), chaired by Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, senior author on the paper and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. NutriCoDE is an ongoing project assessing dietary information from more than 300 dietary surveys across the world and UN Food and Agriculture food-balance sheets, covering almost 90% of the global adult population.

The international team examined three different diet patterns: a favourable one based on 10 healthy food items (fruit, vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, milk, total polyunsaturated fatty acids, fish, omega-3s, and dietary fibre); an unfavourable one defined by seven unhealthy items (unprocessed meats, processed meats, sugar-sweetened drinks, saturated fat, trans fat, dietary cholesterol, and sodium); and an overall diet pattern based on all 17 food groups. The researchers calculated a diet score for each pattern and assessed differences by country, age, sex, and national income, with a higher score indicating a healthier diet (range 0-100).

The findings reveal that diet patterns vary widely by national income, with high-income countries generally having better diets based on healthy foods (average score difference +2.5 points), but substantially poorer diets due to a higher intake of unhealthy foods compared with low-income countries (average score difference -33.0 points). On average, older people and women seem to consume better diets.

The highest scores for healthy foods were noted in several low-income countries (eg, Chad and Mali) and Mediterranean nations (eg, Turkey and Greece), possibly reflecting favourable aspects of the Mediterranean diet. In contrast, low scores for healthy foods were shown for some central European countries and republics of the former Soviet Union (eg, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan).

Of particular interest was that the large national differences in diet quality were not seen, or were far less apparent, when overall diet quality (including both healthy and unhealthy foods) was examined as previous studies have done.

“By 2020, projections indicate that non-communicable diseases will account for 75% of all deaths. Improving diet has a crucial role to play in reducing this burden,” says Dr Imamura. “Our findings have implications for governments and international bodies worldwide. The distinct dietary trends based on healthy and unhealthy foods, we highlight, indicate the need to understand different, multiple causes of these trends, such as agricultural, food industry, and health policy. Policy actions in multiple domains are essential to help people achieve optimal diets to control the obesity epidemic and reduce non-communicable diseases in all regions of the world.”

According to Dr Mozaffarian, “There is a particularly urgent need to focus on improving diet quality among poorer populations. If we do nothing, undernutrition will be rapidly eclipsed by obesity and non-communicable diseases, as is already being seen in India, China, and other middle-income countries.”

Unfortunately, the availability of low-quality, nutritionally deficient foods remains a wedge between consumers worldwide and healthier diets. It appears that the choice between healthier foods and junk foods continues to be a global problem that needs to be addressed in order to insure the future well being of every population. Let’s make sure that we remain committed to healthy food and healthy choices for ourselves and everyone we love.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150218191719.htm

The new Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Cores are here! Excited?????

fair2They’re out! The new Spectacular Speculous, Peanut Buttah and Boom Chocolatta Cookie Core flavors.

Before we get too excited, FoodFacts.com thought we should get to the “core” of the new Cores. So let’s take a look and see exactly what we’ve got here.

The first one, Spectacular Speculous features Dark Caramel & Vanilla Ice Creams with Speculoos Cookies & a Speculoos Cookie Butter Core. Sounds pretty good. Here are the ingredients that go into it:

Cream, Skim Milk, Water, Liquid Sugar (Sugar, Water), Soybean Oil, Sugar, Egg Yolks, Wheat Flour, Rice Flour, Coconut Oil, Butter (Cream, Salt), Corn Syrup, Brown Sugar, Potato Flour, Cocoa Butter, Molasses, Vanilla Extract, Salt, Sodium Bicarbonate, Spices, Whey Protein Concentrate, Honey, Soy Lecithin, Guar Gum, Caramelized Sugar Syrup, Natural Flavor, Caramel Color, Carrageenan, Vanilla Beans.

Let’s move on to Peanut Buttah which boasts Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Crunchy Peanut Butter Sugar Bits, Peanut Butter Cookies & a Peanut Butter Cookie Core. The ingredients for this flavor as listed on the website are:

Cream, Skim Milk, Liquid Sugar (Sugar, Water), Water, Peanuts, Sugar, Soybean Oil, Egg Yolks, Wheat Flour, Rice Flour, Peanut Oil, Butter (Cream, Salt), Coconut Oil, Potato Flour, Partially Defatted Peanut Flour, Salt, Brown Sugar, Eggs, Whey Protein Concentrate, Natural Flavor, Cocoa Butter, Peanut Flour, Soy Lecithin, Sodium Bicarbonate, Vanilla Extract, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Milk.

And then we come to Boom Chocolatta with Mocha & Caramel Ice Creams with Chocolate Cookies, Fudge Flakes & a Chocolate Cookie Core. Ingredients for this new core are:

Cream, Skim Milk, Liquid Sugar (Sugar, Water), Water, Sugar, Soybean Oil, Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), Egg Yolks, Butter (Cream, Salt), Coffee Extract, Corn Syrup, Rice Flour, Potato Flour, Wheat Flour, Coconut Oil, Brown Sugar, Vanilla Extract, Salt, Sodium Bicarbonate, Natural Flavor, Cocoa Powder, Soy Lecithin, Eggs, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Milk, Whey Protein Concentrate, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Milkfat.

Phew. That’s all three of them. And, honestly, we’re kind of glad we held off on our excitement. We’re not thrilled with natural flavor, carrageenan or caramel color. And those ingredients are showing up pretty consistently here.

Yeah, we know it’s Ben & Jerry’s. So we know that once in a while, even some of the most nutrition-conscious folks ARE going to indulge. Just thought you should know anyway!

http://www.benjerry.com/flavors/cookie-cores

Should you eat or drink that orange?

orange-juiceChoose the fruit, you’d say! That’s the general advice, since juices are stripped of the fiber – which most us don’t get enough of — in whole fruit. And let’s face it: Most juice contains a lot of sugar, which most of us consume too much of.

To determine if that is true, a research team of German and Saudi scientists analyzed a batch of fresh navel oranges in three forms: peeled segments, a puree and as both fresh-squeezed and pasteurized juice. As outlined in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the researchers saw no difference in the levels of vitamin C and carotenoids, while levels of flavonoids did vary. However, when they changed their experiment to better mimic digestion, more carotenoids and flavonoids were released via OJ than via the fruit.

In fact, they found that the release of carotenoids was two to three times higher in the liquid form than the fruit (11 percent versus 28 percent for fresh and almost 40 percent in pasteurized juice). The flavonoids were five times higher too.

While the study’s results are in line with other research that found that nutrients in fruits and vegetables can be more available when the produce is chopped, mashed or juiced, nutritionists caution against assuming that this study and others be taken as gospel. They point out that determining what nutrients exist does not determine which nutrients are better absorbed in the human body combined with what other substances. For instance, research has shown that people absorb more beta-carotene from tomatoes with olive oil added, and that cooking broccoli for too long can destroy its antioxidants.

Likewise, how the OJ is made can influence results. Buying a large carton (with sugar added) versus squeezing it oneself can have an impact. Furthermore, store-bought fruit juice often contains almost as much concentrated fructose as a soft drink. Besides health issues from the glucose, juice can also be less filling so people drink more, which can mean more calories are often consumed.

According to experts in food science and nutrition, drinking fresh-squeezed glasses of OJ and such also can spike blood sugar levels faster and higher than one experiences from eating whole fruit. In addition, a study linked regular juice consumption to an increased risk of diabetes and other studies have shown an impact on teeth.

While the answers do not support a definite conclusion as to whether the juice is as healthy as the orange, or a similar determination for other fruits, experts encourage that any servings of fruit are better than having none. To get the fiber from the pulp, they recommend choosing versions of things like OJ that have pulp added. In addition, they recommend keeping track of the sugars in fruit juices and keeping the sugar intake below five percent of one’s daily consumption.

So it’s complicated. FoodFacts.com would have to agree that any fruit in any form is better than no fruit at all. While juice has certainly received plenty of thumbs down in the last few years because of sugar content, orange juice is still made from oranges … not chemicals.

http://guardianlv.com/2015/01/is-the-juice-as-healthy-as-the-orange/