Category Archives: nutrition facts

How much money does obesity cost the world? A new report claims that it’s just as much as war and terrorism.

_pek102d_4944201It’s no secret that the obesity epidemic is costing governments money. Until now though, it’s been difficult to measure exactly how expensive it’s become.

The obesity epidemic is now so widespread it is hurting economies as much as war and terrorism, new research reveals.

More than 2.1 billion people are overweight or obese – costing the world US $2 trillion a year.  And while China has lower obesity rates than advanced economies, its numbers are rising fast.

The study, published by McKinsey & Company, calculated the combined social burden by estimating the cost of health care, lost productivity and mitigating the impact of obesity.
According to the research, obesity costs US$600 billion more than alcoholism, US$1.1 trillion more than outdoor air pollution and US$1.3 trillion more than drug use. It has the same impact on the economy as war and terrorism, and is just short of having the same negative impact as smoking.

Almost 30 per cent of the world’s people are overweight or obese, more than twice the number who are undernourished.

McKinsey estimates that if obesity rates continue, almost half of the world’s adult population will be overweight or obese by 2030.

A report in medical journal The Lancet reveals China has 62 million obese people – behind only the United States.

While the battle of the bulge remains a relatively adult problem in China, obesity in children is growing at alarming rates. Almost a quarter – about 23 per cent – of Chinese boys under the age of 20 are either overweight or obese, as are 14 per cent of girls.

The prevalence of obesity in cities is up to four times that in rural areas. And obesity rates are expected to rise as incomes go up in poorer areas.

China is attempting to combat the growing obesity problem by constructing more playgrounds and making exercise mandatory in schools.

However, McKinsey argues that obesity reduction requires engagement from many sectors, including government, retailers, consumer-goods companies, restaurants, media organisations, educators and health-care providers.

It’s so important to emphasize that the obesity crisis is a global problem. FoodFacts.com also wants to emphasize that the growth of this crisis tracks closely with the enormous growth in the availability and popularity of processed foods, junk foods and fast foods across the globe. That’s not coincidental. Fat, sugar and sodium ARE the issues of the day. Controversial ingredients like high fructose corn syrup are adversely affecting our health, regardless of how the food industry attempts to explain them away.

Obesity, at its most minor level, changes people’s lifestyles in countless negative manners. At it’s worst, it causes debilitating disease and death. And it’s costing countries horrendous amounts of money for a condition that is completely preventable. It’s time to make real changes to our food supply on a global level.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1645764/obesity-epidemic-costs-world-much-wars-and-terrorism-report-says

Food Fight! Sugar lobbyists and public health advocates at odds over added sugar transparency on food labels

iStock_000001563163SmallFor many of us of a certain generation, the words “Food Fight” will always invoke the memory of John Belushi’s Bluto screaming the phrase in the middle of the cafeteria featured in the classic movie, Animal House. If only the world could always be that simple and funny. This post, however, details a real-life, real-time food fight that has erupted between powerful Big Sugar lobbyists and public health advocates on the heels of the Food And Drug Administration’s proposed changes to nutrition labels that include listing the amount of added sugar in food products.

Here at FoodFacts.com, we think everyone would like to know how much sugar the food industry is actually adding to the products we purchase. We’re sure that even the most uneducated food consumer would choose transparency when it comes to this serious and well-publicized issue.

Scientific studies increasingly are finding links between sugar consumption and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. With public health at stake, advocates say, consumers need to be informed of what is being introduced into their food.

“Food producers and others that represent sugar interests are robbing us of this information that we should have access to, they’re robbing us of our health,” said Gretchen Goldman, an analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “People have a right to know how much sugar is in their foods.”
The inclusion of added sugars appears to be a jab from the FDA at food manufacturers, whether the agency intended for it to be or not. Other measurements on nutrition labels—calories, fat, sodium—are passive: They simply state how much is in the food. But the added sugars measurement is active: It implies that the company the consumer is purchasing from has included something that could be dangerous in high doses over the long term.

Food business groups argue that a gram of sugar, natural or added, is a gram of sugar—so why distinguish it?

“There is no chemical difference between naturally occurring sugars or added sugars, and…there is no scientific evidence that added sugars are linked to obesity or other chronic diseases,” said Lee Sanders, a spokeswoman for the American Bakers Association.

But foods containing added sugar are among the most unhealthy, supporters of the FDA proposal say, and more information is a good way for consumers to be more conscious of that.

“The food industry response has said that the body doesn’t distinguish between added and natural sugar, and that’s true…but we do no harm by limiting added sugar, and we know it’s a good way to limit calorie intake. It seems to be a logical step to include added sugars on the label,” said Rachel Johnson, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association and a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont.

The American Heart Association, which supports the label change, came out with a scientific statement in 2009 that recommends no more than six teaspoons of sugar a day for women, and nine teaspoons a day for men, citing the body of evidence that connects high intake of sugar to health problems.

Big Sugar, advocates say, is employing strategies reminiscent of Big Tobacco in its heyday.

“[They’re] different players, but it’s the same game,” Goldman said. “We’re seeing the exact same tactics that Big Tobacco was using. They’re trying to manufacture doubt in the science, they’re trying to pay their own experts to carry their talking points, and they’re doing these things with the intent to undermine public policy.”

Industry also has other objections to the proposed change to nutrition labels: Sanders, from the bakers’ lobbying group, said it would be “difficult, if not impossible, to calculate added sugar.” The FDA acknowledges the costs of the rule change for businesses, estimating that the one-time expenditure would be $2.3 billion for labeling, reformulation of products, and record keeping.

And there are more individualized concerns. The International Dairy Foods Association, for example, is concerned that the definition of added sugar includes natural sugars isolated from a whole food and concentrated so that sugar is the primary component—fruit juice concentrate, for example. That would affect the added sugar count for dairy products such as whey, nonfat dry milk, or milk protein concentrate.

The proposed FDA change appears to have left the biggest of the industry lobbying groups unenthusiastic about communicating with the media. A Sugar Association spokeswoman, Tonya Allen, declined to speak by phone on the issue, pointing only to a weeks-old statement put out by the organization. The Corn Refiners Association did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Stakeholders and business groups have until August 1 to comment on the proposed change. The FDA then will review the comments and consider them in edits to the proposed label, followed by the enactment of a final label. Industry will then, under the proposed rules, have a two-year transitional period over which to comply with the new requirements.

Over the next two weeks, as the FDA comments period draws to a close, industry groups are expected to turn up the heat on the proposal.

“The food industry knows that when they add it to food, you buy more. They don’t add it for any other reason,” said Dr. Robert Lustig, a University of California-San Francisco professor who has campaigned against sugar consumption. “You [currently] can’t tell how much sugar has been added, and the food industry wants it that way.”

Read that last quote carefully. We can’t tell how much sugar has been added to our food. We’re being told to keep sugar consumption to between 6 and 9 teaspoons per day (depending on our gender). It appears we don’t know how much sugar we’re consuming and lobbyists are trying to keep it that way. And it certainly doesn’t appear that the “sugar is sugar” argument being made by the sugar lobby has much to do with the problem. The problem originates with the question, “how sweet is sweet enough?” The food industry wants to continue to answer that question without transparency or input. We’re hopeful that the FDA will begin making these major changes next month.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/19/guess-who-doesn-t-want-you-to-know-how-much-added-sugar-is-in-your-food.html

Ben & Jerry’s new Core flavors … the FoodFacts.com “taste” test

iStock_000016067678Small.jpgIt’s been all over the news for the last week or so. Ben & Jerry’s has added four new Core flavors to their ice cream varieties. Each has a core inside the tub, adding a new dimension to the flavor. And those flavors promise to be pretty tasty, with a little something for every ice cream lover’s discerning palette. Reading the reviews and taste tests tells us that, for the most part, each of them has been found pretty appealing for a variety of reasons.

Of course we thought it would be appropriate for FoodFacts.com to put them through our own “taste” test … one of the nutritional variety. So let’s get to work and tell you what you can expect from each of the new Ben & Jerry’s sensations. Serving size for each is a half cup.

Hazed & Confused
This new flavor features hazelnut and and chocolate ice creams with fudge chips surrounding a hazelnut fudge core. Sounds pretty decadent, and it is:

Calories:                                 280
Fat:                                         16 g
Saturated Fat:                          10 g (or 50% of your RDI)
Cholesterol:                             55 mg
Sugars:                                   25 g

Of note: There are no controversial ingredients in this flavor. That’s a nice plus.

That’s My Jam
This one is features raspberry and chocolate ice creams with fudge chips hiding a core of raspberry jam. We should mention that some reviews say the jam core provides a “different” consistency to the ice cream that a few people found a little odd. But it certainly accomplishes the goal of adding a new dimension to the flavor. Here are the facts:

Calories:                                 260
Fat:                                       13 g
Saturated fat:                           9 g (or 45% of your RDI)
Cholesterol:                           55 mg
Sugar:                                   29 g

This flavor does contain carrageenan and natural flavors.

Peanut Butter Fudge
Showcases chocolate and peanut butter ice creams with mini peanut butter cups and a peanut butter fudge core. This was one of the best-rated of the four in all of the available reviews.

Calories:                                300
Fat:                                       19 g
Saturated fat:                         10 g (or 50% of your RDI)
Cholesterol:                           50 mg
Sugar:                                    24 g

No controversial ingredients are included in the Peanut Butter Fudge flavor.

Salted Caramel Core
Another big winner among reviewers, Salted Caramel Core mixes blonde brownies into sweet cream ice cream surrounding a salted caramel center. Definitely sounds like an indulgence.

Calories:                                270
Fat:                                      14 g
Saturated fat:                          8 g (or 40% of your RDI)
Cholesterol:                          75 mg
Sugar:                                  28 g

Salted Caramel Core does contain carrageenan.

While the nutrition facts aren’t by any means spectacular, we should mention that they’re fairly comparable to any other ice cream flavor with “add-ins,” like M&Ms, Peanut Butter Cups, Heath Bars and the like. They aren’t shocking, but that still doesn’t make them great choices. And in fairness to Ben & Jerry’s, even the flavors that do contain some controversial items have better ingredient lists than similar products from other brands. Final words: Ben & Jerry’s new Core products definitely offer a new dimension in ice cream flavors. Whether or not you choose to indulge should probably have something to do with the facts we’ve just detailed. And if you do make the decision to proceed, we’d like to recommend that you definitely DON’T eat the whole pint, no matter how much you love it!

http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Additional-Flavors-/Ben-Jerrys-Hazed-Confused-Core-Ice-Cream-1-pint/91770
http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Additional-Flavors-/Ben-Jerrys-Peanut-Butter-Fudge-Core-Ice-Cream-1-pint/91771
http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Additional-Flavors-/Ben-Jerrys-Thats-My-Jam-Core-Ice-Cream-1-pint/91772
http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Additional-Flavors-/Ben-Jerrys-Salted-Caramel-Core-Ice-Cream-1-pint/91774

Milk’s favorite cookie unveils two new flavors

For many people (some of us here at FoodFacts.com included) some of their fondest childhood memories include sitting at the kitchen table with a big glass of milk and three or four Oreo cookies sitting on a plate. Those memories are being created right now for millions of kids. Will they dunk the whole cookie? Will they twist the cookie apart, eat the cream and then dunk the separated cookies? It’s fun … and it tastes pretty good, too. Of course, FoodFacts.com has to intrude on those memories and remind us all that the ingredient list for Oreos does leave something to be desired.

Oreos has introduced new flavors to its line of cookies over the years. We have Mint Oreos, Peanut Butter Oreos, and Lemon Oreos, to name just a few. And yesterday, Oreos released two new, limited-edition flavors to its library. We can now indulge in Cookie Dough Oreos and Marshmallow Crispy Oreos. They’ll be available for six to eight weeks and have been getting a lot of attention around the internet.

While the reviews have been mixed, the majority are positive.

It appears that Marshmallow Crispy Oreos took their inspiration from Rice Krispies Treats. Those taste-testing the new cookies prior to their release were happy with the flavor. Many felt that the filling was too sweet, but it does appear to be authentic to the name. And the crisped rice in the filling was happily received.

Cookie Dough Oreo reviews were definitely of the mixed variety, although most agreed that the filling didn’t live up to its name. Flavor descriptions ranged from maple syrup to caramel to coffee – but not cookie dough.

FoodFacts.com set out to find the ingredient list and nutritional content for the new limited-edition Oreo flavors, but we came up empty handed. While they are pictured on the Oreo.com site, neither Cookie Dough or Marshmallow Crispy Oreos are listed on the corresponding product site as of yet (www.snackworks.com). That’s where we would find the nutrition and ingredient data. Given the absence of the facts, we can only go with what we know about some of the other flavors.

Two Peanut Butter Oreos (the noted serving size) contain 140 calories, 6g of fat, 1g of saturated fat and 11 grams of sugar. The ingredient list details both high fructose corn syrup and the artificial flavor vanillan.

Similarly, two Mint Oreos contain 140 calories with 7g of fat, 2g of saturated fat and 13 grams of sugar. The ingredient list for this flavor contains high fructose corn syrup, vanillin and a few artificial colors.

So since we’ve been left to our own devices with both Cookie Dough and Marshmallow Crispy Oreos, we’re assuming similar nutrition data. There may be more sugar since the reviews included comments about the sweetness of both flavors, but we can’t say for sure. What we can say is that both the Peanut Butter and Mint flavors are rated F according to our health score. Given that rating, we’ll probably pass these up — unless, of course, Oreos chooses to disclose the information at some point during the next six to eight weeks and it appears to be different than some of the other flavors for which we have the data.

http://newsfeed.time.com/2014/01/23/oreo-launches-two-new-flavors-and-theyre-both-delicious/

http://www.businessinsider.com/cookie-dough-oreo-review-2014-1

Taco Bell introduces new Grilled “Stuft” Nacho

While we know that we probably have a different view of food products than average consumers, FoodFacts.com has always held to the unspoken rule that when manufacturers use “creative spelling” within the name of a product, odds are it’s not going to be good. The product in question will most likely have an unpleasant ingredient list with more than a few items we don’t like or it will be unreasonably loaded with fat, sugar or salt. It’s a general observation we’ve been able to make over the last decade or so and it’s pretty much held true across the board. Can you think of any product that spells cheese “Cheez” that you’d actually volunteer to consume? That’s just one example that readily comes to mind.

Now, Taco Bell is promoting their latest product … the Grilled “Stuft” Nacho. And we have to admit that even before attempting to research this new offering, we were tipped off by the “creative spelling” of the word stuffed. While we’re trying to nail down the ingredient information for this one, we haven’t come up with much yet. Except that Taco Bell is claiming five ingredients. Seasoned beef, warm nacho cheese sauce, their new zesty nacho sauce, crunchy red strips and cool reduced-fat sour cream.

O.k. before we even get to the idea that we have no idea what’s actually in the two varieties of nacho cheese sauce, we just need to ask … what the heck are crunchy red strips???? What are they supposed to taste like??? Tortillas, red peppers, tomatoes, maybe???? All by itself, this ingredient is rather off-putting, even for fast food.

This product shouldn’t be confused with nachos. In the first place, the serving is one Grilled Stuft Nacho. It’s a triangle-shaped tortilla shell (the shape of a tortilla chip). That shell is grilled and then stuffed with the aforementioned ingredients.

While we couldn’t get any further along with the ingredients, we did get the nutrition facts for an item that’s priced more like a snack than your average fast food lunch. Did we mention it only costs $1.29. Since it’s priced along the lines of a McDonald’s Snack Wrap, we’re going with the idea that the Grilled Stuft Nacho isn’t actually intended to be a lunch item. But frankly, you may as well have a Big Mac or a Whopper instead.

One Grilled Stuft Nacho has a super-sized calorie count of 570 with 32g of fat, 7g of saturated fat and 960mg of sodium. That’s the same kind of nutrition information you’ll find associated with the biggest of burgers at most of the popular fast food chains.

We’re happy to say that our old rule-of-thumb regarding “creative spellings” has held up once again. You can usually consider it code for “what’s in here is so bad for you that we can’t actually call it by its real name.”

http://herald-review.com/blogs/decaturade/eating-badly-taco-bell-s-new-grilled-stuft-nacho/article_ea647faa-fd36-59e5-af6e-23e8c862aa8a.html

Is there actually such a thing as a healthy French fry? Burger King says its new Satisfries fit the bill!

FoodFacts.com may still be on the fence in regard to the new Satisfries Burger King recently introduced to consumers. While Burger King is not touting the healthfulness of this new French fry option (to their credit – it’s still a fry), the nutritional information they are promoting is pretty impressive.

These new crinkle-cut Satisfries boast 40% less fat and 30% less calories than plain old Burger King fries – down almost 77 calories and 5 grams of fat for a small order!

So what could we possibly be on the fence about?

FoodFacts.com hasn’t been able to see the ingredient list as of yet. We’re working on getting it so that we can find a comfortable place to stand on either side of the nutritional fence regarding Satisfries.

From what we’ve read, it appears that all Burger King fries are coated with a batter that helps the fries crisp up in the deep fryer while remaining moist and flavorful. According to the company, the drop in fat and calories in the Satisfry is a result of reformulating that thin coating – nothing more and nothing less. The reformulated coating is less porous than the old one, meaning the fries absorb less oil and are, therefore, lighter in calories and fat than their non-crinkle-cut counterparts.

Essentially this means that the ingredient list we currently have for traditional Burger King Fries will not change for the new Satisfries. As soon as we have that information we’ll get off that fence one way or another. But in the meantime, Satisfries do represent a notable reduction in fat and calories for fast food consumers. Yes – it’s still fast food and yes, there are absolutely better food choices … but Satisfries are a step in the right direction for the fast food industry.

One small note. Satisfries appear to cost between 20 and 30 cents more than regular fries. Maybe the reformulation of that thin coating costs a bit more. We’re not sure, but we did think we should let you know. And honestly, maybe the savings in fat and calories is actually worth the 20 – 30 cents. Consumers will have to make that decision.

In the meantime, we’ll keep you posted on how consumers respond to Satisfries and we’ll let you know when we can share ingredient information for the product with you. What we can say for sure right now though is that in a category of food offerings that seem to proffer less and less nutritional value consistently, it’s nice to see Burger King introduce a product with improved nutritional content.

While FoodFacts.com isn’t a proponent of fast food, we do think it’s important to acknowledge companies who are making real efforts to offer better options. So … nice work Burger King. Oh … and can you send us that ingredient list as soon as you can?

Consumers mistakenly link the color green on food labels with healthier choices

Marketing tactics actually work. FoodFacts.com is always watching and learning how consumers can be led to believe whatever food manufacturers want them to through the simple use of marketing tactics. We’ve discussed this phenomenon often on our blog and our Facebook page. Words like “natural”, “healthy”, “whole grain”, and “multi-grain” often dissuade consumers from reading ingredient lists and fully understanding the products they purchase. Foods marketed to kids often employ the use of a cute, colorful cartoon character that “speaks” directly to them. The list goes on and on.

Today we came across some fascinating research regarding food product marketing. Specifically, the research took a look at the use of a green calorie label appearing on the front of packaging. It appears that this study out of Cornell University has discovered that consumers are more likely to think that a food is healthy if it carries a green calorie label as opposed to a red one … even if the calorie count is exactly the same. It appears that consumers associate the green label with healthfulness – especially among those consumers who place high value on healthy eating.

93 university students were asked to imagine that they were hungry and they see a candy bar while waiting on a grocery checkout line. The students were shown an image of a candy bar with either a red or a green calorie label. They were asked whether the candy bar with the green label contained a greater or lesser number of calories than the candy bar with the red label and how healthy it was in comparison. The students consistently perceived the candy bar with the green label as healthier than the bar with the red label, even though the calorie count was exactly the same.

The experiment was repeated with almost 40 online participants. These consumers were shown images of candy with green or white labels. They were asked how important health was as a factor in their food purchasing decisions. The more importance the participants placed on health as a decision-making factor in food purchases, the more they perceived the green-labeled candy bar as healthier to eat.

Front-of-package labeling has become increasingly popular as a way to attract consumers with a desirable calorie count in the foods they are purchasing. These labels are designed to be conspicuous, especially at point of purchase. And they are especially prevalent on candies and other sugary snacks. The research suggests that the color of the label may have more of an effect on the consumer’s perception than the actual information the label is attempting to convey. This has tremendous implications for food labeling and suggests that the FDA might serve the public well be instituting a uniform front-of-package labeling system.

FoodFacts.com can actually understand how consumers may automatically relate the color green with healthier food choices. These days, everything good is “green”. We have green cleaning products, green fabrics, green paper products, etc. All of these are designed to be better for our environment. And we relate the word “green” with better products because of that. But that association is carrying over to food labeling, when it really shouldn’t be the case. Let’s remember that not all green is clean and good for us – especially when it comes to front-of-package labeling in our food supply. Just because the label is green, doesn’t mean we should really consider the product healthy.
Read more here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130312134452.htm

Healthy changes may be coming to a nutrition label near you!

Throughout our site’s history, FoodFacts.com has listed nutrition labels and ingredient lists for thousands of products. With the 20 year anniversary of the federal requirement for nutrition labels to appear on every packaged food product in our grocery stores, we found this interesting news regarding the possibility of a further evolution of this important tool for health-conscious consumers and wanted to share it with you today.

A Food and Drug Administration study recommends changing nutrition labels in order to display total calorie and nutrition content for the entire food package, instead of just one serving.

It appears that a different kind of nutrition label that clearly shows the total number of calories and nutrients in the whole package, instead of just a single part of it can, in fact, help people make healthier food choices.

The FDA conducted a survey involving almost 9500 U.S. adult consumers. The participants were each shown one of the ten different nutrition labels that present calories and nutrient content per serving or per container in a few different manners.

The FDA researchers found that consumers were better able to determine the health value of a variety of different products when the nutrition facts illustrated were for the entire container’s contents – or for both a single serving AND the entire package.

Participants were asked how healthy they thought different products were, including how much fat, for example, was in one serving. They then compared types of chips or frozen meals to determine which was healthier. It appeared to be easier for consumers to determine nutrient content when presented with facts for the whole package. A bag of chips, for example, might contain five servings. Then they need to do the math for the single serving as applied to the whole bag. Given the nutritional information for the whole bag, it was easier for them to determine whether or not it would work with their dietary requirements.

To make products appear healthier, some companies have started increasing the number of servings listed per container, thus lowering the number of calories per serving. And unfortunately, especially in those instances, the consumer is eating a larger quantity than what the manufacturer has specified as a single serving. Manufacturers have a lot of flexibility in how they determine serving size. And this appears to be leading to consumer confusion.

Researchers noted that it isn’t yet known whether or not clearer nutrition facts would affect how consumers reach their food purchasing decisions. It also remains unclear if the FDA will issue changes to labeling requirements because of these findings. What is clear is that introducing a requirement to list nutrition facts for BOTH a single serving as well as the entire package would simplify the information for the purchaser. It’s worth pointing out that there are some products already doing this.

On the FoodFacts.com website, you’ll already find this information for every product in our database. We’re one step ahead on the issue, as we’ve also considered the possibility that “doing the math” is made much simpler for consumers when they know the content for the whole package. We think this is a great way for people to understand more about what they’re eating and we’re all for the FDA making a change that can help everyone make healthier choices in the grocery store.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/food-labels-confuse-people-fda-study-article-1.1246816#ixzz2IwsJbNhM

The Food Facts Summer Fruit Series: Here’s why watermelon should be on your table this summer

Watermelon is one of those special summer fruits. It’s refreshing, tasty and almost everyone loves it, even picky kids! But Food Facts wants to dig a little deeper into this beautiful red fruit that is at home on our picnic blankets, beach blankets, patio tables and our air-conditioned kitchens during the summer months.

Many people mistakenly believe that there really isn’t much to the watermelon. And that’s really a powerful misconception. Let’s take a look:

Watermelon is packed with vitamin C. One serving can provide up to 39% of your recommended daily allotment. And let’s not forget about the Vitamin A content of that same wedge, providing up to 33% in the serving. Vitamin A is supportive of our vision and help with heart function.

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals in the body. Watermelon contains a tremendous amount of lycopene, this makes it a valuable food that helps prevent some types of caner, especially skin, cervical, breast and prostate cancer. In addition and can help improve short and long term memory and protect against heart disorders. Watermelon contains the highest concentration of lycopene of any fresh fruits or vegetables.

Additionally, this special summer fruit is high in electrolytes, sodium and potassium which we need to replace in our bodies during these months as they are lost through our perspiration.

Watermelon is a good source of thiamin and magnesium as well as the B vitamins we need to produce energy.
Food Facts is more than enthusiastic about watermelon. This sweet and juicy treat reminds us that nature really does know best and has given us what’s best for our health.

If you’re looking for interesting ways to incorporate watermelon into your meals, you might try a tomato and watermelon salad. Just make a tomato salad with red onion and add chunks of watermelon over a small bed of romaine lettuce. Add a bit of a simple vinaigrette and enjoy. You won’t be disappointed.

Food Facts will bring you more important information on the nutritional value of summer fruits in the coming days. Meanwhile, enjoy watermelon every chance you can!

Expiration date: Never? … nutritional information brought to you by FoodFacts.com

We’ve all seen foods that have seemingly endless shelf lives. If these foods never expire, how are they be digested by our systems? Today, FoodFacts is going to take a look at what our bodies are capable of digesting and what happens to food we don’t digest.

The digestive system involves many different organs (from the mouth to anus) whose primary function is to break large molecules of food into smaller molecules of food and convert them into energy  and nutrients that our cells can use to sustain healthy bodily functions. Each organ in our digestive system has a primary function which lends itself to the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). For example, digestion begins in our mouths when we mechanically break down food using our teeth and the enzymes in our saliva (salivary amylase) start breaking down starches. In our stomachs, carbs, proteins and fats are broken down using gastric acid  (pH 1.5 – 3.5, by comparison, vinegar is around 3/4) and enzymes which denature proteins, digest lipids and further breakdown fats. This continues in the small intestines, where, with the exception of fiber) the macro (carbs/proteins/fats) and micro (vitamins and minerals) nutrients are absorbed.  In certain cases, such as lactose intolerance, the body does not have the enzyme (lactase) to break down the sugar (lactose). Bacteria in the intestines break down lactose, resulting in painful gas and stomach cramps (among other symptoms).

With the exception of fiber, substances that are not nutrients – such as additives and/or preservatives in foods – cannot be broken down by the body, as we do not have the enzymes to break them down.  Some foods, which are undigested, remain in the large intestine for a much longer period of time rather than being excreted.  These foods stay in our large intestines, incompletely digested and  are eliminated in our waste after being broken down by microbes in our intestines. Foods that stay in the large intestine could restrict motility, block absorption of other nutrients into our cells and /or result in malodorous excrement.

Some such ingredients would be Tertiary Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) and butylated hydroxyanisole. These are preservatives keep food from spoiling, and probably from being properly digested. While these (and other) ingredients are considered safe for human consumption by our government,  it isn’t necessarily a good choice for our bodies. Stefani Bardin, a TEDxManhattan fellow, shows us how our ramen noodles  are digested in our stomach (spoiler alert: it doesn’t). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/09/ramen-digestion_n_1263825.html?icid=maing-grid7|main5|dl12|sec1_lnk3pLid%3D134120  

Perhaps it is best to leave foods with long shelf lives on the shelves.