Category Archives: nutrition

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Yellow Dye #5

Earlier this month, FoodFacts.com shared some known facts about Red Dye #40, the most commonly used artificial food coloring (AFC) according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Before National Candy Month comes to a close, we would like to bring our readers’ attention to another commonly used AFC, Yellow Dye #5.

Yellow Dye #5 or tartrazine is a food colorant derived from coal tar. There have been many publications that extensively discussed the harmful effects of this colorant. Toxicology, in particular, published the findings that tartrazine causes disruption of estrogen in humans, which essentially affects the hormonal balance that can lead to a myriad of health problems.

Because of the potential harmful effects it poses to the body, Yellow Dye #5 is banned in many European countries such as Norway and Austria. However, its use in the United States has only been regulated, albeit to a certain extent, by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Yellow Dye #5 is widely used in the country in the manufacturing of potato chips, candies, soda and “fruit” drinks, and even pet food.

Here are the reported health effects of Yellow Dye #5:

Allergic reactions

Reports state that consumption of candies and other foods with Yellow Dye #5 triggered hypersensitivity to chemicals such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). Other sources say that asthma is also among the allergic reactions caused by Yellow Dye #5.

Behavioral problems

Like Red Dye #40, Yellow Dye #5 can cause hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in children. Some of the behavioral problems include, but not limited to, impulsive behavior, lack and/or loss of concentration and inability to control activity.

Cancer and other health risks

Yellow Dye #5 and many other AFCs are reported to be tainted with cancer-causing contaminants. Because of the hormonal imbalance side effect, Yellow Dye #5 may cause adverse effect on male potency, genital size and sperm count. Some reports also say that the said imbalance can cause breast development and even breast cancer in men.

As always, FoodFacts urges consumers to check food labels for Yellow Dye #5 and other AFCs. Here are some of the names that Yellow Dye #5 go by:

  • Tartrazine
  • FD&C Yellow 5
  • Yellow 5
  • E102
  • C.I. 19140
  • Acid Yellow 23
  • Food Yellow 4
  • trisodium 1-(4-sulfonatophenyl)-4-(4-sulfonatophenylazo)-5-pyrazolone-3-carboxylate)

Use the All My Food Facts app to check food labels. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

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It’s time to rethink the snacks we put in our children’s travel bags

Summer traveling for families doesn’t just mean making new memories made up of fun activities and amazing adventures. For many, it also means carefree eating (read: disregarding nutritious foods and mindless munching unhealthy snacks). More often than not, parents pack their children’s bags with treats that may be filling, but are poor in nutrition and even pose risks to their health.

FoodFacts.com recently stated in a recent blog post that 43% of products marketed for children contain artificial food coloring, based on the new study published on Clinical Pediatrics. Many consumers are unaware that artificial food additives used to enhance color and flavor, and prolong shelf life are made from by-products of petroleum. You read that right – petroleum, that liquid mixture mined from the earth and refined to produce gasoline. So, before you head off to your family getaway this summer, you may want to rethink those bags of candies and chips you are packing for your children.

While we only discussed the known facts about Red Dye #40, it’s also worth noting other food colorants that are in our foods: Blue Dye #1, Blue Dye #2, Citrus Red Dye #2, Green Dye #3, Red Dye #3, Yellow Dye #5 and Yellow Dye #6. According to various studies, artificial food dyes can cause serious health problems including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Hyperactivity and other behavioral problems
  • Allergic reactions
  • Damage in chromosomes
  • Organ damage
  • Birth defects
  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Hypoglycemia

When it comes to packing food for children, it wouldn’t hurt to grab ideas from well-known chefs. Take these turkey rolls that restaurateur and celebrity chef, Richard Blais, packs for his daughter, for instance. They’re tasty and healthy, and your kids can take them anywhere.

Barring any restrictions (such as quarantine regulations in specific borders, transportation rules and so on), here are healthy snacks you should be putting in your children’s travel pack:

  • Fresh or dried fruits
  • Sliced vegetables
  • “Good” candies
  • Raw nuts and trail mix
  • Homemade snacks like the aforementioned turkey rolls, healthy muffins and granola with dried fruits concoctions

Download the All My Food Facts app to find out if your favorite travel snack is good for you! Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.

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Recipe: Spinach salad with apples, cranberries, avocados and pecans in balsamic vinaigrette

Eating salad daily is one of the simplest ways you can do to jumpstart your efforts to implement healthy eating habits and dramatically improve your health. It is a convenient way to work in a heaping serving of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.

Salads start off healthy, what with the natural ingredients that make the base. However, many salads wind up being unhealthy because of the toppings and dressings that people embellish them with either at home or at restaurants.

FoodFacts.com shares this salad recipe that’s guaranteed high in nutrition and low in calories.

Time: 30 minutes

Serving: 4

Ingredients

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine spinach, apples, cranberries and avocados.
  2. Drizzle the salad with the dressing and toss.
  3. Chop pecan halves into smaller bites and sprinkle on salad.
  4. Serve immediately.

 

Love salads? Find out how your favorite dressing fares in our health score with the all my foodfacts app. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

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Healthy dishes for Father’s Day cookout

It’s almost Father’s Day! Are you still looking for a great gift for Dad? Take a hint from the old adage, “the fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” and give him something he’ll truly appreciate: eau de grill.

Last month, FoodFacts.com shared some healthy recipes to prepare for Mom to treat her like the queen that she really is. Today, we’re sharing this perfect Father’s Day cookout menu to whip up this Sunday that will make the king of the grill really proud.

Brunch

maple-709982Get Dad all fired up by making his first Father’s Day meal special. The sweet flavor of maple syrup and the oak smokiness of a touch of bourbon make up the brilliance of this concoction. This will make Dad’s pre-grilling pancake brunch something he’ll definitely be glad to wake up to.

Get the recipe: Bourbon Maple Syrup

Foodfacts.com recommended ingredient: Great Value Pure Maple Syrup

 

Appetizer

img_4867Warm that barbecue mojo up with some shrimp skewers. This dish is so easy to prepare that you may even want to start serving it to the family on a regular basis. This low-key, stress-free dish is great to get both the appetite and family conversations going.

Get the recipe: Pesto Shrimp Skewers

Foodfacts.com recommended ingredient: Wegmans Food You Feel Good About Peeled & Deveined Large Uncooked Shrimp

Main Dish

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Dad is most likely going to expect the usual steak or burger, but he won’t be disappointed with this salmon dish for his main course. It’ll get him just as satisfied and filled – with fewer calories and much less fat, at that – he won’t be missing his favorite red meat staples.

Get the recipe: Plank-grilled sweet soy salmon

FoodFacts.com recommended ingredient: Goya Cooking Wine – Dry White

Side Dish

asparagus-353941This side dish recipe is low-calorie and low-carb, and could easily be the official side for every grilling get-together this summer. The acidity of the Sriracha toasted pecan vinaigrette pairs perfectly well with the nice, smoky flavor of the grilled asparagus.

Get the recipe: Grilled Asparagus with Sriracha Toasted Pecan Vinaigrette

FoodFacts.com recommended ingredient: Lee Kum Kee Sriracha Chili Sauce

Dessert

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Two ingredients, one delicious dessert. Broiling mango brings the fruit’s natural sweetness out, which is balanced by the lime juice. This broiled mango treat will definitely cap off your Father’s Day cookout with the sweet taste of summer.

Get the recipe: Broiled Mango

FoodFacts.com recommended ingredient: Lime

 

Find the healthiest ingredients for your Father’s Day menu with All My Food Facts. Get the app on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

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It’s National Candy Month, too!

June is quite the contradictory month. It’s not only National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, it’s also National Candy Month! That’s right – the National Confectioners Association is celebrating chocolates, candies, gums, mints and all kinds of sweets this month!

FoodFacts.com absolutely advocates making better food choices through the awareness of healthy and unhealthy ingredients contained in our food. However, we also appreciate the men and women who create treats that play a special role in commemorating significant cultural and historical events in the United States. In fact, most American confectionery companies are family-owned, and directly contributes to the US economy in the agriculture, manufacturing, retail and shipping sectors.

That said, we are joining the millions of Americans celebrating in National Candy Month, but we are doing so in a healthy and equally-fun way! Here’s how you can get in the candy spirit without compromising your health goals.

Bite-sized portions

When trying to cut down calories, abstaining from sweets and salty foods is usually the first step. Nutrition experts believe, though, that the occasional treats can be a part of your balanced diet, as long as you pay attention (and have control) of the quantity. Sarah-Jane Bedwell, RD says, “Everyone should allow themselves a daily treat because there is no reason why a 100- or 200-calorie snack can’t fit into a healthy diet.”

Get your sweets from “good” stores

Proponents of the organic food movement as well as veganism have helped launch more than just a handful of businesses that cater to their respective audiences. It should be of no surprise to find that there are now organic and vegan candy stores that give us relatively better options for sweet treats.

Keep it dark

When it comes to chocolates, the darker the better. Dark chocolates contain less sugar and are more filling than milk chocolates. This superfood can actually give your body plenty of health benefits. They are rich in antioxidants and can aid in blood flow improvement, and lower blood pressure and the risk of heart diseases.

Make your own treats

Today’s top food influencers share plenty of hacks for making healthy versions of popular sweets like Butterfinger, Snickers and Twix. These foodies also constantly come up with brilliantly innovative health-conscious treats that allow you to succumb to your sweet tooth, guilt-free.

Make fruit candies

While we’re on the subject of making your own treats…

Take advantage of the abundant supply of fruits this season and grab some ripe, blemish-free fruits such as mangoes, cranberries and California apricots. The best and easy way to turn fruits into candies without the added sugar is to dry them. You can dry fruits on your burner, in the oven or under the sun!

Tip: Use the all my food facts app to find out how your favorite candies fare on our health score. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

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It’s National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month!

June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month! It’s no surprise that FoodFacts.com would take every opportunity to encourage our readers to increase their consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. If we haven’t said it enough, fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential in making your body work, feel and look its best. They provide the nutrients for vital health and aid in lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and other chronic diseases.

The dietary guidelines for the amount of fruits and vegetables intake basically depend on one’s gender, age, and activity level. Based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet, two cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables are recommended, whether fresh, frozen or canned.

There are many easy ways you can get yourself eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. Below are some of them:

Grow them yourselves

Vegetable and fruit gardens in people’s backyards are always a pleasant sight. Making use of space this way is a great way to utilize and maximize it. For those who don’t have the room and time for an edible garden, there are small and low-maintenance herbs that you can grow indoors, such as basil and parsley.

Buy locally grown

If homegrown is not an option, locally grown is the next best thing. The shorter the distance the fruits and vegetables have traveled, the fresher they are. Roadside stands and farmers’ markets are the best places for those! Be sure to find out if your farmers’ markets are selling goods that they have grown or made themselves or are carrying other farms’ goods. National, state and city laws require farmers’ markets to disclose if they are “producers only” or “carrying” products from others.

Buy in-season produce

Nature has its way of telling us what the best foods to eat are and when to eat them. Fruits and vegetables offer the most nutritional value and flavor when they are in season; plus, they cost less when supplies are aplenty.

Learn fast and easy ways to prepare them

While eating raw produce have many health benefits, there are certain fruits and vegetables that are better consumed cooked. For instance, cooked tomatoes contain increased lycopene, a phytochemical rich in antioxidant properties, than raw tomatoes.

Be sure to always wash produce before eating. It’s also a great idea to prepare ahead – wash, cut and store them safely for future use.

Go for the healthy snacks

When you’re craving snacks, you want something convenient and ready-to-eat. This is where the pre-prepared fruits and vegetables come to play. Go for the cut-up fruits and veggies when you have the urge to reach for some bag of chips!

Try something new

Keep things interesting by trying something new, not just for the enticing colors and flavors, but for the body’s nourishment. No fruit or vegetable contains all of the nutrients that your body needs. So, shake things up and keep a variety – the options are limitless!

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Memorial Day: Detoxing after the weekend

Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer in the United States, and it jump-starts the season’s numerous backyard and rooftop parties. After this weekend’s indulgences, FoodFacts.com shares a list of detox foods that you can easily get from the produce section of your local grocery or from this season’s numerous farmers’ markets.

Fibrous fruits

Fruits that are rich in fiber will help you cleanse your stomach and get your digestive system back on regular programming. Some high-fiber fruits include grapefruit, berries, pears, avocado and cantaloupe.

Beets

Beets are a great detox food! They are excellent in helping the liver and gall bladder break toxins down, and are highly fibrous, which makes digestion and discharging waste matter easier.

Green tea

Green tea is loaded in antioxidants, such as catechins. This type of antioxidant enhances liver function, which as mentioned above, is essential in getting rid of toxins. Green tea is also an energizing drink; its caffeine gives a diuretic effect that flushes excess sodium out. At the same time, it is also a great rehydration aid!

Lemons

Lemons are superfoods that releases enzymes that stimulate digestion. It is also rich in vitamin C that turns toxins water-soluble, making it easier for the body to release them.

Onion and garlic

They are not just vegetables that add pungent flavors to our meals, they also stimulate the production of glutathione, one of the liver’s most powerful antioxidants. Raw garlic, in particular, has antiviral, antiseptic and antibiotic properties.

Bonus: Head still heavy? This fruity smoothie is a wonderful hangover cure!

Mars, Inc. to phase out artificial colors over a 5 year period.

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FoodFacts.com truly believes in everything in moderation. But along with said moderation, we really want people to think about what they are putting in their bodies and we’ve been trying to show people this for over a decade. Mars, Inc. is yet another company that is starting to realize that the ingredients that go into their products need to be re-examined. But is this really for our general health or because they need to fall in line to consumer demands? They announced this week that they will start to phase out the artificial coloring in their products in the next five year period.

“Artificial colors pose no known risks to human health or safety, but consumers today are calling on food manufacturers to use more natural ingredients in their products,” Mars said Friday.

While it makes us elated that large companies like Kraft Foods Group, Inc., Nestle, SA, General Mills, Inc, and now Mars, Inc. are feeling the pressure to remove all their artificial ingredients (for safer, more healthier ingredients) we can’t seem to understand why they keep coming out with statements like the one above. Even though Red 40 is approved by the FDA, there has been extensive research to come out saying it has caused tumors in laboratory animals (https://cspinet.org/new/pdf/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf), and has come under serious fire by consumer and research advocacy groups.  It is also banned in several European countries. It has to make you wonder…why is the United States perfectly acceptable in allowing it in our foods?

Weird Science. Federal dietary guidelines are based on a weak scientific framework

food pyramid collageIt would make sense that if the Federal Dietary Guidelines were adhered to by most Americans and the Guidelines were sound scientifically that the country wouldn’t have seen a rise in both obesity and any of several other conditions which lead to diabetes and heart disease. But we do have these problems. In fact, FoodFacts.com thinks it’s important to note that those problems have been increasing in frequency for Americans almost since the Federal Guidelines have been issued. Sounds like weird science. But it’s coming to light that Federal Dietary Guidelines are based on a weak scientific framework.

The federal government’s dietary guidelines have changed little since first being issued in 1980. A revised set of recommendations released this month includes a new cap on added sugar, but this is unlikely to end the guidelines’ failure for 35 years to check the rise of obesity and diabetes. The problem, simply put, is a reliance on weak science.

But a serious course correction may finally be on the horizon. Congress, concerned about the continued toll taken by nutrition-related diseases, recently mandated the first-ever outside review of the evidence underlying the dietary guidelines and the process that produces them. The National Academy of Medicine will conduct the review this year. Yet this effort could do more harm than good if the academy endorses the weak science that has shaped the guidelines for decades.

The crux of the problem is that many of the dietary recommendations are not based on clinical trials, which can reliably demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship. In a clinical trial, subjects are randomly assigned to one or more diets, whose health effects are then measured. Such studies are extremely challenging and expensive because subjects must be monitored closely or even provided food to ensure that they are adhering to the diet.

Instead, many of the dietary recommendations are justified by observational studies, using a scientific method known as prospective epidemiology. Researchers send out questionnaires to large numbers of people, asking about diet and lifestyle. They then follow up for years to record health outcomes.

This method cannot show causation, only associations. For instance, obesity might be associated with sitting in front of the television. But people who spend a lot of time watching TV might also eat more junk food. What’s making them fat: The TV-watching, the junk food, or something else entirely that no one thought to measure? Epidemiologists try to adjust for these variables, but there is always uncertainty.

It’s true that epidemiological science has had successes, most notably by linking smoking to cancer in the early 1950s. Yet heavy smokers had a risk of lung cancer 9 to 25 times greater than did nonsmokers, a big enough difference to give researchers confidence that the association was real. By contrast, studies that link nutrition with disease generally find differences in risk of 1 to 2 times.

Moreover, of the enormous number of associations generated by observational studies, only a small number are ultimately confirmed. In 2005 John Ioannidis of Stanford analyzed several dozen highly cited studies and concluded that subsequent clinical trials could reproduce only about 20% of observational findings. A 2011 paper published by the statistics journal Significance analyzed 52 claims made in nutritional studies, and none—0%—withstood the scrutiny of subsequent clinical trials. These are very poor odds on which to gamble public health. Yet policy makers have forged ahead anyway.

This has led to many flip-flops in dietary advice. At one point epidemiological data suggested that cholesterol might be linked to heart disease, and fat to cancer. For decades physicians told the public to avoid egg yolks and shellfish. Millions of Americans adopted low-fat diets and ate more carbohydrates. Yet these theorized links were later rejected. And a large body of evidence now suggests that eating excessive carbohydrates increases the risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Scientists should have known in 1980 that the recommendation to cut fat was unsound. Large clinical trials at the time did not support the theory, according to a systematic review published last year in the cardiology journal Open Heart. “It seems incomprehensible that dietary advice was introduced for 220 million Americans,” the authors wrote, “given the contrary results.”
What’s disturbing is how little this new evidence has been heeded. The guidelines continue to insist that Americans choose reduced-fat dairy products like skim milk. But even epidemiological evidence now contradicts this advice, and a randomized trialpublished last month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people eating full-fat dairy, including whole milk, showed a number of better heart-disease outcomes.

The guidelines continue to place a cap on saturated fats—10% of total calories—based on what the authors consider “strong evidence.” But nearly a dozen meta-analyses or systematic reviews in recent years have found only a weak link between these fats and heart disease or cardiovascular mortality. So in many cases weak evidence supports the dietary guidelines, while strong evidence contradicts them.

Moreover, rates of obesity and diabetes remain stubbornly high, and this isn’t because dietary advice is ignored. Consider a 2008 report by the Agriculture Department that estimates changes in food consumption from 1970-2005: grains rose by 41%; vegetable oils by 91%; fish and shellfish by 37%; vegetables by 23%; and fruits by 13%. Eggs and red meat each fell by 17%, and whole milk by 73%. Yet during roughly the same period the incidence of diabetes doubled.
That’s why, as part of the budget bill that passed Congress in December, lawmakers appropriated $1 million for an independent review of the dietary guidelines. Congress wants to ensure that the next revision, due in 2020, will “better prevent chronic disease.” But we fear that the review, like the guidelines, will be dominated by epidemiology. Several members of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee are also on the National Academy of Medicine, and Congress has asked them to recuse themselves.

The academy might go further by appointing a disinterested referee, someone from outside the field of nutrition, to lead the review. Ideally, this person would have a background in systematic methodology or evidence-based medicine, fields that focus on how to evaluate and prioritize varying results from scientific studies. This expertise would assure the public that the review is to be a serious, objective weighing of the evidence.

Diseases caused by poor eating habits destroy lives and cost the nation trillions in health care. When wrong nutritional advice is dispensed to the public, scientists lose credibility, opening the door to dietary cults. The current guidelines clearly aren’t working. This review offers a chance to steer them on a surer course.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-food-pyramid-scheme-1454022514#livefyre-comment

Tom Colicchio is revolutionizing the food industry, one Food Action Policy at a time.

Many of us at FoodFacts.com have been fans of Tom Colicchio for years. From dining at one of his innovative restaurants (the farm at Riverpark is one of the most amazing urban gems you will see at a restaurant in midtown Manhattan) to watching his smart and calm culinary demeanor as he guides somewhat egocentric chefs on Bravo Tv’s “Top Chef,” you know that his passion for food is more than just a career choice, it literally fuels him.

It’s no surprise that he added food activism to his resume when he co-founded Food Policy Action in 2012. Their mission is to make food policies even more substantial while upholding the rights of farmers and food workers and make healthier food more accessible for all. In recent months, Mr. Colicchio took Capitol Hill by storm with 30 other chefs to discuss the Childhood Nutrition Act (which needs to be reauthorized every 5 years). Since new nutritional guidelines have been introduced in recent years for school cafeterias, it’s now more important than ever that every state adopts these paths to make sure our children are educated on eating healthy and proper meals.

To say we are impressed with this Top Chef is an understatement. Most of the celebrity chefs we see in mainstream media are more concerned with hawking products and selling themselves as a brand than educating people on what they are eating. Mr. Colicchio has now opened up the conversation and garnered media attention…exactly what people like us need that are trying to fight the good food fight.

So Mr. Colicchio, we’d like to know how we can partner up?! If you take a look at FoodFacts.com you will see that knowing what you are eating is all that we are about. Our mission is so similar to the one that you have cultivated yourself. Our passion is educating people on what’s really in the foods they are eating…the less ingredients the better! Our all my foodfacts app focuses on showing people all the ingredients they are consuming in the processed foods they are eating and how it affects them. We truly believe that everyone should be entitled to affordable, healthy food to consume and that if you can’t pronounce the ingredients in a package, you probably shouldn’t be eating it! So please, tweet us, write us, anything. We’d love to work with you!