Category Archives: nutrition

Nutritionally, it’s all about the first 1,000 days of life

the-importance-of-fiber-during-pregnancy-newFoodFacts.com has devoted a lot of blog space discussing the importance of children’s nutrition. We’ve certainly had plenty of good reasons for that — the obesity epidemic has affected our kids in a profound way, compromising their health and altering their young lifestyles. Much has been done in an effort to change and ultimately reverse the crisis. School lunches are under new regulations. First Lady Michelle Obama has done a wonderful job with her groundbreaking Let’s Move campaign. We’ve even seen some major manufacturers commit to ditching artificial food colors in products our children love.

But what if we started earlier in our children’s lives? What if healthy eating started, say, at conception, and lasted throughout the first 1,000 days of a child’s life?

That is what Lucy Martinez Sullivan hopes to drill into the national and international conversation with her organization, 1,000 Days. “I realized how little attention and how little money had been focused” on this stage in life, she said.

The most important time to pay attention to a child’s nutrition is from the time of conception until they are 2 years old. Good nutrition during this critical window can change their lives, leading to better growth of brain and body.

Certainly, some of the important focuses of 1,000 Days are conditions in poorer countries without great infrastructure. But the U.S. ranks among the top 10 worst-performing countries when it comes to several major factors of child and maternal health. We are a part of this as much as anywhere else.
Sullivan is on a campaign to get the message out to decision makers, world leaders, and perhaps most important, parents.

To try to help her expand the reach of her campaign, she partnered with a woman so many of us know, Heidi Murkoff — otherwise known as the writer of the “What to Expect” books.

“The lack of interest” in the earliest years of life “is just startling,” Murkoff said. “The whole focus is on elementary school kids. They’re already 9 years old.”

Did you know, according to the Journal of Obesity in 2012, that french fries are the most common “vegetable” among 12-15 month olds in North America? With 18.5 percent of them eating fries at least once a day? Or that by 19 to 24 months, 62 percent of toddlers had eaten a baked dessert, 20 percent consumed candy, and 44 percent had consumed a sweetened beverage, according to the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism in 2013?

So while many countries that Sullivan deals with are in crisis mode because the children are undernourished, ours are poorly nourished. And that means their brains aren’t growing, they are in trouble physically, and it will be hard to dig out from under the damage already done.

So what now? As far as these two powerhouses are concerned, they will work together to try to engage the next generation of moms, policy makers and advocates to ensure a better start for babies worldwide.

Murkoff said she wants to see healthy food become more affordable and available. She wants to see more help to support breastfeeding for those who are able. “It’s a process that doesn’t come naturally,” she said. But many women want to, they just don’t know how. Or they are forced to return to work, many times to a place or shift work that doesn’t allow for pumping.

What does this mean for you and me? We need to change the way we all look at nutrition, childhood obesity and what causes a lack of good health — from the earliest days. That will help us prevent the worst diseases and health outcomes for the newest generation.

And, Murkoff noted, we have to “nurture the nurturer.”

That sentiment, Sullivan noted, will happen if we work to change policies, like a lack of paid maternity leave. How can we feed our children well, or even attempt to breastfeed them, if we have to return to work shortly after birth? How can we watch what goes into their little bodies if we can’t cobble together good childcare for those of us who do work? How can we feed them fresh fruits if we live in areas that have nothing but corner stores?

“The more we neglect populations…the more these families get locked into a cycle of bad health,” Sullivan said. “We need to set moms up to succeed.”

There’s so much critical information that’s revealed here. The research cited is fairly astounding. And it certainly points to the idea that we can do so much better for our children here in the U.S. We can remember when people were appalled when ketchup was considered a vegetable in school cafeterias and now we’re finding out that french fries are the most common “vegetable” for a substantial percentage of one-year-olds. It’s absolutely time to focus more energy on the nutritional quality of diets for the youngest among us. We’ll be doing so much for the health of future generations — and, in doing so, we’ll have a better opportunity reverse the obesity crisis once and for all.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/10/21/good-nutrition-during-the-first-1000-days-of-life-is-critically-important/

What girls eat today could influence their risk of breast cancer tomorrow

mailThere are many women for whom breast cancer is part of their family tree. Heredity can play an important role in the development of this devastating disease. But there are other women with no family history of breast cancer who are diagnosed every year having no idea how this could have happened to them.

But new research from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that what some of those women ate years ago as a teenager may have played a role.

“We know from lots of other data that that period of life is a critical period,” said Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the Nutrition Department at the Harvard School of Public Health. “And the one thing that has been seen most clearly is consumption of red meat — both fresh meat and processed meat — during adolescence is related to higher risk of breast cancer.”

Researcher Maryam Farvid reviewed the data from nearly 45,000 women. She said girls don’t have to become vegetarians.

“If you just go from having red meat once a day to once a week, you can eliminate most of the risk,” Farvid said.

Researchers recommend choosing other forms of protein like nuts, beans, poultry and fish.

“That is the one thing that parents can steer their children towards to reduce their risk of breast cancer in the long run,” Willett said.

As for weight gain, research shows women increase their risk when they add pounds after menopause.

But as teenagers, it’s complicated.

“We actually see that the leaner girls have a higher risk of breast cancer later in life,” Willet said. “It’s quite a puzzle. It’s opposite to what everyone expected.”

Figuring out these connections between diet and risk could be key to preventing breast cancer in the next generation.

But one large-scale nutrition study — funded by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation — will take time.

The Growing Up Today Study has been tracking thousands of kids closely since 1996, but the oldest ones just turned 30.

“The participants have not really been old enough to start developing breast cancer yet, but within a decade or two, they will be.”

FoodFacts.com knows that everyone in our community works hard to make sure that their children are consuming nutritious, balanced diets. When it comes to breast cancer, nutritional awareness should take a front row seat in the educational process that can help us lower not only our own risk, but our daughters’ as well.

Read more:http://www.wcvb.com/health/leaner-girls-have-higher-risk-of-developing-breast-cancer-later-researchers-say/29014540#ixzz3HIapYaWu

Dannon commits to more nutritional yogurt with the Partnership for a Healthier America

Dannon and the Partnership for a Healthier AmericaWe’ve been questioning the nutritional quality of many of the mainstream yogurt brands for quite a while. There are plenty of products out there with bad ingredients and far too much sugar. We have been noticing, over time, that Dannon has been making some improvements to their ingredient lists in some of their products. FoodFacts.com has been pleased with the changes overall and have been hopeful about further changes coming down the road.

Dannon has recently announced along with the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) at the 2014 Building a Healthier Future Summit, a landmark commitment to further improve the nutrition profile of its yogurt products. As part of its four-part commitment, Dannon will further improve by 10 percent the nutrient density of its products in part by increasing nutrients that are encouraged in a healthy diet, while reducing total sugar and fat, and will invest in nutrition education and research focused on healthy eating habits.

Since Dannon started making yogurt in 1942, the company’s mission has been to bring great taste and better health through food to as many people as possible. Today, the company is committed to this more than ever—and this pledge to PHA, which works with the private sector and PHA Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama to help end the childhood obesity crisis, is an investment in helping make a real difference in how Americans eat.

“We applaud Mrs. Obama and Partnership for a Healthier America for their commitment to the health and future of our children and adults,” said Dannon’s President and CEO Mariano Lozano. “As the largest maker of yogurt in the United States today, it’s a privilege and a responsibility to continually improve the cultured dairy foods we carefully prepare every day for the millions of families who enjoy our products. Dannon’s commitment to Partnership for a Healthier America represents another big step in our journey to help address the issue of obesity in America.”

Dannon’s commitment goals are based on the latest nutrition science and authoritative guidance from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), which recommends that Americans consume more nutrient dense foods, like yogurt. Nutrient dense foods are those that provide more vitamins and minerals, like vitamin D and potassium, and less fat, sugar and salt. Most yogurts – already nutrient-dense – provide three of the four nutrients of public health concern most lacking in American diets as identified by the 2010 DGA: calcium, potassium and Vitamin D. Additionally, eating yogurt is associated with less weight gain and yogurt is a more easily digestible dairy option for individuals with lactose intolerance and, according to research, associated with better diet quality and healthier dietary patterns. To that point, two weeks ago, the US government authorized the inclusion of yogurt in certain Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food packages, recognizing the importance of yogurt to an increasingly diverse and vulnerable part of the US population.

“Busy families reach for yogurt as an easy snack and nutritious addition to lunch boxes across the country every day. Dannon’s commitment to reduce sugar and fat in more of its products makes healthier choices even easier for millions of parents and families,” said PHA CEO Lawrence A. Soler. “We are pleased to welcome Dannon into the PHA family.”

Dannon plans to achieve these ambitious goals by 2016 through a combination of introducing new innovations and reformulating existing products. Recipe developers and other experts at Dannon will build on their learnings from last year’s reformulation of the company’s bestselling children’s product, Danimals® smoothies, in which the company reduced sugar by 25 percent while maintaining great taste, texture and convenience. Dannon’s new introduction of a Greek yogurt, Danimals SuperStars, specifically designed for the preferences and nutritional needs of kids, already meets the strict criteria announced.

Specifically, The Dannon Company pledges to do the following by 2016:
Improve the nutrient density by 10% of the Dannon product portfolio overall by increasing nutrients that are encouraged in the diet, like Vitamin D, and decreasing total sugar and fat.

-  Reduce the amount of total sugar in Dannon products to 23 grams or less (per 6 ounce serving) in 100% of products for children and 70% of the company’s products overall.

- Reduce the amount of fat in Dannon products, so that 75% of products will be low-fat or fat-free.

- Invest $3 million in nutrition education and research focused on healthy eating habits.

These are great commitments! It’s always exciting to see major brands like Dannon embrace change for health. While there are still some concerns (artificial colors and natural flavors in a few of the varieties), Dannon is certainly headed in the right direction!

http://www.dannon.com/partnership-for-healthy-america/

Eat like an Olympian

The 2014 Sochi Olympics are well underway. Fans have already been awed by the power and strength displayed by athletes in snowboarding, figure skating and skiing, to name just a few of the sports we’ve been watching since February 6th. It’s impossible to watch these athletes compete and not marvel at the amazing abilities of mind and body.

For every one of the Olympians, that power and strength most certainly comes from extraordinary talent and training, as well as discipline and the desire to push the envelope of their sport. But it is fascinating to learn what an important role nutritional concerns play in their development and their ability to compete at such an intense level.

The nutritionists and dietitians at the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) play a joint role when it comes to making sure the athletes’ nutritional needs are met on and off the field. Concentrating on service, education and research the sports nutrition experts at the USOC adhere to a three-pronged approach to helping athletes achieve excellence. By incorporating the expertise from the USOC’s sports medicine division and strength and conditioning team, sports nutrition experts utilize science as the foundation of performance enhancement.

Allen Tran is a high performance chef for the US Ski and Snowboard Association and this year’s US Olympic ski and snowboard teams in Sochi. In an interview, he commented about the nutritional needs of the US team. “When it comes to nutritional needs, athletes definitely need to incorporate a combination of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and nutrient-dense fruits and veggies. That’s the nutritional base for many of my meals.”

Chef Tran’s sample menu includes oatmeal, Greek yogurt with fresh berries for breakfast and veggie and beef Texas chili and spinach salad with avocado for lunch.

Kelly Anne Erdman, MSc, R.D., former Olympic cyclist, 1992 Barcelona Games, helps organize the nutrition programs for Canada’s top athletes at the Canadian Sport Centre in Calgary. She commented, “We’re looking at high-quality sources of protein—beef, pork, eggs, turkey. That’s their main recovery meal, which is generally after their midday weight-and-resistance training.” Whole-grain rice and pasta as well as fresh vegetables round out the athletes’ diets.

The general nutrition guidelines for the USA team include: Consume a low saturated fat diet, (less than 7 percent of total calories. No more than one gram of saturated fat per 100 calories. Consume more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as oily fish, leafy greens, almonds, cashews and avocados. Eat foods with plant sterols and sterols which are found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds and com­mercially prepared butter-like table spreads.

Optimal hydration supports daily training and recovery. Suggestions to help increase fluid intake at training or competition include drinking cool fluids (59 degrees) in hot weather and warm fluids in cold weather. Sodium is critical for optimal cellular rehydration and should be included in drinks when athletes do not have the opportunity to consume electrolytes naturally found in food. Low fat milk and flavored milk have been shown to be effective rehydration solutions.

While most of us aren’t world-class athletes adhering to an intense training schedule (and probably have no need to consume the number of calories per day as those who are), we can all find the nutritional sense in the guidelines these professionals have outlined. Lean protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds … real foods that are nutritionally valuable can help keep all of our bodies performing at optimal levels. Even if we aren’t attempting a triple toe loop or a triple cork or looking to fly over 240 meters on a ski jump, optimal health is a goal that should have us all trying to eat like Olympians.

Read more here: http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/16503441-nutrition-guidelines-for-the-olympics

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

Does Halloween candy spook us more than ghosts and goblins?

Halloween is upon us and those of us with small children have undoubtedly been talking with them excitedly for the last few months getting them ready for the big day. And for little ones, it really is a BIG day!

There’s a lot of excitement surrounding who or what they’ll be for Halloween. Costume shopping has become analogous to Christmas shopping. You know how the ultra-cool, wildly popular toy sells out of the major retail outlets about six weeks before Christmas? If you didn’t shop early, your kid might just be out of luck on Christmas morning. The same can now be said for Halloween costumes. If your child has his or her heart set on mimicking the main character from this year’s most popular movie, you’ll want to know about that a few months in advance so you can actually make that happen.

Halloween can be a stressful holiday for parents. The costume, the weather, the candy …. oh, that’s right … let’s not forget about the candy.

This has been a big parenting question for decades now, and we’re no closer to answering it today than we used to be. Do we allow our children to eat their candy haul, or do we: hide it, throw it away, donate it, sell it … or anything else we can think of that does not allow it to enter their mouths?

For generations the question has been addressed by separate factions – the “it’s only once a year, what harm can it do?” folks vs. the “It’s nothing but sugar. It has no nutritional value. It’s terrible for teeth. The kids collect pounds of it in one day and it’s unhealthy to eat that much candy – even if it takes a month to consume all of it” folks.

These separate divisions get a little louder each year. This year, the “No Candy Camp” includes a number of different Candy Buyback Campaigns sponsored by dentists. They’ll actually pay you for your candy and send it out to the troops overseas (who we guess must be immune to tooth decay???).

On the other side of the issue, there are plenty of people who have vivid memories of combining their “loot” with their siblings’ and divvying it up between themselves. It was a great way of making sure you got all your favorite candy and they got theirs. Many people remember that there was never a Halloween where they managed to eat all their candy – even by Thanksgiving. It was just a lot of fun and an opportunity to eat “contraband” legally for a short time, at least.

It’s a pretty personal issue and different families tackle it in different ways. And while it would be difficult to establish absolute rights and wrongs in this complex food situation that is both a sentimental and nutritional issue, we think it might be important to offer a little food for thought to everyone making their decision for the first time. Here are the nutritional “highlights” from the top 10 Halloween Candies of 2013.

Candy Corn:
http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Chewy/Brachs-Candy- Corn-1100-oz/86948

Skittles:

http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Chewy/Skittles-Original-Fruit-Candies-2-oz/4326

Butterfinger:
http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Peanut-Butter/Nestle-Butterfinger-Candy-2-oz/4457

Twizzlers:
http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Chewy/Twizzlers-Strawberry-Twists-24-oz/51634

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups:

http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Peanut-Butter/Reeses-Peanut-Butter-Cups-Minis-8-oz/66136

M&Ms

http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Chocolate/M-Ms-Milk-Chocolate-Candies-213-oz/8817

Life Savers
http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Hard/Life-Savers-5-Flavors-Hard-Candy-6-oz/4400

Tootsie Rolls
http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Chewy/Tootsie-Roll-Midgees-Chocolate-Candy-12-oz/10095

Wonka Nerds
http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Bite-Size/Wonka-Nerds-Rainbow-of-Flavors-7-oz/4632

Snickers:
http://www.foodfacts.com/ci/nutritionfacts/Chocolate/Snickers-Minis-Candies-13-oz/10476

Whatever you decide, FoodFacts.com wishes you and yours a happy, spooky and safe Halloween!

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?

A hearty and healthy breakfast may help fertility

FoodFacts.com understands that currently about one in ten women experience difficulty when trying to conceive. Infertility is a difficult and painful journey for many. The latest technologies designed to help women conceive are effective for some – but not all. Additionally those technologies are exceptionally costly and not every prospective fertility patient has insurance that will cover these procedures. It would be a blessing for so many if there was a simple answer that might actually provide help for some of the women seeking to start a family. Today we read information about research that may prove beneficial.

A new study by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University reveals that eating a good breakfast can have a positive impact on women with problems of infertility.

In recent years, nutritional research has found that our weight is affected not only by the level of calorie intake, but also by the question of when to consume large amounts of calories.

Now, research, conducted by Prof. Oren Froy, director of the Nutrigenomics and Functional Foods Research Center at the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment of the Hebrew University, and Ma’ayan Barnea, plus Prof. Daniela Jocabovitz and Dr. Julio Weinstein from Tel Aviv University and Wolfson Medical Center, shows that a big breakfast increases fertility among woman who suffer from menstrual irregularities.

The study examined whether meal times have an impact on the health of woman with menstrual irregularities due to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS affects approximately 6-10% of woman of reproductive age, disrupting their reproductive abilities. This syndrome creates a resistance to insulin, leading to an increase in male sex hormones (androgens), and can also cause menstrual irregularities, hair loss on the scalp though increase in body hair, acne, fertility problems and future diabetes.

The experiment was carried out at Wolfson Medical Center on 60 women over a 12-week period. The women, from the ages of 25 to 39, were thin with a BMI (body mass index) of less than 23 and suffered from PCOS.

The women were divided into two groups and were allowed to consume about 1,800 calories a day. The difference between the groups was the timing of their largest meal. One group consumed their largest meal, approximately 980 calories, at breakfast, while the other at dinner. Researchers wanted to examine whether the schedule of calorie intake affects insulin resistance and the increase in androgens among woman suffering from PCOS. The women kept records of exactly what they ate.

The findings, recently published in the journal Clinical Science, showed improved results for the group that consumed a big breakfast. Glucose levels and insulin resistance decreased by 8%, while the second group (“dinner”) showed no changes. Another finding showed that among the “breakfast” group, testosterone (one of the androgens) levels decreased by nearly 50%, while the “dinner” group level stayed neutral. In addition, there was a much higher rate of ovulating woman within the “breakfast group” compared to the “dinner” group, showing that eating a hearty breakfast leads to an increase in the level of fertility among woman with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

While we realize that further research is necessary to confirm these findings, FoodFacts.com is encouraged to learn that for some of the women experiencing fertility problems, a big healthy breakfast might just be their first step on their path to parenthood!

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/266880.php

New evidence linking diet and depression

Our mission here at FoodFacts.com has always been to educate consumers about the foods we eat and how dietary choices affect our daily lives. One of the issues we’ve posted about in the past has been how junk foods and fast foods can affect those with severe, chronic depression. Food choices count for those who are depressed and proper nutrition is especially important for our mental health. Today we found new information that expands on those concepts, re-emphasizing the importance of our healthy eating habits.

It appears that a healthy diet may reduce the risk of severe depression, according to a prospective follow-up study of more than 2,000 men conducted at the University of Eastern Finland. In addition, weight loss in the context of a lifestyle intervention was associated with a reduction in depressive symptoms.

“The study reinforces the hypothesis that a healthy diet has potential not only in the warding off of depression, but also in its prevention,” says Ms Anu Ruusunen, MSc, who presented the results in her doctoral thesis in the field of nutritional epidemiology.
Depressed individuals often have a poor quality of diet and decreased intake of nutrients. However, it has been unclear whether the diet and the intake of foods and nutrients are associated with the risk of depression in healthy individuals.

A healthy diet characterized by vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, poultry, fish and low-fat cheese was associated with a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms and a lower risk of depression during the follow-up period.

Increased intake of folate was also associated with a decreased risk of depression. Vegetables, fruits, berries, whole-grains, meat and liver are the most important dietary sources of folate. In addition, increased coffee consumption was non-linearly associated with a decreased risk of depression.

In addition, participation in a three-year lifestyle intervention study improved depression scores with no specific group effect. Furthermore, a reduction in the body weight was associated with a greater reduction in depressive symptoms.

Adherence to an unhealthy diet characterized by a high consumption of sausages, processed meats, sugar-containing desserts and snacks, sugary drinks, manufactured foods, French rolls and baked or processed potatoes was associated with an increased prevalence of elevated depressive symptoms.

The study was based on the population-based Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor (KIHD) Study. The participants, over 2,000 middle-aged or older Finnish men were followed-up for an average of 13-20 years. Their diet was measured by food records and food frequency questionnaires, and information on cases of depression was obtained from the National Hospital Discharge Register. The effects of the three-year lifestyle intervention on depressive symptoms were investigated in the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study (DPS) with 140 middle-aged men and women randomized to intervention and control groups.

Depression is one of the leading health challenges in the world and its effects on public health, economics and quality of life are enormous. Not only treatment of depression, but also prevention of depression needs new approaches. Diet and other lifestyle factors may be one possibility.

FoodFacts.com understands that depression can be an enormously painful and chronic condition. It can often be treated with debilitating medications that may or may not be effective. Those medications can cause their own set of side effects that vary among individuals. Mental health problems are a rough road. Dietary and lifestyle interventions both for treatment and prevention of depression might help to smooth an otherwise rocky path for millions worldwide.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916103530.htm

Foods you need to pay attention to

FoodFacts.com spends a lot of time educating our community on the foods we shouldn’t be eating, or at least that we should be trying to avoid. So we thought we’d explore some of the foods we might not realize are actually good for our health. There are some surprises out there … and if the following foods aren’t surprising to you, share them with friends and family, who may not understand their benefits.

Iceberg Lettuce
Generally this is the lettuce that isn’t flying off the produce shelves these days. It’s somewhat “out of fashion” in terms of salad preparation. But we really need to start a new trend. Half a head of iceberg lettuce contains more alpha-carotene than romaine lettuce or spinach. And it’s actually pretty tasty when used in a great salad recipe. Try it with a few different vegetables julienned with the lettuce and a tangy homemade dressing. And if you still like the texture of the leafier green lettuces, you can add iceberg into your regular salad preparation. Mix it up with romaine or green leaf lettuce to add an interesting crunch to your regular salad recipes. It also adds some iron, vitamin C and vitamin A to your already nutritious salad ideas.

Sardines
Yes, we’re talking about those tiny fish that can come in a can. There are so many things you can do with sardines and so many things they can do for you! Fatty fish, like sardines, are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. They help you build your HDL cholesterol (that’s the good kind), and they’re good for you brain. Not to mention that if you or someone you love has had a heart attack, they can actually reduce the risk of a reoccurrence that could lead to sudden death. That’s a pretty powerful little fish. They’re great with pasta or salads. You can pretty much rest assured that any food you might add chopped bacon to would be equally tasty with sardines. If you don’t have access to fresh sardines, canned will work just fine. But they do contain sodium, so make sure you adjust your recipes accordingly.

Vinegar
Turns out that in this case the old wives tales about vinegar just might hold water. Vinegar has been shown to help with cholesterol issues, fight allergies and increase stamina. But, most importantly, a study has pointed out that when people consumed two tablespoons of vinegar with a high-carb meal, their blood sugar was actually lower by 23% than when eating the meal without it. That’s a pretty good reason to make your own salad dressing with those two tablespoons and eat that with your higher carbohydrate meal.

Blueberries
FoodFacts.com loves blueberries. They’re great for breakfast. Work well as a snack and make a pretty terrific dessert! The compound anthocyanin is a flavanoid (a type of antioxidant) that blueberries contain great amounts of. Flavanoids can protect against free radicals that cause cell damage and they are great for protecting your heart. Blueberries also seem to have a positive effect on blood pressure. So, especially during these summer months when blueberries are plentiful at the farmer’s market, go ahead and enjoy them, knowing that while you’re loving the taste they bring to your dishes, they’re loving your heart health in return!

Mushrooms
If you’ve ever been in a cooking class or gone to culinary school, you’ve learned that mushrooms are a “flavor enhancer”, as in, they really don’t have flavor themselves, but tend to brighten or pick up the flavor of other foods. That sort of leads folks to believe that they are kind of useless on their own. But they really aren’t. Mushrooms are actually are source of lean protein, without the cholesterol or fat. They are also low in carbs and contain fiber. They help burn cholesterol. They’ve been shown to be effective in preventing breast and prostate cancer and they’re great for a diabetic diet.

So that’s the FoodFacts.com list of five foods that you might want to pay more attention to in your diet. While a few of them might take some cooking creativity, we think all five are definitely worth their health benefits!