Category Archives: nutrition

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!

Infertility treatment outcomes and nutrition

Food Facts is always interested in how nutrition affects our health, and realizes that sometimes it can be in hard to discern ways. We came across a great article in Science Daily that refers to a new study that is showing a link between nutrition and positive outcomes in infertility treatment and wanted to share it with our community.

A study released by the Harvard School of Public Health and funded by the US National Institutes of Health probed the effects of dietary fat on the outcomes of women treated for infertility via in vitro fertilization. Dietary fat in the study as classified as total, saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, omega 6, omega 3 and trans-fat. It was shown that women with a higher consumption of dietary saturated fats have fewer mature eggs (oocytes) for the egg retrieval process in IVF (in vitro fertilization).

While dietary fat intake had been previously studied for its effects on fertility, there has been little exploration done regarding its effects on fertility treatment outcome. It has already been known and accepted that higher consumption of trans-fat can be associated with ovulatory difficulties like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and miscarriage. Saturated fats can be a cause of lower sperm counts in men. But now we are discovering how the consumption of fats can affect treatment outcomes.

The in vitro process is highly dependent on the number of mature eggs that can be harvested from the patient. The lower the amount of mature eggs for reproductive endocrinologists to work with, the lower the number of actual embryos that can be used in the final stage of IVF, the embryo transfer.

The study was presented during the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Emryology by Dr. Jorge Chavarro, an Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

147 women undergoing in vitro fertilization for the treatment of infertility at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center were studied. The study included assessments of egg development, fertilization rates and embryo quality as well as pregnancy and live birth rates. The fat intake of each of the women were categorized into tertiles and results were controlled for other possible fertility influences including specific infertility diagnosis, BMI and smoking status.

The resulting statistical analysis showed that women with higher fat intake produced fewer eggs that were mature enough for successful fertilization (classified as metaphase II (MII) oocytes). The results was associated with intake of saturated fats
Dr. Chavarro stated,”Only MII oocytes can be used for IVF, thus, having fewer mature oocytes can mean fewer embryos to choose from for … transfer.”

When asked about recommendations to IVF patients based on this study, Professor Chavarro responded, “While these results are interesting, this is the first time to our knowledge that dietary fats have been linked to treatment outcome in IVF. So it is important that our results are replicated in other studies before making strong recommendations about fat intake to women having infertility treatment.”

There’s more fascinating information about how a variety of different fats effect the in vitro fertilization process. Food Facts invites you to read more at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120703120655.htm

Food Facts Summer Fruit Series … Life is just a bowl of cherries

Summer cherries are just one of a myriad of fruits abounding at the farmer’s market this time of year. Your Food Facts crew really loves cherries, but your blog writer REALLY loves them. That’s because I’m allergic to berries and have an affinity for this small, tasty fruit that doesn’t help me break out in hives! They are tasty to snack on by themselves or to substitute (for me) in recipes requiring berries …. actually they work like a charm. So, if I’m going to be eating that dessert that called for berries they are a great substitute, providing taste and texture without having to completely redo a recipe because the fruit I’m using might have a different water content. So tonight, I wanted to look at the health benefits of cherries.

So here’s what you need to know about cherries and your health:

- Although cherries are very low in calories, they are very rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

- The pigment in cherries that causes their beautiful color are due to polyphenolic flavonoid compounds … or anthocyanin glycosides. That means that fruits with red, purple or blue skins carry these compounds and that their skins have powerful anti-oxidant properties.

- Those anthosyanins act like anti-inflammatory agents in your body. They can have helpful effects against chronic pain associated with gout, arthritis, fibromyalgia and sports injuries. In addition, some (tart) cherries can help to prevent cancers and neurological diseases.

- Cherries contain melatonin. Melatonin can produce soothing effects for the brain and calm nervous system irritability. So if you suffer from headaches, eat cherries. In addition, if you have a hard time falling asleep at night, cherries might help.

- Like many other summer fruits, cherries also provide potassium and manganese. When we sweat in the summer, our body needs to replace these minerals and cherries can help us do that.

- Other great properties of cherries include anti-oxidants. Lutein, beta carotene and others can protect your body from free radicals that might prevent some forms of cancer.
Oh, and if you’re like me, cherries won’t cause hives. Of course I’m sure there are some folks who can eat berries, but cherries can cause hives. We all have our individual food issues (and berries are certainly coming in our Summer Fruits Series).

My favorite cherry dessert is a parfait. After pitting some sweet cherries, I layer a glass with them, alternating between freshly made whipped cream and topping it off with a whole cherry. That’s not a recipe substitution for me. I just love the flavor!

That’s the latest from our Food Facts Summer Fruits Series. Stay tuned for blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, honeydew and maybe a few that aren’t quite that familiar! Let us know about your favorites!