DASH diet expands with lean pork as a substitute for chicken or fish

pilafIf you know anyone following the DASH diet for blood pressure control, or if you are yourself, you may be able to add lean pork to your diet as a substitute for chicken or fish as part of your healthy eating style, according to research from Purdue University.

‘This study supports that the DASH diet can include lean, unprocessed red meats in the appropriate serving sizes,’ said Wayne Campbell, a professor of nutrition science.

The study, which compared lean, unprocessed pork with chicken and fish as the predominant protein source in a DASH-style diet, is published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The research is funded by the National Pork Board, the National Institutes of Health’s Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute and Clinical Research Center, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This study applies only to cuts of unprocessed lean pork, such as tenderloin and fresh, uncured ham trimmed of visible fat. Each serving size was three ounces. These findings should not be extrapolated to other pork products with higher fat and salt content, Campbell said.

The effectiveness of the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, limits red meat to reduce total and saturated fat as well as sodium. The DASH diet is often recommended to reduce blood pressure and is focused on the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole-grains, low-fat dairy, nuts, poultry and fish, while reducing fats, red meats, including pork, and added sugars.

Many cuts of red meat, including beef or pork tenderloin and fresh ham, meet the USDA guidelines for lean, which is less than 10 grams total fat and less than 4.5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams. Extra lean is less than 5 grams total fat and less than two grams saturated fat per 100 grams.

‘If people have to rely only on fish and chicken their diet choices can be limited, and our findings support that lean pork may be a viable option for people who are consuming a DASH diet without compromising the effectiveness of the diet plan,’ said Drew Sayer, a doctoral student in nutrition science and a co-author on the study.

Hypertension, which is high blood pressure, is a risk factor for cardiovascular and kidney disease. About 30 percent of American adults live with hypertension and 65 percent of those 60 years and older have high blood pressure.

The 19 participants in the study had elevated high blood pressure and their average age was 61.

‘The people in the study were at risk for hypertension, and they represent the 60 percent of Americans with prehypertension who are on the road to clinically high blood pressure,’ said Sayer.

The study’s participants consumed a DASH-style diet for two, six-week periods, and they either ate lean pork or chicken and fish as the main protein source. They had a four-week break then consumed the alternate meat. Blood pressures were taken throughout the study, including at the beginning of each six-week period and at the end of the study.

Pre- and post-intervention manual and 24-hour blood pressures were not different between either DASH option of pork or chicken and fish. Consumption of these DASH-style diets for six weeks reduced all measures of blood pressure with no differences in responses between DASH with chicken and fish and DASH with pork.

FoodFacts.com is a fan.  The DASH diet offers a non-medicated approach to lowering blood pressure. It’s great for the heart. It lowers cholesterol. It takes off weight. And it has nothing to do with anything except food. Like it’s medicine. There’s that old saying from Hippocrates again. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” In action.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150611114409.htm

Can milk proteins protect us from cardiovascular disease?

Milk-proteins-may-protect-against-cardiovascular-diseaseDrink your milk, it’s good for your bones and your teeth. How many times did you hear that when you were growing up? We’d bet it was pretty often. Then there were the tag lines … “Got Milk?”. “Milk, it does a body good.” Today we found out that milk proteins may do a body more good than previously thought.

The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that results in browned foods like seared steaks and toasted bread. When proteins and sugars are mixed together and heated, new chemical compounds are formed. Some are responsible for new flavors and some, according to a new study published in the Journal of Dairy Science®, may protect us against cardiovascular disease.

Researchers at the R&D Center, Seoul Dairy Cooperative, the College of Life Science & Biotechnology, Korea University, and the BK21 Plus Graduate Program, Department of Animal Science and Institute Agricultural Science & Technology, Chonbuk National University in South Korea, have determined that dietary compounds formed in milk-based products lowered serum total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and triglycerides in mice. These compounds also protected against acute pulmonary thromboembolism as well as aspirin, but without the possible bleeding consequences often observed in aspirin therapy.

Whey protein concentrate and sodium caseinate were heated with lactose to form whey-protein Maillard reaction products (wMRP). Lactic acid bacteria were then used to produce fermented MRPs (f-MRP). Sodium caseinate alone was also reacted to form Maillard-reacted sodium caseinate (cMRP) and further fermented to f-cMRP.

To determine antithrombotic effects, 60 mice were divided into four treatment groups of 15. Group 1 received phosphate buffered saline (PBS) (negative control), group 2 received aspirin (positive control), group 3 received wMRP, and group 4 received f-MRP in addition to a normal diet. Assessment of antioxidant activity and cholesterol reduction effect of fermented cMRP was done with another group of 60 mice fed various diets with and without f-cMRP.

“This is the first report describing the verification for the impacts of MRPs and their fermented product in cardiovascular risk using animal model,” explained lead investigator Younghoon Kim, PhD, of the Department of Animal Science, Chonbuk National University, Republic of Korea, “In addition, our findings represent a real advance in the area of milk proteins and indicate that f-cMRP and cMRP could be recommended for use as potential antioxidants and cardioprotective ingredients for various functional, pharmaceutical, and dairy applications.”

Matt Lucy, PhD, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Dairy Science, and Professor of Animal Science, University of Missouri, added, “We are beginning to understand that dairy products provide benefits to human health beyond the traditional nutrients. This study performed in laboratory animals demonstrates the potential for milk proteins found in naturally fermented foods to improve human cardiovascular health.”

FoodFacts.com likes the idea that we’re expanding our definitions of hearty healthy foods. Strong, healthy hearts are a great goal for everyone and understanding how our diets can help us achieve that goal is empowering for us all.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150611144053.htm

American kids aren’t getting enough hydration

Girl-drinking-water-homepageThe human body needs water to function. We can actually survive for a longer period of time without food than we can without water. It’s such a simple thing and something we can easily take for granted in our daily diets. What are you drinking every day? What are our kids drinking? Surprisingly, for our kids there may not be enough water on the beverage menu.

More than half of all children and adolescents in the U.S. are not getting enough hydration–probably because they’re not drinking enough water–a situation that could have significant repercussions for their physical health and their cognitive and emotional functioning, according to the first national study of its kind from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study also found racial/ethnic and gender gaps in hydration status. Black children and adolescents were at higher risk of inadequate hydration than whites; boys were at higher risk than girls.

The study appears online June 11, 2015 in the American Journal of Public Health.

“These findings are significant because they highlight a potential health issue that has not been given a whole lot of attention in the past,” said lead author Erica Kenney, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard Chan School. “Even though for most of these kids this is not an immediate, dramatic health threat, this is an issue that could really be reducing quality of life and well-being for many, many children and youth.”

Drinking enough water is essential for physiological processes such as circulation, metabolism, temperature regulation, and waste removal. Although excessive dehydration is associated with serious health problems, even mild dehydration can cause issues, including headaches, irritability, poorer physical performance, and reduced cognitive functioning.

The researchers looked at data from 2009-2012 on more than 4,000 children and adolescents aged 6 to 19 years who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a study of the health of U.S. children and adults conducted each year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They used urine osmolality–a measure of how concentrated a person’s urine is–to determine whether or not participants were adequately hydrated.

They found that a little more than half of all children and adolescents weren’t getting enough hydration. Boys were 76% more likely than girls, and non-Hispanic blacks were 34% more likely than non-Hispanic whites, to be inadequately hydrated.

Notably, nearly a quarter of the children and adolescents in the study reported drinking no plain water at all.

“The good news is that this is a public health problem with a simple solution,” said senior author Steven Gortmaker, professor of the practice of health sociology. “If we can focus on helping children drink more water–a low-cost, no-calorie beverage–we can improve their hydration status, which may allow many children to feel better throughout the day and do better in school.”

Nearly one quarter of the kids included in this study were not drinking any plain water at all. That’s an incredible statement. It begs a serious question. What are they drinking? Unfortunately, we probably all know the answers … sodas and other sugary drinks. Beverages we’d all be better off not drinking appear to be replacing essential hydration for far too many kids.

FoodFacts.com wants us all to remind ourselves that while we’re figuring out the healthiest diets we can feed our children — devising ways we can sneak vegetables into meals creatively, avoiding artificial colors and other ingredients we know are detrimental to their health and unnecessary in their diets and ensuring that they’re getting the nutrients that will help them grow and flourish — let’s not forget about their beverages. Let’s remember the importance of hydration to the growth and development of our children. Our diets aren’t just about the foods we eat. We need to drink healthy too.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150611174200.htm

How about some cookies with that donut? Introducing the Chips Ahoy Creme Donut from Dunkin

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 3.22.47 PMWhat do you get when you cross Chips Ahoy cookies with a Dunkin Donut? Our immediate answer would be overkill. Maybe that’s just us. Honestly, the idea of a cookie flavored donut doesn’t leave us craving either the cookie or the donut. We get an overwhelming impression of too much sugar and too much dough.

In case you find yourself among the millions of consumers who won’t agree with us, we thought we should try to let you know what you’re getting yourself into with this one. Let’s take a closer look.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories:                       380
Fat:                                19 grams
Saturated Fat:             9 grams
Sugar:                           26 grams

Pretty typical donut nutrition facts. Plenty of sugar, fat and saturated fat. It’s important to keep nutrition facts in their proper perspective. FoodFacts.com didn’t expect to find fabulous nutrition facts for a donut. So there isn’t anything out of the ordinary here.

But what exactly makes the Chips Ahoy Creme Donut what it is? Here are the ingredients.

Donut: Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron as Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Enzyme, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Palm Oil, Water, Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Whey (a milk derivative), Skim Milk, Yeast, Contains less than 2% of the following: Salt, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda), Defatted Soy Flour, Wheat Starch, Mono and Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Cellulose Gum, Soy Lecithin, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Artificial Flavor, Sodium Caseinate (a milk derivative), Enzyme, Colored with (Turmeric and Annatto Extracts, Beta Carotene), Eggs; Cookie Dough Flavored Filling: Sugar, Vegetable Shortening (Palm Oil), Water, Maltodextrin, Corn Syrup. Contains 2% or less of each of the following: Dextrose, Corn Starch, Molasses, Salt, Mono and Diglycerides, Natural Flavor, Polysorbate 60, Caramel Color, Soy Lecithin, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Sodium Propionate (Preservative), Agar, Propylene Glycol, Phosphoric Acid; Chocolate Icing: Sugar, Water, Cocoa, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Soybean Oil, Corn Syrup, Maltodextrin, Contains 2% or less of: Dextrose, Corn Starch, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Salt, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Propionate (Preservatives), Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier), Agar, Artificial Flavor; Chips Ahoy!® Cookie Topping: Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Semisweet Chocolate Chips (Sugar, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Dextrose, Soy Lecithin), Sugar, Soybean Oil, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Leavening (Baking Soda and/or Ammonium Phosphate), Salt, Whey (Milk), Natural and Artificial Flavor, Caramel Color.

That’s a lot of ingredients. And plenty of them are just bad. We don’t know many people who think that partially hydrogenated oils and artificial flavors sound like must-have breakfast fare.

We’ll skip this one. It didn’t sound very appealing to begin with and after reading the ingredient list, it actually sounds worse.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/dunkindonuts/en/menu/food/bakery/donuts/donuts.html?DRP_FLAVOR=Chips+Ahoy%21+Creme+Donut

Late night eating and the effects of sleep deprivation

Man Trying to SleepCan’t get to sleep? It might be best not to snack during your sleepless hours. We already know that late-night eating is an unhealthy idea. We tend to eat bad food during those hours — junk is far more appealing than healthier options in the early hours. We put on weight due to the extra calories we consume. Overall it’s not the best idea to replace our sleep with food. And new research is confirming that idea.

Eating less late at night may help curb the concentration and alertness deficits that accompany sleep deprivation, according to results of a new study from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania that will be presented at SLEEP 2015, the 29th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

“Adults consume approximately 500 additional calories during late-night hours when they are sleep restricted,” said the study’s senior author David F. Dinges, PhD, director of the Unit for Experimental Psychiatry and chief of the division of Sleep and Chronobiology. “Our research found that refraining from late-night calories helps prevent some of the decline those individuals may otherwise experience in neurobehavioral performance during sleep restriction.”

The study gave 44 subjects, ages 21 to 50, unlimited access to food and drink during the day, followed by only four hours of sleep each night for three nights. On the fourth night, 20 participants received continued access to food and drinks, while the 24 others were allowed only to consume water from 10:00 p.m. until they went to sleep at 4:00 a.m.

At 2 a.m. each night, all subjects completed a variety of tests to measure their working memory, cognitive skills, sleepiness, stress level and mood.

During the fourth night, subjects who fasted performed better on reaction time and attention lapses than subjects who had eaten during those late-night hours. In addition, subjects who ate showed significantly slower reaction times and more attention lapses on the fourth night of sleep restriction compared to the first three nights whereas study subjects who had fasted did not show this performance decline.

While countless studies associate numerous physical and mental health benefits with a healthy night’s sleep, the Centers for Disease Control Prevention reports that “insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic” in the United States, including the estimated 50 to 70 million U.S. adults suffering from sleep and wakefulness disorders.

The new study results serve as a book end to other research on the links between eating and sleep deprivation. A 2013 study from the same Penn team found that individuals with late bedtimes and chronic sleep restriction may be more susceptible to weight gain due to the increased consumption of calories during late-night hours.

The research team also includes Andrea Spaeth, PhD, and Namni Goel, PhD.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01 NR004281, F31 AG044102); the Penn Clinical and Translational Research Center (UL1RR024134); and the Department of the Navy, Office of Naval Research (Award No. N00014-11-1-0361).

In a related study (Abstract #0332), the same team of Goel, Spaeth and Dinges, found that adults who are chronically sleep restricted may need to compensate for decreased morning resting metabolic rate by reducing caloric intake or increasing physical activity to prevent weight gain. That research was led by senior author Namni Goel, PhD, a research associate professor of psychology in Psychiatry and the Unit for Experimental Psychiatry.

“Short sleep duration is a significant risk factor for weight gain and obesity, particularly in African Americans and men,” Goel said. “This research suggests that reducing the number of calories consumed can help prevent that weight gain and some of the health issues associated with obesity in Caucasians and particularly in African Americans.”

The NIH reports that 69 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, sleep apnea, and other health problems.

In the study, 36 healthy adults, ages 21 to 50, slept for their usual amount for two nights. Next, they spent four hours in bed each night for five nights, followed by one night of 12 hours of recovery sleep. The control group of 11 subjects received 10 hours in bed each night for six nights. Resting metabolic rate, or measure of the amount of energy used in a relaxed condition, and respiratory quotient, or the ratio of the volume of carbon dioxide to oxygen used in a time period, were measured after overnight fasting.

In the experimental group, resting metabolic rate decreased after five nights of sleep restriction and returned to baseline levels after recovery sleep. No changes in resting metabolic rate were observed in control subjects.

Sleeping is better than wakefulness at night. But if you can’t get to sleep, FoodFacts.com thinks that there are plenty of good reasons NOT to give in to late night food cravings. While all of us wrestle with bouts of sleeplessness from time to time, it’s important to keep in mind that our first response to that sleeplessness might not be the best for our health.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150604141905.htm

Fructose and weight gain. Turns out not all sugar is sugar after all.

Fructose-in-the-firing-line-Study-warns-of-weight-gain-and-increased-body-fat-compared-to-glucose_strict_xxlWe all remember those ads from the Corn Refiner’s Association for “corn sugar” — high fructose corn syrup. In an effort to gain consumer acceptance of high fructose corn syrup, the CRA ran a television advertisement proclaiming that “sugar is sugar.” The concept didn’t fly very well with consumers (or with lawyers for that matter). Since that time, high fructose corn syrup has been linked with weight gain — and new studies seem to be proving the idea out more and more.

In the last 40 years, fructose, a simple carbohydrate derived from fruit and vegetables, has been on the increase in American diets. Because of the addition of high-fructose corn syrup to many soft drinks and processed baked goods, fructose currently accounts for 10 percent of caloric intake for U.S. citizens. Male adolescents are the top fructose consumers, deriving between 15 to 23 percent of their calories from fructose–three to four times more than the maximum levels recommended by the American Heart Association.

A recent study at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois found that, matched calorie for calorie with the simple sugar glucose, fructose causes significant weight gain, physical inactivity, and body fat deposition.

The paper, “Fructose decreases physical activity and increases body fat without affecting hippocampal neurogenesis and learning relative to an isocaloric glucose diet,” was published in Scientific Reports.

“The link between increases in sugar intake, particularly fructose, and the rising obesity epidemic has been debated for many years with no clear conclusions,” said Catarina Rendeiro, a postdoctoral research affiliate at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and lead author on the study. “The reality is that people are not only consuming more fructose through their diets, but also consuming more calories in general.

“One of the key questions is whether an increase in fructose intake contributes to obesity in the absence of excessive calorie intake.”

The researchers, under the direction of Justin Rhodes of Beckman’s NeuroTech Group and professor of psychology at Illinois, studied two groups of mice for two-and-a-half months: one group was fed a diet in which 18 percent of the calories came from fructose, mimicking the intake of adolescents in the United States, and the other was fed 18 percent from glucose.

“The important thing to note is that animals in both experimental groups had the usual intake of calories for a mouse,” said Rendeiro. “They were not eating more than they should, and both groups had exactly the same amount of calories deriving from sugar, the only difference was the type of sugar, either fructose or glucose.”

The results showed that the fructose-fed mice displayed significantly increased body weight, liver mass, and fat mass in comparison to the glucose-fed mice.

“In previous studies, the increases in fructose consumption were accompanied by increases in overall food intake, so it is difficult to know whether the animals put on weight due to the fructose itself or simply because they were eating more,” Rhodes said.

Remarkably, the researchers also found that not only were the fructose-fed mice gaining weight, they were also less active.

“We don’t know why animals move less when in the fructose diet,” said Rhodes. “However, we estimated that the reduction in physical activity could account for most of the weight gain.”

“Biochemical factors could also come into play in how the mice respond to the high fructose diet,” explained Jonathan Mun, another author on the study. “We know that contrary to glucose, fructose bypasses certain metabolic steps that result in an increase in fat formation, especially in adipose tissue and liver.”

The precise mechanisms are still being investigated, but one thing is certain: high intake of fructose by itself adds pounds.

“We designed this study based on the intake of fructose by adolescents in the United States,” said Rhodes. “Our study suggests that such levels of fructose can indeed play a role in weight gain, favor fat deposition, and also contribute to physical inactivity. Given the dramatic increase in obesity among young people and the severe negative effects that this can have on health throughout one’s life, it is important to consider what foods are providing our calories.”

FoodFacts.com knows that everyone in our community counts high-fructose corn syrup among the top ingredients they avoid. Not all sugar is just sugar for our bodies. Fructose isn’t the same as cane sugar and studies like this are illustrating the facts regarding the subject.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150601122540.htm

If you’re drinking sugary beverages every day you may be increasing your risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Daily-sugar-sweetened-beverages-linked-to-fatty-liver-diseaseThere are plenty of problems we’re already used to associating with drinking sugar-sweetened beverages. Obesity and diabetes come immediately to mind when we think about the subject. Now FoodFacts.com has read some new information that we should all be aware of linking sugary drinks to a different problem.

A daily sugar-sweetened beverage habit may increase the risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HRNCA) at Tufts University report in the Journal of Hepatology.

The researchers analyzed 2,634 self-reported dietary questionnaires from mostly Caucasian middle-aged men and women enrolled in the National Heart Lunch and Blood Institute (NHLBI Framingham Heart Study’s Offspring and Third Generation cohorts. The sugar-sweetened beverages on the questionnaires included caffeinated- and caffeine-free colas, other carbonated beverages with sugar, fruit punches, lemonade or other non-carbonated fruit drinks. The participants underwent a computed tomography (CT) scan to measure the amount of fat in the liver and the authors of the current study used a previously defined cut-point to identify NAFLD. They saw a higher prevalence of NAFLD among people who reported drinking more than one sugar-sweetened beverage per day compared to people who said they drank no sugar-sweetened beverages.

The relationships between sugar-sweetened beverages and NAFLD persisted after the authors accounted for age, sex, body mass index (BMI), and dietary and lifestyle factors such as calorie intake, alcohol, and smoking. In contrast, after accounting for these factors the authors found no association between diet cola and NAFLD. “Our study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that sugar-sweetened beverages may be linked to NAFLD and other chronic diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” said first author Jiantao Ma, Ph.D., a former doctoral student in the Nutrition Epidemiology Program at the USDA HNRCA and a graduate of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

NAFLD is characterized by an accumulation of fat in the liver cells that is unrelated to alcohol consumption. NAFLD is diagnosed by ultrasounds, CT, MRI, or biopsy, and many of the approximately 25% of Americans with the disease don’t experience any symptoms. Being obese or overweight increases the risk for NAFLD and people with NAFLD are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are a major dietary source of fructose, the sugar that is suspected of increasing risk of NAFLD because of how our bodies process it. “Few observational studies, to date, have examined the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverages and NAFLD,” Ma said. “Long-term prospective studies are needed to help ascertain the potential role of sugar-sweetened beverages in the development of NAFLD.”

“The cross-sectional nature of this study prevents us from establishing causality. Future prospective studies are needed to account for the changes in beverage consumption over time as soda consumers may switch to diet soda and these changes may be related to weight status,” added corresponding and senior author Nicola McKeown, Ph.D., a scientist in the Nutritional Epidemiology Program at the USDA HNRCA and an associate professor at the Friedman School. “Although there is much more research to be done, sugar-sweetened beverages are a source of empty calories, and people need to be mindful of how much they are drinking, perhaps by reserving this habit for special occasions.”

The over-consumption of sugar is a rampant problem in American diets. We’re getting the bulk of the sugar in our diets without even realizing it. Sugar is lurking in processed foods and drinks like soda in amounts most consumers don’t understand. Unless consumers are reading labels carefully and checking the nutrition facts for the foods and beverages they’re consuming at fast food and fast casual chains and then keeping track of the grams of sugar as they add up during the day, it’s actually difficult to know for sure. As we learn more about the effects of consuming sugary drinks from studies like this one, it becomes more important than ever to consciously monitor our sugar intake. We’ll all be healthier for it.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150605182352.htm

Subway gets fresher dropping artificial flavors, colors and preservatives by 2017

Subway IngredientsOver the years, we’ve come to associate Subway with its “Eat Fresh” slogan. The chain has always been portrayed as a healthier option, setting itself apart from burgers and chicken sandwiches and french fries. And we all remember Jared Fogle … the “Subway guy” who lost a significant amount of weight eating Subway turkey subs and has kept that weight off almost 20 years later. But even with all that, Subway has always been a fast food chain of sorts, fresher food or not, as evidenced by some of the not-so-healthy ingredients in their foods.

But Subway is also a chain that has listened to its consumers. In early 2014, Subway announced the removal of azodicarbonamide from its breads and rolls. That was a big step and went a long way to justify that “Eat Fresh” slogan.

Now Subway wants you to eat even fresher at its locations.

The sandwich chain told the Associated Press it will remove artificial flavors, colors and preservatives from its menu in North America by 2017. Whether that can help Subway keep up with changing attitudes about what qualifies as healthy remains to be seen.

Elizabeth Stewart, Subway’s director of corporate social responsibility, said in an interview that ingredient improvement has been an ongoing process over the years. More recently, she said the chain has been working on removing caramel color from cold cuts like roast beef and ham. For its turkey, Subway says it plans to replace a preservative called propionic acid with vinegar by the end of this year.

Among its toppings, Stewart said Subway is switching to banana peppers colored with turmeric instead of the artificial dye Yellow No. 5. Without providing details, she said the chain is also working on its sauces and cookies.

The purging of artificial ingredients is quickly becoming the norm among major food companies, which are facing pressure from smaller players that tout their offerings as more wholesome.

Subway is facing evolving definitions for what qualifies as healthy, said Darren Tristano, an analyst for Technomic. While older generations looked at nutritional stats like fat and calories, he said younger generations are more concerned about qualities like “local,” ”organic” and “natural.”

“Change has come so fast and rapidly, consumers are just expecting more and more,” Tristano said.

And although Subway markets itself as a fresher option, he noted that people don’t necessarily see it as the healthiest or best product around.

Tony Pace, Subway’s chief marketing officer, noted the chain is already seen as a place for low-fat options, but that it needs to keep up with changing customer attitudes.
“As their expectations go up, we have to meet those expectations,” he said.

Pace said the use of simple ingredients is becoming a “necessary condition” to satisfy customers, but that it won’t be enough on its own to drive up sales.

Subway is continuing to listen to the voices of its consumers. FoodFacts.com is confident that those consumers will appreciate their efforts to improve the quality and healthfulness of the foods they serve. Every food manufacturer, fast food chain and fast casual chain needs to remember the old adage, “the customer is always right,” and act accordingly.

http://nypost.com/2015/06/04/eat-fresher-subway-drops-artificial-ingredients/

Ever wonder what the saltiest foods in America are?

ssaltWe know we eat too much sodium. Salt is in every processed food that’s in a box or a can or on a fast food menu. The only way we can really avoid consuming too much sodium is cooking fresh foods in our own kitchens. FoodFacts.com knows, though, that we’re all guilty (some of us less than others) of relying on convenience foods when we’re too busy to get ourselves in the kitchen.

Maybe we should start with the foods we should obviously avoid as we attempt to decrease the sodium in our diets. So what are the saltiest foods in America?

Pizza Hut Meat Lovers 9” Personal Pizza
No one should be eating this. The saltiest fast-food menu item in America right now is the Meat Lovers 9” Personal PANormous Pizza from Pizza Hut, with an insane 3,670 milligrams of sodium; that’s more than 1,000 milligrams more than the daily recommended allowance. Pizza is one of the saltiest foods around, so there really aren’t any low-sodium options at Pizza Hut, but we’d suggest sticking to a small portion of the 12” Medium Cheese Pan Pizza, which contains 530 milligrams per slice.

Subway Spicy Italian Sub
Not far behind Pizza Hut — Cured meats are loaded with sodium, and Subway’s Spicy Italian is loaded with them. Pepperoni, salami, and cheese are all included in this sandwich, and a footlong contains 2,980 milligrams of sodium. Choose a six-inch roast beef (660 milligrams) or a six-inch turkey breast (670 milligrams) sandwich instead.

Sonic Chili Cheese Tots
These didn’t sound like a great idea to begin with. Topping the daily recommended sodium allowance with one dish, Sonic’s large chili cheese tots is the saltiest item on their menu, with 2,760 milligrams of sodium (not to mention 59 grams of fat). If you must have chili and cheese on your tots, opt for a small, which contains 970 milligrams.

Taco Bell Smothered Beef Burrito
The Smothered Beef Burrito is the most sodium-heavy item on Taco Bell’s Menu, with 2,260 milligrams.

KFC Mashed Potato with Gravy Bowl
Out of all the individual items on KFC’s menu, it’s the Mashed Potato with Gravy Bowl that contains the most sodium, with 2,040 milligrams. The snack-size bowl, which contains just 790 milligrams is a better option.

These are just a few of the fast food options out there with sodium levels that are jaw dropping. There are certainly many more. It’s a good idea to do some research and take a look before you decide to indulge.

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2015/05/28/america-saltiest-fast-foods/

Big news from Taco Bell and Pizza Hut: Artificial colors and flavors on the way out

Taco Bell, Pizza HutFoodFacts.com is committed to recognizing the efforts of food manufacturers, fast food chains and fast casual restaurants responding to consumer demands for better quality food choices. So these announcements from both Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are the subject of today’s blog.

Taco Bell and Pizza Hut say they’re getting rid of artificial colors and flavors, making them the latest big food companies scrambling to distance themselves from ingredients people might find unappetizing.

Instead of “black pepper flavor,” for instance, Taco Bell will start using actual black pepper in its seasoned beef, says Liz Matthews, the chain’s chief food innovation officer.

The Mexican-style chain also says the artificial dye Yellow No. 6 will be removed from its nacho cheese, Blue No. 1 will be removed from its avocado ranch dressing and carmine, a bright pigment, will be removed from its red tortilla strips.

Matthews said some of the new recipes are being tested in select markets and should be in stores nationally by the end of the year.

The country’s biggest food makers are facing pressure from smaller rivals that position themselves as more wholesome alternatives. Chipotle in particular has found success in marketing itself as an antidote to traditional fast food, although some question the meaningfulness of some of its claims. In April, Chipotle announced it had removed genetically modified organisms from its food, even though the Food and Drug Administration says GMOs are safe.

Critics say the purging of chemicals is a response to unfounded fears over ingredients, but companies are nevertheless rushing to ensure their recipes don’t become marketing disadvantages. In recent months, restaurant chains including Panera, McDonald’s and Subway have said they’re switching to ingredients people can easily recognize.

John Coupland, a professor of food science at Penn State University, said companies are realizing some ingredients may not be worth the potential harm they might cause to their images, given changing attitudes about additives.

Additionally, he noted that the removal of artificial ingredients can be a way for companies to give their food a healthy glow without making meaningful changes to their nutritional profiles. For instance, Coupland said reducing salt, sugar or portion sizes would have a far bigger impact on public health.

Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are owned by Yum Brands Inc., which had hinted the changes would be on the way. At a conference for investors late last year, Yum CEO Greg Creed referred to the shifting attitudes and the desire for “real food” as a revolution in the industry.

Representatives at KFC and Yum’s corporate headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky were not immediately available to comment on whether the fried chicken chain would also be removing artificial ingredients.

Pizza Hut says it will remove artificial colors and preservatives by the end of July.

Taco Bell says it will take out artificial colors, artificial flavors, high-fructose corn syrup and unsustainable palm oil from its food by the end of 2015. It says artificial preservatives will be removed “where possible” by 2017. The moves do not affect fountain drinks or co-branded products, such as its Doritos-flavored taco shells.

Brian Niccol, the chain’s CEO, said price increases are based on a variety of factors, and that the company would work to keep its menu affordable.

“I do not want to lose any element of being accessible to the masses,” Niccol said.

When asked whether the changes would affect taste, a representative for Taco Bell said in an email that “It will be the same great tasting Taco Bell that people love.”

While we do think both chains have a long way to go in terms of the ingredients they are using in their foods, this is certainly a step in the right direction. We’ll be curious to examine ingredient lists once these changes have gone into effect. Thanks to the stated time lines, we shouldn’t have to wait too long to take a fresh look.

Every food manufacturer, fast food giant and fast casual restaurant needs to take a good long look at their ingredient lists and LISTEN to the consumers who are making their voices clearly heard. Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are following the voices of those that mean success for their brands. It’s the smart thing to do. Let’s see who’s next to react to the wake-up call.

http://krqe.com/2015/05/30/taco-bell-pizza-hut-artificial-ingredients-getting-booted/