Tag Archives: blueberries

Strawberries and Blueberries are kind to your heart

FoodFacts.com is always thrilled to hear about how food can have positive effects on our health. For us, it’s always been about how our diet can affect our well-being. Our community members know how we feel about packaged, prepared foods and artificial, controversial ingredients. Today, we want to share with you some news about some simple fruits that might actually make a world of difference to your cardiovascular health.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States and the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom conducted a study among over 90,000 women between the ages 25 and 42. The women completed questionnaires about their diet every four years for 18 years.

During the study, 405 heart attacks occurred. Those women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries had a 32% reduction in their risk of heart attack compared to women who ate the berries once a month or less. This was true even for women who ate an otherwise healthy diet rich in fruit and other vegetables.

Women who ate at least three servings of blueberries and strawberries each week had fewer heart attacks than those who did not incorporate these fruits into their diets at the same levels. Blueberries and strawberries contain high levels of compounds that have cardiovascular benefits.

Dietary flavonoids are found in high levels in both blueberries and strawberries. In addition, they are contained in grapes, wine, blackberries, and eggplant. Flavonoids have acknowledged cardiovascular benefits. In addition, there is a sub-class of flavonoids – anthocyanins – that might help to dilate arteries and counter the effects of plaque build up in the vascular system.

The reason the researchers focused on blueberries and strawberries was pretty simple. These are the most often eaten berries in the United States. Because of this, the researchers acknowledged that it’s possible that other foods might produce the same effect.

FoodFacts.com has always been a proponent of the American Heart Association’s advice regarding eating a balanced diet that includes berries as part of a plan that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. We encourage our community members to remain conscious and colorful in their food choices. We understand that variety in our diets will not only keep eating interesting, but healthy as well. A little green, a little orange, a little red, a little purple might very well go a long way for your heart – as well as your taste buds. It’s also more appealing to the eye … and we all have to see our food before we eat it. If you like what you see, you really are more likely to enjoy the meal. We don’t live in a one-dimensional world. Our plates should reflect that … taste, color, texture. Strawberries and blueberries for heart health can add a wealth of dimension to our plates.

Read more about the study here:   http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130114152954.htm

Weekly Top 5

At Foodfacts.com we commonly receive requests for healthy snack suggestions, alternatives for different meals, etc. We know many of you share different views on organic, genetically modified foods, sugar, saturated fat, and many other nutrition-related topic areas, but we feel there are always a few items that stand-out in our database that many may find interesting, or even want to try.

This week’s top 5:

Blueberries
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There’s nothing better than picking fresh, ripe blueberries during the summer months. Full of antioxidants and phytochemicals, these berries are considered a “superfood” because of their healthy benefits when eaten. Research has shown that some benefits of eating blueberries include reduced risk of cancers, decreasing the conditions of aging; such as Alzheimer’s, and also preventative of Hepatitis C. Add them to your favorite pies, make them into jam, sprinkle them on your yogurt, drink them in juice form,
or eat them by the handful. They’re great for you!

1311643567_ce732f7e2cRed Bell Peppers
They’re slightly sweet, slightly tangy, and very crunchy. Bell peppers are a great source of vitamins and minerals, mixed in with a great amount of flavor. Known as the “meaty” pepper, this vegetable is commonly added to salads, stews, and also eaten raw. Which is great, because it contains a great amount of carotenoids such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin. The bell pepper has been shown to reduce the risk of inflammation, which then helps to prevent various types of cancers.
salmon
Salmon
This fatty fish has been given much praise and attention for awhile now. Full of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon consumption creates great benefits. Improved cardiovascular function, reduced risk of heart disease, reduced inflammation, and some evidence suggests that omega-3 fats may prevent the progression of certain psychotic disorders in high-risk children and adolescents. However, some overlooked features of salmon include the amino acid and protein content, which also provides great health benefits. Some that have been researched are alleviated joint pain, and regulating collagen and minerals within the bone and tissue.
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Spelt Bread
This grain has been around for centuries, and offers a variety of wonderful nutrients that other grains may not be able to provide. This is because it contains B2, a great amount of manganese, niacin, thiamin, and copper. Together, these nutrients are powerful against atherosclerosis, diabetes, migraine headaches, and other moderate to severe conditions. Use this grain to make breads, pasta, muffins, and any other meal you desire!
figs
Whole Wheat Fig Bars
Figs have been a staple in many households for years. Which is a good thing considering that they’re high in potassium, and have a good amount of vitamin C. These fig bars are not only organic, which is an added bonus for many, but they also contain whole wheat flour as their base. Another positive, there are no added sugars.

Woman Faces Jailtime for Creating Organic Garden

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At Foodfacts.com we like to share the latest news on everything food related. In recent years there has been a tremendous movement in promoting organic foods due to the fear of pesticides and other chemicals leaking into much of the available produce. Many people have taken their health into their own hands by starting their own organic gardens. Check out the story below describing one woman’s battle in creating her own organic garden.

A Michigan woman is being charged with a misdemeanor offense and is facing up to 93 days in jail. Her crime? Planting a vegetable garden—in her own yard. Her front yard, that is.

Like many consumers today, Julie Bass, of Oak Park, Mich., appreciates the taste and healthfulness of organic vegetables, but isn’t much of a fan of how much going organic costs at the store. So, like many health-minded consumers, she planted a vegetable garden on her property.
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But Bass chose to take the unusual step of installing neatly arranged raised beds of vegetables in her front, rather than back, yard. Bass explained her unorthodox garden location (and showed off how neat and organized it is, for those curious) to a local TV station:
“We thought it’d be really cool to do it so the neighbors could see. The kids love it. The kids from the neighborhood all come and help,” she said.

Front yard or back, it’s her property, and she’s allowed to do with it what she pleases, right? Wrong, say the local authorities, citing local codes that require front yards to have only “suitable” live plant material. City planners say that vegetables, for some reason, don’t qualify for the standard, even though they are certainly alive, and certainly are planted. To some, this sort of code enforcement makes the restrictions against drying clothes on a clothesline seem reasonable.
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Bass was given a warning, then a ticket, and now she has been charged with a misdemeanor for violating the City of Oak Park’s planning code. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for July 26, and Bass is facing up to 93 days in jail.

For growing vegetables.

On her own property.

Bass isn’t giving in, however, and it looks like she has plenty of support on her side. A thread at Reddit with information on rallies and petitions to stop the prosecution has already generated 299 comments (and counting).

Bass does have a backyard, but she has no plans to uproot and replant her garden back there any time soon:
“They say, ‘Why should you grow things in the front?’ Well, why shouldn’t I? They’re fine. They’re pretty. They’re well maintained,” said Bass.

(Time Magazine)

Top 10 Scariest Food Additives

Here at foodfacts.com, we like to keep our readers informed of all current and up-to-date information regarding health and food. Here is a recent news article discussing the 10 scariest food additives in some of the most popular food products most can find in their pantry.

There was a time when “fruit flavored” and “cheese flavored” meant “made with real fruit” and “made with real cheese.” Today? It’s artificial everything. Most of the food at your local supermarket is no more authentic than Snooki’s tan. Our fruit comes packaged in Loops, our cheese delivered via Whiz. Sure, it’s edible, but there’s no way your great grandparents would recognize this junk as food.

The problem with additives runs deep. The FDA currently maintains a list of ingredients called Everything Added to Food in the United States (EAFUS), which features more than 3,000 items and counting. Thankfully, most EAFUS ingredients are benign, but a few of them do have potentially harmful effects. Why they’re legal is a mystery to us. Some of them might be backed by powerful lobby groups, while others probably survive simply because some guy at the FDA has too much paperwork on his desk and hasn’t made time to adequately review the data.

Below are 10 of the most dubious ingredients hiding in your food, compliments of Eat This, Not That! 2011. Even if you’re not convinced of their danger, you have to admit this: The more filler ingredients you cut from your diet, the more space you have for wholesome, nutritious foods.

Scary Ingredient #1: Olestrapringles
A fat substitute synthesized by Procter & Gamble. Because human digestive enzymes can’t break down the big molecules, Olestra contributes 0 calories to your diet.

Why it’s scary: In the late ’90s, Frito-Lay released Olestra-enhanced WOW chips and Procter & Gamble introduced Fat Free Pringles. Both products were required to carry warning labels to notify customers about the risk of “loose stools.” Within 4 years, some 15,000 people had dialed in to a hotline set up specifically to handle adverse-reaction complaints. Apparently the complaints didn’t move the FDA, because in 2003, the administration revoked the warning-label mandate. If you want to take your chances with diarrhea, go ahead, but first consider this: Olestra also appears to interfere with the body’s ability to absorb some crucial nutrients like beta-carotene and lycopene. To counteract the effect, processers add some nutrients back, but it’s unlikely that all the blocked nutrients are adequetly replaced.

Furthermore, just last week I tweeted that an animal study at Purdue University found that fake fats like Olestra may cause more weight gain than real fat.

Where you’ll find it: Lay’s Light chips, Pringles Light chips

Scary Ingredient #2: Caramel Coloring
An artificial pigment created by heating sugars. Frequently, this process includes ammonia.stove-top

Why it’s scary: Caramel coloring shows up in everything from soft drinks and sauces to breads and pastries. When made from straight sugar, it’s relatively benign. But when produced with ammonia it puts off 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, chemicals that have been linked to cancer in mice. The risk is strong enough that the California government, a bellwether for better food regulation, categorized 4-methylimidazole as “known to cause cancer” earlier this year. Unfortunately, companies aren’t required to disclose whether their coloring is made with ammonia, so you’d be wise to avoid it as much as you can.

Where you’ll find it: Colas and other soft drinks, La Choy soy sauce, Stove Top stuffing mix

Scary Ingredient #3: Saccharin
An artificial sweetener discovered by accident in the 1870s.sweet-n-low

Why it’s scary: Studies have linked saccharin to bladder tumors in rats, and in 1977, the FDA required warning labels on all saccharin-containing foods. In 2000, the agency changed its stance and allowed saccharin to be sold without warning labels. But that doesn’t make it entirely safe. A 2008 Purdue study found that replacing sugar with saccharin in rats’ diets made them gain more weight, proving once again that you should be aware of these faux fat foes.

Where you’ll find it: Sweet ‘N Low, TaB cola

Scary Ingredient #4: Potassium Bromate
A compound that conditions flour and helps bread puff up during baking.

Why it’s scary: Potassium bromate causes thyroid and kidney tumors in rats, and it’s banned from food use in many countries. In California, products containing potassium bromate are required to carry a cancer warning. Fortunately, negative publicity has made the additive relatively rare, but until the FDA banishes it, you should remain on the lookout.

Where you’ll find it: Johnny Rockets Hoagie Roll

Scary Ingredient #5: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Petroleum-derived antioxidants and preservatives.
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Why they’re scary: The Department of Health and Human Services says BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” yet the FDA allows it to be used anyway. BHT is considered less dangerous, but in animal research, it too has resulted in cancer. Oddly, the chemicals aren’t even always necessary; in most cases they can be replaced with vitamin E.

Where you’ll find it: Goya lard, Golden Grahams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Orbit gum

Scary Ingredient #6: Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
A semi-solid fat created when food processors force hydrogen into unsaturated fatty acids.sandwich

Why it’s scary: Partially hydrogenated fats are the principle sources of trans fat in the American diet, and a Harvard study estimated that trans fat causes 70,000 heart attacks every year. The good news: Partially hydrogenated oils are beginning to slowly retreat from our food. Progressive jurisdictions like New York City are starting to restrict the allowable amounts in restaurants, and many chains are switching to healthier frying oil. Still, the battle isn’t over. At Long John Silver’s, for example, there are still 17 menu items with more than 2 grams of the stuff. According to the American Heart Association, that’s about the maximum you should consume in a single day.

Where you’ll find it: McDonald’s McChicken, Long John Silver’s Broccoli Cheese Soup

Scary Ingredient #7: Sulfites
Preservatives that maintain the color of food, and by releasing sulfur dioxide, prevent bacterial growth. fig-enwton

Why it’s scary: Humans have used sulfites to keep food fresh for thousands of years, but some people—especially asthma sufferers—experience breathing difficulties when exposed. In the 1980s, unregulated use resulted in at least a dozen deaths, prompting the FDA to slap warning labels on wine bottles and develop new guidelines for proper use. Now restaurants can no longer soak fresh ingredients in sulfites. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, there have been no known deaths since the new legislation took hold. The bottom line: If you’re among the majority of people not sensitive to sulfites, consumption won’t hurt you. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor for a test.

Where you’ll find it: Wine, Sun-Maid Mixed Fruit, Jolly Ranchers, Fig Newtons

Scary Ingredient #8: Azodicarbonamide
A synthetic yellow-orange dough conditioner bagel

Why it’s scary: This chemical is used most frequently in the production of industrial foam plastic, and although the FDA has approved its use for food in the States, the United Kingdom has labeled it a potential cause of asthma. In a review of 47 studies on azodicarbonamide, the World Health Organization concluded that it probably does trigger asthmatic symptoms. The WHO concluded, “exposure levels should be reduced as much as possible.” I’ll put it more concisely: Avoid it.

Where you’ll find it: Dunkin’ Donuts bagels, McDonald’s burger buns

Scary Ingredient #9: Carrageenan
A thickener and emulsifier extracted from seaweed.popsicle

Why it’s scary: Seaweed is actually good for you, but carrageenan is a mere seaweed byproduct. Through animal studies, it has been linked to cancer, colon trouble, and ulcers. It isn’t certain that carrageenan harms humans, but avoiding it is clearly the safer option. Most studies examined degraded forms of the additive, and research from the University of Iowa found that carrageenan could be degraded through the normal digestive process.

Where you’ll find it: Weight Watchers Giant Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream Bars, Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches, Creamsicles

Scary Ingredient #10: Ammonium Sulfate
An inorganic salt that occurs naturally near active volcanoes and is used commercially to nourish yeast and help bread rise.4036996_orig

Why it’s scary: This nitrogen-rich compound is most often used as fertilizer, and also appears commonly in flame retardants. Thankfully, the ingredient only sounds scary—a 2006 Japanese rat study found the additive to be non-carcinogenic. Both the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the FDA deem it safe.

Retrieved from: Yahoo.com

Blueberries faked in cereals, muffins, bagels and other food products – Food Investigations

blueberry
Pictures of blueberries are prominently displayed on the front of many food packages. Here they are on boxes of muffins, cereals and breads. But turn the packages around, and suddenly the blueberries disappear. They’re gone, replaced in the ingredients list with sugars, oils and artificial colors derived from petrochemicals.

This bag of blueberry bagels sold at Target stores is made with blueberry bits. And while actual blueberries are found further down the ingredients list, the blueberry bits themselves don’t even contain bits of blueberries. They’re made entirely from sugar, corn cereal, modified food starch, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, artificial flavor, cellulose gum, salt and artificial colors like Blue #2, Red #40, Green #3 and Blue #1.

What’s missing from that list? Well, blueberries.
Where did the blueberries go?

They certainly didn’t end up in Total Blueberry Pomegranate Cereal. This cereal, made by General Mills, contains neither blueberries nor pomegranates. They’re nowhere to be found. But the cereal is made with red #40, blue #2 and other artificial colors. And it’s even sweetened with sucralose, a chemical sweetener. And that’s in addition to the sugar, corn syrup and brown sugar syrup that’s already on the label.

A lot of products that imply they’re made with blueberries contain no blueberries at all. And many that do contain a tiny amount of blueberries cut their recipes with artificial blueberry ingredients to make it look like their products contain more blueberries than they really do.

Kellogg’s Blueberry Pop Tarts shows a picture of plump blueberries right on the front of the box. But inside the box, there’s a lot more high fructose corn syrup than actual blueberries. And the corn syrup is given a blueberry color with the addition of — guess what? — red #40, blue #1 and blue #2 chemicals.

Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats also come in a Blueberry Muffin variety, with fresh blueberries prominently featured on the front of the package. But inside, there are no actual blueberries to be found. Instead, you get “blueberry flavored crunchlets” — yes, crunchlets — made from sugars, soybean oil, red #40 and blue #2.

And, if you can believe it, the side panel of this box features the “Frosted Mini Wheats Bite Size” logo, followed by the words “blueberry muffin” with pictures of blueberries, finally followed by “The Whole Truth.” Except it really isn’t the whole truth at all. It’s more like a half truth.

These marketing deceptions even continue on Kellogg’s website, where one page claims, “New Special K Blueberry Fruit Crisps are filled with blueberries and drizzled with vanilla icing.” Except they aren’t, really. What they’re really filled with is apple powder, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, fructose, sugar, artificial colors red #40 and blue #1, all enhanced with a dash of blueberry puree concentrate.

Even seemingly “healthy” blueberry products can be deceptive. Betty Crocker’s Fiber One Blueberry muffin mix enhances its small amount of actual blueberries with petrochemical colors, too: Red #40, Blue #1 and Blue #2.

At least Betty Crocker’s Blueberry Muffin Mix admits it contains no real blueberries. Well, if you read the fine print, that is. It’s ingredients reveal “Artificial blueberry flavor bits” which are made from dextrose, Corn Flour, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Sugar, Citric Acid, Artificial Flavor, and of course the obligatory Blue #1 and Red #40.

When consumers buy blueberry cereals, muffins and mixes, they’re under the impression that they’re buying real blueberries. No ordinary consumer realizes they’re actually buying blue coloring chemicals mixed with hydrogenated oils and liquid sugars. That’s why this common industry practice of faking the blueberries is so deceptive.

Why can’t food companies just be more honest about it? Nature’s Path Organic Optimum Blueberry-Cinnamon Breakfast Cereal contains — get this — both blueberries and cinnamon.

Better yet, you won’t find any red #40, blue #2 or partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils in Nature’s Path products. They even use organic blueberries and organic cinnamon.

Health Valley Low-Fat Blueberry Tarts are also made with real blueberries. You won’t find any artificial coloring chemicals in this box.

So why can’t Kellogg, Betty Crocker, General Mills and Target stores use real blueberries in their products instead of deceptively formulating them with artificial petrochemical colors that mimic the purple color of blueberries?

It’s probably because real blueberries are expensive. And artificial blueberry bits, made with sugar, partially hydrogenated oils and artificial colors, are dirt cheap. If these companies can fool consumers into thinking they’re buying real blueberries in their products, they can command a price premium that translates into increased profits.

Once again, in the food industry, deception pays off. And it pays big.

So what can YOU do to make sure you don’t get scammed by a food company trying to sell you red #40 and Blue #2 as if they were real blueberries? Read the ingredients. If you see artificial colors on the list — and they’re usually found at the very bottom of the ingredients list — just don’t buy that product.

Put it back on the shelf and choose something else that’s not deceptively marketed. And that’s how you solve “the case of the missing blueberries.”

Article provided by Mike Adams, Health Ranger

Can Blueberries Help Fight Obesity?

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Blueberries have been shown to have a positive effect on everything from cardiovascular health to aging, and now it seems that eating these berries could help you slim down as well.

Shiwani Moghe, a researcher from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas, looked at whether blueberries and their high polyphenol content could play a role in fighting obesity.

In a study of tissue cultures taken from mice, Moghe examined what effect the polyphenols in the berries have in fighting the development of fats cells, and what she found was the highest dose of polyphenols cut the number of fat cells by 73 percent, while the smallest dose showed a 27 percent decrease.

“We still need to test this dose in humans, to make sure there are no adverse effects, and to see if the doses are as effective. This is a burgeoning area of research. Determining the best dose for humans will be important,” Moghe said. “The promise is there for blueberries to help reduce adipose tissue (body fat) from forming in the body.”

Moghe presented her research at the Experimental Biology 2011 meeting for the American Society for Nutrition.

Information provided by http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/04/11/blueberries-help-fight-obesity/

The Dirty Dozen Produce

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Eating these non-organic fruits and veggies will leave you exposed to an average of Ten pesticides a day. So try your best to buy organic when shopping for the ‘Dirty Dozen’.

A quick guide to Twelve produce items that are the most exposed to pesticides known as ‘The Dirty Dozen’. Watch here:

If you can afford to buy a few more Organic items, then, these are the next group you want to focus on:
1. Lettuce
2. Blueberries (Imported)
3. Carrots
4. Green Beans (Domestic)
5. Pears
6. Plums (Imported)
7. Summer Squash
8. Cucumbers (Imported)

New research shows that some pesticides used on strawberries, grapes, lettuce and other produce may disrupt male hormones.

But remember, these produce items are still healthy for you and much, much more nutritious than any processed or sugar filled food.

Blueberries: Nutrition Facts

Blueberries | Foodfacts.com

Blueberries | Foodfacts.com

Many of our Foodfacts.com members and Blog readers already know that blueberries are delicious and mouth-watering small fruits that grow up naturally or planted. Blueberries are in fact one of the unique fruits that are indigenous to America. They have been consumed for long time by citizens of Americans as a food that is rich in nutrition. They are a tasty summer time fruit with a lot of resourceful benefits. Blueberries can be eaten raw or in various ways such as in cakes, desserts, muffins and yogurt. When dried out, they taste fantastic in soups and stews. They also can be packed down into a powder as an essence which is ideal for flavoring curries. Continue reading

Color code your menu: You can tell a food’s nutrients by its hue

Blueberries

Blueberries

You have probably found yourself in this situation frequently.  You are at the food market, trying to put together a healthy diet for a week, which requires you to decide just what you’ll be in the mood for a couple of days from now.

The beans look good. There’s a special on lamb chops. And the strawberries are calling your name. Exactly how much, and of what, do you need to buy – and eventually consume – to meet your nutrient requirements? Continue reading