Tag Archives: nutritional information

Taco Bell’s Doritos Cheesy Gordita Nacho Cheese Crunch

pdp-dlt-cheesy-gordita-crunch-nacho-cheeseWe’ll admit it. We don’t really understand the Taco Bell Doritos marriage. For FoodFacts.com it honestly feels like its overkill. Doritos have a powerful flavor (strong and artificial). And most Taco Bell products are also powerfully flavored. We honestly don’t see the attraction involved in putting the two together.

So right from the start the Doritos Cheesy Gordita Nacho Cheese Crunch isn’t something we’d be excited about eating — even if we were fast food fans.

Taco Bell describes the Doritos Cheesy Gordita Nacho Cheese Crunch like this, “Warm, pillowy flatbread covered in a melted three-cheese blend, wrapped around a Doritos® taco and topped with a zesty Pepper Jack sauce.”

A gordita is a Mexican flatbread made from cornmeal and stuffed with meat, cheese, vegetables or a sweet filling. In Spanish gordita means “little flat one.” We’d like to point out that we don’t know if the Taco Bell Gordita is made with cornmeal. We’d also like to point out that an actual gordita is not wrapped around a taco — much less a taco that is flavored like a Dorito. Without the taco, though, it wouldn’t be the Gordita Crunch.

While we can’t give you the ingredient list just yet, we can give you the nutrition facts:

Calories:                         490
Fat:                                 28 grams
Saturated Fat:               10 grams
Sodium:                         880 mg

Those facts are actually pretty similar to plenty of other fast food items. McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger, Burger King Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich, and a whole host of other fast food items stack up the same way.

Taco Bell’s Doritos Cheesy Gordita Nacho Cheese Crunch is the nutritional equivalent of typical fast food fare that includes an odd combination of items that are neither authentically Mexican or particularly appealing. We’re not trying this one!

http://www.tacobell.com/food/menuitem/doritos-cheesy-gordita-crunch-nacho-cheese

Because a Whopper just wasn’t enough …

4CheeseWhopper-DetailBurger King has introduced the Four Cheese Whopper. For anyone who’s wondering about this new extra cheesy Whopper, what we can tell you right now is that it doesn’t actually contain four cheeses. Instead, consumers will find a three cheese blend, American Cheese and cheddar sauce between the bun.

So if the term “four cheese” conjures up images of asiago, havarti, white cheddar and fontina in your mind, this sandwich will certainly fall short of your expectations. FoodFacts.com finds the terms three cheese blend and cheddar sauce highly suspect. But without the presence of an ingredient list, can you blame us?

What we do have right now are the nutrition facts. And here they are, in all their not-so-glorious detail:

Calories:                     850
Fat:                             57 grams
Saturated Fat:           21 grams
Cholesterol:              115 mg
Sodium:                    1160 mg

How does the Four Cheese Whopper stack up against a regular Whopper with Cheese?

We’re sure you’ve assumed that it’s worse. And you’re right — it is. 120 additional calories, 13 more grams of fat and 30 additional mg of cholesterol. It does contain slightly less sodium than the Whopper with Cheese.

While we don’t have access to the ingredients, we can tell you that the ingredients in the Whopper with Cheese certainly leave a lot to be desired. It features 120 ingredients and only one type of cheese. Ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, sorbitol, sodium benzoate and propylene glycol are featured in the ingredient list. And there’s artificial color in the cheese. So we’re assuming that the ingredient list for the Four Cheese Whopper (essentially a Whopper with extra cheese) will feature a similar ingredient list. And that three cheese blend and that cheddar sauce — we’re fairly certain that those will contain controversial ingredients as well.

In short, we didn’t like the Whopper with Cheese. Now we can multiply that by four.

http://www.bk.com/menu-item/four-cheese-whopper

Surprisingly, sugar consumption may be worse for blood pressure than salt

sugar (1)It really seems that every day we get more news about the effects of sugar and salt consumption on our health. We know that there’s too much of both in the processed foods flooding our grocery stores as well as the foods being served in fast food restaurants everywhere. We consume far too much sugar and salt, far too often. We’re aware that too much salt is bad for blood pressure. But did we ever think that sugar may be having the same effect?

Sugar is worse than salt for blood pressure and health, according to a new study published on Thursday.

Two researchers, James J. DiNicolantonio, PharmD, of St. Luke’s Mid America Hearth Institute and Sean C. Lucan, MD, MPH, of Montefiore Medical Center, examined how dietary efforts to control high blood pressure have focused on limiting sodium. However, their research found added sugar in processed foods is a large contributor to hypertension than added salt.

More so, the study published in BMJ journal Open Heart argued that the guideline to limit salt intake is misguided and not based on evidence.

Even though the negative effect of salt is not proven, health experts still believe the consumption of salt and sugar should be regulated to avoid poor health.

The researchers studied humans and animals to see how sugar is worse than salt for blood pressure, hypertension, and heart disease.

DiNicolantonio and Lucan wrote, “Added sugars probably matter more than dietary sodium for hypertension, and fructose in particular may uniquely increase cardiovascular risk by inciting metabolic dysfunction and increasing blood pressure variability, myocardial oxygen demand, heart rate, and inflammation.”
The most recent version of the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology lifestyle guidelines suggested no more than 2,400 mg of sodium a day to benefit blood pressure.

Though the authors agree salt intake from processed foods should be reduced, they also propose “that the benefits of such recommendations might have less to do with sodium – minimally related to blood pressure and perhaps even inversely related to cardiovascular risk – and more to do with highly-refined carbohydrates.”

After feeding sucrose to rats, the results showed that it stimulated the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). This led to increased heart rate, renin secretion, renal sodium retention, and vascular resistance. All of these effects raised blood pressure.

The authors suggest “reducing consumption of added sugars by limiting processed foods containing them.”

FoodFacts.com feels like this is especially bad news for soda consumers — and sugary beverage consumers in general. There are people who drink multiple cans of soda every day. And there are folks that aren’t trying to gage the amount of added sugars in their diets at all. We all need to limit processed foods — if not make an earnest attempt to eliminate them from our diets completely. That is the only way we can be confident that we can avoid the risks of excessive sugar consumption. Changing our diets can prove to improve our health and lengthen our lives!

Read more at http://www.business2community.com/health-wellness/sugar-worse-salt-blood-pressure-01096633#x3IOwiTA4g4G7Egv.99

Watching your waistline takes on new meaning

heart-diseaseWhile we know that obesity elevates the risk of cardiovascular disease, we may not be aware of how a growing waistline effects health. Abdominal obesity — sometimes benignly referred to as belly fat or midriff bulge — might not appear to be a tremendous concern. Being overweight isn’t necessarily associated with obesity. But extra weight gathering in your midsection may not actually be harmless as some might think.

Sudden cardiac death, or SCD for short, occurs without warning, and is caused by a sudden unexpected loss of heart function, which rapidly reduces blood flow around the body, including to the brain. It is distinct from a heart attack, and kills around 300,000 people in the USA every year.

Obesity has long been associated with various unfavourable changes in cardiovascular health, including SCD. But researchers wanted to find out if a persistent midriff bulge may carry a greater risk of SCD than general obesity as the evidence suggests this body fat distribution may be more dangerous.

They therefore studied almost 15,000 middle aged men and women (45-64 years of age), all of whom were taking part in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study.

ARIC has been tracking the causes of artery narrowing in middle aged Americans since 1987.
All the participants (55% women; 26% African American) underwent a detailed health assessment in 1987-9, and then again in 1990-92, 1993-5, 1996-8, and 2011-13. This included measurements of weight, height, waist circumference, and the waist to hip ratio.

During the monitoring period, which averaged 12.5 years, 253 SCDs occurred. Those affected were in their mid-fifties, on average; one in three was female; and four out of 10 were of African American heritage.
Unsurprisingly, those who died suddenly tended to have a higher prevalence of known risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

They also had a higher BMI (body mass index), larger waist circumference, and a larger waist to hip ratio–an indicator of central obesity–than those who did not sustain an SCD.

The risk of SCD was associated with general obesity, but only in non-smokers. And of the measures of obesity–BMI, waist circumference, and waist to hip ratio–waist to hip ratio was the most strongly associated with SCD risk after taking account of other influential factors.
Those with the highest waist to hip ratio had double the risk of SCD of those with a normal ratio.

And unlike BMI and waist circumference, the association between waist to hip ratio was independent of existing coronary heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure and other known risk factors.

This is an observational study so no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, added to which the precise mechanisms for the association between SCD and central obesity are not known, say the researchers.

But fat around the midriff is thought to be more critical than fat stored elsewhere in the body, because of its influence on inflammation.

Even though this study is observational in nature, it certainly points to links between excess abdominal weight and heart health. FoodFacts.com wants us all to remain aware that even without the presence of technical obesity, carrying too much weight in your midsection may have detrimental health effects. Watch your waistline … not because a smaller waist measurement helps you look better, but because you’ll stay healthier longer without belly fat.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141210204626.htm

Looking for a quick meal? Ramen noodles are not the answer.

1343012.largeCollege kids and young adults out on their own for the first time and trying to stick to a tight budget have long sung the praises of ramen noodles for a quick, cheap and tasty meal. While others look questioningly on the idea of a block of dried noodles as being even remotely appetizing, others think fondly of ramen and the memories of youth they may invoke. FoodFacts.com has always counted ourselves among the first group, finding it difficult to think of ramen in any redeemable manner. There seems to be a good reason for that.

It has been found that instant noodles (Ramen) may increase your risk of metabolic changes linked to heart disease and stroke.

In the study, women in South Korea who consumed more of the precooked blocks of dried noodles were more likely to have “metabolic syndrome” regardless of what else they ate, or how much they exercised, the researchers found. People with metabolic syndrome may have high blood pressure or high blood sugar levels, and face an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

“Although instant noodle is a convenient and delicious food, there could be an increased risk for metabolic syndrome given [the food's] high sodium, unhealthy saturated fat and glycemic loads,” said study co-author Hyun Shin, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

Harvard analyzed the health and diet of nearly 11,000 adults in South Korea between ages 19 to 64. The participants reported what they ate, and the researchers categorized each participant’s diet as centered on either traditional healthy food or fast food, as well as how many times weekly they ate instant noodles. Women who ate instant noodles twice a week or more had a higher risk of metabolic syndrome than those who ate ramen less, or not at all, regardless of whether their diet style fell into the traditional or fast-food category. The researchers found the association even among young women who were leaner and reported doing more physical activity.

Shin and his colleagues at Baylor University and Harvard analyzed the health and diet of nearly 11,000 adults in South Korea between ages 19 to 64. The participants reported what they ate, and the researchers categorized each participant’s diet as centered on either traditional healthy food or fast food, as well as how many times weekly they ate instant noodles.

Women who ate instant noodles twice a week or more had a higher risk of metabolic syndrome than those who ate ramen less, or not at all, regardless of whether their diet style fell into the traditional or fast-food category. The researchers found the association even among young women who were leaner and reported doing more physical activity.

As for men, Shin and his colleagues guessed that biological differences between the genders, like the effect of sex hormones and metabolism, might account for the lack of an apparent association among males between eating instant noodles and developing metabolic syndrome.

The study was conducted in South Korea, an area known to have the largest ramen consumption group in the world, where people consumed 3.4 billion packages of instant noodles in 2010.

But the findings could apply to people in North American too, said Lisa Young, a nutritionist and professor at New York University who was not involved in the study. “We [in the States] don’t eat it as much, but the ramen noodles are being sold, so this could apply to anywhere they’re sold, and they’re sold almost everywhere.”

“Instant noodles are high in fat, high in salt, high in calories and they’re processed – all those factors could contribute to some of the health problems [the researchers] addressed,” Young said. “That doesn’t mean that every single person is going to respond the same way, but the piece to keep in mind is that it’s not a healthy product, and it is a processed food.”

But Young said there might be ways to dampen the dangers of eating instant noodles without swearing off of them altogether. “Number one, don’t eat it every day,” Young told Live Science. “Number two, portion control,” she said, and recommended that people eat a small amount of instant noodles and mix them with vegetables and other healthier, nonprocessed foods.

Above all, however, Young said a little bit of preparation could help people avoid processed instant noodles altogether. “You can easily make noodles, homemade pasta, ground-rice pasta and veggies” at home, with a little bit of planning, she said.

Preparing pasta from scratch is hardly a time consuming process. It’s also fairly inexpensive and easily available. If we had to choose a convenient, quick meal that doesn’t require any special cooking skills, we’d probably go with pasta. We can even find an organic pasta sauce that isn’t expensive to pair with that pasta that requires no cooking skills at all. There are several pluses to the alternative. No controversial ingredients. Less salt. Less fat. And if you know anyone who is still including ramen noodles in their weekly menus, you might want to mention that the pasta they prepare at home easily and quickly will taste a heck of a lot better too!

http://www.franchiseherald.com/articles/16300/20141130/instant-noodles-can-hurt-your-heart-study-says-consumption-increases-chances-of-heart-disease.htm#ixzz3M1aBE8Tx

Welcome back the Yumbo!

BK_Yumbo_detailMost of you are probably thinking to yourself, “Welcome back the what????”

In order to answer your question, we’ll have to go back to Burger King in 1968. That was the year that the Yumbo was first introduced. The sandwich was very popular and enjoyed a six-year run before it was retired in 1974.

While FoodFacts.com isn’t quite sure where it’s unusual name came from, we are sure that the Yumbo isn’t typical Burger King fare. It’s simply a hot ham and cheese hoagie with lettuce and mayonnaise. Which, according to various internet commentary, has some fast food fans puzzled. It’s not a burger. It’s not a chicken sandwich. So what’s it doing on the Burger King menu?

Well, according to Burger King, people have been asking what happened to the sandwich. Seems it’s a favorite childhood memory for many customers. And Burger King is making an effort to bring back some those memories.

Burger King made an all out effort to do just that with the Yumbo. It overhauled its Facebook page and made it appear as though the posts were from 1974. It even invited visitors to call the Yumbo at 844-BK-YUMBO. That toll-free line connected callers to the “Yumbo Social Hotline,” and asked callers to like or comment on the sandwich on its page.

It doesn’t appear that folks who don’t remember the Yumbo are embracing it quite as enthusiastically as those who fell in love with it 40 years ago. Comments include the sentiment that the Yumbo took very little effort for Burger King and that you really need to be in the third grade to think that this is anything special.

O.k. it isn’t a Whopper. But it is certainly a simpler menu offering for Burger King which may be refreshing for some. While we don’t have an ingredient list for the sandwich, here are the nutrition facts:
Calories:               490
Fat:                       24 grams
Cholesterol:         65 mg
Sodium:               1770 mg

So what should we make of this? Let’s put it this way — it really might as well be a burger. As a matter of fact, the Yumbo is pretty much the equivalent as the Burger King Double Cheeseburger. It has 40 more calories and about the same amount of fat. The Yumbo has less cholesterol. But it also contains A LOT more sodium.

Maybe it’s just us, but we don’t expect a hot ham and cheese sandwich to carry the same nutrition facts as a fast food burger. Guess we should have remembered that the Yumbo is a fast food hot ham and cheese sandwich and this shouldn’t have been surprising.

Those of us of a certain age should probably just enjoy our Yumbo memories and not try to make new ones.

http://www.bk.com/menu-item/yumbo-hot-ham-cheese-sandwich

Panera Bread brings back the Steak & White Cheddar Panini

panera_horiz_logoWe know that Panera Bread has plenty of fans. There’s plenty of variety on the menu. The food is tasty. And people feel as though a meal from Panera is a better choice than a meal from McDonalds. The chain carries its own “health halo” — the food is fresher, it tastes like actual food and so Panera has been deemed a better option than average fast food.

In some ways fans are right — Panera Bread isn’t McDonald’s. But to be honest, it’s not that far away from it. And the reintroduction of the Steak & White Cheddar Panini proves the point.

Let’s take a look at the sandwich and find out what’s really going on in there.

The nutrition facts apply to a whole sandwich. Remember that at Panera, you can order a half sandwich as part of a combo with pasta, salad or soup. If you simply order the sandwich, though, it will come full size. Let’s get to those facts:

Calories:                     960
Fat:                             36 grams
Sodium:                     1860 mg.

Wow. That’s just too much of everything! After eating this sandwich, you’ve only got another 540 mg to consume for the rest of the day. And you’ll be spending 960 calories out of your average 2000 calorie a day diet on one sandwich.

Here are the ingredients:

French baguette (unbleached enriched wheat flour [flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], water, salt, natural base [calcium diphosphate, malted barley flour, dextrose, distilled monoglycerides, rye flour, sunflower lecithin, wheat flour, enzymes, ascorbic acid], yeast [yeast, sorbitan monostearate, ascorbic acid]), beef sirloin tip (beef sirloin, seasoning [spice, dehydrated garlic, sea salt, canola oil]), white cheddar cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, microbial enzymes), caramelized red onions (red onions, balsamic vinaigrette [water, soybean oil, sugar, balsamic vinegar, distilled vinegar, contains less than 2% of salt, spices, xanthan gum, dehydrated garlic, natural flavors]), horseradish sauce (soybean oil, water, prepared horseradish [horseradish, vinegar, salt], egg yolks, distilled vinegar, corn starch- modified, salt, sugar, xanthan gum, natural flavors including mustard oil).

So it’s not McDonald’s. The ingredient list is a far cry from the Big Mac. But there are still far too many items in the list — and we’re not fans of natural flavor. Especially when all those ingredients cost 960 calories and come with three quarters of our daily sodium.

We can think of better lunch options. And while we understand that many find Panera Bread to be a solution to the fast food dilemma, FoodFacts.com just can’t get on board.

https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/menu-categories/sandwiches-panini.html#steak-white-cheddar-panini

Keeping artificial food colors away from your holiday baking

LL13foodcolor_croppedWe’re in a most colorful season! We’ve decked the halls of our homes with red, green, gold and silver. Our windows and lawns are adorned with multi-colored lights. The holidays are upon us with every shade of every festive color we can think of! Often, though, those colors extend to our holiday baking. Holiday cakes and cookies can involve not only the shapes and images of the season, but its colors as well. Sugar cookies shaped like Santa, gingerbread men and women with red lips and blue eyes, red velvet cake, yule logs, green tree cakes … the list can be endless and very imaginative.

But can we do this without the use of, say, Yellow No. 5, Red No. 40, Green No. 3 and other artificial colors? Can we opt for natural color that might also add nutritional value to our baking and cooking?

“You can certainly use freeze-dried fruit, beet juice and spices like saffron and turmeric to create color in baking,” says Susan Reid, a chef and baking expert who teaches and develops recipes for King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vt.

And there is plenty of nutritional value in the foods and spices Reid lists:

●Freeze-dried berries such as strawberries and blueberries contain antioxidant phytochemicals, vitamins and folic acid.
● Beets are full of vitamins and minerals.
● Turmeric— well, the list is long but may include cancer- and heart-disease-prevention properties as well as the treatment of a range of digestive issues and even depression.
● Saffron contains vitamins and other important nutrients, and there are indications that it can help prevent and treat everything from depression to high cholesterol.

So not only do these colorful fruits and spices seem to cover our needs for red, blue, orange and yellow in our holiday favorites, they also seem to help our general health.

But how about the all-important green?

“You’re not going to get a really intense green with natural food color. It will be more muted,” Reid says.

If you can live with a more muted, forestlike green, there are a few ways to go.

For example, says Liz Lipski, director of academic development for nutrition and integrative health at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, you can use spirulina, wheat grass juice or spinach powder to achieve a muted green:

● Spirulina is a blue-green algae full of protein, vitamins and minerals.
● Wheat grass includes amino acids, vitamins and iron.
● Spinach contains calcium, vitamins and folate.

Just be careful not to use too much. “If you use enough to make it bright green, it will affect the flavor,” Lipski says.

Indeed, you could get great yellows with onion — but onion cake doesn’t sound too appealing. Or you could grind down marigolds (which are edible), but that would affect the taste, too.

“It would be pretty hard to disguise the flavor,” Reid says.

In other words, if you want to use natural — and, as it turns out, nutritious — food coloring, you have to change your expectations a bit, say Reid and Lipski. Maybe learn to accept less intense colors and focus instead on flavor and nutrition, Lipski suggests.

“But especially with kids — how do we acclimate them to less color?” Lipski asks. She is the author of “Digestive Health for Children” and a proponent of moving away from the use of artificial food colors that contain petroleum and are often either banned or require warning labels in Europe.

But even if you can persuade the kiddos — and others — to accept forest-green Christmas cookies over their neon counterparts, there is still the challenge of getting the recipes right. You will become part chemist, part baker.

If, for example, you add liquid, you will have to adjust the entire recipe or you might end up with a soupy mess.

Of course, if you want to make it easy on yourself but still would prefer natural over artificial, King Arthur Flour sells natural food coloring by the bottle and the sprinkle; and Whole Foods sells items from Colorgarden.net and Indiatree.com, says Joel Singer, Whole Foods Markets’ Mid-Atlantic associate bakery coordinator.

Singer, who agrees with Lipski and Reid that natural food coloring — even the store-bought variety — tends to be less strong, says “it is best used in an icing application than the cake itself.”

Whole Foods’ own bakeries use colors derived from beets (red), annatto root (orange) and spinach (green), Singer says.

But let’s go back to home-baking with a touch of chemistry in the mix.

For example, Lipski says, if you are making red velvet cake you could swap out the red food coloring for pureed beets.

FoodFacts.com wants to add that there are recipes all over the internet that will help you become that kitchen chemist. And if you’re not keen on chemistry, you can also find more than a few brands of natural food coloring that you can use the same way you would the artificial type. The colors are different and can be affected by the other ingredients in your recipes, but most brands provide guidance on what you can expect.

We’ll gladly trade the brightly colored cookies for softer hues. While we love our colorful holidays, our health will benefit from the trade off!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/replace-artificial-food-coloring-with-natural-options/2014/11/11/e4bae6ee-6071-11e4-91f7-5d89b5e8c251_story.html

Going green can reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes (we mean your leafy greens!)

greensWe’re all trying to be green! We’re making efforts to reduce our carbon footprint, choosing brown bags over plastic, using recycled everything as much as we can. New research we found today though is encouraging us to go green with our vegetables too — to reduce risks to the environment, but to reduce risks to our health!

Three new studies reveal that a chemical called nitrate – found in green vegetables including spinach, lettuce and celery – may aid heart health and reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes.

The three studies were conducted by researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Southampton – both in the UK.

In the first study, co-led by Dr. Andrew Murray from the University of Cambridge and published in The FASEB Journal, researchers found that eating more vegetables rich in nitrate may reduce production of a hormone made by the liver and kidneys, called erythropoietin. This hormone regulates the number of red blood cells in the body.

The team explains that at high altitudes or in cardiovascular diseases, the body is subject to a shortage of oxygen. In order to get more oxygen around the body, erythropoietin increases its production of blood cells.

However, high numbers of blood cells can cause the blood to become too thick. This means that the body’s organs and tissues may be starved of oxygen because the blood is unable to flow through small blood vessels to get to them.

But the findings from the team indicate that eating more nitrate-rich vegetables could thin the blood by lowering the number of red blood cells produced, which could have important implications for health. Dr. Murray says:

“Here we show that nitrate from the diet can help regulate the delivery of oxygen to cells and tissues and its use, matching oxygen supply and demand. This ensures cells and tissues in the body have enough oxygen to function without needing to overproduce red blood cells, which can make the blood too thick and compromise health.

Lowering the blood’s thickness without compromising oxygen delivery may also help prevent blood clots, reducing the risk of a stroke or heart attack.”

In addition, the researchers note that their findings could lead to the discovery of better ways to deliver oxygen to cells, which may help the recovery of patients in intensive care units.

Dr. Murray led the second study, which was recently published in The Journal of Physiology.
In this research, the team exposed rats to high altitudes in order to trigger increased production of red blood cells.

They found that rats fed a diet with nitrate – the equivalent to humans adding slightly more green vegetables to their diets – were better protected against an array of heart and circulatory conditions than rats fed a nitrate-free diet.

This is because nitrate increases production of a compound that widens the blood vessels, according to the researchers, improving blood flow. What is more, the researchers found that nitrate protects proteins in heart cells that are crucial for heart health.

“Nitrate supplementation may thus be of benefit to individuals exposed to hypobaric hypoxia at altitude or in patients with diseases characterized by tissue hypoxia and energetic impairment, such as heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or in the critically ill,” the team says.

In the third study – published in the journal Diabetes and led by Lee Roberts from the University of Cambridge – the team found that nitrate subjects “bad” white fat cells to a process called “browning,” which converts them into beige cells.

The researchers explain that beige cells are similar to “good” brown fat cells, which burn fat in order to generate heat. Increased levels of brown fat have been associated with reduced risk of obesity and diabetes, therefore the team hypothesizes that incorporating nitrate into the diet could protect against these conditions.

Commenting on the findings of all three studies, Dr. Murray says:

“There have been a great many findings demonstrating a role for nitrate in reducing blood pressure and regulating the body’s metabolism.

These studies represent three further ways in which simple changes in the diet can modify people’s risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity as well as potentially alleviating symptoms of existing cardiovascular conditions to achieve an overall healthier life.”

FoodFacts.com wants to emphasize the idea of simple dietary changes improving health and quality of life. This particular change is especially simple. There are so many green vegetables to choose from, we can easily enjoy a few different options every day. Salads, broccoli, spinach, kale, chard, mustard greens, collard greens, cabbage … the list goes on. Greens offer variety and texture to our meals, not to mention great flavor.

So the next time you’re thinking about the benefits of going green — don’t forget the health benefits of eating green as well!

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/286515.php

Dads consuming too much sugar may increase the risk of obesity in their children

High SugarMost research regarding childhood obesity as it relates to parents and pregnancy points to the dietary habits of mothers. We’re actually quite accustomed to moms, as the carriers of their children, as the “important link” to their health. Expectant mothers shouldn’t smoke, shouldn’t consume caffeine, need to be concerned about mercury levels in their diets, need to avoid alcohol, are discouraged from dying their hair … the list grows longer just about every year. And that makes sense. Growing babies receive their nourishment directly from the women in which they develop. And proper development requires some restrictions. We rarely hear about dads in the same manner.

But now there appears to be a link between a father’s sugar consumption just before conception and an increased risk of obesity in his offspring.

A new study shows that increasing sugar in the diet of male fruit flies for just 1 or 2 days before mating can cause obesity in their offspring through alterations that affect gene expression in the embryo. There is also evidence that a similar system regulates obesity susceptibility in mice and humans. The research, which is published online December 4 in the Cell Press journal Cell, provides insights into how certain metabolic traits are inherited and may help investigators determine whether they can be altered.

Research has shown that various factors that are passed on by parents or are present in the uterine environment can affect offspring’s metabolism and body type. Investigators led by Dr. J. Andrew Pospisilik, of the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Germany, and team member Dr. Anita Öst, now at Linkoping University in Sweden, sought to understand whether normal fluctuations in a parent’s diet might have such an impact on the next generation.

Through mating experiments in Drosophila melanogaster, or fruit flies, the scientists found that dietary interventions in males could change the body composition of offspring, with increased sugar leading to obesity in the next generation. High dietary sugar increased gene expression through epigenetic changes, which affect gene activity without changing the DNA’s underlying sequence. “To use computer terms, if our genes are the hardware, our epigenetics is the software that decides how the hardware is used,” explains Dr. Öst. “It turns out that the father’s diet reprograms the epigenetic ‘software’ so that genes needed for fat production are turned on in their sons.”

Because epigenetic programs are somewhat plastic, the investigators suspect that it might be possible to reprogram obese epigenetic programs to lean epigenetic programs. “At the moment, we and other researchers are manipulating the epigenetics in early life, but we don’t know if it is possible to rewrite an adult program,” says Dr. Öst.

The fruit fly models and experiments that the team designed will be valuable resources for the scientific community. Because the flies reproduce quickly, they can allow investigators to quickly map out the details of how nutrition and other environmental stimuli affect epigenetics and whether or not they can be modulated, both early and later in life.

“It’s very early days for our understanding of how parental experiences can stably reprogram offspring physiology, lifelong. The mechanisms mapped here, which seem in some way to be conserved in mouse and man, provide a seed for research that has the potential to profoundly change views and practices in medicine,” says Dr. Pospisilik.

FoodFacts.com found this research exceptionally fascinating. First, it brings fathers directly into the health mix on a different level, clearly stating that their contribution to the developing child goes beyond genetics. And subsequently, the idea that science can use this information to determine whether or not there can be some sort of modulation of these effects may prove to be quite valuable in the war against obesity.

Until that can be determined, it’s probably a good — and simple — idea for dads to limit their sugar intake prior to conception. Moms already give up quite a bit in order to achieve healthy pregnancies. Giving up sugar is surely an easy and temporary sacrifice for fathers to make to contribute to that goal.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141204140737.htm