Tag Archives: nutritional information

Rogue GMO wheat making its way to U.S. farms

GMO-wheat1We’re pretty familiar with the the big five GMO crops that are permitted in U.S. farming. Corn, soy, sugar beets, cotton, and canola and products containing these ingredients are pretty much guaranteed to be genetically modified. There are still some crops, though, that have not been approved for genetic modification. Wheat would stand out in that category.

So, how did that genetically modified wheat end up in a field in Oregon? Investigators still don’t know, but now they’ve found GMO wheat in Montana, too.

Investigators from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) say that they cannot figure out how genetically engineered wheat appeared, as if by magic, in a farmer’s field in eastern Oregon in the spring of 2013.

Having “exhausted all leads,” the agency has now closed the investigation. But that announcement was almost overshadowed by a new mini-bombshell: More unapproved GMO wheat was discovered this past summer at Montana State University’s Southern Agricultural Research Center (SARC) in Huntley, Mont.

It was discovered when workers tried to clear a small field using the weedkiller glyphosate. Some wheat plants survived, because they carried the glyphosate-tolerance gene that Monsanto Corp. had inserted into its GM varieties.

There were field trials of such wheat at that research station from 2000 to 2003, but all the grain from those trials should have been removed or destroyed. If some unharvested GMO grain remained in the field, it could have grown unnoticed in the intervening years.

Alan Tracy, president of U.S. Wheat Associates, which represents wheat exporters, downplayed the Montana discovery. “We don’t expect any reaction” from wheat buyers, he says, because the GM wheat was found at a research station rather than a commercial field.

The 2013 discovery, on the other hand, rocked wheat markets. The genetically modified grain was never approved for sale, and it’s unwelcome in countries that buy U.S. grain. Since it was found in a commercial wheat field, foreign buyers worried that GM wheat might have contaminated the entire American harvest, just as unapproved GM rice did in 2006. Japan and South Korea stopped buying U.S. wheat for a time.

Tests relieved those worries. GM wheat was never found anywhere else — not in commercial seed, nor in shipments of grain. Normal trade resumed.

But these tests only deepened the mystery. Where had this wheat come from? Investigators from APHIS interviewed farmers and took samples of wheat seed throughout the wheat-growing areas of Oregon and Washington, looking for clues.

They also carried out genetic analysis of the wheat that was found in the farmer’s field, hoping to match it with a specific variety of wheat, and thus with a particular field trial in which that type of wheat was grown. (Monsanto carried out numerous field trials of GMO wheat until 2005, when it canceled the program.)

No clues emerged. The genetic tests showed that this GM wheat was a genetic mixture of different types of wheat. Wheat breeders create such mixtures in the course of their work, but seed companies don’t sell them or carry out field trials of them.

Monsanto’s chief technology officer, Robert Fraley, floated his own hypothesis in a teleconference with reporters last year. “The fact pattern indicates the strong possibility that someone intentionally introduced wheat seed containing [Monsanto's new gene] into his field,” he said at the time. He speculated that this could have been an act of sabotage carried out by anti-biotech activists who somehow had acquired genetically engineered seed.

USDA investigators declined to endorse that scenario. “We were not able to determine how it took place,” says Bernadette Juarez, who led the APHIS investigation.

Carol Mallory-Smith, a professor of weed science at Oregon State University, said the rogue wheat — and other cases in which genetically modified crops have wandered far afield from their designated research plots — show that APHIS needs to monitor field trials of genetically modified crops more carefully.

People also need to realize that plant genes are likely to persist in the environment once they’re planted in open fields, she says.

“Any time a new trait is put into the environment, there’s really no way of retracting that gene or bringing it back and saying, ‘We’ve changed our mind,’ ” she says.

FoodFacts.com is well aware that once genetically modified seed is planted, the environment certainly does play a role in the spread of the crop. Cross contamination is a concern for organic farmers across the country. But it GMO wheat is no longer being developed, its appearance on more than one occasion is certainly puzzling. And it is certainly cause for concern. Professor Mallory-Smith certainly summed it up. There’s no going back after introducing genetically modified crops into the environment. It’s worth keeping an eye on.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/09/26/351785294/gmo-wheat-investigation-closed-but-another-one-opens

Fruits and vegetables linked to better mental health

2012-10-10-FruitsVeggiesEating your five a day has been proven to do amazing things for health. But when we think of that, our thoughts generally turn to improved heart health, reduced risk of obesity, diabetes and even increased longevity. This new information, however, points to benefits that probably never crossed our minds.

A previous study suggested that consuming five portions of fruits and vegetables a day is the optimum amount for lowering the risk of death from any cause, which contradicts another study that suggested we should be eating seven portions of fruit and veg a day.

The researchers from this latest study, led by Dr. Saverio Stranges of the University of Warwick Medical School in the UK, used data from the Health Survey for England, which included nearly 14,000 adults over the age of 16.
This survey collected detailed information on the mental and physical health of the participants, as well as their health-related behaviors, demographics and socio-economic characteristics.

In addition, the team assessed the participants’ mental well-being using the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, putting the top 15% of participants in the “high mental well-being” group, the bottom 15% in the low group, and those between 16-84% in the middle group.

‘The higher the veg and fruit intake, the lower the chance of low well-being’
Overall, the researchers found that high and low mental well-being were typically associated with the participants’ fruit and vegetable intake.
In detail, 35.5% of participants with high mental well-being ate five or more portions of fruits and vegetables a day, compared with only 6.8% who consumed less than one portion.

Additionally, 31.4% of the individuals from the high mental well-being group ate three to four fruit and veg portions per day, and 28.4% ate one to two.
“The data suggest that [the] higher an individual’s fruit and vegetable intake, the lower the chance of their having low mental well-being,” says Dr. Stranges.

The researchers also considered other health-related behaviors – such as smoking, alcohol intake and obesity – and found that only smoking and fruit and vegetable intake were consistently associated with mental well-being.

Dr. Stranges explains:
“Along with smoking, fruit and vegetable consumption was the health-related behavior most consistently associated with both low and high mental well-being. These novel findings suggest that fruit and vegetable intake may play a potential role as a driver, not just of physical, but also of mental well-being in the general population.”

Alcohol intake and obesity were associated with low, but not high mental well-being, the researchers add.

According to the team, high mental well-being is more than simply the absence of symptoms or illness – it is the condition of feeling good and functioning well. They add that optimism, happiness, self-esteem, resilience and good relationships are also part of this mode of being.

According to co-author Prof. Sarah Stewart-Brown, mental illness “is hugely costly to both the individual and society, and mental well-being underpins many physical diseases, unhealthy lifestyles and social inequalities in health.”

She says enabling people to maintain good well-being is important from a research perspective.

“Our findings add to the mounting evidence that fruit and vegetable intake could be one such factor and mean that people are likely to enhance their mental well-being at the same time as preventing heart disease and cancer,” she adds.

When asked about whether the study accounted for physical activity, Dr. Stranges told Medical News Today that one of the limitations of the study was that such data “was not available in the Health Survey for England,” leaving room for further study.

What a great reason to strive to eat your five a day! FoodFacts.com believes this information gives us all a new perspective on fruit and vegetable consumption — and more great reasons to tell ourselves and all our loved ones (not just our kids) “Eat your vegetables, they’re good for you!”

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282972.php

Forget about dunking … Nesquik wants you to drink your milk and cookies

B1G1-Nesquik-Milk-CouponEvery day in millions of homes across America, kids come home from school to the snack they’ve been waiting for all day — a glass of milk with cookies that they will dunk into that glass. When the cookies are gone, most of those children will happily drink the milk that’s full of soaked cookie crumbs. It’s almost a tradition. Throw some Girl Scout Cookies in the mix, and you’ve got some pretty happy kids!

Here at FoodFacts.com, we’ve had our share of problems with Girl Scout Cookies. Most varieties contain ingredients that no one needs to consume — most especially kids. We know everyone has their guilty pleasures, but there really are better cookie choices out there.

So we were surprised to find that not only has Nesquik attempted to reinvent milk and cookies — but has decided to do that with two popular Girl Scout Cookie flavors. We’ll admit it, we didn’t expect these “innovations” to be acceptable even before we started investigating.

What did we find?

Caramel Coconut Milk is inspired by the Samoa Girl Scout Cookie. Unfortunately this particular Girl Scout Cookie is one of the line’s biggest ingredient offenders. The Nesquik Caramel Coconut Milk doesn’t offer much of an improvement over the cookie. And the nutrition facts certainly leave much to be desired.

Remember that there are “about two” servings in the Nesquik milk container. We’re going to list the facts from the label — and then the facts on the label doubled, just in case your child actually drinks (gasp) the whole container.

Single Serving                              Whole Container
Calories                                                        160                                                  320
Fat                                                                 2.5 grams                                       5 grams
Sugar                                                            24 grams                                        48 grams

6 teaspoons of sugar in half the container. 12 teaspoons of sugar in the whole container. We don’t know anyone — adult or child — that needs to consume 12 teaspoons of sugar in their milk.

Ingredients: Low Fat milk with Vitamin A Palmitate and Vitamin D3 added, Sugar, Less Than 2% of Natural and Artificial Flavors, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Calcium Carbonate, Cellulose Gel, Salt, Carrageenan, Cellulose Gum.

The Samoa cookie is a coconut cookie and does contain actual coconut. The milk contains natural and artificial flavor — and that’s where the coconut is coming from. The flavor concept doesn’t seem to be much of an innovation to begin with. Coconut milk with chocolate syrup and vanilla syrup would probably do the trick here and depending on your product choices, you could easily leave out the questionable ingredients featured in this product.

How about the Thin Mints flavored milk?

To be perfectly honest, we didn’t agree with the flavor choice. Minty milk didn’t ring any bells for anyone here. And if it did, we could mix this one up ourselves too. Peppermint oil and chocolate syrup would do the trick.

Rinse and repeat the nutrition facts from the Caramel Coconut milk for the Thin Mints milk. They’re exactly the same.

Disturbingly, the ingredient list for the Thin Mints milk is also EXACTLY THE SAME as the Caramel Coconut milk. So where there should be peppermint in the list somewhere, you’ll find natural and artificial flavors taking their place. Same recipe, different chemical concoctions mimicking the real flavors that define the product.

We’re hoping that the real milk and cookies tradition wins out over these poor excuses for the real thing. We’re fairly positive that even if the taste comes close, there’s something irreplaceable about leftover, soaked cookie crumbs settled on the bottom of a glass of fresh, cold milk. At least, we hope so!

https://www.nesquik.com/adults/products/nesquikreadytodrink/caramel-coconut.aspx#

Can Annie’s Homegrown survive General Mills’ ownership in tact?

general-mills-largeFoodFacts.com was quite surprised to hear the news that Annie’s Homegrown has been purchased and incorporated into the General Mills’ family of products. We were immediately reminded of Kashi and the Kellogg Company. While Kashi has been able to maintain some of its previous commitment to food quality, we do have to think about a long list of difficulties that have included lawsuits regarding unsubstantiated “natural” claims for many of its products. That wouldn’t have happened prior to its mainstream ownership. So what will happen to Annie’s Homegrown and can we anticipate the same sort of problems occurring with this much-loved brand?

Annie’s Homegrown specializes in good-for-your versions of guilty foods like Hamburger Helper. Now it has been bought by the company that actually makes Hamburger Helper. In mid-September, Annie’s became the sister of Betty Crocker and dozens of other non-natural brands that make up the food conglomerate General Mills.

Does this mean that Annie’s Cheeseburger Skillet meal, made from organic pasta and non-GMO ingredients, will soon become an unhealthy stew of trans fats, MSG, and the artificial flavors found in Hamburger Helper’s Cheeseburger Macaroni? Will future versions of Annie’s cute little cheddar bunny crackers contain Franken-ingredients like the de-germed yellow corn meal found in GM’s Chex Mix?

Probably not. GM may be the home of Lucky Charms and Totino’s Pizza Rolls, but it also owns the organic and natural brands Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, and Larabar. Food experts say there’s no reason GM would pay millions of dollars for these trusted brands just to destroy them. Of course, GM could make subtle ingredient changes that would slowly de-healthify its natural and organic brands to save money.

But retailers believe that, so far, this hasn’t been the case. David Clark, COO of online grocer Door to Door Organics, says despite being owned by General Mills for 15 years, Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen products still meet Door to Door’s standards, which include having no trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, growth hormones, or artificial flavors or colors. He hopes the same will hold true for Annie’s.

We hope they’re right. Even we have to admit that the General Mills’ brand family DOES in fact include natural and organic brands. The problem with that, though, is that there are many consumers who think twice before picking up a Cascadian Farm organic product BECAUSE of its General Mills’ ownership. We know that there are countless families who depend on Annie’s products for their children. They choose Cheddar Bunnies instead of Goldfish, Cheeseburger Skillet Meal instead of Hamburger Helper, Mac and Cheese with real ingredients. Annie’s Homegrown plays an important role in the lives of nutritionally aware families. It’s a role we hope continues regardless of their ownership.

http://www.prevention.com/food/smart-shopping/will-general-mills-ruin-annies-homegrown

Increasing waistlines signal bad news for the obesity crisis

waistlinesNews regarding the obesity crisis continues to be conflicting. Some reports would lead us to believe that if the obesity trend isn’t reversing, it may at least be stabilizing. So what’s actually going on? New information released last week isn’t as encouraging as some of the recent reports infer.

The prevalence of abdominal obesity and average waist circumference increased among U.S. adults from 1999 to 2012, according to a study in the September 17 issue of JAMA.

Waist circumference is a simple measure of total and intra-abdominal body fat. Although the prevalence of abdominal obesity has increased in the United States through 2008, its trend in recent years has not been known, according to background information in the article.

Earl S. Ford, M.D., M.P.H., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and colleagues used data from seven 2-year cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) starting with 1999-2000 and concluding with 2011-2012 to determine trends in average waist circumference and prevalence of abdominal obesity among adults in the United States. Abdominal obesity was defined as a waist circumference greater than 40.2 inches (102 cm) in men and greater than 34.6 inches (88 cm) in women.

Data from 32,816 men and nonpregnant women ages 20 years or older were analyzed. The overall age-adjusted average waist circumference increased progressively and significantly, from 37.6 inches in 1999-2000 to 38.8 inches in 2011-2012. Significant increases occurred in men (0.8 inch), women (1.5 inch), non-Hispanic whites (1.2 inch), non­Hispanic blacks (1.6 inch), and Mexican Americans (1.8 inch).

The overall age-adjusted prevalence of abdominal obesity increased significantly from 46.4 percent in 1999-2000 to 54.2 percent in 2011-2012. Significant increases were present in men (37.1 percent to 43.5 percent), women (55.4 percent to 64.7 percent), non-Hispanic whites (45.8 percent to 53.8 percent), non-Hispanic blacks (52.4 percent to 60.9 percent), and Mexican Americans (48.1 percent to 57.4 percent).

The authors write that previous analyses of data from NHANES show that the prevalence of obesity calculated from body mass index (BMI) did not change significantly from 2003-2004 to 2011-2012. “In contrast, our analyses using data from the same surveys indicate that the prevalence of abdominal obesity is still increasing. The reasons for increases in waist circumference in excess of what would be expected from changes in BMI remain speculative, but several factors, including sleep deprivation, endocrine disruptors, and certain medications, have been proposed as potential explanations.”

“Our results support the routine measurement of waist circumference in clinical care consistent with current recommendations as a key step in initiating the prevention, control, and management of obesity among patients.”

While body mass index statistics are pointing to a leveling out of the obesity statistics, abdominal obesity is still on the rise. FoodFacts.com takes this as bad news. Abdominal obesity is referred to as obesity for a reason. This is important information that speaks to the continuation of a crisis and begs from all of us a renewed commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140916162401.htm

Most children in the U.S. are exposed to artificial food dye — many at levels that can trigger behavioral difficulties

dyesArtificial food dyes have been a very controversial topic for years now. These chemical colorings carry many problems with them straight into our food supply. Unfortunately, one of the most concerning problems surrounding artificial colors is that they’ve almost certainly been linked with hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children. Unfortunately, according to new information coming from the FDA, this important message hasn’t reached everyone just yet.

Nearly every child in America is exposed to Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Blue 1, according to a new estimate of Americans’ exposure to the controversial chemicals released by the Food and Drug Administration. For children who consume a lot of dyed foods, the estimate of the amount of Red 40 alone exceeds the amount of total dyes sufficient to trigger hyperactivity and other adverse effects on behavior in some studies.

The results were first released at a poster session held at a conference sponsored by the American Chemical Society on August 13. FDA has not yet published the full results and says the assessment is ongoing.

This meal of Hamburger Helper (2 cups), salad with Kraft Creamy French dressing (4 T.), and Powerade Orange (8 oz.) contains 47.5 mg of artificial food dyes. Behavioral tests found as little as 30 mg can trigger hyperactivity or ADHD symptoms in sensitive kids.

“Such widespread exposure to artificially colored foods is bad news for all children, since artificially colored foods aren’t healthy foods in the first place,” said Center for Science in the Public Interest senior scientist Lisa Y. Lefferts. “The FDA is failing kids and parents by allowing the use of these purely cosmetic chemicals in food, which trigger behavioral problems in some children, as even FDA conceded in 2011.”

The FDA tested more than 580 foods whose labels indicated they contained artificial colors, and matched the test results with government data on food consumption for those products, to produce exposure estimates for the general population, young children, and teenage boys. The estimates only include foods that contain dyes, and only include data for people who consumed those foods over a two-day period. The agency has not yet publicly disclosed the brand names of the tested foods.

FoodFacts.com is difficult for parents to be vigilant about eliminating food dyes from their families’ diets. Often it can be a daunting proposition. And often, if your child isn’t affected by smaller levels of artificial colors, it’s easy enough to think this might not be a problem for your family. But it’s important to remember that the studies that have been conducted point to the idea that it isn’t just kids with ADHD who are affected by artificial colors. These chemicals can trigger hyperactivity and behavioral problems in ANY child. If that’s not enough to keep foods with artificial colors out of your home, you can throw in the additional problems associated with colorful processed foods. Things like migraines and facial swelling in adults, the possibility of carcinogenic contaminants, and DNA in mice included in certain animal studies and you can easily see the importance of keeping artificial food dyes out of your diet.

http://cspinet.org/new/201409041.html

Another reason to avoid artificial sweeteners — they may actually RAISE blood sugar

artificial-sweetenersSeems sort of counterintuitive, doesn’t it? The sweeteners that have been developed to help people control their weight and avoid diabetes that are featured in diet soda, yogurt and other foods can raise the blood sugar level instead of reducing it, according to new experiments in mice and people.

The provocative finding—made possible through a new avenue of research—is likely to stoke the simmering controversy over whether artificial sweeteners help or hinder people’s ability to lose weight and lower their risk of diabetes.

The research shows that zero-calorie sweeteners such as saccharin, sucralose and aspartame can alter the population of bacteria in the gut and trigger unwanted changes such as higher blood glucose levels—a risk factor for diabetes.

“The scope of our discovery is cause for a public reassessment of the massive and unsupervised use of artificial sweeteners,” said Eran Elinav, a physician and immunologist at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science and lead author of the study, which appeared Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Though many people consume artificial sweeteners instead of sugar to control their weight, the scientific evidence that they work is mixed. Some studies have indicated that the sweeteners can help lead to weight loss, while others suggest they contribute to weight gain.

One reason is that it isn’t clear whether people who consume artificial sweeteners are overweight because of what they eat—or whether overweight people are the ones who typically gravitate to such products.

Based on existing evidence, guidelines jointly published in 2012 by the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association noted that artificial sweeteners “when used judiciously…could facilitate reductions in added sugar,” and thus influence weight loss.

The new Nature study marks a significant advance because it brings together two separate areas of research—the role of sweeteners in raising blood sugar levels, and the complex workings of the vast colonies of bacteria that inhabit the gut. Individuals can have differing bacterial colonies in their gut, meaning people respond differently to what they consume.

In one experiment, the researchers found that mice whose diets included saccharin, sucralose or aspartame had significantly higher blood-glucose levels than mice whose diet included sugar, or no sugar at all.

They next wanted to test whether the fake sweeteners caused that metabolic change by altering the balance of microbes in the animals’ gut.
They transplanted bacteria from artificial-sweetener-fed mice or sugar-fed mice into other mice that were bred to have no gut bacteria of their own and that had never consumed a sweetener product. They found that the bacterial transfer from the sweetener-fed mice raised the blood sugar levels in the transplant recipients—suggesting that the gut microbes had triggered the higher sugar levels in mice fed fake sweeteners.

Was the same link true for people? Dr. Elinav and his colleagues examined the relationship between long-term consumption of artificial sweeteners and various metabolic measurements in some 380 nondiabetic people.

They found that the bacteria in the gut of those who regularly ate fake sweeteners were notably different from those who didn’t. In addition, there was a correlation between the sweetener consumption and a susceptibility to glucose intolerance, which is a disturbance in the blood glucose level.

Correlation, however, doesn’t necessarily mean causation. In the next experiment, seven volunteers who normally didn’t consume fake sugar were asked to consume products high in the sweeteners. After four days, four of them had significantly higher blood-sugar levels as well as altered populations of bacteria in their gut—an outcome similar to what was seen in mice.

“This susceptibility to sweeteners [can now] be predicted ahead of time by profiling the microbes in the people,” said Eran Segal, a co-author of the study and computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute.
The results need to be corroborated through a study with many more participants.

In a statement, the Calorie Control Council, a trade group that represents makers of artificial sweeteners and other food products, said the Nature study suffered from several limitations. It said the results from the mouse experiments may not apply to humans, while the human experiments had a small sample size. It said further research was needed.

FoodFacts.com has never had anything good to say about artificial sweeteners. Reports of negative health effects have far outweighed the marketed benefits. Research like this points straight to the idea that artificial sweeteners are not only unnecessary, but actually harmful — harmful enough that Dr. Elinav, the study’s lead author, stopped using them completely once he saw the results. That should certainly tell us something.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/research-shows-zero-calorie-sweeteners-can-raise-blood-sugar-1410973201
http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20140917/artificial-sweeteners-blood-sugar?page=2

Introducing Oreo’s newest flavor: Pumpkin Spice Oreos

sgfwpemysfg3byqk9ijwMaybe the fall flavor craze has really gone too far now. We’re sorry but we really can’t imagine Oreo lovers hoping for a Pumpkin Spice flavored Oreo. It just doesn’t seem incredibly appealing. But it’s also possible that FoodFacts.com has been overwhelmed with everything pumpkin related this season.

That said, we are admittedly not thrilled with this idea. And, admittedly, we’ve been underwhelmed by previous Oreo flavor introductions. For instance the Cookie Dough Oreo wasn’t particularly tasty — and it didn’t make much sense to us. Cookie Dough flavored cream stuffed between two cookies. Did anyone else notice a redundancy there?

Here at FoodFacts.com we take our responsibility of informing our community about what’s really in the foods they’re eating very seriously. So if you’re among the millions of consumers who just can’t say no to pumpkin-spice anything and these cookies seem like a great idea to you, we thought you’d be interested in the ingredients used to create this latest fall “innovation.”

Ingredients: Sugar, Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine, Mononitrate (Vitamin B1) Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid, Palm and/or Canola Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cornstarch, Salt, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Artificial Color (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Blue 3 Lake), Paprika Oleoresin (Color)

We’d like to call your attention to the fact that there is absolutely NO PUMPKIN anywhere in that list. Oh wait, they’re PUMPKIN SPICE Oreos, not PUMPKIN Oreos. Technically that would mean that these should taste like nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and anything else we use to flavor actual pumpkin pie. Funny, we don’t see any of those ingredients on the list either. We do, however, see Natural and Artificial Flavors — which of course is what the folks over at Oreos are using to impart the taste of pumpkin pie spices to the cream inside this cookie. And then, to make it look authentic (because all of those spices carry a rich, deep color), they’ve added a healthy dose of artificial colors.

We’re sorry, this ingredient list doesn’t tempt us with the flavors of the fall season. If we’re building a snowman in the winter, we want to use real snow — not fake snow from a snow machine. The same theory applies to food. The real thing doesn’t contain ingredients that have already been identified as fake, chemical creations. It wouldn’t have been that difficult to use actual spices here.

We’re sticking with the idea that if we’re craving pumpkin — or pumpkin spices, we’re going to actually make something completely out of the box — maybe a pumpkin pie — using the actual ingredients that seem to be inspiring waaaaay too many products this season. Crazy idea we’ve got there. At least we’ll know what we’re eating.

http://www.kotaku.com.au/2014/09/pumpkin-spice-oreos-the-snacktaku-review/

Can you walk off the negative health effects associated with high-fructose corn syrup?

Pouring a glass of colaWe all know the details of the controversies surrounding high-fructose corn syrup. We all remember the “corn sugar” commercials that tried to convince us that “sugar is sugar.” And we know that just about everyone in the FoodFacts.com community remembers the angrily disputed research linking high-fructose corn syrup to obesity, diabetes and even cancer. There have been some attempts by manufacturers to remove it from a variety of products, but for the most part, high-fructose corn syrup is still a far too popular ingredient in far too many common products, including — and most especially soda.

We’re pretty comfortable with the idea that the consumption of high fructose corn syrup puts people at risk for developing a variety of health problems. But the risk drops substantially if those people get up and move around, even if they don’t formally exercise, two new studies found.

The problem with the sweetener is that, unlike sucrose, the formal name for common table sugar, fructose is metabolized primarily in the liver. There, much of the fructose is transformed into fatty acids, some of which remain in the liver, marbling that organ and contributing to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

The rest of the fatty acids migrate into the bloodstream, causing metabolic havoc. Past animal and human studies have linked the intake of even moderate amounts of fructose with dangerous gyrations in blood sugar levels, escalating insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, added fat around the middle, obesity, poor cholesterol profiles and other metabolic disruptions.

But Amy Bidwell, then a researcher at Syracuse University, noticed that few of these studies had examined interactions between physical activity and fructose. That was a critical omission, she thought, because movement and exercise change how the body utilizes fuels, including fructose.

Dr. Bidwell sought out healthy, college-aged men and women who would agree to drink soda in the pursuit of science. They were easy to find. She gathered 22.

The volunteers showed up at the university’s physiology lab for a series of baseline tests. The researchers assessed how their bodies responded to a fructose-rich meal, recording their blood sugar and insulin levels, and other measures of general and metabolic health, including cholesterol profiles and blood markers of bodily inflammation. The students also completed questionnaires about their normal diets and activity levels and subsequently wore an activity monitor for a week to gauge how much they generally moved.

Then half of the volunteers spent two weeks moving about half as much as they had before. The other 11 volunteers began moving around about twice as much as before, for a daily total of at least 12,000 steps a day, or about six miles.

After a rest period of a week, the groups switched, so that every volunteer had moved a lot and a little.

Throughout, they also consumed two fructose-rich servings of a lemon-lime soda, designed to provide 75 grams of fructose a day, which is about what an average American typically consumes. The sodas contained about 250 calories each, and the volunteers were asked to reduce their nonfructose calories by the same amount, to avoid weight gain.

After each two-week session, the volunteers returned to the lab for a repeat of the metabolic and health tests.

Their results diverged widely, depending on how much they’d moved. As one of two new studies based on the research, published in May in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, reports, after two weeks of fructose loading and relative inactivity, these young, healthy volunteers displayed a notable shift in their cholesterol and health profiles. There was a significant increase in their blood concentrations of dangerous very-low-density lipoproteins, and a soaring 116-percent increase in markers of bodily inflammation.

The second study, published this month in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, focused on blood-sugar responses to fructose and activity, and found equally striking changes among the young people when they didn’t move much. Two weeks of extra fructose left them with clear signs of incipient insulin resistance, which is typically the first step toward Type 2 diabetes.

But in both studies, walking at least 12,000 steps a day effectively wiped out all of the disagreeable changes wrought by the extra fructose. When the young people moved more, their cholesterol and blood sugar levels remained normal, even though they were consuming plenty of fructose every day.

The lesson from these studies is not that we should blithely down huge amounts of fructose and assume that a long walk will undo all harmful effects, said Dr. Bidwell, who is now an assistant professor of exercise science at the State University of New York in Oswego. “I don’t want people to consider these results as a license to eat badly,” she added.

But the data suggests that “if you are going to regularly consume fructose,” she said, “be sure to get up and move around.”

The study did not examine how activity ameliorates some of the worst impacts of fructose, but it’s likely, Dr. Bidwell said, that the “additional muscular contractions” involved in standing and taking 12,000 steps a day produce a cascade of physiological effects that alter how the body uses fructose.

Interestingly, the young people in the study did not increase the lengths of their normal workouts to achieve the requisite step totals, and most did not formally exercise at all, Dr. Bidwell said. They parked their cars further away from stores; took stairs instead of elevators; strolled the campus; and generally “sat less, moved more,” she said. “That’s a formula for good health, in any case,” she added, “but it appears to be key,” if you’re determined to have that soda.

FoodFacts.com still thinks that avoiding high fructose corn syrup AND soda is really what makes the most sense. What is striking here is that keeping our bodies moving can have such a tremendous effect on our health — and how that effect can be achieved with small efforts. Staying active can sometimes appear daunting — getting to a gym and exercising for a certain period of time each day can seem constricting and time consuming for some. But our bodies seem to appreciate increased activity in even the most basic of forms. Regardless of our dietary habits, it’s in our best interest to get moving and stay moving!

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/10/drink-soda-keep-walking/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Another new addition to the Dunkin breakfast lineup … the Spicy Smoked Sausage Breakfast Sandwich

1408610202117Dunkin’ Donuts has added yet another option to its already packed breakfast menu … the Spicy Smoked Sausage Breakfast Sandwich. You’ve probably seen the commercials focusing on the spicy andouille sausage that’s the main sandwich feature.

So if you’ve been thinking that you might want to give this one a try, FoodFacts.com thought you might want to take a closer look at the details.

First off we want to tell you that the main feature — the spicy andouille sausage — is actually the only feature in the sandwich. Most sandwiches aren’t quite as straightforward as this one. Which, according to your tastes, may or may not be a good thing. There’s no flavored mayonnaise, no special sauce, no upscale cheese. The Spicy Smoked Sausage Breakfast Sandwich is simply andouille sausage, egg and American cheese on an English muffin. It would make sense that such a simple sandwich should also have a simple ingredient list, right?

Wrong.

Here’s the list:

Andouille Split Smoked Sausage: Meat Ingredients (Pork, Beef), Water, Contains 2% or less of: Salt, Corn Syrup, Natural Spices, Potassium Lactate, Paprika, Natural Flavors, Sugar, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Sodium Diacetate, Sassafras, Ascorbic Acid, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Sodium Nitrite; English Muffin: Bleached Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Wheat Starch, Yeast, Sugarcane Fiber, Contains 2% or less of: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Chicory Root, Degerminated Yellow Corn Flour, Degerminated Yellow Corn Meal, Whole Wheat Durum Flour, Wheat Gluten, Vinegar, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Salt, Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Fumaric Acid; Fried Egg: Egg Whites, Water, Egg Yolks, Modified Corn Starch, Natural Sauteed Flavor (Soybean Oil, Medium Chain Triglycerides, Natural Flavor), Salt, Artificial Butter Flavor (Propylene Glycol, Artificial Flavor), Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Coarse Ground Black Pepper; Cheese: American Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Water, Dry Cream, Milkfat, Sodium Citrate, Salt, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Annatto and Oleoresin Paprika Color (if colored), Soy Lecithin (non-sticking agent).

That’s over 60 ingredients. And almost 20 of them are things we have no interest in consuming. Oh and we don’t care what Dunkin’ tells us — that is NOT a fried egg.

Let’s see if the nutrition facts are any better:

Calories:                           440
Fat:                                   24 grams
Saturated Fat:                   9 grams
Cholesterol:                   110 mg
Sodium:                       1140 mg

In summary, the Spicy Smoked Sausage Breakfast Sandwich doesn’t have much going for it — except maybe that it’s spicy. The ingredients are pretty bad, the nutrition facts aren’t any better and, honestly, it’s not all that interesting.

Better luck next time, Dunkin’.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/food/sandwiches/breakfastsandwiches/spicy_smoked_sausage_breakfast_sandwich.html