Monday, August 30, 2010

Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study

Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Conversion to white rice strips vital ingredient, researchers believe

(HealthDay News) -- Two kinds of rice -- brown and half-milled rice -- may reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure by interfering with a protein linked to those conditions, research suggests.

In a new study, researchers report that the findings could indicate that brown rice is better than white rice when it comes to protecting the body from high blood pressure and artherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

"Our research suggests that there is a potential ingredient in rice that may be a good starting point for looking into preventive medicine for cardiovascular diseases," said researcher Satoru Eguchi, an associate professor of physiology at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

Eguchi and colleagues said their experiments show that an ingredient in brown rice appears to combat a protein known as angiotensin II that contributes to high blood pressure and clogged arteries.

The ingredient is in a layer of rice that is stripped away when brown rice is converted to white rice. But the layer can be preserved in half-milled (Haigamai) and incompletely milled (Kinmemai) rice, which are popular in Japan.

SOURCE: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, news release, April 26, 2010

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tests Show Top Tuna Brands Have High Mercury Levels

Tests Show Top Tuna Brands Have High Mercury Levels
White typically has greater levels of the toxin than light, researchers say

(HealthDay News) -- Tests on more than 300 samples of canned tuna from the top three brands in the United States revealed that more than half contained mercury levels above what's considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Researchers from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), found that 55 percent of the samples had mercury levels higher than the EPA standard of 0.5 parts per million (ppm) and 5 percent had levels higher than the 1.0 ppm safety level set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for commercially sold fish.

The health effects of mercury poisoning include central nervous system damage, hearing loss and vision problems.

"Canned tuna accounts for up to a quarter of the nation's seafood consumption and creates some significant regulatory challenges," study author Shawn Gerstenberger, an environmental and occupational health professor, said in a UNLV news release. "With pregnant women and children the most susceptible to mercury poisoning -- yet also among the top consumers of canned tuna -- federal agencies need to urge distributors to expressly state mercury levels in their products."

The researchers found significant differences in mercury concentration by type (white and light) and brand. One brand had consistently elevated mercury levels, and white tuna from all three brands had the highest concentrations of mercury. White tuna comes from albacore, a different species of fish than "light" tuna.

"Mercury concentration in fish has a lot to do with the environment they're in, but since the locations of where the fish are harvested are not made available to consumers, it is very difficult to positively identify and reduce the source of the exposure," Gerstenberger said.

The researchers said federal regulators should require canned tuna producers to provide detailed information to consumers about the mercury content of each product and to disclose tuna harvest locations. In addition, the EPA and FDA need to have similar tuna consumption guidelines to lessen consumer confusion.

The study is published in the February issue of Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry.

Many states have adopted EPA guidelines on tuna consumption, which suggest an average child consume only one can of tuna roughly every two weeks to ensure an acceptable level of mercury exposure.

More information

The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has more about the health effects of mercury.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Nevada, Las Vegas, news release, Jan. 31, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fwd: FooducateDoes High Fructose Corn Syrup cause Diabetes/Cancer/Purple Pimples?

Does High Fructose Corn Syrup cause Diabetes/Cancer/Purple Pimples?

Posted: 05 Aug 2010 05:20 AM PDT Fooducate

High Fructose Corn Syrup must be the most vilified food ingredient of the current millennium. A cheap alternative to sugar, HFCS has found its way into soft drinks, candy, bread, sauces, and thousands of other products over the past 30 years. At the same time, obesity rates in the US have skyrocketed. While some will draw a direct connecting line, most serious studies don't pin obesity on just this one ingredient.

And yet, every once in a while we read about HFCS causing a new disease.We've written about links to diabetes, mercury poisoning, and now – cancer!

The latest headlines pertain to pancreatic cancer cells thriving in the presence of fructose. Note: fructose, not HFCS. And yet the anti-HFCS camp instantly translates this to another reason to avoid HFCS. Never mind the fructose found in regular table sugar, or in fruit, or the "healthy" agave nectar.

Truth of the matter is that HFCS is just as bad for us as sugar. Is sugar bad?

The answer depends on how much you consume. If you take in added sugars like most Americans, then you are consuming too much. Way too much.

So the best advice is to cut your consumption of added sugars, regardless of their ingredient source.

What to do at the supermarket:

Read the nutrition facts panel to learn how much sugar is in the product you are about to buy. Every 4 grams of sugar equals one teaspoon.

For example – 12 grams in a kid's cereal equals 3 teaspoons of sugar. That's a lot of sweet before 9am!

For those looking for the most bang for their buck – The easiest way to reduce your added sugar intake is to skip the beverage aisle in the supermarket altogether.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Tale of Two Pizzas


Four Cheese Pizza – DiGiorno's vs. Newman's Own

Posted: 24 Aug 2010 05:34 AM PDT

Everyone loves pizza. It's the #1 looked up entry in yellow pages and very popular in google searches as well. While dining at a pizzeria or getting delivered to your home are the most popular consumption modes, people are going to want this goodness on call in their freezer as well. There's an entire section of a supermarket aisle to support this claim.

While we enjoy pizza outside the home about once a month, and every couple of months make our own, many families keep some frozen pizzas in the freezer for those evenings when you barely have the energy left to turn on the microwave/oven.

We decided to take a look at two brands of pizza and see where they were similar, and what set them apart from each other. Here's the nutrition comparison between Newman's Own and DiGiorno's Four Cheese thin crust pizzas.

What you need to know:

Calorically both pizza's are similar – a 2 slice serving is about 300 calories. Both are fatty, including 6-7 grams of saturated fat (1/3 of the daily value). DiGiorno's includes 1 gram of trans-fat, a nutrient that we should consume ZERO grams of daily. Both are high in sodium (over 600mg per serving, about a quarter of the daily max).

Nutritionally, pizza is not your best friend, as you can see from the above.But if you're going to enjoy pizza, at least have a pizza with real ingredients. This is where DiGiorno and Newman's Own's philosophy vastly differ. DiGiorno uses cheap oils, artificial flavors, and other food manufacturing tricks to put together its pizza. Newman's ingredient is actually understandable by a layperson. See below:

DiGiorno's ingredients:

Shredded Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese (Part-Skim Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Water, Wheat Flour, Tomato Paste, Contains Less than 2% of Modified Food Starch, Grated Cheese Blend (Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano Cheese Made from Cow's Milk [Part-Skim Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes], Cellulose Powder to Prevent Caking), Yellow Corn Meal, Vegetable Oil (Soybean Oil and/or Corn Oil), Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, White Corn Meal, Salt, Sugar, Yeast, Spice, Garlic, Artificial Flavor, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor, Beta Carotene (Color).

Newman's ingredients:


Obviously Newman's is the winner here. Too bad it's more expensive. But hey, you get what you pay for, both good and bad.

What to do at the supermarket:

When buying a frozen pizza look for products that use as many natural sounding ingredients as possible. Avoid products with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil – that's the source of trans-fat. Look out for sodium bombs reaching 1000 or more mg per serving.

Choose products low in saturated fat (less than 3 grams per slice if possible). Opt for pizzas without added cheese or meats, rather added veggies.

Egg Beaters or Real Eggs?

Egg Beaters and Cholesterol Confusion

Posted: 19 Aug 2010 05:08 AM PDT

One of the problems with nutrition science is that it changes every once in a while when new research come in, but it takes the public a long time to readjust its mindset. The result is mass confusion regarding what's truly healthy. Eggs were historically considered a nutrient rich food that were an essential part of culinary traditions the world over. But when scientists discovered cholesterol – and the high cholesterol count in eggs – this basic staple was vilified and shunned.

Cholesterol is fatty waxy substance that occurs in all animal tissues, including humans. It is produced in the liver and travels around the body in our blood. Our body needs cholesterol to maintain cell membrane structure, but too much of it can cause heart disease. All of the cholesterol in an egg is in the yolk.

In the past decade or so, science has shown that for most people, blood cholesterol levels are barely influenced by dietary cholesterol (the cholesterol in food), but rather by saturated fats and trans fats in the food. Which means that eggs have been getting a bad rap unnecessarily.

Our body manufacture 3000mg of cholesterol a day. The maximum recommended allowance of cholesterol from food is just one tenth of that – 300 mg. What causes the body to create more cholesterol is the saturated fats we consume, not the cholesterol.

One of the more popular products that were created to combat the high level of cholesterol in eggs, Egg Beaters has been around for almost 40 years. But now that we know what we do, is it still relevant?

Let's diver deeper into the details, and compare an egg to an Egg Beater…

What you need to know:

Egg Beaters, if you're not familiar, are egg whites with a "bonus", in a milk carton, courtesy of Con Agra Foods.

We're going to compare 1 Extra Large Egg to a serving of egg beaters (EB). The serving is actually composed of 2 egg whites. Here are the numbers:

  • Calories: Egg = 71   EB = 30
  • Fat: Egg = 5 grams  EB = 0
  • Saturated Fat: Egg = 2 g  EB = 0  (2 g is 10% of the daily value)
  • Cholesterol: Egg = 211 mg   EB = 0
  • Protein: Egg = 6 g  EB = 6 g as well (egg whites have 3 g of protein, yolks have 3 as well)

The numbers seem definitely in favor of Egg Beaters. Now lets look at the ingredients.

An egg contains one ingredient:


Egg beaters contain 20 ingredients:

Egg Whites, Less than 1%: Natural Flavor, Color (Includes Beta Carotene), Spices, Salt, Onion Powder, Vegetable Gums (Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum), Maltodextrin. Vitamins and Minerals: Calcium Sulfate, Iron (Ferric Phosphate), Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol Acetate), Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamine Mononitrate), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin D3

Egg Beaters took the yolk away to remove most of the fat and the cholesterol. But because egg yolks make the egg taste better, the company had to compensate. Hence "Natural Flavor" which is a trade secret (hint: MSG is suspect). Hence spices, unspecified. They also added the gums as thickeners to add body to the egg whites. Ever tried making scrambled eggs with just egg whites? No body or fluff. Why in the world do they add a sweetener (maltodextrin) used for candy?

There are a whole bunch of added vitamins and minerals that try to mimic what was lost with the removal of the egg yolk. For example a single egg yolk contains 13% of the DV for vitamin A. Egg beaters throws in 15%.

The problem with this nutrient specific approach is that science has yet to identify hundreds of other nutrients and their interaction amongst each other when naturally present in a food. Selecting a few nutrients and focusing on them instead of on a whole food is part of a larger problem in the US food food system today.

But what about the saturated fat in an egg? Yes, you'll be paying 10% of your daily value for saturated fat if you eat an egg. But compared to the other sources of saturated fat in many people's diets (snacks, snacks, and more snacks) this is an excellent choice.

What to do at the supermarket:

If you are suffering from very high levels of blood cholesterol, the best thing to do is consult with a health professional, ideally a physician AND a registered dietitian. But if you are like most people, you need to eat a diet with more REAL food. Eggs are real food. And the price you pay in saturated fat per egg is a real bargain compared to all the real nutrients you will be getting.
We're not saying that egg beaters can't be a solution for very specific people, but for the most part an egg a day is a great way to pack in protein and nutrients in a relatively small and low calorie (70!) package. Whichever you choose, don't prepare in a ton of butter or oil!

At the supermarket, choose foods low in saturated fat and without trans-fats. Don't fret too much over the cholesterol levels as their impact is much lower than once thought.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What do Silly Putty and Chicken McNuggets Have in Common?

What do Silly Putty and Chicken McNuggets Have in Common?

Posted: 22 Jul 2010 04:54 AM PDT

How could we have missed this one from CNN Health?

Q: What’s the difference between McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets in the US vs. the UK?

A: Silly Putty!

It appears that for some reason, McDonald’s USA is employing certain ingredients that are not used in the UK version of the chicken masterpiece.  Yankee nuggets  contain the chemical preservative TBHQ, tertiary butylhydroquinone, a petroleum-based product. They also contain dimethylpolysiloxane, “an anti-foaming agent”. Dimethylpolysiloxane is also used in Silly Putty.

McDonald’s attributes the difference to regional taste preferences and the way the product is prepared in each country. Skeptics will say that this is a good excuse for choosing the lowest cost ingredients you can get away with without poisoning your customer. The food regulation bodies in the UK, and Europe in general, tend to be more strict in this respect compared to their American counterparts.

What you need to know:

TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone) is an antioxidant used to keep oils from going rancid. It is a petroleum derivative. Yummy. The food industry pushed the FDA for years to get it approved as a preservative despite the fact that ingestion of large doses (a thirtieth of an ounce) can cause nausea, delirium, and ringing of the ears. (Anyone remember what Jack Nicholson had for lunch in “The Shining”?) TBHQ cannot exceed 0.02% of the oil and fat content in a food.

Dimethylpolysiloxane, also called dimethicone or Antifoam A, is an antifoaming additive used in a variety of processed food products and drinks. Its’ a type of silicone and not considered toxic, according to the World Health Organization.

But despite it’s safety, it appears the Brits do not want silly putty in their nuggets, nor do they want potentially harmful additives.

Not that the McNugget is such a health food to begin with. Here’s the full ingredient list:

White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning (autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid, rosemary), sodium phosphates, seasoning (canola oil, mono- and diglycerides, extractives of rosemary). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, whey, corn starch. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.

Are you Lovin’ it? We’re NOT.