Millions of well-intentioned American parents, unbeknownst to them, are over-fortifying their kids with too many nutrients. That’s according to a report published earlier this year by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
EWG, an American-based health and research organization, analyzed the nutrition facts labels for 1,550 breakfast cereals and found that 114 cereals were fortified by the manufacturer with 30 percent or more of the adult Daily Value of vitamin A, zinc, and/or niacin. They also looked at 1,000 snack bars and found that 27 common brands were fortified with 50 percent or more of the Daily Value of at least one of those nutrients.
Among the most fortified cereals were:
- General Mills’ Total line
- Wheaties Fuel
- Kellogg’s Product 19
- Smart Start
- All-Bran Complete
- Cocoa Krispies
The most fortified snack bars included
Food Awards: Best & Worst Breakfast Cereals
When foods are fortified, vitamins and minerals that aren’t originally in a food are added by the manufacturer. Classic examples include adding vitamin D to milk, iron to flour, fiber to cereal, and iodine to salt. Since 1998, folic acid has been added to breads, cereals, and other products that use enriched flour in an effort to reduce Spina Bifida and other serious birth defects. The idea of fortification was developed almost 100 years ago to treat common nutrition-deficiency diseases.
But it is possible to consume too many fortified foods, especially by children, because the Daily Values are set for the needs of adults not kids. Furthermore, the Daily Value standards were set in 1968 and so some are higher than levels currently deemed to be safe.
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Most, if not all, chronic disease can be controlled, even reversed, with a diet that eliminates animal products and processed foods and is ultra-low in fat. At least that’s the premise of Forks Over Knives, the film and the book that “helped spark a nutrition revolution.” It spotlights the benefits of a whole food diet (nothing processed or refined) limited to plant products (no meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, or gelatin) and with negligible fat (no oils, including olive oil and nuts). The Forks Over Knives Plan, a new book in the series, was written by two medical doctors, Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman, who treat patients with this dietary regimen. This book is designed to help with the transition and assumes the reader has embraced the premise and is ready to begin.
The book starts with a “background” of scientific evidence to make the case for the diet. (Just watch the film.) Next up is The Forks Over Knives Plan, the actual scheme the doctors use to complete the transition to a vegan diet over four weeks. Each week targets a particular meal to make vegan:
- Week 1 focuses on breakfast
- Week 2 on lunch
- Week 3 on dinner
- Week 4 focuses on lifestyle issues
The readings, oriented around the week, dig into nutrition information and practical issues. For instance, which foods to stock at home and what to eat in a restaurant. The information may or may not be new, depending on your level of veganism. ForksOverKnives.com has more tools to support this transition.
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Full confession: I love to read about brown fat, a relatively newly discovered form of fat that burns calories directly. Brown fat might be the key to weight loss, writes Alice Park, who covers breaking health news for TIME magazine. Last week, she published, Why Brown Fat May Be the Key to Weight Loss. Kudos to TIME for covering valuable research (when others did not.) But there’s a lot more to add. First, some words about brown fat.
The body makes two kinds of fat: white fat, familiar to all, the storage form of energy, and brown fat that is not stored but burned directly as fuel. When triggered by exposure to the cold, brown fat generates heat (white fat just sits there). Hibernating animals produce brown fat to stay warm during the winter. Newborn babies have lots of brown fat, their own little furnaces, to protect against the cold. We used to think that adults could not make brown fat, but now we know everyone can turn white fat into brown when there is need.
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You’re running late and you haven’t eaten all day. You’re starving, your blood sugar is tanking, and you need a snack now. But wait! The vending machine is your only option.
Americans have busy schedules. They have less time available to plan and prepare a meal. According to government research, half of all Americans eats three or more snacks per day. Two generations ago, snacking was reserved for working men, growing adolescents, and toddlers with small stomachs. Most Americans ate three square meals a day. Now, meal skipping is common place, especially at breakfast. For teens, snack foods eaten outside of a sit-down meal provide one-fourth to one-third of daily calorie intake.
7 Wackiest Vending Machines: Automated Caviar, Lobster, and Burritos
Enter Healthy Vending Machines
At work, school, and in public places, vending machines are often the only source of food for sale. But food and beverages typically found in vending machines are a problem: high in calories, low in nutrients, and full of unwanted ingredients. Vending machines are seen as a major contributor to the poor food choices that lead to overweight and obesity. Improved access to healthy food is a key strategy in obesity prevention, a matter of great interest to anyone concerned about medical costs.
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Now is the time for “pickin’ up pawpaws and puttin’ ‘em in your pockets” as the children’s chant goes. The best pawpaws are the fully ripe fruits that have fallen to the ground between mid-August and mid-October, perfect for stuffing your pockets or your face!
Pawpaws are the largest edible fruit native to the U.S. and are an indigenous plant to 26 states east of Nebraska, reaching from Florida to New York. The fruit was an important food for Native Americans and early settlers. Pawpaws graced George Washington’s table in colonial days. And even animals aren’t missing out on this delicious treat — squirrels, raccoons, possums, and bears happily feast on aromatic pawpaw flesh.
Pawpaws are large fruits, similar to mangoes or papayas, ranging in color from yellow to green with skin often flecked. When over-ripe, the skin will turn brown like a banana. They have big black seeds that are easy-to-remove, a custard-like texture, and a flavor that is related to bananas, mangoes and melons. They are known commonly as a poor man’s banana.
“It has a sweet, yet rather cloying taste….a wee bit puckery” is the way their taste was described by a botanist of yore.
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