By Abra Pappa for Nutritious America
In a world of endless food “science” it isn’t terribly surprising that even the mighty cheese is subject to investigation, processing, and testing in an attempt to create a cheese-like-food-product that scientists will deem “healthier” by reducing sodium and fat. In this never ending quest to make all food “diet worthy” and eternal dieters “happy” there is no food spared from their turn in the science wheel. Yet, each time we’ve attempted to replace a natural, whole food with a processed version of the food the results of “health” have not exactly worked out.
Case in point: changing butter to margarine. The partially hydrogenated fats that were originally thought to be much healthier then butter’s saturated fat have since proved to be the exact opposite. Why would a “new” cheese be any better?
The average American consumes nearly 30 pounds of cheese per year; that is an awful lot of fat and salt. But, cheese is so much more than a block of fat and salt, it has a story, a life, a history.
If you have ever spent time with a cheese expert or any amount of time in a real cheese haven like Murray’s cheese shop in New York City, you may have been graced with some of the history and story behind cheese. Stories of generations of sheep farmers in France creating glorious cheese from humble resources, or small American artisinal cheese makers who, with a much shorter history of cheese making, are taking this culinary world by storm. Cheese has been consumed as a traditional food in many cultures for literally thousands and thousands of years, and yet it is just in the last 50+ years that we are seeing the steep decline in the health of people. It makes us ask, is cheese really to blame?
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A new study published online in a European journal titled Human Reproduction has released information that men eating a diet high in saturated fat had lower sperm counts and sperm concentration levels. Although men who consumed less fat had better counts, the study also revealed that men with better formed sperm consumed more omega-3 fatty acids.
“Diets containing higher amounts of omega-3 fat and lower amounts of saturated fat are associated with favorable semen quality parameters and may be beneficial to male reproductive health. Although these findings need to be reproduced, adapting these nutritional modifications may not only be beneficial for reproductive health but for global general health as well,” said Dr. Jill Attaman, author of the study.
A total of 99 Americans participated in the study and all of them were in their mid-30s. The men provided semen samples for analysis from December 2006 to August 2010 and answered questions about their diet. The results showed that the men who took in the highest amount, or around 13 percent of their daily calories from saturated fat, had a 35 percent lower total sperm count and a 38 percent lower concentration than the men who consumed lower levels.
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The commercial seems innocent – a mom, trying to do the right thing for her family. She’s looking for a healthy breakfast choice, one that her kids will eat. She opens the pantry and pulls out a jar of Nutella, and the family happily sits down to nosh on it. She’s surrounded by smiling faces, all enjoying a breakfast of Nutella spread on whole grain toast. It’s a blissful shot, one that most moms would give their right arm to enjoy. Everyone eating breakfast with no fuss, no complaint, no “I hate that!” within hearing.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, it is. We’ve been ’round this debate before. Despite a lawsuit, the company is still insisting that Nutella is a nutritious breakfast choice. But is it really, or is this just a case of false advertising?
Janine Bolton, RD, has this to say about Nutella for breakfast: “I would not consider Nutella part of a healthy or balanced breakfast for kids. A balanced breakfast is one that features foods from different food groups, so that we get a variety of nutrients. Nutella does not belong to any food group and packs in over 10 grams of sugar per tablespoon. I wouldn’t recommend Nutella for anything other than an occasional treat.”
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Mary Hartley, RD, MPH, is the director of nutrition for Calorie Count, providing domain expertise on issues related to nutrition, weight loss and health. She creates original content for weekly blogs and newsletters, for the Calorie Count library, and for her popular daily Question-and-Answer section, Ask Mary. Ms. Hartley also furnishes direction for the site features and for product development.
Saturated fat was recently in the news at the Institute of Food Technologists expo when experts revealed, again, that the link between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease is inconclusive. Both the public and professionals are now confused, since diets low in fat, particularly saturated fat, have been the mainstay of scientific consensus for more than 30 years. Saturated fat, a solid fat mainly found in animal foods, includes cheese, whole milk, butter, and fatty cuts of meat. It, together with liquid poly- and mono-unsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, grains and fish, make up all naturally-occurring dietary fat.
Back in the 1970s, the American Heart Association and other authorities said to reduce all fat to 30 percent of total calories and saturated fat to 10 percent or less. The recommendation was drawn from epidemiologic studies that compared the diets among different countries, in particular, the Seven Countries Study. Those studies showed a correlation between total fat intake and rates of heart disease. That, along with the National Diet-Heart Study of the 1960s, form the basis of the message that reduction in saturated fat lowers blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease.
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Blame it on rising corn prices or blame it on the embalming fluid, either way, say goodbye to Kellogg’s Corn Pops cereal.
In a category of food that produced over $600 million in revenue last year, Corn Pops only made $74 million, an 18% decrease since the year prior. The breakfast food that is advertised as being “crispy, glazed, crunchy, sweet,” can no longer compete with its peers. Cereals like Cheerios and Frosted Flakes made over $200 million last year.
Not only are big name cereals beating out Corn Pops but the sales of private brands have impacted totals.
Some have argued that the recent price hikes in corn are the culprits behind the demise of this long standing brand. There is some validity to that claim. However, one has to wonder if it’s the ingredients of the cereal that have really lead to the poor sales. Sure, the cereal is “crispy, glazed, crunchy, sweet” but what makes it so?
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