Nuts (For) You!

 

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Tree nuts such as walnuts, almonds and pecans are hailed for their health-offering content. But guess what? Peanuts, which literally cost ‘peanuts’ compared to tree nuts, offer essentially the same health-promoting benefits, according to a study published recently online at JAMA Internal Medicine, a journal of the American Medical Association.

Daniel Pendick, former Executive Editor of Harvard Men’s Health Watch, took a look at that study – as you can, here – and reported that its findings should be good news for peanut lovers who’ve tended to avoid them, and perhaps some other nuts, because of their high fat content. The study, he said, “puts the humble peanut squarely in the same nutritional league as its upscale cousins.”

That means, in short, that the health benefits of nut-eating – including better heart health and a good chance you’ll live longer than if you don’t eat nuts – are as accessible to people with limited budgets as they are to folks whose tastes (and budgets) run to cashews, or walnuts, or almonds.

How can that be? In part, says Dr. Meir Stampfer, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, because “botanically, peanuts are not nuts, but nutritionally they are very similar to tree nuts, and other studies have shown their benefits” to be much the same as their higher-priced nut-named ‘cousins’.

The major difference between these two types of edibles, according to the cleverly-named website differencesbetween.net, in that “nuts grow on trees whereas peanuts grow underground. Nuts also are called tree nuts, and peanuts are legumes.”

The comparative description continues on that site: “According to botany, a nut is a shell-covered fruit of a plant or tree. The inner part in the hard shell is called kernel which is edible. The nut is hard, one-seeded or at the most may have two seeds would not split open to scatter its seeds when matured. On the other hand, the peanut pods have multiple seeds found in a single legume. It is easy to split open to scatter its seeds when matured. Nuts are ‘indehiscent’ – their ‘pod doesn’t split open when ripe – “whereas legumes are ‘dehiscent’.” The latter term means, “A bursting open or splitting along natural or sutured lines – the spontaneous opening at maturity of a plant structure, such as a fruit, anther, or sporangium, to release its contents,” as peanuts are prone to do, according to dictionary.com.

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So, while peanuts, as legumes, are more closely related to soybeans and lentils than to almonds and walnuts, like tree nuts, they can be eaten as a filling snack or as a protein-boosting ingredient in many salads and other dishes; An ounce a day of nuts — roughly a quarter cup or a small handful — is a generally healthy portion, Pendick reported.

Peanuts actually are considered ‘safer’ that tree nuts for people (such as me) whose diets are restricted because they suffer from CKD – Chronic Kidney Disease. As is the case for ‘ordinary’ eaters, though, the portion size should be limited.

And as for the fat issue, raw peanuts, which is seldom the consumption style of choice, contain close to 18 g of fat per a 36.5 g, .25 cup, serving. But look at what else they contain in the vitamins and minerals section of the (just cited) chart on the whfoods.com website! (Keep in mind that cooked peanuts – often boiled in oil of some kind or, among other production options, dry-roasted  – pick up extra fat during such processing.

Nevertheless, Dr. Stampfer says, “compared with other ‘health foods,’ nuts and peanuts have some pretty compelling evidence behind them. Even if you don’t like nuts, it would still be a good idea to eat a handful every day,” he declares.

The JAMA Internal Medicine study looked at nut and peanut consumption in two large groups of people spanning geographic, racial, ethnic, and income boundaries:

  • 72,000 Americans, ages 40 to 79, living in 12 Southern states. Most lived on low incomes and two-thirds were African American.
  • 135,000 men and women in Shanghai, China, ages 40 to 74.

The researchers used surveys to tally nut and peanut consumption. They followed the groups for several years and counted how many participants died and from what causes. In the U.S. Southern states group, those who regularly ate peanuts were 21% less likely to have died of any cause over a period of about five years. In the Chinese groups, who were followed for six to 12 years, the death rate in nut-eaters was 17% lower.

For all the groups, the researchers accounted for unhealthy influences like smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes, which were especially common in the Southern states group.

The diversity of the participants in this new study is important. Those in the earlier Harvard studies were mostly white health professionals who were more educated and earned higher incomes than most people in the Southern states group. And in studies that just observe large groups of people over time and what they eat, such as the Harvard studies, scientists can’t be certain whether any health improvements have more to do with the participants’ lifestyles or genes rather than what the food is doing. Seeing the same health benefit across diverse groups can be reassuring.

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Mintel: Canadians Getting More ‘Foreign Food’ Curious

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A new report from the Mintel marketing intelligence organization says that as immigration continues to drive Canada’s population growth, the established population is increasing seeking to experience cultures beyond their own by sampling ‘foreign’ foods.

Many Canadians had an opportunity to do that multiple times in a single day, as I did, at Expo ’67 in Montreal. Some fine examples of the cuisines of a multitude of countries were there to be enjoyed, and may have something to do with the fact that, long before the recent Mintel survey, Canadians there and elsewhere in that country were able to find restaurants serving specialties from such countries as Italy, France, Greece and China.

Having had the ill fortune of experiencing Chinese food in both Montreal and Vancouver, even though I did so in both places some years ago, I would not encourage anyone who’s experienced that cuisine either in New York City or its homeland to ‘give it a go’ in Canada. (Nor would I recommend ordering lobster in a Montreal restaurant – but that’s a tale (no pun intended) for another day.)

England was for many years generally considered, by other-that-British folk, to offer little appealing in its ‘local’ cuisine (wherever in the country you ate), and many felt it offered little better in ‘foreign’ restaurants.

Since I resided in the Greater London area for six years in the 1970’s-‘80’s, and traveled widely around the country during that time, I have protested mightily that England does, in fact, offer up some amazing good food in various kinds of ‘domestic’ restaurants, from local workingman’s ‘caf’s to top-of-the-line places such as Claridge’s, where my friends and I sat once next to Michael Caine as he and his mother enjoyed lunch.  And London’s ‘foreign’ offerings, from some excellent Greek, Italian, French and Indian restaurants, rival their counterparts in their home countries – and the only one of the above-mentioned I haven’t visited is India.

(Yes, London does have some decent Chinese restaurants, and Thai ones, and no doubt many other types. But I don’t give high marks to many of the former, and haven’t sampled the latter. My best Chinese foods experiences in London were when I was in a party led by a Chinese woman. She not only knew where to go, but also what to order. Thanks, Linda, for introducing me to dim sum!)

I don’t mean to lump Canadians, as many tend to do regarding so-called Millennials, into an amorphous mass, but I’ve never thought of them – either of those ‘groups’, actually – as being particularly curious or adventurous, where food is concerned. Eating seems to almost be an afterthought, something that mixes well with the lively conversations Canadians clearly enjoy when seated around tables conveniently fitted out with food.

As for their recent trend to sample, to a greater or lesser degree, types of food enjoyed by people in far-flung parts of the world, I strongly encourage them to keep it up.

When I was in Kosovo, long before most of the world had heard of what then was an Autonomous Province of Serbia, even though my government-hosted party was being well feted twice a day (for a total of close to four hours, between lunch and dinner, and you don’t want to think about how much wine we were expected to consume!), I still made it a point to venture out and sample some ‘authentic, ethnic’ local food from a street-side vendor. That’s the kind of thing the locals tended to eat, as opposed to the ‘regional specialties’ provided (twice a day, for five days!) to a ‘distinguished group’ of foreign journalists traveling around a relatively small area, visiting vineyards and sampling wine. (It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it!)

I live in a small town in Virginia. There is one pretty-good restaurant here plus an assortment of fast feeders, a pitifully poor example of a Chinese eat-in/take-out place, an almost-as-bad Japanese place, and a few Mexican restaurants.

The chef-owner of the pretty-good place employs an Italian theme, and patterns his creations largely on Italian originals. But he is Moroccan, and confidently introduces something of his beyond-Italian self and training into many of his dishes. My wife and I dine there often, usually scoring at least one meal’s worth of take-home each time.

My cook-at-home options are ingredient-limited: Neither Walmart nor Food Lion, a southeast U.S. chain, enables an adventurous cook, which I sometimes try to be, to stretch much beyond the bare basics, ingredient-wise. For better fare, I need to drive close to 30 miles to an obscure ‘Oriental grocer’ or a Kroger store. The latter is, compared to what’s in my town, Food Heaven. But even there it’s hard to get a decent cut of lamb, or broccoli rabe, or some of the other items so readily available in at least some major U.S. cities.

Young Canadians are probably as or more adventurous than young Americans when it comes to trying to experience other cultures through travel. And I’ve admittedly not made a practice of observing what Canadian tourists eat when I encounter them. (Many for a long time were easily identifiable as Canadian through the Maple Leaf emblems on their backpacks!)

But I honestly can’t recall encountering any obviously-Canadian people in restaurants beyond their own country. Clearly, as tourists, they ate something, somewhere, and it’s more than likely that, as the Canadians I did encounter tended to be backpackers, their eating-out budgets were on a par with mine: Conservative, to say the least! So some of them more than likely sampled cuisines ‘foreign’ to them – and, a decade or two or so, which some of them may have come to long for, when back home. Alas, many of those ‘foreign’ tastes were locally unavailable across the width and breadth of that great country. Could that have helped spark the availability of ‘foreign’ foods for today’s Canadians to sample?

I think it’s great that, according to the Mintel study, three quarters (73 percent) of Canadian consumers like to experience other cultures through food. What’s more, nearly three in five (57 percent) Canadians are more open to trying ethnic foods now than they were a few years ago, as the majority (72 percent) of consumers turn to ethnic-inspired dishes to break the monotony at mealtime.

Ethnic-inspired foods such as Chinese (89 percent), Italian (84 percent) and Latin American/Mexican (82 percent) are the most commonly eaten by Canadians, however some less prominent dishes are also being sought out.

In fact, while just 20 percent of Canadians have tried African-inspired food, half (50 percent) are interested in doing so. Similarly, though just one third (32 percent) of consumers have eaten Southeast Asian food, 44 percent are interested in trying a Southeast Asian dish.

But the sad news is, a sizable minority of consumers are hesitant to create such dishes at home: 61 percent of consumers generally try ethnic-inspired foods at restaurants before preparing them at home. Further, more than one third (36 percent) of consumers agree that making ethnic foods is intimidating, with two in five (38 percent) agreeing that it is difficult finding ingredients to make ethnic inspired dishes.

Consider this, Canadians, Americans and others interested in trying to prepare ‘foreign’ foods you’ve experienced in a restaurant: Those places get their ingredients from somewhere – somewhere not a whole great distance from you.

My area is challenging, in this respect, yet I am able to find a good many of the raw materials I want when I set out to try creating a Thai dish, or an Indian one, for example. (The lamb issue continues to cause me consternation, though!)

And I cheat, when I want Indian food, which my wife finds too spicy: I stock up on prepared – boil-in-the-bag – Indian foods when we go visit her son or mother in North Carolina. These are, while a far cry from what you’d get in a good Indian restaurant – and the nearest one of those is 60 or more miles from here – it helps satisfy my cravings for the magical spice combinations Indians have developed for their dishes.

Anyone who is averse to sampling ‘different’ foods – domestic or foreign – is doing themselves a disservice.

Exercise Can Cut Risks For At Least 13 Cancer Types

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The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has released results of a study on the relationship between physical activity and the onset of assorted kinds of cancer. The study involved researchers at the NCI and the American Cancer Institute and included reviews of data accumulated in numerous studies in the U.S. and Europe.

An NCI press release said the new study’s findings “confirm and extend the evidence for a benefit of physical activity on cancer risk and support its role as a key component of population-wide cancer prevention and control efforts.”

In short – and, as you’d expect, the findings hardly are that – it was discovered that “greater levels of leisure-time physical activity were associated with a lower risk of developing 13 different types of cancer; The risk of developing seven cancer types was 20 percent (or more) lower among the most active participants (90th percentile of activity) as compared with the least active participants (10th percentile of activity),” according to the NCI press release.

It noted that the study was led by Steven C. Moore, Ph.D., NCI, and colleagues, with their findings appearing May 16, 2016, in JAMA Internal Medicine.

While hundreds of previous studies have examined associations between physical activity and cancer risk and shown reduced risks for colon, breast, and endometrial cancers, results have been inconclusive for most cancer types due to small numbers of participants in the studies.

This new study pooled data on 1.44 million people, ages 19 to 98, and was able to examine a broad range of cancers, including rare malignancies. Participants were followed for a median of 11 years during which 187,000 new cases of cancer occurred.

The investigators confirmed that leisure-time physical activity, as assessed by self-reported surveys, was associated with a lower risk of colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. They also determined that leisure-time physical activity was associated with a lower risk of 10 additional cancers, with the greatest risk reductions for esophageal adenocarcinoma, liver cancer, cancer of the gastric cardia, kidney cancer, and myeloid leukemia.

Myeloma and cancers of the head and neck, rectum, and bladder also showed reduced risks that were significant, but not as strong. Risk was reduced for lung cancer, but only for current and former smokers; the reasons for this are still being studied.

“Leisure-time physical activity is known to reduce risks of heart disease and risk of death from all causes, and our study demonstrates that it is also associated with lower risks of many types of cancer,” said Dr. Moore. “Furthermore, our results support that these associations are broadly generalizable to different populations, including people who are overweight or obese, or those with a history of smoking. Health care professionals counseling inactive adults should promote physical activity as a component of a healthy lifestyle and cancer prevention.”

Leisure-time physical activity is defined as exercise done at one’s own discretion, often to improve or maintain fitness or health. Examples include walking, running, swimming, and other moderate to vigorous intensity activities.

The median level of activity in the study was about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, which is comparable to the current recommended minimum level of physical activity for the U.S. population.

There are a number of mechanisms through which physical activity could affect cancer risk. It has been hypothesized that cancer growth could be initiated or abetted by three metabolic pathways that are also affected by exercise: sex steroids (estrogens and androgens); insulin and insulin-like growth factors; and proteins involved with both insulin metabolism and inflammation. Additionally, several non-hormonal mechanisms have been hypothesized to link physical activity to cancer risk, including inflammation, immune function, oxidative stress, and, for colon cancer, a reduction in time that it takes for waste to pass through the gastrointestinal tract.

Most associations between physical activity and lower cancer risk changed little when adjusted for body mass index, suggesting that physical activity acts through mechanisms other than lowering body weight to reduce cancer risk.

Associations between physical activity and cancer were also similar in subgroups of normal weight and overweight participants, and in current smokers or people who never smoked.

The study was a large-scale effort of the Physical Activity Collaboration of NCI’s Cohort Consortium, which was formed to estimate physical activity and disease associations using pooled prospective data and a standardized analytical approach.

“For years, we’ve had substantial evidence supporting a role for physical activity in three leading cancers: colon, breast, and endometrial cancers, which together account for nearly one in four cancers in the United States,” said Alpa V. Patel, Ph.D., a co-author of the study from the American Cancer Society. “This study linking physical activity to 10 additional cancers shows its impact may be even more relevant, and that physical activity has far-reaching value for cancer prevention.”

Less Spuds, Less Days, Keeps Oncologists Away

 

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A recent Harvard study has shown that high consumption of potatoes – as few as four servings a week – might expose you to risks of higher blood pressure. Eating a single serving of spuds per month could, the study says, significantly lower your high blood pressure risk.

And it not just the consumption of potatoes that counts: It’s how they are prepared. Baked, boiled and mashed potatoes are the ‘least risky’, exposing you to ‘only’ an 11% greater risk of high blood pressure, but eating spuds that have been fried raises your HBP risk 17%. Oddly, potato chips, which usually are either fried or baked, don’t seem to affect your blood pressure, even though the extra fat they contain does present other health issues.

The study was led by Dr. Lea Borgi, of the renal division at Boston’s Brigham and Woman’s Hospital. She and her colleagues tracked the potato consumption of more than 187,000 men and women who had participated in three studies over a period of 20 years. During each of those studies, participants tracked their consumption of various foods on questionnaires. When the studies began, none of the participants were found to have high blood pressure – but some could, of course, have developed it for other reasons during the time they were diet-monitoring.

At least one dietitian not involved with the new study – Samantha Heller, a senior clinician at New York City’s New York Medical Center – has said potatoes may be less to blame than are the assorted things people heap on potatoes. Things such as butter (which is high in fat), or catsup (high in sugar), and, among other things, bacon bits (high it sodium as well as fat).

A far healthier alternative topping than most, my favorite, is a sprinkle of olive oil topped by however much cumin you’re comfortable with. Cumin is said to aid in digestion, improve immunity and treat piles,insomnia, respiratory disorders, asthmabronchitis, common cold, lactation, anemia, skin disorders, boils and cancer, according to the website organicfacts.com.

HealthDay quoted Dr. Borgi as saying potatoes have a higher glycemic index, which measures how carbohydrates raise blood sugar, than most other vegetables, and a high glycemic index could help explain her study’s findings.

Borgi pointed out that this study didn’t prove potatoes cause high blood pressure, only that they seem to be associated with an increased risk. Nevertheless, she and her team suggested that replacing one serving a day of potatoes with a non-starchy vegetable might lower the risk of high blood pressure.

Because of their high potassium content, potatoes have recently been included as vegetables in the U.S. government’s healthy meals program, the researchers noted.

But the inclusion of potatoes in the U.S. government’s healthy meals program doesn’t mean that, despite warnings from nephrologists and dieticians working with kidney patients suggest the latter should be able to consume potatoes like individuals without troubled or diseased kidneys.

The potassium they contain can pose a risk for kidney disease sufferers, because they need to carefully control their potassium levels, and eating potatoes – unless they have been soaked for some time in water that will leach out that mineral – is something they should avoid doing, more than a tiny bit, anyway.

Potatoes have been a staple in human diets for centuries, long before high blood pressure was the problem it is today.

Heller noted that, “Americans ate, on average, close to 50 pounds of potatoes per person in 2013, the bulk of which came from french fries, As a dietitian, I am not sure I can even classify commercial french fries as potatoes. They have been transformed into sticks of grease, salt, trans fats and who knows what else,” she said.

Borgi added, “Our findings have potentially important public health ramifications, as they don’t support the health benefits of including potatoes in government food programs.”

FDA Updates Nutrition Labels

 

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NOTE: Most of what you read on this blog has been carefully-rewritten and either condensed or expanded from something from one or more of the many news sources we scan. This piece is an exception: It is a virtually verbatim representation of a press release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The subject: The agency’s announcement this morning that nutrition labels for packaged foods have been updated, and details of the changes are included.

This is an important, long-overdue update. Unfortunately, its full impact won’t kick in until 2018, or 2019, in the case of smaller companies. The delay provides time for existing stock to work its way through distributors’ warehouses and retail outlets.

 

 

Today, May 20, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took a major step in making sure consumers have updated nutritional information – for most packaged foods sold in the United States –  that will help people make informed decisions about the foods they eat and feed their families.

“I am thrilled that the FDA has finalized a new and improved Nutrition Facts label that will be on food products nationwide,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “This is going to make a real difference in providing families across the country the information they need to make healthy choices.”

“For more than 20 years, Americans have relied on the Nutrition Facts label as a leading source of information regarding calories, fat and other nutrients to help them understand more about the foods they eat in a day,” said FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D. “The updated label makes improvements to this valuable resource so consumers can make more informed food choices – one of the most important steps a person can take to reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity.”

Key Updates

The new Nutrition Facts label will include the following.

  • An updated design to highlight “calories” and “servings,” two important elements in making informed food choices.
  • Requirements for serving sizes that more closely reflect the amounts of food that people currently eat. What and how much people eat and drink has changed since the last serving size requirements were published in 1993. By law, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, requires that serving sizes be based on what people actually eat.
  • Declaration of grams and a percent daily value (%DV) for “added sugars” to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product. It is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugars, and this is consistent with the scientific evidence supporting the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • “Dual column” labels to indicate both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information for certain multi-serving food products that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings. Examples include a pint of ice cream and a 3-ounce bag of chips. With dual-column labels available, people will be able to easily understand how many calories and nutrients they are getting if they eat or drink the entire package/unit at one time.
  • For packages that are between one and two servings, such as a 20 ounce soda, the calories and other nutrients will be required to be labeled as one serving because people typically consume it in one sitting.
  • Updated daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D, consistent with Institute of Medicine recommendations and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Daily values are reference amounts of nutrients to consume or not to exceed and are used to calculate the %DV that manufacturers include on the label.
  • Declaration of Vitamin D and potassium that will include the actual gram amount, in addition to the %DV. These are nutrients that some people are not getting enough of, which puts them at higher risk for chronic disease. The %DV for calcium and iron will continue to be required, along with the actual gram amount. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required because deficiencies of these vitamins are rare, but these nutrients can be included on a voluntary basis.
  • “Calories from Fat” will be removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount. “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” will continue to be required.
  • An abbreviated footnote to better explain the %DV.

The FDA is also making minor changes to the Supplement Facts label found on dietary supplements to make it consistent with the Nutrition Facts label.

Most food manufacturers will be required to use the new label by July 26, 2018. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to comply with the new rules. The FDA plans to conduct outreach and education efforts on the new requirements.

The iconic Nutrition Facts label was introduced more than 20 years ago to help consumers make informed food choices and maintain healthy dietary practices. In March 2014, the FDA proposed two rules to update the label, and in July 2015, issued a supplemental proposed rule. The Nutrition Facts label regulations apply to packaged foods except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency is also responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

3-D Food Printing: Coming Soon to . . . YOUR Area?

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A necessary aside: I am 73 years old. I am finding it increasingly more difficult, recently, to get my head around some of the totally mind-boggling technological developments smiling, hard-working 20-somethings are coming up with these days.

I ‘get’ that the cloud doesn’t mean data is likely to come pouring out of the sky on heavily overcast days. But the concept of 3-D printing of parts for this and that has caused me to scratch a new, hair-free hole in my head. Now I learn that, not just ‘on the horizon’ but already it is possible to 3-D print food!   

I’ve read about it; I’ve watched the video linked to below. I still feel that I barely grasp what in the world these people are doing, and what it suggests for the future!

But this is a ‘trends’-oriented blog, and this is, hard as it may be to imagine, a trend. I don’t expect I’ll ever be ‘printing’ any of my food, but many born much more recently more than likely will – probably sooner than you’d think!

In Sweden, a company named VTT says on its website it uses “4,000,000 hours of brainpower a year to develop new technological solutions.”

Among them – in a world where some solutions are chasing and anticipating problems – is a way to create interesting new food products employing 3-D printing – where, in this case, raw materials, actual edible ingredients, are combined in unique ways and either printed or extruded into interesting, imaginative shapes, familiar and even exciting new flavors in the forms of ‘foods’ the world’s never seen before. Foods well beyond, in short, what nature has created – but ‘good’ enough, in their own right, to attract – or so the imaginers say – commercial audiences of various sorts.

As recently as a decade ago, most scientists, even, would have declared this to be a fantasy – something that could never be done. But it is being done, today, by no less a name brand than Barilla, which is employing printing technology to generate pasta in both traditional and highly imaginative shapes. And Italy-based Barilla is far from alone in exploring this new frontier.

This video points to five companies creating means for manufacturers, and even families at home, to generate unique foodstuffs they’ve designed themselves, using either pre-packaged or ready-to-hand ingredients. (The latter, I gather, is more a hope than a reality.)

The imaginations of those creating products likely to become, within a short few years, as ubiquitous as the home microwave seem to have no limits. One company/research lab involved in such developments even has a slogan something like “If you can imagine it, we can create it”! And I don’t doubt for a minute that they can.

In the above-cited video, you see a room occupied by a number of people at computer terminals. Collectively – no, individually – they have access to more computing power than it took to put a man on the moon. The amount of computing capacity of such a research room is, today, almost impossible to calculate.

By comparison, the Manhattan Project, which led to the creation of the first atomic bomb (and, ultimately, the end of World War II), involved more than 130,000 people and cost the U.S. nearly $2 billion, in 1940’s dollars – about $26 billion today. They didn’t have a lot of computing power to work with – and that’s an overstatement.

Today’s whiz kids – that was the name of a 1980’s TV series – are seeing the technology available to them expanding so fast it must be hard for even these hard-wired kids to keep up!

One of my sources for this post was the U.K.’s New Food magazine. You can subscribe free at their website. But you don’t really need to: I’m pretty on top of what they say that should – really should – interest you.

One of the aims of this blog is to stretch your horizon – to take you places, in terms of countries, developments, and concepts – your schedule keeps you from keeping up with in the way I do.

I will be highly appreciative if you will get others in your organization to ‘follow’ me. I make no money from this blog, but I hope to do so – sooner than later.

(I’m getting on, and I have a 23-years-younger wife I hope to take places I’ve been. One year, 20 some years back, I saw Christmas decorations in New York City, London and Paris in the same season. It would be nice to do that again with someone who’s never seen either of the latter two cities! Social Security – plus her way-too-low salary – doesn’t allow for it. But support for this blog – and my other one, YouSayWHAT.info – could help do so!)

How ‘Unhealthy’ Are Some ‘Healthy’ Foods?

 

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Photo: HealtyDay

 

Is a granola bar a ‘healthy’ food? The FDA advised the producer of some such bars to ban that word from its packaging. Then, sometime later, the federal agency which oversees the health and safety of food in the U.S. relented, and agreed that Kind LLC, could kind of make a case that its products fit an old definition of ‘healthy’. The company was allowed to resume calling its bars “healthy and tasty” on its packages.

Why first the hard-nosed approach by the FDA, then the soft-peddling and stepping–back, allowing the manufacturer to resume doing what it comfortably had been doing for a long while? Simply stated, as a recent Wall Street Journal article explained, “The nutritional landscape and knowledge of what constitutes a healthy diet has changed considerably since 1994, when the FDA first officially used the term ‘healthy.’ Back then, health advocates were taking aim at fats – not sugar or gluten – which are among today’s targets.”

In a statement to the paper, the FDA said, “We believe now is an opportune time to reevaluate regulations concerning nutrient content claims, generally, including the term ‘healthy.'” The Journal noted that the process could take years, and will likely rely on public input. A bill in Congress, if approved, would urge the FDA to make this matter a priority, according to the news report.

As this blog has noted before, Americans have in recent years eaten ever-greater quantities of ultra processed foods – items often containing excessive amounts of fat, sugars (or several kinds),sodium and other things that make it hard to consider such foods to be ‘healthy’. Fortunately, there has been an increasing amount of publicity lately warning consumers about the risks such foods pose.

There also have been significant efforts on the part of some food developers and processors to reduce quantities of risk-causing contents in their products.

Some jurisdictions are requiring fast food restaurants to prominently post nutritional facts about their menu items. The website fastfoodnutrition.org has breakdowns of the nutritional make-up of what’s served at no fewer than 34 chains. Anyone interested enough can quickly compare the good, the bad and the ugly at chains in their area.

Supermarkets, too, are doing more to make the nutritional values (or lack thereof) of their store-prepared offerings.

And, amazingly, the latter trends are taking place almost in spite of, rather than at the urging of, government agencies.

Equally amazing, though, is the fact that fast feeders, while on the one hand offering ‘bargain menus’  that, being smaller, are comparatively healthy, compared to their full-sized stable mates, also are, on the other hand, continuing to offer servings so large as to be truly gross.

Take Whataburger’s Avocado Bacon Burger: It serves up, in a 1126 g burger, a whopping 1530 calories – 650 of them in the form of fat. That represents 111% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for fat in a 2000-calorie diet. Its 1850 mg of sodium represents 77% of the RDA for that element.

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One of the most amazing – and most disgusting – burger that be ‘casually ordered,’ at least in Los Angeles, is Wendy’s Quad Baconator – so outrageous that it doesn’t even show up on the lit-up menu board. But you can order it – then guess at the makeup of the massively excessive mess on your plate.

You can’t be sure how much of this or that is in it because the closest you can come to a description of this gargantuan collection of burger, slices of cheese, and bacon slices is in the description on dietfacts.com of Wendy’s Baconator Triple. Its 3 burger patties, 3 slices of American cheese and nine slices of Applewood smoked bacon weighs in at 424 g, offers 1330 calories, 780 of them from fat. At 86 g, its total fat content represents 132% of the RDA, with the saturated fat alone accounting for 190% of the RDA.

Close behind, in the bad news category, is the Baconator Triple’s 3150 g of sodium – 131% of the RDA, and the 115% of RDA cholesterol content.

Imagine how much more powerful, in totally negative ways, the Quad Baconator is!

Clearly, people ordering such insults to common sense aren’t in the least concerned about what their diet habits are doing to their bodies.

We’re not writing for such people, as I’m sure you appreciate!