Tag Archives: Diabetes

Big Sugar, in the Form of Cereal Makers, Get Sued

 

Several major processed food manufacturers in the U.S. have been hit recently with lawsuits charging their products– primarily breakfast cereals – are not anything like as ‘healthy’ as the manufacturers claim because too high a percentage of the calories in their products are from sugar.

The website foodnavigator-usa.com has reported that “a flurry of lawsuits recently [were] filed against Kellogg, General Foods and Post Foods”, but the site suggests the plaintiffs with “face an uphill battle” trying to win against companies that have powerful holds on their markets and exceptionally deep pockets.

The recently revealed news that half a century ago the sugar industry paid university researchers to produce ‘study findings’ favorable to their mainstay product has added pressure on producers of sugar-heavy foods.

FoodNavigator said that, “with the heat temporarily off fat, sugar now is Public Enemy #1,” quoting defense attorneys “after the three CPG [consumer packaged goods] giants were hit with class action lawsuits over the sugar content in leading cereal brands from Raisin Bran Crunch to Cheerios.”

Filed in the Northern District of California, the suits accuse the defendants “of falsely advertising their cereals as healthy, wholesome and nutritious when they are in fact high in sugar – excessive amounts of which,” they claim, “are linked to everything from heart disease and type 2 diabetes to cancers, cognitive decline and liver disease.”

The website notes that, while there are no specific regulations that disqualify companies from describing a product as ‘healthy’ or ‘nutritious’ based on its sugar content, the plaintiffs argue that “federal regulations enshrined in California state law require that labels are ‘not false or misleading’. They further allege violations of California’s false advertising and unfair competition laws, and seek redress under the state’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act.

Big Sugar, like such other ‘bigs’ as Big Pharma, Big Oil and, once upon a time, Big Coal, have a history of addressing such lawsuits as if they were pesky flies: Swat at them long and hard enough – wearing down their resistance and consuming their ability to fight back – and ‘big’ will prevail.

But the biggest of the bigs – Big Government – has brought down Big Coal, and is working on putting a leash on Big Pharma.

With the public becoming increasingly aware of the damage excess sugar can to do consumers of it, Big Sugar could be in for a comeuppance, too. Maybe not immediately, but soon.

Dr. Cristin E. Kearns
Documents that Dr. Cristin E. Kearns calls the “sugar papers” in her office in the Library at the Center for Tobacco Control and Research on the U. of California  Parnassus Campus. 


 Photo: Elizabeth D. Herman for STAT News

 

 

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Report Exposes Food Industry Cover-up

 

The following is a press release issued earlier this year (2016) by  The Cornucopia Institute, whose web site says the organization is “promoting economic justice for family scale farming”.
The web site’s ‘About’ section includes this statement: “The Cornucopia Institute engages in educational activities supporting the ecological principles and economic wisdom underlying sustainable and organic agriculture. Through research and investigations on agricultural issues, The Cornucopia Institute provides needed information to consumers, family farmers, and the media.”
You can expect this blog, now that we’ve discovered this organization, to pay close attention to its activities.

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Toxic, Carcinogenic, Degraded Carrageenan:
Widespread Contamination Present in the Common Food-Grade Ingredient

A just-issued report by The Cornucopia Institute summarizes research on the common food additive carrageenan, exposing the industry’s hidden data demonstrating that all food-grade carrageenan contains a carcinogenic contaminant—low molecular weight poligeenan.

Carrageenan, harvested from specific species of red seaweed, is a highly effective thickener/stabilizer found in processed foods including infant formula, plant-based beverages, deli meats, and some dairy products, including cream. The controversy over carrageenan has existed between food industry representatives and public health researchers for years, but it is now flaring up again over its use in organic food.

Cornucopia’s report, Carrageenan: New Studies Reinforce Link to Inflammation, Cancer, and Diabetes, will be formally released in Washington, on April 25, at the upcoming meeting of the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board. The board will be debating whether to remove carrageenan from its list of approved materials for use in organic food.

Cornucopia, a farm policy research group, has made available the full set of data that was originally published online ten years ago by the Marinalg Working Group. The data show widespread contamination of food-grade carrageenan with poligeenan, both of which cause chronic and acute intestinal inflammation and can cause cancer.

Marinalg, the trade-lobby group representing carrageenan manufactures, had posted the illuminating research on its website, but later removed it since it has aggressively lobbied food safety regulators for continued approval of the use of carrageenan in food.

“This type of subterfuge by powerful agribusiness might have been successful at the FDA, or before European regulators, but we are optimistic that, carrying out the mandate of the U.S. Congress, the National Organic Standards Board will weigh the current evidence and protect organic consumers by banning this dangerous material,” stated Mark A. Kastel, Cornucopia co-director.

The “smoking gun” data was originally published to meet the demands of a 2005 European Commission recommendation that no more than five percent of food-grade carrageenan fractions should have a molecular weight below 50 kD due to the well-known health concerns associated with low molecular weight carrageenan.

Carrageenan producers have long claimed that food-grade carrageenan and poligeenan (a known carcinogen) are two distinctly different substances. The industry still denies that food-grade carrageenan contains poligeenan, however, publicly funded scientific research has long found otherwise.

“Now, the industry’s own data has revealed that all twelve food-grade carrageenan samples tested did in fact contain poligeenan in varying quantities up to 25%,” said Linley Dixon, PhD, Cornucopia’s Senior Staff Scientist.

Carrageenan is such an efficient inflammatory agent and carcinogen, it is widely used to study the molecular signals involved in cancer and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Publicly-funded researchers have published dozens of studies on the harmful health effects of consuming food-grade carrageenan, but the industry has aggressively responded by funding its own studies, many of which Cornucopia critiques in the new report.

Dr. Dixon stated, “Marinalg’s cover-up of this scientific data demonstrates how damaging the results could be to the carrageenan industry.”

University of Illinois researcher, Joanne Tobacman, M.D., who has published widely on the subject said, “The carrageenan industry has tried for decades to retain using carrageenan in food products because of its biological reactivity with ingredients. This same biological reactivity is what makes carrageenan harmful. Food-grade carrageenan inevitably contains some lower molecular weight forms naturally.”

Dr. Tobacman continued, “Additional lower molecular weight forms are produced by processing, heat, acid, intestinal bacteria, and chewing.”

Research has shown that besides the initial contamination in food-grade carrageenan, stomach acid in the human digestive tract can convert a percentage of carrageenan that may otherwise be safe into the most dangerous, carcinogenic form.

Tobacman’s findings, along with others in her field, demonstrate the molecular mechanism by which food-grade carrageenan causes inflammation, cancer, insulin resistance, and an immunogenic response in humans.

Cornucopia’s report details many flaws in some of the industry-funded studies used by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) as justification for the continued use of carrageenan in food. In addition, the report provides a rebuttal to the industry’s critique of publicly funded research (the majority of US studies were funded by the National Institute of Health).

“In the past, a successful tactic by many financial interest groups, including the tobacco and fracking lobby, has been to attempt to discredit reputable, publicly funded research, and to fund their own flawed studies to create the impression that there is scientific debate,” Dr. Dixon stated. “The carrageenan industry has used both of these tactics and, to top it off, hidden its own counterproductive results as well.”

Cornucopia’s Kastel added, “If these scientists were accountants working for a corporation they might be accused of ‘cooking the books’ due to their protocols and the selective data they chose to discuss in the publication of these studies.”

Through experimentation, many people have discovered a correlation between carrageenan in their diets and a myriad of symptoms such as diarrhea/irritable bowel syndrome, and more serious inflammatory bowel disease and colitis. For many, when carrageenan is removed from the diet symptoms quickly dissipate.

As part of its investigation over the last three years, The Cornucopia Institute has received 1,337 questionnaire responses from individuals reporting they had suffered adverse health effects after consuming carrageenan. One respondent, Charlene Beebe of Townsend, Montana stated, “My husband has been ill with ulcerative colitis for 20 years, and has been in remission since we removed carrageenan. Unknowingly, I began buying cream with carrageenan in it for a few weeks now and he started bleeding and had a terrible gut ache for weeks now. I since found out the cream contains carrageenan and about fell through the floor. I am furious!”

The Cornucopia Institute’s report is being released as the National Organic Standards Board reviews carrageenan for continued use in organic foods. In addition to health concerns, the report points out that carrageenan is not “essential.”

“For every organic product containing carrageenan, an organic alternative exists, produced by one or more competitors,” said Kastel. “That has allowed the marketplace to prove, conclusively, that carrageenan does not meet the legal threshold as an ingredient in organic food based on a lack of essentiality.”

Leading organic brands, like the farmer-owned cooperative Organic Valley, have removed carrageenan from many of their products in response to customer concerns. “The co-op has recognized the informed concerns of organic shoppers by labeling their sliced deli meats as containing ‘no binders, fillers or carrageenan’.”

Even some toothpaste brands have shunned the carcinogen.

“When the CEO of the iconic Dr. Bronner’s brand became aware of the research on carrageenan, their CEO, David Bronner, researched the alternatives and found that xanthan gum performed just as well in their toothpaste,” Kastel said. Dr. Bronner’s, known for its line of soaps along with other bodycare and food products, is a prominent leader in the fight to maintain organic standards and advocate for GMO labeling.
Cornucopia’s Kastel said, “We commend organic companies that operate under the ‘Precautionary Principle’ and strongly encourage members of the NOSB to protect organic consumers and their children as well.”

Like other regulatory bodies, the carrageenan industry is aggressively lobbying the NOSB, urging the board to retain the ingredient in organic food. However, efforts by the industry to cover up the harmful effects of carrageenan are being fully challenged setting the stage for a showdown in Washington, DC on April 25, where public interest groups and organic consumers, widely known for their passion and discernment, are likely to make their voices heard as well.

 

What’s ‘Good’ For You? Or ‘Healthy’? It Depends Who You Are/Who You Ask!

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One of several New York Times charts symbolizing the healthy/not healthy issue.

When it comes down to it, Americans don’t have a firm grip on the concept of ‘healthy’ versus ‘not so healthy’ foods. And, sadly, because of conflicting advice from assorted vested interests, most people are far from approaching the level of understanding of why this food, while it may supposedly be ‘good’ for you in ‘this’ way, is far from good for you in another way.

The New York Times devoted a great deal of time and resources to researching this subject and, sadly, came away with head-scratching concerns on top of confusion why the what’s-good-for-you subject is so, well, incomprehensible.

The USDA doesn’t help: It recently came out with a revised standard for nutritional information on packaged food labels and the supposedly-improved ones truly aren’t – leaving consumers, as they have been for years, trying to make sense of terms and quantities they can’t comprehend.

An excellent explanation of why the U.S. has so resisted going totally metric – many domestic industries already employ that system exclusively – is laid out in this Time Magazine article from 2014. Some of the stated reasons may have made a certain amount of sense at one time, but they no longer do – just as, except for its currency, the British have been all-metric since the late 1970’s.

(I happened to leave, after five years there, as the change-over was starting. The thing that amazed me most was how quickly and adeptly lovers of Fahrenheit and other non-metric units switched over.  Yet even today, when I discuss something involving a measurement with a friend there, I have to do an electronic [or old-fashioned, paper-based] conversion to get ‘on the same page’ with them.

Our auto industry is all-metric. So is the military. So is the industry producing wine and ‘hard’ alcoholic beverages : 5ths and quarts disappeared some years ago, replaced by .75 liter (litre) and liter bottles. Beer producers are switching, too, albeit more subtly : Incrementally, they are making the percent-of-a-liter ID larger than the old standard ‘ounce’ measure on their bottles.

But because, except in a limited number of instances, it is impossible to produce a food package of a size that can be converted from ounces to milligrams/milliliters or vice versa in whole numbers, and because manufacturers insist on measuring sizes in quantities only vaguely approximating what people call a serving, comparisons of the value Brand A to Brand B  are, at best, an exercise in futility.

So, regardless of whether Brand A or Brand B is ‘healthier’ or ‘better for you,’ it’s pretty hard to tell from packaging and serving sizes.

The Times report noted that a survey of “hundreds” of nutritionists – members of the American Society for Nutrition – revealed “a surprising diversity of opinion, even among experts.”

Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, told the paper, “Twenty years ago, I think we knew about 10 percent of what we need to know” about nutrition, “and now we know about 40 or 50 percent.”

The Times report is long, detailed and, sadly, will leave many readers none the wiser – or not much the wiser, anyway – after they’ve plowed through the entire thing.

And when reading any such report, one has to keep in mind that it refers to ‘healthy’ and ‘good for you’ foods for ordinarily healthy people. To a concerning extent, though, the findings of such studies are meaningless for ‘special needs’ people like me: I have Stage 4 Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), meaning many things that are ordinarily good for healthy people – things such as tomatoes, potatoes, beans and nuts – should seldom if ever pass my lips.

Diabetics have their own dietary issues, of course.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that some 29 million Americans have Type 2 Diabetes. That’s roughly 9.3% of the population.

Another 10% of adults have CKD.

So, right off the bat, close to one-fifth of the American population falls outside the ‘good/not good’ – ‘healthy/unhealthy’ measurements of most nutrition surveys. And that doesn’t count those with special dietary needs because they are way under-, or over-weight.

If you are fortune enough to in the larger group that can choose what you eat based on common measurements like those surveys and ‘experts’ produce, consider yourself fortunate. But keep in mind, it wouldn’t take a lot to push you into one of the ‘endangered’ classes!

Philadelphia Raising Money For Education Through a Sugar Tax

sugar tax

Despite the failure of similar laws in more than 30 U.S. cities and states in recent years, and in the face of massive opposition from the beverage industry, Philadelphia (PA) has instituted a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks and diet beverages. While other U.S. municipalities are considering similar levies – aimed, they say at reducing sugar consumption and obesity – only one locality, Berkeley CA, has such a law on the books. It was instituted in 2014.

Critics contend that such taxes disproportionately affect the poor, who  tend to more prone that other segments of the population to consume sugary drinks.

The same argument is put forth in the U.K., where what amounts to double taxation is about to be applied to sugary drink sales. Double taxation because such beverages already are subject to a sales (VAT) tax, and the new levy will add a levy of as much as twelve pence (eight cents) to the cost of a can of Coke.

The British scheme is intended to force companies who produce drinks like Coca-Cola, Gatorade and tonic water to reduce the amount of sugar in their recipes. Critics of the Conservative government say it has, in reality, just introduced another punitive tax on the poor.

The lowest-earning British citizens, who smoke moderately, already lose 37 percent of their disposal income to “sin taxes,” according to the Institute for Economic Affairs. “Sin taxes are a pious, regressive absurdity,” says the Spectator, riding the wave of incredulity racing across Britain.

Of course, no one is forced to glug their way through super-sized family bottles of Coca-Cola, but studies suggest people on lower incomes are the most regular consumers. By targeting cigarettes—and now sodas—the government is doubling down on disproportionately taxing the poor.

“It is astonishing that the Chancellor has announced a tax on sugary drinks when there is no evidence from anywhere in the world that such taxes have the slightest effect on obesity,” said Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs. “Whether dressed up as a direct tax or a levy on industry, the effect will be that the government will be picking the pockets of the poor for no benefit.”

It’s also something Prime Minister David Cameron promised he would not do—just five months ago. At the time, he did not cite regressive taxation as his primary fear, nor concerns about the nanny state gone wild. He just said it wouldn’t work: “The Prime Minister thinks there are more effective ways of tackling this issue than putting a tax on sugar,” a spokesman said in October.

Well, he’s changed his mind.

His finance minister—Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne—announced that drinks companies would be taxed according to how much sugar is in each drink. One rate for drinks with more than 17.7g per 12-oz can, and a higher rate for those with at least 28g. Coke falls into the top bracket, and would cost around 8 pence (12 cents) more. High-end smoothies and energy drinks will also be subject to the tax, although there are exceptions for milk-based drinks and pure juices.

“I am not prepared to look back at my time here in this Parliament . . . and say to my children’s generation, ‘I’m sorry. We knew there was a problem with sugary drinks. We knew it caused disease. But we ducked the difficult decisions and we did nothing,’” he said.

Soda companies have two years to change their drinks before the levy comes in. A sales tax (VAT) is already charged when customers buy soda, unlike most other food and drink in Britain.

Osborne says he hopes the new tax will force the companies to adapt, but analysts say the charge is likely to be passed straight on to consumers.

Health campaigners, and some former New York mayors, hope that will encourage people to shop differently.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney does not contend his sweet-drinks tax is health oriented: He sold the City Council on the idea by putting forth a plan that would see most of the raised revenue – an estimate $365 million over five years – into schools, preschools and similar education-oriented projects.

After the Council’s vote, Mayor Kenney said, “Thanks to the tireless advocacy of educators, parents, rec[reation] center volunteers and so many others, Philadelphia made a historic investment in our educational system today.”

Not to mention what parents will save by not having to pay to repair sugar-damaged teeth, or for the care of diabetes contributed to by kids’ excess sugar consumption.

 

Down With Pork? How About Cutting Down on All Meat!

 

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Photograph: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images (and The Guardian)

Many years ago, France was so language proud that words from elsewhere were banned. Now, with le hot dog and various other ‘cross-over’ words being very much du jour, the battle for French ‘purity’ has moved to a new front: The school cafeteria.

Where for 30 or more years parents could choose an other-than-pork entrée for their children, some schools have removed that option, leaving Jewish children and, increasingly, Muslim ones, with no meat option at all when, say, roast pork, Strasbourg sausage or ham-pasta bake is on the menu.

When one parent queried at her small town’s administrative office why the change had been instituted, she was told, bluntly,  “From now on, that’s the way it is. Pork or nothing,” The Guardian reported late last year.

The issue, French officials say, is “secularity.” Parents of affected children, who often are themselves too young to understand why their families don’t eat pork, understandably view the matter as a form of discrimination – secularity be damned!

In at least two other jurisdictions – a portion of Germany, and around Houston, Texas – some schools are voluntarily opting to offer other-than-pork options.

An observer in Houston told us that, “Here, we also don’t use pork on a purely voluntary basis to accommodate religious needs. Some of our schools have significant Muslim populations.”

FoodTradeTrends.com was told by the German Embassy in Washington that, “In light of the current refugee situation, several public cafeterias and kindergartens in Germany decided voluntarily to stop or limit the serving of pork out of respect for Muslim migrants. In light of this, the CDU (Christian Democratic Union, a political party) in the state of Schleswig-Holstein submitted a proposal earlier this month to maintain the use of pork in school lunches.

“The disputed application was rejected on March 9th by all the other political parties within the Schleswig-Holstein state parliament. The consensus in the parliament is that each public cafeteria or kindergarten can decide on its own whether it wants to offer pork.

“The reduction of pork in school cafeterias is not based purely on a higher number of Muslim students, but rather on changes in nutrition standards and an overall goal to consume less meat.”

Several American organizations, the American Heart Association being prime among them, are strongly encouraging the consumption of less meat, overall, and less red meat, in particular, for health reasons. The AHA’s D.A.S.H. diet – D.A.S.H. stands for Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension – is widely recognized as being not just a good approach to dealing with and/or preventing hypertension (high blood pressure), it also is very effective for weight loss, lowering cholesterol, and managing or preventing diabetes, U.S. News & World Report said earlier this year, when naming D.A.S.H. “the best diet” for the sixth year in a row.

There are at least two other reasons why eating less meat is a good idea. One, a major part of the mission of The Reducetarian Foundation, is to spare farm animals from cruelty. There’s also the fact that, as SustainableTable.org points out, “The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide. Far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption one a week can help slow this trend.

Essentially making that same argument is the “Take Extinction Off Your Plate” initiative of the Center for Biological Diversity. Its website says, “Wild animals suffer not only the collateral damage of meat-related deforestation, drought, pollution and climate change, but also direct targeting by the meat industry.”

As a long-age advertising campaign said relative to Levy’s Jewish Rye Bread, “You don’t have to be Jewish…” or Muslim, or vegetarian … to favor pork- and even meat-free diet options!

Ultra-Processed Foods Are Killing Us!

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A newly-reported on study says that more than 50% of American’s calories come from ultra-processed foods, which collectively contain more than 90% of the excess sugar calories in a typical American’s diet. The fortunate exceptions to the rule – people who don’t consume such high volumes of ultra-processed foods or huge excesses of sugar – include vegetarians and vegans. Also consistently outside the crowd of consumers of especially unhealthy foods are those who, like me, have medical conditions (mine is Chronic Kidney Disease) that require close monitoring of what and how much is eaten. By the nature of this kind of diet, ultra- and even highly-processed foods are pretty much off the (dinner) table.

Ultra-processed foods contain high volumes of such things as salt, sugar, oils and fats, plus an assortment of flavorings, emulsifiers and other additives designed to mimic real foods, the researchers quoted by HealthDay said.

Ultra-processed foods include foods include sodas, sweet or savory packaged snacks, candy and desserts, packaged baked goods, instant noodles and soups, and reconstituted meat products, such as chicken and fish nuggets.

By comparison, “processed” foods, which also contain added salt, sugar and other substances including preservatives, use those added ingredients in far smaller quantities than ultra-processed foods serve up.

Excess sugar in the diet boosts your risk for weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay, said lead researcher Euridice Martinez Steele, from the department of nutrition in the School of Public Health at Brazil’s University of Sao Paulo.

Too much sodium (salt) also increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attacks and other negative medical conditions.

“Decreasing the consumption of ultra-processed foods may be an effective way of reducing the excessive added sugar [and sodium] intake in the U.S.,” Steele says.

She notes that people should avoid processed products that require little or no preparation – things such as packaged soups, instant noodles, prepared frozen dishes and sandwiches, cold cuts and sausages, ready-to-eat sauces and cake mixes.

She’s a strong advocate of drinking water, pasteurized fresh milk and freshly squeezed fruit juices, and, avoiding soft drinks, sweetened milk drinks and reconstituted, flavored fruit juices.

The report was published online March 9 in the journal BMJ Open.

The researchers reviewed information from more than 9,000 people. They all took part in the 2009-10 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Study volunteers provided information about their diets.

The researchers found that added sugars make up more than one in five calories in the average ultra-processed food product. That’s as much as eight times higher than the calories from added sugars found in other foods, Steele said.

The recommended upper limit of calories from sugar is 10 percent of daily calories, the researchers noted. In people who ate the most ultra-processed food, more than 80 percent exceeded the upper limit of sugar.

Only people who ate the least ultra-processed foods had below the recommended levels of sugar, the researchers said.

“What many consumers do not realize is that added sugars come in many forms in many highly processed foods that include desserts and sweets, but that also include foods like sausages, cereal bars, ketchup, French fries, salad dressings and frozen pizzas,” said Samantha Heller. She’s a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center in New York City.

This survey highlights the extraordinary amount of ultra-processed foods in the American diet, and the over-the-top amounts of sugar and salt and fat found in these foods, she said.

One serving of a frozen French bread pizza contains 830 milligrams of salt, four different kinds of added sugars, trans fats and 21 grams of total fat, Heller pointed out.

“Another, more nefarious and insidious problem lurks in these foods as well,” she said. “Ultra-processed foods are chemically designed by the food companies to induce cravings for those foods, and sugar, fat and sodium are a big part of those formulas.”

The only way to break the chemical food cravings, and slash the intake of chemicals, calories, added sugars, fat and sodium, is to make more food at home from scratch, Heller said.

‘Want To Be Smarter? Eat Chocolate!

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Chocolate consumption can make you smarter? A new study says ‘yes’. (Photo: ALAMAY)

A recently published study showing that chocolate consumption can make you smarter – yes, make you smarter! – revealed a ‘who woulda thunk it’ fact: Women — those in this study, anyway — eat more chocolate than men; At least the ones in this sample did!

That chocolate can enhance your mental and cognitive abilities – including math skillsis surprising. That women tend to eat more chocolate than men is sort of like saying men are more likely than women to urinate standing up!

The study described recently in the journal Appetite, was done in the U.S. between 2001 and 2006. It was an isolated and carefully calibrated sub-set of a study that began in the 1970’s to examine the cognitive abilities of close to 1,000 people, who were followed over a significant number of years.

The chocolate-related part of the study was done at the urging of  Georgina Crichton, a nutrition researcher at the University of South Australia. She recognized that the so-called Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS) presented a unique opportunity to examine the effects of chocolate on the brain because of its large sample, of slightly fewer than 1,000 individuals spanning a broad age spectrum.

Researchers have long known that chocolate consumption can help reduce one’s risk of strokes, reduces ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol levels while boosting ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol levels, can protect your skin against sun damage, can help you lose weight, reduces stress in mothers-to-be, reduces blood pressure,  and even help prevent diabetes. But Ms. Crichton’s research provided an exciting new reason to enjoy one of the world’s favorite sweets.

In 2009, 7.2 million tons of chocolate were consumed worldwide (Statista, 2015). Commonly associated with pleasure and enjoyment, chocolate is a frequently ‘craved’ food, possibly due to its rich natural complexity that provides a sweet taste. Its high carbohydrate and fat content and highly palatable orosensory qualities, obtained from its specific constituents, may all contribute to its appeal as a ‘comfort’ food, various sources say. (See above-cited sources.)

It’s a good bet that sectors of the food industry will do what they can to exploit the MSLS and even statistics cited here to further promote chocolate-based products. And why wouldn’t they?