February 9th, 2011 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Important nutrition facts may soon appear on the front of food labels, hopes the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute, who this week announced a new labeling system called “Nutrition Keys” to make important health data that much more accessible.
Nutrition Keys, which is voluntary, asks food producers to display calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar content on the front of food packages; currently nutrition facts appear on the back of most food products.
Read More:Nutrition Facts Coming to the Front of Food Labels
October 21st, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Nutrition labels and symbols would best benefit shoppers if they appeared on the front of food packages and focused on calories, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium—the top four overconsumed nutrients, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
The not-so-fab four are strongly associated with many of America’s health woes, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
The IOM recognizes that packages have limited space, so its expert committee believes information on cholesterol, fiber, added sugars, vitamins and other nutrients that are listed on Nutrition Facts panels (right) can remain on the back.
Read More:Front of Food Packages Should Highlight Calories, Fats, Sodium Levels
July 29th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Whether raw, grilled or roasted, red bell peppers are an incredible low-calorie source of vitamin C.
One medium bell pepper has only 25 calories, while providing:
- 190% of your daily vitamin C requirement
- 2 g fiber
- 4% of your daily vitamin A requirement
- 4% of your daily iron requirement
But does nutritional content change when peppers hit the grill or roasting pan?
Peppers shrink as they cook, and vitamin C is heat-sensitive. Grilled peppers will therefore contain less vitamin C, but you’ll make up for it by consuming a larger, more concentrated portion of the veggie, explains registered dietitian Karen Collins, nutrition adviser for the American Institute for Cancer Research. Ultimately, regardless of preparation, a half-cup serving of red bell peppers provides a full day’s vitamin C requirement.
Conversely, vitamin A levels are higher when red peppers are roasted, Collins says. That’s because the cooking process leads to better absorption of beta-carotene.
But watch out for hidden calories and sodium in jarred roasted red peppers (or similar varieties found in supermarket or restaurant antipasto bars).
“When they are marinated in oil, of course, calorie content increases,” Collins says. “Sodium content also changes with preparation. Jarred roasted red peppers usually contain added salt, which increases sodium content markedly.
“However, you can broil or bake fresh red peppers in a hot oven (about 450°F) for 7 to 10 minutes; then put them in a bag to cool for about 15 minutes. You’ll have roasted red peppers with the near-zero sodium content of raw red peppers.”
How to Choose an Organic Bell Pepper
- Look for firm, brightly colored peppers with tight skins.
- Peppers should be heavy for their size.
- Avoid dull, shriveled or pitted peppers.
5 Roasted Red Pepper Recipes
- Tomato and Roasted Sweet Pepper Soup
- Grilled Fennel, Corn and Red Pepper Salad
- Skewered Grilled Organic Veggies
- Roasted Vegetable Medley
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Read More:Grill Organic Red Bell Peppers for a Vitamin Boost
January 11th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
People with asthma have an 80% chance of experiencing exercised-induced asthma (EIA), an acute narrowing of the airway that causes difficulty in breathing.
About 10% of elite athletes, as well as 10% of the general population, are also afflicted with EIA, even if they’re not asthmatics.
The condition is usually treated with albuterol, an inhaler-dispensed medication that opens the airway and increases air flow to the lungs.
In a recent study, Indiana University researchers have discovered that ingestion of a large dose of caffeine—9 mg per kilogram of body weight—within an hour of exercise can reduce EIA symptoms. Smaller dosages of 3 to 6 mg caffeine per kilogram of body weight also reduced EIA symptoms like wheezing and coughing.
For someone weighing 150 pounds, 3 to 9 mg caffeine per kilogram of body weight equals around 205 to 610 mg of caffeine. As a reference, one cup of coffee contains 80 to 135 mg caffeine.
No additional benefit was noted when caffeine was combined with an albuterol inhaler, according to study coinvestigator Timothy Mickleborough, PhD, an IU associate professor of kinesiology.
He and his colleagues have also found that a diet high in fish oil and antioxidants and low in salt has the potential to reduce EIA severity and possibly decrease the need for drug therapy.
For Your Organic Bookshelf: Exercising Safely with Exercise-Induced Asthma
Read More:Caffeine Aids People with Exercise-Induced Asthma
August 20th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
When the folks at Health magazine asked organic foodie Mollie Katzen to name some of her favorite products, she cited Fusion Naturally Flavored Sea Salts, a new line of artisan salts.
More than 20 flavors are available, from Thai Ginger and Italian Porcini Mushroom to Green Tea and Spicy Curry.
The salts “add a punch of exotic flavor to roasted or steamed vegetables,” notes Katzen, a best-selling cookbook author who cofounded the famed Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, NY. “Because they’re so potent, you end up using less salt.”
That’s an important health priority, as Americans consume far too much sodium. Just ask the New Jersey man who’s suing Denny’s over its high-sodium entrees.
I’m looking forward to trying Fusion’s Aged Balsamic Sea Salt, a blend of hand-harvested sea salt and aged Modena balsamic vinegar.
10 Favorite Mollie Katzen Cookbooks
- The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without
- The New Moosewood Cookbook
- The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest
- Mollie Katzen’s Vegetable Heaven
- Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe
- Mollie Katzen’s Recipes: Soups
- Mollie Katzen’s Recipes: Salads
- Honest Pretzels (children 8 and older)
- Salad People and More Real Recipes (preschoolers and older)
- Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes (preschoolers and older)
Read More:Fusion Sea Salts
August 11th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
I have mixed emotions about this story.
The nuts and bolts: Two New Jersey law firms have filed a class-action lawsuit against Denny’s, claiming the sodium content in the restaurant chain’s menu options is endangering public health.
High-sodium diets are associated with hypertension, heart disease and stroke.
True, some of Denny’s most popular meals have shockingly high sodium levels. Moons Over My Hammy (a ham, egg and cheese sandwich) has 2,580 mg sodium, and it’s served with hash browns (650 mg sodium) or grits (840 mg). Denny’s Meat Lover’s Scramble (two eggs with chopped bacon, diced ham, crumbled sausage and Cheddar cheese, served with two bacon strips, two sausage links, hash browns and two pancakes) has an indefensible 5,690 mg sodium.
Plaintiff Nick DeBenedetto, 48, has regularly eaten at Denny’s for many years, and he takes prescription meds to help control his blood pressure. One of his favorite menu items is the Hammy thing—a breakfast platter he “never would have selected” if he’d know its sodium content, he says.
“It’s as if Denny’s is stacking the deck against people like me,” he laments.
Not so fast, Nick. People with hypertension know they’re supposed to watch their sodium intake. What made you think these meals were good for you? Do you take any personal responsibility for your dietary choices?
For its part, Denny’s believes the lawsuit is “frivolous and without merit” and plans to “fight it aggressively in court.” The company also stated: “With hundreds of items on the menu, Denny’s offers a wide variety of choices for consumers with different lifestyles, understanding that many have special dietary needs.”
So, do I side with Denny’s? Absolutely not. The chain aggressively advertises unhealthful meal choices.
The only winners here are the attorneys, whose “healthy” fees turn a public-health problem into a media circus.
Eating a Denny’s Scramble is a personal decision. Eating a healthy organic diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, is a more sensible one. Should DeBenedetto seek monetary damages for choosing the former?
Read More:A Salty Lawsuit
February 15th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Those of us who shop for organic food are usually pretty good about watching our salt intake. I’m certainly not anti-sodium (a main component of salt), as it’s essential to keeping the body functioning, but I tend to watch my salt intake.
Sodium helps transmit nerve impulses, makes muscles work and maintains the proper balance of body fluids. Some of us, however, are sodium-sensitive (swollen ankles and water retention, anyone?). Others suffer from hypertension and need to reduce their sodium intake. But even if you don’t have high blood pressure, limiting sodium as part of a healthy organic diet may decrease your risk of developing future problems.
Our taste for salt is both acquired and reversible. As we use less salt, our preference for it diminishes. The February issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource offers several ideas for controlling sodium intake:
- Eat more fresh foods and fewer processed foods. Fresh foods are naturally low in sodium. Most sodium in the average American’s diet (77%) comes from eating processed and prepared foods, such as preserved meats, canned foods, frozen foods and commercial baked goods.
- Shop for products low in sodium. A low-sodium product contains 140 mg or less of sodium per serving—5% or less of the recommended daily sodium intake.
- Limit use of sodium-rich condiments. About 11% of sodium in the average diet comes from adding salt or condiments (ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, soy sauces) to foods while cooking or eating.
- Use herbs and spices for added flavor. To enhance vegetables, try parsley, basil, chives, ginger, cumin, oregano or lemon. For meats, add bay leaves, peppercorns, ginger, rosemary, sage or even cranberries.
Read More:Salt Shaking