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Posts Tagged ‘food choices’

Grocery store shelfAre you being tricked at the grocery store? Are you sure products you are buying really are as healthy as they claim?

Many consumers are tricked by words on the label and ingredients in food into making choices which cost more money but may not be the healthiest choices. Watch out for these tricks of the trade by companies:

• Companies add vitamins and minerals to junk food or plain water. Thus, junk food appears healthier. Skip expensive waters and drink plain water. If you need vitamins and minerals take a daily vitamin pill.

• Companies use flavorings, colorings and other ingredients to create fake berries or other fruit. Check ingredients to make sure real fruit is in the product.
• Colorings and flavorings are also used in beverage drinks so you will pay more and not realize you are not getting fruit or very little fruit. Read labels to find and buy only 100% juices.

• Monosodiumglutate and hydrolyzed vegetable protein are used so companies can skimp on the real food. These usually help with meaty flavors. Check ingredients to avoid or limit these.

• Transglutaminase (enzyme) allows companies to put some pieces of meat together so it appears as a larger steak. Make sure your steak is one piece of meat.

• Companies want you to drink more soda so they add caffeine as it is mildly addictive. Drink water.

• Carotenoid Colorings such as canthaxanthin and astaxanthin are added to make farmed salmon pinker, so it looks more like expensive wild salmon. Check the ingredients or ask if “wild caught” or “farmed.”

Beware of some words such as “real, fresh, simple, premium and artisanal. “ These words do not have defined meanings in the food industry.

Real conveys the image of no fake or chemical ingredients. However, real doesn’t have to be chemical-free or not be processed food.

Fresh does not have a time period associated with it according to the Food and Drug Administration. Fresh means the food cannot have been frozen or preserved.

Simple can have multiple meanings. We think it means less processed and less ingredients. However, the food can include sugar and fat as part of the ingredients.

Premium is another word that does not have a meaning. It can trick you into thinking you are getting a better product or deal than you are.

Artisanal conveys the image of handcrafted baked goods and cheeses. Many grocery store products labeled “artisanal” are not produced by small-batch producers and may have many ingredients only used by larger producers. Check the ingredient lists.

Author: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension Fayette County

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension Wood County

References:

Jacobson, M. [2014]. Food Safety: Learn More about Food Additives with this Helpful Infographic What are additives used for and which should you avoid? Downloaded from Nutrition Action.Com Downloaded at http://www.nutritionaction.com/daily/food-safety/food-safety-learn-more-about-food-additives-with-this-helpful-infographic/?mqsc=E3775989&utm_source=WhatCountsEmail&utm_medium=Nutrition_Action_Daily_Tips+Nutrition%20Action%20Daily&utm_campaign=2014.07.19%20Daily%20Tip:%20Food%20Safety

Consumer Reports, [2014]. Consumer Reports: New food label gotchas, Downloaded at http://articles.courant.com/2014-07-12/business/hc-ls-consumer-reports-food-gotchas-20140712_1_new-food-label-consumer-reports-food-packaging

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water 2What do you, a tree and a hamster have in common?

You all need water! All living things need water to survive whether they get it from a water fountain, a rain cloud or a little bottle attached to the side of a hamster cage!

How many of you think of a nice, cold glass of water when you need to quench your thirst? Whether we are indoors or out – we need to remember to keep our bodies hydrated and water should be the first thing we reach for. Your body is about 60% water and constantly needs to be replenished. Every cell in your body needs water to function properly.

  • Why water? Well, water does a great job in helping to keep our bodies hydrated without adding any sugar, caffeine or other substances
  • How much? You’ve probably heard for years that we all need 8 glasses of water every day – for a total of 64 ounces. Researchers have pointed out that the need for fluid can vary widely among individuals.
  • Does it have to be “plain” water? No, there are many ways to dress up the taste of a glass of water. A fairly common way to flavor the water is to add fruit or vegetable slices – lemons, strawberries, cucumber, etc. You can also add herbs to the water for refreshing drinks. Try a sprig of mint for a refreshing change of taste!
  • Can it help me lose weight? That is a possibility! If you drink a full glass of water before your meal, you may trick your brain into thinking that you are full sooner!       Also, if you substitute water for high calories drinks, you are helping control the number of calories your body is taking in each day.
  • Don’t always rely on your body to tell you that you need some water. When you are hot and sweaty, your thirst mechanism can shut off and you don’t know that you need some fluids. . If our bodies become dehydrated it can lead to physical and mental problems.
  • While water is the best source of fluids for your body, don’t forget that you can count all of the fluids you drink during the day. Many of the fruits and vegetables we eat have high water contents – try watermelon, strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, and celery.
  • Try to keep track of how much water you drink during a typical day. Aiming for the 8 glasses is not a bad thing – just remember that the amount your body needs will vary with your activity level, your body size and the temperature if you are outside and other factors.

Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, rabe.9@sou.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, Treber.1@osu.edu

 

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/feel-your-best-with-water

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/6-reasons-to-drink-water

How Much Water Do You Really Need? Health and Nutrition Newsletter: Tufts University. July 2014. Volume 32, No.5

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FoodServingSizesdownload (2)

Many things have changed in the American diet since the Nutrition Facts label was introduced 20 years ago.  The Nutrition Facts Label, introduced in 1993, helps consumers make informed choices and maintain dietary practices. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing to update the Nutrition Facts label found on most of the food packages here in the United States.

People today are eating much larger serving sizes than they did years ago.  According to the director of FDA’s Center for Health and Safety and Applied Nutrition, Michael Landa, “Obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases are leading public health concerns.”  The proposed food label changes plan to bring greater attention to serving size requirements and calories. In addition, the proposed changes include requiring information about “added sugars:”   Many experts recommend consuming fewer calories from added sugars because they can decrease the intake of nutrient-rich foods while increasing caloric intake. Another change proposed is to require manufacturers to declare the amount of potassium and Vitamin D on the label. Calcium and iron would continue to be required; however, Vitamins A and C would now be included on a voluntary basis.

Food serving sizes will get a reality check. The proposed changes include changing the serving sizes requirements to adequately reflect how people actually eat and drink today. In the U.S., serving sizes have changed since they were introduced 20 years ago. By law, the label information will be based on what a typical person actually eats, and not what they “should” be eating. Serving sizes will be more realistic and reflect how MUCH people eat at one time.  Furthermore since package size affects how much a person eats and drinks, under the proposed changes, food packages will be required to label as one serving the amount that is typically eaten at one time.  Currently, the label states the number of servings in the package.  For example in the future, a 20 ounce soft drink that is typically consumed in one sitting would be labeled as one serving.   So, under the changes, both a 12 and a 20 ounce bottle would equal one serving, since people usually drink the entirety of either of those sizes in one sitting. Calories and serving sizes will be more prominent on the newly proposed label. This is highly important in addressing public health concerns for obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease for our nation.

Written by: Susan Zies, Ohio State University Extension Educator, zies.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Cheryl Barber Spires, RD, LD, Ohio State University SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, spires.53@osu.edu

Sources: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm387418.htm

http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/UCM387431.pdf

http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/guidancedocumentsregulatoryinformation/labelingnutrition/ucm385663.htm

 

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Are you eating wheat products?  Lately, the news has included many stories on how wheat is bad for you causing abdominal fat, triggering diseasewheat and breads, and being linked with Alzheimer’s, headaches, depression and others.

If all that is true why is wheat recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, by nutrition experts and American Heart Association?   Isn’t it a part of the Mediterranean Diet which is highly recommended by nutrition professionals.

Does wheat contribute to abdominal fat or belly fat?  High consumption of refined grains has been associated with greater belly fat in studies.  However, lower belly fat has been associated with the consumption of eating whole grains including whole wheat.  Thus, whole grains including whole wheat do not seem to be the problem.  The problem is our consumption of refined grains.  Cutting out processed foods made with refined wheat (wheat flour, white flour, enriched wheat flour, all-purpose flour) and loaded with sugar and saturated fat will help us all avoid or limit the “wheat belly.”   Limit your consumption of cookies, cakes, pastries, crackers, and white bread.

So what about the other charges on mental effects?  Research has shown that both the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet lower the risk of dementia.  Both diets include consumption of whole grains including whole wheat.  Following those diets showed better cognitive ability in adults ages 65 and up over a period of 11 years.  It is true higher glucose levels from too many carbohydrates is a risk factor for dementia, but cutting out all carbohydrates is not the answer either.  Our brain needs glucose (Carbohydrates break down to glucose in our body.) for energy as it does not store glucose.  Thus, diets low in carbohydrates can hurt our thinking and memory.

Again, it is important to eat whole grains.  Whole grains including whole wheat can provide the glucose needed for our brain.   Whole grains including whole wheat breaks down more slowly than simple carbohydrates like refined grains and sugar.

Whole grains also provide fiber.   Consuming the recommended amount of dietary fiber without whole grains would be very difficult.  Gluten-free diets usually only contain six gram of dietary fiber a day, a lot less than the 25-38 grams recommended by the Institute of Medicine.

Do cwhole-grain-stamphoose a variety of whole grains but including whole wheat, unless you need a gluten-free diet.  When shopping be sure to choose products made with “whole wheat” or “whole-grain wheat.”  You can also look for the 100% Stamp from the Whole Grains Council on foods made with all whole grains.

Note:  If your doctor recommends you follow a gluten-free diet, please continue to follow your doctor’s advice.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Ohio State University Extension, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences

Reviewed by:   Liz Smith, M.S, RDN., L.D. NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-ED, Ohio State University Extension

References:

Tufts University, [2014].  The truth about the war on wheat, Tufts University Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy Health & Nutrition Letter, March 2014 Special Supplement, p. 1-4.

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After viewing a few television shows about the new trends in dining and hot eats – it got me wondering how it would influence my own choices as I prepared foods or choose to eat out in the coming months. Several of the trend lists I viewed were from surveys by the National Restaurant Association, insights from Technomic (a leading food service research firm), and The Food Channel. I found it interesting that a number of the trends fit well with the themes we are promoting through Ohio State University Extension. Here are my favorites:

  • Locally grown in all types of foods including produce, meats, and dairy. Extension has been promoting local foods for several years in Ohio. By buying local, you support your local economy, and you have the opportunity to learn from your local farmer or restaurant how the food was produced and harvested. To learn more about this effort go to http://localfoods.osu.edu/.vegetables
  • Children’s nutrition and more healthful meals for children. This goes back to more vegetables, fruits, and less processed foods. I hope that means restaurants will get on board with the work that many of us have been doing for years (Health Departments, State Government, and our First Lady included).  A national Extension team that I contribute to is working on this topic, so check out our work on eXtension at http://www.extension.org/healthy_food_choices_in_schools.
  • A Midwestern Food Movement is also found in restaurants and with newer television programming and recipe books. Of course growing up in Ohio, I know this is a true, we have good food! Think root vegetables, fresh foods from the garden, catfish, dairy products, pork (goes back to the Chicago hog processing from days past), and many of the traditional comfort foods.
  • Clean eating or not over processed foods is the final restaurant trend I want to focus on. Attempt to eat foods in their natural state; avoid preservatives; reduce salt and try herbs; eat whole grains rather than refined; and use natural fats like olive, canola, or walnut oil. This ties in well with locally grown and the Midwest movement.

This look at the new trends in food and dining has brought forward several messages that are good for all of us – look for foods in their natural state, buy fresh and local when you can, and encourage children to eat these foods by setting a good example. What are you doing to be part of this movement?

Sources:

Technomic, https://www.technomic.com/Pressroom/Releases/dynRelease_Detail.php?rUID=262.

The Food Channel, http://www.foodchannel.com/articles/article/2014-top-ten-food-trends-part-i/.

Ohio State University Extension, Local Foods, http://localfoods.osu.edu/ and Ohio Direct Marketing: Food and Agriculture, https://u.osu.edu/fox.264/.

Author: Lisa Barlage, MS, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Daniel Remley, MSPH, PhD, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension, remley.4@osu.edu.


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Oak Trees In the Snow at Dawn

We have all been shivering through the latest spell of nasty cold weather that is impacting much of the country. While temperatures may be rising a bit – anything over 20 seems balmy right now – we know that cold weather will be around for a while.  Let’s take a minute to think about ways that we can keep ourselves and our family safe.

What should you wear?

  • hat
  • scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
  • sleeves that are snug at the wrist
  • mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
  • water-resistant coat and shoes
  • several layers of loose-fitting clothing

Be sure the outer layer of your clothing is tightly woven, preferably wind resistant, to reduce body-heat loss caused by wind. Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm. Also, avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while de-icing and fueling your car or using a snow blower. These materials in contact with the skin greatly increase heat loss from the body.

 What should you eat?  We might not think that what we eat could be important to fight the dangers of cold weather, but it can be.

· Eating well-balanced meals will help you stay warmer.

· Do not drink alcoholic beverages—they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly. Instead, drink warm, sweet  beverages such as hot chocolate to help maintain your body temperature.

· If you have any dietary restrictions, talk to your doctor.

Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

  • Hypothermia occurs when the body gets cold and loses heat faster than the body can make it. Someone should seek medical attention immediately if they have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.
  • Watch for symptoms of frostbite, including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin. Frostbite refers to the freezing of body tissue (usually skin) that results when the blood vessels contract, reducing blood flow and oxygen to the affected body parts. Normal sensation is lost, and color changes also occur in these tissues.
  • Children and older adults are especially susceptible to these conditions. Keep an eye on them as they may not be aware that they are in danger

Remember your pets
· Bring them indoors if at all possible

· If they have to remain outside, provide shelter to keep them warm and make sure they have access to water that will not freeze.

These do’s and don’ts are common sense reminders that will help keep us safe and healthy even when mother nature is not cooperating!

Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@sou.edu

Reviewed by:  Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Treber.1@osu.edu

Sources:
http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/duringstorm/outdoorsafety.asp

http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/tc/hypothermia-and-cold-temperature-exposure-topic-overview

http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/understanding-frostbite-basics

http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Red-Cross-Offers-Safety-Steps-for-Extreme-Cold

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Tis the season for chocolate. Most of us love chocolate anytime of the year but from Halloween to Valentine’s Day, chocolate seems to be all around us.Chocolate

Is dark chocolate really good for you? Do the flavanols in chocolate really help you?

Chocolate or cocoa powder does have flavanols. The cocoa bean is a rich source of flavanols which are a group of phytochemicals in food.

However, depending on how the cocoa bean is processed many flavanols can be lost. Flavanols tend to be bitter tasting, so manufacturers roast, ferment, pulverize, and sometimes alkalinize the cocoa bean to improve taste. Thus, it is hard to know how much benefit is in that chocolate piece.

• Consuming a large amount of cocoa flavanols has produced benefits including improved endothelial function (dilation of the artery). This helps blood flow through the arteries and may help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.
• Some promises of lowering blood pressure and improving brain function have been seen with consuming large amounts of chocolate.
• Sorry, but chocolate does not help you lose weight. Studies show the more chocolate you eat the more weight you gain.Cocoa

So, how do you get the benefits of the cocoa bean without gaining a lot of weight? Using or eating cocoa powder is your best source. Two tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder will provide you with 200 mg of flavanols and about 20 calories. You could try adding it to your coffee, warm milk, oatmeal or yogurt. That is unsweetened, so if you add sweetener the calorie content will jump. To get 200 mg of flavanols you can choose baking chocolate (unsweetened) providing about 70 calories; 1-1/2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips providing 200 calories or 2 ounces of dark chocolate (at least 65%) with 320 calories. Forget milk chocolate, white chocolate and chocolate syrup as they have few flavanols and lots of calories.

Enjoy chocolate in moderation, yes benefits, but also calories.

Author: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension Fayette County

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County

References:
Schardt, D. [2013]. How bittersweet it is, Nutrition Action HealthLetter, December 2013. 40(10). 8-11.
Zeratsky, K. [2012]. Can chocolate be good for my health? Available at http://mayoclinic.com

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