Thursday, February 28, 2013

American Foods Chockfull of Ingredients Banned in Other Countries

By Dr. Mercola
More than 3,000 food additives -- preservatives, flavorings, colors and other ingredients -- are added to foods in the United States.
While each of these substances are legal to use in the US, whether or not they are safe for long-term consumption -- by themselves or in combination -- is a different story altogether. Many have been deemed too harmful to use in other countries.
When you consider that about 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food goes toward processed foods loaded with these additives, it’s no wonder most people are carrying a hefty toxic load that can wreak havoc on their health.
A list of ingredients that are banned across the globe but still allowed for use in America recently made the news. The list is featured in the new book, Rich Food, Poor Food, authored by nutritionist Mira Calton and her husband Jayson.
The banned ingredients include various food dyes, the fat substitute Olestra, brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate (aka brominanted flour), Azodicarbonamide, BHA, BHT, rBGH, rBST, and arsenic.
Seeing that the overall health of Americans is so much lower than other industrialized countries, you can’t help but wonder whether toxic ingredients such as these might play a role in our unhealthy conditions.
Meanwhile, Russia has announced that it plans to extend a ban on U.S. beef, pork and turkey imports coming into effect this month, due to the feed additive ractopamine in the meats. Ractopamine is a growth stimulant banned in several countries, including Russia.

Processed Foods Depend on Additives

When foods are processed, not only are valuable nutrients lost and fibers removed, but the textures and natural variation and flavors are also lost. After processing, what's left behind is a bland, uninteresting "pseudo-food" that most people wouldn’t want to eat.
So at this point, food manufacturers must add back in the nutrients, flavor, color and texture to processed foods in order to make them palatable, and this is why they become loaded with food additives.
Most commonly, additives are included to slow spoilage, prevent fats and oils from going rancid, prevent fruits from turning brown, fortify or enrich the food with synthetic vitamins and minerals to replace the natural ones that were lost during processing, and improve taste, texture and appearance. When reading product packages, here are some of the most common food additives1 to watch out for:
  • Preservatives: sodium benzoate, sodium nitrite, potassium sorbate, BHA, BHT, TBHQ
  • Sweeteners and artificial sweeteners: fructose, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium (acesulfame-K)
  • Artificial colors: FD&C Blue Nos. 1 and 2, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Red Nos. 3 and 40, FD&C Yellow Nos. 5 and 6, Orange B, Citrus Red No. 2
  • Artificial flavors
  • Flavor enhancers: monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed soy protein, autolyzed yeast extract

Top Offenders to Avoid

According to the Caltons, the following 13 additives are the worst of the more than 150 individual ingredients they investigated during their six-year long journey, which took them through 100 different countries.2
IngredientFound inHealth Hazards
Coloring agents: blue 1, blue 2, yellow 5, and yellow 6Cake, candy, macaroni and cheese, medicines, sport drinks, soda, pet food, and cheeseMost artificial colors are made from coal tar, which is a carcinogen
Olestra (aka Olean)Fat-free potato chipsDepletion of fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids. Side effects include oily anal leakage
Brominated vegetable oil (aka BVO)Sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodasCompetes with iodine for receptor sites in the body, which can lead to hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, and cancer. The main ingredient, bromine, is a poisonous, corrosive chemical, linked to  major organ system damage, birth defects, growth problems, schizophrenia, and hearing loss
Potassium bromate (aka brominated flour)Rolls, wraps, flatbread, bread crumbs, and bagel chipsSee bromine above. Associated with kidney and nervous system disorders,  gastrointestinal discomfort
AzodicarbonamideBreads, frozen dinners, boxed pasta mixes, and packaged baked goodsLinked to asthma
BHA and BHTCereal, nut mixes, gum, butter, meat, dehydrated potatoes, and beerBHA may be a human carcinogen, a cancer-causing agent. BHT can cause organ system toxicity
Synthetic hormones: rBGH and rBSTMilk and dairy productsLinked to breast, colon, and prostate cancers
ArsenicPoultryEPA classifies inorganic arsenic as a "human carcinogen"

What’s With the Double-Standards?

The food industry has already formulated safer, better products for other countries, in which these and other harmful ingredients are banned. So why do they insist on selling inferior versions in America? For clear examples, take a look at a recent article on In it, Vani Hari shows the ingredient labels of several common foods sold in the US and the UK, such as Betty Crocker’s Red Velvet cake mix, McDonald’s French fries, and Pizza Hut’s garlic cheese bread. Amazingly, while these foods can be created using a bare minimum of additives in the UK (and sometimes none), in the US, they’re absolutely LOADED with chemicals.
“The food industry does not want us to pay attention to the ingredients nor do they care about the negative effects from eating them. They certainly don’t care about the astronomical medical bills that are a direct result of us eating the inferior food they are creating,” Vani Hari writes.
“...We as a collective nation must stop this trajectory of sickness and rising health care costs, by understanding the ingredients we are putting into our bodies. We must challenge the U.S. food industry to discontinue the use of banned ingredients that are not allowed elsewhere in the world. We deserve to have the same quality food without potential toxins.”

Russia Issues Long-Term Ban on US Meat

In related “questionable food” news, Russia recently banned US meat supplies after discovering it contains ractopamine—a beta agonist drug that increases protein synthesis, thereby making the animal more muscular. This reduces the fat content of the meat. As reported by Pravda,4 Russia is the fourth largest importer of US meats, purchasing about $500 million-worth of beef and pork annually.
Effective February 11, Russia will no longer allow US meat imports, stating the ban “is likely to last for a long time.”5 All meat suppliers wishing to sell their meat and meat products to Russia must certify their meat as ractopamine-free—a condition the US has so far refused to comply with.
The drug is banned for use in 160 countries, including China and Russia, but allowed in 24 countries, including Canada and the United States. While the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) considers ractopamine safe and doesn’t test for it, Russia’s chief health inspector, Gennady Onishchenko, claims there are “serious questions” about the safety of the drug. He previously told the New York Times:6
“For instance, use of ractopamine is accompanied by a reduction in body mass, suppression of reproductive function, increase of mastitis in dairy herds, which leads to a steep decline in the quality and safety of milk.”
Ractopamine is also known to affect the human cardiovascular system, and may cause food poisoning, according to Pravda.7It’s also thought to be responsible for hyperactivity, muscle breakdown, and can increase death and disability in livestock. While other drugs require a clearance period of around two weeks to help ensure the compounds are flushed from the meat prior to slaughter (and therefore reduce residues leftover for human consumption), there is no clearance period for ractopamine.
In fact, livestock growers intentionally use the drug in the last days before slaughter in order to increase its effectiveness. According to veterinarian Michael W. Fox, as much as 20 percent of ractopamine remains in the meat you buy from the supermarket. Despite potential health risks, the drug is used in 45 percent of US pigs, 30 percent of ration-fed cattle, and an unknown percentage of turkeys.

What’s the Simplest Way to Avoid Harmful Food Additives?

Ditch processed foods entirely. (If you live in Europe you may have more options than Americans, as you may be able to find some processed foods that do not contain any synthetic additives.) About 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food is spent on processed foods, so there is massive room for improvement in this area for most people.
Swapping your processed food diet for one that focuses on fresh whole foods may seem like a radical idea, but it's a necessity if you value your health. And when you put the history of food into perspective, it's actually the processed foods that are "radical" and "new." People have thrived on vegetables, meats, eggs, fruits and other whole foods for centuries, while processed foods were only recently invented.
If you want to eat healthy, I suggest you follow the 1950s (and before) model and spend quality time in the kitchen preparing high-quality meals for yourself and your family. If you rely on processed inexpensive foods, you exchange convenience for long-term health problems and mounting medical bills. For a step-by-step guide to make this a reality in your own life, simply follow the advice in my optimized nutrition plan along with these seven steps to wean yourself off processed foods.
When it comes to staying healthy, avoiding processed foods and replacing them with fresh, whole foods is the "secret" you've been looking for. Additionally, the more steps your food goes through before it reaches your plate, the greater your chances of contamination becomes. If you are able to get your food locally, you eliminate numerous routes that could expose your food to contamination with disease-causing pathogens.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Recipe - Overnight Oats

You know the benefits of eating breakfast, but you also know the benefits of getting enough sleep. Do you really have to choose which one is more important? Not anymore you don’t - now you can have both. I have to admit that I was somewhat addicted to this stuff over the summer and experimented with many different add-ins to keep my palate excited. 

Overnight Oats are oats mixed with a liquid of your choice and soaked overnight to absorb the liquid and the flavor of whatever ingredients you add. The most common mixture is equal parts raw rolled oats, milk and yogurt, but you may want to alter the amount of milk for a thinner or thicker consistency. 

This is an affordable, healthy breakfast that provides whole grains, protein, fiber and fruit to get start your morning off right. And trust me, it could not be easier. Simply mix everything together in a sealed container or a Mason jar (like the ones you use for homemade jam) and set in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, grab a spoon and you have breakfast. Voila! If you want to take the chill off, microwave for 20 seconds. Either way, it’s a delicious way to start your day. 

Overnight Oats (Basic Recipe) 

· 1/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
· 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup skim milk (soy milk, almond milk, etc)
· 1/4 cup low-fat Greek yogurt (regular yogurt will give your oats a thinner consistency)
· 1-1/2 teaspoons chia seeds
· Sweetener and/or spice
· Fruit

Have fun experimenting with different flavor combinations – your oatmeal is only as good as your imagination! To get you thinking, I’ve included a few of my favorites.

Pumpkin Spice
· ½ teaspoon cinnamon
· 1 teaspoon honey, agave or stevia to taste
· ¼ cup pumpkin

Peanut Butter Banana
1 tablespoon peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice)
1 teaspoon honey, agave or stevia to taste
½ small banana, cut into small pieces

Maple Blueberry
· 2 teaspoons maple syrup
· 1/4 cup blueberries

Apple Cinnamon
· 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
· 1 teaspoon honey, agave or stevia to taste
· 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tablespoon raspberry jam
1/4 cup raspberries 

Guest Blogger: Laura White, USD Dietetic Intern

Monday, February 25, 2013

9 Foods To Help Your Heart

What you eat can help your heart. Foods that are rich in fiber, omega-3 fats and antioxidants top the list of foods to include. Incorporating these foods into your eating routine can help to lower your total cholesterol, increase healthy (HDL) cholesterol and drive down lousy (LDL) cholesterol levels. Try these quick ideas:

Flax: Opt for ground flax seed or liquid flax seed oil. A favorite liquid flaxseed oil is Barlean's Omega Swirl Flaxseed oil, it tastes SO GOOD and is great on plain yogurt, in smoothies or as a topping for oatmeal.
Brown rice: When you're out to eat ask for brown rice instead of white rice, there is more fiber and nutrients! And when cooking at home trade-in white rice for whole-grain brown rice or brown rice blends.
Walnuts: The nut that is loaded with the most heart helping omega-3 fat are walnuts. Try adding them to quick breads or muffins, oatmeal, salads and trail mix for heart helping crunch.
Quiona: This seed cooks up similar to brown rice and is full of fiber and a complete source of protein. It works great as a stand-in for rice with stir-fry or in grain based salads like tabbouleh.  
Oatmeal: Start your morning with a bowl of hot oatmeal! If you are short on time, cook up a batch of oatmeal and then store in an air tight container and heat your portion of oatmeal every morning. Try topping oatmeal with fresh fruit to limit the amount of added sugar.
Berries: The bright red and purple colors of berries are linked to helping heart health and they go great in a salad or as a side dish at most meals. Try adding a serving of fruit to every meal!
Salmon: Some fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and sardines have heart helping fats. The American Heart Association recommends having heart healthy fish two times per week.
Avocado: A fruit that is rich in monounsaturated fats which can help boost healthy (HDL) cholesterol levels. Try using avocado as a spread on sandwiches instead of mayo, adding avocado to salads and serve guacamole as a dip for sliced veggies or multi-grain tortilla chips.
Beans: All types of beans are full of fiber which helps to lower cholesterol levels, add in beans to soup, salads and rice dishes to increase the fiber. If you're worried about kids picking them out, opt for light colored beans like pinto beans to help them blend in better.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Greek Yogurt

What’s all the hype about Greek yogurt? Do you know the difference between this and the yogurt you’re used to seeing in the supermarket?

Greek yogurt is made by straining off the whey, which gives it a thick, rich and creamy consistency.  It’s very high in protein and the unsweetened version is lower in sugar and carbohydrates than traditional unsweetened yogurt. Most national brands are non-fat or low-fat, but make sure you check the label. 

While the healthiest way to enjoy yogurt is to buy it unsweetened and add fresh fruit, I realize that this is not always preferable or convenient. Many people are not used to eating plain yogurt since their taste buds have become accustomed to the sweetened version. This would also hold true with Greek yogurt, as the plain version has a slightly sour taste. Either way, Greek yogurt contains approximately twice the amount of protein and half the amount of carbohydrates than a similar amount of traditional yogurt. The benefits don’t stop there.

Aside from eating Greek yogurt as a high protein breakfast or snack, you may want to try using it as a condiment or in recipes.
  • Substitute unsweetened/plain Greek yogurt for sour cream on baked potatoes or taco
  • Use it to replace some of the eggs or oil when making baked goods
  • Add Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise to tuna salad, egg salad or pasta salad for a tangy kick
  • Start with a base of Greek yogurt and make a savory veggie dip by adding herbs and spices

Still skeptical?  Check out the nutrition label from Dannon’s version of Greek and traditional yogurt.  Yes, the calories are similar, but the added protein will keep you feeling full longer. What’s not to love about that?

Greek (5.3 ounces, nonfat, plain)
  • Calories: 80
  • Total fat: 0 grams
  • Cholesterol: 10 milligrams
  • Sodium: 50 milligrams
  • Sugar: 6 grams
  • Protein: 15 grams
  • Calcium: 15 percent on a 2,000-calorie diet
Regular (6 ounces, nonfat, plain)
  • Calories: 80
  • Total fat: 0 grams
  • Cholesterol 5 milligrams
  • Sodium: 120 milligrams
  • Sugar: 12 grams
  • Protein: 9 grams
  • Calcium: 30 percent on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Guest Blogger: Laura White, USD Dietetic Intern

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Nutrition Facts for Popular Sports Drinks

Replenishing fluid and electrolyte losses are an essential part of training and recovery. Your rehydration needs may be different depending on the duration and intensity of exercise you are doing. Luckily, not all sports drinks are created equal. There is a wide variety of drinks available that have different amounts of total calories, carbohydrates, and electrolytes. If you are exercising for long periods of time (more than 1 hour) and/or exercising at a high intensity that causes you to sweat a lot, you may want to choose a sports drink that contains carbohydrates and electrolytes to replenish what you lost. If you are a recreational athlete who works out for 45 minutes to an hour at the gym every day, a better choice for you might be one of the lower-calorie beverages or even plain water. Keep in mind that the reduced calorie sports drinks contain artificial sweeteners so they should be consumed in moderation. After reading this, hopefully you will be able to determine which formula of sports drink is right for you.

Nutrient breakdown of common sports drinks, per serving:
  • Gatorade: 50 kcals, 14 g CHO, 110 mg Sodium, 30 mg Potassium, 0 g Prot
  • Powerade: 50 kcals, 14 g CHO, 100 mg Sodium, 25 mg Potassium, 0 g Prot
  • Vitamin Water: 120 kcals, 33 g CHO, 0 mg Sodium, 0 mg Potassium, 0 g Prot
  • Gatorade Recover: 110 kcals, 20 g CHO, 105 mg Sodium, 0 mg Potassium, 0 g Prot
  • Gatorade Fit: 10 kcals, 2 g CHO, 110 mg Sodium, 30 mg Potassium, 0 g Prot
  • Gatorade Endurance: 50 kcals, 14 g CHO, 200 mg Sodium, 90 mg Potassium, 0 g Prot
  • G2: 20 kcals, 5 g CHO, 110 mg Sodium, 30 mg Potassium, 0 g Prot
  • Powerade Zero: 0 kcals, 0 g CHO, 100 mg Sodium, 25 mg Potassium, 0 mg Prot
  • Propel Zero: 0 kcals, 0 g CHO, 100 mg Sodium, 25 mg Potassium, 0 mg Prot
  • Vitamin Water Zero: 20 kcals, 5 g CHO, 0 mg Sodium, 0 mg Potassium, 0 mg Prot
Guest Blogger: Jocelyn Johnson, USD Dietetic Intern