Tuesday, February 27, 2007

High-Fructose Corn Syrup and Obesity

Here's an interesting article on corn syrup and obesity, excerpted with permission from the new book SUGAR SHOCK! I hope you enjoy it.Mollie McCarl

As High-Fructose Corn Syrup Takes Off, Obesity SoarsConnie Bennett, C.H.H.C., Author, SUGAR SHOCK! (Berkley Books)

SUGAR SHOCK!: How Sweets and Simple Carbs Can Derail Your Life—and How You Can Get It Back on Track by Connie Bennett, with Dr. Stephen Sinatra

In the 1970s and 1980s, most major American food manufacturers began replacing sugar (sucrose, made from sugarcane or beets) with such corn-based sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). High-fructose corn syrup now is found in an astonishing array of processed goods, including soft drinks and fruit juices, as well as condiments, breads, cookies, breakfast cereals, pasta sauces, frozen foods, jams, and jellies. Food manufacturers made the switch from cane- and beet-based sugar to corn-based HFCS because it’s far cheaper to produce than sucrose. Not only that, but high-fructose corn syrup is sweeter, is easier to handle during processing, has a longer shelf life, and keeps baked goods soft while giving them a warm toasty color. Interestingly, as the use of high-fructose corn syrup has soared, America’s obesity problem has also spiraled out of control. In fact, journalist Greg Critser, author of the intriguing Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World, observes that the lower-priced HFCS has allowed food producers to increase portion sizes without sacrificing profits. Ultimately, he notes, overconsumption of HFCS is “skewing the national metabolism toward fat storage.” Now, a growing body of research and articles support that statement. Indeed, one examination of our sweetener consumption patterns, which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that in a mere 20 years (from 1970 to 1990), consumption of high-fructose corn syrup leaped by more than 1,000 percent, “far exceeding the changes in intake of any other food or food group.” This review of medical literature on the subject, headed up by the internationally renowned obesity and diabetes authority George Bray, M.D., Boyd professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center of the Louisiana State University System and professor of medicine at LSU Medical Center, concluded that the "increased use of HFCS in the United States mirrors the rapid increase in obesity.”
SUGAR SHOCK! (Berkley Books) includes more fascinating information that links corn-based fructose with obesity and an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The book -- which also dishes other sour news about sweets -- offers helpful tips and tactics to help people to break free of their sugar addiction. You can buy SUGAR SHOCK! here. Check out Connie's provocative http://www.sugarshockblog.com/, too.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Even Disney Wants Kids to Eat Right

Nutrition should always be a priority for children's health. Finally there is some great interest in putting healthy choices in schools. I thought you might enjoy this article.

Fruit, veg in schools increase with new nutrition policies

By Lorraine Heller

10/19/2006- The recently implemented school wellness policies have started to have an impact on the types of foods children have access to during the day, with schools already offering more fruits and vegetables, according to a report issued this week.
Released by the School Nutrition Association (SNA), A Foundation for the Future outlines key characteristics of local wellness policies approved by the largest 100 school districts in the United States.
Under terms of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, by July 1, 2006 every school that participates in the school lunch or school breakfast program- the large majority of US schools- had to have a local wellness policy in place.
The policy, designed to address the problem of childhood obesity, requires that schools set nutrition standards for all foods sold in school, including in vending machines, a la carte lines, and school stores.
Although the wellness policy is not federally regulated and is likely to differ form school to school, it contributes to addressing a loophole that allows the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to set standards for foods sold in the lunchroom, but forbids it from setting standards for foods sold elsewhere on campus.
And according to SNA, more fruits and vegetables and cafeteria-based nutrition education are just two of the many ways local school wellness policies are helping promote a healthy childhood weight.
The association’s latest report revealed that the “large majority” of the nation’s 100 largest school districts by enrollment are requiring nutrition education, adding recess and tightening nutrition standards.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint initiative by former President Bill Clinton and the American Heart Association (AHA), earlier this month teamed up with Kraft Foods, Mars, PepsiCo, Dannon and the Campbell Soup Company to help encourage broad acceptance of the new guidelines by increasing the range of qualifying products available to schools.
The science-based nutritional guidelines promote nutrient-rich foods, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and place limits on calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and sodium. The guidelines also promote the consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods.
As part of the commitment, the five leading food companies have said they will reformulate certain products, as well as introduce new lines of healthier snacks for kids.
An earlier agreement within the same alliance resulted in major beverage firms including the Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, and Cadbury Schweppes voluntarily agreeing to stop selling high-calorie soft drinks to elementary and middle schools.
Other initiatives outside of schools include a report issued this year by two government offices - the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Health and Human Services - that recommends food companies and the Children's Advertising Review Unit of the set nutrition standards for products marketed to kids.
Even leading kids' entertainment brand Nickelodeon in July announced it was to team up with a number of US food firms to roll out new children-friendly fruit and vegetable products featuring some of its popular cartoon characters.
And in a move set to have major implications on the types of foods marketed to children, Disney this week announced that it will implement new nutritional guidelines for its licensed products.
Based on the US government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Disney's new policy means that it will only use its name and characters on kid-focused products that meet specific guidelines, including limits on calories, fat, saturated fat and sugar. It also plans to serve more nutritious options and eliminate trans fats from meals served throughout its entertainment parks.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Interesting Info on Stevia

Stevia is a small shrub native to Paraguay. The native Indians there have used it for over 1500 years as a sweetener, a digestive aid, tonic, and as a topical aid for wounds.

Stevia is non-toxic and nutrient-rich, containing substantial amounts of calcium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, zinc, Vitamins A and C and over 100 phytonutrients.
Stevia has been used to reduce cravings for alcohol and tobacco, to normalize blood sugar levels, and to regulate blood pressure. According to research conducted at The Hiroshima University School of Dentistry and the Purdue University Dental Research Group, Stevia retards the formation of plaque and suppresses the growth of cavity-causing bacteria.

Topically, Stevia has many healing capabilities. Applied to a cut or scrape, it stings, but a significant reduction in pain follows, with accelerated healing and reduced scarring. Whole leaf Stevia extract can be used as a face mask - it tightens the skin, smoothes wrinkles and heals skin blemishes and acne. It can also reduce symptoms of dermatitis and eczema as well. Adding Stevia concentrate to shampoos, or applying it to hair after washing, conditions the hair.
Stevia can be purchased in a number of forms - dried leaf form, leaf powder, tea, liquid tincture, extract or concentrate. The less refined the Stevia is, the better. Read labels carefully, as some varieties have additives including alcohol.
The refined form of Stevia, labeled as isolated steviosides, comes in a white powder or liquid extract. These forms are fine and perfectly safe for sweetening, but do not contain all of the health benefits discussed previously.

Stevia makes an excellent sweetener for tea and coffee. It can also be sprinkled on cereals, fruit, added to smoothies, etc. Because of its concentrated sweetness, it is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar, and is therefore difficult to use in baking and cooking at home, although there are conversion charts available. The problem is adjusting the ratio of wet and dry ingredients in a recipe to account for the use of Stevia.

The bottom line is that unrefined stevia is not only safe for use as a sweetener, but has nutritional value as well