FOOD BITES: OCTOBER 2017

U.S. Obesity Rates Begin to Level

After years of increasing, adult obesity rates remained stable in 45 states from 2015 to 2016, according to a new report from the Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit health advocacy organization, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic organization that funds health research.

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FOOD BITES: SEPTEMBER 2017

Tomatoes No Longer Considered ‘Poison Apples’

Originating in Mesoamerica, tomatoes were part of the Aztecs’ diet as early as 700 A.D., but they weren’t grown in Britain until the 1590s. First arriving in southern Europe in the early 16th century via Spanish conquistadors returning from Mesoamerica, the tomato was considered a “poison apple”

….FULL ARTICLE

FOOD BITES: AUGUST 2017

Lead Found in Baby Food

Detectable levels of lead were found in 20 percent of 2,164 baby food samples. Analyzing 11 years of federal data, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) found the toxic metal most commonly in fruit juices, root vegetables and teething biscuits and cookies.

….FULL ARTICLE

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FOOD BITES: MAY 2017

Gluten-Free Diet & Diabetes Risk

People who follow diets with little to no gluten were found to have a slightly higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes over a few decades, according to researchers at Harvard University School of Public Health. “We wanted to determine if gluten consumption will affect health in people with no apparent medical reasons to avoid gluten,” said Dr. Geng Zong, a Harvard University research fellow, at a meeting of the American Heart Association in Portland, Ore. on March 9. The researchers examined 30 years of medical data from nearly 200,000 patients. Just under 16,000 participants developed type 2 diabetes during this period, but those who ate the least gluten had a higher risk. Most of these individuals consumed no more than 12 grams of gluten each – the equivalent of two to three slices of wholemeal bread; the average was six to seven grams. Those in the top 20 percent for gluten intake were 13 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to the bottom 20 percent who typically ate four grams of gluten each day, according to the survey. Other factors were taken into account, such as exercise habits, weight, typical caloric intake and family history of diabetes, yet lower gluten intake was still linked to type 2 diabetes risk. Although those with celiac disease need to follow a gluten-free diet, it has also become a trend among individuals who do not have celiac disease, so much so that a recent study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal last November found the number of Americans who say they’re gluten-free tripled from 2009 to 2014.

The Science Behind the Magic of Honey

Archeologists often find pots of honey that are thousands of years old, still preserved and unspoiled, in Egyptian tombs. There are a few other foods that can keep indefinitely in their raw state – salt, sugar, rice – but only honey can remain preserved in a completely edible form. A variety of factors work in perfect harmony to enable honey to have an eternal edible-ready shelf life and be medicinal. Honey is a sugar, and sugars contain very little water in their natural state, but they can easily suck in moisture if left unsealed; they are hygroscopic. Since honey is very low in moisture, very few bacteria or microorganisms can survive in it; they’re essentially smothered by the environment. This low-moisture quality is what gives honey its longevity. There has to be something else inside the honey or its container for it to spoil. Additionally, honey is naturally extremely acidic with a pH that falls between 3 and 4.5, and such levels of acid will kill off anything that tries to grow in it. Molasses, the byproduct of cane sugar, is also extremely hygroscopic and acidic (about 5.5 pH), yet given enough time, it will spoil. Bees set honey apart from molasses in terms of shelf life. Bee stomachs have an enzyme called glucose oxidase that makes honey so resilient. When bees regurgitate the nectar from their mouths into the combs to make honey, this

enzyme mixes with the nectar, breaking it down into byproducts called gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide. Honey has long been used for medicinal purposes because of the hydrogen peroxide and its thick texture, as recorded in Sumerian clay tablets. When honey is applied to a wound, it will draw out liquid that could cause infection while letting off minute amounts of hydrogen peroxide. The amount of hydrogen peroxide that comes off honey is exactly what is needed – it’s small enough to promote healing. The seal of a honey container is the final factor for honey’s durability. As long as it’s not unsealed in a humid environment and no water is added to it, it won’t spoil.


EPA and FDA Approve Three Famine-Proof GM Potatoes

Three types of potato genetically modified to resist the pathogen responsible for the Irish famine have been deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Drug Administration this January. J.R. Simplot Company, self-described as one of the largest privately owned food and agro-business companies in the United States, has received permission to plant Ranger Russet, Atlantic and Russet Burbank potatoes this spring and sell them in the fall. They will be sold under the company’s Innate brand. They are designed to minimize bruising and black spots, as well as reduce the amount of a potentially carcinogenic chemical that develops when potatoes are cooked at high temperatures. These potatoes are also engineered to resist the water mold that caused the mid-19th-century Irish potato famine, which killed 1 million people and caused another 1 million to emigrate. The potatoes will mostly be grown in Idaho and Wisconsin but will be sold across the nation as pre-cut and pre-peeled potatoes for hotel convention centers and restaurants. McDonald’s, Simplot’s oldest business partner, has rejected using these new potatoes.

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela is a staff writer for Health & Wellness magazine.

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