A USDA study released in March 2008, underscores the poor nutritional habits of most Americans.

The USDA examined major trends in the amount and types of food consumed in the United States between 1970 and 2005, and also estimated whether Americans are meeting Federal dietary recommendations for each of the major food groups. Findings did not bode well for the health of our nation as it showed that although food availability has increased since 1970 for all major food groups, Americans were not meeting current recommendation for a health-promoting diet in any food group: Read the rest of this entry »

Mention “mushrooms” and what comes to mind? Their fabulous taste and texture? Well there’s more to mushrooms than the pleasure of sitting down to a meaty Portabella sandwich, a mixed-mushroom omelet or a steak topped with sautéed white mushrooms. These oh-so-edible fungi also deserve attention for their unique contributions to a healthful diet.

Often grouped with vegetables, mushrooms provide many of the nutritional attributes of produce, as well as attributes more commonly found in meat, beans or grains. Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium, yet they provide several nutrients, including riboflavin, niacin and selenium, which are typically found in animal foods or grains.

Mushrooms are the only natural fresh vegetable or fruit with vitamin D; a serving of 4-5 white button mushrooms provides 15 IU. Preliminary research suggests that the ultraviolet light found in sunlight may boost levels of vitamin D in mushrooms. The natural process of “enriching” mushrooms by briefly exposing mushrooms grown in the dark to light for 5 minutes may boost existing vitamin D levels from 15 IU (4 percent of Daily Value) to as much as 100 percent of the Daily Value (400 IU). Read the rest of this entry »

-by Lauralee Berrill, New Zealand

Let me start by saying a chemical additive doesn’t necessarily ‘appear’ to be a problem immediately after ingestion. Quite often the effects are cumulative; a gradual build-up in the body produces roller-coaster days, some good, some bad. Some children are more sensitive to food chemicals and display immediate effects soon after ingestion of additives, colours in particular. In small amounts additives are not harmful. Effects are dose related and, tragically, dose for weight, children are consuming several times more additives than the acceptable daily intake (ADI).

Before we get into the details of the most common problem foods, it is necessary to understand the testing and approval process, with emphasis on those factors that may confer the level of risk of toxic additives in infants and young children’s diets. Read the rest of this entry »

The last 80 to 100 years have ushered in a drastically different style of eating in comparison to the diets of our grandparents, and their grandparents before them. No longer are our food sources home and community-based. We have become global eaters, consumers of mass-marketed, highly refined and processed “foods.”

An examination of the diets of our ancestors offers a myriad of clues and possibilities to help us find our way back to healthy eating. It is noteworthy that traditional diets that have evolved independently in different parts of the world have a common nutritionally-sound basis. Biologically, humans are omnivores, “eaters of everything.” Compared to the modern Western diet, the diets of our ancestors included far more fiber, less saturated beef fat and no hydrogenated fat such as margarine or shortening. Instead, they consumed more natural fat, particularly the omega-3 essential fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

Traditional dietary practices were closely linked to other social, cultural and spiritual traditions. Respect, awe and a spirit of reverent gratitude pervaded the rituals of obtaining, preparing, eating and sharing food. Indigenous cultures from around the world developed their early eating habits based upon the regional and seasonal availability of foods within their own regions. Read the rest of this entry »

-Kelly Scotti, HHC

Packaged and processed foods get many a family through the day. They’re convenient, portable, and they stay fresh for a long time (thanks to all those preservatives). Many kids can’t get enough of these foods; they’re almost addicted to them. The additives put into processed foods to make them look and taste better include unhealthy amounts of extra salt, fat, and sugar—and those are the ones you can pronounce. These additives, however, have a price that may include side effects, food allergies, increased waist lines, decreased absorption of minerals and vitamins, cancer and more. Today, when one in three American children are overweight or obese (and even more than one in three adults) and food allergies are rampant, we have no choice but to finally pay attention to what we are eating.

Below is a list of the 12 most pervasive and detrimental food additives/substances you can eat, in no particular order.

1. Artificial Sweeteners are a combination of chemicals that exist to make our foods sweeter without the calories of sugar. The funny thing is that our nation has been getting fatter since the widespread introduction of these sweeteners into the food supply. Why would that be? And what are the dangers of artificial sweeteners? Read the rest of this entry »

Are consumer choices (and wallets) finally driving the market toward healthier food choices? Based on recent research studies, it looks like there are some good (and a few not so good) trends on the horizon for the year ahead.

Junk-free foods: Mintel Global New Products Database predicts companies will be more aggressive in removing additives, preservatives, artificial colors or flavors and “otherwise unknown ingredients” from products to make junk-free claims. YES!

Naturally nutrient-rich: Even though sales of pumped-up foods and beverages have been soaring, a backlash against heavy fortification may be brewing. Lynn Dornblaser, a new-products analyst for Mintel, predicts that people will be seeking more natural sources of nutrients. This desire for authentic nutrition is what drove the popularity of pomegranates and the acai berry this year. YES!

Read the rest of this entry »

1. Beets. These grungy-looking roots are naturally sweeter than any other vegetable, which means they pack tons of flavor underneath their rugged exterior.

Why they’re healthy: Think of beets as red spinach. This crimson vegetable is one of the best sources of both folate and betaine. These two nutrients work together to lower your blood levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory compound that can damage your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. Plus, the natural pigments — called betacyanins — that give beets their color have been proved to be potent cancer fighters in laboratory mice.

How to eat them: Fresh and raw, not from a jar. Heating beets actually decreases their antioxidant power. For a simple single-serving salad, wash and peel one beet, and then grate it on the widest blade of a box grater. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. Read the rest of this entry »

Tyson Foods Inc. can no longer label its products as “raised without antibiotics,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

According to the USDA, Tyson launched a $70 million advertising and promotion campaign in June to boost the sales of its products. Meanwhile, Tyson Foods said that it stands by the truthfulness of its product labels and remains fully committed to its “Raised without Antibiotics” chicken program. The company added that it expects no disruption in service to its customers. Read the rest of this entry »

Experts say theres a new generation of superfoods that promise to do double or triple-duty when it comes to preventing illness.

  1. Kiwi. In a recent study, kiwi was found to be one of the most nutritionally dense fruits out of 27 fruits, says Stephanie Dean, R.D., dietitian with Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. Kiwis are full of antioxidants, vitamin E and lutein. They ward off vision problems, blood clots, and even lower cholesterol almost as effectively as the second new superfood on the list, barley. Read the rest of this entry »

ConAgra Foods has removed nearly three million pounds of sodium from a range of products without affecting taste. The announcement coincides with a recent report on a meta-analysis study in the Lancet Chronic Diseases Series, which revealed that reducing salt intake around the world by 15% could prevent almost nine million deaths between 2006 and 2015. Read the rest of this entry »