Chocolate Ramen Launched by Chinese Noodle Chain in Japan

Kourakuen (幸楽苑) Soy Sauce-based Chocolate Ramen Announcement

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New Pancakes of J.S. Pancake Cafe in Japan

Cute Pink Berry Pancake

Cool Black Berry Pancake

The pancakes are available for a limited time period for 1,280 Yen (plus tax) each.

Sweet Potato Maple Pudding

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato (about 1 lb, peeled and cubed
1/3 cup skim milk
1 pkg unflavoured gelatin
1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt
2-1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup
8 pecan halves

Method

  1. In small saucepan, cover sweet potato with water and bring to a boil. Cook for about 15 minutes or until very tender. Drain well and press through fine mesh sieve into bowl.
  2. Sprinkle gelatin over milk and let stand for 1 minute. Place in microwave for 45 seconds until liquid and whisk until smooth. Pour into sweet potato with yogurt and maple syrup.
  3. Divide among 4 ramekins, parfait or wine glasses and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until firm and set. (Can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 1 day.)
  4. Garnish with pecans before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

Study: Switching to Nonsugar Sweeteners Doesn’t Do Much for Health and May Have Risks

Kevin Loria wrote . . . . . . . . .

Switching to diet soda and other foods sweetened with artificial sweeteners or other sugar substitutes may seem like an easy way to improve your health by helping to reduce the amount of sugar you eat.

But evidence that nonsugar sweeteners aid weight loss, oral health, blood sugar levels, or other health problems is extremely limited, according to a major new research review published in the medical journal The BMJ.

According to Joerg Meerpohl, M.D., director of Cochrane Germany and senior author of the review, consuming food and drink sweetened with a nonsugar alternative may have a slight benefit, but “we also cannot definitively exclude any harms” from these products. That’s because previous research has connected sugar substitutes and diet sodas to weight gain, heart problems, and type 2 diabetes.

Of course, getting too much added sugar comes with some of the same health risks. Even so, the results of the new review suggest that more research is needed to determine whether sugar substitutes are a good alternative, according to Vasanti Malik, Sc.D., a research scientist in the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who wrote an accompanying editorial.

What the Study Found

The researchers examined 56 studies that evaluated the health effects of consuming sugar alternatives, known as nonsugar sweeteners or non-nutritive sweeteners.

Some of the studies provided evidence that consuming these sweeteners might have a small beneficial effect on body mass and blood sugar levels. Yet other research showed that people who frequently consumed sugar substitutes gained more weight than those who consumed less of them. For other conditions the study authors looked at, such as diabetes risk and heart disease, there was no benefit or harm associated with sugar substitute consumption.

Some people might think there’s a clear benefit to switching to diet drinks or low-sugar foods sweetened with alternatives, according to Meerpohl. “As our research shows, the evidence for that is not there,” he says.

The Calorie Control Council, a group representing the low- and reduced-calorie food and beverage industry, disputes this conclusion. Referring to sugar substitutes as low- and no-calorie sweeteners, or LNCS, a statement from the group said:

“[I]n contrast to the conclusions made by the study authors, the highest quality scientific evidence shows that the consumption of LNCS results in reductions in body weight, does not lead to weight gain, and does not cause cravings leading to increased intake. . . . LNCS continue to be a useful tool, along with diet and exercise, in helping to support weight management and weight loss.”

Based on what’s in the review, there’s no clear health-related reason for the average person to switch from products sweetened with sugar to alternatives, according to David Seres, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University Medical Center. “Why do it if there’s no benefit, even if there’s not much proof of harm, unless you like the flavor?” he says.

Malik, however, sees a potential use for sugar substitutes. Most Americans consume far too much added sugar, getting more than 300 calories (75 grams) a day. Health authorities recommend much less—a maximum of 25 to 50 grams per day. Sugar substitutes might help people cut back.

“The goal isn’t to get people to switch from sugar to diet [drinks]. It’s to get people to switch from sugar to water, but diet [drinks or foods] might be an intermediate way to help them,” Malik says.

She also notes that it’s possible this review didn’t fully capture potential health benefits. The authors included only studies that could specifically identify the nonsugar sweetener used, which eliminates some research on the topic. And in some cases where consumption of these sweeteners was associated with risk for diabetes or weight gain, it may be that the people consuming these “diet” products did so because they were at risk for health problems, which could be why consumption of these products seems connected to those risks.

Concerns About Nonsugar Sweeteners

Past studies have linked low- or no-calorie sweeteners to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and cancer.

Even if some of these links can be explained away because the subjects involved are already in poor health, some of the links could be real. There also have been concerns that nonsugar sweeteners change the microbiome—the bacteria that live in and on us and have significant effects on health—in ways that could increase disease risk. Other researchers have questioned whether people who consume these sweeteners are more likely to develop a taste for sugary foods and drinks throughout their lives, especially if they consume these sweeteners as children, according to Malik.

Additionally, people may not be aware just how much of these sugar substitutes they consume. “We’re seeing some products you wouldn’t think of as ‘diet’ that contain some type of sugar, and a non-nutritive sweetener, such as sucralose or stevia,” says Amy Keating, R.D., a Consumer Reports dietitian. These include sports drinks, fruit drinks, low-fat ice creams, and even English muffins. “It’s possible that manufacturers are trying to keep their products’ sugars count low but still give them a sweet flavor. Consumers wouldn’t know, though, unless they look at the ingredients list.”

And the many nonsugar sweeteners that could appear on that list may have different effects on health, positive or negative. That applies even to sweeteners sold as “natural,” according to Malik.

What You Should Do

The current review wasn’t designed to provide a definitive answer on the question of whether you should consume nonsugar sweeteners, according to Meerpohl.

Even so, “I would say that there is a good, and safe, alternative for people,” he says. That alternative is “water and non- [or] less-sweetened foods.”

Consumer Reports’ experts advise a cautious approach because the study authors acknowledge more research is needed.

“Our recommendation would be to limit added sugars and nonsugar sweeteners,” Keating says. “It could be better to limit yourself to a small glass of regular soda every once in awhile rather than drinking as much diet soda as you want and assuming it has no impact on your health. Better yet, drink water.”

Source: Consumer Reports

Soluble Fiber May Improve Diabetes Control

Lisa Rapaport wrote . . . . . . . . .

People with diabetes who take soluble fiber supplements have slightly lower blood sugar than diabetics who don’t add this type of fiber to their diets, a research review finds.

Researchers focused on supplements containing viscous fiber, a type of soluble fiber that forms a thick gel when mixed with water. Foods like legumes, asparagus, oats, and flax contain viscous fiber; supplements with this type of fiber include guar gum, psyllium and pectin.

To examine the connection between viscous fiber supplements and blood sugar, researchers examined data from 28 clinical trials with a total of 1,394 participants with diabetes. People were randomly chosen to take viscous fiber supplements or to use other types of supplements without viscous fiber or no supplements at all.

Among the people taking viscous fiber supplements, half consumed doses above 13 grams daily, for periods ranging from three weeks to a year. Compared to participants who didn’t take viscous fiber, those who did had better blood sugar control. They had lower levels of hemoglobin A1c, which reflects average blood sugar over about three months. They also had lower blood sugar levels on an empty stomach, known as fasting glucose levels.

These results “suggest that intake of around 1 tablespoon of concentrated viscous fibers such as konjac, guar, pectin or psyllium would result in reductions in A1c and other diabetes risk factors,” said senior study author Dr. Vladimir Vuksan of St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto in Canada.

People with diabetes have long been advised to consume more fiber as one way to help lower their blood sugar. But many, particularly those who follow a typical Western diet with lots of meat and potatoes, don’t get anywhere near enough fiber to make a meaningful difference in diabetes, the study authors note in Diabetes Care.

Supplements have become an increasingly common way for these patients to get more fiber. While the reason viscous fiber seems to lower blood sugar isn’t clear, scientists think that it might work in a variety of ways, including improving microbial health in the gut.

Source: Reuters