There Are So Many Flavors Of Potato Chips; ‘Hooked’ Looks At Why

Barbara J. King wrote . . . . . . . . .

Around the corner from where I live in small-town Virginia is a Kroger’s grocery store. According to its website, the store sells 20 flavors of Lay’s potato chips: classic, wavy, wavy ranch, baked, barbecue, sour cream and onion, salt and vinegar, lightly salted, cheddar and sour cream, limon-flavored, honey barbecue, sweet southern heat, dill pickle, flamin’ hot, flamin’ hot and dill pickle, cheddar jalapeno, jalapeno ranch, lime and jalapeno, kettle-cooked, and kettle-cooked mesquite barbecue.

In Hooked: Food, Free Will, and How the Food Giants Exploit Our Addictions, investigative reporter Michael Moss explains why a major food corporation — Lay’s is owned by PepsiCo — would produce such an over-the-top number of versions of potato chips. We are prone to what food scientists called sensory-specific satiety, feeling full when we take in a lot of the same taste, smell, or flavor. Changing a food item even just a little, from barbecue to honey barbecue, let’s say, makes for novelty that lights up our brain.

Eons ago in prehistory, our ancestors survived more readily when they selected varied foods, with varied nutrients, as they gathered or hunted. That evolved tendency “makes it difficult for us to say no when we’re presented with food that’s even just slightly different from what we just ate,” as Moss writes.

Moss explores, through the lens of addiction, the relentless striving of Big Food corporations to hook us on highly processed foods. These are foods loaded with sugar, salt, fat, and preservatives. (Moss’ book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us was published in 2013.)

Addiction is a spectrum, Moss says. Not every person with substance abuse disorder experiences tolerance — which is the need for more and more of the substance to feel its effects — or intense withdrawal symptoms. Some people, scientists have learned, are affected only mildly. The early part of the book is helpful for reframing addiction in this way but, even so, does it make sense to talk about addiction to processed foods as one would about addition to tobacco or heroin?

Moss says yes.

Repetitive behavior that’s difficult to quit and that causes harm — the most accurate definition of addiction — accurately describes what many of us experience when it comes to highly processed foods. In the U.S., the turn towards overeating these foods occurred in the early 1980s, and the subsequent rise in conditions like hypertension, heart disease, cancer and diabetes is linked to it.

A theme for Moss is that the food giant companies consciously exploit our evolved biology, as I mentioned in the example about the potato chips and sensory-specific satiety. Consider the route that different foods take to excite the brain. With tobacco and drugs, the substance must enter the bloodstream in order to reach the brain. But this isn’t the case for a bite of chocolate cake or cheese pizza. The sugar in the cake goes from the taste buds to the brain directly, and the fat zips there through the trigeminal nerve — in both instances incredibly fast. Experiments show that “the faster something reaches the brain, the greater the brain’s response,” Moss writes. Foods that contain both sugar and fat produce a double hit to the brain and thus a double arousal, and food companies know this.

The Big Food companies, Moss explains, are all about publicity and profit even when the dangers to consumers’ health is evident. In 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama called out the food giants for all the substances they add to foods that harm children’s health and contribute to kids’ obesity. In response, manufacturers like Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Kraft and PepsiCo, through the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation they had established the previous year, promised to cut calories from their products.

In fact, this consortium of companies exceeded their initial goal and reached a reduction of 6.4 trillion calories by 2012. A scientific review, however, showed that this reduction works out to a savings of only 78 calories per day per person, Moss notes. And of course it can’t be known how many consumers really did eat less as a result of this project. Much of the calorie reduction, it turns out, came from smaller package or portion sizes. Unfortunately, “the biggest reduction, more than 14 percent of the industry’s 6.4 trillion calories, came from lower sales of fresh and frozen vegetables,” Moss writes.

Occasionally, Moss runs into trouble when reporting beyond the realm of food science. He is fascinated with one species in the human lineage called Ardi, short for Ardipithecus ramidus, discovered by paleoanthropologists in Ethiopia in 1994 and dated to around 4.4 million years ago. Moss describes Ardi as the first biped, or species in our lineage to walk upright (which is not fully clear). His focus on a single species and its physiology as related to food-getting behavior offers a strangely limited picture of our past. Worse, when he refers to Ardi’s “decision to stand up and walk upright,” he misleads readers about how evolution works. It’s not as if Ardi and her kind discussed the matter and made a conscious choice for bipedalism.

Overall, though, Hooked is smoothly written, with just the right amount of fascinating scientific detail. Moss describes ingenious experiments where people enter brain scanners with squares of chocolate already in their mouth, so that researchers can assess effects on the brain as the sweet treat melts on the tongue. He recounts food experiments with animals, that he calls “poignant” (and I’d call “inhumane”) such as when rats are crammed full of sugar-laden foods or forced to endure tubes invading their bodies.

The big food corporations go to “great lengths to maintain the belief that our disordered eating is on us, through our lack of self-control,” Moss writes. Convincingly, Moss points the finger right back at the corporate manipulation and deception that’s meant to amp up our addiction to processed foods. I won’t be buying potato chips anytime soon.

Source: npr

First Baby in U.S. Born with Antibodies Against COVID-19 After Mom Receives Vaccine While Pregnant

Sophie Lewis wrote . . . . . . . . .

At 36 weeks pregnant, a South Florida frontline health care worker received her first shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. She gave birth three weeks later to a healthy baby girl — with COVID-19 antibodies.

Doctors believe the newborn marks the first known case of a baby born with coronavirus antibodies in the U.S., which may offer her some protection against the virus.

Dr. Paul Giblert and Dr. Chad Rudnick presented their findings in a preprint study, meaning it has not yet been peer-reviewed. They found that the antibodies were detected at the time of delivery, after analyzing blood from the baby’s umbilical cord taken immediately after birth and before placenta delivery.

“We have demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies are detectable in a newborn’s cord blood sample after only a single dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine,” they concluded. “Thus, there is potential for protection and infection risk reduction from Sars-CoV-2 with maternal vaccination.”

The doctors emphasize, however, that more research is needed to verify the safety and efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines during pregnancy.

It was already known that mothers previously infected with COVID-19 can pass antibodies on to their newborns. Additionally, the passage of antibodies from mother to baby through the placenta is well documented in other vaccines, including that for influenza, so doctors were hopeful the same newborn protection would be possible after maternal vaccination against COVID-19.

“It really starts aligning the COVID vaccine with those vaccines that we already use in pregnant women like the flu vaccine,” Dr. Neeta Ogden, an internal medicine specialist and immunologist, told CBSN on Wednesday. “We really need, and it is clear that we need, significant data on how safe it is in pregnant women.”

These early results may help give pregnant women more reason to consider getting the vaccine.

“This also is hopeful because it offers a level of protection to one of the most vulnerable populations, the newborn,” Ogden said, emphasizing the need to further study in pregnant women during this pandemic.

Since we don’t have COVID vaccines approved for children yet, she said, “If we can see this kind of safe maternal transmission of antibodies from the vaccine to newborns, I think that’s really a great step in the right direction.”

Other recent studies, also shared in preprint and not yet peer-reviewed, support the findings.

Massachusetts General Hospital recently studied 131 women — 84 pregnant, 31 breastfeeding and 16 non-pregnant — who all received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. They found equally strong immune responses in the pregnant and lactating women as the control group. Additionally, antibodies were present in the placenta and breastmilk of every sample taken.

“Maternal vaccine-generated antibodies were detected in the umbilical cord blood of all 10 babies who delivered during our study period,” co-author Dr. Andrea Edlow, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, told CBS News on Wednesday. “Our data suggest that receiving both shots of the mRNA vaccine leads to improved antibody transfer to newborns.”

Another study out of Israel found antibodies in all 20 women tested who received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, both during their third trimesters and in their newborns, also through placental transfer.

Last month, Pfizer announced that it had begun the first large-scale trial of its vaccine on pregnant women, which it expects to finish by the beginning of 2023. Its vaccine was approved for emergency use in the U.S. in December, and millions of people, including thousands of pregnant women, have taken it already.

Moderna, whose vaccine also received emergency use authorization in the U.S. in December, has not begun trials focusing on pregnancy, but has created a registry to track pregnant women who get its vaccine. Johnson & Johnson, which received emergency use authorization for its vaccine last month, said that it plans to include pregnant women and their infants in its studies as well as collect data on pregnant women via a registry.

Pregnant women were excluded from the original trials of Moderna and Pfizer’s COVID-19 shots, a common practice in such studies.

Source: CBS

Global Food Price Rose to Multi-year High

See large image . . . . . .

Source : Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation

Stroke Risk Higher than Expected Among COVID-19 Patients

New research found patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had a higher risk of stroke, compared with patients who had similar infectious conditions such as influenza and sepsis in prior studies. Those who had an ischemic stroke were more likely to be older, male, Black race, or have high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes or an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) compared with other COVID-19 patients, according to late-breaking science presented today at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2021. The meeting is being held virtually, March 17-19, 2021 and is a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

For this analysis, researchers accessed the American Heart Association’s COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry to investigate stroke risk among patients hospitalized for COVID-19, their demographic characteristics, medical histories and in-hospital survival. The COVID-19 Registry data pulled for this study included more than 20,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across the U.S. between January and November 2020.

“These findings suggest that COVID-19 may increase the risk for stroke, though the exact mechanism for this is still unknown,” said lead study author Saate S. Shakil, M.D., a cardiology fellow at the University of Washington in Seattle. “As the pandemic continues, we are finding that coronavirus is not just a respiratory illness, but a vascular disease that can affect many organ systems.”

Two hundred eighty-one people (1.4%) in the COVID-19 CVD Registry had a stroke confirmed by diagnostic imaging during hospitalization. Of these, 148 patients (52.7%) experienced ischemic stroke; 7 patients (2.5%) had transient ischemic attack (TIA); and 127 patients (45.2%) experienced a bleeding stroke or unspecified type of stroke.

The analysis of COVID-19 patients also found:

  • Those with any type of stroke were more likely to be male (64%) and older (average age 65) than patients without stroke (average age 61);
  • 44% of patients who had an ischemic stroke also had Type 2 diabetes vs. about one-third of patients without stroke, and most of the ischemic stroke patients had high blood pressure (80%) compared to patients without stroke (58%);
  • 18% of ischemic stroke patients had atrial fibrillation, while 9% of those without stroke also had atrial fibrillation;
  • Patients who had a stroke spent an average of 22 days in the hospital, compared to 10 days of hospitalization for patients without stroke; and
  • In-hospital deaths were more than twice as high among stroke patients (37%) compared to patients without stroke (16%).

In addition, stroke risk varied by race. Black patients accounted for 27% of the patients in the COVID-19 CVD Registry pool for this analysis; however, 31% of ischemic stroke cases were among Black patients.

“We know the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color, but our research suggests Black Americans may have higher risk of ischemic stroke after contracting the virus, as well,” Shakil said. “Stroke on its own can have devastating consequences and recovering from COVID-19 is often a difficult path for those who survive. Together, they can exact a significant toll on patients who have had both conditions.”

Shakil added, “It is more important than ever that we curb the spread of COVID-19 via public health interventions and widespread vaccine distribution.”

Source: American Heart Association

Turkish Almodrote


2 robust eggplants, about 2 pounds (you can substitute zucchini if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup grated kashkaval, gruyere, manchego, or equivalent tangy sheep’s milk cheese
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup bread crumbs or matzo meal
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Pierce each eggplant several times with a fork, then put in the oven for 20 minutes.
  3. Cool, then peel the skin and drain and mash the pulp, being sure to remove as much liquid as possible.
  4. Saute the onion and garlic in oil. Add eggplant. Stir in the feta and kashkaval (or other) cheeses, bread crumbs, eggs, and salt to taste. Spoon the mixture into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole and smooth the surface. Press the cherry tomatoes, one by one into the mixture so they peek out the top. Sprinkle with basil and grated Parmesan cheese and bake in the oven at 400°F for 30-35 minutes or until golden on top.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Source: Tablet Magazine

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