In Pictures: Limited-time Menu of Hawaiian Dishes Offered by Sizzler Restaurants in Japan

Average Soda Fountain Serving in the U.S. Exceeds Daily Recommended Added Sugars

You’ll get more than a day’s worth of added sugars when you pour a soda fountain drink at most U.S. restaurant chains, a new report finds.

Even small-sized drinks exceed recommended guidelines, said researchers at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

For the study, CSPI researchers examined levels of added sugar in full-calorie soda fountain drinks at the top 20 restaurant chains by revenue.

The investigators found that small drinks averaged 65 grams of added sugar — more than the recommended daily limit of 50 grams (12 teaspoons) of added sugar, based on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Medium or regular drinks averaged 75 grams — that’s 1½ times the recommended limit. Large drinks, averaging 109 grams, had more than two days’ worth of added sugar.

The report suggests that state and local governments in the United States should require menus to include warning icons on items with high levels of added sugar.

“People are returning to restaurants and dining out more,” said Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs for the CSPI.

“Sugar warnings would allow all of us to make more informed decisions about our own health by providing information on menus about the added sugars that are often hidden in restaurant foods and beverages,” she said in a center news release.

The researchers also found that even drinks sold as part of meal combinations usually had more than the recommended daily limit of added sugar. And half of kids’ drinks had more than 40 grams of added sugar.

Making it harder for consumers to manage their sugar intake, sugar content in the same size soda could vary threefold from restaurant chain to chain, according to the report.

Citing a New York City idea as a model, the researchers said a proposal there would require icons on menu items that exceed the 50-gram recommended daily limit for added sugar.

A new survey accompanying the report showed that three-quarters of New York State residents support having these warnings on menus.

The findings were released online by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Source: HealthDay

The Southern Diet – Fried Foods and Sugary Drinks – May Raise Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death

Regularly eating a Southern-style diet may increase the risk of sudden cardiac death, while routinely consuming a Mediterranean diet may reduce that risk, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access journal of the American Heart Association.

The Southern diet is characterized by added fats, fried foods, eggs, organ meats (such as liver or giblets), processed meats (such as deli meat, bacon and hotdogs) and sugar-sweetened beverages. The Mediterranean diet is high in fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains and legumes and low in meat and dairy.

“While this study was observational in nature, the results suggest that diet may be a modifiable risk factor for sudden cardiac death, and, therefore, diet is a risk factor that we have some control over,” said James M. Shikany, Dr.P.H., F.A.H.A., the study’s lead author and professor of medicine and associate director for research in the Division of Preventive Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“Improving one’s diet – by eating a diet abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish such as the Mediterranean diet and low in fried foods, organ meats and processed meats, characteristics of the Southern-style dietary pattern, may decrease one’s risk for sudden cardiac death,” he said.

The study examined data from more than 21,000 people ages 45 and older enrolled in an ongoing national research project called REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS), which is examining geographic and racial differences in stroke. Participants were recruited between 2003 and 2007. Of the participants in this analysis, 56% were women; 33% were Black adults; and 56% lived in the southeastern U.S., which is noteworthy as a region recognized as the Stroke Belt because of its higher stroke death rate. The Stroke Belt states included in this study were North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana.

This study is the latest research to investigate the association between cardiovascular disease and diet – which foods have a positive vs. negative impact on cardiovascular disease risk. It may be the only study to-date to examine the association between dietary patterns with the risk of sudden cardiac death, which is the abrupt loss of heart function that leads to death within an hour of symptom onset. Sudden cardiac death is a common cause of death and accounted for 1 in every 7.5 deaths in the United States in 2016, or nearly 367,000 deaths, according to 2019 American Heart Association statistics.

Researchers included participants with and without a history of coronary heart disease at the beginning of the study and assessed diets through a food frequency questionnaire completed at the beginning of the study. Participants were asked how often and in what quantities they had consumed 110 different food items in the previous year.

Researchers calculated a Mediterranean diet score based on specific food groups considered beneficial or detrimental to health. They also derived five dietary patterns. Along with the Southern-style eating pattern, the analysis included a “sweets” dietary pattern, which features foods with added sugars, such as desserts, chocolate, candy and sweetened breakfast foods; a “convenience” eating pattern which relied on easy-to-make foods like mixed dishes, pasta dishes, or items likely to be ordered as take-out such as pizza, Mexican food and Chinese food; a “plant-based” dietary pattern was classified as being high in vegetables, fruits, fruit juices, cereal, bean, fish, poultry and yogurt; and an “alcohol and salad” dietary pattern, which was highly reliant on beer, wine, liquor along with green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and salad dressing.

Shikany noted that the patterns are not mutually exclusive. “All participants had some level of adherence to each pattern, but usually adhered more to some patterns and less to others,” he explained. “For example, it would not be unusual for an individual who adheres highly to the Southern pattern to also adhere to the plant-based pattern, but to a much lower degree.”

After an average of nearly 10 years of follow-up every six months to check for cardiovascular disease events, more than 400 sudden cardiac deaths had occurred among the 21,000 study participants.

The study found:

  • Overall, participants who ate a Southern-style diet most regularly had a 46% higher risk of sudden cardiac death than people who had the least adherence to this dietary pattern.
  • Also, participants who most closely followed the traditional Mediterranean diet had a 26% lower risk of sudden cardiac death than those with the least adherence to this eating style.

The American Heart Association’s Diet and Lifestyle recommendations emphasize eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, fish, beans, legumes, nuts and non-tropical vegetable cooking oils such as olive and canola oil. Limiting saturated fats, sodium, added sugar and processed meat are also recommended. Sugary drinks are the number one source of added sugar in the U.S. diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Heart Association supports sugary drink taxes to drive down consumption of these products.

“These findings support the notion that a healthier diet would prevent fatal cardiovascular disease and should encourage all of us to adopt a healthier diet as part of our lifestyles,” said Stephen Juraschek, M.D., Ph.D., a member of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee of the Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Council. “To the extent that they can, people should evaluate the number of servings of fruit and vegetables they consume each day and try to increase the number to at least 5-6 servings per day, as recommended by the American Heart Association. Optimal would be 8-9 servings per day.

“This study also raises important points about health equity, food security and social determinants of health,” he continued. “The authors describe the “Southern Diet” based on the U.S. geography associated with this dietary pattern, yet it would be a mistake for us to assume that this is a diet of choice. I think American society needs to look more broadly at why this type of diet is more common in the South and clusters among some racial, ethnic or socioeconomic groups to devise interventions that can improve diet quality. The gap in healthy eating between people with means and those without continues to grow in the U.S., and there is an incredible need to understand the complex societal factors that have led and continue to perpetuate these disparities.”

This current research expands on earlier studies on participants from the same national stroke project, REGARDS. In a 2018 analysis, Shikany and colleagues reported that adults ages 45 and older with heart disease who had an affinity for the Southern diet had a higher risk of death from any cause, while greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with a lower risk of death from any cause. And in a 2015 study, the Southern diet was linked to a greater risk of coronary heart disease in the same population.

The large population sample and regional diversity, including a significant number of Black participants, are considered strengths of the REGARDS research project. However, potential limitations of this study include that that dietary intake was based on one-time, self-reported questionnaires, thus, it relied on the participants’ memory. Self-reported diet can include inaccuracies leading to bias that could reduce the strength of the associations observed.

One usual association that remains unexplained is that among individuals with a history of heart disease, those who most adhered to the sweets dietary pattern had a 51% lower risk of sudden cardiac death than participants who followed that pattern the least. Researchers note that they found “no viable explanation for the inverse association of the sweets dietary pattern with risk of sudden cardiac death in those with a history of coronary heart disease.”

Source: American Heart Association

UBC Chemist Helps Create New Compostable Coffee Pod

Dr. Zac Hudson believes your morning cup of coffee should be strong and guilt-free.

That’s why the University of British Columbia scientist has spent the past three years creating a new fully compostable coffee pod with Surrey-based NEXE Innovations.

“Every year more than 40 billion single-use coffee pods end up in landfill. If they’re made of plastic, they could be sitting there for hundreds or thousands of years,” said Dr. Hudson, an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Chemistry. “We wanted to create a compostable pod to tackle this problem – and make sure the coffee still tasted great.”

Enter the NEXE pod, which composts completely in as little as 35 days in industrial compost. The pods are made from two specially engineered components: an outer fibre jacket and a bioplastic inner capsule designed to break down into carbon dioxide, water and organic biomass – leaving no microplastic behind.

Engineering new sustainable materials

In order to create a fully compostable pod, Dr. Hudson – whose research focuses on the development of new materials to address issues of sustainability – had to formulate a new bioplastic.

Traditional plastics are made from chemicals, or monomers, derived from fossil fuels. Bioplastics use monomers derived from biomass such as wood or plants.

“We started out by importing bioplastics from overseas and trying them out for the pods we wanted to create. This helped us learn which materials worked well and which didn’t, so we could create new formulations in-house or with the help of our partners,” said Dr. Hudson, who is also now the Chief Scientific Officer at NEXE Innovations.

There were a number of challenges to consider. Many compostable pods already on the market are soft-bottomed, exposing the coffee grounds to moisture and air and allowing them to go stale quickly. They also hold fewer coffee grounds than plastic pods, which can lead to a relatively weak brew.

They also couldn’t look or feel too much like traditional plastic. “This has been a huge barrier to adoption of compostable pods in the past – consumers can’t tell them and regular plastic apart,” said Darren Footz, CEO of NEXE Innovations.

The team eventually settled on a two-part solution:

  1. a bioplastic inner capsule made from polylactic acid (PLA) compounded with other natural ingredients that addresses moisture, air and heat issues and holds a large volume of coffee grounds.
  2. an outer jacket made from bamboo that still looks and feels like plant fibre.

Tackling plastic waste with industry and government

The new bioplastic was tested in collaboration with Dr. Hudson’s research group at UBC, while the composting of the pods was tested at the Surrey Biofuel Facility, which handles all compost for the city of Surrey.

“We are now making our own bioplastics at our facility in Surrey, and are looking to bring significant bioplastics manufacturing capacity to Canada,” said Dr. Hudson. “We’re also working on home composting solutions for our pods.”

The pods are compatible with all Keurig K-Cup brewing systems and launched commercially this month – selling out of their entire launch inventory in one day. The company recently announced Nespresso-compatible pods set to begin production later in 2021.

Funding for research and production was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Engage grant; the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies Wall Solutions Grant; and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCAN) Plastics Challenge. In January 2021, NEXE Innovations received a $1-million investment from NRCAN to scale up manufacturing of their Nespresso-compatible pods.

“Coffee drinkers are very discerning: if you make a product that is good for the planet, but the coffee tastes bad, they’re going to lose interest pretty quickly,” said Dr. Hudson. “We want our pods to be the best of both.”

Source: The University of British Columbia

Afternoon Tea of Rihga Royal Hotel in Tokyo, Japan

Taiwan Edition

Sweets

  • Taiwan Castella
  • Pineapple Cake
  • Milk Nougat
  • Mango Pudding and Chandon Syrup
  • Lychee Macaron
  • Nuts Praline

Savoury Items

  • Taiwanese rice dumplings
  • Sweet and spicy boiled pork roll sandwich
  • Stir-fried rice noodles with crab

The price is 5,000 yen (tax included).