How Foods Labeled ‘Healthy’ Can Still Make You Fat

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . .

Be careful when you reach for foods labeled “healthy” — new research suggests if they have hidden high levels of sugar, you may snack more later.

Prior studies have shown that sugary foods can make a person feel hungrier later in the day, said lead researcher Naomi Mandel, a professor of marketing at Arizona State University.

But these latest findings reveal that people can exercise some self-control over sugar-driven hunger, if they are given fair warning through product packaging, Mandel said.

“When people think something is healthy, they don’t psychologically process it that much and so the physiological factors take over,” Mandel said. “But when they think something is unhealthy, they’re able to override their physical impulses.”

For the study, Mandel and her colleagues created two types of “protein” shakes that tasted the same and contained the same amount of protein and total calories. One shake contained high sugar and low fat, while the other had low sugar and high fat.

The first phase of the experiment involved 76 college students who were randomly given either a high-sugar or low-sugar shake to drink, and then provided potato chips to snack on while watching a video, the study authors said.

The researchers chose potato chips because they wanted to see if the sugar effect “would transfer over to a different kind of snack,” Mandel said.

As expected, the students who had the high-sugar shake ate more potato chips.

In the second phase, researchers explored whether changing participants’ perception of the shakes’ healthiness would influence their snacking habits.

The sugar and non-sugar shakes were randomly passed out to another group of 193 students, but this time they included labeling.

Some shakes were labeled “healthy living” and carried nutrition information claiming they were low in fat, sugar and calories. Others labeled “indulgent” carried info showing they were high in fat, sugar and calories.

People who drank a high-sugar shake labeled “indulgent” ate the least amount of potato chips, even fewer chips than people who drank low-sugar shakes marked as either “healthy” or “indulgent.”

Those who drank a high-sugar shake labeled “healthy” ate more potato chips than any of the other three groups, the findings showed.

Mandel said she’s particularly concerned about the impact from breakfast foods like cereal, yogurt or instant oatmeal, which are marketed as healthy but often contain loads of sugar.

“People think they’re starting out having a healthy breakfast, but they may be setting themselves up to be hungry all day and eat too much over the course of a day because of that,” Mandel said.

Dr. Reshmi Srinathe is an assistant professor of medicine, diabetes, endocrinology and bone disease with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. She said the study shows the importance of food labels and the need for stricter regulation of claims made by product manufacturers.

“Labeling matters,” Srinath said. “When people think something is healthy, they think it gives them a pass to make other food choices that may not be as healthy.”

Srinath and Mandel recommend that people read the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list included on food packaging, and figure out for themselves whether a product is healthy or not.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is in the process of expanding the Nutrition Facts label to show the amount of added sugar in food, Mandel said.

“I think that’s a good first step,” Mandel said. “Ideally, I would like to see more regulation of a marketing term claiming that a food is healthy or healthful. If it has a lot of added sugar, then it really should not be called healthy.”

The study was published in the journal Appetite.

Source: HealthDay


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This Slow Cooker Cookbook by A James Bead Award-winning Chef Has Delicious Gourmet Recipes

Deena Shanker and Polly Mosendz wrote . . . . .

The season of the slow cooker is nigh.

Once relegated to the back of the deepest kitchen cabinet, the inexpensive, no-frills appliance is taking its rightful place as a stalwart of the cold weather home cook. U.S. sales are up 50 percent, from $473 million in 2007 to $712.5 million in 2016, according to data from Euromonitor, as are consumers’ options. Buy a basic two-mode, two-quart slow cooker for less than $20, or choose among an array of $200+ Wi-Fi-controlled, timer-enabled, seven-plus-quart, multitasking machines.

Recipe searches show that people are actually using, or planning to use, their new pots. There are over 20 million slow cooker recipes on Pinterest, making them one of the most popular types of recipes on the content-sharing site, according to a spokeswoman. Interest over time, as measured by Google Trends, has gone from a score of 16 out of 100 in January 2004 to 99 in the same month this year. The recipes show a 143 percent year-over-year increase in saves on Pinterest. The possibilities have never seemed so endless.

The beauty of slow cooking is in removing, not adding, complication. The best recipes are those that require the least amount of work. Simply throw the ingredients in, turn the slow cooker on, walk away, and be done with it for anywhere from one to 24 hours. But just as easily as a cooker can turn a tough piece of meat into a succulent one, with the wrong recipe it can also yield a pile of bland, brown mush instead of the promised warming winter stew.

In The Chef and the Slow Cooker, out Tuesday from Clarkson Potter, the James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and restaurateur Hugh Acheson offers his take. “The beauty of the cooker is that it’s a shortcut that doesn’t sacrifice quality or taste,” he writes in the introduction. It’s “a device that makes life more productive and enjoyable by freeing you up to do other things.”

With recipes from such a decorated foodie, far from the masses of Pinterest, the promise is not just low-effort meals but the impressive, gourmet kind that will lead your dinner guests to exclaim, “You made that in a slow cooker?”

Acheson’s recipes can generally be broken down into two main categories: the standards (short ribs) and the surprises (poached cod). Where Acheson excels is in his use of the slow cooker to offer improvements on, or variations of, the standards that don’t substantially increase prep time or cost—and in techniques most home cooks might not have considered.

A two-hour chickpea-and-eggplant stew (plus 35 minutes of prep time, assuming you ignore Acheson’s call for dried beans and go with the much easier canned version) fits well into a Crock Pot cook’s repertoire. Even without featuring a single particularly rare ingredient, the result is a spicy, complex, and vibrant meal that will not only please on day one but make for hearty lunches all week and even freeze well. The vegetable stock ingredients list doesn’t need to be followed exactly; using an assortment of vegetable ends stored in the freezer is a tried-and-true method, though adding a lemon makes for a nice twist. The technique turns an annoying chore into a painless one.

The short ribs, paired with maple syrup-dosed mashed sweet potatoes, were classic, as the recipe promised, yet elegant. The port wine sauce elevated the dish, making it slightly more complex than the old school version. The dish also lacked the mushiness that makes many slow cooker recipes, while yummy, not particularly photogenic. These ribs had Instagram appeal.

Where Acheson falls flat: Rare, expensive ingredients, such as ground black cardamom in a recipe for apple butter, or exactly 10 dried juniper berries in the braised short ribs, appear to be so indispensable that no substitute is recommended. Nor will certain time-consuming prep work, such as chopping three onions two different ways, ultimately make a noticeable difference in the final product, 12 hours of cooking later. In a recipe for tomatillo salsa verde, a companion to pork tacos, the chef calls for “coarsely chopped” ingredients, only to later have them thrown into a blender, where they will be pulped.

The beer-braised pork tacos, a beloved cuisine among carnivores, were surprisingly complex for a recipe that called for drinking five cans of beer as you wait for the meat to cook. The end result was delectable and enough to feed a small army. Good thing, since a pricey, eight-pound, bone-in pork shoulder is used as the base.

As with other recipes in the book, some ingredients were hard to come by (lard, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce), and again, substitutions weren’t listed. Unsure whether Crisco or butter would suffice as a replacement, the home cook may travel to a half-dozen grocery stores and receive a shaming from just as many store clerks, who wonder why, in the age of clean eating, lard might be necessary.

Those cooking for a family will appreciate the quantities in which Acheson works, but home cooks feeding fewer than a half-dozen mouths, or looking to avoid trays of leftovers, might be disappointed by the lack of halving directions in the book. Reducing the short ribs recipe, for example, seemed pretty simple, as the ingredients were all listed in round numbers (six pounds to three, four sprigs of fresh rosemary to two), while cooking time was a bit of a mystery. The recipe called for a lengthy 12 to 15 hours, and while six hours certainly seemed too short, is the full time necessary for half the meat?

The home cook will need to make such decisions alone. Those with the time, sense of adventure, and deep pockets to hunt for gochugaru, or Korean chile, for their poached cod will probably enjoy cooking with a new spice. Those without can be consoled: You can’t taste it. Same with the suggested garnish of edible flowers.

But poaching cod in leeks, celery, butter, and vermouth produces a delicate flavor and silky texture in just the right amount of time—an hour and 20 minutes—to cook whatever else you decide to serve it with. It takes the slow cooker from an advance-planning-only appliance to part of the weeknight rotation.

And a $20 machine works just fine. No Wi-Fi required.

Source: Bloomberg

Is Alcohol Really Good for Your Health?

Julia Calderone wrote . . . . . .

We’ve long been told that a little wine with dinner may help prevent heart disease and perhaps offer other health benefits.

But some researchers are now questioning whether the perks of moderate drinking—one drink per day for women, two for men—really outweigh potential downsides.

We know that in older adults, too much alcohol can exacerbate high blood pressure, increase the risk of falls and fractures, and lead to strokes, memory loss, and mood disorders. And in this group, alcohol problems, such as the uncontrollable urge to drink, shot up 107 percent between 2001 and 2013, according to a study published in August in JAMA Psychiatry.

Even small amounts of alcohol can interact with medication, and contribute to cancer risk and potentially cognitive decline.

Here’s the latest research and tips on how to ensure that you’re not going overboard:

Benefits and Risks

More than 100 studies have found that a drink or two per day is linked to a 25 to 40 percent reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiac-related problems, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Another study published in August, one that followed more than 333,000 people for 12 years, found that light to moderate drinkers were 21 to 34 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.

But no studies have yet proved directly that alcohol boosts human health. Most research in this area has looked at whether people’s reported drinking behaviors are “associated” with positive or negative health outcomes.

A growing stack of research also suggests that regular, moderate alcohol consumption may have its hazards.

A 30-year study published in June in the British Medical Journal found that men who consumed eight to 12 drinks per week had three times the odds of having an atrophied hippocampus, which is a possible sign of early Alzheimer’s disease. That’s according to the study’s author, Anya Topiwala, Ph.D., a clinical lecturer in the department of psychiatry at the University of Oxford in the U.K.

And other research has found that moderate drinking may be linked to an elevated risk of breast cancer and—especially in smokers—esophageal, mouth, and throat cancers.

Watch Your Intake

Although moderate drinking isn’t without risks, a daily glass of wine is generally fine, says George F. Koob, Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, even if you’re in your 80s or 90s.

“We don’t want to panic people,” Topiwala adds.

But if you don’t drink, she says, there’s no reason to start for your health’s sake. And if you find yourself exceeding the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, Koob says, there’s no controversy: Consider cutting back.


These strategies can help:

Size up your pour. It can be almost impossible to eyeball a standard drink (5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1½ ounces of distilled spirits). Some wineglasses can hold up to 22 ounces, more than the amount in four drinks. So use a measuring cup or a shot glass to get it right.

Keep tabs. Tracking how many drinks you have per day or week—perhaps with tick marks on a cocktail napkin—can help you stay within your limit.

Alternate with water. Sipping a glass of water or club soda after each alcoholic drink will help you slow down.

Talk to your doctor. If you’re concerned about your drinking, don’t be afraid to bring up the issue at your next checkup.

Source: Consumer Reports


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