Monday, January 20th, 2014
American families are eating more meals at home, and those meals are healthier, a new study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture has found. The findings include that Americans are consuming fewer calories overall, family meals are becoming more common, and more people are paying attention to the quality of the food they buy. More from Time.com:
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You can thank the recession, but when the economy started to sour in 2007, Americans stopped eating at restaurants and started to cook more meals at home. And most families have been listening to the onslaught of advice about how to eat healthier, since those meals were also respectably nutritious. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, adults born from 1946 to 1985 who were asked about their diets from 2005 to 2010 consumed fewer calories and less cholesterol and unhealthy fats.
“It’s good news for us,” said Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, in a press conference.
Concannon said that while meals at home still make up a minority of the average American’s diet, the trend is encouraging and hopefully represents the beginning of a shift in the way families eat.
Monday, December 16th, 2013
New scientific research conducted with mice may have major implications for how fathers think about their health before planning to have a baby. The study linked nutritional deficiencies in male mice with a higher risk that their offspring would be born with birth defects. The Washington Post has more:
The findings raise concerns about dads unknowingly passing on harmful traits through molecular markers on the DNA of their sperm.
These epigenetic markers don’t change the genetic information, but rather switch parts of the genome on and off. They are susceptible to environment and diet throughout fetal development, but were thought to be wiped clean before birth. New studies, including the one published online Tuesday in Nature Communications, have revealed that some of them may survive all the way from sperm to baby.
When analyzing the sperm epigenomes of the low-nutrition mice, the researchers found abnormalities in epigenetic markers that affected genes linked to development, neurological and psychological disorders and certain cancers.
“We should be looking carefully at the way a man is living his life,” said study author and reproductive biologist Sarah Kimmins of McGill University. “Environmental exposure is remembered in the developing sperm and transmitted to offspring.”
Since it takes human males about three months to produce fully grown sperm from stem cells, Kimmins speculates that men trying to have children could try cleaning up their diets even temporarily.
“If a man has been living a bad, unhealthy lifestyle, he will not only improve his own health but the health of his offspring,” she said.
Image: Man with healthy food in shopping basket, via Shutterstock
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Friday, November 15th, 2013
An Australian woman who is blogging about her lifestyle during pregnancy is stirring up major debate because of her “healthy” eating plan that many are calling extreme. More from The Huffington Post:
Loni Jane Anthony, a 25-year-old Australian woman who is 26 weeks pregnant, made headlines after giving an interview to News.com.au about her atypical diet, part of which includes a morning meal of 10 bananas.
The nutrition plan is called the 80:10:10 Diet, which is 80 percent carbs, 10 percent fat and 10 percent protein. It was founded by Dr. Douglas Graham, a raw foodist who doesn’t associate the plan with fruitarianism.
Anthony, who claimed to have had health problems in the past because of her poor diet, told News.com.au that transforming her eating habits about three years ago saved her life. Now, her average day starts with warm lemon water in the morning, followed by either half a watermelon, a banana smoothie or whole oranges, then five or six mangos for lunch and a large salad for dinner. She said she has an alcoholic drink once every five months….
But the young mom-to-be’s diet has some raising their eyebrows and wondering if the meal plan is healthy for her unborn child.
“I feel uncomfortable with Loni’s ‘transformation’ because it doesn’t sound safe for her baby,” blogger Ami Angelowicz of The Frisky wrote. “I’m not a doctor, of course, but common sense and the little knowledge I have about nutrition tells me that you have to consume more than bananas and mangoes each day when you’re eating for two. I really try not to concern myself with what other people eat (or how much CrossFit they do), but it seems irresponsible to glorify the extreme fruitarian lifestyle for pregnant women.”
A commenter questioned if her banana intake could lead to hyperkalemia, or high potassium in the blood. Information from the Mayo Clinic on the condition, however, does not suggest it would.
Others, like Mommyish blogger Eva Vawter, doesn’t think Anthony’s diet is anyone’s business. Vawter wrote that even if the 6-month-pregnant woman “ate 90 bags of Cheetos and had an IV of Mountain Dew hooked into her vein” it still wouldn’t be anyone’s business.
The Mayo Clinc advises pregnant women to maintain a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. It also says that nutrients like folic acid, calcium, vitamin D, protein and iron are important during pregnancy. These can be obtained via foods like spinach, beans, milk, yogurt, salmon, eggs, lentils and poultry.
Could you be pregnant? Take our quiz and find out! We’ve planned your week of pregnancy meals (and snacks).
Image: Mound of bananas, via Shutterstock
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Friday, September 20th, 2013
Government-subsidized food assistance programs aimed at families, specifically the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), started offering more whole grain options, including whole wheat bread and brown rice, in 2009. A new study by researchers at Yale University has concluded that the changes have positively impacted the eating habits of the families who use WIC services. More from Time.com:
Before the changes, breakfast cereals were the only grains offered to these women. But after 2009, WIC food packages included whole wheat bread, and 50% of WIC cereals contained whole grains. WIC-authorized stores were also required to carry whole wheat bread and cereal on their shelves.
Did the changes help consumers to include more whole grains in their diet? Researchers from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity studied bread and rice purchases made at a WIC participating supermarket chain in New England for two years, and reported their findings in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. They found that prior to the WIC changes, most food assistance purchases included white bread and white rice. But after the revisions, the amount of 100% whole wheat bread purchases tripled and brown rice purchases rose by 30%.
By providing more whole grain options, the researchers say, WIC officials were able to meet their goal of increasing whole grain consumption among those relying on food assistance programs.
Image: Whole grain bread, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, September 19th, 2013
Chobani yogurts remain on the menus at schools in 4 states that are launching a healthy eating pilot program, even after discovery of possible mold contamination prompted a nationwide recall of some of the Greek yogurt company’s products. More from NBC News:
Some 230 New York school districts have ordered more than 3,300 cases of Chobani products, while Idaho schools have requested more than 3,400 cases, school officials said.
Those states, along with Arizona and Tennessee, are part of a new U.S. Department of Agriculture pilot project to test the use of Greek-style yogurt as a healthy, high-protein addition to the National School Lunch Program.
The yogurt set for schools isn’t affected by the Sept. 5 Chobani recall, state and federal officials said. It won’t arrive for another couple of weeks and it’s being made in the firm’s New York plant, not the Twin Falls, Idaho, site where company officials detected mold after receiving consumer reports of bubbling, bulging cartons of yogurt. At least 223 complaints of illness tied to the recalled yogurt have been reported to the Food and Drug Administration, though they haven’t been confirmed.
“USDA is aware of the situation and will work with the company to ensure products delivered to schools are healthy and safe,” said agency spokeswoman Brooke Hardison.
Image: Elementary school cafeteria, via Shutterstock
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