Friday, February 10, 2017

Choose Dark Chocolate for Valentine's Day

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a gift of dark chocolate and its heart-healthy advantages. Dark chocolate contains high levels of flavonoids, which are antioxidants that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can alter and weaken cells, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Research has found that flavanols, which are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate, have potential influences on vascular health, including lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot.

Milk chocolate, on the other hand, doesn’t provide the same health benefits. Generally speaking, dark chocolate has more cocoa than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate also has fewer unhealthy sugars and saturated fats than milk chocolate. Researchers at Harvard University Medical School suggest choosing chocolate that has at least 70 percent cocoa or more.

Chocolate Guide
The Gift Shop
Artwork: Valentine's Day Gift Heart

Friday, December 23, 2016

Cinnamon Lowers Diabetes Risk

A recent USDA study suggests that cinnamon reduces risk factors associated with diabetes and heart disease.

 During the 12-week study, 22 obese participants with impaired blood glucose values -- "prediabetes" -- were divided randomly into two groups and given either a placebo or 250 milligrams (mgs) of a dried water-soluble cinnamon extract twice daily along with their usual diets. Blood was collected after an overnight fast at the beginning of the study, after six weeks, and after 12 weeks to measure the changes in blood glucose and antioxidants.

The study demonstrated that the cinnamon improved a number of antioxidant variables by as much as 13 to 23 percent, and lowered blood glucose by an equivalent percentage. More details on the study can be found in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Spices and Seasonings
Organic Cinnamon
Specialty Foods
Artwork: Cinnamon Sticks

Monday, July 27, 2015

Say More Cheese

Americans are eating more cheese than ever before, explains. A recent report on food availability and consumption from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that the amount of cheese manufactured in the U.S. has nearly tripled since 1970, with mozzarella and cheddar accounting for well over half of the cheese produced.

While the U.S. leads the world in cheese production, with over 4,000 tons annually, it doesn't make the short list of leading cheese exporters in economic value, nor dooes it top the list of cheese-eating countries per capita. The French and the Greeks eat the most cheese per person.

"We saw an increase in cheese consumption starting in the late '80s as fast food became more popular, including pizza, burgers, and tacos. However, now we are seeing a great increase in the number and variety of American-made artisanal cheeses as consumers are looking to have more of a connection with their food producers, want more local foods, and are looking for new flavors and textures in their foods," says Kerry Kaylegian, dairy foods research & extension associate in Penn State's department of food science.

Specialty Foods
Artwork: Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Big Fat Surprise

"What if the crusade against cholesterol had fed the spread of obesity by encouraging a population to retreat from the very foods that would have satiated its hunger more efficiently than the hallowed grains and fruits and vegetables of the great dietary pyramid? What if the low-fat mantra had driven a population into feeling perpetually hungry? What if you were better off eating meat, eggs and dairy than a diet bloated in carbs and vegetable oils? 
"Ms. Teicholz's book is a lacerating indictment of Big Public Health for repeatedly putting action and policy ahead of good evidence. It would all be comical if the result was not possibly the worst dietary advice in history. And once the advice had been reified by government recommendations and research grants, it became almost impossible to change course... The Big Fat Surprise is more than a book about food and health or even hubris; it is a tragedy for our information age. From the very beginning, we had the statistical means to understand why things did not add up; we had a boatload of Cassandras, a chorus of warnings; but they were ignored, castigated, suppressed. We had our big fat villain, and we still do."

excerpted from "Book Review: 'The Big Fat Surprise' by Nina Teicholz" by Trevor Butterworth. The Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2015.
Health and Beauty
Give Eggs a Break
Artwork: The Big Fat Surprise

Monday, May 18, 2015

Why Men Like It Spicy

A recent study at Pennsylvania State University examined people's spicy food preferences and how they correlate with other factors like gender and personality.

The love of spicy food broke down along gender lines: Men were more likely to report enjoying spicy food more than women. But in the actual taste test, the female test subjects were more likely to report actually enjoying the burning taste. Men, on the other hand, did not — even if they had said they loved spicy foods.

So, why did they say they did?

The researchers examined the results of personality tests and found that men who enjoyed spicy food inordinately craved excitement as well as the respect and adoration from their peers.

There also found a physiological basis for their tastes: testosterone.

In a separate study of spicy foods, French researchers asked participants to spice up plates of mashed potatoes with salt and Tabasco sauce according to their preference. The men who went heaviest with the hot sauce? Those with the most testosterone in their saliva.

Another study also found that people prone to risky sensation-seeking behavior had an increased penchant for spicy foods.

The researchers hypthesize that the enjoyment of food is not just a matter of taste, but also hormones and social pressures.


Artwork: Hot Sauce Bottle Costume 
Hot Sauce
Specialty Foods

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Filling Up on Oatmeal.

According to research published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, scientists have found that having oatmeal  for breakfast results in greater fullness, lower hunger ratings and fewer calories eaten at the next meal compared to a calorie-matched breakfast of a ready-to-eat cereal such as sugared corn flakes.

"Our results show that despite eating the same number of calories at breakfast, satiety values were significantly greater after consuming oatmeal compared to sugared corn flakes. After three hours, subjects reported the same level of hunger after having a corn flakes breakfast as they did when they consumed only water," explained lead researcher Allan Geliebter, PhD, research psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai St. Luke's Hospital.

"Interestingly, the results were more pronounced for the participants who were overweight, suggesting that overweight individuals may be more responsive to the satiety effects of the dietary fiber in oatmeal."

The study authors suggested that the greater satiety effect of oatmeal cereal compared to sugared corn flakes or water might be due to a slower gastric emptying (oatmeal took longer to leave the stomach).

Source: Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism

Artwork: Rolled Oats
Nuts and Grains
advertise with Oatmeal

Monday, December 1, 2014

Turkey's No Snooze

The notion that eating turkey will make you sleepy has been around for a long time, but it’s not true.

This myth started because turkey contains tryptophan, which human bodies use to make serotonin - a brain chemical that helps make melatonin, a hormone that can control sleep/wake cycles. So it makes some sense to blame the turkey for sleepiness after a Thanksgiving dinner.

However, turkey doesn’t contain much tryptophan. Pork and cheddar cheese contain more, as do eggs, fish, milk, nuts, peanuts, peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, soy and tofu.

And unless the tryptophan is consumed in high doses and on an empty stomach, its unlikely to have much affect on the brain.

So what's causing that after-dinner drowsiness? Most scientists believe its the heavy portions of carbohydrates in the typical Thanksgiving meal: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce — and pumpkin pie to top it off. Those food items alone provide more carbohydrates — and calories — than most people eat in an average day. That kind of over-indulgence diverts the body’s blood supply to the digestive system and away from the brain and other parts of the body.

Source: Science 360 News, National Science Foundation and the American Chemical Society.
Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

Artwork: Smoked Whole Turkey