Monday, July 24, 2006

Gluten-free certification available

Enjoy Life Natural Brands, Schiller Park, Ill., is the first company to receive certification and use the Gluten-Free Certification Organization’s (GFCO) Certification Mark on its packaging.

Reflecting the growing number of consumers with special dietary needs, GFCO was created to offer food manufacturers an independent service to supervise gluten-free production.

Gluten is a protein found in most grains that mainly affects people with celiac disease. According to the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America, celiac disease is considered one of the most under-diagnosed common diseases, affecting about one in every 133 Americans.

Bakeries, such as Enjoy Life Natural Brands, which produces and markets cookies, snack bars, breads and bagels, have seen significant sales spikes as concerns about food allergies become more prominent. For Enjoy Life Natural Brands, the certification process was simple because the company runs a dedicated plant free of common allergens. Other bakeries that produce a mix of gluten-free and traditional bakery foods may have a more difficult time obtaining certification.

Food Services Inc., a subsidiary of the Orthodox Union, one of the world’s largest kosher certification agencies, conducts annual certifications, which include ingredient reviews, on-site inspections and product testing. GFCO strongly recommends dedicated gluten-free lines, as even the most thorough cleaning can lead to cross-contamination.

A product carrying the gluten-free Certification Mark assures consumers that the product contains less than 10 parts per million gluten. Bakers interested in learning more about GFCO or obtaining the Certification Mark can go to

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Health Benefits of Chocolate

A chocolate bar a day keeps the doctors away!
Research Reveals: Chocolate May Be Good for You

Recently studies on chocolate have been published that illustrate the many health benefits it provides. For nearly half a decade chocolate lovers have been told to avoid this treat, but as we further our research on the everyday foods we eat, we begin to realize that we have been misled about the health-related risk-reward ratio of chocolate.

First, cocoa, the main component in chocolate, contains Phytochemicals called flavonoids also found in red wine, green tea, and fruits and vegetables. Flavanoids contain antioxidants, which are beneficial in that they block arterial damage caused by free radicals. Flavonoids are also associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Chocolate contains stearic acid, which is a neutral fat that does not raise bad cholesterol and a recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association also shows that dark chocolate might lower your blood pressure and improve insulin resistance.

Chocolate also contains Tryptophan; a chemical the brain uses to produce serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has been proven to be an anti-depressant, as well as generate feelings of ecstasy or love, so not only can it benefit you physically, but mentally as well. Other substances, such as theobromine and phenylethylamine, have a stimulating effect.

Contrary to popular belief, chocolate only contains small amounts of caffeine. A cup of decaffeinated coffee actually contains more caffeine than the average serving of chocolate, though the misconception might stem from a popular combination of coffee or espresso beans with chocolate in many desserts and beverages.

Research also proves that candy eaters live almost a year longer than those who abstain. Similarly, a Harvard University study found that men who ate chocolate live longer than those who didn’t.

Dark chocolate, with its higher cocoa to sugar ratio may actually inhibit tooth decay and lead to fewer cavities as well as potentially whiter teeth. Milk chocolate is also on the list of least likely to cause tooth decay because of the combination of phosphate and other minerals in its structure.

Chocolate is also a good source of carbohydrates as well and is an excellent source of quick energy and a powerful fighter of fatigue. On the other hand, pediatricians are saying that there is no link between the sugars found in chocolate and restlessness or attention-deficit-hyperactivity type disorders (ADHD) found in children.

Probably the leading misconception about chocolate is that it causes acne. This has been disproved, however, by the University of Pennsylvania’s study of 65 acne sufferers. All were instructed to eat large amounts of chocolate; 46 showed no change in their condition, 10 got better and 9 got worse, results showing no direct correlation between chocolate consumption and acne.

Researchers in Oakland, California at Children's Hospital & Research Center have discovered that the same flavonoids that are also associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease can limit the development of fluids that cause diarrhea. Young children under the age of five and senior citizens are the most likely to develop several health problems linked to dehydration.
It is true that chocolate contains “cannabinoids,” chemicals that have a similar affect on your brain as marijuana, a person would have to consume nearly 25 pounds of chocolate in one sitting to get “high.”

In addition, cocoa contains many vitamins including vitamins A, B1, C, D, and E, and is also the highest natural source for Magnesium. A lack of magnesium in diet has been linked to joint problems, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and pre-menstrual tension (PMT or PMS), just more reasons to increase your chocolate intake.