Saturday, December 31, 2011

High Red Meat Consumption Linked to Kidney Cancer

Individuals who consume approximately 4 ounces of red meat a day are 19% more likely to be diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer—renal cell carcinoma (RCC)—compared to people who eat less than 1 ounce a day, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In a large U.S. cohort, researchers from the National Cancer Institute investigated intake of meat and meat-related compounds in relation to risk of RCC, as well as clear cell and papillary RCC histologic subtypes. Researchers examined data from a study of nearly 500,000 U.S. adults age 50 and older who were surveyed on their dietary habits, including meat consumption. Over a 9-year follow-up, 1,814 cases of RCC (498 clear cell and 115 papillary adenocarcinomas) were reported.

They found middle-aged adults who ate the most red meat were 19% more likely to be diagnosed with kidney cancer than those who ate the least. A higher intake of chemicals found in grilled or barbecued meat also was linked to increased risk of the disease.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Vitamin E Repairs Torn Cell Membranes

Eating, exercise and other everyday activities can cause cell membranes to tear, exposing cells to potentially harmful outside forces. Researchers at Georgia Health Sciences University report that vitamin E can help repair tears in plasma membrane, thereby maintaining the membrane's protective effect.

According to the researchers, vitamin E aids repair in several ways. As an antioxidant, it helps eliminate destructive byproducts from the body’s use of oxygen that impede repair. And, because it’s lipid-soluble, vitamin E can insert itself into the membrane to prevent free radicals from attacking. It also can help keep phospholipids, a major membrane component, compliant so they can better repair after a tear.

Researchers mimicked the membrane tears that occur with exercise by using hydrogen peroxide to produce free radicals. They found that tears in skeletal muscle cells would not heal unless pretreated with vitamin E.

The research also showed that vitamin E treatment in an animal model of diabetes restored some membrane repair ability. Also, an analogue of the most biologically active form of vitamin E significantly reversed membrane repair deficits caused by high glucose and increased cell survival after tearing cells in culture.

The study was published in Nature Communications.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fats in Olive Oil, Fish Ease Pancreatitis

Researchers at the University of Granada have shown fatty acids and compounds found in virgin olive oil can help relieve symptoms of pancreatitis.

Oleic acid and hydroxytyrosol, found in high concentration in virgin olive oil, as well as n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fish are common ingredients of the Mediterranean diet. The researchers found that these compounds affect the cellular mechanisms involved in the development of acute pancreatitis, a disease of oxidative-inflammatory etiology.

Via an in vitro experimental model, the researchers were able to evaluate how the type of fat ingested affects the membrane fatty acid composition and the ability of cells to respond to local inflammation in the pancreas.

María Belén López Millán, author of the study, notes "there is increasing evidence that there are oxidative-inflammatory processes involved in the origin of chronic diseases and that diet plays an important role in such processes. The antioxidant (phenolic compounds) and antiinflammatory (omega-3 fatty acids) effects of diet components (nutrients and bioactive compounds) prevent/mitigate the pathological incidence of oxidative-inflammatory processes."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Coffee has big cancer-fighting benefits. A recap of this years findings.

As far as we can tell, all of America would grind to halt without coffee. We average about 3.4 cups per coffee drinker a day. Great news! Because in the war against cancer, coffee — lots of it — has become one of the most beneficial weapons you never suspected. In 2011, coffee was linked to lower rates of:

1. Endometrial cancer. Big coffee drinkers are 25 percent less likely to develop it than women who don’t finish a cup. Dose: at least four cups a day

2. Prostate cancer. It detests coffee. The newest data shows that even decaf repels even the most lethal type. Dose: one to six cups daily

 3. The most common skin cancer. If basal cell carcinoma gets a toehold, coffee acts to shut it down. Dose: more than three cups a da

4. Breast cancer. Heavy coffee drinkers run a 20 to 50 percent lower risk of some breast cancers after menopause, versus women who sip less than a cup. Dose: at least five cups a day

That’s not all. In 2011, coffee was confirmed to ward off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as type 2 diabetes.

 What if you don’t like coffee, or it doesn’t like you? Fortunately, caffeine is one of coffee’s key protective compounds, and there are plenty of other places to get it, including caffeinated water plus green and black tea. Drinking them can give you instant smarts to deal with tough tasks, like switching cell-phone services.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

FDA agrees to determine safety of BPA

The Food and Drug Administration must come up with a decision by March 31 on whether to ban a chemical that’s widely used in plastics and the metal linings of food containers, according to a court settlement reached Wednesday between the agency and the Natural Re­sources Defense Council.

The NRDC filed a petition in 2008 asking the agency to ban bisphenol A, or BPA, citing a growing body of research that suggests exposure to the chemical might pose serious health risks. When the FDA failed to respond within the time frame required by law, the NRDC sued the agency.

The settlement forces the FDA to take a position on a chemical that’s been used for more than four decades to manufacture everything from the cans for liquid infant formula to the coating on grocery store receipts. The agreement, approved by U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones in New York, said the FDA must issue a final decision, not a “tentative response.”

For years, the government has maintained that low doses of BPA are safe. In January, however, the FDA shifted positions and acknowledged that advances in science have raised “some concern” about the chemical’s health risks. The government is now investing $30 million to conduct research on the topic.

But FDA officials haven’t said much about the subject in the past two years or responded to NRDC’s petition despite reams of alarming data about the health risks posed by BPA, particularly to infants and children, said Sarah Janssen, a senior scientist at NRDC.

“There have been no updates,” Janssen said. “FDA has not been very public or transparent on what they’re doing on BPA. . . . We welcome more science, but there comes a point when you have enough information to make a decision, and in this case, we think that point passed years ago.”

In its petition, NRDC cited research that links BPA to reproductive problems, certain cancers and behavioral issues in children. In October, a government-funded study published in the journal Pediatrics suggested that BPA exposure in the womb could lead to behavioral problems in girls, including anxiety and depression.

The American Chemistry Council, which represents the chemical industry, dismissed Wednesday’s settlement as a “non-event.” The group maintains that BPA is safe and complains that various state actions to restrict BPA use have confused people over the health risks. For instance, consumer fears prompted manufacturers of baby bottles and sippy cups to stop using the chemical in these products several years ago.

“The consensus of government regulatory bodies around the world, including the U.S. FDA and the European Food Safety Authority, is that BPA is safe for use in food-contact materials,” said Steven G. Hentges, one of the council’s senior directors.

Scott Faber, a vice president at the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said he expects the FDA’s recent research on this topic to support the industry’s position. “Every other regulatory authority around the globe has concluded that BPA is safe for use in food containers, and we expect FDA will reconfirm this finding.”

FDA officials declined to comment on which way the agency is leaning, except to say that they will make a decision based on the information presented in the petition. But that decision might not be the end-all on the health risks posed by BPA.

“It’s important to note that enduring safety is a continuous process,” said Doug Karas, an FDA spokesman. “New studies are being done all the time. They will continue to be considered and add to the body of knowledge for decisions on BPA”

Meanwhile, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) is pressing ahead with legislation he authored that would rid BPA from all food and beverage containers.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Giving babies salty food may create a lifelong preference

Diets including crackers, cereals and other high-sodium solid foods are linked to a greater fondness for salt, a study finds.

 Feeding young babies solid foods such as crackers, cereals and bread, which tend to be high in salt, may set them up for a lifelong preference for salt, researchers reported Tuesday.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests that efforts to reduce salt intake among Americans should begin early in life.

It is even possible, the authors said, that infancy contains a "sensitivity window" in which exposure to certain foods and tastes programs the brain to desire them in the future.

Americans' fondness for salt, a source of dismay for health experts, is well known. A 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine concluded that the average intake of 3,436 milligrams a day for Americans over age 2 is more than double what is recommended, and that new government standards are needed to reduce the salt content in processed and restaurant food.

But little is known about the biology behind our love affair with salt. Researchers don't even know what receptors are involved in tasting it. And though babies are born with a clear preference for sweet foods and an absolute distaste for bitter foods, they appear indifferent to salt in the first few months of life, said Leslie Stein, the lead author of the study and a senior research associate at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

"When you give 2-month-old babies salt water, they have no facial expression," Stein said. "This could mean that the baby doesn't detect the salt or just doesn't give a hoot about it."

To get at the issue, Stein and her colleagues first gave 61 healthy 2-month-old infants a mild solution of salt water: Based on facial expressions and how much they drank, the authors concluded the infants indeed were indifferent to the taste.

When the babies were 6 months old, they were brought back to the Monell clinic by their parents. They were presented with three bottles containing water, a mild salt solution or a slightly saltier solution. Researchers recorded how much fluid they drank from each bottle during a one-minute period — an indication of how much they preferred each solution.

Parents were also asked what, if any, baby food and table foods the children received. Table food is considered regular food that other members of the family might eat.

Almost half of the infants — 26 — had been exposed to starchy foods such as crackers, soft bread or cereal, which are often high in salt. During the bottle test, those babies consumed 55% more salt compared with babies who had not yet been exposed to these kinds of foods.

The scientists also reexamined 26 of the children at preschool age and surveyed their mothers about the children's salt preferences, such as whether they licked salt from foods, ate plain table salt or added salt to food before eating it. Children who had been exposed early to the starchy, salt-rich foods clearly had a greater liking for salt, they found.

"It's absolutely possible that exposure early on in life could change the way the salt taste signal is transmitted to the brain," said Dr. James F. Battey Jr., director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, which funded the study. "The brain is very plastic at that time of life."

The study doesn't prove this, however — it merely shows a correlation between early exposure and a taste for salt later on, Battey added. But if it turns out to be true, "then parents have a way of reducing the risk," he said.

Research on infant feeding practices has shown that babies will learn to like a food if exposed to it at least 10 times. But that doesn't mean they prefer a food, Stein said; they just learn to tolerate it.

And, Stein said, studies have also shown that babies are learning about the flavors in Mom's diet even before birth, in the uterus, as well as afterward through the taste of their mother's breast milk.

"This very early exposure helps them learn to like those flavors as well," Stein said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers breast-feed exclusively for the first six months and continue to breast-feed even after introducing solid foods. Doctors usually recommend introducing solid foods to babies about 6 months of age, but there are few rules over which foods to introduce first and which to offer later.

A 1990 Dutch study showed persistently higher blood pressure for children whose early sodium consumption was highest, said Dr. Stephen R. Daniels, chief of pediatrics at Children's Hospital Colorado, who was not involved in the new study.

"We don't have as much science as we want or need about the best way to introduce babies to solid food," Daniels said. "There's a tremendous opportunity to think of the period during which a baby is being introduced to solid foods as a time to get babies and toddlers on the road to the most healthful diet."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Controversy over ‘inhaled caffeine’ grows as as Sen. Schumer calls for FDA probe

Breathable caffeine dispensed from canisters that fit in jean pockets and are allowed in carry-on luggage is a ‘club drug’ that may be dangerous to teenagers, a New York senator said.

Democrat Charles Schumer wrote Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg today asking her to review the safety and legality of the AeroShot Pure Energy caffeine inhaler, a yellow and gray canister of caffeine powder and B vitamins resembling a tube of lipstick. The inhaler is set to hit store shelves in New York and Boston next month

AeroShot will be sold over the counter with no age restrictions and is touted for its convenience and zero calories. If taken with alcohol, the mixture may have effects similar to caffeinated alcohol drinks tied to hospitalizations in the past, Schumer said. Doctors say it may carry neurological and cardiovascular risks.

“The product is nothing more than a club drug designed to give users the ability to drink until they drop,” Schumer said.

Doug Karas, a spokesman for the FDA, didn’t respond to requests for comment. Last year, at Schumer’s urging, the FDA stopped sales of caffeinated alcoholic beverages after they were linked to hospitalizations and deaths.

The inhaler is sold online by Cambridge, Massachusetts- based Breathable Foods Inc. and The Lab Store, in Paris. AeroShot advertising in Europe focuses on drinking and partying, Schumer said in a statement, adding that he’s concerned it could be a health hazard to teens.

Inhalable Foods

The inhaler was created by David Edwards, a professor at Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, who also invented Le Whif, a calorie-free inhalable chocolate.

AeroShot delivers 100 milligrams of caffeine, the same amount in a large cup of coffee. The caffeine is absorbed in the mouth and digestive tract, not through the lungs, according to a fact sheet from Breathable Foods. AeroShot is priced at $2.99 and is not intended for anyone younger than 12, according to the product’s website.

“It is a safe product that delivers caffeine and a mix of B vitamins to the mouth, and it does not contain the mystery chemicals found in other energy products like taurine or glucuronic acid,” said Tom Hadfield, chief executive officer of Breathable Foods, in an e-mail.

The company’s claims are unsubstantiated, Schumer said, noting the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the non- medical use of caffeine by children and adolescents. The Elk Grove Village, Illinois-based doctor’s group wrote AeroShot’s manufacturer yesterday about concerns over caffeine’s effect on developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems and the potential for the product to exacerbate asthma.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Survey Reveals Retailers’ Plans to Introduce In-Store Mobile Apps in 2012

 The leading provider of in-store mobile commerce solutions for retailers, restaurants and brands, today released new data highlighting retailers’ growing interest in in-store mobile shopping applications. AisleBuyer commissioned Retail TouchPoints to administer a survey of retail executives on current and future mobile deployment plans.

 The survey, which was conducted in December 2011, reveals that while only 14 percent of respondents currently have a mobile application for in-store use, 50 percent of those who do not are planning to introduce a shopping app in 2012. Among this group of retailers that plan to build apps for in-store use:

  • 54 percent plan to include promotions functionality as part of the app
  • 24 percent plan to add mobile self-checkout via smartphones
  • 46 percent of retailers have plans to add a tablet-based mobile store associate app for retail employees in the next 12 months

“Retailers clearly view mobile as the key to enhancing the in-store experience. From mobile self-checkout to equipping store associates with tablets, the survey data validates the major shift we are seeing in the use of mobile in stores,” said Andrew Paradise, AisleBuyer’s CEO. “Mobile apps provide retailers with a wealth of previously unavailable information on in-store shopper behavior that will ultimately improve revenue, profitability and customer loyalty.”

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Seasons Greetings

Season Greetings, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and a peaceful Hanukkah

From Capico international

When consumers have a good customer service experience, 47% are likely to tell a company representative

When consumers have a positive customer service experience, they are more likely than ever before to share their opinions than in previous years, especially via social media, online review sites, and with the company itself.

 A recent Spherion Staffing Services survey shows that when consumers have a good customer service experience, 47 percent are likely to tell a company representative; 17 percent will express their opinions via social media; and 15 percent will write a review. The same survey from 2010 showed that only 40 percent of consumers were likely to share a great experience with a company representative—proving that consumers are becoming more vocal with companies they interact with. If consumers have a poor experience, 36 percent are willing to write a complaint directly to the company, and one in four will express their opinions on social media. Nineteen percent, the same statistic as last year, will choose to write a review online.

 In addition, about one in 10 people are even willing to reach out to the media about their experiences. If they're unhappy, nine percent will contact the media to report it, up one percent from last year. Those who have great experiences are less likely to make news, with five percent calling for media attention, also up one percent from last year.

 "Because of the extreme connectivity that the growth of social media has spurred between consumers and companies, people are more willing than ever to speak up about the way they feel about a particular brand," says Sandy Mazur,

 Spherion's senior vice president of the franchise and licensee division. "So many companies have cut corners in this economy when it comes to customer service, but the impact of those decisions is greater than ever as people decide to speak up about who treats them well… and who doesn't."

 Most consumers also feel that companies could stand to improve their customer service skills. When asked what percentage of their experiences was good over the last several months, 41 percent of people had good experiences less than 60 percent of the time. Only 26 percent had positive experiences 80 percent of the time or more, a statistic that fell from 32 percent last year.

 "People expect more pleasant, personalized interactions with companies, and they want to feel positive about the way they are treated. They're more careful than ever about where they spend their money, which means that in a competitive market, customer service is more important than ever," says Mazur.

Consumers are also remaining loyal to the businesses that treat them well. Ninety-seven percent said a great experience makes them more likely to buy more of a product or repeat a service, similar to last year's 98.6 percent. However, once their trust is lost, it's hard to earn back. Twenty-two percent want a simple apology, 10 percent want a complete refund, and eight percent would want incentives or coupons. Forty-six percent, however, said that it would take all three, which means earning repeat business after a bad experience is costly and time consuming. Fifteen percent said absolutely nothing would amend their bad experience.

 Consumers who have had poor experiences also tend to talk with friends about it, and their friends listen. Half (49 percent) of consumers are "very unlikely" to do with business with a company based on a bad recommendation from someone they trust. If someone has a great recommendation, though, 61 percent are equally as likely to choose that company in the future.

 "Taking emphasis off customer service may seem like a good idea for the bottom line when budgets get tight, but in the long run, it's infinitely more expensive to get people to trust you again," says Mazur. "There is also always the possibility that nothing you do will bring customers back, which makes customer service one of the most important investments a company can make."

 Communication was the most important service quality, with 85 percent rating it as important. Courteous and well-mannered treatment was a close second at 84 percent, followed by the ability to resolve issues quickly at 83 percent.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

About 77% of consumers still need to buy holiday gifts this week

A new survey conducted this past weekend by Visa Inc. shows that 77% of consumers still need to buy holiday gifts this week. These last-minute shoppers will spend an average of $278 in the final days leading up to Christmas and Hanukkah.

 Procrastination is running rampant this year, with 13% of consumers planning to purchase all of their gifts in this final week. The survey data also shows that 8% of shoppers will purchase three quarters of their gifts this week, while 16% will purchase half of the gifts on their list this week. And 51% of consumers will be purchasing a quarter of their gifts this week.

 "With this many Americans still desperate to buy gifts, we are officially in the red zone for 'panic shopping'," said Jason Alderman, Visa's Senior Director of Global Financial Education. "When shoppers panic, they throw money at the problem and often overspend to get a gift – any gift – in time for the holidays."

 Whether it's a procrastinator or a savvy consumer who is just holding out for potential last minute bargains, there is less than a week to go in the holiday shopping season. To that end, Visa offers consumers some tips to help ensure that holiday cheer doesn't turn into a holiday hangover.


1.                              Even if you just have a week, it is imperative to make a realistic budget and stick with it. Spend no more than 1.5 percent of annual income on holiday expenses. For a family earning $50,000 a year, that means spending no more than $750 on all aspects of the holidays.

2.                              Have a 'micro budget' – a specific spending limit – for each person on your gift list.

3.                              Join together with family members to help those who may be less fortunate and make your gifts to each other a group contribution to a charity.

4.                              Consider giving an experience that can be redeemed after Christmas, like a home cooked gourmet meal.

5.                              Visa's Practical Money Skills for Life offers a free online holiday budgeting calculator. Click here to access the calculator.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Coffee makes for a special holiday gift

For some people, enjoying coffee is almost a religious experience. They crave everything about the coffee experience — from the sound of a grinder to the aroma that fills the air when their favorite beverage is brewed.

But just how much are we willing to pay to satisfy our caffeinated desires?

With the arrival of the holiday season, many Abilene residents are hunting for gifts that will be treasured, useful and affordable.

Coffee is a practical and popular gift that can be personalized for any occasion and budget, said Carmen Guerra of Mezamiz Coffee House.

"People like to buy gifts that others can really get use out of and enjoy. Coffee fits that bill," Guerra said. "Many people will come in for a pound of coffee that can be added to a gift basket with collectibles and other personal gifts."

"We can put something together for any budget," Guerra said.

In regard to cost, there are many ways to enjoy coffee based on the limits of a person's budget. Factors such as quality, convenience and personal taste have to be considered when trying to get the most buzz for your buck.

In recent years, Keurig brand coffee machines have been all the rage when it comes to making coffee at home, but they are not the most cost-effective option available, financial experts say.

According to the home economics blog Mrs. Moneysaver,the average person who consumes two cups of coffee per day will spend more than $380 per year using a Keurig machine. That cost is low compared with buying two cups of coffee per day at Starbucks (more than $1,000 per year) or at McDonald's (more than $850 per year).

Using a standard coffee maker, however, will only set you back just over $100 during the same period.

Being frugal and following a few simple steps can make the convenience factor of Keurig more affordable.

The key to saving money on Keurig's proprietary K-Cups is by stockpiling when you find a great deal.

When shopping online, look for coupon codes to save money. If you are looking to buy local, keep an eye out for coupons and buy in bulk at places like Sam's Club and Walmart.

During the holidays, H-E-B and United Supermarkets often offer special variety packs that will save you money and allow you to sample a variety of coffee flavors.

Another popular trend this year for coffee fans is ready-to-brew coffee. This "just add water or milk" option was introduced by Starbucks as an alternative to standard instant coffee with its Via line, but you do have other options.

Via averages about $1 per cup, while Nescafe's Clasico line currently is being offered at Walmart for less than $2 per box of eight packets, which is enough to make eight cups of coffee.

Adding a box or two of ready-to-brew in a gift basket along with a mug and/or other small gifts will score you some bonus points with your favorite coffee fan.

If you're buying for a coffee aficionado like local real estate broker Randy Dodd, who proudly proclaims "Coffee is my drug of choice," a bit of research will go a long way. Talk to friends and scour websites such as Yelp for reviews on local coffee shops.

Gift cards and certificates will help local businesses boost their bottom line while making someone a nice gift, said Jerry Hendrix of Monk's Coffee Shop.

"Send someone in for something special like our Royal Breve," Hendrix said. "We combine steamed half-and-half with honey and espresso. This would not be easy for someone to make at home."

No matter how you buy it, coffee makes the holiday season a bit warmer. For many, the gift of coffee and conversation is always welcome.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Study Reveals Western-Asian Flavor Differences

North American and Western European cuisines exhibit a statistically significant tendency toward recipes whose ingredients share flavor compounds, while East Asian and Southern European cuisines avoid recipes whose ingredients share flavor compounds, according to a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Researchers at Indiana University looked at key ingredients of 56,498 online recipes and analyzed those ingredients for shared flavor compounds.

Some food scientists and chefs have developed a food pairing hypothesis that states that ingredients sharing flavor compounds are more likely to taste good together than ingredients that do not. Some application of this can be found at contemporary restaurants that successfully pair white chocolate and caviar, ingredients that both contain trimethylamine and other flavor compounds, or chocolate and blue cheese, which share at least 73 flavor compounds.

By creating a flavor network that captures the flavor compounds shared by culinary ingredients, the research team could reformulate the food pairing hypothesis into a hypothesis on the graph-topological properties of recipes in the flavor network. Statistical tests then can be used to unveil the connectedness, or the lack thereof, of ingredients and flavor compounds.

In this case, they took 381 ingredients from the group of recipes, along with an associated 1,021 flavor compounds that contributed flavor to those ingredients, and created a flavor network where ingredients are connected if they share at least one flavor compound.

“What we showed was that the recipes in North American cuisine tend to share more flavor compounds than expected. The most authentic ingredient pairs and triplets in North American cuisine also tend to share multiple flavor compounds, while compound-sharing links are rare among the most authentic combinations in East Asian cuisine," they said.

Their analysis also referenced that the number of actual recipes in use, on the order of about 106, was tiny when compared to the large number of potential recipes (over 1,015).

“e identified frequently used ingredients that contributed positively to the food pairing effect in North American cuisine, like milk, butter, cocoa, vanilla, cream and eggs," they said. “These played a disproportionate role, as 13 key ingredients that contributed to a shared compound effect were found in 74.4 percent of North American recipes."

Ingredients in East Asian cuisine—beef, ginger, pork, cayenne, chicken and onion—were the top contributors to an overall negative shared compound effect on food pairing.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Eating Lean Beef Lowers LDL Cholesterol

Consuming a diet including lean beef every day is as effective in lowering total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol as the heart-healthy Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Researchers at Penn State University conducted The BOLD clinical study, which evaluated adults with moderately elevated cholesterol levels, measuring the impact of diets including varying amounts of lean beef on total and LDL cholesterol levels.

Study participants experienced a 10% decrease in LDL cholesterol compared to baseline in two different beef diets containing 4 ounces (BOLD) and 5.4 ounces (BOLD-PLUS) of lean beef daily with both diets providing less than 7% of calories from saturated fat. After five weeks, there were significant reductions in total and LDL cholesterol.

“The BOLD study provides new research that health professionals can use to update their dietary recommendations with scientific findings showcasing how lean beef can maintain and even improve heart health," said Brian Healey, cow-calf producer from Davis, Okla. and vice-chair of the checkoff’s Joint Human Nutrition Research Committee. And research shows that when people include food they enjoy, like lean beef, they are more likely to stick to their heart-healthy diet longer."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Brown Algae Promotes Satiety, Weight Loss

New research conducted at the Faculty of Life Sciences (LIFE), University of Copenhagen, has found dietary fiber from brown algae boosts satiety and promotes weight loss and weight maintenance.

The researchers demonstrated that healthy subjects who took alginates and were allowed to eat as much as they wanted felt less hungry and ate less than the subjects not drinking fiber drinks with alginates.

The 12-week study included 96 overweight men and women. Forty-eight subjects drank a specially designed drink with alginates three times daily before each main course as a supplement to an energy-reduced diet; the other 48 subjects drank a placebo drink without alginates. The 80 subjects who completed the study achieved a far larger weight loss with alginate treatment than those drinking a similar drink without alginates.

On average, the subjects in the seaweed fiber drink group lost 1.7 kg more of body fat than those in the placebo group. The researchers said a probable explanation of the weight loss is that the alginates form a gel in the stomach that strengthens the gastrointestinal satiety signals to the brain because the gel takes up space in the stomach.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Retail sales of coffee reached $7.3 billion in 2011

Retail sales of coffee reached $7.3 billion in 2011, an increase of nearly 17% over 2010, according to "Coffee and Ready-to-Drink Coffee in the U.S.," a just-released report from market research firm Packaged Facts.

Because coffee is a mature market, dollar sales growth is driven by consumers paying higher prices for coffee products. Four main factors are behind higher prices: rising prices for "green" (raw) coffee beans that have been passed along the entire distribution chain; the "premiumization" of coffee; the nation's still-growing thirst for specialty coffee beverages; and the phenomenal growth of single-serve coffee packet formats.

The Food Institute (Saddle River, NJ,, estimates that wholesale coffee prices rose 18% for the first nine months of 2011, while retail prices increased 13.5% because retailers did not pass along all of these higher costs to consumers.

Regular (caffeinated) ground coffee, the largest coffee category at retail, accounts for almost 60% of dollar sales of coffee through mass-market channels. "Coffee and Ready-to-Drink Coffee in the U.S." reports that single-cup coffee formats, a category scarcely worth tracking five years ago, now claims 7.5% of retail coffee sales, with its surge coming largely at the expense of regular instant coffee. Single-serve portion packs typically cost 65¢ to $1.00, making them considerably more expensive than brewing the same brand of coffee from loose grounds, but still less than buying a comparable beverage in a coffeehouse.

According to David Sprinkle, publisher of Packaged Facts, a September 2011 survey conducted for the report found that 21% of households that make coffee (other than instant) at home own an electric single-cup coffeemaker (based on formats such as pods, K-Cups, or T-Discs), and 18% use it regularly.

Although the single-cup market in the U.S. is dominated by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters with its proprietary Keurig K-Cup brewing system, growth in the category has attracted a growing range of participants. In the past year, Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks have launched single-cup coffee formats, making Peet's the only major coffee brand that does not yet have a single-cup presentation.

With the continued premiumization of coffee over the past decade, many new packaged coffee products introduced over the past five years have been positioned as "upscale," which was the top package tag for new coffee products introduced from 2006 through 2010, according to data from Product Launch Analytics, a Datamonitor service.

During 2011, however, private-label coffee introductions came to the fore, with new coffee lines or extended offerings pouring in from retailers as diverse as A&P, Dollar General, Trader Joe's, and Wegmans, in keeping with the surging importance of store brands across packaged food and beverage categories.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

15 Minutes of Exercise Cuts Snacking in Half

Individuals who want to cut back on their chocolate consumption at work should try getting up from their desk and taking a 15-minute walk, according to a new study published in the journal Appetite. The findings suggest a short burst of physical activity will keep a person’s mind off snacking and cut chocolate consumption in half.

Researchers at the University of Exeter followed 78 regular chocolate-eaters were invited to enter a simulated work environment, after two days abstinence from chocolate snacking. Two groups were asked to take a brisk 15-minute walk on a treadmill and were then given work to complete at a desk. One group was given an easy, low-stress task, while the other was asked to complete a more demanding job. The other two groups were asked to have a rest before completing the same tasks as the first two groups. Half were given an easier and the remainder a more challenging task. Chocolate was available in a bowl on the desk for all participants as they carried out their work.

Those who had exercised before working consumed on average half the amount of chocolate as the others—around 15 grams or the equivalent of a “fun-sized" candy bar , compared with 28 grams.

They found the difficulty of the task made no difference to the amount of chocolate they ate, which suggests that stress did not contribute to their cravings for sweet snacks.

“We know that snacking on high-calorie foods, like chocolate, at work can become a mindless habit and can lead to weight gain over time. We often feel that these snacks give us an energy boost, or help us deal with the stress of our jobs, including boredom," the researchers said. “People often find it difficult to cut down on their daily treats, but this study shows that by taking a short walk, they are able to regulate their intake by half."


·                                 University of Exeter: Short walk cuts chocolate consumption in half

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Arsenic? Experts say real apple juice danger lies in calories

Everybody's talking apple juice these days, now that a new study found high levels of arsenic in some popular juice brands.

 But health experts are warning juice drinkers that apple juice can pose a different set of dangerous problems - because its loaded in calories.

Despite the FDA considering new limits on arsenic, nutrition experts say apple juice's real danger is to waistlines and children's teeth.

Apple juice has few natural nutrients and is loaded in calories - in some cases, more than soda.

"It's like sugar water," said Judith Stern, a nutrition professor at the University of California, Davis. "I won't let my 3-year-old grandson drink apple juice."

Experts also say giving lots of apple juice trains them to like very sweet things and contributes to the obesity problem.

Though some apple juices are fortified with vitamins, nutritionists don't think that counters the caloric intake.

"If it wasn't healthy in the first place, adding vitamins doesn't make it into a health food," said Karen Ansel, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says, "Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefit for infants younger than 6 months" and no benefits over whole fruit for older kids.

Children under 12 consume nearly 30 percent of all juice and juice drinks, according to the academy. Nationwide, apple juice is second only to orange in popularity. Americans gulp 267 ounces of apple juice on average each year, according to the Food Institute's Almanac of Juice Products and the trade group Juice Products Association. Lots more is consumed as an ingredient other food and drinks.

So what exactly is in apple juice?

Carbohydrates - mostly sugars - in a much higher concentration than in milk. Juice also contains a small amount of protein and minerals and lacks the fiber in whole fruit, the academy notes.

Drinking juice delivers a lot of calories quickly, so you might not realize how much you've consumed. That's why experts suggest if you're craving apple juice, why not grab an apple?

"Whole fruits are much better for you," said Dr. Frank Greer, a University of Wisconsin, Madison, professor and former head of the pediatrics academy's nutrition committee.

Are you or your family juice drinkers? Here are some tips from nutrition experts:

  • Choose a juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D-3
  • Give children only pasteurized juice, the only type safe from germs.
  • Don't give juice to kids younger than 6 months, and never put it in bottles or sippy cups that allow babies and children to consume it throughout the day. That can cause tooth decay. For the same reason, don't give infants juice before bed.
  • Limit juice to 4 to 6 ounces per day for children ages 1 to 6, and 8 to 12 ounces for those ages 7 to 18.
  • Encourage kids to eat fruit.
  • Don't be swayed by healthy-sounding claims on juice labels. "No sugar added" doesn't mean it isn't full of naturally occurring sugar. And "cholesterol-free" is silly - only animal products contain cholesterol.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ample Growth Opportunities for Restaurants Serving Breakfast and coffee is the prime leader

While breakfast sales have grown steadily for restaurants, retailers and suppliers over the past few years, consumer data shows that the market is not yet saturated and there are still plenty of opportunities within this category. Technomic estimates the breakfast segment accounts for 12 percent of the total restaurant industry, generating around $42 billion in annual sales. Breakfast patronage is up at foodservice locations, particularly fast-food restaurants, where 46 percent of consumers now occasionally purchase weekday breakfasts compared to just 33 percent in 2009. Coffee has helped to develop this program.

"Breakfast is a very dynamic segment in which consumers are looking for healthier options and place a premium on convenience," says Technomic EVP Darren Tristano. "Our busy lives and weekly routines drive the need for fast, convenient options in the morning. When consumers don't have convenient options, they're increasingly bringing breakfast from home to eat elsewhere."

To Interesting findings include:

  • Consumers generally place greater importance on convenience and speed of service than price for breakfast occasions, indicating that consumers are willing to pay more for a morning meal that saves time and fits their daily routine. About 75 percent of consumers surveyed agree that a convenient location is important when purchasing a breakfast item from a restaurant or other foodservice location during with week as long as the coffee is of high quality.
  • Coffee is playing an increasingly important role in consumers' breakfast purchasing decision: 33 percent of consumers who drink coffee at breakfast indicate they are loyal to a coffee brand or restaurant that serves their preferred coffee, up from just 25 percent of consumers who said the same in 2009.
  • Consumers say full-service restaurants excel at providing kids' options, and signal opportunities for full-service restaurant operators to boost breakfast sales through portable breakfast options.
  • Over the past two years, limited-service restaurants have added more than 230 new breakfast items, illustrating that breakfast remains a growth category for limited-service operators.
  • Health is a top trend to watch. Beyond lowfat/nonfat ingredients, whole grains and multigrain items are a way to signal health. Oatmeal is booming and will continue to be prevalent on breakfast menus.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Nasty germs lurking in raw cookie dough, scientist warns

If you’re one of the many who often sneak bites of cookie batter while forming little mounds of the sticky, sweet stuff for baking, government scientists have a message for you. Stop it now!

A new report shows there may be some nasty germs lurking in ready-to-bake cookie dough.

“What our report shows is that you shouldn’t eat cookie dough raw, no matter where it comes from,” said the report’s lead author Dr. Karen Neil, a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It’s supposed to be baked.”

Neil and her colleagues concluded that raw, ready-to-bake cookie dough was what caused 77 people in 30 states to become ill, 35 of whom became so sick that they needed to be hospitalized.

After learning about the outbreak, the researchers were able to track down the culprit by comparing the eating habits of 36 healthy volunteers to 36 people sickened by a deadly strain of E coli bacteria in 2009. Raw cookie dough consumption was the thing all 36 had in common.

When the researchers visited manufacturing plants where the cookie batter was being made their suspicions were confirmed: they found E coli in the samples they collected at the plants, according to the report which was published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Despite an exhaustive investigation, Neil and her colleagues still aren’t able to say which of the ingredients, or what part of the manufacturing process, led to the contamination of the cookie dough. It’s possible, Neil said, that flour might have been the problem

.­Flour, she explained, doesn’t go through the kind of special processing to kill off pathogens that ingredients like pasteurized eggs, molasses, sugar, baking soda, and margarine do.

Neil’s investigation ultimately led to the recall of 3.6 million packages of cookie dough. The manufacturer of the dough isn’t named in the report.

If you’re a fan of raw cookie dough and are wondering why it is that you can eat cookie dough ice cream, Neil explained that the preparation process for the dough in ice cream is different from the product that is sold as “ready-to-bake.”

“The cookie dough in ice cream was meant to be consumed raw,” she said. “It’s formulated as a ready-to-eat product. The cookie dough that is labeled “ready-to-bake” in the refrigerator section of the grocery store – or even the dough that you make at home – should be cooked before you eat it.”

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as cod and salmon, may significantly lower a young woman's risk of developing heart disease

Eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as cod and salmon, may significantly lower a young woman's risk of developing heart disease, Danish researchers report.

 The researchers found that women of childbearing age who never ate fish had 50 percent more cardiovascular problems than women who ate fish often, and a 90 percent higher risk than women who ate fish weekly.

 "We found that even women who ate fish only a couple of times a month benefited," said lead researcher Marin Strom, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Fetal Programming at the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen.

 "Women who eat fish should find the results encouraging, but it is important to emphasize that to obtain the greatest benefit from fish and fish oils, women should follow the dietary recommendations to eat fish as a main meal at least twice a week," she said.

 However, the report, published in the Dec. 5 online edition of Hypertension, doesn't show a cause-and-effect relationship between eating fish and lowering cardiovascular risk, merely an association.

Strom's team collected data on some 49,000 pregnant women between 1996 and 2008. They asked how much and what fish they ate, hoping to determine if eating certain types of fish helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The women, aged 15 to 49 at the study's start, were also asked about lifestyle and family medical history.

 Over eight years of follow-up, 577 cardiovascular events -- including hypertension, stroke and heart disease -- were recorded. Five women died of cardiovascular disease.

 Overall, more women who ate little or no fish were hospitalized for cardiovascular disease than those who ate fish, the researchers found.

When the researchers evaluated a subset of woman on three different occasions, the risk for cardiovascular disease was three times higher for women who never ate fish than for women who ate fish that was high in omega-3 at least once a week, they added.

Fish oil has long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which appear to be the protective factor against heart and vascular disease, Strom explained.

 "The best sources to obtain the long chained omega-3 fatty acids are fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, trout, and Greenland halibut," Strom said.

 The fish the women reported eating most often were cod, plaice, salmon, herring, and mackerel. Women who took fish oil supplements were excluded from the study.

 Although fried fish may be less healthy, it probably doesn't eliminate the fatty acids, Strom said.

 According to Strom, similar studies in the past focused on men, not women. "To our knowledge this is the first study of this size that focuses exclusively on women of childbearing age," she said.

Both sexes share many of the same risk factors for cardiovascular disease, but certain ones, such as inflammation, triglyceride and cholesterol, might be more important in women, she noted.

"This study substantiates a cardioprotective effect of fish intake and underlines the importance of promoting fish intake by dietary recommendations," Strom said. The positive effect noted with even modest fish consumption is encouraging for people who aren't big fish eaters, she added.

 The authors acknowledge some limitations to the study, including that the data were self-reported.

 Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the findings are consistent with other studies in older women and in men.

 "This study provides further supporting data that omega-3 fatty acids in the diet or as supplements are cardioprotective," Fonarow said.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Rice Contributes to Arsenic Exposure

In a study of a small group of pregnant women in New Hampshire, researchers from Dartmouth College found elevated urinary arsenic concentrations in those who had eaten rice in the two days prior to urine collection.

Of the 229 women who took part in the study, 73 had eaten rice in the two days prior. Upon testing, the urine of the rice eaters showed a median of 5.27 micrograms per liter; the 156 non-rice eaters showed 3.38 micrograms per liter. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers note that the women who had eaten rice consumed an average of 28.3 grams per day, which is equal to a 1/2 cup of cooked rice or 1 cup of rice cereal. Rice is susceptible to arsenic contamination due to its ability to extract arsenic from the environment into the rice plant.

Arsenic levels in the water of all subjects' homes were also tested, in order to separate the potential for exposure to arsenic from drinking water. The researchers say the women consumed a median of 0.27 μg of arsenic per day through home tap water.

The researchers conclude: "The large and statistically significant association we observed between rice consumption and urinary arsenic, in addition to earlier reports of elevated arsenic concentrations in rice, highlights the need to regulate arsenic in food. There are no statutory limits for the arsenic content of food sold in the United States and European Union, in stark contrast to China, where the maximum safe level of inorganic arsenic in rice is 0.15 μg/g (36). Setting such limits would protect consumers from unknowingly purchasing rice or rice products with high levels of arsenic. In addition, limits would encourage cultivation of rice strains that do not incorporate as much arsenic and reduce the use of arsenic-contaminated land for agriculture. Given the potentially adverse health consequences of arsenic at low levels of exposure, it is imperative that the health impact of arsenic exposure through rice consumption be characterized."

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Why we're still lapping up the lattes

Faced with a medium-term financial forecast that is the economic equivalent of nuclear winter, it's not surprising we're buying less stuff. Consumer spending is down, and most retail outlets are feeling the corresponding pinch. One commodity, however, is bucking the trend: coffee.

We're still drinking plenty of coffee – enough of it that Starbucks is planning to open 300 new outlets, creating up to 5,000 new jobs. What is it about coffee that makes us want more of it when times are hard?

It's strange to think that decent coffee, not so long ago a rarity in Britain, is something we now regard as an entitlement. I know I do, and I certainly don't feel the same way about, say, cavolo nero. I can get by on kale until the sun comes up again in 2016.

Coffee, of course, makes us feel better in a way that posh cabbage doesn't. It may be an expensive hot drink, but it's also the poor man's antidepressant. As licit mood-altering substances go, coffee is the only one that most consistently maintains a near equal balance of news stories proclaiming its dangers and touting its benefits: it's almost exactly as bad for you as it is good for you. And while it may be harmless, it's also reliably addictive. As the economic outlook gets gloomier, one would expect to find the British public on the hunt for ever stronger coffee. Apparently not.

Research from Glasgow University has found that the level of caffeine in shop-bought coffee varies widely, with some outlets selling espresso containing six times the caffeine found in others. One Glasgow shop was selling espresso shots with 322mg of caffeine in it, which sounds like something you'd drink on a dare. Guess whose coffee came bottom, with just 51mg per serving? That's right: Starbucks.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Where’s The Beef? Filet No. 1 Shoplifted Item

Everyone loves a good steak, but did you know the coveted filet mignon is the No. 1 most shoplifted item during the holidays? Yes, you read that correct—the Grinches are sinking their carnivorous teeth into retailers pockets.

According to Adweek, one in 11 people will waltz into a store and five-finger pocket something this season. Adweek estimates retailers will lose $119 billion to shoplifters in 2011; however, the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention puts that number much lower at $13 billion, or $35 million a day.

The Top 10 most shoplifted of items during the holidays include:

  1. Choice cuts of meat like filet mignon.
  2. Expensive liquors, particularly Jameson Irish Whiskey.
  3. Electric tools.
  4. Gadgets, especially Apple products.
  5. Gillette Mach 4 razor blades.
  6. Axe brand deodorant and body washes.
  7. Polo, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger apparel.
  8. Let's Rock Elmo toys.
  9. Expensive perfumes and colognes, particularly Chanel No. 5.
  10. Nike athletic shoes.