Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Social media is changing the face of food culture by influencing how Americans learn to cook, select recipes, plan their meals, purchase their food and share their culinary secrets with others, according to results of a new study developed and conducted by The Hartman Group and Publicis Consultants USA, a food & nutrition marketing agency. The shift in culture is good news for food marketers that can utilize social media as a tool to build personal and lasting relationships with their customers.

According to the report, “Clicks & Cravings: The Impact of Social Technology on Food Culture," as consumers use social media to discover, learn, and share information about food, they quickly become more active participants in food culture. In fact, almost 50% of consumers learn about food via social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, and 40% learn about food via websites, apps or blogs.

"Consumers used to rely on mom and family traditions for meal planning, but now search online for what to cook, without ever tasting or smelling," said Laurie Demeritt, president and COO at The Hartman Group. "Digital food selection is less of a sensory experience and more of a visual and rational process: What's on the label? What's in the recipe? Show me the picture!"

The survey found the infiltration of social media into the food experience goes far beyond purchasing and preparing food; it now includes the meal experience. While eating or drinking at home, nearly one-third of Americans use social networking sites; among Millennials (18 to 32 years), the figure jumps to 47%.

"The 'table for one' rarely exists anymore, even among single people eating alone at home," added Demeriit. "If you are eating alone, chances are you are also texting friends who live miles away or posting food photos to a review site."

Results reveal it's not enough for food and grocery brands simply to be present in the virtual space or build up legions of followers. The payoff is a long-term and personal relationship that creates brand advocates and an emotional connection that drives influence. To achieve such an enriching relationship, communication must be relevant and have a distinct and authentic personality.

"The best social and digital campaigns reflect the audience's values, interests, concerns and aspirations," said Steve Bryant, president of Publicis Consultants USA, adding the approach is effective for both large and small brands.

He points to the success of Roman Meal, a small whole grain bread company on the agency's roster. With a minimal budget, the brand built a valuable social network using one clear brand voice, expert nutrition information, and real stories of personal struggles that a healthy lifestyle could help solve.

"We approached the brand's social media as two good friends having an intimate conversation over a meal, and consumers responded positively," he said.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

About 75% of consumers, most of them female, are paying more attention to eating healthfully

HealthyWomen, the nation's leading nonprofit health information source for women, and Allrecipes, the world's #1 digital food brand, joined forces to survey home cooks about their healthy eating habits and, in particular, fast food consumption. Findings from the 1,563 persons polled, who were largely female, showed more than 56 percent ate at fast food restaurants at least several times a month. Among those, nearly 15 percent ate fast food two or more times a week. As consumers ponder their New Year's resolutions, cutting back on fast food meals is one way to reduce weight and improve health.

 "The majority of respondents, 75 percent, say they pay more attention to eating healthy now than they did five years ago," said Elizabeth Battaglino Cahill, RN, executive director of HealthyWomen. "Unfortunately, the quick stops at fast food restaurants often sabotage their efforts."

 Indeed, the majority of respondents (54 percent) admitted they feel "a bit guilty" after eating fast food and another 16 percent say they just feel "bad."

 So why stop at the fast-food drive thru? Half of the survey's respondents said convenience to accommodate busy schedules and faster meal availability were the top reasons for eating fast food instead of cooking at home. To skip a fast food meal and instead cook a healthy meal at home, 83 percent said it would have to be prepared in 30 minutes or less.

 "We understand how pressed for time most women are these days," said Lisa Sharples, president of Allrecipes. "That's why we make sure Allrecipes' sites and apps provide quick, easy access to thousands of fast, easy, affordable and great-tasting recipes that can be made in under 30 minutes."

 Nearly half of survey respondents (47 percent) report the most challenging aspect of eating healthy is finding recipes that are healthy, affordable and easy to make. Finding recipes that are flavorful and healthy is the biggest challenge cited by nearly one-third. Allrecipes provides nutritional data for recipes featured on the site. For those cooks looking for a more sophisticated set of tools, Allrecipes' Supporting Membership provides access to a customized meal planner with detailed nutrition for thousands of menus; subscribers can also quickly and easily locate recipes to match exact dietary needs using the nutrition search tool.

 For quick and healthy recipes, easy snacks, tips for losing weight and insights about foods to boost brainpower, consumers can visit and

The study was conducted from November 8 to 14, 2011, among 1,563 Allrecipes community members. Visit Allrecipes' Fresh Bites blog to read a complete survey overview in the January issue of Allrecipes' Measuring Cup Consumer Trends Report

Monday, February 27, 2012

Coffee caffeine consumption reduces the risk of advanced fibrosis in those with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Caffeine consumption has long been associated with decreased risk of liver disease and reduced fibrosis in patients with chronic liver disease. Now, newly published research confirms that coffee caffeine consumption reduces the risk of advanced fibrosis in those with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Findings published in the February issue of Hepatology, a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, show that increased coffee intake, specifically among patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), decreases risk of hepatic fibrosis.

The steady increase in rates of diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome over the past 20 years has given rise to greater prevalence of NAFLD. In fact, experts now believe NAFLD is the leading cause of chronic liver disease in the U.S., surpassing both hepatitis B and C. The majority of patients will have isolated fatty liver which has a very low likelihood of developing progressive liver disease. However, a subset of patients will have NASH, which is characterized by inflammation of the liver, destruction of liver cells, and possibly scarring of the liver. Progression to cirrhosis (advanced scarring of the liver) may occur in about 10-11% of NASH patients over a 15 year period, although this is highly variable.

To enhance understanding of the correlation between coffee consumption and the prevalence and severity of NAFLD, a team led by Dr. Stephen Harrison, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas surveyed participants from a previous NAFLD study as well as NASH patients treated at the center's hepatology clinic. The 306 participants were asked about caffeine coffee consumption and categorized into four groups: patients with no sign of fibrosis on ultrasound (control), steatosis, NASH stage 0-1, and NASH stage 2-4.

Researchers found that the average milligrams in total caffeine consumption per day in the control, steatosis, Nash 0-1, and Nash 2-4 groups was 307, 229, 351 and 252; average milligrams of coffee intake per day was 228, 160, 255, and 152, respectively. There was a significant difference in caffeine consumption between patients in the steatosis group compared to those with NASH stage 0-1. Coffee consumption was significantly greater for patients with NASH stage 0-1, with 58% of caffeine intake from regular coffee, than with NASH stage 2-4 patients at only 36% of caffeine consumption from regular coffee.

Multiple analyses showed a negative correlation between coffee consumption and risk of hepatic fibrosis. "Our study is the first to demonstrate a histopatholgic relationship between fatty liver disease and estimated coffee intake," concludes Dr. Harrison. "Patients with NASH may benefit from moderate coffee consumption that decreases risk of advanced fibrosis. Further prospective research should examine the amount of coffee intake on clinical outcomes."

Sunday, February 26, 2012


If you like sweets for breakfast, hold on to your cinnabuns. New research published in the journal Steroids suggests eating a high-carbohydrate, protein breakfast may help prevent weight gain after dieting because it suppresses the hunger hormone grhelin and reduces cravings. The findings suggest enriched breakfast may be a key to maintaining weight loss and preventing weight regain over time.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University conducted a 32-week study of 193 middle-aged obese, sedentary non-diabetics who were randomly assigned to either a low-carbohydrate breakfast or an isocaloric diet with high carbohydrate and protein breakfast.

Fasting glucose, insulin, ghrelin, lipids, craving scores and breakfast meal challenge assessing hunger, satiety, insulin and ghrelin responses, were performed at baseline, 16 weeks and 32 weeks.

At week 16, both groups had lost an average of 33 pounds per person. At 32 weeks, those on the low-carb diet regained an average of 22 pounds; those on the high-carb protein diet lost an additional 15 pounds per person.

Ghrelin levels were reduced after breakfast by 45.2% on the high-carb protein diet versus 29.5% for those on the low-carb diet. Satiety was significantly improved and hunger and craving scores significantly reduced in the high-carb protein diet group versus the low-carb diet group.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Eating oranges and other citrus fruits may help reduce stroke risk

Eating oranges and other citrus fruits may help reduce stroke risk, new research suggests.

Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have been linked with lower stroke risk in other studies, but researchers weren't sure why. For this study, they zeroed in on compounds called flavanones present in citrus fruits and found a winner.

"These data provide strong support for consuming more citrus fruits as part of your daily fruit and vegetable intake" to reduce the risk of ischemic [blood clot-related] stroke, said study leader Aedin Cassidy, head of nutrition at Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia in England.

It's possible that the flavanones in citrus fruits improve blood vessel function or reduce inflammation, which has been linked with stroke, the researchers said.

For maximum benefit, whole fruits are preferable to juice because they contain more flavanones and no added sugar, said Cassidy.

The study, published online Feb. 23 in the journal Stroke, was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Flavanones are a type of dietary flavonoid already associated with lower stroke risk. Besides fruits and vegetables, flavonoids are found in red wine and dark chocolate.

For this study, the researchers focused on six subclasses of flavonoids, including flavanones, to tease out the specific plant foods that help reduce stroke risk.

The researchers evaluated 14 years of follow-up data from the U.S. Nurses' Health Study. The new research involved nearly 70,000 women who reported their food intake every four years and included details on fruit and vegetable consumption.

During the follow-up, 1,803 strokes occurred. About half were blood clot-related, the study authors noted.

Total flavonoid intake did not reduce stroke risk, but intake of flavanones did, the researchers said. Women who ate the most flavanones had a 19 percent lower risk of blood-clot related stroke than those who ate the least.

The investigators found that 95 percent of the flavanones consumed came from citrus fruit and juice, mostly orange and grapefruit. Those consuming the most citrus fruits and juice had a 10 percent reduced risk of stroke compared with those eating none, Cassidy said.

Vitamin C, previously suggested as the source of the cardio-protective effects, was not associated with lower stroke risk in this study.

Women with the lowest intake of flavanones took in about 150 milligrams a day of flavonoids or less, compared to more than 470 milligrams a day in the highest group.

A typical piece of citrus fruit contains 45 to 50 milligrams of flavanones, Cassidy said.

The study authors pointed out that those who ate the most flavonoids also smoked less and exercised more. They ate more fiber, vegetables and fruit overall and consumed less caffeine and alcohol.

While the study uncovered an association between flavanone consumption and reduced stroke risk, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Additional research is needed to better understand the association between flavanone consumption and stroke risk, the authors said. While this study only included women, Cassidy suspects the findings would apply to men. "These studies now need to be done," Cassidy said.

Hannah Gardener, an epidemiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine department of neurology, said the study adds valuable information to what is known about diet and stroke risk.

"There are several studies that have shown that greater consumption of fruits and vegetables has been linked with reduced risk of stroke," said Gardener, who was not involved in the study. What the new research adds is the focus on the subclasses of flavonoids, she said.

The bottom line? "It underscores the importance of fruit and vegetable intake," Gardener said. And it "provides evidence that citrus fruits in particular may be important in terms of reducing stroke risk."

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines of America 2010 suggest filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables.

Cassidy and a co-author report receiving funding from Unilever Research and GlaxoSmithKline to conduct trials and studies on flavonoid-rich foods in the past.

More information

To learn more about dietary recommendations, go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Drinking Black Tea May Lower Blood Pressure

A six month study by scientists at the University of Western Australia (UWA), Unilever and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia suggests that people who drink black tea throughout the day may get the benefit of a slight reduction in their blood pressure. Funding for the study was provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and Unilever Research and Development, Vlaardingen, The Netherlands.

Before the study started, the participants' blood pressure throughout the day was about 121/72 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Blood pressure readings less than or equal to 120/180 mm Hg are considered normal.

The research, now published in the Archives of Internal Medicine(1), is the first of its kind to show that drinking black tea may have this effect.

"High blood pressure can significantly impact people's risk of developing cardiovascular disease, so this is a very significant discovery," said Professor Jonathan Hodgson at UWA. "There is already mounting evidence that tea is good for your heart health, but this is an important discovery because it is evidence of a link between the two."

In the study, 95 Australian participants aged 35 to 75 were recruited to drink either three cups of black tea or another beverage similar in taste and caffeine content, but not derived from tea, daily for six months.

After the six month period the research found that the tea drinkers' systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure fell between 2 and 3 mm Hg compared to non-tea drinkers.

More research is required to better understand how tea may reduce blood pressure, although earlier studies reported a potential link between tea consumption and the improved health of people's blood vessels(2).

"This is a hugely exciting development for us," said Jane Rycroft, senior nutrition and health manager at Unilever's Research & Development laboratories.

"This is further evidence to suggest that tea and its natural ingredients can help people become healthier. While a 2-3 mm Hg decrease is a small change to an individual's blood pressure, it's tantalising to think what positive impact this could have on reducing the risk of heart disease among the general public."

Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world, after water. Unilever is the world's largest tea company, making brands including Lipton and PG Tips. Every year, consumers in more than 130 countries drink 117 billion cups of Unilever tea.

Note: Individuals with high blood pressure should consult their physicians for medical advice and treatment.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


The key to preventing memory loss with aging may be as simple as reducing calories and following a healthy diet, according to new research presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 64th Annual Meeting.

Researchers from Mayo Clinic found consuming between 2,100 and 6,000 calories per day may double the risk of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), among people age 70 and older. The study involved 1,233 people between the ages of 70 and 89 and free of dementia residing in Olmsted County, Minn. Of those, 163 had MCI. Participants reported the amount of calories they ate or drank in a food questionnaire and were divided into three equal groups based on their daily caloric consumption. One-third of the participants consumed between 600 and 1,526 calories per day; one-third between 1,526 and 2,143; and one-third consumed between 2,143 and 6,000 calories per day.

The odds of having MCI more than doubled for those in the highest calorie-consuming group compared to those in the lowest calorie-consuming group. The results were the same after adjusting for history of stroke, diabetes, amount of education, and other factors that can affect risk of memory loss. There was no significant difference in risk for the middle group.

“We observed a dose-response pattern which simply means; the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of MCI," said study author Yonas E. Geda, MD, MSc, with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age."


·                                 American Academy of Neurology: Overeating May Double Risk of Memory Loss

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tax 'toxic' sugar, doctors urge

Sugar is so toxic that it should be taxed and slapped with regulations like alcohol, some U.S. researchers argue.

In a commentary published in Wednesday's issue of the journal Nature, doctors from the University of California, San Francisco, say that rising global rates of major killers such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes aren’t caused by obesity as commonly thought.

Instead, obesity is a marker for those health problems, and sugar is the true culprit, Dr. Robert Lustig, Laura Schmidt and Claire Brindis said.

"We recognize that societal intervention to reduce the supply and demand for sugar faces an uphill political battle against a powerful sugar lobby," they wrote.

Measures such as smoking bans in public places, the use of designated drivers and the addition of condom dispensers in public washrooms were also battlegrounds that are now taken for granted for public health, the authors said in calling for sugar regulations.

They suggested:

  • Taxing "added sugar" — any sweetener containing fructose that is added to food in processing, including sugar-sweetened beverages and sugared cereal.
  • Controlling the location and density of fast-food outlets and convenience stores around schools and offering incentives to open grocery stores and farmers' markets.
  • Limiting sales during the school day or designating an age limit to buy drinks with added sugar.

The researchers said sugar meets four criteria for regulation that are largely accepted by public health experts and that were first applied to alcohol. Those criteria are pervasiveness in society, toxicity, potential for abuse and negative impact on society.

The American Beverage Association responded to the article by saying there's a drink and portion size for every occasion and lifestyle.

"We believe providing more options — not taking them away — is a better solution to help parents and individuals choose beverages that are right for them and their families," the beverage group said on its website.

Dietitians generally encourage people to eat a healthy diet without focusing on a single nutrient.

There are several toxic substances, such as salt and trans fat, that affect health if you eat too much of them, said Dr. Arya Sharma, scientific director of the Canadian Obesity Network.

"I don't think we can bring the whole question about obesity down to a simple substance like people eating too much sugar," Sharma said in an interview from Lethbridge, Alta.

The discussion is valuable, but no one knows what the unintended consequences of regulating sugar might be, Sharma said.

"Changing lifestyle is more about changing your life than your style," Sharma said. "We have to ask ourselves, are we prepared to change our lives? Which means spend less time on the road, perhaps less hours working, perhaps start cooking again, perhaps bring home economics back into school."

Monday, February 20, 2012

FDA to Review Inhalable Caffeine

U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials plan to investigate whether inhalable caffeine sold in lipstick-sized canisters is safe for consumers and if its manufacturer was right to brand it as a dietary supplement.

AeroShot went on the market late last month in Massachusetts and New York, and it's also available in France. Consumers put one end of the canister in their mouths and breathe in, releasing a fine powder that dissolves almost instantly.

Each grey-and-yellow plastic canister contains B vitamins, plus 100 milligrams of caffeine powder, about the equivalent of the caffeine in a large cup of coffee.

AeroShot inventor, Harvard biomedical engineering professor David Edwards, says the product is safe and doesn't contain taurine and other common additives used to enhance the caffeine effect in energy drinks.

AeroShot didn't require FDA review before hitting the U.S. market because it's sold as a dietary supplement. But New York's U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said he met with FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg and she agreed to review the safety and legality of AeroShot.

"I am worried about how a product like this impacts kids and teens, who are particularly vulnerable to overusing a product that allows one to take hit after hit after hit, in rapid succession," Schumer said.

Tom Hadfield, chief executive of Breathable Foods, which makes AeroShot in France, did not immediately respond to a phone message and email seeking comment. A publicist for the company also did not respond to a phone message and email seeking comment.

Sen. Schumer planned to announce the AeroShot review Sunday.

Meanwhile, an FDA official who was at the meeting confirmed the decision, telling The Associated Press that the review will include a study of the law to determine whether AeroShot qualifies as a dietary supplement. The product will also be tested to figure out whether it's safe for consumption, the official said.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because that official was not authorized to discuss the matter.

Schumer pressed the FDA in December to review AeroShot, saying he fears that it will be used as a club drug so that young people can keep going until they drop. He cited incidents that occurred last year when students looking for a quick and cheap buzz began consuming caffeine-packed alcoholic drinks they dubbed "blackout in a can" because of their potency.

Pressure from the senator and others helped persuade the FDA to stop the marketing, distribution and sale of these beverages, including Four Loko.

"We need to make sure that AeroShot does not become the next Four Loko by facilitating dangerous levels of drinking among teenagers and college students," Schumer said in a statement.

Breathable Foods says the product is different from the potent beverages. The company says that it's not targeting anyone under 18 and that AeroShot safely delivers caffeine into the mouth, just like coffee does.

A single unit costs $2.99 at convenience stores, mom-and-pops, and liquor and online stores. The product packaging warns people not to consume more than three AeroShots a day.

"When used in accordance with its label, AeroShot provides a safe shot of caffeine and B vitamins for ingestion," the manufacturer says on its website. "Caffeine has been proven to offer a variety of potential benefits for health to individuals when consumed in moderation, from providing energy to enhancing attention and focus."

AeroShot, the flagship product of Cambridge, Mass.-based Breathable Foods, is the product of a conversation that Edwards had with celebrity French chef Thierry Marks over lunch in the summer of 2007.

The first venture Edwards worked on with Harvard students was the breathable chocolate, called Le Whif. Now he's preparing to promote a product called Le Whaf, which involves putting food and drinks in futuristic-looking glass bowls and turning them into low calorie clouds of flavor.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Don't Worry, Drink Coffee

Good news, coffee drinkers. In addition to the recent Harvard Nurses Study that followed more than 50,000 participants for 10 years and demonstrated that coffee cuts depression in women, Heart 411: The Only Guide to Heart Health You'll Ever Need reports that perennial "bad boy" coffee is actually heart healthy -- maybe even protective.

For habitual coffee drinkers, caffeine from two cups of coffee will increase blood pressure two or three mm Hg, but the effect is temporary -- and non-existent for many regular coffee drinkers. Heart rate, too, may briefly increase, but coffee is not a culprit or usual cause of abnormal heart rhythms.

Filtered coffee removes the oils that can raise total and LDL cholesterol levels, so most coffee doesn't affect "bad" cholesterol levels. Studies have suggested that coffee makes arteries stiff. Buzz! Sorry, it seems two cups of coffee a day actually cause arteries to relax. The "happiness effect" for women kicks in around the same time.

Past research has suggested a link between coffee and a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, and now Chinese researchers think they may know why. Three major compounds in coffee may provide beneficial effects: caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and caffeine.

"These findings suggest that the beneficial effects of coffee consumption on type 2 diabetes mellitus may be partly due to the ability of the major coffee components and metabolites to inhibit the toxic aggregation of hIAPP [human islet amyloid polypeptide]," Ling Zheng, professor of cellular biology at Wuhan University in China, and colleagues wrote.

Despite 20 years of reassuring research, many people still avoid caffeinated coffee because they worry about its health effects. But research continues to confirm that -- in moderation -- a few cups a day is safe and even beneficial to heart health.

In 2004, Harvard Women's Health Watch reported some of coffee's lesser known potential benefits like: lowered risk of gallstones and colon cancer, improved cognitive function, reduction of liver damage for some and reduction of Parkinson's disease for others. Coffee has also been shown to improve endurance performance in long-duration physical activities.

Spreading coffee drinking throughout your day works best for those trying to stay alert due to sleep deprivation (which of course we aren't advocating because you should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night).

People with chronic heart disease, however, should consult their physicians about personal risks before chugging down daily mocha. Coffee drinkers who also consume excessive alcohol may lose any positive advantage of coffee drinking.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


White matter hyperintensity volume, a marker of small vessel damage in the brain, can me mitigated through consumption of a Mediterranean-style diet, according to a study led by Miller School of Medicine researchers. Previous studies have shown that high amounts of WMHV in the brain can predict a higher risk of stroke and dementia.

“Although diet may be an important predictor of vascular disease, little is known about the possible association between dietary habits and WMHs," said Clinton Wright, M.D., M.S, the report’s senior author who is associate professor of neurology and scientific director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute at the Miller School. “Studies have suggested that consumption of a MeDi (Mediterranean Diet) is associated with a reduced risk of the metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, stroke and cognitive disorders, but no studies to date, to our knowledge, have found an association between a MeDi and WMH volume (WMHV)."

The study, published in the February issue of Archives of Neurology, evaluated data from 966 participants in the Northern Manhattan Study to examine the association between a MeDi and WMHV. Participants were given a food frequency questionnaire to assess dietary patterns during the previous year, and answers were used to determine a MeDi compliance score. The WMHV was measured by quantitative brain MRI

According to the study authors, results suggest a lower burden of WMHV among participants with a greater consumption of a MeDi. This association was independent of sociodemographic and vascular risk factors, including physical activity, smoking, blood lipid levels, hypertension, diabetes, history of cardiac disease and BMI. Additionally, after adjustment, the only component of the MeDi score that was independently associated with WMHV was the ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fat.

“In summary, the current study suggests a possible protective association between increased consumption of a MeDi and small vessel damage," Wright said. “The associations with WMHV may be driven by the favorable ratio of monounsaturated fat consumption over saturated fat. However, the results of the analysis of the individual MeDi scale components suggest that the overall dietary pattern, rather than any of the individual components, may be more etiologically relevant in relation to WMHV."


·                                 Miller School of Medicine: Mediterranean Diet Linked to Reduced Small Vessel Damage in the Brain

Friday, February 17, 2012

About 41.8% of consumers purchase organic foods

For the first time in four years since undertaking its Annual Organic Product Survey, TABS Group ( found a significant increase in American consumers reporting they purchased organic products and a jump in overall sales. Specifically, the percentage of all consumers stating they purchased organics rose from 39.8 percent in January 2011 to 41.8 percent in January 2012, a 5 percent increase, according to Dr. Kurt Jetta, TABS Group CEO.

Total organic product sales rose approximately 15 to 20 percent. The survey also found an 11 percent increase in the number of product types purchased by a typical organic shopper. Increased penetration for organic products, particularly staples like milk, eggs, meat and vegetables, signifies that consumers are finding more room in their budget to afford higher price points associated with organic products. Findings included increase in sales of organic products such as beef (+48 percent), ice cream (+44 percent), hair care products (+28 percent), vegetables (26 percent), milk (+25 percent), eggs (+21 percent) and chicken (+17 percent).

Younger consumers expressed greater preference for organic products, with 48 percent of respondents under 40 years reporting usage in the last six months compared with only 34 percent of consumers above 60. Those under 30 bought on average 4.6 different organic products compared with 2.9 different products purchased by people 60 and older.

"Younger consumers, with typically the least disposable income, show the greatest loyalty to organics. This likely will increase organics' sales and market share over time as their buying power grows and their preference is passed on to their children," said Jetta. TABS found people earning less than $30,000 a year and those with children purchased more organic products than higher earners and those without children.

For retailers, the study showed consumers overwhelmingly (62 to 38 percent) buy organic at mainstream retail stores over natural food or specialty stores.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Trans Levels Drop

Nearly a decade after federally mandated labeling of trans fats on food labels, a new study led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals blood levels of trans-fatty acids in Caucasian U.S. adults decreased by 58% from 2000 to 2009. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first to measure trans fats in human blood.

For the study, CDC researchers measured trans-fatty acids in 229 fasting adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) years 2000 and 2009 to examine trans-fatty acid blood levels before and after FDA’s 2003 regulation, which took effect in 2006, requiring manufacturers of food and some dietary supplements to list the amount of trans-fatty acids on the Nutrition Facts panel of the product label.

CDC studied four major trans fatty acids to provide a reasonable representation of trans fats in blood—elaidic acid, linoelaidic acid, palmitelaidic acid and vaccenic acid. They found the overall decrease in trans-fatty acids was 58%. Specific trans-fat reductions were elaidic acid, 63%; linoelaidic acid, 49%; palmitelaidic acid, 49%; and vaccenic acid, 56%, respectively.

“The 58% decline shows substantial progress that should help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in adults," said Christopher Portier, Ph.D., director of CDC′s National Center for Environmental Health. “Findings from the CDC study demonstrate the effectiveness of these efforts in reducing blood TFAs and highlight that further reductions in the levels of trans fats must remain an important public health goal."

Portier noted the current study provides information for Caucasian adults only, and additional CDC studies are underway to examine blood trans fatty acids in other adult race/ethnic groups, children and adolescents.


·                                 CDC: CDC study finds levels of trans-fatty acids in blood of U.S. white adults has decreased

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Probiotic foods could "disappear" due to the European Food Safety Authority's constant scientific rejection of health and digestion claims

After bombarding consumers with a barrage of confusing messages about the health benefits of probiotic bacteria, major players in the world’s highest-selling functional food category admit they may have to concede defeat and that the industry could disappear altogether.

At a Probiotics Summit in Brussels this week, a spokesman for Danone, the largest fresh dairy product maker in the world, said that the European Food Safety Authority’s continuous rejection of health claims by hundreds of applicants offers little hope that the probiotics industry will be able to survive, attendees heard.

EFSA maintains that the science behind such claims is flimsy at best and had rejected 260 out of 300 probiotic health claim submissions as of last November. Nor is the US Food and Drug Administration convinced that probiotics carry scientifically proven health benefits, treading carefully around the subject.

In 2008, the US arm of of the company, Dannon, was slapped with a class-action lawsuit for making misleading health claims and agreed to pony up $35 million to consumers, in addition to making changes to the labeling and advertising of Activia and DanActive.

Dannon also withdrew claims that Activia improves digestion and slow transit and that its Actimel strengthens the body’s natural defenses.

Meanwhile, though some critics at the summit accused EFSA of being too strict and setting the “scientific bar too high,” others defended the agency’s hard line and pointed the finger at the poor quality of the dossiers, reports

Some studies claim that probiotics can improve digestive health, treat everything from diarrhea to irritable bowel syndrome and urinary tract infections, reduce bladder recurrence, and prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Coffee In Pods Cost $50 Per Pound

Single-serve pod coffee machines are all the rage in America these days. Single-serve coffee is now the second most popular means of making a cup (after drip brewers). Last year, 7 percent of coffee consumed in the U.S. was made with a single-serve brewer; in 2010 it was 4 percent.

The current pod craze was launched by the huge worldwide success of Nespresso single-serve espresso machines. Since 1986, the company has sold 27 billion of the little pods.

Here in the States, Keurig sold 4 million of its K-Cup brewers in the 13-week run up to Christmas; during the same time, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters sold more than $715 million in K-Cup packs. Keurig licenses its technology, so Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks are making K-Cup pods now too.

Last week, Oliver Strand did some math for The New York Times website and figured out about how much it costs per pound for this precious pod coffee; Trent Hamm, in a post published by the Christian Science Monitor, calculated the price-per-cup. After reading these numbers, you may need to sit down and relax with a nice pot of tea.

Strand's numbers computed to this: Nespresso Arpeggio espresso costs "about $51 a pound." Folgers Black Silk coffee blend capsules work out to "more than $50 a pound" as well. Compare this to most high-end coffees, which cost less than $20 per pound. Even the most renowned generally go for less than $30 per pound. A pound of Dark Espresso Roast from Starbucks is, according to Mr. Strand, "$12.95 a pound, and a bag of Eight O'Clock beans for brewed $10.72 a pound."

Hamm's price-per-cup numbers included factoring in the cost of coffee pots and filters for a regular coffee machine and prorating the price of a single-serve machine in his pod-per-cup prices. Hamm's price for a cup of regular joe made at home came to thirteen cents. Hamm hunted down the very best possible price for coffee pods -- as in those being sold in bulk via Amazon -- it still came to $.26 per cup.

Nespresso pods, purchased at Nespresso prices, come to about $.55 per cup, but good news may be on the horizon for those jittery single-serve Nespresso espresso addicts who are perhaps slowly going broke: Ethical Coffee Company is planning to sell Nespresso-compatible pods for "around 20 percent less" on

In a study we did we can produce a pod for .08. That's a lot of profit being paid by the consumer. The pod itself cost more than the coffee in it.. It is the old Kodak game or buying a printer cheap and paying a fortune for the ink.

WOW! that is a lot of money for a cup of coffee!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dunkin' Donuts Is Number One in Coffee Customer Loyalty for Sixth Straight Year

In the highly competitive U.S. coffee market, Dunkin' Donuts is once again distinguished for brewing a superior guest experience. For the sixth straight year, Dunkin' Donuts, America's all-day, everyday stop for coffee and baked goods, has been recognized by the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index as number one in customer loyalty in the coffee category.

The 16th annual national survey conducted by brand loyalty and engagement consultancy Brand Keys identifies brands that are best able to engage consumers by meeting or exceeding their expectations, which creates loyal customers. Brand Keys' Customer Loyalty Engagement Index recognizes the brands that receive the highest loyalty and engagement assessments and surpass competitors for "delighting" customers. In the coffee category, consumer preferences were based on consistently meeting customer expectations for taste, quality, service, and brand value.

"We are truly honored to have earned Brand Keys' top ranking for coffee customer loyalty for six years running. This recognition speaks both to the renowned quality of our Dunkin' Donuts coffee and to the incredible dedication of our franchisees who work to provide our guests with an outstanding experience every day of the year. Through their efforts, our guests have developed a connection with the Dunkin' Donuts brand that is truly unique," said John Costello, Chief Global Marketing and Innovation Officer at Dunkin' Brands. "We remain committed to keeping America running with our great coffee, baked goods and snacks served in a friendly environment at a great value."

"The search for delight by the consumer comes down to a simple equation: understanding customer expectations, their desire for brand value, and packaging the two via the brand and product experience offered to customers. It's that last part that's difficult, and Dunkin' has continued to manage the brand, and the experience to meet customer desires – six years in a row. That the customer is delighted with the brand shows up in both the Brand Keys loyalty metrics and Dunkin's bottom line," said Robert Passikoff, founder and president, Brand Keys.

According to The NPD Group / CREST®, Dunkin' Donuts serves the most hot traditional and iced coffee in America, selling more than one billion cups of hot and iced coffee every year. Dunkin' Donuts uses 100% Arabica coffee beans, and the company's coffee specifications are recognized by the industry as a superior grade of coffee. There are almost 7,000 Dunkin' Donuts restaurants in the United States and the District of Columbia and more than 10,000 restaurants in 32 countries worldwide.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Study Links Diet Soft Drinks to Heart Attack, Stroke

Individuals who drink diet soft drinks on a daily basis may have an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and vascular death, according to a new study published in the Journal of General Medicine. There was no increased risk of vascular events associated with regular soft drinks or moderate diet soft drink consumption.

Researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and at Columbia University Medical Center analyzed data from 2,564 participants in the National Institute of Health funded Northern Manhattan Study. They assessed diet and regular soft drink consumption using a food frequency questionnaire at baseline. Over a 10-year follow-up and taking into account preexisting vascular conditions such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes and high blood pressure, they found those who drank diet soft drinks daily were 43% more likely to have suffered a vascular event. Moderate diet soft drink users and regular soft drink users were not more likely to suffer vascular events.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

About 19% of Valentine's Day shoppers will purchase candy

This Valentine's Day, many shoppers are sticking to a budget when shopping for a loved one, according to PriceGrabber®, a part of Experian. Results from PriceGrabber's Valentine's Day shopping survey reveal that 68 percent of consumers who indicated that they plan to celebrate the holiday will spend less than $100 on gifts, with most planning to spend between $25 and $50 total. Conducted from Jan. 11 to Jan. 25, 2012, the survey includes responses from 793 U.S. online shopping consumers.

Budgets will stay on par with 2011

When consumers who plan to celebrate Valentine's Day were asked about their spending habits compared with last year, 56 percent indicated that they plan to spend the same amount as in 2011. Twenty percent will spend more, another 20 percent will spend less, and 4 percent will not purchase a gift this year. According to PriceGrabber's survey, the economic climate continues to be a relevant factor in shoppers' mindsets, with 56 percent indicating that the economy will have an effect on their Valentine's Day purchasing decisions in 2012.

"PriceGrabber anticipates that shoppers will spend about the same amount on Valentine's Day this year as they did in 2011," commented Graham Jones, general manager of PriceGrabber. "Valentine's Day is a very consistent holiday that presents an opportunity for consumers to show affection for a loved one on a more reasonably priced scale than during the holiday season, and we expect shoppers to take full advantage of discounts that will be available online, in brick-and-mortar stores and via a mobile device."

Many shoppers will purchase greeting cards and celebrate with an evening out

This year, many shoppers have indicated that on Valentine's Day, family comes first. When consumers who plan to celebrate Valentine's Day were asked on whom they plan to spend money, 68 percent said they will spend on a husband or wife. Thirty-six percent will spend money on a brother, sister or child; 17 percent will spend on a boyfriend or girlfriend; 9 percent will purchase a gift for a friend; 6 percent will spend money on a pet; and 2 percent will spend on coworkers.

When consumers were asked to select all of the things they plan to purchase for Valentine's Day, greeting cards were most popular, with 35 percent indicating that they would purchase a greeting card for a loved one. This was followed by 32 percent of shoppers who will spend money on an evening out; 19 percent who will purchase candy; 17 percent who will buy flowers; 13 percent who will buy themed gifts, such as stuffed animals or a heart-shaped present; 11 percent who will buy clothing; 9 percent who will purchase jewelry; and 7 percent who will purchase electronics.

Most will shop one week in advance, both in stores and online

When consumers who plan to celebrate Valentine's Day were asked when they plan to purchase their gifts, 43 percent said they will do so one week in advance. Twenty-four percent of shoppers will purchase gifts two weeks prior to Valentine's Day, 22 percent will shop within 48 hours of the holiday, and 11 percent will shop three weeks prior.

When asked to select all of the ways they plan to shop, 54 percent of consumers indicated that they will buy gifts in a brick-and-mortar store. Thirty-four percent will shop online, 2 percent will shop using a mobile phone, and 1 percent will shop using an electronic tablet.

Daily deal sites will profit from Valentine's Day

This Valentine's Day, many consumers will flock to popular daily deal sites for savings on experiential gifts for loved ones, such as a deal for a restaurant, a spa or an entertainment event. A notable 42 percent of shoppers who plan to celebrate Valentine's Day indicated that they will use a daily deal site such as Groupon®, LivingSocial® or PriceGrabber's local deals to shop for a gift.

Green tea could be secret to healthy old age, study suggests

Elderly adults who regularly drink green tea may stay more agile and independent than their peers over time, according to a Japanese study that covered thousands of people.

Green tea contains antioxidant chemicals that may help ward off the cell damage that can lead to disease. Researchers have been studying green tea's effect on everything from cholesterol to the risk of certain cancers, with mixed results so far.

For the new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers decided to examine the question of whether green tea drinkers have a lower risk of frailty and disability as they grow older.

Yasutake Tomata of the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine and his colleagues followed nearly 14,000 adults aged 65 or older for three years.

They found those who drank the most green tea were the least likely to develop "functional disability," or problems with daily activities or basic needs, such as dressing or bathing.

Specifically, almost 13 percent of adults who drank less than a cup of green tea per day became functionally disabled, compared with just over 7 percent of people who drank at least five cups a day.

"Green tea consumption is significantly associated with a lower risk of incident functional disability, even after adjustment for possible confounding factors," Tomata and his colleagues wrote.

The study did not prove that green tea alone kept people spry as they grew older.

Green-tea lovers generally had healthier diets, including more fish, vegetables and fruit, as well as more education, lower smoking rates, fewer heart attacks and strokes, and greater mental sharpness.

They also tended to be more socially active and have more friends and family to rely on.

But even with those factors accounted for, green tea itself was tied to a lower disability risk, the researchers said.

People who drank at least five cups a day were one-third less likely to develop disabilities than those who had less than a cup per day. Those people who averaged three or four cups a day had a 25 percent lower risk.

Although it's not clear how green tea might offer a buffer against disability, Tomata's team did note that one recent study found green tea extracts seem to boost leg muscle strength in older women.

While green tea and its extracts are considered safe in small amounts, they do contain caffeine and small amounts of vitamin K, which means it could interfere with drugs that prevent blood clotting.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012


The restaurant industry is projected to increase 3.5% over 2011 numbers, with total foodservice sales expected to reach a record high of $632 billion in 2012, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast.

“As our nation slowly recovers from the economic downturn, restaurants continue to be a vital part of American lifestyles and our nation’s economy," said Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “We expect the nation’s nearly 1 million restaurants to post sales of $632 billion this year. Combine that with the fact that restaurant job growth is expected to outpace the overall economy for the 13th straight year, and it’s clear that the restaurant industry is once again proving to be a significant economic stimulant and strong engine for job creation."

According to the report, giving consumers what they want will be crucial for restaurant operators in 2012. Since the recession caused 8 out of 10 consumers to cut back on spending to some degree, it is more important than ever for operators to nudge those guests into patronizing their restaurants. Food quality, customer service quality and value are the top attributes consumers look for when choosing a restaurant; for QSRs restaurants, customers are looking for food quality, value and speed of service when picking where to dine.

When it comes to food, the top menu trends are all about local sourcing and nutrition, especially kids’ nutrition. Nearly three-quarters of consumers are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers locally produced food items, and more than half of all restaurants currently offer locally sourced produce. Similarly, nearly 75% of consumers are trying to eat healthier now at restaurants than they did two years ago, and a majority of restaurants agree that customers are ordering more such items.

The report noted while the industry is expected to grow in 2012, the top challenges cited by restaurateurs are food costs, building and maintaining sales volume, and the economy.

“Because about one-third of sales in a restaurant go to food and beverage purchases, food prices are a crucial component for operators," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the National Restaurant Association’s Research and Knowledge group. “Last year, we saw wholesale food prices post their strongest annual increase in more than three decades. In 2012, we will see continued increases in the cost of some commodities, while price pressures will ease for others."

However, opportunities are present for operators to be successful by understanding and leveraging consumer trends to attract new guests and make current ones come back. The good news is, there is substantial pent-up demand for restaurant services, with 2 out of 5 consumers saying they are not using restaurants as often as they would like. However, that demand can translate into sales with the right incentive.


·                                 National Restaurant Association: Restaurant Industry Set to Outpace National Job Growth, Reach Record Sales in 2012

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Two small helpings of purple potatoes (Purple Majesty) a day decreases blood pressure by about 4%

The first study to check the effects of eating potatoes on blood pressure in humans has concluded that two small helpings of purple potatoes (Purple Majesty) a day decreases blood pressure by about 4 percent without causing weight gain. In a report in the ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the researchers say that decrease, although seemingly small, is sufficient to potentially reduce the risk of several forms of heart disease.

 Joe Vinson and colleagues point out that people in the U.S. eat more potatoes than any other vegetable. Purple-skinned potatoes, a boutique variety increasingly available in food stores, are noted for having high levels of healthful antioxidant compounds. And in Korea, purple potatoes are renowned in folk medicine as a way to lose weight. Vinson's team thus decided to investigate the effects of eating 6-8 small microwaved purple potatoes twice a day on 18 volunteers, most of whom were overweight with high blood pressure. The volunteers ate potatoes or no potatoes for four weeks, and then switched to the opposite regimen for another four weeks while researchers monitored systolic and diastolic blood pressure (the higher and lower numbers in a blood pressure reading like 120/80), body weight and other health indicators.

Average diastolic blood pressure dropped by 4.3 percent and systolic pressure decreased by 3.5 percent. The majority of subjects took anti-hypertensive drugs and still had a reduction in blood pressure. None of the study participants gained weight. Vinson said that other studies have identified substances in potatoes with effects in the body similar to those of the well-known ACE-inhibitor medications, a mainstay for treating high blood pressure. But he suspects that the effects may be due to other substances in potatoes. The scientists do not know yet whether ordinary white potatoes have the same beneficial effects.

Monday, February 06, 2012

About 44% of healthy snackers tend to eat healthfully most of the time

According to recent Mintel research, among healthy snackers, 44% say they tend to eat healthfully most of the time and 42% make it a point to snack on foods that are healthy. At the same time, indulgence can be part of a well-rounded lifestyle, as 39% of healthy snackers say they use less-healthy nibbles as an occasional treat.

"Eating healthy snacks can offer many benefits to consumers, such as increased energy and feeling fuller longer, so there is a big opportunity for the makers and marketers of snacks to leverage these connections to maximize health positioning," says Molly Maier, senior wellness analyst at Mintel. "The number of snackers who only consume healthy treats is a relatively small one, but one that shouldn't be ignored by snack-food manufacturers."

The definition of "healthy" is very subjective, but Mintel respondents seem to have a good grasp on truly healthful foods. Fresh fruit is overwhelmingly (86%) considered healthy snacking, followed by raw vegetables (73%), and nuts/seeds (71%). However, a surprising number of people rated ice cream (12%) and cookies (9%) as healthy snacks...keep dreaming snackers!

Snacks are often an impulsive purchase, and one of convenience. As a result, people are at the mercy of the food choices most available. Nearly half (46%) of respondents say it's hard to find healthy snacks in vending machines or other on-the-go locations while 16% believe it takes more time to prepare a healthy snack than other types. "Increasing accessibility and portability can help maximize usage," adds Molly Maier.

Sunday, February 05, 2012


Women who consume a diet high in animal fat and cholesterol before becoming pregnant have an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health and Harvard University. Women whose diets were high in total fat or other kinds of fats, but not in animal fat or cholesterol, did not have an increased risk.

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes seen during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes increases the risk for certain pregnancy complications, as well as health problems in the newborn.

The researchers used information from more than 13,000 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study II. The women were 22 to 45 years old when they enrolled in the study. Every two years they responded to questions on their general health, pregnancy status, and lifestyle habits, such as consuming alcohol or smoking. In addition, every four years they completed a comprehensive survey about the kinds of food and drink they consumed.

About 6 percent of the participants reported having been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The researchers calculated the amount of animal fat in participants’ diets as a percentage of total calories and divided participants into five groups, or quintiles, based on those percentages. Then the researchers compared the risk for developing gestational diabetes for each group. Women in the highest quintile of intake had almost double the risk for gestational diabetes compared to women in the lowest quintile.

They also observed that women in the highest quintile for cholesterol consumption were 45 percent more likely to develop gestational diabetes than were women in the lowest quintile.

The increased risk for gestational diabetes seen with animal fat and cholesterol also appeared to be independent of other, dietary and non-dietary, risk factors for gestational diabetes. For example, exercise is known to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes. Among women who exercised, however, those who consumed higher amounts of animal fat and cholesterol had a higher risk than those whose diets were lower in these types of fat.

“This is the largest study to date of the effects of a pre-pregnancy diet on gestational diabetes," according to first author Katherine Bowers, Ph.D. “Additional research may lead to increased understanding of how a mother’s diet before and during pregnancy influences her metabolism during pregnancy, which may have important implications for the baby’s health at birth and later in life."


·                                 NIH: High animal fat diet increases gestational diabetes risk

l Fat Linked to Gestational Diabetesion of Animal Fat Linked to Gestational Diabetes