Skippy Salted Caramel Peanut Butter. Proceed with Caution.

B883xGBIEAQnnXgIf you’re a caramel lover, no doubt you were excited when you read about the newest Skippy Peanut Butter. And we’ll admit it, Skippy Salted Caramel Peanut Butter does sound really promising. But we’ve been looking around for reviews and Foodacts.com is sad to report that most of them aren’t what we thought they’d be.

There’s a lot of talk about a bitter coffee-like aftertaste. There are complaints about unmet expectations about the look of the product. It appears most consumers imagined tradition Skippy creamy peanut butter with a thick swirl of salted caramel running through it. Instead it looks just like regular peanut butter.

For FoodFacts.com, the look of the product was a bad omen to the ingredient list. Think about it, if there was actual caramel in the product, it probably would have been swirled through it. And sadly, we were right about that. There’s no caramel in here. So there’s nothing to swirl.

So what’s in there exactly?

Calories:                    190
Fat:                             16 grams
Sodium:                     230 mg
Sugar                         3 grams

Pretty typical for peanut butter.

Ingredients: Roasted Peanuts, Sugar, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Cottonseed, Soybean and Rapeseed Oil) To Prevent Separation, Salt, Flavoring.

Skippy Salted Caramel Peanut Butter is flavored peanut butter and that’s exactly what’s in there: flavoring. It’s salted caramel peanut butter without any salted caramel.

Shame on you Skippy. Instead of thick ribbons of salted caramel that we get to mix in ourselves, you’ve given us chemicals. Not really happy about this one.

http://www.peanutbutter.com/product.php?id=15

Burger King introduces Eau de Grease in Japan

imagesJapanese men will soon have the option of smelling just like a Burger King Whopper — but for a very limited time and for a very specific purpose.

In recent years Japan, has had a major social shift, seemingly dividing men and women into two types: herbivore men and carnivore women. Now for one day and one day only, Burger King Japan will give the herbivore men of Japan a chance to attract a carnivore woman—by selling them a limited edition scent perfume with their hamburgers that has the smoky sexy smells of BK’s whopper….yes, “Flame Grilled” Cologne.

For those who don’t already know, a few years ago the term, Herbivore men or grass eaters was popularized as a word for roughly 1/3 of the Japanese male population who shun marriage or getting a girlfriend. They are frugal, well-groomed, effeminate and soft-spoken. In their wake came the carnivore women or meat-eaters—ambitious women who are finally taking charge in their business and private lives. They are the women who are not afraid to make the first move or go after the herbivore man.

So naturally, if you are a guy wanting to attract a carnivore women—what better way than smelling like a juicy grilled hamburger?

The fast food chain claims that their limited edition “Flame Grilled” fragrance cologne smells just like their famous Whopper, a quarter-pound beef patty sandwiched between two sesame buns along with condiments and vegetables. It might not be as fierce as Tom Ford’s overpowering cologne line or as powerful as Axe Body Spray, but Burger King’s new cologne has a wonderfully unique stink of its own. The scent will go on sale on April 1st.

And no, it’s not an April Fool’s joke, even though it does sound like one.
In the end, whether Burger King’s new scent smells as heavenly as a juicy burger fresh off the grill, or as like greasy meat prepared at a fast-food restaurant–that may be highly subjective and ultimately very few people will know. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who managed to get your hands on a bottle. You have to buy the set for 5000 yen (roughly $55) which Burger King will reportedly only have 1, 000 available on a first-come, first serve basis. The set comes with an actual flame-grilled Whopper and the cologne on the side. And just in case, you were wondering—the cologne is not edible. (Also, herbivore men–are not necessarily vegetarians either. They are more complex than previously imagined.)

Burger King Japan expects the cologne to sell out; they are probably correct. People may wonder why anyone would go for such an odd product in the first-place, but it also has to do with Japan’s love of limited editions.

FoodFacts.com wishes that we knew how to get our hands on this very unique limited edition to see if the scent of flame grilling is actually something that can be bottled. Just for the record, we don’t think of this as an attractive aroma on any level and we’re not quite sure how anyone would. The fragrance of greasy burgers doesn’t strike us as particularly “manly,” but we could be wrong. Fragrance is a very personal thing and maybe some men believe that eau de grease makes women swoon. Guess we’ll find out when we know whether or not Burger King sells out in April!

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jadelstein/2015/03/25/burger-kings-flame-grilled-beef-scented-cologne-perfect-for-japanese-men-seeking-carnivore-women/2/

Protecting against Alzheimer’s with the MIND diet

150319104218-largeDealing with Alzheimer’s is one of the most debilitating experiences possible. This heartbreaking disease destroys memories, families and lives. Multitudes of research with no cure. What if you could protect against Alzheimer’s with your food?

With the MIND diet, a person who eats at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day — along with a glass of wine — snacks most days on nuts, has beans every other day or so, eats poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week and benefits.

A new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND, could significantly lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, even if the diet is not meticulously followed, according to a paper published online for subscribers in March in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Rush nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, PhD, and colleagues developed the “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay” (MIND) diet. The study shows that the MIND diet lowered the risk of AD by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well.

“One of the more exciting things about this is that people who adhered even moderately to the MIND diet had a reduction in their risk for AD,” said Morris, a Rush professor, assistant provost for Community Research, and director of Nutrition and Nutritional Epidemiology. “I think that will motivate people.”

Morris and her colleagues developed the MIND diet based on information that has accrued from years’ worth of past research about what foods and nutrients have good, and bad, effects on the functioning of the brain over time. This is the first study to relate the MIND diet to Alzheimer’s disease.

“I was so very pleased to see the outcome we got from the new diet,” she said.

The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets, both of which have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, like hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Some researchers have found that the two older diets provide protection against dementia as well.
In the latest study, the MIND diet was compared with the two other diets. People with high adherence to the DASH and Mediterranean diets also had reductions in AD — 39 percent with the DASH diet and 54 percent with the Mediterranean diet — but got negligible benefits from moderate adherence to either of the two other diets.

The MIND diet is also easier to follow than, say, the Mediterranean diet, which calls for daily consumption of fish and 3-4 daily servings of each of fruits and vegetables, Morris said.

The MIND diet has 15 dietary components, including 10 “brain-healthy food groups” — green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine — and five unhealthy groups that comprise red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

With the MIND diet, a person who eats at least three servings of whole grains, a salad and one other vegetable every day — along with a glass of wine — snacks most days on nuts, has beans every other day or so, eats poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week and benefits. However, he or she must limits intake of the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three), to have a real shot at avoiding the devastating effects of AD, according to the study.

Berries are the only fruit specifically to make the MIND diet. “Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” Morris said, and strawberries have also performed well in past studies of the effect of food on cognitive function.

The MIND diet was not an intervention in this study, however; researchers looked at what people were already eating. Participants earned points if they ate brain-healthy foods frequently and avoided unhealthy foods. The one exception was that participants got one point if they said olive oil was the primary oil used in their homes.

The study enlisted volunteers already participating in the ongoing Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP), which began in 1997 among residents of Chicago-area retirement communities and senior public housing complexes. An optional “food frequency questionnaire” was added from 2004 to February 2013, and the MIND diet study looked at results for 923 volunteers. A total of 144 cases of AD developed in this cohort.

AD, which takes a devastating toll on cognitive function, is not unlike heart disease in that there appear to be “many factors that play into who gets the disease,” including behavioral, environmental and genetic components, Dr. Morris said.

“With late-onset AD, with that older group of people, genetic risk factors are a small piece of the picture,” she said. Past studies have yielded evidence that suggests that what we eat may play a significant role in determining who gets AD and who doesn’t, Morris said.
When the researchers in the new study left out of the analyses those participants who changed their diets somewhere along the line — say, on a doctor’s orders after a stroke — they found that “the association became stronger between the MIND diet and [favorable] outcomes” in terms of AD, Morris said. “That probably means that people who eat this diet consistently over the years get the best protection.”

In other words, it looks like the longer a person eats the MIND diet, the less risk that person will have of developing AD, Morris said. As is the case with many health-related habits, including physical exercise, she said, “You’ll be healthier if you’ve been doing the right thing for a long time.”

Morris said, “We devised a diet and it worked in this Chicago study. The results need to be confirmed by other investigators in different populations and also through randomized trials.” That is the best way to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the MIND diet and reductions in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, she said.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging. All the researchers on this study were from Rush except for Frank M. Sacks MD, professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Department of Nutrition, at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Sacks chaired the committee that developed the DASH diet.

FoodFacts.com is looking forward to additional research on the MIND diet. The power of nutrition is an amazing thing. Time after time, it’s proven that it goes beyond what we perceive as good health. Nutrition can also be the answer to chronic, deadly diseases — diseases we thought there were no answer for. We love hearing great news like this and will keep you posted on future developments.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150319104218.htm

For older adults, diet soda isn’t “diet” at all

150317093142-largeWe all expect that certain products do certain things. Multi-vitamins, for instance, give us our daily requirements for a variety of necessary vitamins. 2% milk contains 2% milk fat. Olive oil is made from olives, not peanuts. And diet soda is calorie free and will help maintain weight. Unfortunately some things just aren’t what they appear to be.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows that increasing diet soda intake is directly linked to greater abdominal obesity in adults 65 years of age and older. Findings raise concerns about the safety of chronic diet soda consumption, which may increase belly fat and contribute to greater risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases.

Metabolic syndrome–a combination of risk factors that may lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke–is one of the results of the obesity epidemic. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.9 billion adults were overweight (body mass index [BMI] of 25 or more) in 2014. Of this group, 600 million people fell into the obese range (BMI of 30 or more)–a figure that has more than doubled since 1980.

In an effort to combat obesity, many adults try to reduce sugar intake by turning to nonnutritive or artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin, or sucralose. Previous research shows that in the past 30 years, artificial sweeteners and diet soda intake have increased, yet the prevalence of obesity has also seen a dramatic increase in the same time period. Many of the studies exploring diet soda consumption and cardiometabolic diseases have focused on middle-aged and younger adults.

“Our study seeks to fill the age gap by exploring the adverse health effects of diet soda intake in individuals 65 years of age and older,” explains lead author Sharon Fowler, MPH, from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. “The burden of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, along with healthcare costs, is great in the ever-increasing senior population.”

The San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA) enrolled 749 Mexican- and European-Americans who were aged 65 and older at the start of the study (1992-96). Diet soda intake, waist circumference, height, and weight were measured at study onset, and at three follow-ups in 2000-01, 2001-03, and 2003-04, for a total of 9.4 follow-up years. At the first follow-up there were 474 (79.1%) surviving participants; there were 413 (73.4%) at the second follow-up and 375 (71.0%) at the third follow-up.

Findings indicate that the increase in waist circumference among diet soda drinkers, per follow-up interval, was almost triple that among non-users: 2.11 cm versus 0.77 cm, respectively. After adjustment for multiple potential confounders, interval waist circumference increases were 0.77 cm for non-users, 1.76 cm for occasional users, and 3.04 cm for daily users. This translates to waist circumference increases of 0.80 inches for non-users, 1.83 inches for occasional users, and 3.16 inches for daily users over the total 9.4-year SALSA follow-up period.

“The SALSA study shows that increasing diet soda intake was associated with escalating abdominal obesity, which may increase cardiometabolic risk in older adults,” Fowler concludes. The authors recommend that older individuals who drink diet soda daily, particularly those at high cardiometabolic risk, should try to curb their consumption of artificially sweetened drinks.

FoodFacts.com isn’t surprised by this news, but we know that there are consumers across the country who wouldn’t expect this — and who need to hear it. No matter what age, diet soda consumers are drinking the beverage with their weight in mind. They don’t understand that the product they’re using to help control their weight can be having a completely opposite effect. It’s time to spread this news and explain the facts!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150317093142.htm

Monsanto Roundup “probably” causes cancer

FRANCE-BEE-FLOWERMonsanto doesn’t have many fans in the FoodFacts.com community. The corporation forever connected by name to genetically modified crops made resistant to the pesticides they produce is back in the news.

One of the world’s most widely used herbicides – and the most commonly used one in the United States – can “potentially” trigger cancer, based on health chiefs of the United Nations. The WHO (World Health Organization) cancer division has revealed that popular ‘Roundup’, created by Monsanto, contains a toxic ingredient “categorized as potentially carcinogenic to human beings”.

Amateur garden enthusiasts and professional farmers have been advised to “think it thoroughly” about using the most popular herbicide after the report was released in the Lancet Oncology Medical Journal on Friday. The report exposed glyphosate was “categorized as potentially carcinogenic to human beings”.

The report also announced there is “certain evidence” that the carcinogenic ingredient can cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The largest seed company in the world, Monsanto, replied clinical data doesn’t support these conclusions and called the WHO to hold an immediate conference that describe the findings.

The report was published on the official website of IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), the France-based division of WHO. Global regularity affairs’ Vice-President of Monsanto, Philip Miller, said: “We have no idea how the IARC might reach a conclusion with such a dramatic departure from all conclusions reached by supervisory agencies across the world.”

This is certainly not the word to which any company wants their name attached. But let’s face it, the name Monsanto isn’t connected to much that’s good. FoodFacts.com knows that this latest information won’t come as much of a surprise for many consumers. We’re sure we’ll hear more about this one. In the meantime, it’s another nail in a very overdue coffin for the company most famous for bringing us genetically modified seed.

http://www.zinereport.com/21569_who-warning-popular-weedkiller-can-probably-cause-cancer/

The surprise inside isn’t the same as it used to be

cracker-jack-chocolate-peanut-butterRemember Cracker Jacks? Popcorn pieces covered in caramel. Chewy, crunchy, gooey, sweet, salty … Cracker Jacks were as delicious as they were fun. And who could forget the prize inside? Before you figured out that Cracker Jacks were a great snack, you wanted a box because of the prize.

Cracker Jacks are still with us.There’s still a prize inside. And now there are flavors. And the newest flavor is Chocolate Peanut Butter, which doesn’t seem very Cracker Jack like. But FoodFacts.com knows that time marches on.

So how do they make these new Chocolate Peanut Butter Cracker Jacks anyway?

FoodFacts.com did a little investigating. We found out that the prize inside isn’t just the toy that’s hiding in the package anymore. And it’s not necessarily one we were looking for.

In every half cup of new Chocolate Peanut Butter Cracker Jacks you’ll consume:

Calories:              100
Fat:                       .5 grams
Sugar:                  17 grams

Ingredients: Sugar Syrup, Syrup, Popcorn, Salt, Cocoa Powder (processed with alkalai), Maltodextrin (made from corn), Dextrose, Butter (Cream, Salt), Natural and Artificial Flavors (Artificial Peanut Butter Flavor, Artificial Chocolate Flavor, Natural Chocolate Flavor WONF), Cocoa Powder, Medium Chain Triglycerides, Glycerol, and Soy Lecithin, Contains Milk and Soy Ingredients

We’re not completely thrilled by the ingredients here. We’ve certainly seen better. The original is much better. We could even make our own version of these and make some improvements.

While we’ve always thought about the prize inside as the toy you needed to eat your way down to, these new Cracker Jacks give the term a new meaning. And there are some prizes that really aren’t worth winning.

http://www.fritolay.com/snacks/product-page/cracker-jack/cracker-jack-original-caramel-coated-popcorn-peanuts

New Dunkin Donuts Spicy Omelet Flatbread … the right kind of spice for your morning?

1424848742482If you’re looking for something a little different to start your day? Follow along with FoodFacts.com as we check out the new Dunkin Donuts Spicy Omelet Flatbread.

Honestly, it doesn’t sound bad. An omelet sandwich on flatbread could actually be something we’d want to eat. But we can’t make any assumptions. Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts:

Calories:                       410
Fat:                                21 grams
Saturated Fat:             9 grams
Cholesterol:                195 mg
Sodium:                       935 mg

While it is better than a burger, the Dunkin Spicy Omelet Flatbread isn’t exactly the balanced nutrition that starts your day on the right foot. But let’s see what the ingredient list can tell us:

Spicy Omelet Egg Patty: Whole Eggs, Monterey Jack Cheese with Hot Peppers [Pasteurized Milk, Hot Peppers (Jalapeno Peppers, Habanero Peppers), Cheese Culture, Salt and Enzymes, Potato Starch and Powdered Cellulose (added during shredding to prevent caking), Natamycin (a natural mold inhibitor)], Jalapeno Peppers, Whole Milk, Red Peppers, Onions, Modified Corn Starch, Salt, Cilantro, Natural Chipotle Pepper Flavor (Water, Vinegar, Salt, Natural Flavor, Maltodextrin, Polysorbate 80, Propylene Glycol, Smoke Flavor, Paprika, Soybean Oil, Xanthan Gum, Soy Lecithin), Pepper on Dextrose, Garlic, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid; Multigrain Flatbread: Whole Wheat Flour, Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Multigrain Blend [Wheat Sourdough (Water, Fermented Wheat Flour), Wheat Grains, Rye Grains, Oat Grains, Flaxseed, Rye Sourdough, Millet Seed, Teff Seed, Salt, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative)], Yeast, Soybean Oil, Sugar, Dough Conditioner [Water, Emulsifiers (Mono and Diglycerides, DATEM), Guar Gum, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Natural Flavor, Enzymes], Contains 2% or less of the following: Oat Hydrocolloid (Oat Bran, Oat Fiber), Wheat Gluten, Salt, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Natural and Artificial Flavor; Sliced White Cheddar Cheese: Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes; Bacon: Pork, cured with: Water, Sugar, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Smoke Flavoring, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite.

This ingredient list is littered with controversial ingredients: sodium nitrite,polysorbate 80,Propylene Glycol, Smoke Flavor.

If we’re looking for a spicy morning treat, this isn’t the sandwich we’ll be looking for. Sorry Dunkin. This one isn’t our kind of spice.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/food/sandwiches/breakfastsandwiches/spicy-omelet-flatbread.html

Superfruits and seeds for Spring

safe_imageSpring is right around the corner, thankfully.While we wait patiently to get rid of the cold, FoodFacts.com thinks it’s a great time to turn our attention to our diets. How are you doing with superfruits and seeds? These are the fruits and seeds that are nutrient powerhouses. And Spring is a great season to start adding these important nutritional superstars to our diets.

1. Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are often used in yogurt, homemade trail mixes, baked goods, commercial nutrition bars, beverages and snacks. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

2. Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds are a good source of protein, fiber, antioxidants, and phytoestrogens in the form of lignans and omega-3 fatty acids. A study has also linked eating ground whole flaxseed to lowering blood cholesterol (Health Canada, 2014).

3. Sunflower Seeds: Often considered a traditional ballpark snack, sunflower seeds provide monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, protein, fiber, vitamin E, and phytochemicals like choline, lignan, phenolic acids and betaine (Phillips, 2005).

4. Pumpkin Seeds: Pumpkin seeds are packed with protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus.

5. Blueberries: Daily blueberry consumption may reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness (Johnson, 2015) and are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, fructose, and antioxidants. Antioxidants in blueberries are linked to the prevention/delaying of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and the aging process.

6. Acai Berries: Acai berries are a rich source of anthocyanin and have a fatty acid ratio similar to olive oil. They have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.

7. Tart Cherries: Tart cherries are high in anthocyanin and have high antioxidant activity. Reported benefits include enhanced sleep, anti-inflammation in arthritis and gout, and sports recovery.

8. Avocados: More than just the main ingredient in guacamole, avocados have beneficial effects on cardio-metabolic risk factors that extend beyond their heart-healthy fatty acid profile (Wang, 2015). In a study of 45 overweight or obese subjects who ate a moderate-fat diet including an avocado daily had lower bad cholesterol than those on a similar diet without the avocado or those on a lower-fat diet (American Heart Association, 2015).
9. Cranberries: Cranberries have long been associated with benefiting urinary tract health but have also shown to benefit heart health, cancer prevention, oral health, and glycemic response (Cranberry Institute, 2014).

Great list! Simple dietary additions. These are real energy foods, feeding your body with the nutrients it needs to keep you performing at top level, no chemicals required. Go ahead, kick it up before the nice weather gets here and make sure you’re energized and ready for the new season ahead!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150312173532.htm

It’s not just about high blood pressure: the effects of salt on other organs

salt sprinkled on tableWe all know that salt can have negative health effects. We know that’s true, and yet, FoodFacts.com doesn’t see any decrease in the sales of processed foods and millions are still walking through the doors of major fast food chains every day.

You may think you’re one of the lucky ones who can eat all the salty snacks and convenience foods you want and still register low numbers on the blood pressure cuff. But, new research suggests you may not be so lucky after all.

A review paper co-authored by two faculty members in the University of Delaware College of Health Sciences and two physicians at Christiana Care Health System provides evidence that even in the absence of an increase in blood pressure, excess dietary sodium can adversely affect target organs, including the blood vessels, heart, kidneys and brain.

Authors of the paper, “Dietary Sodium and Health: More Than Just Blood Pressure,” include William Farquhar and David Edwards in UD’s Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology; William Weintraub, chief of cardiology at Christiana Care; and Claudine Jurkovitz, a nephrologist epidemiologist and senior scientist in the Value Institute Center for Outcomes Research at Christiana Care.

The paper was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“Blood pressure responses to alterations in dietary sodium vary widely, which has led to the concept of ‘salt-sensitive’ blood pressure,” says Farquhar. “There are no standardized guidelines for classifying individuals as having salt-sensitive blood pressure, but if blood pressure increases during a period of high dietary sodium or decreases during a low-sodium period, the person is considered salt sensitive. If there’s no change in blood pressure with sodium restriction, an individual is considered salt resistant.”

However, the research cited in the paper points to evidence of adverse effects on multiple target organs and tissues, even for people who are salt resistant.

Potential effects on the arteries include reduced function of the endothelium, which is the inner lining of blood vessels. Endothelial cells mediate a number of processes, including coagulation, platelet adhesion and immune function. Elevated dietary sodium can also increase arterial stiffness.

Farquhar and Edwards have done previous work in this area, with one study showing that excess salt intake in humans impairs endothelium-dependent dilation and another demonstrating that dietary sodium loading impairs microvascular function. In both cases, the effects are independent of changes in blood pressure.

They review their work and the growing body of evidence to support a deleterious effect of dietary salt on vascular function independent of blood pressure in a recent invited paper in Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension.

“High dietary sodium can also lead to left ventricular hypertrophy, or enlargement of the muscle tissue that makes up the wall of the heart’s main pumping chamber,” Edwards says. “As the walls of the chamber grow thicker, they become less compliant and eventually are unable to pump as forcefully as a healthy heart.”

Regarding the kidneys, evidence suggests that high sodium is associated with reduced renal function, a decline observed with only a minimal increase in blood pressure.

Finally, sodium may also affect the sympathetic nervous system, which activates what is often termed the fight-or-flight response.

“Chronically elevated dietary sodium may ‘sensitize’ sympathetic neurons in the brain, causing a greater response to a variety of stimuli, including skeletal muscle contraction,” Farquhar says. “Again, even if blood pressure isn’t increased, chronically increased sympathetic outflow may have harmful effects on target organs.”

Jurkovitz points out that studying the effects of salt restriction on clinical outcomes is not easy. Challenges include accurate assessment of intake, long-term maintenance on a defined salt regimen, and the need for large numbers of patients and extended follow-up to obtain enough outcomes for meaningful analysis.

However, she says, “A large body of evidence confirms the biological plausibility of the association between high sodium intake and increases in blood pressure and cardiovascular events.”

This evidence has resulted in the American Heart Association’s recommendation that we consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.

Taking the salt shaker off the table is a good way to start, but it’s probably not enough, says Weintraub, whose work focuses on cardiology outcomes.

“Approximately 70 percent of the sodium in our diets comes from processed foods, including items that we don’t typically think of as salty such as breads and cereals,” he says. “Also, restaurant food typically contains more salt than dishes prepared at home, so eating out less can help reduce salt intake, especially if herbs and spices — instead of salt — are used to add flavor to home-cooked meals.”

But the authors acknowledge that shaking the salt habit won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight.

“Reducing sodium will take a coordinated effort involving organizations like the AHA, food producers and processors, restaurants, and public policy aimed at education,” Weintraub says.
FoodFacts.com thinks we should all remember this research the next time we reach for a processed food product or think to ourselves that our favorite bowl of soup from our favorite casual restaurant can’t be that bad. All of us need to be more conscious of our salt consumption and try our best to work towards a meaningful reduction of sodium in our diets.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/290734.php

The latest evidence against energy drinks: significant effect on blood pressure

CansEnergy drinks are in the news again. New concerns about the health effects of these beverages come up just about every day. There are so many prices to pay for a small pick me up — and the people who are paying those prices aren’t simply adults, they’re kids too.

As Anna Svatikova, the leader author of a new study, said, “We know that energy drink consumption is widespread and rising among young people. Concerns about the health safety of energy drinks have been raised. We and others have previously shown that energy drinks increase blood pressure. Now we are seeing that for those not used to caffeine, the concern may be even greater. Consumers should use caution when using energy drinks because they may increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, even among young people.”

This experiment is limited as it looked at 25 healthy individuals between the ages of 19 and 40. The experiment monitored their heart rates and blood pressure before drinking a standard energy drink (or placebo) and then again 30 minutes after consuming the drinks. As might have been expected, the increase in blood pressure of those who consumed energy drinks was significantly higher than the blood pressure rate of those people who drank the placebo.

Svatikova concludes, “Consumers should use caution when using energy drinks because they may increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, even among young people.”

FoodFacts.com is extremely serious about sharing energy drink news. We especially believe in alerting teenagers to the dangers involved in energy drink consumption. We hope our community does the same. There is nothing nutritionally beneficial about energy drinks and the dangers they pose make the pick me up they offer a useless perk. Talk to kids about energy drinks. Let them know that people have ended up in the emergency room and the morgue because of them. Please remember that even when teens don’t appear to be listening, adults do have influence over their actions. Let’s help keep kids away from energy drinks and let’s make sure that adults find other ways to stay energized.

http://diabetesinsider.com/energy-drink-study-proves-significant-effect-on-blood-pressure/38456