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Archive for March, 2012

A Fair & Delicious Giveaway

Chocolate is one of the most misunderstood foods. Although many chocolate-based products are full of sugars, unhealthful fats, and artificial ingredients, “the real thing” is a different story (see my Ultimate Chocolate Shopping Guide for more information, including the environmental and child labor concerns surrounding cocoa production).

As a nutrition professional who champions the health benefits of high quality cocoa, I am thrilled to announce the latest giveaway: Theo Chocolates.

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Q&A Roundup #4

Time to answer some questions I’ve received via Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail over the past few weeks.

Enjoy — and keep the queries coming!

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Fail! US News & World Report on Dairy-Free Calcium-Rich Foods

I was hopeful when I initially came across the headline for a recent article in US News & World Report — “5 Non-Dairy Foods With Calcium”.

“Finally,” I thought, “a well-read magazine informing its readers that calcium is not a synonym for dairy.”

Then I started reading the story. And groaned. Repeatedly.

Much like their ridiculous “healthiest diets” article from last year (see my critique here), factual errors, misleading statements, and unhelpful information abound in this piece.

Below, the five worst tidbits that perpetuate incorrect information:

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Beyond Pink Slime

As you have probably heard by now, the food scandal “du jour” has to do with “pink slime”, also known as mechanically-separated meat (or, when made by Beef Products Inc., “Boneless Beef Lean Trimmings”).

This ammonia-treated scrap meat — the same one some fast food giants recently phased out  — has been widely used since the early 1990s, is reportedly present in 70 percent of all ground beef products, and is a staple in school cafeterias (seven million pounds (!) are expected to be served in school lunches across the country over the next few months).

The story essentially writes itself. When fast food companies, infamous for cutting corners at any cost, turn their noses up at a questionably safe ingredient that ends up on the lunch trays of schoolchildren, headlines are to be expected — and rightfully so.

The meat industry has responded via a new website: the awkwardly-titled Pink Slime Is A Myth (I have yet to comprehend how something real and tangible can be labeled a myth).

While I do not dismiss the recent grassroots efforts that have gained significant strength via a petition to get pink slime out of school cafeterias, I worry that the focus on it detracts from bigger and more important food system issues, and provides the meat industry with a convenient distraction and an easily fixable problem that can effortlessly be spun into a public-relations success.

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The Fallacy of “Better” Peanut Butter

Much has been written about unnecessary additives (i.e.: modified cornstarch, partially hydrogenated oils, and high fructose corn syrup) in many commercial peanut butters.

People are often surprised to learn that only 60 percent of reduced-fat Jif peanut butter is peanuts; the other forty percent includes corn syrup solids, soy protein, and hydrogenated oils. “Natural” Jif, meanwhile, is 90 percent peanuts; the remaining ten percent composed of palm oil, sugar, and molasses.

The best thing you can do from a health standpoint is eat real peanut butter; that is to say, 100% ground-up peanuts (varieties that only contain peanuts and salt are fine too; some quick math reveals they contain roughly 99.5% peanuts and 0.5% salt).

Over the past few weeks, I have been asked via e-mail and Twitter about niche peanut butter brands that claim to be “better” and “healthier” versions. Despite their self-described hoopla of nutritional superiority, they manage to remove one of peanut butter’s most healthful components.

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The 4 Biggest Nutritional Hoaxes

I believe the four foods and beverages below have enjoyed an unwarranted nutritional halo for too long.

While not equivalent to soda and trans fat-laden fast food, they are nevertheless not the nutrition all-stars we have been made to believe. The time for an objective analysis has come.

In no particular order:

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