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    Archive for the ‘FNCE’ Category

    FNCE 2008/Say What?: The Sweet Stuff Hits A Sour Note

    In a perfect example of “reaching,” The Sugar Association’s booth at the 2008 American Dietetic Association Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo offered a variety of pamphlets, including one titled “Sugar’s Healing Powers.”

    “There is no doubt that ‘sugar’ tastes good and, therefore in our guilt-ridden society, it is commonly assumed that ‘sugar must not be good for us,” the awkwardly written information sheet begins.

    “Nothing could be further from the truth — sugar is one of Mother Nature’s most miraculous creations,” it continues.

    The argument here is that as far back as 1700 BC, sugar has been used to treat wounds.

    The document quotes three studies — all concluding that sugar exerts antibacterial effects on wounds and promotes faster healing.

    Technically true, but how is that relevant in a society where the problem is the massive amounts of sugar people are putting down their throats?

    Furthermore, what is the purpose of mentioning sugar’s wound healing properties in hospital settings at a nutrition conference?

    In another bizarre move, The Sugar Association provided some recipes (with the comma-less grammatically incorrect title “a little sugar can make healthy nutritious foods taste better”) that left me perplexed.

    Here is a perfect example — adding sugar to a breakfast shake made of orange juice concentrate, milk, and a banana. Huh??

    I am by no means a “sugar is the devil” advocate, but suggesting the addition of sugar to already sweet fruits and promoting its wound healing powers to nutrition professionals seems like a misguided PR move.

    Their tagline (“Make an informed choice. Choose pure natural sugar — 15 calories per teaspoon,”) also does not sit well with me.

    While putting a teaspoon or three of sugar into your coffee every morning (or enjoying an ice cream cone every Saturday night) is by no means a problem, sugar is calorically identical to other caloric sweeteners.

    They ALL offer 14 – 16 calories per tablespoon.

    I am not exactly sure what “informed choice” consumers are making by adding two teaspoons of sugar — rather than that same amount of honey — to a cup of tea.

    I don’t even understand why The Sugar Association is present at a nutrition conference to begin with.

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    FNCE 2008: Out of Towners

    Some of the booths at this year’s American Dietetic Association Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo struck me as very out of place:

    Slimshots: A vanilla-flavored appetite suppresant. Maureen McCormick (Marcia Brady) istheir spokesperson. Appetite suppresants at a food conference?

    Corn Refiners Association: Despite current ADA president Martin Yaddrick’s statement that “The American Dietetic Association had no involvement with the recent Corn Refiners Association advertisements. ADA did not review or approve the ad in question, nor any wording in it; nor did ADA have advance knowledge of the advertisement,” the people behind this campaign were present at FNCE with all sorts of literature claiming high fructose corn syrup is just dandy.

    GNC and Vitamin Shoppe: Although these stores sell legitimate vitamins and minerals, they also hawk supplements (which are unregulated) that often succumb to nutrition quackery in their advertising.

    Coca Cola: I am completely at a loss as to how carbonated water with high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners belongs at a nutrition conference. Sprinkling corn fiber into it does not make it “healthy.”

    Thoughts?

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    FNCE 2008: Free of Gluten, Not Flavor

    Although many European and South American countries sell a multitude of products geared to individuals with celiac disease, the United States is only recently beginning to cater to this growing market with tasty, healthy, widely available alternatives.

    Many people with celiac disease have a hard time finding snack foods high in fiber and whole grains, which is why two manufacturers of gluten-free products stood out at the Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo: Mary’s Gone Crackers and Crunchmasters.

    Mary’s Gone Crackers offers a variety of wonderfully crunchy (and delicious!) gluten-free 100% whole grain crackers and twig-shaped snacks.

    Made from brown rice, amaranth, quinoa, sesame seeds, and millet, each 1-ounce serving offers anywhere from 3 to 5 grams of fiber and no more than 150 calories.

    While some of the flavored twig snacks add up to a relatively high 300 milligrams of sodium per serving, all the crackers clock in at no more than 150 milligrams per 1-ounce serving.  In my personal cracker world, there is a definite “before” and “after” Mary’s Gone Crackers!

    Crunchmasters, also sells crunchy and flavorful multigrain and multiseed whole grain crackers.

    Each one-ounce serving provides 140 calories, 2 grams of fiber, and no more than 140 milligrams of sodium (the rosemary flavor manages to pack in a lot of taste in less than 100 milligrams of sodium per serving!)

    No wheat? No problem.

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    FNCE 2008: Flavor Magic

    One upcoming product that caught my eye was the Flavor Magic portion control sheets — dry marinade sheets that are pre-cut to reflect the recommended portion size of fish, chicken or beef.

    Rather than weigh foods or eyeball portions, you tear a 4″ by 3″ sheet, place your protein of choice on it, and let it marinade for approximately 20 minutes (the time it takes for the spices on the sheet to transfer over to the piece of food.)

    At that point, you simply rip the sheet off, throw it out, and cook your protein to your liking.

    It’s quite an inventive tool, as it takes care of portion control and healthy flavoring in one easy step that does not require cleanup.

    The sheets are available in a variety of flavors — each providing only four calories and one gram of sugar, and ranging in sodium content from 120 to 160 milligrams (a mere 5 percent of the recommended daily maximum value).

    This is precisely the creativity that is desperately needed in the nutrition field.

    For more information, please visit the Flavor Magic website (NOTE: You may begin ordering the product via the company’s website on November 17.)

    I truly wish these innovators the best of luck and hope their product catches on.

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    FNCE 2008: Diet Coke and Splenda Drop The F Bomb

    Fiber and whole grains were undisputed royalty at this year’s American Dietetic Association Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo.

    Cereals, corn chips, crackers, cookies, and protein powders breathlessly advertised their inclusion in ingredient lists.

    I certainly was not expecting, however, to come across fiber in Splenda and Diet Coke.

    The Splenda folks — who, oddly enough, suggest sprinkling their non-caloric sweetener over fresh fruit — are making the case that this is one easy way for Americans (who are currently getting, on average, half of their recommended fiber intake) to boost their fiber consumption.

    With each packet containing 1 gram of fiber, two packets in your morning coffee and another over your breakfast cereal puts you at the 3 gram mark (as much as an apple, they exclaim.)

    Coca Cola, meanwhile, will be releasing Diet Coke Plus With Fiber around March or April of 2010.

    Apart from the vitamin and mineral combination found in Diet Coke Plus, this beverage will contain 5 grams of soluble fiber (all derived from corn) per 20 ounce bottle.

    Splenda and Coca Cola have their marketing pitch perfected.

    “We’re simply helping people get the amount of fiber they need!” they explain (with puppy dog eyes, I’m sure.)

    I’m not as optimistic.

    While the idea of including fiber in Diet Coke may appeal to some people, it serves as a complete deterrent to get it from unprocessed, whole foods that offer multitudes of other nutrients, phytochemicals, and health benefits.

    As much as Splenda wants to make the case that three packets of their sweetener contain as much fiber as an apple, it’s a meaningless comparison.

    An apple is more than just fiber in a round shape.

    It contains vitamin C, potassium, and a significant number of antioxidants, among them quercetin and epicatechin (the former has been associated with reduced cellular damage, the latter with improved blood flow.)

    By relying on fortified empty calorie foods for specific nutrients, you are missing out on hundreds of health-promoting components.

    What’s most mind-boggling to me is that these products give the false idea that fiber is just so gosh darn hard to find, that there’s no choice but to stick it inside a soda bottle.

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