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    Archive for the ‘sugar’ Category

    Numbers Game: Answer

    sugar-pour1The average American adult gets 16 percent of his/her daily calories from added sugars.

    Keeping in mind that approximately 15 percent of the the average American adult’s calories come strictly from oils (of which roughly 70 percent of that is soybean oil), you’re looking at “standard” dietary practices where almost a third of calories are empty. 

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    Numbers Game: Sugar High

    InternThe average American adult gets ____ percent of his/her daily calories from added sugars.

    a) 9
    b) 25
    c) 16
    d) 11

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Friday for the answer.

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    Burger King’s New Breakfast…. Is More Of The Same

    bk-new-breakfast-menu-items-590Hyperbolic press releases, pricey media campaigns, and plenty of advertising fanfare accompanied the recent unveiling of Burger King’s new breakfast menu.  Higher-ups were quick to point out that the addition of these items to the Burger King breakfast lineup  were the company’s “largest menu expansion ever”.  Like, OMG!

    According to Mike Kapitt, the chain’s chief marketing officer for North America, this menu was designed to “compete to be America’s wake-up call”, and he had no doubt the “quality, variety, and value” on the menu would make Burger King the “breakfast destination”.

    If these new items are America’s wake-up call, then the U.S. of A should smash its alarm clock against the wall and keep snoozing.  Let’s dissect the nutritional bombs unveiled by Burger King, from least to most explosive:

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    You Might As Well Call Them “Crop Subsidy Tarts”

    Pumpkin-Pie-Pop-TartsAutumn means two things — a dearth of “best & worst beach bodies” tabloid covers and the arrival of pumpkin-flavored items in stores.  Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts are not exempt from the latter, hence the latest addition to their product lineup — limited edition Frosted Pumpkin Pie pastries.

    Alas, the ingredient list reveals very little in the way of fall flavors and lots of the usual processed suspects.  Take a look at the entire ingredient list before we break it down:

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    You Ask, I Answer: Protein Bar Guidelines

    zero impact barWhat things should I look for in a protein bar?  I use them when I’m on the go at times when I know I will need something, but don’t want to do fast food.

    — Tammy Edwards
    (Via Facebook)

    Wonderful questions.  When it comes to protein bars, I am “on the fence”.  Allow me to explain.

    On the one hand, I don’t think they are terrible and should be shunned.  Sure, there are some horrific protein bars out there (and, in a little bit, I will give you specific parameters to help you choose the better ones), but a smart choice can make for a great snack or meal replacement in a pinch.

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    chocolate-cheerios1A cup of Frosted Cheerios contains 11.5 more grams of sugar than a cup of original Cheerios.

    That, by the way, equals an entire tablespoon of added sugar.

    Not all Cheerios are created equal.  Check out how much added sugar you get in a cup of each of the different varieties:

    • Original: 1 gram (1/4 teaspoon)
    • Multigrain: 6 grams (1.5 teaspoons)
    • Oat Cluster Crunch, Triple Berry Berry Burst: 10 grams (2.5 teaspoons)
    • Banana Nut, Chocolate, Fruity, Honey Nut, Strawberry Yogurt Burst, Vanilla Yogurt Burst: 11.25 grams (2.8 teaspoons)
    • Frosted: 12.5 grams (3.1 teaspoons)
    • Apple Cinnamon: 13.75 grams (3.4 teaspoons)

    No, the fact that the apple-cinnamon variety is partially sweetened with “apple puree concentrate” does not make it healthier.  Besides — sugar, brown sugar, and corn syrup show up on the ingredient list before apple puree concentrate.

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    Numbers Game: Cheerios and Jeerios

    oc_fc_product_photo2A cup of Frosted Cheerios contains _____ more grams of sugar than a cup of conventional Cheerios.

    a) 8
    b) 4.5
    c) 11.5
    d) 9.75

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Saturday for the answer.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Fiber Bars

    ServeImage.aspx_I’m trying to incorporate more fiber into my diet.

    I’ve recently discovered the new Fiber One bars, and the Kellogg’s Fiber Plus bars. They have good stats as far as calories, fiber, low sugars and a pinch of protein.

    My only issue is the ingredients list. I’m a very ‘clean’ and ‘natural things only’ kind of person, and the ingredients list on the bars are a bit sketchy.

    Can you take a look and see if their alright, or if I’m basically eating a candy bar?

    — Sarah (Last name unknown)
    (Location Unknown)

    If you are a “clean” and “natural things only” gal, these bars are not for you.

    Here is the ingredient list for Fiber One bars:

    Chicory Root Extract, Chocolate Chips With Confectioners Shellac (Chocolate Chips [Sugar, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Dextrose, Milk Fat, Soy Lecithin], Ethanol, Shellac, Hydrogenated Coconut Oil), Rolled Oats, Crisp Rice (Rice Flour, Sugar, Malt, Salt), Barley Flakes, High Maltose Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Canola Oil, Honey, Glycerin, Maltodextrin, Palm Kernel Oil, Tricalcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin, Salt, Nonfat Milk, Peanut Oil, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Natural Flavor, Baking Soda, Color Added, Almond Flour, Peanut Flour, Sunflower Meal, Wheat Flour. Mixed Tocopherols Added to Retain Freshness.

    Practically all the fiber in these bars comes courtesy of chicory root extract, also known as inulin.  While there is nothing inherently wrong with (or unhealthy about) inulin, it appears here as an isolated fiber.

    Remember: isolated fibers aren’t as health-promoting as fiber from whole foods since whole foods provide fiber along with other nutrients and phytochemicals.

    What you are basically looking at is simple product fortification.  Lucky Charms cereal may be fortified with 21 vitamins and minerals, but is that the criteria we should use to determine whether a product is “healthy”?  I don’t believe so.

    As you may imagine, I am not a fan of all the added sugar in these bars, either.  In fact, I am willing to bet that if all those sugars were bunched together as one ingredient (‘added sugar’), they would be listed before rolled oats!

    Here is the ingredient list for Kellogg’s Fiber Plus bars:

    Chicory root fiber, rolled oats, crisp rice (rice flour, sugar, malt extract, salt, mixed tocopherols for freshness), sugar, roasted almonds, inulin from chicory root, semisweet chocolate drops (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, dextrose, milk fat, soy lecithin, confectioner’s glaze [shellac, hydrogenated coconut oil]), vegetable oil (hydrogenated palm kernel, coconut and palm oil), fructose, canola oil, contains two percent or less of honey, chocolate, cocoa (processed with alkali), glycerin, tricalcium phosphate, whey, salt, baking soda, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavor, sorbitan monostearate, polysorbate 60, vitamin e acetate, gum arabic, zinc oxide, nonfat dry milk, whole wheat flour, partially defatted peanut flour, soy protein isolate, bht (for freshness), xanthan gum.

    Again, highly-processed, added-sugar central.

    Sure, there are worse snacks out there.  And, yes, these bars could potentially serve as a launching pad for people with very low fiber intakes.  However, there are also plenty of better bars out there.  These are certainly nowhere near “cream of the crop” status in my book.

    When it comes to bars that offer decent amounts of fiber — and are significantly less processed — I recommend Gnu Fiber & Flavor bars, Lara bars, Kashi TLC crunchy granola bars, or Clif Nectar bars (which, despite no longer being manufactured, I see to this day all over New York City).

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    img-setThe average 9 to 13 year old child in the United States consumes 33 percent of their daily calories in the form of solid fat — i.e.: butter, shortening — and added sugars (also known as “discretionary calories”).

    Source: Institute of Medicine

    Ideally, discretionary calories should make up no more than ten percent of someone’s daily caloric intake.

    This means that someone who consumes 2,500 calories a day is “allowed” up to 250 empty calories (“allowed” meaning that is the maximum amount that will have minimal negative implications on health).

    The fact that the average child is consuming three times the limit is particularly disturbing because it makes it abundantly clear that certain nutrient needs are not being met if only 67 percent of calories deliver vitamins and minerals.

    Sadly, federal authorities are too tied up in food industry lobbying to take any sort of stand.  Any time the “discretionary calories should make up no more than 10 percent” figure has been whispered as an “official figure”, the ever-present sugar lobby reminds those in power of its deep pockets.

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    Numbers Game: So Much for “Discretionary”….

    23190360The average 9 to 13 year old child in the United States consumes _____ percent of their daily calories in the form of solid fat — i.e.: butter, shortening — and added sugars (also known as “discretionary calories”).

    Source: Institute of Medicine

    a) 16
    b) 33
    c) 48
    d) 25

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Saturday for the answer.

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    Health Hype on Aisle 5!

    gogurtAh, that ubiquitous marketing tactic known as the “health halo” appears to be multiplying.

    You know the drill.  Take minimally nutritious food, sprinkle one fiftieth of a pinch of “something healthy”, and market the living *bleep* out of said ingredient on the product’s packaging.

    Consider these recently-spotted offenders:

    • Cinnamon Chex.  “With a touch of real cinnamon,” no less.  Cinnamon offers fiber, manganese, and heart-healthy phytonutrients and antioxidants.  Alas, this cereal contains more sugar, oil, and salt than it does the sweet spice.
    • Betty Crocker Quick Banana Bread Mix.  “With real bananas,” the box touts.  The bananas are in there, alright.  As dried flakes.  Right after white flour, sugar, and partially hydrogenated oils.  PS: Each of the finished product’s twelve servings offers up an entire gram of trans fat.
    • Yoplait Go-Gurt Strawberry Splash & Berry Blue Blast portable yogurt flavor-combination packs. There isn’t a single strawberry or blueberry in either yogurt, not even in dehydrated or powdered form.  Instead, we get artificial dyes (the same ones banned by the European Union) and flavors.
    • Oscar Mayer Lunchables Sub Sandwich, Turkey and Cheddar.  This is described as “more wholesome” than previous varieties.  Does this ingredient list scream “wholesome” to you?

    Thank you to Small Bites intern Laura Smith for valuable assistance with this post.

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    DSCN6705_500PxOne Pepperidge Farm plain bagel contains 2.5 teaspoons of added sugar.

    Part of the problem is that the average size of a bagel — calorically equivalent to four slices of bread — has increased so much that ten grams of sugar can fit into one.

    This is why it is crucial to read a product’s entire nutrition label.  Even though breads don’t taste sweet, some can deliver a significant amount of sugar.

    Earlier this week, I spotted a brand of sliced bread at the supermarket that contained 4 grams of added sugar per slice (ideally, you want no more than 2 grams per slice).

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    You Ask, I Answer: Sugar in Peanut Butter

    smuckers_natural_pbI have noticed in perusing the plain old peanut butter jar labels that many have sugar (in the form of dextrose, I think), or oils like cottonseed oil. What’s up with that?

    It took a lot of label reading to find peanuts that had simply peanuts and salt listed as ingredients.

    — Susan (last name unknown)
    (Location Unknown)

    You can chalk that up to a term food companies love — “shelf stability”.

    If you can create a product that can sit on store and pantry shelves for months, you have an advantage in the market.

    Consumers love shelf stability because they don’t have to worry about a food product spoiling, and can also be transported at room temperature with minimal issues.

    Another important reason?  Texture.

    The oils added to peanut butter are partially — or, more recently, fully — hydrogenated, creating that familiarly uniform and spreadable texture.

    I always recommend “natural” nut butters, which simply contain the ground up nut and, in some cases, a pinch of salt.

    Since the naturally-occurring oil in these varieties separates, you need to stir the contents of the jar first, and then refrigerate for optimal storage and freshness.

    Although conventional peanut butter brands often get slammed for containing added sugar, their sugar content isn’t that high.  A standard two-tablespoon serving only offers 2 grams (a half teaspoon) of added sugar.

    I’m more concerned about the partially hydrogenated oils, especially since the oils used are ones with awful omega 6 to omega 3 ratios.

    Here in New York City, even conventional supermarkets carry one or two “natural” brands, mainly Smuckers and the generic White Rose label.

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    Numbers Game: But It Doesn’t Taste Sweet….

    prdLarge_11816One Pepperidge Farm plain bagel contains ____ teaspoons of added sugar.

    a) 1.25
    b) 2
    c) 2.5
    d) 3.25

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Saturday for the answer!

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    You Ask, I Answer: Probiotics, Sugar in Plain Yogurt

    Case-of-Fage-781488When it comes to grams of Sugar in plain yogurt, isn’t most of the lactose fermented at time of consumption, resulting in a significant reduction in actual sugar?

    Can we utilize lactic acid for energy, or are the grams of sugar on the label taken from the milk without consideration for fermentation?

    Related to that, is it feasible to create a probiotic yogurt that is sugar free?

    When probotics are added after fermentation do they need additional sugar to be added to keep the probiotics alive?

    Of all the varieties of yogurt available, there doesn’t seem to be any probiotic yogurt sweetened with artificial sweeteners.

    Just wondering if that was a coincidence?

    — Nicole Journault
    (Location unknown)

    Yogurt labeling is actually slightly inaccurate.

    Since, as you point out, bacteria convert some of the naturally-occurring lactose (a type of sugar) to lactic acid (part of what gives yogurt its sour taste), the carbohydrate content is slightly lower than what the label says.

    Depending on how long the fermentation process lasted, the sugar content can be anywhere from 3 to 7 grams lower than what is listed on the label!

    As for a probiotic yogurt that is sugar-free — it can definitely be done.

    After all, you can buy probiotic supplements in lactose-free pill or powder form  (FYI: the key for their survivial is constant refrigeration!).

    Even low-carbohydrate yogurts, which tack on artificial sweeteners, contain some lactose, so I can’t identify a barrier.

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