By Kris Gunnars
Green tea is touted to be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.
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Apple cider vinegar appears to be safe, as long as you don't take excessive amounts of it. Michelle Arnold / EyeEm / Getty Images
1. High in Healthful Substances<p>Apple cider vinegar is made via a two-step process.</p><p>First, the manufacturer exposes crushed apples to yeast, which ferments the sugars and turns them into alcohol. Next, they add bacteria to further ferment the alcohol, turning it into acetic acid — the main active compound in vinegar.</p><p>Acetic acid gives vinegar its strong sour smell and flavor. Researchers believe this acid is responsible for apple cider vinegar's health benefits. Cider vinegars are 5–6% acetic acid.</p><p>Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar also contains a substance called "mother," which consists of strands of proteins, enzymes, and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky appearance.</p><p>Some people believe that the "mother" is responsible for most of its health benefits, although there are currently no studies to support this.</p><p>While apple cider vinegar does not contain many vitamins or minerals, it offers a small amount of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-does-potassium-do" target="_blank">potassium</a>. Good quality brands also contain some amino acids and antioxidants.</p><strong></strong><h4><strong>Summary</strong></h4><strong></strong><p><strong></strong>Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting the sugar from apples. This turns them into acetic acid, which is a main active ingredient in vinegar and may be responsible for its health benefits.</p>
2. Can Help Kill Harmful Bacteria<p>Vinegar can help kill pathogens, including bacteria.</p><p>People have traditionally used vinegar for cleaning and disinfecting, treating nail fungus, lice, warts, and ear infections.</p><p>Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar to clean wounds more than 2,000 years ago.</p><p>Vinegar is also a food preservative, and studies show that it inhibits bacteria like <em>E. coli</em> from growing in and spoiling food.</p><p>If you're looking for a natural way to preserve your food, apple cider vinegar could help.</p><p>Anecdotal reports also suggest that diluted apple cider vinegar could <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/apple-cider-vinegar-and-acne" target="_blank">help with acne</a> when applied to the skin, but there doesn't seem to be any strong research to confirm this.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p>The main substance in vinegar — acetic acid — can kill harmful bacteria or prevent them from multiplying. It has a history of use as a disinfectant and natural preservative.</p>
3. May Help Lower Blood Sugar Levels and Manage Diabetes<p>To date, one of the most convincing applications of vinegar is helping treat <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes" target="_blank">type 2 diabetes</a>.</p><p>Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels caused by insulin resistance or the inability to produce insulin.</p><p>However, people without diabetes can also benefit from keeping their blood sugar levels in the normal range, as some researchers believe that high blood sugar levels are a major cause of aging and various chronic diseases.</p><p>The most effective and healthiest way to regulate blood sugar levels is to avoid refined carbs and sugar, but apple cider vinegar may also have a beneficial effect.</p><p>Research suggests that vinegar offers the following benefits for blood sugar and insulin levels:</p><ul><li>A small study suggests vinegar may improve insulin sensitivity by 19–34% during a high carb meal and significantly <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/15-ways-to-lower-blood-sugar" target="_blank">lower blood sugar</a> and insulin response.</li><li>In a small study in 5 healthy people, vinegar reduced blood sugar by 31.4% after eating 50 grams of white bread.</li><li>A small study in people with diabetes reported that consuming 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime reduced fasting blood sugar by 4% the following morning.</li><li>Numerous other studies in humans show that vinegar can improve insulin function and lower blood sugar levels after meals.</li></ul><p>The National Centers for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) says it's very important that people do not replace medical treatment with unproven health products.</p><p>If you're currently taking blood-sugar-lowering medications, check with your healthcare provider before increasing your intake of any type of vinegar.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p><strong></strong>Apple cider vinegar has shown great promise in improving insulin sensitivity and helping lower blood sugar responses after meals.</p>
4. May Aid Weight Loss<p>Perhaps surprisingly, studies show that <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/apple-cider-vinegar-weight-loss" target="_blank">vinegar could help people lose weight</a>.</p><p>Several human studies show that vinegar can increase feelings of fullness. This can lead you to eat fewer calories and lose weight.</p><p>For example, according to one study, taking vinegar along with a high carb meal led to increased feelings of fullness, causing participants to eat 200–275 fewer calories throughout the rest of the day.</p><p>Furthermore, a study in 175 people with obesity showed that daily apple cider vinegar consumption led to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-proven-ways-to-lose-belly-fat" target="_blank">reduced belly fat</a> and weight loss:</p><ul><li><strong>taking 1 tablespoon</strong> (12 mL) led to a loss of 2.6 pounds (1.2 kg)</li><li><strong>taking 2 tablespoons</strong> (30 mL) led to a loss of 3.7 pounds (1.7 kg)</li></ul><p>However, keep in mind that this study went on for 3 months, so the true effects on body weight seem to be rather modest.</p><p>That said, simply adding or subtracting single foods or ingredients rarely has a noticeable effect on weight. It's your entire diet or lifestyle that creates long-term weight loss.</p><p>Overall, apple cider vinegar may contribute to weight loss by promoting satiety, lowering blood sugar, and reducing insulin levels.</p><p>Apple cider vinegar only contains about three <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-many-calories-per-day" target="_blank">calories</a> per tablespoon, which is very low.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p>Studies suggest that vinegar can increase feelings of fullness and help you eat fewer calories, which may lead to weight loss.</p>
5. Improves Heart Health in Animals<p>Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death.</p><p>Several biological factors are linked to your risk of heart disease.</p><p>Research suggests that vinegar could improve several of these risk factors. However, many of the studies were conducted in animals.</p><p>These animal studies suggest that apple cider vinegar can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as several other heart disease risk factors.</p><p>Some studies in rats have also shown that vinegar reduces blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and kidney problems.</p><p>However, there is no good evidence that vinegar benefits heart health in humans. Researchers need to do more studies before reaching any strong conclusions.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p><strong></strong>Several animal studies have shown that vinegar can reduce blood triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood pressure. However, there is no strong evidence that it leads to a reduced risk of heart disease in humans.</p>
6. May Boost Skin Health<p>Apple cider vinegar is a common remedy for skin conditions like dry skin and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/eczema" target="_blank">eczema</a>.</p><p>The skin is naturally slightly acidic. Using topical apple cider vinegar could help rebalance the natural pH of the skin, improving the protective skin barrier.</p><p>On the other hand, alkaline soaps and cleansers could irritate eczema, making symptoms worse.</p><p>Given its antibacterial properties, apple cider vinegar could, in theory, help prevent skin infections linked to eczema and other skin conditions.</p><p>Some people use diluted <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/apple-cider-vinegar-for-face" target="_blank">apple cider vinegar in a face wash or toner</a>. The idea is that it can kill bacteria and prevent spots.</p><p>However, one study in 22 people with eczema reported that apple cider vinegar soaks did not improve the skin barrier and caused skin irritation.</p><p>Talk to your healthcare provider before trying new remedies, especially on damaged skin. Avoid applying undiluted vinegar to the skin, as it can cause burns.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p>Apple cider vinegar is naturally acidic and has antimicrobial properties. This means it could help improve the skin barrier and prevent infections. However, more studies are needed to know how safe and effective this remedy is.</p>
Dosage and How to Use It<p>The best way to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet is to use it in cooking. It's a simple addition to foods like salad dressings and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-homemade-mayonnaise-recipes" target="_blank">homemade mayonnaise</a>.</p><p>Some people also like to dilute it in water and drink it as a beverage. Common dosages range from 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 mL) to 1–2 tablespoon (15–30 mL) per day mixed in a large glass of water.</p><p>It's best to start with small doses and avoid taking large amounts. Too much vinegar can cause <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/apple-cider-vinegar-side-effects" target="_blank">harmful side effects</a>, including tooth enamel erosion and potential drug interactions.</p><p>Some dieticians recommend using organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegars that contain "mother."</p><p>Bragg's seems to be the most popular option, which is available <a href="http://amzn.to/2k7XFXq" target="_blank">online</a> along with reviews and ratings. However, several <a href="https://amzn.to/2EivrBo" target="_blank">other varieties</a> are also available.</p><p>Read more about the right dosage of apple cider vinegar <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/apple-cider-vinegar-dosage" target="_blank">here</a>.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p><strong></strong>A common dosage for apple cider vinegar ranges from 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons (10–30 mL) per day, either used in cooking or mixed in a glass of water.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>Many websites and natural healthcare proponents claim that apple cider vinegar has exceptional health benefits, including boosting energy and treating disease.</p><p>Unfortunately, there's little research to support most claims about its health benefits.</p><p>That said, some studies suggest it may offer some benefits, including killing bacteria, lowering blood sugar levels, and promoting weight loss.</p><p>Apple cider vinegar appears to be safe, as long as you don't take excessive amounts of it.</p><p>It also has various other <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/apple-cider-vinegar-uses" target="_blank">non-health-related uses</a>, including as a natural hair conditioner, skin care product, and cleaning agent.</p>
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By George Citroner
- Exposure to phthalates was associated with autism traits in boys (but not girls) between ages 3 and 4 years, according to a new study.
- However, the risk was diminished in women who took folic acid during their pregnancy.
- This study is the first to find that folic acid supplements provide a protective effect from phthalates.
Exposure in the womb to a group of endocrine-disrupting chemicals called phthalates was associated with autism traits in boys (but not girls) between ages 3 and 4 years, according to a new study.
Mothers Recruited From the MIREC Study<p>Oulhote and team enrolled 2,001 Canadian women with an average age of 33 who were in their first trimester of pregnancy between 2008 and 2011. Less than 10 percent of the women reported regularly drinking or smoking during pregnancy.</p><p>All the participants were recruited from the <a href="https://www.mirec-canada.ca/en/" target="_blank">Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC)</a>, a longitudinal pregnancy cohort study conducted in Canada.</p><p>Researchers collected information from questionnaires, medical charts, and maternal blood and urine specimens during pregnancy and at delivery.</p><p>Concentrations of 11 <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/pr2017112/tables/1" target="_blank">phthalate monoester</a> metabolites were measured in first trimester urine samples at the Toxicology Centre of the Quebec Institute of Public Health.</p><p>"We had several limitations, the most important one being that these phthalates exposures may vary in time, and therefore future studies should consider this and try to measure these phthalates at multiple time points in pregnancy," Oulhote said.</p>
Greater Phthalate Exposure Associated With Autism Traits<p>Researchers performed neuropsychological assessments on 610 of the children born when they were between 3 and 4 years of age.</p><p>This included the <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0734282913517525" target="_blank">Social Responsiveness Scale-2 (SRS-2)</a>, a measure of autism traits and social impairment. A higher score means more autism traits are present.</p><p>"We looked at autistic traits, not an autism diagnosis, which would have required a very large sample size or a different study design given the rarity of ASD. However, looking at autistic traits provides a very good idea about how these traits occur at a population level," Oulhote explained.</p><p>Researchers found that greater concentrations of phthalate chemicals in a mother's urine samples were associated with increases in SRS scores, but only in children whose mothers didn't take a recommended daily folic acid dose (400 micrograms) during their first trimester.</p>
Folic Acid Is Key<p>This study is the first to find that folic acid supplements provide a protective effect from phthalates. Oulhote also believes that folic acid supplements might block the effects of other toxic chemicals.</p><p>"The most surprising and important finding was how adequate important folic acid supplementation was in offsetting the potential effects of phthalates on autistic traits," Oulhote said.</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5915192/" target="_blank">Previous studies</a> have shown folic acid is associated with reduced chance of autism spectrum disorder that's caused by prenatal exposure to pesticides and air pollutants.</p>
Phthalates Affect Health in Many Ways<p>Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/plastics" rel="noopener noreferrer">plastics</a> more flexible and harder to break, often called plasticizers.</p><p>They're also used as dissolving agents for other materials, according to the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Phthalates_FactSheet.html" target="_blank">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a>.</p><p>Phthalates can even act like <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5391940/" target="_blank">hormones</a> and increase the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28686951" target="_blank">risk</a> of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.</p><p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0013935119300507?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">Previous research</a> has shown that children whose mothers are exposed to phthalates during pregnancy were more likely to have motor skill issues, and <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/29/health/phthalate-prenatal-language-development-study/index.html" target="_blank">another</a> found that these children exposed during pregnancy had problems with language development.</p>
Phthalates Are Almost Everywhere<p>These chemicals are in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21315328" target="_blank">hundreds</a> of products, including vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, raincoats, and personal care products, like:</p><ul><li>soaps</li><li>shampoos</li><li>hairs sprays</li><li>nail polish</li></ul><p>Phthalates are also an ingredient in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics, which are used to make plastic packaging film and sheets, garden hoses, blood storage containers, medical tubing, and some children's toys.</p>
Avoiding Exposure<p>Phthalates are almost impossible to avoid in our modern environment, but there are ways to minimize your exposure.</p><p>While the <a href="https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/fragrances-cosmetics" target="_blank">Food and Drug Administration</a> mandates that phthalates be listed in the ingredients of personal care products, they don't have to be if they're added as part of the fragrance.</p><p>Although companies will label their products "phthalate free," it may be best to call them up and make sure.</p><p>New mothers can take simple measures to keep baby safe.</p><p>"Once the baby is born, continue to be mindful about chemicals that can cause harm. Look for fragrance-free products that are as all-natural as possible. Keep up with DIY, including for cleaning products, and limit plastics in the house, especially baby bottles and toys," wrote <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/author/cmcarthy" target="_blank">Claire McCarthy</a>, MD, a faculty editor for Harvard Health Publishing, in the <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/something-else-to-avoid-in-pregnancy-phthalates-2019031516224" target="_blank">Harvard Health Blog</a>.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>New research finds pregnant women exposed to phthalate chemicals during pregnancy can give birth to boys who show traits of autism.</p><p>However, the children of those mothers who took the recommended amount of folic acid showed far less traits.</p><p>This is the first study to find that folic acid supplements can protect unborn children from effects of phthalates.</p><p>Phthalates are everywhere in our environment, but there are ways to reduce your exposure, including avoiding canned foods, certain plastics, and personal products that contain this class of chemical.</p><p><span></span><em>Reposted with permission from </em><a href="https://www.healthline.com/" target="_blank"><em>Healthline</em></a><em>. For detailed source information, please view the original article on </em><em><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/prenatal-phthalate-exposure-linked-to-autism-risk" target="_blank">Healthline</a></em><em>.</em></p>
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A time-restricted eating plan provides a new way to fight obesity and metabolic diseases that affect millions of people worldwide. RossHelen / iStock / Getty Images Plus
By Satchin Panda and Pam Taub
People with obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure or high cholesterol are often advised to eat less and move more, but our new research suggests there is now another simple tool to fight off these diseases: restricting your eating time to a daily 10-hour window.
Singapore will become the first country in the world to place a ban on advertisements for carbonated drinks and juices with high sugar contents, its health ministry announced last week. The law is intended to curb sugar consumption since the country has some of the world's highest diabetes rates per capita, as Reuters reported.
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The first U.S. study of the effect on people of exposure to a hormone-disrupting chemical widely used in food packaging showed that levels the Food and Drug Administration deems "safe" can alter insulin response, a key marker for diabetes.
The groundbreaking study, published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society, administered low doses of bisphenol A, or BPA, to 16 people, then tested their insulin production in response to glucose, commonly called blood sugar. When insulin and blood glucose levels were compared to the same measurements taken without exposure to BPA, researchers found that BPA significantly changed how glucose affected insulin levels. Similar insulin and glucose tests are used by doctors for diagnosing diabetes.
A major study published Friday in The Lancet Planetary Health has confirmed a reported link between air pollution and diabetes in a big way, finding that particulate matter exposure can increase risk for the disease even at levels currently deemed safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization, CNN reported.
By Marion Nestle
Nature, the prestigious science magazine from Great Britain, has just published a commentary with a provocative title–The toxic truth about sugar—and an even more provocative subtitle—Added sweeteners pose dangers to health that justify controlling them like alcohol.
The authors, Robert Lustig, Laura Schmidt and Claire Brindis, are researchers at the University of California medical center in San Francisco (UCSF).
They argue that although tobacco, alcohol and diet are critically important behavioral risk factors in chronic disease, only two of them—tobacco and alcohol—are regulated by governments to protect public health.
Now, they say, it’s time to regulate sugar. By sugar, they mean sugars plural—sucrose as well as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Both are about half fructose.
- Consumption of sugars has tripled over the last 50 years.
- Many people consume as much as 500 calories a day from sugars (average per capita availability in the U.S. is about 400 calories a day)
- High intake of fructose-containing sugars induce metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, insulin resistance), diabetes, and liver damage.
- Sugars have the potential for abuse.
- Sugars have negative effects on society (mediated via obesity).
- Too much of a good thing can be toxic.
Therefore, they argue, societies should intervene and consider the kinds of policies that have proven effective for control of tobacco and alcohol:
- Distribution controls
- Age limits
- Bans from schools
- Licensing requirements
- Zoning ordinances
- Bans on TV commercials
- Labeling added sugars
- Removal of fructose from GRAS status
In a statement that greatly underestimates the situation, they say:
We recognize that societal intervention to reduce the supply and demand for sugar faces an uphill political battle against a powerful sugar lobby, and will require active engagement from all stakeholders.
But, they conclude:
These simple measures—which have all been on the battleground of American politics—are now taken for granted as essential tools for our public health and well-being. It’s time to turn our attention to sugar.
What is one to make of this? Sugar is a delight, nobody is worried about the fructose in fruit or carrots, and diets can be plenty healthy with a little sugar sprinkled here and there.
The issue is quantity. Sugars are not a problem, or not nearly as much of a problem, for people who balance calorie intake with expenditure.
Scientists can argue endlessly about whether obesity is a cause or an effect of metabolic dysfunction, but most people would be healthier if they ate less sugar.
The bottom line? As Corinna Hawkes, the author of numerous reports on worldwide food marketing, wrote me this morning, “there are plenty of reasons for people to consume less sugar without having to worry about whether it’s toxic or not!”
For more information, click here.
By Kristin Wartman
Paula Deen’s public admission that she has Type 2 diabetes and her follow-up announcement that she is also a paid spokesperson for the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, and its diabetes drug, Victoza, has sparked an interesting debate about the deeper issues surrounding our food system—especially the impact it has on the many people diagnosed with diabetes. And according to Deen’s comments on the Today show, she implies to her millions of fans, that the primary ways to deal with this largely diet-related disease are through personal responsibility and pharmaceuticals.
Indeed, when Al Roker, asks her if she is going to change the way she eats and the foods she cooks, Deen says, “Honey, I’m your cook, I’m not your doctor. You are going to have to be responsible for yourself.” Evading the question, Deen puts the onus back on the individual to decide what foods to eat or not, despite the fact that she promotes unhealthful and processed foods on TV. The one comment she does make about food choice is “moderation,” one of the most meaningless and confusing bits of nutrition advice. In fact, this is what the industry giants often use as their defense for harmful, unhealthful foods.
Personal responsibility and consumer choice are solutions heralded by conservatives and liberals alike—the idea being that ultimately good health comes down to what we choose to buy and eat. But it’s not that simple.
There are three main issues when it comes to the myth of personal responsibility about food choice and they get at the root of our nation’s health crisis—The public’s confusion about nutrition, the lack of time and knowledge about real home cooking, and the promotion of quick fixes like drugs, diet foods, and fads in lieu of addressing underlying causes. The Paula Deen diabetes story manages to hit on every single one of these issues.
Americans suffer from nutrition confusion, thanks to an array of conflicting and often inaccurate public health messages, misleading labels and claims on packaging, and a lack of nutrition knowledge by many doctors, dietitians, and other health care providers.
Deen’s cooking, and now her public diabetes announcement, only adds to this confusion. During the Today show interview she repeatedly mentions the amount of fat in her recipes, as do many in the media reporting on the story. “For 10 years, wielding slabs of cream cheese and mounds of mayonnaise,” a New York Times article begins, “Paula Deen has become television’s self-crowned queen of Southern cuisine.”
But real, unprocessed cream cheese and mayonnaise are not the problem. The issue that mainstream media has largely overlooked is that Deen uses the processed, packaged versions of these foods, which are full of chemicals, additives and trans-fats. Actual home cooking would require whipping these foods up herself in her kitchen using real ingredients. And that is the real story behind Deen’s diabetes diagnosis—Her health problems are largely due to her reliance on packaged, processed foods that are the foundation for many of her recipes.
Even though her cooking show is called Paula’s Home Cooking, there’s a lot going on in her kitchen that is as far removed from home cooking as you can get. Many of her recipes include “ingredients” like Krispy Kreme doughnuts, biscuit mixes, cans of mushroom soup, and sour-cream-and-onion flavored potato chips. This is processed food cooking, not home cooking.
Heaping the blame on all the “fat” she cooks with only serves to confuse the public further. A New York Daily News article also cites fat as one of the main culprits in Deen’s cooking and her diet. But the most recent research indicates that when it comes to diabetes, fat is not the problem. The problem foods are sugar, refined white flour, chemical additives, artificial sweeteners and flavors, trans-fats, and the various other chemicals and additives found in the processed foods that abound in Deen’s recipes.
Now Deen is pushing the idea that taking medicine is the real solution to diabetes. On the Today show, she says, “Here’s what I want to get across to people, I want them to first start by going to their doctor and asking to be tested for diabetes. Get on a program that works for you. I’m amazed at the people out there that are aware they’re diabetic but they’re not taking their medicine.”
According to Deen, the reason she waited three years to go public with her diagnosis was because she didn’t have anything to give her fans. “I could have walked out and said, ‘Hey ya’ll, I have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.’ I had nothing to give to my fellow friends out there. I wanted to bring something to the table when I came forward.” So what is she bringing to the table? A sales pitch for a diabetes drug that costs $500 per month and has some seriously troubling side effects, including thyroid cancer, as Tom Philpott reports.
Just think of the kind of influence she could have wielded had she come out with a new cooking show that focused on using fresh, real food ingredients that cut way back on sugar and refined carbohydrates. In fact, if she had done so and eaten this way for the past three years she might have reversed her own diabetes diagnosis, which is entirely possible given the right diet.
But instead, Deen is getting paid to leave that task to a drug company. This isn’t her first corporate sponsorship (here she peddles Smithfield ham) and I doubt it will be her last. Diabetic and diet foods can’t be far behind in products she’ll attach to her name.
Alas, we can’t fairly discuss personal responsibility without taking into account the under-regulated advertising industry that pushes cheap, convenient, and processed foods on an overworked and cash-strapped population. Add to this the diminishing knowledge on how to shop for, cook, and prepare foods from scratch and we have a serious problem.
As Paula Deen now joins the 25.8 million other Americans suffering with diabetes, she “brings to the table” the ideas of moderation (an essentially meaningless and confusing bit of nutrition advice), personal responsibility, and the drug Victoza as the solutions. She could do so much more with all the power she wields.
Anthony Bourdain put it squarely when he said of Deen, “If I were on at seven at night and loved by millions of people at every age, I would think twice before telling an already obese nation that it’s OK to eat food that is killing us.” And this was before her diabetes announcement. Bourdain has also said that Deen is the “worst, most dangerous person to America.” He might have a point.
For more information, click here.
Kristin Wartman is a food writer living in Brooklyn. She has a Masters in Literature from UC Santa Cruz and is a Certified Nutrition Educator. She is interested in the intersections of food, health, politics, and culture. You can follow her on Twitter and read more of her writing at kristinwartman.wordpress.com.
Parents have good reason to worry about the sugar content of children’s breakfast cereals, according to an Environmental Working Group (EWG) review of 84 popular brands.
Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, at nearly 56 percent sugar by weight, leads the list of the 10 worst children’s cereals, according to EWG’s analysis. In fact, a one-cup serving of the brand packs more sugar than a Hostess Twinkie, and one cup of any of the 44 other children’s cereals has more sugar than three Chips Ahoy! cookies.
In response to the exploding childhood obesity epidemic and aggressive food company advertising pitches to kids, Congress formed the federal Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children to propose standards to Congress to curb marketing of kids’ foods with too much sugar, salt and fat.
But EWG has found that only one in four children’s cereals meets the government panel’s voluntary proposed guidelines, which recommend no more than 26 percent added sugar by weight. EWG has been calling for an even lower cap on the maximum amount of sugar in children’s cereals.
“When I went to medical school in the 1960s, the consensus view was sugar provided empty calories, devoid of vitamins, minerals or fiber,” said health expert Dr. Andrew Weil. “Aside from that, it was not deemed harmful. But 50 years of nutrition research has confirmed that sugar is actually the single most health-destructive component of the standard American diet. The fact that a children's breakfast cereal is 56 percent sugar by weight—and many others are not far behind—should cause national outrage.”
“Cereal companies have spent fortunes on convincing parents that a kid’s breakfast means cereal, and that sugary cereals are fun, benign and all kids will eat,” said noted New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle. “The cereals on the EWG highest-sugar list are among the most profitable for their makers, who back up their investment with advertising budgets of $20 million a year or more. No public health agency has anywhere near the education budget equivalent to that spent on a single cereal. Kids should not be eating sugar for breakfast. They should be eating real food.”
“As a mom of two, I was stunned to discover just how much sugar comes in a box of children’s cereal,” said Jane Houlihan, EWG’s senior vice president of research. “The bottom line—most parents would never serve dessert for breakfast, but many children’s cereals have just as much sugar, or more.”
Studies suggest that children who eat breakfasts that are high in sugar have more problems at school. They become more frustrated and have a harder time working independently than kids who eat lower-sugar breakfasts. By lunchtime they have less energy, are hungrier, show attention deficits and make more mistakes on their work.
About one-in-five American children is obese, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has reported that childhood obesity has tripled over the past 30 years.
“It has been said that exploding rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes in today's children will lead them to be the first in American history to have shorter lifespans than their parents,” Weil said. “That tragedy strikes me as a real possibility unless parents make some dramatic changes in their children's lives.”
“Nearly 20 percent of our children and one-third of adults in this country are obese. Our children face a future of declining health, and may be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. We must provide consumers with the information they need to make healthier choices and prevent misleading claims about the nutritional contents of food,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). “Cereal is a prime example of this—we know that children do better in school if they have breakfast. But we also know that the type of breakfast matters. And yet, as the Environment Working Group’s report shows, many children’s cereals have sugar content levels that are above 40 percent by weight. Our children deserve better, and it is critical that we take action to combat America’s obesity epidemic.” Congresswoman DeLauro serves on the appropriations subcommittee responsible for the Food and Drug Administration and agriculture, where she oversees drug and food safety.
10 Worst Children’s Cereals
Based on percent sugar by weight
1.) Kellogg’s Honey Smacks 55.6%
2.) Post Golden Crisp 51.9%
3.) Kellogg’s Froot Loops Marshmallow 48.3%
4.) Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s OOPS! All Berries 46.9%
5.) Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch Original 44.4%
6.) Quaker Oats Oh!s 44.4%
7.) Kellogg’s Smorz 43.3%
8.) Kellogg’s Apple Jacks 42.9%
9.) Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries 42.3%
10.) Kellogg’s Froot Loops Original 41.4%
Some cereals are better than others. Nutrition expert Marion Nestle recommends:
- Cereals with a short ingredient list (added vitamins and minerals are okay).
- Cereals high in fiber.
- Cereals with little or no added sugars (added sugars are ingredients such as honey, molasses, fruit juice concentrate, brown sugar, corn sweetener, sucrose, lactose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup and malt syrup).
Among the best simple-to-prepare breakfasts for children are fresh fruit and high-fiber, lower-sugar cereals. Better yet, pair fruit with homemade oatmeal.
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