Over half US grocery store purchases are highly processed foods, says study

Although organic foods sales are on the rise, don’t fool yourself: We’re still loading up our shopping carts with chips and cookies. A new study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that almost two-thirds — 61 percent — of American grocery purchases are highly processed foods. In addition, 77 percent of American grocery purchases consist of either moderately or highly processed foods. This means the average American consumes more than 1,000 calories of processed foods every day. But don’t get too nervous and start cleaning out your pantry: The word processed, according to USDA standards, is defined as “a retail item derived from a covered commodity that has undergone specific processing resulting in a change in the character of the covered commodity.” By this definition, pasteurized dairy products, like milk, yogurt, and cheese, as well as frozen vegetables, are processed foods: not just your usual suspects like Oreos and Twinkies. “Highly processed food purchases are a dominant, unshifting part of U.S. purchasing patterns yet may have higher saturated fat, sugar, and sodium content compared with less-processed foods,” the authors concluded. “Wide variation in nutrient content suggests food choices within categories may be important.”

Very interesting..

Power pairings: Eat these foods together for a nutritional boost

If you kept a food diary, we trust you’d get gold stars for all the clean-eating foods you consume. But get this—there’s a way you can bump your nutrition to the next level, with no extra work, and it’s as simple as knowing which foods to eat together. (Remember when we learned about the game-changing better way to eat avocados?) Whether it’s fat-soluble vitamins or anti-inflammatory spices, here are some food pairings that’ll help you reap the benefits of everything you’re eating. Breakfast: Oatmeal with Strawberries- Iron is essential to keeping our bodies running smoothly—but it’s also the top nutritional deficiency among Americans. Particularly for women who are active, having even low iron levels can translate to feeling sluggish and weak. But tweaking your diet can be as easy as adding strawberries to your iron-packed oatmeal. Vitamin C and iron are a match made in nutritional heaven: the vitamin helps our bodies absorb non-heme iron, which is the more difficult type to process. Lunch: A Veggie-Packed Salad with Olive Oil-Based Dressing- Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, meaning you need to pair them with a fat in order for your body to get the most out of them. While some people skip the dressing to “be healthy,” if your salad includes a lot of Vitamin A-rich veggies like carrots, red bell pepper and baked sweet potatoes, be sure to drizzle it with a generous amount of dressing that includes healthy fat sources like olive, walnut or sesame seed oil to maximize your body’s ability to absorb the vitamins. Snack: Garlicky Hummus- According to a 2010 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the sulfur compounds found in vegetables like onions, garlic and leeks (either cooked or raw!) allow your body to absorb more iron and zinc from grains and legumes, like chickpeas. Vegans and vegetarians might especially benefit from this power pairing since they are often more often deficient in iron and zinc than their meat-eating counterparts. Takeaway for all: If you’re making your own hummus (or adding mix-ins to any store-bought variety) toss in extra garlic for increased mineral absorption. Dinner: Spicy Carrot Soup with Tumeric and Black Pepper- Tumeric (also known as Indian saffron or yellow ginger) called. It wants to hang out with black pepper on the spice shelf. A potent herb, tumeric is poorly absorbed in your digestive system, but has been linked in numerous studies to combating many chronic disease. By pairing it with black pepper, which contains piperine, your body is better able to absorb it. Try this spicy carrot soup; your body will thank you for all the antioxidants. Couldn’t be any easier, right? No wonder garlic and hummus always taste so good together. Your body knew all along.

Political beef? Lawmakers worry red meat getting raw deal in new dietary guidelines

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are pushing back on proposed dietary guidelines they say wrongly downplay the benefits of lean red meat and advance an environmental agenda rather than promoting healthy choices based on “sound nutritional science.” Seventy-one House lawmakers sent a letter Tuesday to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell expressing their disappointment over a recent report issued by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. They said the report exceeded its scope in developing the recommendations. “It is extremely difficult to reverse or change public policy, once enacted, without causing consumer confusion,” the letter states. “Inaccurate and conflicting dietary guidance messages are detrimental to consumer understanding of nutrition and the ability to build healthy diets.” The USDA and HHS will use the DGA advisory committee’s report to write the final version of the 2015 dietary guidelines, expected by the end of the year. Political beefs over the guidelines have been growing on Capitol Hill, with the cattle and agriculture industries arguing that an environmental agenda has no place in a government blueprint for healthier living. The advisory committee has discussed sustainability as a good dietary goal, saying in its draft recommendations that there is “compatibility and overlap” between what is good for health and what is good for the environment. It said that a diet higher in nuts and greens and lower in animal-based foods is “more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact than is the current average U.S. diet.” Current guidelines push lean meats as a healthy source of protein. The advisory panel, though, has debated whether lean meats should be included at all. The draft recommendations question whether a healthy dietary pattern includes fewer “red and processed” meats. The lawmakers behind the letter argue that the guidelines play a critical role for federal nutritional policy development and is the scientific basis for education and outreach. Therefore, they say, it is essential that they “be based on sound nutrition science and not stray into other areas outside of this specific discipline.” “I am asking the same question thousands of school kids in North Dakota and across America will be asking: ‘Where’s the Beef? Sacrificing sound science and denying the nutritional benefits of lean red meat to satisfy an extreme environmental agenda is woefully misguided,” Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said in a written statement.


10 recipes for a high-protein meal in less than 15 minutes

The Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE is a four-day event focusing on – if you haven’t guessed already – all things food and wine. It’s a huge star-studded production with celebrity chefs, impeccable dishes and some of the best spirits from around the world, which will please gourmets from February 19 to 22. If you’re lucky enough to check it out, we salute you! And if, once you’re done indulging in all of the 14th edition’s over-the-top greatness, you feel yourself wanting to tone things down in your own kitchen, we’ve got just the solution for you. Quick, healthy recipes that require minimal prep time, but taste like real gourmet offerings and treat your body to all the good stuff it needs are not a myth. Whether you’re in a morning rush, coming home after a long day at the office or winding down following an intense workout, a 15-minute snack or meal is always doable. And when it’s full of protein to help build muscle, it’s definitely worth the (tiny) effort.

School nutritionists to Congress: Michelle Obama’s lunch laws have to go

The School Nutrition Association and its 55,000 member food service professionals sent a clear message to Congress about the state of the nation’s cafeteria offerings to kids: First lady Michelle Obama’s regulations have got to go, they said. In a 2015 Position Paper, the SNA suggested Congress amend the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 — so kids aren’t so hungry, reported. Basically, the organization requested lawmakers to take a second look at the law and loosen some of the calorie, fat and sodium regulations. Perhaps then, the group argued, more children would go back to buying school lunches.

Imagine that!

What is the most nutritious vegetable you can buy?

We all know that Americans should be eating more fruits and vegetables. But there’s a big difference between eating a handful of carrots or a tangerine, and munching on some leafy greens. The CDC recently ranked 47 of America’s most common fruits and vegetables, and 41 out of 47 tested were determined to be “powerhouse” sources of nutrition. Each of the fruits and vegetables were analyzed on a scale that measures the amount of fiber, protein, potassium, and vitamins


5 tips for a healthier you this year

Did you make a healthy New Year’s resolution this year? After a few months of holiday (over)indulging, it may come as no surprise that healthier eating and weight loss plans top the list of the most common New Year’s resolutions. In fact, according to research findings in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 41 percent of individuals make New Year’s resolutions, and less than half actually succeed in keeping them the entire year. How about taking some steps that you can actually stick with? Here are five easy changes you can make each day for a healthier, happier you this year.