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Why Sugar Isn’t So Sweet
March 2011

Sour News for Your Heart

SugarWe can likely cut the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by cutting down on the added sugars used in many processed and prepared meals, suggests a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, based on National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data. The food industry often defines such added sugars as sweeteners—foods that provide energy, but have few micronutrients or phytochemicals—which is why aware consumers read labels.

In recent decades, total sugar consumption in the United States has increased substantially, resulting in higher risk for cardiovascular disease due to associated lower levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good” cholesterol, and higher levels of triglycerides. Today, the average U.S. daily consumption of added sugars averages 3.2 ounces, or about 18 teaspoons, which represents 15.8 percent of total adult caloric intake. This is a substantial increase from the late 1970s, when added sugars contributed only 10.6 percent of the calories consumed by adults. This study is the first to examine the direct link between sugar consumption and its impact on cholesterol and heart disease.

 
Brain-Boosting Beet Juice
March 2011

Move Over, Blueberries

BeetJuiceWhen it comes to brain-boosting nutrition, blueberries now have some serious competition. For the first time, researchers have shown that drinking beet juice can increase blood flow to the brain in older adults—a finding that could hold potential for combating the progression of dementia.

“There have been several very high-profile studies showing that drinking beet juice can lower blood pressure, but we wanted to show that drinking beet juice also increases perfusion, or blood flow, to the brain,” says Daniel Kim-Shapiro, director of Wake Forest University’s Translational Science Center’s initiatives for fostering independence in aging. “There are areas in the brain that become poorly perfused as you age,” he notes, “and that’s believed to be associated with dementia and poor cognition.”

Beet juice, the researchers explain, contains high concentrations of nitrates. When we eat nitrate-rich foods such as beets, celery, cabbage and spinach, good bacteria in the mouth turn nitrates to nitrites, which help open up blood vessels in the body, increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain.

 
A-Peeling Reuse
March 2011

Practical Recycling Tips for Fruit and VeggieAPeelingReuse

“A rind is a terrible thing to waste,” says Jeff Yeager, who refers to himself as the ultimate cheapskate. Yeager has discovered multiple uses for produce rinds and ways to extract extended benefits before they land in the compost pile. Here are a few of his favorites, shared with us during a recent interview:

 
Double-Duty Label
March 2011

Fair Trade Goes Domestic

DoubleDutyLabelMany people today are familiar with International Fair Trade, as it applies to the importing of items such as coffee, tea and cocoa. However, as the movement has grown, it has become apparent that many of the challenges facing producers in developing countries are also shared by North America’s family farmers. Big agribusiness continues to thrive, while small farmers have gone out of business. Consumers pay more, while farmers receive less. Meanwhile, farm workers are often denied fair wages and basic rights.

So, a group of Canadian farmers, convinced that organics had been co-opted by large corporate-style interests and that cheap organic grain imports were undercutting their homegrown organic production, have given birth to Domestic Fair Trade certification. To aid organic food shoppers, they have developed the fairDeal food label. It will most likely show up in the organic bins of local food co-ops. Initial products include flax, wheat, barley, oats, beans, peas, lentils, hemp seeds and mustard.

Domestic Fair Trade Association (DFTA) members include farm workers and their organizations; farmers and farmer groups; retailers; non-governmental organizations; marketers; and processors and manufacturers. Qualifying standards commit members to the principles of Domestic Fair Trade and continual improvement of their day-to-day practices.


For more information, visit thedfta.org.

 
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