The front of a food packaging label is the hook that manufacturers need to have in order to make consumers aware of their food product. A lot of marketing money is being spent developing food packaging that companies hope will make their product stand out from the rest of the pack. Color, font, packaging design, catchphrases and messages are examples of how to grab the consumer’s attention. However, certain terms used on a label can create confusion for consumers as to the actual health benefits of a food.
Some claims on food labels are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), but many are not. Nevertheless, many consumers assume that the information on a food label is true. When choosing a food for health reasons, consumers need to look beyond the flashy large print and words that surround a food to decide whether it is actually a healthy food.
One such term to consider is “natural”. There is no official definition of this descriptor. It tells us that the product does not contain any artificial ingredients, but does “natural” always mean healthy? In some cases the term refers to a single ingredient, in others to the entire food product.
For example, various forms of sugar are made from plant sources (such as sugar cane and sugar beet) and would therefore be considered “natural”, but foods rich in sugar are obviously not healthy. Salt comes from natural sources, but we know that foods high in sodium have to be restricted by a number of people due to medical concerns. Also, many foods that are initially considered to be healthy staples are often processed in such a way that they may no longer be considered healthy.
How about the phrase “with whole grain products”? From this statement we do not know how much whole grain is actually in the product. It can be anything from 100% whole grains to a trace. We’d have to look at the order of the ingredients list to get an idea of the relative amount of whole grains in the product (the higher amounts are at the top of the ingredients list).
Another confusing term when it comes to cereals is “multigrain”. This tells us that more than one type of grain was used to make the product (rice, corn, wheat, etc.), but it doesn’t tell us whether the grains are whole or refined or not. Again, a look at the list of ingredients or checking the fiber content would give us clues. One guideline is to choose a grain product when the ratio of carbohydrates to fiber is at least 10: 1 (divide the grams of carbohydrates by the grams of fiber). That would mean, for example, that a ratio of 6: 1 would be even better.
“Gluten-free” has been a big buzzword for the past ten years, and many consumers attribute a health value to foods with this label. Be aware, however, that many gluten-free foods are heavily processed, which means they contain less fiber and other nutrients. Nor should they be fortified with iron and certain B vitamins that are required by refined wheat flour products. Some are also high in sugar, sodium, and / or saturated fats – all of which have potentially negative health effects. Again, the food label can be helpful in determining the quality of these foods.
Many consumers assume that foods labeled “organic” are always a good choice. When it comes to the environment, this is probably true. However, in terms of health, we have to play detective. Just because the ingredients in a food were grown without chemicals doesn’t tell us whether or not the food is a nutritionally healthy choice.
Some food labels boast that they contain a high percentage of one or more vitamins or minerals. This usually means that the food has been fortified – the vitamins and / or minerals have been added in a similar way to a dietary supplement – and may or may not start out as a healthy food. It often means the latter.
For example, vitamin C can be added to a fruit-flavored drink that does not contain real fruits or fruit juices to make the drink appear nutritious. Another consideration is whether the added vitamins / minerals are likely to be deficient. Often times the most commonly fortified nutrients (which are cheaper for the manufacturer to add, such as adding some of the B vitamins) are those that are rarely absent from the diet of the average individual.
Products like granola bars, smoothies, granola, and other foods with healthy-sounding names are typically viewed as good consumer purchases. The same goes for the brand names of grocery lines that contain healthy-sounding words. However, the nutritional scale for these foods is very different. For example, many granola bars are just glorified candy bars. They can contain one or more sources of added sugar and can contain ingredients like palm or coconut oil, which are high in saturated fat. It is important to carefully read the ingredient lists and nutritional information for these types of foods that are under a health label and for foods whose brand names contain words related to health.
So, when it comes to reviewing food labels, look beyond the hype and the large print. What is the manufacturer promoting and why? Make a note of what the food contains and what does not on both the ingredients list and the nutrition section of the label. Read the small print as well as the big one. Then, consider whether the food is a basic, healthy, less processed food that provides good nutrition for the number of calories in it and is a smart way to spend your meal money.
Pam Stuppy, MS, RD, LD is a registered, licensed nutritionist with nutritional advice offices in York, ME and Portsmouth, NH. She has also been a nutritionist for Phillips Exeter Academy, holding workshops nationwide, and providing advice on sports nutrition. (See www.pamstuppynutrition.com for more nutritional information, some healthy cooking tips and recipe ideas).
Do Grains Go Bad? Yes, But They Don’t Have To
AAre you someone who goes to the grocery store every time you want to eat pasta or rice, or do you stay stocked with your favorite cereal forever? If you’re resonating with the latter, we have some news that may have shocked you: grain goes bad – but how quickly it happens is up to you.
“Grains have a longer shelf life than most foods, which makes them one of the best foods to stock up on at home,” says New York-based nutritionist Jennifer Maeng of Chelsea Nutrition in Manhattan, noting that she has one Offer range of health benefits.
“Compared to refined grains, whole grains contain all parts: bran, endosperm and germs. If all these parts of the grain are left intact, they will be rich in nutrients such as B vitamins, minerals, fiber, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants, phytochemicals, healthy fats, vitamin E, carbohydrates and proteins. “
Of these nutrients, she says the most notable is fiber. “The fiber contained in whole grain products slows down the breakdown of starch into glucose and thus prevents a high rise in blood sugar,” says Maeng. “Constant increases in blood sugar can negatively affect your energy levels, weight, and general health.”
Now that you know the benefits of storing grain in your kitchen, it is time to see the cons, too. Grains actually spoil and, thanks to their typical storage, can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Read on to find out more.
Does Grain Go Bad?
According to Maeng, the reason grain goes bad is because it is often stored incorrectly. With that in mind, she says grain should be stored in airtight containers (like OXO’s Good Grips POP storage containers) in a cool, dry environment.
“Whole grains can usually be stored (dry) for up to six months,” she says, noting that they can be kept for up to a year in the freezer. “Cooked whole grains can be stored in the refrigerator for four days and in the freezer for six months.”
Of all the grains there is, Maeng says that pasta, barley, brown rice, spelled, wheat, corn, farro, and rye are among the grains with the longest shelf life when dry.
And then there is white rice. “When properly (dry) stored, white rice can be stored for 25 to 30 years,” says Maeng. “As a study has shown, polished rice does not spoil and retains its nutritional and flavor profile for up to 30 years.”
Signs that your grains have gone bad
As with most foods, Maeng says you know your grains are spoiled if you notice a change in color, smell, or texture. “They tend to degrade in environments with a lot of humidity, heat, and temperature fluctuations,” she adds.
Speaking of changes in humidity and temperature, grains can serve as an abundant source of foodborne contaminants, according to the National Institutes of Health. “Unfortunately, whole grains usually have more pollutants than refined cereals, but they contain more nutrients that can combat these pollutants,” says Maeng. “The National Institutes of Health emphasize that despite an increased risk of contamination, the benefits of consuming whole grains outweigh the risk of contamination.”
Proper storage of grain
Remember: The best way to avoid spoilage and foodborne contamination is to properly store your grain. While dry and cooked grains require different storage solutions, Maeng says that “both uncooked and cooked grains should not be stored in environments with temperature changes, as this creates condensation and increases the risk of food contamination growth.”
That said, learn how to store your grains below.
As mentioned earlier, airtight containers and dry, cool environments are best for dry grain storage.
“The best temperature for storage is 40 ° F,” adds Maeng, noting that rice stored at 70 ° F (with the help of oxygen absorbers) can be stored for years.
Cooked grains, on the other hand, have a much shorter shelf life. “Cooked grains that are stored in the refrigerator should be used within a few days, ideally three,” says Maeng, noting that they can be kept in the freezer for up to six months. “The shelf life of already cooked grain is much shorter than that of uncooked grain due to the addition of water and its role in microbial growth.”
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What’s the Best Diet for Runners? Nutrition Tips and More
Before shopping for groceries for running, it is important to understand the science behind it.
The three macronutrients that are important to your overall diet are:
In addition, a varied diet ensures that you are also getting micronutrients and antioxidants, which play key roles in muscle function and recovery.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and are essential for long distance running.
When you consume them, your body breaks down dietary carbohydrates into their simplest form, the sugar, glucose.
Glucose is a vital source of energy for humans. This is because your body needs it to produce your cells’ energy currency called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) (1, 2).
During a run or exercise, your body can send glucose to muscle cells as an immediate source of energy. Any extra glucose in your bloodstream is sent to your liver and muscle cells to be stored as glycogen (1, 2).
During a run, your body first draws glucose from the blood to keep working muscles powered. When glucose levels start to drop, the body starts converting stored glycogen back to glucose through a process called glycogenolysis (1, 2).
Your VO2max is the maximum rate at which your body can consume oxygen while exercising, and it increases with higher exercise intensity.
This limits the oxygen available for energy production. As a result, your body engages in anaerobic (lack of oxygen) energy production that relies primarily on carbohydrates (3, 4).
When your exercise intensity increases, e.g. For example, when running and sprinting over shorter distances, your body uses carbohydrates as a primary source of energy and fat as a secondary source (2, 3, 5).
Because of the shorter duration of a sprint, most people have adequate blood sugar and glycogen stores to support their run (2, 3, 5).
During longer, lower-intensity runs, your body increasingly relies on fat stores to produce energy. This can happen, for example, on runs longer than 10 km (6 miles) (3, 4, 5, 6).
Additionally, most long distance runners also need to fill up on simple sugars to keep their run going. This is why many long-distance runners consume sports drinks or energy gels (5, 6).
Eating around 45–65% of total daily calories from carbohydrates is a good goal for most runners (7, 8).
Stored body fat is another great source of energy, especially when running long distances.
In general, you should aim to get between 20% and 30% of your total daily calories from mostly unsaturated fats. Avoid eating less than 20% of your caloric intake from fat (8).
Low fat intake is linked to a lack of fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids (8, 9, 10).
During long-lasting endurance training, your body falls back on its fat reserves as the primary source of energy.
It does this through a process called fat oxidation. Stored triglycerides are broken down into fatty acids, which your body then converts into glucose (1, 3, 5, 6).
While the process of fat oxidation is useful in long distance running, it is less efficient than using carbohydrates during high-intensity exercise. Because fat takes more time to be converted into energy, and that process also requires oxygen (8, 9, 10).
In addition, dietary fat is less efficient as a training fuel than carbohydrates, which are consumed very quickly and are more readily available during exercise (8, 9, 10).
So instead of consuming fat specifically for running, you should consume it as part of a balanced diet to support the functions of your body.
Dietary fat is crucial for:
- healthy joints
- Hormone production
- Nerve function
- General health
It also supports the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), making it an important part of your diet (8, 9, 10).
If you have stomach upset, eat low-fat meals in the few hours before running. Instead, try to eat higher fat meals during recovery periods (10).
Protein is not a primary source of energy during endurance training. Instead, your body supports (11, 12):
- Muscle growth and regrowth
- Tissue repair
- Injury prevention
- the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells
- Total recovery
Your muscles break down as you run, which makes protein fueling important in rebuilding those muscles. Without protein, the muscles cannot be rebuilt efficiently, which can lead to muscle wasting, increased risk of injury and poorer performance (11, 12).
Although individual needs vary, most research suggests consuming around 0.6-0.9 grams of protein per pound (1.4-2.0 grams per kg) of your body weight per day.
This is sufficient for recovery and can prevent muscle loss in extreme endurance athletes (8, 10, 11).
Exercise puts a strain on your body’s metabolic pathways, so you need a diet high in micronutrients to support its function.
While every athlete has different needs, some micronutrients are particularly important (8):
- Calcium. This is a major contributor to bone health and muscle contraction. Most people get enough calcium-rich foods in their diet, including dairy products and leafy greens.
- Vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for bone health as it supports calcium and phosphorus absorption. It can also contribute to muscle metabolism and function. You can get it through sun exposure, supplements, and foods rich in vitamin D.
- Iron. This is critical to the development of red blood cells, which provide oxygen to working muscle cells. Long distance runners, vegetarians, and vegans may need more than the recommended food intake – more than 18 mg per day for women and 8 mg per day for men.
- Antioxidants. Antioxidants help reduce cell damage from oxidation from intense exercise. Eating foods high in antioxidants – like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds – seems to be more effective than taking antioxidant supplements.
- Other nutrients and aids. Many athletes use supplements or consume foods to improve performance, such as beetroot, caffeine, beta-alanine, and carnosine. Some of these are backed by more research than others.
For most people, eating a variety of whole foods ensures that you are getting enough micronutrients.
If you think you have a deficiency or want to try a new nutritional supplement, speak to a doctor.
Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy during exercise. As you increase the distance and time of your runs, your body also begins to use stored fat for fuel. Prioritizing your diet can help improve your performance.
Good timing when eating can make all the difference in your runs. Your timing largely depends on:
- how long and far do you run
- your personal goals
- your tolerance
- Your experience
The best way to find out what works for you is through trial and error.
Diet before the run
Most people who run for less than 60 minutes can safely exercise without eating first. Even so, you may want to have a small, high-carb snack to provide a quick source of glucose. Examples are (13, 14):
- 2-3 Medjool dates
- Apple sauce
- a banana
- a glass of orange juice
- Energy gel
If you plan to run for more than 60-90 minutes, have a small meal or snack containing about 15-75 grams of carbohydrates at least 1-3 hours before your workout.
This gives your body enough time to digest your food (8, 13, 14, 15).
Examples of carbohydrates to eat are:
- a fruit smoothie made from milk and a banana
- Scrambled eggs and toast
- a bagel with peanut butter
Avoid high-fiber foods a few hours before running, as these take longer to digest and can cause stomach upset during exercise. Examples are whole grains, beans, lentils, and some vegetables.
After all, people who run for more than 90 minutes may want to recharge with carbohydrates a few days before an event.
This involves consuming a large amount of carbohydrates before a long distance run to make sure your body is storing as much glycogen as possible for quick energy supply (8).
While carbohydrate loading, many people attempt to consume 3.2-4.5 grams of carbohydrates per pound (7-10 grams per kilogram) of their body weight per day 36 to 48 hours before running. The best sources are complex carbohydrates like (8, 9, 10):
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole wheat pasta
- Brown rice
- Multigrain bread
- low fiber cereals
During your run
The only macronutrient that you need to focus on while running is carbohydrates. What you consume should largely depend on the length and intensity of your run.
Here are general guidelines you can follow for different run lengths (8, 9, 10):
- Less than 45 minutes. No high-carb foods or drinks are required.
- 45-75 minutes. You might want a high-carbohydrate mouthwash or small sips of a sports drink.
- 60-150 minutes. You may want to replenish your blood sugar level with 30-60 grams per hour of a sports drink or energy gel.
- 150 minutes or more. For long distance endurance runs, you may need to fill up with 60-90 grams of carbohydrates per hour. Most people prefer to stock up on high-carb sports drinks, gels, chewy candies, and bananas.
Whether you eat right after your run depends on the intensity of the exercise, the duration of the run, and your personal preferences.
If you want to eat right away, try a small snack with carbohydrates and proteins, such as chocolate milk or an energy bar.
Try to eat a meal that is high in carbohydrates and protein within 2 hours of your run.
Try to consume between 20 and 30 grams of protein. Research has shown that this can promote increased muscle protein synthesis.
Some examples of high protein foods are (8, 9, 10, 16):
- Protein powder (whey or vegetable based)
You should also replenish your glycogen stores by eating complex carbohydrates like whole wheat pasta, potatoes, brown rice, and whole grain bread, which provide a constant source of glucose for hours after your run (7, 8, 9, 15).
In most cases, food intake before, during and after the run depends on many personal factors. Try out some of these pointers and tweak them as needed to see what works best for you.
The benefits of fiber | 2021-09-21
The “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025” state that more than 90% of women and 97% of men do not adhere to the recommended intake of fiber, and such deficits are associated with health risks. This is where fiber fortification in baked goods, a traditional source of intrinsic grain-based fiber, helps consumers get closer to their intake goals. While there is a lot of fiber in it, bakers may want to explore those that give the recipe a function, such as: B. those that can eliminate gluten in bread or reduce sugar in biscuits.
Family-owned and operated Royo Bread Co., New York, launches a low-calorie, keto-friendly artisanal bread that has 30 calories, 2 grams of net carbohydrates, and 11 grams of fiber per slice. Wheat-resistant starch is the first ingredient. Other sources of fiber include wheat protein, wheat bran, whole rye flour, ground flaxseed, and psyllium husk.
“Flax seeds are high in omega-3 fats and fiber,” says Ronit Halaf, a registered nutritionist who started the company in 2019 with her baker husband, Yoel Halaf. “Psyllium husks are an important part of all of our products. It contains soluble fiber and insoluble fiber that will help increase fullness, slow digestion, and most importantly, help you stay regular. Wheat protein, also called wheat gluten, is essential to keep our products together. It contains traces of wheat and is a rich source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. “
For Nature’s Path, Richmond, British Columbia, the focus was on eliminating added sugar in muesli. But ingredient technology also added fiber to it.
“People worry about the amount of sugar they’re consuming,” said Arjan Stephens, general manager of Nature’s Path. “Our new granolas contain 0% added sugar and are still 100% delicious.”
The muesli is available in vanilla-almond butter and mixed berry flavors, with each serving containing 17 grams of whole grain products. That doesn’t mean everything in fiber, however, as one serving only contains 3 grams. This still enables a high-fiber claim. The secret of the muesli’s sweet taste is its main ingredient: date powder.
“Dates are also high in fiber, which is great for digestive health,” said Stephens. “And their fiber content makes dates a low-glycemic food.”
While most Americans are aware that they need to consume more fiber and less sugar, it is not an easy task. You are not ready to forego quality and enjoyment.
According to a study by ADM Outside Voice, more than half of consumers associate fiber with benefits like digestive health. In addition, 56% of consumers report adding or increasing fiber to their diet, the Hartman Group reports in their report, Reimagining Wellbeing Amid COVID-19, 2021.
“However, added fiber can also be linked to digestive problems,” said Sarah Diedrich, Marketing Director, Sweetening Solutions and Fibers, ADM. “Our research has shown that almost 70% of consumers would stop buying a product if it caused gastrointestinal problems.”
This article is an excerpt from the September 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the full fiber optic feature, click here.
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