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Tag: soda

Your family is visiting a friend’s family for the holiday weekend. The friend generously offers to have you stay at their house. Things are going great until it’s lunchtime and out comes the florescent orange mac & cheese and fake lemonade. What do you do? Well, you have a few options: (1) tell yourself that it’s only a few meals and it won’t seriously impact the kids’ health (2) tell your host that you’d never feed your child that crap (3) come prepared in anticipation of this possible scenario.

Health is incredibly important and I’m generally in favor of doing whatever you have to do to eat healthy. However, friendship is also precious and waving your nose in the air at her meal suggestion is not advisable either. No one likes to be made to feel bad about the way they feed their family. Instead, come prepared. Here are a few suggestions to survive a junk food weekend.
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While scrolling through my wall today, I stumbled upon this infographic from visualeconomics that Dr. La Puma posted on his Facebook page. I love checking out food related infographics and found this particular one interesting. Let’s see, we eat more fats & oils than chicken, more sugar & corn sweeteners than red meat, and crazy amounts of dairy (631 lbs per year if you combine cheese & dairy). The total amount of fruits and vegetables (688 lbs) looks decent, although I wish I could see a stat on what percentage of that number is fresh vs. heavily processed (aka. Campbell’s canned vegetable soup and the 29 lbs of potatoes in our french fries). I’m not entirely sure what “beverage milks” means. Does it include chocolate milk or is it just non-dairy “milks” such as almond, hemp, soy, etc., or all of the above?

What really caught by eye, though, was the section down below that shows the average American consumes 24 POUNDS of artificial sweeteners per year. 24 pounds? That’s about what my daughter weighed when she was 2 years old (and coincidentally, the size of the average giraffe heart…fun fact). If you think you’re not consuming artificial sweeteners, think again. They are hiding everywhere. It’s the saccharin in your iced tea, the aspartame in your diet soda, and the sucralose in that ice cream bar. Even your chewing gum has been infiltrated as it’s virtually impossible to walk into a grocery store and buy a pack without artificial sweeteners. These innocuous powders also lurk in diet foods, products marketed to diabetics, and all sorts of no-sugar treats. Even Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf uses artificial sweeteners in their “no sugar” beverages (I honestly thought that they were made without any sweetener until I actually asked). If you want to reduce your intake, start by reading labels. Once you spot these guys, make the commitment to try a new brand that doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners, make it yourself, or better yet, give it up altogether. Can’t quit yet? Yes, you over there drinking your Diet Coke. Start by reducing your intake until you can break the habit altogether.

Check out the infographic down below for details and tell us what you find significant.

 

Source: Visual Economics

Image: Vinni/Flickr

A newly release national survey reveals that Americans drink a boatload of sugary drinks. I know, shocking news. None the less, here are some of the key findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey:

SEX: Males consume more sugar drinks than females.

AGE:  Teenagers and young adults consume more sugar drinks than other age groups.

RACE:  Black children and adolescents consume more sugar drinks in relation to their overall diet than their Mexican-American counterparts. Black and Mexican-American adults consume more than white adults.

INCOME: Low-income persons consume more sugar drinks in relation to their overall diet than those with higher income.

LOCATION: Most of the sugar drinks were consumed away from home are obtained from stores and not restaurants or schools.

The other major finding is that approximately half of the US population consumes sugar drinks on any given day. At first, I was actually surprised as I thought that number seemed low. Then I read the definition of  what was and was not considered a “sugar drink:”

“…sugar drinks include fruit drinks, sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, and sweetened bottled waters…Sugar drinks do not include diet drinks, 100% fruit juice, sweetened teas, and flavored milks.”

It seems crazy to me that they did not include sweetened tea or flavored milk since both have ADDED sugars. And what about diet drinks? I’ve noticed they are always excluded from studies on regular soda consumption. I want to see data on all forms of soda with any ADDED sweetener. While I’m not a proponent of drinking fruit juice, at least there is no added sugar. If you include diet drinks, flavored milk (can’t you hear Jamie Oliver’s voice now?), etc. how high does that 50% number climb? Are 75% of the US population drinking sweetened beverages daily? Maybe even 90%?
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Headline Roundup 7.6.11

Here are a few recent headlines that caught my eye:

The True Cost of Bananas

Did you know that bananas are the most frequently purchased item at the grocery store and that major chains will not increase the price above $0.99/lb? I couldn’t believe it until I was at my local Lassen’s health food store and saw that even their organic, fair trade bananas were, you guessed it, $0.99/lb. This article is a fascinating look at the ugly underbelly of the banana industry. I kind of always knew bananas had a secret life, but did not know of the inner workings of the industry. Author Phyllis Robinson speaks from a place of passion and true knowledge (she spent her travels exploring the banana trade in South America). For anyone who “requires” a banana in their morning smoothie like I do, this long, but important article is a must read. Read the full story on Small Farmers Big Change
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The “Potato Chip Study,” published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, found interesting links between certain foods and weight gain. Researches from Harvard University looked at the long-term effects of diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes in a study that included over 120,000 men and women.

4-year weight change was most strongly associated with these foods (average weight gain/loss is shown in parentheses):
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Image: Vinni/Flickr

Yesterday, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) formally petitioned the US Food and Drug Administration to change legislation on a very popular additive, caramel coloring. Specifically, CSPI requested that the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status for caramel coloring produced with ammonia be revoked:

“…request the Commissioner of Food and Drugs to revoke sections 21 CFR 73.85 and 21 CFR 182.1235 (generally recognized as safe or ‘GRAS’ regulation),… which authorize the use in foods of caramel colorings that are produced by means of an ammonia or ammonia-sulfite process and contain 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, both of which are carcinogenic in animal studies.”

This includes Caramel Coloring III (used in soy sauce, gravy, beer) and Caramel Coloring IV (used in beverages and colas), both of which are produced with ammonia. In the petition, CSPI indicates that reactions occur when carbohydrates and ammonia are used to produce caramel coloring and form by-products including 2- and 4-methylimidazole (“2-MI” and “4-MI” or “4-MEI”).  This chemical pair have been shown carcinogenic in animal studies. One interesting point that CSPI makes is that caramel coloring in soft drinks are typically used to make the soda its customary brown color. This is purely cosmetic and could be substituted with something else or omitted from drinks such as Coke and Pepsi without sacrificing much taste.

The CSPI petition also requested that the FDA change the names which are permitted for these types of caramel coloring and not allow caramel coloring in products which are labeled “natural,” due to the highly processed and chemical nature of these additives.

“… the FDA immediately should change the name ‘caramel coloring’ to ‘chemically modified caramel coloring’ or ‘ammonia-sulfite process caramel coloring’ …and should not allow products to be labeled ‘natural’ if they contained any type of caramel coloring.”

To read the full petition from the Center for Science in the Public Interest which includes references, click here.

This information is very relevant to today’s shopper since caramel coloring is found in thousands of foods INCLUDING so called health food.  Start paying attention to this additive as you study your ingredient labels. To read a full report on the different types of caramel coloring, other possible health effects and allergy information, click here.

Sources:
Center for Science in the Public Interest

Image: Vinni via Flickr

Ingredient Spotlight: Citric Acid

This Ingredient Spotlight is a regular feature from Be Food Smart. Check back regularly to see new ingredients.

Today’s additive is Citric Acid, which is one of the most widely used acids in the flavoring industry. It has even been used to dissolve bladder stones!

Citric Acid

Names: Sodium Citrate, E330

Uses: Flavoring, Acid, Antioxidant, Preservative, Emulsifier, Firming Agent

Found In: beverages, soda, ice cream, candy, fruit juice, wine, juice, jam, canned fruit and vegetables, frozen fruit, cheese spreads, dressings, preserves, cheese, mayonnaise

Description: Naturally occurring acid found in citrus, other fruit and coffee. Mainly derived from citrus by fermentation process of the fruit sugars. Produces a sour taste and is one of the most widely used acids in food flavoring. Used to flavor, adjust pH balance, cure meats, prevent certain flavors, firm vegetables, brighten colors and preserve food.

Possible Health Effects: In large or concentrated amounts can cause … continue reading about Citric Acid

Be Food Smart was created to educate and inform the public about what’s really in the foods we eat every day. The site has a huge database of food additives, chemicals, food colorings, sweeteners, and preservatives and allows one to search for over 400 ingredient names. Our unique ingredient reports contain simple and easy to understand descriptions, alternate names, possible health effects, and allergy information. The site is completely free and is a wonderful resource for parents, teachers, health care professionals, dietitians, and concerned consumers.