Harvard Researchers Say “NO” to Processed Meat

Meat and heart disease… it can be a match made in Heaven or a match made in Hell, depending upon how you view it.  Harvard University researchers have recently revealed a surprising nuance in the effects that meat can have on a person’s increased risk of heart disease.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t the type of meat that was under scrutiny in determining the ultimate risk a person has of heart disease.  Instead, it was the way in which the meat was processed.  Interestingly, 20 studies examined and scrutinized by Harvard researchers conclude that consuming a 3.5 ounce serving of red meat did not increase a person’s risk of heart disease.  In fact, this consumption had no overall effect on an individual’s chances of acquiring this disease. Unfortunately, however, a 1.8 ounce serving of processed meat (i.e. assorted deli-meats) yielded more than a 40% increase in the risk of heart disease.  Therefore, your consumption of meats can affect your risk of heart disease depending upon whether or not the meat is unprocessed (beef, lamb, pork, chicken breast), or processed (lunch meat, sausage, bacon).  The studies concluded that the amount of saturated fat in all meat products didn’t raise as much concern as the excessive quantities of sodium and preservatives found in the processed meat.  The excessive quantities of sodium in the processed meats can result in high blood pressure and the preservatives in the processed meats can result in the restriction and hardening of the arteries.  High blood pressure in combination with the narrowing of one’s arteries is what ultimately leads to a greater susceptibility and likelihood of acquiring heart disease (Girdwain).

So what to do, what to do?  First, try to limit the amount of deli-meat that you consume, and substitute this processed meat with your own homemade version.  If you enjoy deli turkey breast, purchase a whole turkey in its unprocessed form, cook it, shave it, and put it into your sandwich.  Same goes for deli chicken, ham, and roast-beef.  If you’re a fan of bologna and salami, I’m sorry to say that for the sake of your health you probably shouldn’t be, but that’s another blog post for another day.  Before purchasing sausage or bacon, be sure to look at the ingredient labels, and choose the one that has been processed the least and also the one that contains the least amount of sodium.  Another completely viable option is looking for “meatless” ways to get your protein in… nuts, seafood, shellfish, tofu, Greek yogurt, cheese, eggs, and beans would be excellent choices!

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Girdwain, Jessica. “The Skinny on Fat.”  The Oprah Magazine.  July 2014:  64.  Print.  29 September 2014.  

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Supermarkets Secrets

Did you know that the average net profit for local grocery stores is less than 1.75% each year (Crouch)?  As a result of this minimal net profit, supermarkets must do all they can to maximize sales (Crouch), usually with little regard toward the costs that their maneuvers may have on consumers.  Therefore, one could venture to say that the mark of a successful and profitable grocery store is a measure of how successfully they entice shoppers into adding item after item into their cart.  One could argue that running a profitable supermarket is an art, a venture in psychology, or even a madly precise science.

Upon entering most grocery stores, the produce section and floral section will be there to greet you (Learning).  This is a strategic use of the store’s square footage of course- the gorgeous bouquets, both aesthetically pleasing and divinely scented, they are intended to overwhelm the customer’s senses while the produce section in its vibrant colors and bountiful spreads are meant to give customer’s the perception that this store is one where health and nutrition are a priority (Learning).  In addition, the mist spraying down upon the rows of fruits and vegetables also suggests that the produce is at the peak of freshness (Crouch).  However, perception tints reality, and the truth is that the water acts as a catalyst for rotting the fruits and vegetables (Crouch).  Pleasant, right?  Also, if there are remaining water droplets on your produce from the mist, dry it off before you enter the check-out line: you probably wouldn’t thinks so, but the extra water gets tacked on to the price in the form of extra weight (Crouch).

Interestingly, products placed on the rows in the middle aisles of the supermarket are there as a result of methodical placement.  At the very top rows of each aisle the consumer will find local brands that are usually smaller in size when compared to major processed food corporations.  Underneath the top shelf is what is known affectionately as the “bulls-eye zone,” or middle shelf that falls precisely within the average consumer’s line of vision.  Because this is the shelf that every adult can easily see, the best-sellers and major processed food products/brand names are strategically located there.  Below the middle shelf is the kids’s shelf, complete with bright colored boxes and cans that catch younger children’s attention.  Lastly, at the very bottom of each shelf is usually where the consumer can locate store-brands and items that can be purchased in bulk (Learning).

There are a few things to keep in mind when approaching the check-out line.  First, the conveyor belt is one of the most bacteria ridden objects in the entire store: the general public’s hands, products, etc., have all ridden along it (Shocking).  Due to this, never put any fruit, vegetables, bread, or any other products that are not completely sealed on the conveyor belt directly (Shocking).  Instead, place completely sealed items in boxes or bags down first, and then stack produce and bread on top of these products (Shocking).  The last thing to keep in mind with the check-out line is that they were built purposely to be super skinny, and stacked to the brim (Crouch).  It brings great joy to supermarkets everywhere that it’s almost impossible for the consumer to ditch an item at the check-out: there’s simply no room, as the cramped area is adorned with candy, magazines, snacks, and soda (Crouch).  So if the consumer doesn’t ditch any items they’re on the fence about prior to getting into the check-out line, more often than not, they’re stuck buying the item (Crouch).

Hopefully you’ll keep this information in mind during your next shopping trip! 🙂

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Crouch, Michelle. “50 Supermarket Tricks You Still Fall For.” Reader’s Digest. 2014: Web. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc. 23 September 2014. <http://www.rd.com/health/healthy-eating/supermarket-tricks/>

Shocking Supermarket Secrets.”  Doctor Oz. Harpo, Incorporated. 2013. Web. 23 September 2014. <http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/shocking-supermarket-secrets>

Learning House Admin. “Psychology Behind a Grocery Store’s Layout.” Online Notre Dame College. Notre Dame College, 4 Jan. 2013. Web. 23 September 2014. <http://online.notredamecollege.edu/psychology/the-psychology-behind-a-grocery-store’s-layout/>

Think Twice Before Eating These Foods…

I found this really interesting article on Naturalon.com entitled, “Shocking 10 Foods Americans Eat that are BANNED in Other Countries.”  Below you’ll find my own CliffNotes version of this article… I’ve highlighted the most controversial ingredients/chemicals in the article that you’re definitely going to want to think twice about before indulging in!

1.  Olestra (more commonly referred to as Olean)

At its core, this ingredient is a fat substitute that has been stripped of pretty much everything: it contains zero calories, zero cholesterol, and is created by a company called Procter and Gamble.  This ingredient is added to numerous potato products, including potato chips and French fries.  It can have adverse effects on the intestines, and because of its chemical make-up prevents the absorption of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Vitamin D.  As a result, the FDA mandates that these essential vitamins be pumped back into snack foods containing this fat substitute so as to preserve the nutritional aspects of the food.  FYI- it’s banned in Canada and the United Kingdom (Shocking).

2.  Ractopamine (a drug that has been found in certain meat products)

Ractopamine is used among cattle farmers in the U.S. in the hopes that it will increase the muscle mass of the animals that they are raising.  However, traces of Ractopamine have been detected in meat products after the butchering procedures have been completed.  For this reason, Ractopamine is prohibited in more than 150 countries from Europe to Russia to China (Shocking).

3.  Brominated Vegetable Oil in Citrus Flavored Soda

I wrote about this chemical in a blog post a while back, but the basic gist is that brominated vegetable oil was created in the first place to act as a flame retardant.  Somehow, it has found its way in our food and can lead to iodine insufficiency.  Therefore, it has been outlawed in Japan and Europe (Shocking).

4.  Chicken Breast with a Side of Arsenic

Arsenic based drugs have been infused in the food chickens eat in an attempt to alter the color of the chicken breast once it has been butchered and manufactured.  These arsenic based drugs tamper with the natural color of chicken, and give the chicken products a pinkish tint.  It is the manufacturers hope that this pinkish tint will entice more customers to purchase these chicken products.  There is controversy over whether or not this organic form of arsenic has properties that cause it to mimic the carcinogen inorganic arsenic.  The European Union thought better safe than sorry, so they got rid of it entirely (Shocking).

5.  Farm Raised Salmon

We’ve talked about this a lot…unethical living conditions, inappropriate feed that differs from what salmon in the wild eat, the addition of synthetic chemicals…not good things.  Go for salmon caught in the wild only- just like Australia and New Zealand do because they have eliminated all salmon farms (Shocking).

6.  rBGH Milk

rBGH stands for recombinant bovine growth hormone, and this hormone, despite the fact that it causes various types of cancers, intensifies the production of milk, creating more yield.  Israel, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada have all responded to this information by outlawing rBGH milk in their respective lands (Shocking).

7.  Potassium Bromate (the kind that’s in store bought baked goods)

This additive is utilized in an attempt to strengthen the dough of certain baked goods before they are then attached to bread hooks and other large scale devices at commercial grocery stores.  The International Agency for Research on Cancer has placed this additive on a list of potential carcinogens.  Hence, China, the European Union, and Canada have all prohibited the addition of Potassium Bromate to their baked goods (Shocking).

I hope that you learned something new from the highlights from this article.  I think it’s very revealing that certain areas of the world take proactive steps with the knowledge they have about certain ingredients and chemicals in order to protect their citizens, while other areas of the world either turn a blind eye to current research, or, depending on how you look at it, wish to wait for more studies about the health effects of these ingredients.  Do you think that America is a “food savvy” place?  If so, why?  Also, what part of the world do you think is most savvy in promoting the health and wellness of its citizens by outlawing certain ingredients and chemicals in their foods?  I can’t wait to hear from you!

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

“Shocking 10 Foods Americans Eat that are BANNED in Other Countries.” Naturalon. NaturalON. 2014. Web. 9 September 2014. <http://naturalon.com/shocking-10-foods-americans-eat-that-are-banned-in-other-countries/>

Gluten Free Lunchbox Options

It’s sad but true: this is the last week of summer vacation… it always ends too quickly 😦

Anyway, in the spirit of back-to-school, here are five gluten free lunchbox options that might even make you look forward to digging your lunchbox out of the closet and gearing up for a new school year!  (Hopefully!)

1.  Homemade Tomato Soup with Popcorn Bites

Tomato soup and saltine crackers are definitely a quintessential lunchbox duet, but these popcorn bites are the perfect gluten-free alternative (Ely).  Simply prepare the popcorn on a stove-top and lightly salt it, and you will have created delicious popcorn bites in the place of crackers (Ely)!  The added crunch they give the soup is outstanding, as long as you pack the popcorn bites in a separate container from the soup.  If you combine the soup and the popcorn the night before, it will be soggy by the time you get to lunch!

2.  Romaine Lettuce Wrap Sandwiches

Who said you need bread to make a sandwich?  Lettuce is a great “breadless” option for sandwiches, and is a clever way to add some more “green” to your lunch.    Not a fan of romaine?  Try thinly sliced apples for another “breadless” sandwich option (Ely).

3.  Baked Eggs… (see previous blog post for the recipe!)

I’ve heard that some people like to spread gluten-free hummus on their eggs… has anybody ever tried this?  I haven’t yet, I’m just not sure how the two textures would go together… but still it’s a thought!

4.  Homemade Caprese Salad

Flavorful salad straight from Italy with only five ingredients!  Simply layer thick slices of heirloom tomatoes, basil leaves, and fresh mozzarella cheese on top of one another.  At lunch, pour balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the salad for the finishing touch!

5.  Zucchini Noodles and Meatballs

Zucchini noodles are way healthier than your average serving of white pasta, and they’re also quick to make yourself!  Julienne the zucchini into the shape of noodles (a julienne peeler would come in really handy, but slicing things the old-fashioned way works just as well!)  After that, microwave the zucchini noodles for two minutes (more or less depending on your microwave, just don’t overcook them or they will become mushy).  Pour the cooked noodles into a thermos with homemade meatballs, and voila… the last of five awesome gluten free lunchbox options (Zucchini)!

Let me know what you think of these lunchbox ideas, and also let me know if you’ve ever tried any of them or plan to!  Happy back-to-school everybody!

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Ely, Leanne. Saving Dinner. Saving Dinner. 2014. Web. 2 September 2014. <http://savingdinner.com/10-gluten-free-lunchbox-ideas-that-kids-will-love/#>

“Zucchini Spaghetti (Zoodles) and Meatballs.” Nom Nom Paleo. Nom Nom Paleo LLC. n.d. Web. 2 September 2014. <http://nomnompaleo.com/post/5695132949/zucchini-spaghetti-zoodles-meatballs>