Food for Thought – How Sweet is TOO Sweet?

According to the American Heart Association, American women should consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day, and American men should consume no more than nine teaspoons of added sugar per day in order to promote health.  There are four grams found in one teaspoon of sugar, so the quantities above total 24 grams of added sugar for women and 36 grams of added sugar for men.  There are two types of sugars prevalent in the food we eat: naturally occurring sugars and added sugars.  Naturally occurring sugars are, well, naturally occurring.  They’re the sugars that are found in foods like raw fruit.  However, added sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup, are incorporated into foods during processing.  Below is a list found on the American Heart Association’s website that includes added sugars that can potentially end up in our food (Sugar):

  • Brown sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Malt sugar
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Sugar
  • Sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose)
  • Syrup

Do you feel as though you’re right on target with the amount of added sugars you eat?  Do you consume more or less than the recommended allotment of added sugars?  Please let me know!

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

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Sugar 101. 19 Nov. 2014. American Heart Association Incorporated, 2015. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Sugar-101_UCM_306024_Article.jsp#.VnsXJzZlm9Y>

To Be or Not To Be…

Well, I guess the more appropriate title for this week’s post would be “To be, or not to be cheese.”  Has anybody ever wondered why certain cheeses in the grocery store are not labeled as such?  Take Kraft Singles for instance.  The writing sprawled across its packaging announces that this particular product is a “Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product” rather than just plain cheese.  You may be surprised to discover that there are degrees to which cheese can actually be advertised and sold as real cheese, depending on factors such as moisture content.  Nevertheless, it’s important to decode the following labels often found on cheese packaging so you know how much cheese is actually present in what you’re purchasing (Weingarten):

Pasteurized process cheese: This really means that the product you’re purchasing is 100% cheese (Weingarten).

Pasteurized process cheese food:  This really means that the product you’re purchasing consists of at least 51% cheese (Weingarten).

Pasteurized process cheese product: This really means that the product you’re purchasing consists of less than 51% cheese (Weingarten).

So if something other than pasteurized process cheese food has landed in your grocery store cart, you may want to think twice about it before you arrive at the check-out line.  Any and all of the following ingredients can make up the remainder of your cheese-like substances… whey, emulsifiers, milk, salts, preservatives, and/or food coloring.  So, what do these additives do to their respective cheese products?  They regulate consistency throughout the product, ensure a long shelf-life, guarantee the product will melt uniformly…and the list goes on and on.  Yet, what do these additives do to us?  Nothing outstandingly noteworthy.  I guess it would be sort of noteworthy to mention that these additives are a large part of why certain cheese products are so convenient, both to buy and to eat (Weingarten).

Eating food that will rot and mold in the very near future is a very beneficial thing that you can do for your health.  If it rots or it’s molding, it’s alive!  Surprisingly, (or maybe not surprisingly), if you left a piece of American Cheese out on the table for an extended period of time, it would probably not mold.  However, a piece of 100% cheese, with no additives would definitely mold, and much more quickly (Is).

So what’s the takeaway from this post?  Expand your cheese horizons!  In addition to the delicious hard cheese Manchego from Spain, that region of the world also produces the buttery Iberico, a delicious sheep, goat, and cow’s milk cheese.  Of course, a good aged cheddar is always satisfying or try my personal favorite, Midnight Moon Goat Cheese…yum!

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

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

“Is It Still Cheese?”Eating Well. n.d. Meredith Corporation, 2015. Web. 13 Jan. 2015. <http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/is_it_still_cheese>

Weingarten, Hemi. Blog.Fooducate. n.d. Fooducate LTD, 2012. Web. 13 Jan. 2015. <http://blog.fooducate.com/2012/04/24/10-things-to-know-about-processed-cheese-cheese-miniseries-part-23/>

The Scoop on Soy

There’s a lot of hoopla surrounding the soy bean, particularly in America.  On the “soybean fan spectrum” (no that’s not an official thing), there doesn’t seem to be a happy medium.  People either love soybeans or they hate them.  They think that soybeans either cause cancer, or that soybeans decrease an individual’s risk of acquiring the disease.  So are soybeans healthy, or are they nutritionally deficient?  Do soybeans promote wellness or disease?  Well, it kind of depends.  As always, the smart thing to do is to eat them in moderation, as the research is always changing, and often times not conclusive.  However, here is the information I’ve gathered that is consistent from source to source about soybeans and their health effects:

Research does not suggest that soybeans cause cancer, in particular it does not suggest that soybeans cause breast cancer in women.  Many associate soybeans with cancer because of the isoflavones, (or plant chemicals), in the beans, which affix upon estrogen receptors in the body.  Isoflavones are approximately 1,000 times weaker than human estrogen, which validates the claim that soybeans do not significantly alter estrogen levels to the point of producing breast cancer.  Interestingly, in Asian countries where soybeans and their byproducts are staples, the breast cancer levels are decreased in comparison to most of the outside world (Soy).

Another concern about soy is that it can damage a person’s thyroid (Soy).  Research indicates that this may very well be true, and, if this is true, the damage occurs over a lengthy period of time (Paturel).  In particular, people struggling with their thyroids and are subsequently on thyroid medication should carefully monitor the amount of soy that they’re intaking.  This is because soy can disrupt the process in which the human body creates thyroid hormones, thus contributing to metabolism malfunction as well as hypothyroidism.  In this area, the research is not conclusive, and does not consistently point to one thing over another (Soy).

Soy itself is not unhealthy, it may even be quite nutritious.  Unfortunately, it is the processed varieties of soy that cause health problems.  The majority of processed soy products contain substantial amounts of refined flours, sugars, preservatives, and genetically modified organisms.  As always, whole foods, and in this case whole soy foods, are the most beneficial to one’s health and wellness.  These whole soy foods include but are not limited to tofu and edamame.  It’s important to note that processed soy foods more often than not contain “soy protein,” which is not the same as soy.  Soy protein has almost no nutritional value whatsoever, and is found in a rainbow of foods, from energy bars to soy “frankfurters.”  Beware of soy protein (Soy)!

The last thing to touch upon with soy is soy milk.  Truly nutritious brands of soy milk are few are far between.  When choosing one brand over another, look at the ingredient label to see whether or not the milk is created from soy protein or whole soy.  Also, scan the ingredient label to search for preservatives.  You may have noticed that the expiration dates on almost all soy milks are far off from the date of purchase.  This is because soy milk often contains superfluous ingredients which increase the amount of time the milk stays fresh.  These ingredients are unnecessary for proper health and only contribute to excess calories (Soy).

So what’s the take away for soy?  Have no more than two whole soy food servings per day to maximize the health benefits of this food and minimize the inconclusive risks (Soy).  In addition, beware of soy protein (Soy).  Do you have a favorite whole soy food?  Do you have any recipes containing soy that you’d like to share?

If so, please leave a comment!

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

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

“Soy: The Good, the Bad and the Best.” Dr. Oz. Harpo Incorporated, 11 Dec. 2012. Web. 6 Jan. 2015. <http://www.doctoroz.com/article/soy-good-bad-and-best>

Paturel, Amy. “How Healthy is Soy Really?”. Eating Well Jan./Feb. 2011: Meredith Corporation, Web. 6 Jan. 2015. <http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/how_healthy_is_soy_really>