Category Archives: nutrition

Ten Health Benefits of Giving Up Soda Pop and Soft Drinks

Turns out that free refills of soda pop and foundation drinks may be costing more than you think. An article published on lists the following positive things that happen to your body when you stop drinking soda:

  1. Heart. A 2012 Harvard University study found that sugary drinks increased a person’s risk of chronic heart disease (CHD). Participants who drank the most soda were 20 percent more likely to have a heart attack, the researchers discovered. Another study, published in 2011, found that sugary beverages raises a person’s blood pressure, and it increases the more you drink. Even cutting back by one soda per day can decrease your blood pressure and improve your heart health.
  2. Brain. Many people reach for a Diet Coke or a soft drink in the drowsy after-lunch hours at work, hoping to get a caffeine and sugar boost. It may help you focus temporarily, but in the long-term drinking a lot of soda can have a negative effect on your brain function and thinking processes. One study found that long-term consumption of sugar could lead to impaired learning, memory, and behavioral plasticity.  “We have investigated a potential mechanism by which a diet, similar in composition to the typical diet of most industrialized western societies rich in saturated fat and refined sugar (HFS), can influence brain structure and function via regulation of neurotrophins,” the authors of the study write. They found that animals placed on this high-sugar diet had reduced amounts of a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which in turn impacted their ability to learn and remember things. Various other studies have also found a link between drinking a lot of soda and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia; the link showed an increased amount of plaque deposits in mice that were given sugary sodas — signals of Alzheimer’s or other disorders.
  3. Teeth. Soda destroys your teeth, so stepping away from this vice will lead you toward better oral health and a whiter smile. In some extreme cases, drinking a lot of soda can leave your mouth as corroded as that of a meth abuser, according to a 2013 study. In the study, researchers found that a woman who drank 2 liters of diet soda every day for three to five years had the same level of severe tooth erosion as that of a methamphetamine addict, as well as a crack cocaine addict. The citric acid in soda erodes tooth enamel, making it softer and more vulnerable to cavities and yellowing. Stepping away from soda and replacing it with water will protect and clean your teeth.
  4. Bladder. Soda is a diuretic, essentially meaning that it will make you need to pee urgently and frequently. It has also been known to irritate your bladder and exacerbate bladder infections or urinary tract infections. Switching it out with drinking clear fluids, like water, unsweetened juices, or seltzer water, could instead help keep your body and bladder clean.
  5. Bones. Abstaining from soda will also improve your bone health and decrease your risk of osteoporosis. In addition, the less soda you drink, the more you may turn to milk or other calcium-fortified drinks that will benefit your bones way more than soda ever would.
  6. Kidneys. Your kidney is also going to be in better shape once you kick the dirty sugar habit. Studies have shown that drinking a lot of soda can increase your risk of kidney disease and ultimately kidney failure. Diet sodas aren’t exempt from this damage, either: researchers from the Nurses’ Health Study found that women who drank a lot of diet soda every day had decreased liver function compared to women who didn’t drink soda. So stay away from it and your kidneys will thank you.
  7. Reproductive Organs. In some cases, soda cans may contain bisphenol-A or BPA, which has been linked to an increased risk of cancer as well as impairment of endocrine function. Some studies have also shown that BPA is linked to premature puberty or infertility, essentially messing up a person’s reproductive organs.
    According to the Breast Cancer Fund, BPA is one of the most common chemicals out there — exposed to us via food and drink containers to dental fillings. It’s a synthetic estrogen that impairs the hormonal system, increasing a person’s risk for breast cancer, prostate cancer, metabolic disorders, and even type 2 diabetes. Choose to lower your exposure to this chemical by not touching those soda cans and your risks will be lower.
  8. Weight Loss. One of the easiest ways to lose weight is to cut soda from your diet. If you’re a rabid drinker (drinking it several times a day without fail, day and night), cutting down to one can a day could be a good start, at least until you’re eventually comfortable with cutting it out to once a week or leaving it behind completely.
    According to Malia Frey, a weight loss expert writing on About Health, dropping a daily large Coca-Cola from McDonald’s completely (if you drink about one per day) would result in reducing your annual calorie intake by over 200,000 calories — or about 60 pounds — in one year. Replace that soda with water and overcome obesity.
  9. Diabetes and Chronic Disorders. As the obesity epidemic continues to surge in the U.S., Americans will continue to stubbornly order McDonald’s and their giant Coca-Colas, then proceed to sit on their couch for hours and watch TV — or sit in their office for hours. All of these factors lead to obesity, an increased risk of diabetes, and a higher chance of developing other chronic disorders like cancer or heart disease. Long-term consumption of large, sugary, fatty sodas will ultimately contribute to, and directly cause, diabetes. Lose the soda and lose the pounds.
  10. Live Longer. Here’s one easy way to live longer: Drop the soda. A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that people who drank a lot of soda had shorter telomeres in immune cells, meaning their risk of dying sooner was higher. Telomeres are protective DNA units that are situated at the ends of chromosomes, and the shorter they get, the more a person ages and is at risk for disease and death. So cutting out that good-for-nothing sugary drink from your life will seemingly only offer you good things, by lengthening your telomeres as well as your life span, and improve your overall health.

Recipe: Balela and Yogurt Parfait

We’d probably all agree that Yogurt is a healthy food choice.

If you take a look at the yogurt selection in most large grocery stores, you’ll see a huge variety of brands and flavors to choose from.

However, when you take a look at the sugar content and carbs of these, you’ll see that there really isn’t much variety.

Most yogurt nutrition and ingredient labels don’t look much different than a candy bar when it comes to sugar and carbs. Take a look at the Yoplait label below. Sugar is the second ingredient!


We see from the list of ingredients that there’s more sugar in this ‘mixed berry’ yogurt than any of the berries prominently featured on the label. The end result is 26 grams of sugar and 33 grams of carbs. That’s really unnecessary. If you’ve ever mixed berries in plain yogurt you know that sugar isn’t a required ingredient.

By comparison, a product like Kalona Supernatural Organic 2% Plain Yogurt has only 6 grams of sugars and 11 grams of carbs per 6 ounce serving which is about the baseline for dairy products. You seriously don’t need 20 additional grams of sugar in a 6 oz. snack food.

Although we typically think of yogurt as a sweet snack, in many cultures yogurt is combined with spicy foods or tart foods.

It may take you a little while to develop a desire for this combination, but try mixing Balela (a Mediterranean chickpea salad) with organic plain yogurt. You’ll get a wide array of amino acids along with the digestive benefits of yogurt.


Supreme Protein Bar and MET-Rx Big 100 Bar

It’s difficult for most people to consume enough protein in their diet, especially for vegetarians. Many protein bars, shakes, and other supplements that claim to be high in protein have only about 8 to 15 grams of protein. These options are typically high in sugar and carbs. This page provides information about two protein bars that offer 28 to 30 grams of protein.

MET-Rx Big 100

One excellent protein bar is the MET-Rx Big 100 Meal Replacement Bar Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough protein bar that offers 28 grams of protein with 50 grams of carbs (25 grams of sugar). [Buy Now]

Supreme Protein Bar

The Supreme Protein Bar Peanut Butter Crunch  has  30 grams of protein with 26 grams of carbs (8 grams of sugar). This is a high protein to carb ratio and helpful for those wanting to reduce their carb intake while increasing protein intake. [Buy Now]

Kraft Real Mayo 22oz. Squeeze Bottle Mayonnaise Calories and Nutrition Information


If you do a Google search for Kraft real mayo nutrition information, you won’t find the Kraft website prominently listed. In fact, the only link for the Kraft website will take you to a page that features Kraft Mayo with Olive Oil. The only easy way to easily obtain the accurate nutrition information is to visit the product description page provided by Amazon and then click to view the product images (provided below).

No Cause for Secrecy

There are lots of brands and styles of mayonnaise available, and they almost all have virtually the same ingredients and nutrition information. At 90 calories per tablespoon (and all that is fat calories), mayonnaise is fattening, yet something people are willing to expend their calorie budget on.

Product Comparison

Kraft has even developed a page that allows you to compare their Olive Oil-based mayonnaise with many other brands. Except, you won’t find Kraft real mayonnaise listed there either.

Product Images

We’ve provided the product information images below for your convenience as well as a screen shot of the Kraft Olive Oil-Based Mayonnaise comparison page. While Kraft doesn’t provide the nutrition information for their real mayonnaise, you can add it manually.

Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer – Low speed, masticating juicing system


Product Summary

The Omega J8006 Nutrition Center is a masticating style juicer. Sometimes referred to as a low speed juicer, the Nutrition Center processes at 80rpm, whereas most other juicers process at a speed of 1,650 to 15,000rpm. The low speed protects and maintains healthy enzymes, prevents oxidation and allows juice to be stored up to 72 hours without degradation. The GE Ultem Auger is 8x stronger than most other plastics and the powerful gear reduction is equivalent to a 2HP Motor. The dual stage juice processing system extracts the maximum amount of juice from fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, even wheatgrass! You can also use the nutrition center to turn nuts into nut butters (an all-natural peanut butter), make baby food from natural, fresh ingredients, whip up soy milk, extrude pasta, grind coffee and spices, and mince herbs and garlic. Make delicious and nutritious drinks and snacks that everyone will love. Measuring 7in wide, 15.5in deep and 8.5in tall. [View on Amazon]

Product Resources

Product Features

  • Low speed, masticating style juicing system
  • Omega’s Nutrition Center does more than just juice. You can turn nuts into nut butters (an all-natural peanut butter), make baby food from natural, fresh ingredients, whip up soy milk, extrude pasta, grind coffee and spices, and mince herbs and garlic.
  • Includes a GE Ultem Auger which is 8x stronger than most other plastics.
  • Powerful gear reduction is equivalent to a 2HP Motor.
  • Juicer processes at 80rpm’s. Low speed or masticating style juicer squeezes, instead of grinding, which allows the juice to maintain its pure color, natural taste, vitamins and nutrients.
  • Dual stage juicer. First, juice is extracted by crushing the fruit or vegetable. Then, before the pulp is ejected, the pulp is squeezed during the second pressed stage. This results in a higher yield of juice and a very dry pulp.
  • Extracts the maximum amount of nutrients, vitamins, taste and juice from minimum amounts of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens such as spinach and kale, even wheatgrass.
  • Economical. Since the juicer is so efficient and productive, you’ll get the greatest amount of juice from the least amount of produce.
  • The low speed system does not mean a longer time to juice. It means a more efficient juicer. More nutrients and antioxidants, plus better flavored juice and freshness.
  • Engineered for quiet operation and longer life.
  • The low speed system limits froth and foam preventing oxidation.
  • Juice can be stored for up to 72 hours without degradation or the juice separation that occurs with other juicers.

Product Images

This juicer efficiently juices hard and soft fruits and vegetables without destroying the natural flavor and nutritional benefits.
This juicer efficiently juices hard and soft fruits and vegetables without destroying the natural flavor and nutritional benefits.
Use the homogenizer attachment to make fresh frozen desserts, natural baby food, and nut butters (an all-natural form of peanut butter.)
Use the homogenizer attachment to make fresh frozen desserts, natural baby food, and nut butters (an all-natural form of peanut butter.)
Wheatgrasses, kale, cabbage, spinach, and pine tree needles are just some of the natural products that can be juiced with the Omega 8006 Nutrition Center. Enjoy the best that nature offers in raw foods of all kinds and juice them for full nutritional benefits.
Wheatgrasses, kale, cabbage, spinach, and pine tree needles are just some of the natural products that can be juiced with the Omega 8006 Nutrition Center. Enjoy the best that nature offers in raw foods of all kinds and juice them for full nutritional benefits.
Grind coffee beans and flour.
Grind coffee beans and flour.
The food processor attachment chops and minces, providing natural flavor and nutrition from garlic, scallions, red pepper, ginger, and most other foods, including herbs and seasonings. Soft foods for special diets for babies are quick and easy to prepare with the mincing set-up.
The food processor attachment chops and minces, providing natural flavor and nutrition from garlic, scallions, red pepper, ginger, and most other foods, including herbs and seasonings. Soft foods for special diets for babies are quick and easy to prepare with the mincing set-up.
Homemade spaghetti, linguini, or breadsticks can be extruded in just minutes with the included pasta nozzles.
Homemade spaghetti, linguini, or breadsticks can be extruded in just minutes with the included pasta nozzles.

Description from Manufacturer’s Website

The Omega 8006 Nutrition Center Masticating Juicer is equipped with a powerful motor, this masticating juice extractor thoroughly chews up plant fibers to fully extract vitamins, enzymes, and minerals from fruits and vegetables. The unit’s dual-stage juicing system ensures maximum efficiency, while its low rotation speed of 80 RPMs means no foaming, no clogging, and no heat build-up. Other highlights include a high juice yield with very dry pulp, an automatic pulp-ejection function for continuous juicing, heavy-duty construction, four stabilizing feet, and quiet operation. Easy to assemble, operate, and clean. Nutrition Centers are not just for juicing; they turn nuts into nut butter, extrude pasta, grind coffee and spices, mince herbs and garlic, make baby food, and whip up soy milk in a flash. Use Nutrition Centers to make delicious healthy drinks and snacks everyone will love. The ULapproved masticating juice extractor measures 14-1/2 by 6-1/2 by 15-1/2 inches and carries a 15-year warranty.

Juicer Type Masticating Juicer
Finish Chrome
Speed Low Rotation Speed of 80 RPM
Motor Gear Reduction Equivalent of 2 HP Motor
Weight (lbs) 20.0
Dimensions 6½” W x 14½” D x 15½” H (165mm W x 368mm D x 394mm H)
Wattage 150 Watts
  • Continuous Juicing with Automatic Pulp Ejection
  • Exclusive “Dual Stage” Masticating Extraction
  • High Juice Yield – Very Dry Pulp
  • 8 Times Stronger GE Ultem Auger
  • Powerful Motor
  • Less Foaming Than Double Gear Juicers
  • No Heat Rise Promotes Healthier, Longer Lasting Juice
  • Heavy Duty Construction
  • Engineered for Quiet Operation and Long Life
  • User Friendly – Easy to Assemble, Operate, and Clean
  • All Components Included
Usage Exclusive Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) Household Approval
Warranty 15 Years
Spec_sheet Download 8006 Juicer Spec Sheet

Los Angeles Times: Organic whole milk provides best heart-health benefits, study says


(Source: “Organic whole milk provides best heart-health benefits, study says,” Los Angeles Times, 10 December 2013, By Mary MacVean)

Scientists who looked at hundreds of samples found that organic whole milk offered more of the fatty acids good for the heart than conventional milk.

“We were quite surprised to see the magnitude of difference in milk from organic farms,” said Charles Benbrook, lead author of the study and a program leader at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University.

Organic food advocates argue that grass and pasture is healthiest feed for cows. Federal organic standards require that cows get at least 30% of their dry food from pasture at least 120 days of the year. Benbrook’s study is the first large-scale nationwide study of the fatty acids in organic and conventional milk. Cows on conventionally managed farms get more grains such as corn.

The study results, published Monday in the journal PLOS One, also question the common recommendations to consume nonfat or low-fat dairy products. Whole milk is around 4% fat, with 2%, 1% and skim being other choices. Skim milk does not have fatty acids.

“Consumers are going to get the full measure of this benefit in organic milk if they buy whole milk,” Benbrook said.

The study, Benbrook said, “provides consumers with some pretty powerful evidence that choosing full-fat dairy products is going to help bring about a greater degree of balance” between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and help reduce the risk of heart disease and several other problems.

The broader message, he said, is that people need to pay attention to the type of fat as well as to the overall amount of fat they consume.

Over the last 100 years, Western diets have grown to contain more omega-6 fatty acids and fewer omega-3 fatty acids. The ratio should be flipped, the authors say.

The conventional milk had an average omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio of 5.8, and organic milk had a ratio of 2.3.

The scientists looked at 220 organic milk samples from the Organic Valley cooperative and 164 conventional milk samples. Organic Valley was a funder of the study.

The study found that the organic milk had 25% less omega-6 fatty acids and 62% more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk. The organic milk also had high concentrations of the individual types of omega-3 fatty acids, too, the authors wrote.

“There is increasing evidence that the dietary balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is perhaps as important as the dietary proportions of saturated, monounsaturated and total fat,” the authors wrote.

Over the last few decades, people have increased how much soybean and corn oil and fried foods they have eaten, Benbrook said. Those foods have increased the number of calories eaten overall and driven up the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids, he said.
Overall, Benbrook said, this is not just good news for organic dairy farmers.

“Our study has good news for all dairy farmers and all people who like diary products,” he said. “Milk is one of the healthiest sources of fat in the diet. But we can conclude that organic milk is healthier.”


Photo Credit: A cow on an organic farm in Merced County. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times / December 10, 2013)

The Correlation Between Nutrition Label Readability and Nutritiousness of Food Products


We’re all familiar with the tricks that some food manufacturers play in attempting to deceive consumers.

For example, with products that are high in calories, the nutrition label will list “calories per serving” with unrealistically small portion sizes being considered a serving. Only recently have we begun to see labels stating, “calories per bottle” or “calories per bag” as honest statements acknowledging that nobody is going to drink half of a small juice bottle.

However, some vendors play with the serving size and per bottle portions by listing the good ingredients “per bottle” and less desirable things like calories as “per serving” — making their product seem high in nutritional value but low in calories.

Other tricks include placing the “open here” tear package location over the nutrition information so that the top portion containing the calories is discarded upon opening. There’s also a tendency to have packaging seems be abnormally large and designed to fold over and hide nutrition information.

There is a new wave of fraud in nutrition labeling. The same food manufacturers that offer nutritious food with easy to read large print labels will put on their products of poor nutritional value labels that cant be read because the text is too small and/or the contrast is not sufficient.

Making food nutrition information unreadable is in direct violation of the FDA Guidelines regarding food labeling. (PDF) The image at the top of this page is from the FDA website and is offered as a guide for proper product labeling.

At a time when everyone is paying extra attention to making content accessible to those with vision impairments, its inconceivable that nutrition labels would be this difficult to read. Below are some examples.

White Text on Clear Background. This first example shows a package with white text on a clear background. It can only be read (as illustrated below) when the package is emptied and then held against a dark background. It’s also necessary to cut the Nutrition Facts panel out of the package because otherwise the front of the package will obscure the details making it unreadable. It must also be held in just the right light to avoid glare. The image below is from a tiny pouch of condiments for oatmeal (from Starbucks). The oatmeal is sold as having 150 calories. However, when you add up the calories of all the packages of condiments, the oatmeal is high in calories. Starbucks proudly provides the nutrition information for their oatmeal on their website. However, if you’re looking for the nutrition information for the fruit topping, you’ll find this statement on the website: “The nutritional data for this product is not available online. You can find that information at your local store.” What you get in the store are hard to read labels. This is true for their Dried Fruit and Nut Medley toppings. The website offers no nutritional information. Keep in mind that the label below is substantially modified to make it readable.


Font Too Small and Poor Contrast. The label below is a good example of an unreadable label. Even for those who might use a magnifying glass would have difficulty reading it. The printing is similar to bank checks and currency that are designed to be impossible to copy. Reading it is like trying to read a CAPTCHA phrase on a website. This example is from the GoPicnic Professor ZimZam’s Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt. The image here is substantially enlarged. You can click the image for an even larger view.


Nutritious Product with Large Print and High Contrast. Below is a nutritious product with a label that is clearly printed in large text with high contrast and is very readable. This item was packaged by GoPicnic with the chocolate above.