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Why you need to eat fewer ultra-processed foods like frozen pizza and even granola bars – The Globe and Mail

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A customer pushes a shopping cart through the frozen food aisle inside a Kroger Co. grocery store in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on June 14, 2017.

Luke Sharrett/bloomberg

Grocery stores are flooded with foods produced by extensive industrial processing. Examples: granola and protein bars, margarine, frozen pizza, chicken nuggets, breakfast cereals, pretzels, instant noodles, muffin and cake mixes, mass-produced packaged breads and soft drinks.

A steady intake of ultra-processed foods has been linked to an increased risk of chronic health problems such as obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.

Now, findings from a large Italian study add to mounting evidence that ultra-processed foods should be limited. Added sugars in these foods, as well as the processing methods used to make them, may contribute to their harmful effects.

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What are ultra-processed foods (UPFs)?

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, nearly 50 per cent of the calories in our diet come from UPFs, and Canadian kids, ages 9 to 13, consume even more.

UPFs are formulations of substances derived from foods plus numerous additives used to flavour, bleach, colour, emulsify, texturize and preserve. They contain little, if any, real food at all.

These foods are typically high in calories, unhealthy fats, added sugars and sodium and are lacking fibre and protective phytochemicals.

The altered taste and texture of UPFs make them highly palatable and habit-forming.

The new findings

The latest study, published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, analyzed the eating habits and health outcomes of 22,475 citizens of Italy, with an average age of 55 years, over eight years.

Participants who consumed the highest amount of UPFs (14 per cent of total food intake versus 6.6 per cent) had a 26-per-cent increased risk of dying from any cause, and a 58-per-cent greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. The greater the intake of UPFs, the greater the risk of death.

The researchers accounted for other risk factors including age, sex, smoking status, physical activity, body mass index, health history, calorie intake and diet quality.

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Processed meats, pizza, cakes and pies were the largest contributors to ultra-processed food intake.

Limitations of the study include its observational design (it can’t provide that eating UPFs causes premature death) and the use of self-reported questionnaires (which are subject to error) to collect dietary data.

Still, the researchers collected detailed information on lifestyle and health factors to help rule out other possible reasons for the findings. It was also the first study to look at nutrients that may link UPFs to death.

Added sugars explained nearly 40 per cent of the association between UPFs and cardiovascular death. This is in keeping with the theory, and findings from a recent randomized controlled trial, that UPFs promote excessive calorie intake and weight gain.

How UPFs may cause harm

Besides added sugars, other components of UPFs may cause unfavourable health effects. Components introduced during processing may promote inflammation by altering the composition of our gut bacteria.

Ultra-processing strips foods of beneficial nutrients and phytochemicals. It also changes the structure of foods in a way that spikes blood sugar and insulin and also makes them less satiating, which can promote overconsumption.

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Heating and processing can also lead to the formation of compounds that may have harmful effects, especially with respect to cardiovascular disease.

Tips to eat fewer UPFs

Make a list of the UPFs you eat on a regular basis and put strategies in place to buy them less often.

Make a meal plan for the week to avoid reaching for highly processed prepared foods when pressed for time. Keep staples on hand that you can quickly turn into a healthy meal (e.g., canned fish and beans, canned tomatoes, frozen edamame, frozen vegetables).

Make homemade versions of the UPFs you rely on such as granola and energy bars, pasta sauce, soups, salad dressings and muffins. Roast a turkey breast for sandwiches and salads.

Replace highly processed snacks with whole and minimally processed ones. Kale chips, popcorn, unsweetened dried fruit and nuts and plain yogurt and berries are examples.

Read ingredient lists when buying packaged foods. As often as possible, choose ones with ingredients you’d find in your own pantry.

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Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private practice dietitian, is director of food and nutrition at Medcan. Follow her on Twitter @LeslieBeckRD

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Several Vitamins Recalled Due to Potential Metal Contamination, Including Products Sold at Costco and Walmart

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Several types of vitamins, including some popular brands sold at major retailers like Costco and Walmart, are being recalled due to the possible presence of metal fibers. Health Canada issued three recall statements on Friday, highlighting the affected products and advising consumers on the necessary steps.

Among the brands involved in the recall is Kirkland Signature, a staple at Costco, along with Webber Naturals and other brands sold at multiple retailers across Canada, including Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart.

The vitamins listed in the recall are:

  • Kirkland Signature: B100 Complex Timed Release
  • Life: Vitamin B Complex with Vitamin C
  • Option+ & Life: Prenatal Multi-vitamins 100 Tablets with Folic Acid, Spectrum Prenatal Postpartum, Multivitamins & Minerals Women, Spectrum Women 22 Vitamins & Minerals plus Lutein, Lycopene
  • Webber Naturals: B50 Complex Timed Release, Most Complete Multi Womens 50+ One Per Day, Most Complete Multi Mens 50+ One Per Day, Vitamin B50 Complex
  • Wellness by London Drugs, Option+ & Life: Multi Women/Femmes 50+ with Lycopene and Lutein Multivitamin and Mineral, Multivitamin & Minerals Women 50+, 50+ SPECTRUM Women/Femmes 50+ 23 Vitamins & Minerals plus Lutein, Lycopene
  • Wellquest, Equate, Option+, Wellness by London Drugs & Life: Vitamin B100 Complex, Timed Release
  • Natural Factors: Hi Potency B Complex, RevitalX, Super Multi® IRON FREE
  • VegiDay Vegan Organic ALL IN ONE: VegiDay Vegan Organic ALL IN ONE

Health Canada advises consumers who have purchased any of the affected products to consult their healthcare provider before discontinuing use and to monitor for any health concerns.

Customers with concerns or questions can contact the recall firm directly. Additionally, any side effects or health product safety complaints should be reported to Health Canada.

For more detailed information, you can access the three Health Canada notices, which are listed under the Factors Group of Nutritional Companies Inc. recall, on the Health Canada website.

This recall serves as a reminder to consumers to stay vigilant about product safety and to follow recall advisories to ensure their health and well-being.

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8 Tips for Incorporating More Fruits into Your Dessert

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Incorporating more fruits into your desserts is not just a way to enhance flavours, but also a smart approach to add nutritional value to your treats. While desserts are often indulged as guilty pleasures, introducing fruits can transform these moments into healthier delights, enriching them with vitamins, minerals, and fibres. Whether you’re a home cook looking to improve your family’s diet or a culinary expert aiming to innovate your menu, adding fruits offers a myriad of benefits. These range from boosting the aesthetic appeal of your dishes with vibrant colours to enhancing the natural sweetness with a lower calorie count.

The tips provided here will help you seamlessly integrate more fruits into your dessert recipes, making them irresistibly wholesome and appealing to all ages. This approach not only caters to the health-conscious consumer but also opens up a palette of fresh, tantalizing flavours that can redefine what dessert means.

Explore Variety

Diversity is key in enriching desserts with fruits. Experiment with different textures and flavours, from berries to tropical fruits. This variety ensures each bite is unique and delightful. Try combining sour cherries with sweet mangoes, or add citrus segments to balance richer desserts. Even blending frozen bananas into a creamy texture can mimic ice cream. Consider adding a double fudge bar frozen dessert to your fruit platter for an indulgent twist.

Use Fresh and Seasonal Fruits

Seasonal fruits offer the best in flavour and nutrition. Incorporate fresh, local produce into your desserts to capture peak tastiness. Fresh strawberries or peaches can elevate simple dishes like ice cream or cakes. Local farmers’ markets are ideal for finding the freshest options. Remember, the closer the fruit is grown to its consumption point, the more nutrients it retains. This approach supports local agriculture as well.

Make Fruit the Star

Create desserts where fruits are the main attraction. Dishes like fruit tarts or berry-packed pavlovas highlight the natural sweetness of fruits, reducing the need for added sugars. Let fruits dictate the dessert’s flavour profile and design, focusing on the natural colours to attract the eye. This strategy can make even simple dishes feel luxurious and crafted with care. Plus, it often leads to lighter, less calorie-dense desserts.

Opt for Healthier Preparations

Instead of always baking or frying, try raw preparations or use healthier cooking methods like grilling or poaching. Grilled pineapple or poached pears offer a delightful texture and are easy to prepare. These methods preserve the integrity and nutritional value of the fruit better than baking or frying. Cooking fruit in this way can also unlock new flavours, enhancing your dessert experience. Try brushing fruit with a little honey or maple syrup before grilling for a caramelized finish.

Experiment with Spices

Spices can enhance the natural flavour of fruits. A dash of cinnamon, cardamom, or vanilla complements fruits like apples and pears beautifully, adding complexity to any dessert. Nutmeg and ginger are also excellent with juicy fruits like peaches and plums. Experimenting with spices can transform a simple fruit dish into an exotic and enticing dessert. Such additions are simple but effective ways to elevate the taste without added sugar.

Incorporate Dried Fruits

Dried fruits are concentrated in flavour and can be a great addition to desserts. Sprinkle raisins, dried cranberries, or chopped dates over oatmeal cookies or mix them into homemade granola bars for a chewy texture. Dried fruits work well in baked goods because they provide a burst of sweetness and texture. They are also perfect for decorating cakes and adding to snack mixes. Be mindful of the sugar content in store-bought dried fruits, opting for unsweetened varieties when available.

Create Colourful Fruit Layers

Layer fruits in parfaits, trifles, or cakes to create visually appealing and delicious desserts. Layers of colourful fruits not only look spectacular, but also offer varied flavours and textures. This layering technique can be applied in smoothie bowls and gelatin desserts for a stunning visual effect. Try to choose fruits that contrast in colour and texture for the most striking presentations. These desserts are particularly appealing to children and can make eating fruit more exciting for them.

Finish with A Healthy Twist

Top off your desserts with a nutritious twist, such as a dollop of Greek yogurt or a sprinkle of nuts and seeds for extra crunch and nutrients. These additions provide a contrast in textures and increase the health benefits of your dessert. Nuts add healthy fats and proteins, making the dessert more satisfying. Consider using a drizzle of natural sweeteners like honey or agave nectar to enhance flavour without resorting to refined sugars. Such finishes not only improve taste but also boost nutritional value, aligning with a healthier lifestyle.

Incorporating fruits into your desserts is an enjoyable way to make your sweet dishes healthier and more flavourful. By using fruits in various forms, from frozen to dried, and employing them in creative ways, such as natural sweeteners or vibrant toppings, you can transform any dessert into a delightful and nutritious treat. So next time you prepare a dessert, remember these tips and enjoy the added benefits of fruits in your culinary creations.

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5 Life-Transforming Tips to Make it More Fun-Filled

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Everyone wants to make the most out of life. From personal life to establishing a successful career, enjoyment is all that people crave the most. But the key to happiness is having fun most of the time. It can be challenging to find time and moments of fun in the routine as life becomes boring and dull for many.

However, you can cultivate your mindset and embrace more pleasure and laughter in your everyday routine. To transform your boring and dull life into a fun-filled one, here are a few tips that you can consider in this blog.

Read on to explore!

 

1.    Start Enjoying Little Moments

The fun doesn’t need to come from an extensive and spectacular event happening around your life all the time. There are so many small moments in your life that can turn into more fun. All you have to do is embrace those little times in your life and be happy.

For example, you can give yourself a little break from a hectic day and enjoy some chocolate. Or you can make time to enjoy things that you like.

 

2.    Be Spontaneous In Life

Just like life becomes unexpected most of the time, you can be a little unpredictable with it as well. To bring fun to your life, you can work on being more open to new and unplanned experiences.

If you get an invitation for any activity, event, or sport, don’t say no to it. Getting to indulge in more social activities will help you create new memories and experience new thrills in life.

 

3.    Bring a Furry Friend in Life

A boring life can easily distance you from fun. To embrace joy in life, having a furry company can do wonders. You can cherish love and warmth and have little moments of joy with a furry one.

If you don’t have a furry companion, you’re majorly missing joy. It’s time for you to look for the best puppy-selling company, such as Fou Fou Puppie’s website, to bring a cute puppy into your life.

 

4.    Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness will help you to live the present to the fullest. As most people worry more about their future, it makes them overlook the current joys of life.

What you can consider best to bring fun to your life is practicing mindfulness for at least 2 minutes. Let go of all the thoughts that pop into your head and focus on the positive aspects of living.

 

5.    Participate More in Fun Activities

There should be no excuse for having fun in life as there are many low-cost fun activities for the community that you can explore to have fun. It can be simple, but it prevents you from living a boring and less-inspiring life.

For example, you can call your group of friends to have coffee together and share more laughter, or you can go to the movies to unwind yourself. These activities will not cost you a fortune and allow you to make the most out of your day, week, and month.

 

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