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The updated labels are intended to be easier to read and understand. By Melissa Romero
Michelle Obama and the FDA announced a proposal on Thursday, February 27, to update the official Nutrition Facts labels to better reflect today’s health and nutrition research. Photographs courtesy of the FDA.

If all goes according to plan, nutrition labels will be getting a big makeover, thanks to a proposal issued by the US Food and Drug Administration and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Yesterday the FDA announced its proposal to update the Nutrition Facts label in order to better reflect the latest health and dietary research and allow consumers to make healthier food choices. “You as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,” Obama said in her announcement at the White House.

If the proposal gets approved, it would be the first time the labels have been updated since 2006. The Nutrition Facts labels first appeared on food packages 20 years ago.

The proposal is the First Lady’s latest efforts to prioritize healthy eating as part of her Let’s Move! initiative, which recently celebrated its four-year anniversary.

Here are some of the major changes proposed by the FDA:

• Include the number of grams of added sugar

• Increase the font size of number of servings per container and calories. The serving size requirements will be updated to reflect how much people actually eat today.

• Include information about certain nutrients the US population typically does not get enough of in their diets, such as potassium and vitamin D. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required on labels.

• Remove “calories from fat,” as “research shows that the type of fat is more important than the amount,” the FDA wrote in its proposal.

The changes will not go into effect immediately. The FDA is accepting public comment on the proposal for the next 90 days.

Posted at 10:03 AM/ET, 02/28/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Add these veggies to your diet to cleanse your system naturally. By Melissa Romero

You already know vegetables are good for you. What you may not know, however, is that certain veggies—many that often get overlooked at the grocery store—contain the highest levels of detoxifying properties. We rounded up five vegetables that do the best job at ridding your body of toxins and bacteria and leave you squeaky clean and healthy.

Fennel

Don’t just go for fennel seeds—the plant’s bulb, leaves, and stalks are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and potassium, too. Fennel is known for its anti-inflammatory, liver- and colon-protecting properties. The seeds are often used to ease digestive pain.

Artichokes

Artichokes contain some of the highest levels of antioxidants, coming in seventh on the US Department of Agriculture’s top 20 antioxidant-rich foods list. Studies show that the intimidating-looking vegetable also lowers cholesterol and relieves gastrointestinal problems.

Collard greens

They’re in the same family as kale and broccoli, so you can bet they contain plenty of health benefits, too. These greens are high in vitamins K, A, and C, and have been shown to outshine kale for cholesterol-lowing abilities. One cup contains more than five grams of fiber, which makes it a great source of digestive support.

Kale

There’s no denying kale’s powerful detoxing benefits. One cup of the leafy green contains 1,328 percent of your recommended daily value of vitamin K, more than 300 percent of vitamin A, and 89 percent of vitamin C. Studies strongly link kale to cancer prevention and heart health. (Also try: broccoli.)

Beets

The richly colored root contains betalains, phytonutrients that help detoxify and have anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. Note, however, that the longer you cook beets, the more betalain damage they incur. Stick to 15 to 20 minutes of steaming or boiling, and 45 minutes or less for roasting.

Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 01/13/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
From thicker running shoes to the new Sriracha sauce, there's plenty to look forward to in health and fitness in the new year. By Melissa Romero
A recent survey found that gochujang, a fermented Korean condiment, is likely to be a popular flavor in 2014. Other health, nutrition, and fitness trends expected for the new year are high-intensity interval training, non-minimalist shoes, and more kombucha. Photograph by Flickr user KayOne73.

In 2012 we looked into our crystal ball and checked out what was in store for health and fitness in 2013. Our predictions were right on the mark, from the explosion of more themed races to the growth of Paleo dieters. Here, we anticipate seven trends to expect next year, from new exotic flavors in healthy dishes, to even more stylish workout clothes, to a new crop of running shoes that could change the face of the minimalist movement. 

More exotic flavors
Step aside, Sriracha, there's a new spicy sauce in town. A recent survey conducted by Sensient Flavors says gochujang, a fermented Korean condiment, is going to be popular in 2014. Other flavors expected to rise in the ranks: rhubarb, green coconut, and burnt calamansi. 

High-intensity interval training
The workout that involves short, high-intensity bursts of exercise is going to be the top workout of 2014, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. However, health professionals surveyed cautioned that with the rise of this type of training comes high injury rates. 

A boutique gym for every neighborhood
Goodbye gym chains, hello boutique studios. We love that almost every neighborhood in Washington has become home to small gyms that offer group fitness classes in intimate settings. And there are plenty more studios on the way for 2014

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Posted at 10:30 AM/ET, 12/23/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
You’ll have to go elsewhere to find the Greek yogurt. By Melissa Romero
Whole Foods Market announced today it will stop selling Chobani yogurt products in early 2014 since they contain genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs. Photograph by Flickr user Provisions.

Need to satisfy a craving for Chobani Greek yogurt? Don’t go to Whole Foods.

Whole Foods Market announced Wednesday it will stop selling Chobani yogurts by early 2014 since the yogurt company’s products contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. In a statement, it said the phaseout of Chobani will allow them to “make room for product choices that aren’t readily available on the market.”

The decision is part of the grocer’s plans to sell more non-GMO products. In March 2013, it began labeling its products to indicate whether they contained GMOs. Its goal is to label all products by 2018. 

It hasn’t been the best time for Chobani, which had to issue a voluntary recall on its products in September due to a mold problem. In response to the Whole Foods announcement, Chobani said, “Though we have limited distribution within Whole Foods, they have been a wonderful and an important partner of ours over the years.”

Posted at 04:00 PM/ET, 12/18/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
These simple foods can provide extra energy and prevent muscle soreness. By Melissa Romero
Some simple foods provide surprising benefits if eaten before a workout. Photographs via Shutterstock.

We all have our go-to pre-race foods, from a simple bowl of oatmeal to a peanut butter and banana sandwich. But those meals can be a little too filling right before boot camp. That’s where these surprising foods and drinks can help when you’re pressed for time. Read on to find out which foods you should eat to ensure an all-star workout at the gym.

Watermelon Juice
Forget Gatorade—researchers suspect that an amino acid called L-citrulline found in watermelon can provide relief to sore muscles after an intense workout. A study published earlier this year found that athletes reported less muscle soreness on days they drank watermelon juice. The same has been found of drinking cherry juice, which contains anti-inflammatory antioxidants.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Some runners take salt tabs when running in the heat to prevent muscle cramping, but salty food works too, according to a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. Researchers found that men who ate chicken noodle soup containing 1,362 milligrams of sodium before cycling in the heat retained more water and thus stayed hydrated during their workout. But note: The average recommended sodium intake is 2,300 milligrams per day.

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Posted at 12:11 PM/ET, 12/05/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Ongoing research shows energy drinks alter the way our hearts beat. By Melissa Romero
A study has found that energy drinks results in increased heart contractions one hour after consumption. Photograph via Shutterstock.

The controversy over energy drinks rages on with a statement recently released by a group of radiologists who determined that consumption of energy drinks leads to increased heart contraction rates.

“We’ve shown that energy drink consumption has a short-term impact on cardiac contractility,” said Dr. Jonas Dörner in a statement released by the Radiological Society of North America on Monday.

The results come on the heels of an ongoing national debate over the potential dangers of energy drinks. A 2013 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that the number of ER visits related to energy drink consumption has nearly doubled since 2007, with 20,783 patients admitted in 2011.

Researchers tested the effects of energy drinks on individuals’ hearts in a small study involving 18 men and women. Each participant underwent a cardiac MRI one hour before consuming an energy drink. Then they underwent a second MRI one hour after consuming an energy drink that contained 400 milligrams of taurine and 32 milligrams of caffeine, two main ingredients of energy drinks.

Results showed that one hour after drinking, the participants experienced significant increased heart contraction rates in the left ventricle. The left ventricle pumps blood to the aorta, which then distributes it to the rest of the body.

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Posted at 03:00 PM/ET, 12/04/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
New research explains the powerful benefits of regular consumption. By Melissa Romero
A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that eating nuts is inversely associated with mortality. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Good to know: There are 53 types of nuts in the world. Even better: The more you eat them, the more likely you’ll live longer.

That’s according to a study published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine that found an inverse association with the frequency of nut consumption and mortality over the course of the study. In fact, those who ate nuts seven or more times per week lowered their death rate by 20 percent.

The study followed 76,464 women and 42,498 men for 30 years, updating each participant’s diet and lifestyle variables whenever possible. To adjust for potential confounders, researchers excluded participants with a history of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or stroke, as well as those who had ever smoked or who had a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 or more than 40.

Results showed that those who reported eating nuts more frequently were leaner, less likely to smoke, and more likely to exercise, take multivitamins, and eat fruits and vegetables. Nut consumers were also less likely to gain weight.

The most surprising finding, however, was the significant inverse association observed between nut consumption and mortality. In addition to the 20 percent lower death rate among nut consumers, researchers noted inverse associations for most major causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases.

Although researchers noted that further study is needed to determine an exact cause-and-effect relationship, they noted that the findings join a “wealth” of data that support the health benefits of nuts for various chronic diseases. Past research has determined that thanks to nuts’ nutritional qualities—healthy fats, protein, fiber, and vitamins—consumption is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes, plus antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support.

Posted at 02:30 PM/ET, 11/22/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Water and a wooden spoon are the key to this simple process. By Melissa Romero, Anna Spiegel, Chris Campbell
Photograph by Chris Campbell.

Pomegranate season is in full swing, and we just can’t get enough of those yummy seeds, whether they’re tossed into salads, blended into smoothies, or simply eaten raw. But de-seeding a pomegranate has always been a messy hassle—until now. 

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Posted at 03:29 PM/ET, 11/15/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The billion-dollar company joins Naked Juice on the list of brands accused of false advertising. By Melissa Romero
A group has filed a $5 million class action lawsuit against BluePrint Juices and Hains Celestial Group for allegedly falsely advertising that its juices are 100 percent raw and unpasteurized. Photograph by Flickr user Lydia Fizz.

Uh-oh. Looks like the juicing industry has another Naked Juice situation on its hands. 

As reported by Law360, a group has brought a $5 million class-action lawsuit against Hain Celestial Group, the company behind BluePrint juices. Michael Stark et al. claim that despite the company’s advertisements, BluePrint juices are neither 100 percent raw nor unpasteurized. 

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Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 11/13/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
More than you probably want to know. By Melissa Romero
Halloween favorite Twix contains the most ingredients—28—compared to other top-selling candy in the US. Photographs courtesy of Shutterstock and Flickr users www.schoko-riegel.com, JonoTakesPhotos, Leonid Mamchenkov, mary_thompson, and Logan Brumm Photography and Design.

Debates about the best and worst Halloween candy can get pretty heated. But a recent conversation about the pros and cons of Almond Joy and candy corn had us thinking: What exactly are these treats made of? 

A lot of things, actually. We poked around and were not so pleased to find out that some of those bite-size treats contain almost 30 ingredients. Here’s the breakdown of this year’s top-selling Halloween candy, according to the National Confectioners’ Association. (For the record, candy corn didn’t make the list, but it contains about 18 ingredients.) 

Twix: 28 ingredients 
Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, skim milk, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, PGPR, artificial flavors), sugar, enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), palm oil, corn syrup, skim milk, dextrose, food starch-modified, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, soy lecithin, artificial flavor. May contain almonds.

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Posted at 03:00 PM/ET, 10/23/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()