Good Inside and OutSome analysts are predicting a coming backlash against omega-3-enhanced foods, but that sentiment certainly is not deterring the flow of such products onto store shelves, particularly in the baby food aisle.
The most-recent additions there not only have the nutritional enhancement of omega-3 fatty acid, but they also promise improved packaging. DHA plus+ baby foods claim to be the first full line of jar baby foods, including fruit, vegetable and dinner varieties, to contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) with the prebiotic inulin, and the first dry cereals to be offered in what manufacturer Beech-Nut Baby Foods calls Easy Pour packaging.
DHA plus+ jar and dry cereal foods contain DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found naturally in breast milk that “has been shown to support a baby’s mental and visual development.” Furthermore, nutrition experts believe it to be an important building block of the central nervous system.
A Little SeasoningCompanies continue to add seasonal offerings to their lineups, and the practice seems most notable in the beer category. For the winter, Anheuser-Busch is incorporating cherry and chocolate into its beverages.
Michelob Celebrate Cherry and Michelob Celebrate Chocolate are “a duo of richly aromatic, smooth, complex and balanced lagers,” explains the company, but the brews will only be available for a limited time. Each is 8.5% alcohol by volume.
The cherry lager is made with cherry juice and “aged on dark cherries, giving it a deep garnet color and the flavor of black cherries.” It is brewed with carapils caramel malts and European aroma hops.
“Celebrate” likewise is brewed with caramel malts, though with a variety of Hallertau/Tettnang and Alsace hops. Aging on real cocoa beans is purported to give it a chocolate aroma and a complex, dark cocoa taste.
Nutrition FruitionThe American Heart Association reports 30% of Americans take some form of antioxidant supplement, be it for immunity, skin nourishment or just overall health. Realizing that most antioxidant-abundant foods—fresh fruits, berries, vegetables, cereals and legumes—are not always convenient for on-the-go consumption, companies are starting to launch antioxidant-rich convenience items.
Abbott, for example, has introduced Fruitified ZonePerfect Nutrition Bars. These snacks claim to be all-natural, as well as an excellent source of protein and calcium and a good source of fiber. Furthermore, they contain 100% of the recommended daily value of antioxidant vitamins C and E.
Antioxidants are also appearing more in the beverage aisle. Pom Wonderful recently added to its line with Pom Light Pomegranate Wildberry White Tea. Light in taste, the product features a pomegranate antioxidant extract.
A Lifestyle ChangeHas “diet” become a newly foul four-letter word? Rumor has it that Kraft Foods will rename its South Beach Diet line. Reflecting that smarter food choices do not necessarily mean being on a diet, the new moniker is set to be South Beach Living. The simple fact is that fewer people are claiming to be on a diet, but the consumption of reduced-fat and lower-calorie foods is increasing—and not only in the home.
In fact, a recent study finds that schools offering the healthiest lunches see no decline in sales. The analysis examined five years of data for 330 Minnesota public school districts. It found that school lunch sales do not decline when healthier meals are served and that the more-nutritious lunches do not necessarily cost schools more to produce.
Caffeine CapitalsHealthSaver has announced its first “Caffeinated Cities Survey” and discovered that the most caffeinated city in the country is Chicago, with Tampa, Miami, Phoenix and Atlanta rounding out the top five. On the other side of the scale, the least caffeinated cities are San Francisco/Oakland, followed by Philadelphia, New York, Detroit and Baltimore.
Coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks, chocolate, pain relievers and caffeine pills were all among the sources. When evaluating caffeinated coffee consumption alone, it is probably no surprise to see Seattle ranking as the number-one city nationwide, with 58% of residents surveyed saying it would be the most difficult caffeine product to omit from their diet. HealthSaver explains that the survey sought to determine the caffeine consumption habits and attitudes of consumers across the U.S. and to learn more about cultural views and health benefits.
The survey notes that caffeine’s health benefits have been well-documented in recent years, with coffee and tea in particular emerging as health food sources that may lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, colon cancer and cirrhosis of the liver, in addition to lifting the mood, treating headaches and lowering the risk of cavities. It cites health care experts who claim caffeine enhances athleticism, endurance and performance.
“This survey is an eye-opening study into the daily habits of thousands of Americans and provides keen insight into consumption of many of our favorite products,” said Brad Eggleston, vice president of HealthSaver. “This ground-breaking research is an important tool to help educate about the health benefits of moderate caffeine consumption in the U. S.”
Half of all respondents across the country drink caffeinated coffee daily, well ahead of second-place caffeinated cola (21%). Men were most likely to say coffee would be the hardest to eliminate (47% vs. 42% of women). Overall, 71% of respondents claim they are not addicted to caffeine, though more women (31%) admit to an addiction than men (26%).
The Beverage BlameNot only are sugary sodas adding to the obesity crisis, fruit drinks, alcohol and a combination of other high-calorie beverages are playing a role, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill School of Public Health. Since 1965, the number of calories adults consume through beverages has nearly doubled, according to a UNC study published in the November issue of Obesity Research.
The study used nationally representative data to quantify both trends and patterns in beverage consumption among 46,576 American adults aged 19 and older. Patterns and trends of all beverages adults consumed were examined between 1965 and 2002.
Details reported in Pharma Investments, Ventures & Law Weekly, indicate that, over the 37 years, total daily intake of calories from beverages increased 94%, providing an average 21% of daily energy intake among U.S. adults. That amounts to an additional 222 calories from all beverages daily.
Between 1989 and 2002, the amount of water consumed stayed roughly the same; however, the average adult consumed an additional 21oz per day of other beverages.
“This has considerable implications for numerous health outcomes, including obesity and diabetes, as this is just adding several hundred calories daily to our overall caloric intake,” researchers said. Furthermore, “Regardless of beverage type—water, sodas, milk, orange juice or beer—those extra calories are not compensated for by a reduction in food intake.”
Data analyzed for this study came from the federally funded “Nationwide Food Con-sumption Surveys” of 1965 and 1977-1978 and the “National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys” of 1989-1994 and 1999-2002. As noted in previous studies, 23% more adults reported drinking soda between 1965 and 2002 (accounting for an additional 108 calories per day), while calories from whole-fat milk declined nearly 45% (from 119 calories per day in 1965 to 69 calories per day in 2002). Alcohol (up 73 calories per day) and fruit juice (up 20 calories per day) had considerable increases in their contribution to daily energy intake, as well.
From the December 3, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash newsletter. For information on subscribing to the PF e-Flash, visitwww.preparedfoods.com.
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