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Why doesn’t water help with spicy food? What about milk or beer?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/daniel-eldridge-1494633">Daniel Eldridge</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>Spicy foods taste spicy because they contain a family of compounds called capsaicinoids. Capsaicin is the major culprit. It’s found in chillies, jalapeños, cayenne pepper, and is even the active ingredient in <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31334983/">pepper spray</a>.</p> <p>Capsaicin doesn’t actually physically heat up your mouth. The burning sensation comes from receptors in the mouth reacting to capsaicin and sending a signal to the brain that something is very hot.</p> <p>That’s why the “hot” chilli sensation feels so real – we even respond by sweating. To alleviate the heat, you need to remove the capsaicin from your mouth.</p> <p>So why doesn’t drinking water help make that spicy feeling go away? And what would work better instead?</p> <h2>Water-loving and water-hating molecules</h2> <p>To help us choose what might wash the capsaicin away most effectively, it’s helpful to know that capsaicin is a hydrophobic molecule. That means it hates being in contact with water and will not easily mix with it.</p> <p>Look what happens when you try to mix hydrophobic sand with water.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/H8cj9CpHW7w?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>On the other hand, hydrophilic molecules love water and are very happy to mix with it.</p> <p>You’ve likely seen this before. You can easily dissolve hydrophilic sugar in water, but it’s hard to wash away hydrophobic oils from your pan using tap water alone.</p> <p>If you try to wash hydrophobic capsaicin away with water, it won’t be very effective, because hydrophilic and hydrophobic substances don’t mix.</p> <p>Going for iced water will be even less effective, as hydrophobic capsaicin is even less soluble in water at lower temperatures. You may get a temporary sense of relief while the cold liquid is in your mouth, but as soon as you swallow it, you’ll be back where you started.</p> <p>Instead, a good choice would be to consume something that is also hydrophobic. This is because of an old-but-true adage in chemistry that “like dissolves like”.</p> <p>The idea is that generally, hydrophobic substances will not dissolve in something hydrophilic – like water – but will dissolve in something that is also hydrophobic, as this video shows:</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/s5yfs-Pr_y8?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>My mouth is on fire. What should I drink instead of water?</h2> <p>A swig of oil would likely be effective, but is perhaps not so palatable.</p> <p>Milk makes for an ideal choice for two reasons.</p> <p>The first is that milk contains hydrophobic fats, which the capsaicin will more easily dissolve in, allowing it to be washed away.</p> <p>The second is that dairy products contain a protein called casein. Casein is an emulsifier, a substance that helps oils and water mix, as in this video:</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/S4XeQhZRLDE?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Casein plays a large role in keeping the fat mixed throughout your glass of milk, and it also has a strong affinity for capsaicin. It will readily wrap up and encapsulate capsaicin molecules and assist in carrying them away from the receptor. This relieves the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36510373/">burning sensation</a>.</p> <h2>OK but I hate drinking milk. What else can I try?</h2> <p>What about raita? This dish, commonly served with Indian curries, is made primarily from yoghurt. So aside from being its own culinary experience, raita is rich in fats, and therefore contains plenty of hydrophobic material. It also contains casein, which will again help lock up and remove the capsaicin.</p> <p>Ice cream would also work, as it contains both casein and large amounts of hydrophobic substances.</p> <p>Some studies have also shown that consuming <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9328490/">drinks with large amounts of sugar</a> can relieve spiciness.</p> <p>What about reaching for that ice cold beer?</p> <p>This is commonly suggested as a suitable approach to stop the burning. At first glance, this may seem a good idea because capsaicin is highly soluble in alcohol.</p> <p>However, most beers only contain between 4–6% alcohol. The bulk of the liquid in beer is water, which is hydrophilic and cannot wash away capsaicin. The small amount of alcohol in your beer would make it slightly more effective, but not to any great degree.</p> <p>Your curry and beer may taste great together, but that’s likely the only benefit.</p> <p>In truth, an alcoholic beverage is not going to help much unless you go for something with a much, much higher alcohol content, which comes with its own problems.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/226624/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/daniel-eldridge-1494633">Daniel Eldridge</a>, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image </em><em>credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-doesnt-water-help-with-spicy-food-what-about-milk-or-beer-226624">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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With all this bird flu around, how safe are eggs, chicken or milk?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/enzo-palombo-249510">Enzo Palombo</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>Recent outbreaks of bird flu – in <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/avian-flu-summary.htm">US dairy herds</a>, <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2024-06-04/third-victorian-poultry-farm-declares-outbreak-avian-influenza/103932694">poultry farms in Australia</a> and elsewhere, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/bird-flu-is-hitting-australian-poultry-farms-and-the-first-human-case-has-been-reported-in-victoria-heres-what-we-know-230691">isolated cases</a> <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2024/05/30/bird-flu-third-case-human-infection-caused-respiratory-symptoms/">in humans</a> – have raised the issue of food safety.</p> <p>So can the virus transfer from infected farm animals to contaminate milk, meat or eggs? How likely is this?</p> <p>And what do we need to think about to minimise our risk when shopping for or preparing food?</p> <h2>How safe is milk?</h2> <p>Bird flu (or avian influenza) is a bird disease caused by specific types of influenza virus. But the virus can also infect cows. <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/avian-flu-summary.htm">In the US</a>, for instance, to date more than 80 dairy herds in at least nine states have been infected with the H5N1 version of the virus.</p> <p>Investigations are <a href="https://www.aphis.usda.gov/livestock-poultry-disease/avian/avian-influenza/hpai-detections/livestock">under way</a> to confirm how this happened. But we do know infected birds can shed the virus in their saliva, nasal secretions and faeces. So bird flu can potentially contaminate animal-derived food products during processing and manufacturing.</p> <p>Indeed, fragments of bird flu genetic material (RNA) were found in <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-bird-flu-virus-fragments-get-into-milk-sold-in-stores-and-what-the-spread-of-h5n1-in-cows-means-for-the-dairy-industry-and-milk-drinkers-228689">cow’s milk</a> from the dairy herds associated with <a href="https://www.statnews.com/2024/05/30/bird-flu-third-case-human-infection-caused-respiratory-symptoms/">infected US farmers</a>.</p> <p>However, the spread of bird flu among cattle, and possibly to humans, is likely to have been caused through contact with <a href="https://www.agriculturedive.com/news/contaminated-milk-equipment-potential-source-of-bird-flu-spread-to-cattle/712555/">contaminated milking equipment</a>, not the milk itself.</p> <p>The test used to detect the virus in milk – which uses similar PCR technology to lab-based COVID tests – is also highly sensitive. This means it can detect very low levels of the bird flu RNA. But the test does not distinguish between live or inactivated virus, just that the RNA is present. So from this test alone, we cannot tell if the virus found in milk is infectious (and capable of infecting humans).</p> <p>Does that mean milk is safe to drink and won’t transmit bird flu? Yes and no.</p> <p>In Australia, where bird flu has not been reported in dairy cattle, the answer is yes. It is safe to drink milk and milk products made from Australian milk.</p> <p>In the US, the answer depends on whether the milk is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/B978184569216250013X?via%3Dihub">pasteurised</a>. We know pasteurisation is a common and reliable method of destroying concerning microbes, including influenza virus. Like most viruses, influenza virus (including bird flu virus) is inactivated by heat.</p> <p>Although there is little direct research on whether pasteurisation inactivates H5N1 in milk, we can extrapolate from what we know about heat inactivation of H5N1 in <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0362028X22060732?via%3Dihub">chicken</a> and <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2036-7481/13/4/60">eggs</a>.</p> <p>So we can be confident there is no risk of bird flu transmission via pasteurised milk or milk products.</p> <p>However, it’s another matter for unpasteurised or “raw” US milk or milk products. A recent <a href="https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2405495">study</a> showed mice fed raw milk contaminated with bird flu developed signs of illness. So to be on the safe side, it would be advisable to avoid raw milk products.</p> <h2>How about chicken?</h2> <p>Bird flu has caused sporadic outbreaks in wild birds and domestic poultry worldwide, including <a href="https://theconversation.com/bird-flu-is-hitting-australian-poultry-farms-and-the-first-human-case-has-been-reported-in-victoria-heres-what-we-know-230691">in Australia</a>. In recent weeks, there have been <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2024-06-04/third-victorian-poultry-farm-declares-outbreak-avian-influenza/103932694">three reported outbreaks</a> in <a href="https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/biosecurity/animal-diseases/poultry-diseases/avian-influenza-bird-flu#h2-0">Victorian poultry farms</a> (two with H7N3 bird flu, one with H7N9). There has been <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2024-05-23/bird-flu-detected-western-australia-chicken-farm/103880002">one</a> reported outbreak in <a href="https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/livestock-biosecurity/avian-influenza">Western Australia</a> (H9N2).</p> <p>The strains of bird flu identified in the Victorian and Western Australia outbreaks can cause human infection, although these <a href="https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/biosecurity/animal-diseases/poultry-diseases/avian-influenza-bird-flu#h2-8">are rare</a> and typically result from close contact with infected live birds or <a href="https://www.who.int/emergencies/situations/avian-influenza-a-(h7n9)-virus-outbreak">contaminated environments</a>.</p> <p>Therefore, the chance of bird flu transmission in chicken meat is remote.</p> <p>Nonetheless, it is timely to remind people to handle chicken meat with caution as many dangerous pathogens, such as <em>Salmonella</em> and <em>Campylobacter</em>, can be found on chicken carcasses.</p> <p>Always handle chicken meat carefully when shopping, transporting it home and storing it in the kitchen. For instance, make sure no meat juices cross-contaminate other items, consider using a cool bag when transporting meat, and refrigerate or freeze the meat within two hours.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/no-you-shouldnt-wash-raw-chicken-before-cooking-it-so-why-do-people-still-do-it-192723">Avoid washing your chicken</a> before cooking to prevent the spread of disease-causing microbes around the kitchen.</p> <p>Finally, cook chicken thoroughly as viruses (including bird flu) <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0362028X22060732?via%3Dihub">cannot survive</a> cooking temperatures.</p> <h2>Are eggs safe?</h2> <p>The recent Australian outbreaks have occurred in egg-laying or mixed poultry flocks, so concerns have been raised about bird flu transmission via contaminated chicken eggs.</p> <p>Can flu viruses contaminate chicken eggs and potentially spread bird flu? It appears so. A <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0196655306011862?via%3Dihub">report</a> from 2007 said it was feasible for influenza viruses to enter through the eggshell. This is because influenza virus particles are smaller (100 nanometres) than the pores in eggshells (at least 200 nm).</p> <p>So viruses could enter eggs and be protected from cleaning procedures designed to remove microbes from the egg surface.</p> <p>Therefore, like the advice about milk and meat, cooking eggs is best.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.fda.gov/food/egg-guidance-regulation-and-other-information/questions-and-answers-regarding-safety-eggs-during-highly-pathogenic-avian-influenza-outbreaks">US Food and Drug Administration</a> recommends cooking poultry, eggs and other animal products to the proper temperature and preventing cross-contamination between raw and cooked food.</p> <h2>In a nutshell</h2> <p>If you consume pasteurised milk products and thoroughly cook your chicken and eggs, there is nothing to worry about as bird flu is inactivated by heat.</p> <p>The real fear is that the virus will evolve into highly pathogenic versions that can be transmitted from <a href="https://theconversation.com/bird-flu-is-hitting-australian-poultry-farms-and-the-first-human-case-has-been-reported-in-victoria-heres-what-we-know-230691">human to human</a>.</p> <p>That scenario is much more frightening than any potential spread though food.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231280/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/enzo-palombo-249510">Enzo Palombo</a>, Professor of Microbiology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/with-all-this-bird-flu-around-how-safe-are-eggs-chicken-or-milk-231280">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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How do I keep my fruit, veggies and herbs fresh longer? Are there any ‘hacks’?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/senaka-ranadheera-199225">Senaka Ranadheera</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>We all know <a href="https://theconversation.com/frozen-canned-or-fermented-when-you-cant-shop-often-for-fresh-vegetables-what-are-the-best-alternatives-131678">fresh produce is good for us</a>, but fruit, vegetables and herbs have a tendency to perish quickly if left uneaten.</p> <p>This is because <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2212429219305188">even after harvesting</a>, produce from living plants tends to continue its biological processes. This includes respiration: producing energy from stored carbohydrates, proteins and fats while releasing carbon dioxide and water vapour. (Ever found a sprouting potato in your pantry?)</p> <p>On top of that, fresh produce also <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/journal/agriculture/special_issues/quality_safety_fresh_produce">spoils easily thanks to various microbes</a> – both harmless and ones that can cause disease, called pathogens.</p> <p>Simply chucking things in the fridge won’t solve the problem, as different types of plants will react differently to how they’re stored. So, how can you combat food waste and keep produce fresh for longer? Fortunately, there are some helpful tips.</p> <h2>Freshness and quality begin at the farm</h2> <p>Farmers always aim to harvest produce when it’s at an optimal condition, but both pre-harvest and post-harvest factors will affect freshness and quality even before you buy it.</p> <p>Pre-harvest factors are agricultural, such as climatic conditions, soil type and water availability. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2212429219305188">Post-harvest factors</a> include washing and cleaning after harvesting, transportation and distribution, processing and packaging, and storage.</p> <p>As consumers we can’t directly control these factors – sometimes the veggies we buy just won’t be as good. But we can look out for things that will affect the produce once we bring it home.</p> <p>One major thing to look out for is bruised, wounded or damaged produce. This can happen at any stage of post-harvest handling, and can really speed up the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814609001411">decay of your veggies and fruit</a>.</p> <p>Moisture loss through damaged skin speeds up deterioration and nutrient loss. The damage also makes it easier for <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2468014119301943">spoilage microbes</a> to get in.</p> <h2>To wash or not to wash?</h2> <p>You don’t need to wash your produce before storing it. A lot of what we buy has already been washed commercially. In fact, if you wash your produce and can’t get it completely dry, the added moisture could speed up decay in the fridge.</p> <p>But washing produce <a href="https://theconversation.com/do-we-really-have-to-wash-fruit-and-vegetables-53039">just before you use it</a> is important to remove dirt and pathogenic bugs.</p> <p>Don’t use vinegar in your washing water despite what you see on social media. Studies indicate <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16496573/">vinegar has no effect</a> on lowering microbial loads on fresh produce.</p> <p>Similarly, don’t use baking soda. Even though there’s some evidence baking soda <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jafc.7b03118">can remove pesticide residues</a> from the surface of some produce, it’s not advisable at home. Just use plain tap water.</p> <h2>Location, location, location</h2> <p>The main thing you need is the correct type of packaging and the correct location – you want to manage moisture loss, decay and ripening.</p> <p>The three main storage options are on the counter, in the fridge, or in a “cool, dry and dark place”, such as the pantry. Here are some common examples of produce and where best to put them.</p> <p>Bananas, onion, garlic, potatoes, sweet potato and whole pumpkin will do better in a dark pantry or cupboard. Don’t store potatoes and onions together: onions produce a gas called ethylene that makes potatoes spoil quicker, while the high moisture in potatoes spoils onions.</p> <p>In fact, don’t store fruits such as apples, pears, avocado and bananas together, because these fruits <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15538362.2013.748378#:%7E:text=%27Malindi%27%20had%20higher%20respiration%20rates,retention%20in%20fruit%20during%20ripening">release ethylene gas</a> as they ripen, making nearby fruits ripen (and potentially spoil) much faster. That is, unless you <em>do</em> want to ripen your fruits fast.</p> <p>All leafy greens, carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower and broccoli will do best in the low-humidity drawer (crisper) in the fridge. You can put them in perforated plastic bags to retain moisture but maintain air flow. But don’t put them in completely sealed bags because this can slow down ripening while <a href="https://ucanr.edu/sites/hdnmastergardeners/files/338860.pdf">trapping carbon dioxide</a>, leading to decay and bad smells.</p> <p>Some fruits will also do best in the fridge. For example, apples and citrus fruits such as oranges can keep fresh longer in the fridge (crisper drawer), although they can stay at room temperature for short periods. However, don’t store watermelon in the fridge for too long, as it will lose its flavour and deep red colour if kept refrigerated <a href="https://ucanr.edu/sites/hdnmastergardeners/files/338860.pdf">for longer than three days</a>.</p> <p>Most herbs and some leafy vegetables – like celery, spring onions and asparagus – can be kept with stems in water to keep them crisp. Keep them in a well-ventilated area and away from direct sunlight, so they don’t get too warm and wilt.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cHu10C1DAds?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Experimenting at home is a good way to find the best ways to store your produce.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Fight food waste and experiment</h2> <p><strong>Don’t buy too much.</strong> Whenever possible, buy only small amounts so that you don’t need to worry about keeping them fresh. Never buy bruised, wounded or damaged produce if you plan to keep it around for more than a day.</p> <p><strong>“Process” your veggies for storage.</strong> If you do buy a large quantity – maybe a bulk option was on sale – consider turning the produce into something you can keep for longer. For example, banana puree made from really ripe bananas can be <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0023643817300853">stored for up to 14 days at 4°C</a>. You can use <a href="https://theconversation.com/frozen-canned-or-fermented-when-you-cant-shop-often-for-fresh-vegetables-what-are-the-best-alternatives-131678">freezing, blanching, fermentation and canning</a> for most vegetables.</p> <p><strong>Consider vacuum sealing.</strong> Vacuum packaging of vegetables and berries can keep them fresh longer, as well. For example, vacuum-sealed beans can keep up to 16 months in the fridge, but will last only about <a href="https://www.vacpac.com.au/vacuum-sealed-life-expectancy-how-long-will-my-vacuum-sealed-products-last">four weeks in the fridge unsealed</a>.</p> <p><strong>Keep track.</strong> Arrange your fridge so you can see the produce easily and use it all before it loses freshness.</p> <p><strong>Experiment with storage hacks.</strong> Social media is full of tips and hacks on how best to store produce. Turn your kitchen into a lab and try out any tips you’re curious about – they might just work. You can even use these experiments as a way to teach your kids about the importance of reducing food waste.</p> <p><strong>Grow some of your own.</strong> This isn’t <a href="https://theconversation.com/growing-your-own-food-and-foraging-can-help-tackle-your-ballooning-grocery-bill-heres-how-216264">feasible for all of us</a>, but you can always try having some herbs in pots so you don’t need to worry about keeping them fresh or using up a giant bunch of mint all at once. <a href="https://theconversation.com/health-check-are-microgreens-better-for-you-than-regular-greens-73950">Growing your own microgreens</a> could be handy, too.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/226763/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/senaka-ranadheera-199225">Senaka Ranadheera</a>, Associate Professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-do-i-keep-my-fruit-veggies-and-herbs-fresh-longer-are-there-any-hacks-226763">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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What’s the difference between vegan and vegetarian?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katherine-livingstone-324808">Katherine Livingstone</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>Vegan and vegetarian diets are <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-023-03086-z">plant-based diets</a>. Both include plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.</p> <p>But there are important differences, and knowing what you can and can’t eat when it comes to a vegan and vegetarian diet can be confusing.</p> <p>So, what’s the main difference?</p> <h2>What’s a vegan diet?</h2> <p>A <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-023-03086-z">vegan diet</a> is an entirely plant-based diet. It doesn’t include any meat and animal products. So, no meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy or honey.</p> <h2>What’s a vegetarian diet?</h2> <p>A <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-023-03086-z">vegetarian diet</a> is a plant-based diet that generally excludes meat, poultry, fish and seafood, but can include animal products. So, unlike a vegan diet, a vegetarian diet can include eggs, dairy and honey.</p> <p>But you may be wondering why you’ve heard of vegetarians who eat fish, vegetarians who don’t eat eggs, vegetarians who don’t eat dairy, and even vegetarians who eat some meat. Well, it’s because there are variations on a vegetarian diet:</p> <ul> <li> <p>a <strong>lacto-ovo vegetarian</strong> diet excludes meat, poultry, fish and seafood, but includes eggs, dairy and honey</p> </li> <li> <p>an <strong>ovo-vegetarian</strong> diet excludes meat, poultry, fish, seafood and dairy, but includes eggs and honey</p> </li> <li> <p>a <strong>lacto-vegetarian</strong> diet excludes meat, poultry, fish, seafood and eggs, but includes dairy and honey</p> </li> <li> <p>a <strong>pescatarian</strong> diet excludes meat and poultry, but includes eggs, dairy, honey, fish and seafood</p> </li> <li> <p>a <strong>flexitarian</strong>, or semi-vegetarian diet, includes eggs, dairy and honey and may include small amounts of meat, poultry, fish and seafood.</p> </li> </ul> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/594474/original/file-20240516-16-wjg71m.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/594474/original/file-20240516-16-wjg71m.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/594474/original/file-20240516-16-wjg71m.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=456&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/594474/original/file-20240516-16-wjg71m.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=456&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/594474/original/file-20240516-16-wjg71m.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=456&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/594474/original/file-20240516-16-wjg71m.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=573&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/594474/original/file-20240516-16-wjg71m.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=573&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/594474/original/file-20240516-16-wjg71m.png?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=573&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption></figcaption></figure> <h2>Are these diets healthy?</h2> <p>A <a href="https://academic.oup.com/eurheartj/article/44/36/3423/7224412">2023 review</a> looked at the health effects of vegetarian and vegan diets from two types of study.</p> <p>Observational studies followed people over the years to see how their diets were linked to their health. In these studies, eating a vegetarian diet was associated with a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease (such as heart disease or a stroke), diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), dementia and cancer.</p> <p>For example, in a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002916523054497?via%3Dihub">study</a> of 44,561 participants, the risk of heart disease was 32% lower in vegetarians than non-vegetarians after an average follow-up of nearly 12 years.</p> <p>Further evidence came from randomised controlled trials. These instruct study participants to eat a specific diet for a specific period of time and monitor their health throughout. These studies showed eating a vegetarian or vegan diet led to reductions in weight, blood pressure, and levels of unhealthy cholesterol.</p> <p>For example, one <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1832195">analysis</a> combined data from seven randomised controlled trials. This so-called meta-analysis included data from 311 participants. It showed eating a vegetarian diet was associated with a systolic blood pressure (the first number in your blood pressure reading) an average 5 mmHg lower compared with non-vegetarian diets.</p> <p>It seems vegetarian diets are more likely to be healthier, across a number of measures.</p> <p>For example, a 2022 <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-022-02942-8">meta-analysis</a> combined the results of several observational studies. It concluded a vegetarian diet, rather than vegan diet, was recommended to prevent heart disease.</p> <p>There is also <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13668-024-00533-z">evidence</a> vegans are more likely to have bone fractures than vegetarians. This could be partly due to a lower body-mass index and a lower intake of nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D and protein.</p> <h2>But it can be about more than just food</h2> <p>Many vegans, where possible, do not use products that directly or indirectly involve using animals.</p> <p>So vegans would not wear leather, wool or silk clothing, for example. And they would not use soaps or candles made from beeswax, or use products tested on animals.</p> <p>The motivation for following a vegan or vegetarian diet can vary from person to person. Common motivations <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2475299123157957">include</a> health, environmental, ethical, religious or economic reasons.</p> <p>And for many people who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, this forms a central part of their <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9231820/">identity</a>.</p> <h2>So, should I adopt a vegan or vegetarian diet?</h2> <p>If you are thinking about a vegan or vegetarian diet, here are some things to consider:</p> <ul> <li> <p>eating more plant foods does not automatically mean you are eating a healthier diet. Hot chips, biscuits and soft drinks can all be vegan or vegetarian foods. And many <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-looked-at-700-plant-based-foods-to-see-how-healthy-they-really-are-heres-what-we-found-222991">plant-based alternatives</a>, such as plant-based sausages, can be high in added salt</p> </li> <li> <p>meeting the <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/nutrient-reference-values/nutrients">nutrient intake targets</a> for vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and iodine requires more careful planning while on a vegan or vegetarian diet. This is because meat, seafood and animal products are good sources of these vitamins and minerals</p> </li> <li> <p>eating a plant-based diet doesn’t necessarily mean <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-you-should-eat-a-plant-based-diet-but-that-doesnt-mean-being-a-vegetarian-78470">excluding</a> all meat and animal products. A healthy flexitarian diet prioritises eating more whole plant-foods, such as vegetables and beans, and less processed meat, such as bacon and sausages</p> </li> <li> <p>the <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-dietary-guidelines-1-5">Australian Dietary Guidelines</a> recommend eating a wide variety of foods from the five food groups (fruit, vegetables, cereals, lean meat and/or their alternatives and reduced-fat dairy products and/or their alternatives). So if you are eating animal products, choose lean, reduced-fat meats and dairy products and limit processed meats.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225275/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> </li> </ul> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katherine-livingstone-324808">Katherine Livingstone</a>, NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/whats-the-difference-between-vegan-and-vegetarian-225275">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

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Cost of living: if you can’t afford as much fresh produce, are canned veggies or frozen fruit just as good?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/evangeline-mantzioris-153250">Evangeline Mantzioris</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180"><em>University of South Australia</em></a></em></p> <p>The cost of living crisis is affecting how we spend our money. For many people, this means tightening the budget on the weekly supermarket shop.</p> <p>One victim may be fresh fruit and vegetables. Data from the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/australians-consuming-fewer-vegetables-fruit-and-less-milk#:%7E:text=Paul%20Atyeo%2C%20ABS%20health%20statistics,278%20to%20267%20to%20grams.%E2%80%9D">Australian Bureau of Statistics</a> (ABS) suggests Australians were consuming fewer fruit and vegetables in 2022–23 than the year before.</p> <p>The cost of living is likely compounding a problem that exists already – on the whole, Australians don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables. <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating">Australian dietary guidelines</a> recommend people aged nine and older should consume <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/fruit">two</a> serves of fruit and <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/vegetables-and-legumes-beans">five</a> serves of vegetables each day for optimal health. But in 2022 the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/dietary-behaviour/latest-release">ABS reported</a> only 4% of Australians met the recommendations for both fruit and vegetable consumption.</p> <p>Fruit and vegetables are crucial for a healthy, balanced diet, providing a range of <a href="https://theconversation.com/were-told-to-eat-a-rainbow-of-fruit-and-vegetables-heres-what-each-colour-does-in-our-body-191337">vitamins</a> and minerals as well as fibre.</p> <p>If you can’t afford as much fresh produce at the moment, there are other ways to ensure you still get the benefits of these food groups. You might even be able to increase your intake of fruit and vegetables.</p> <h2>Frozen</h2> <p>Fresh produce is often touted as being the most nutritious (think of the old adage “fresh is best”). But this is not necessarily true.</p> <p>Nutrients can decline in transit from the paddock to your kitchen, and while the produce is stored in your fridge. Frozen vegetables may actually be higher in some nutrients such as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25526594/">vitamin C and E</a> as they are snap frozen very close to the time of harvest. Variations in transport and storage can affect this slightly.</p> <p><a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jf504890k">Minerals</a> such as calcium, iron and magnesium stay at similar levels in frozen produce compared to fresh.</p> <p>Another advantage to frozen vegetables and fruit is the potential to reduce food waste, as you can use only what you need at the time.</p> <p>As well as buying frozen fruit and vegetables from the supermarket, you can freeze produce yourself at home if you have an oversupply from the garden, or when produce may be cheaper.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.growveg.com.au/guides/freezing-vegetables-and-herbs-the-garden-foodie-version/">quick blanching</a> prior to freezing can improve the safety and quality of the produce. This is when food is briefly submerged in boiling water or steamed for a short time.</p> <p>Frozen vegetables won’t be suitable for salads but can be eaten roasted or steamed and used for soups, stews, casseroles, curries, pies and quiches. Frozen fruits can be added to breakfast dishes (with cereal or youghurt) or used in cooking for fruit pies and cakes, for example.</p> <h2>Canned</h2> <p>Canned vegetables and fruit similarly often offer a cheaper alternative to fresh produce. They’re also very convenient to have on hand. The <a href="https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can#gsc.tab=0">canning process</a> is the preservation technique, so there’s no need to add any additional preservatives, including salt.</p> <p>Due to the cooking process, levels of heat-sensitive nutrients <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jsfa.2825">such as vitamin C</a> will decline a little compared to fresh produce. When you’re using canned vegetables in a hot dish, you can add them later in the cooking process to reduce the amount of nutrient loss.</p> <p>To minimise waste, you can freeze the portion you don’t need.</p> <h2>Fermented</h2> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723656/">Fermentation</a> has recently come into fashion, but it’s actually one of the oldest food processing and preservation techniques.</p> <p>Fermentation largely retains the vitamins and minerals in fresh vegetables. But fermentation may also enhance the food’s nutritional profile by creating new nutrients and allowing existing ones to be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9352655/">absorbed more easily</a>.</p> <p>Further, fermented foods contain probiotics, which are beneficial for our <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10051273/">gut microbiome</a>.</p> <h2>5 other tips to get your fresh fix</h2> <p>Although alternatives to fresh such as canned or frozen fruit and vegetables are good substitutes, if you’re looking to get more fresh produce into your diet on a tight budget, here are some things you can do.</p> <p><strong>1. Buy in season</strong></p> <p>Based on supply and demand principles, buying local seasonal vegetables and fruit will always be cheaper than those that are imported out of season from other countries.</p> <p><strong>2. Don’t shun the ugly fruit and vegetables</strong></p> <p>Most supermarkets now sell “ugly” fruit and vegetables, that are not physically perfect in some way. This does not affect the levels of nutrients in them at all, or their taste.</p> <p><strong>3. Reduce waste</strong></p> <p>On average, an Australian household throws out <a href="https://www.ozharvest.org/food-waste-facts/">A$2,000–$2,500</a> worth of food every year. Fruit, vegetables and bagged salad are the <a href="https://www.ozharvest.org/food-waste-facts/">three of the top five foods</a> thrown out in our homes. So properly managing fresh produce could help you save money (and benefit <a href="https://endfoodwaste.com.au/why-end-food-waste/">the environment</a>).</p> <p>To minimise waste, plan your meals and shopping ahead of time. And if you don’t think you’re going to get to eat the fruit and vegetables you have before they go off, freeze them.</p> <p><strong>4. Swap and share</strong></p> <p>There are many websites and apps which offer the opportunity to swap or even pick up free fresh produce if people have more than they need. Some <a href="https://www.charlessturt.sa.gov.au/environment/sustainable-lifestyles/community-fruit-and-vege-swaps">local councils are also encouraging</a> swaps on their websites, so dig around and see what you can find in your local area.</p> <p><strong>5. Gardening</strong></p> <p>Regardless of how small your garden is you can always <a href="https://www.gardeningaustraliamag.com.au/best-vegies-grow-pots/">plant produce in pots</a>. Herbs, rocket, cherry tomatoes, chillies and strawberries all grow well. In the long run, these will offset some of your cost on fresh produce.</p> <p>Plus, when you have put the effort in to grow your own produce, <a href="https://mdpi-res.com/sustainability/sustainability-07-02695/article_deploy/sustainability-07-02695.pdf?version=1425549154">you are less likely to waste it</a>.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/229724/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/evangeline-mantzioris-153250"><em>Evangeline Mantzioris</em></a><em>, Program Director of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Accredited Practising Dietitian, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/cost-of-living-if-you-cant-afford-as-much-fresh-produce-are-canned-veggies-or-frozen-fruit-just-as-good-229724">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

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Why a cold beer is best – chemically speaking

<p>A quiet moment in a bar has led two researchers to study how alcohol tastes at different temperatures. No, this is real science.</p> <div class="copy"> <p>“Two years ago, Xiaotao Yang and I were drinking beer together. He had just finished his doctorate degree thesis and asked me, ‘what should we do next?’” says Lei Jiang, lead author of a new study <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.matt.2024.03.017" target="_blank" rel="noopener">published</a> in the materials science journal <em>Matter</em>.</p> <p>Yang and Jiang are material scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.</p> <p>“At the time, I was a scientific committee member of one of the biggest Chinese alcoholic beverage companies, and I had the idea to ask the question ‘why does Chinese baijiu have a very particular concentration of alcohol, either 38%–42%, 52%–53%, or 68%–75%?’”</p> <p>Baijiu is a clear grain liquor from East Asia. It’s typically distilled from fermented sorghum (a type of grass), though it is also sometimes made from rice, wheat, barley or millet.</p> <p>“Then we decided, let’s try something, so I put a drop of beer on my hand to see the contact angle,” says Jiang.</p> <p>Contact angle is a measure of surface tension. For example, water has a low contact angle which is why it appears bead-like when placed on a surface. Solutions with high <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/body-and-mind/debunks-vices-alcohol/">alcohol</a> concentration, however, have a higher contact angle meaning they flatten and spread out.</p> <p>Contact angle also reveals how molecules within the droplet interact with each other and the surface below.</p> <p>After plotting the concentration of ethanol (alcohol) against contact angle, the scientists were surprised with what they found. There is no linear relationship between alcohol concentration and contact angle.</p> <p>Instead, increasing the amount of alcohol leads to a series of plateaus and sharp rises in the plot. Further experiments showed that this arises out of the formation of clusters of ethanol and water in the solutions.</p> <p>At low concentrations, ethanol forms pyramid-like structures around the water molecules. At high concentrations, the ethanol molecules arrange end-to-end in a chain.</p> <p>They also found that these structures change depending on temperature.</p> <p>For example, 38%–42% and 52%–53% ethanol solutions have distinct cluster structures at around room temperature, but this difference disappears at higher temperatures, like 40°C.</p> <p>“Although there is only 1% difference, the taste of baijiu at 51% and 52% is noticeably different; the taste of baijiu at 51% is similar to that of lower alcohol content, such as 38%–42%. So, in order to achieve the same taste at a lower alcohol content, the distribution of baijiu products ranges most within the 38%–42% and 52%–53% categories,” says Jiang.</p> <p>The researchers also found that there is an increase in ethanol chains at 5°C in 5% and 11% ethanol solutions – the concentration range of beer – giving it a more “ethanol-like” taste which is generally preferred.</p> <p>“At low temperature, the tetrahedral (pyramid-shaped) clusters become the low concentration amount, and this is why we drink cold beer,” says Jiang.</p> <p>The researchers say their research could help beverage companies produce the best flavour with the lowest alcohol concentration.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <div> <p align="center"><noscript data-spai="1"><em><img decoding="async" fetchpriority="high" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-198773" src="https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/spai/q_lossy+ret_img+to_auto/cosmosmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/Cosmos-Catch-Up-embed_728x150-1.jpg" data-spai-egr="1" alt="Sign up to our weekly newsletter" width="600" height="154" title="why a cold beer is best – chemically speaking 2"></em></noscript></p> </div> <p><em><!-- Start of tracking content syndication. Please do not remove this section as it allows us to keep track of republished articles --> <img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=303282&amp;title=Why+a+cold+beer+is+best+%E2%80%93+chemically+speaking" width="1" height="1" loading="lazy" aria-label="Syndication Tracker" data-spai-target="src" data-spai-orig="" data-spai-exclude="nocdn" /> <!-- End of tracking content syndication --></em></div> <div id="contributors"> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/chemistry/beer-taste-temperature/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/evrim-yazgin/">Evrim Yazgin</a>. </em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

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Want to reduce your dementia risk? Eat these 4 foods, says new study

<p>If you are what you eat, this might make you hungrier for foods that are bright in every sense. Research has shown that living, vibrant foods can slow down aging at a cellular level; while fruit and vegetables in particular have been associated with lower incidence of cognitive decline as individuals age.</p> <p>However, research has been relatively lacking on just how much of these brain-healthy foods you really need and which fruit and vegetables are best for the job.</p> <p>In collaboration with public health experts at Harvard University, medical researchers at China’s Zhejiang University School of Medicine conducted a meta-analysis that’s slated to be published in the June 2024 issue of <em>The Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging</em>. They combined data from two large-scale population-representative studies that analysed the diets and cognitive function of more than 10,000 participants ages 55 and older from China and the US.</p> <h2>What daily diets revealed</h2> <p>The data included diet questionnaires that honed in on the average of participants’ total daily intake of several different types of foods, including fruit and vegetables, and also broke them down into sub-types like green leafy vegetables and berries. Over a period of five years, the participants also took part in activities designed to assess their cognitive function and the average rate of cognitive decline.</p> <p>Overall, participants who included the most fruit and vegetables in their daily diets performed best on the brain tests and maintained those results over time. This suggested that both fruit and vegetables had protective elements that slowed cognitive decline.</p> <h2>Vegetables that help protect cognition</h2> <p>Interestingly, certain types of vegetables appeared to be more beneficial than others—say the researchers: “Our findings support the potential beneficial roles of VF, especially cruciferous vegetables, green leafy vegetables, and red and yellow vegetables, in maintaining cognitive function and slowing cognitive decline in middle-aged and older adults.”</p> <p>The researchers pointed to several reasons these particular vegetables might have shown a substantial impact, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidation nutrients like flavonoids and various vitamins or even gut improvements that have been shown to help improve or protect cognition.</p> <p>While beans didn’t figure prominently in both studies, they showed a protective element in the US study, so they are also worth keeping on your plate. (Beans are also thought to be one of the top foods for longevity.)</p> <h2>Fruit that pack a punch</h2> <p>As for fruit, while some didn’t show as much of a protective effect across the board, berries and apples are two examples of fruit that experts have previously said provide major polyphenol and antioxidant effect.</p> <p>Participants whose brains maintained performance were shown to have eaten three or more servings of vegetables and two or more servings of fruit per day. This is on par with the five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit recommended we eat every day.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/want-to-reduce-your-dementia-risk-eat-these-4-foods-says-new-study" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Mind

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I can’t afford olive oil. What else can I use?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em></p> <p>If you buy your olive oil in bulk, you’ve likely been in for a shock in recent weeks. Major supermarkets have been selling olive oil for up to A$65 for a four-litre tin, and up to $26 for a 750 millilitre bottle.</p> <p>We’ve been hearing about the health benefits of olive oil for years. And many of us are adding it to salads, or baking and frying with it.</p> <p>But during a cost-of-living crisis, these high prices can put olive oil out of reach.</p> <p>Let’s take a look at why olive oil is in demand, why it’s so expensive right now, and what to do until prices come down.</p> <h2>Remind me, why is olive oil so good for you?</h2> <p>Including olive oil in your diet can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and improve heart health through more favourable <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/6/1548">blood pressure</a>, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/7/9/5356">inflammation</a> and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0939475319302662">cholesterol levels</a>.</p> <p>This is largely because olive oil is high in <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/4/12/1989">monounsaturated fatty acids</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8300823/">polyphenols</a> (antioxidants).</p> <p>Some researchers have suggested you can get these benefits from consuming up to <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2022.1041203/full">20 grams a day</a>. That’s equivalent to about five teaspoons of olive oil.</p> <h2>Why is olive oil so expensive right now?</h2> <p>A European heatwave and drought have <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2024-04-27/olive-oil-alternatives-what-you-can-use-in-cooking/103761718">limited</a> Spanish and Italian producers’ ability to supply olive oil to international markets, including Australia.</p> <p>This has been coupled with an unusually cold and short growing season for Australian <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2023-08-02/record-olive-oil-price-set-to-increase-again/102675452">olive oil suppliers</a>.</p> <p>The lower-than-usual production and supply of olive oil, together with heightened demand from shoppers, means prices have gone up.</p> <h2>How can I make my olive oil go further?</h2> <p>Many households buy olive oil in large quantities because it is cheaper per litre. So, if you have some still in stock, you can make it go further by:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>storing it correctly</strong> – make sure the lid is on tightly and it’s kept in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cabinet. If stored this way, olive oil can typically last <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6218649/">12–18 months</a></p> </li> <li> <p><strong>using a spray</strong> – sprays distribute oil more evenly than pourers, using less olive oil overall. You could buy a spray bottle to fill from a large tin, as needed</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>straining or freezing it</strong> – if you have leftover olive oil after frying, strain it and reuse it for other fried dishes. You could also freeze this used oil in an airtight container, then thaw and fry with it later, without affecting the oil’s <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00217-022-04078-9">taste and other characteristics</a>. But for dressings, only use fresh oil.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>I’ve run out of olive oil. What else can I use?</h2> <p>Here are some healthy and cheaper alternatives to olive oil:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>canola oil</strong> is a good alternative for frying. It’s relatively <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/canola-oil">low</a> in saturated fat so is generally considered healthy. Like olive oil, it is high in <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23731447/">healthy monounsaturated fats</a>. Cost? Up to $6 for a 750mL bottle (home brand is about half the price)</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>sunflower oil</strong> is a great alternative to use on salads or for frying. It has a mild flavour that does not overwhelm other ingredients. Some <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/conjugated-linoleic-acid-versus-higholeic-acid-sunflower-oil-effects-on-energy-metabolism-glucose-tolerance-blood-lipids-appetite-and-body-composition-in-regularly-exercising-individuals/6C035B5C6E9FD7C9D6D7F806ADA56983">studies</a> suggest using sunflower oil may help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and raising HDL (good) cholesterol. Cost? Up to $6.50 for a 750mL bottle (again, home brand is about half the price)</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>sesame oil</strong> has a nutty flavour. It’s good for Asian dressings, and frying. Light sesame oil is typically used as a neutral cooking oil, while the toasted type is used to flavour sauces. Sesame oil is <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.6428">high in</a> antioxidants and has some anti-inflammatory properties. Sesame oil is generally sold in smaller bottles than canola or sunflower oil. Cost? Up to $5 for a 150mL bottle.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>How can I use less oil, generally?</h2> <p>Using less oil in your cooking could keep your meals healthy. Here are some alternatives and cooking techniques:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>use alternatives for baking</strong> – unless you are making an olive oil cake, if your recipe calls for a large quantity of oil, try using an alternative such as apple sauce, Greek yoghurt or mashed banana</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>use non-stick cookware</strong> – using high-quality, non-stick pots and pans reduces the need for oil when cooking, or means you don’t need oil at all</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>steam instead</strong> – steam vegetables, fish and poultry to retain nutrients and moisture without adding oil</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>bake or roast</strong> – potatoes, vegetables or chicken can be baked or roasted rather than fried. You can still achieve crispy textures without needing excessive oil</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>grill</strong> – the natural fats in meat and vegetables can help keep ingredients moist, without using oil</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>use stock</strong> – instead of sautéing vegetables in oil, try using vegetable broth or stock to add flavour</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>try vinegar or citrus</strong> – use vinegar or citrus juice (such as lemon or lime) to add flavour to salads, marinades and sauces without relying on oil</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>use natural moisture</strong> – use the natural moisture in ingredients such as tomatoes, onions and mushrooms to cook dishes without adding extra oil. They release moisture as they cook, helping to prevent sticking.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228788/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> </li> </ul> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, Professor of Community Health and Wellbeing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-cant-afford-olive-oil-what-else-can-i-use-228788">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Culinary legend closing famous restaurant

<p>Australian chef and TV presenter Kylie Kwong is closing the doors of her famous restaurant after three years. </p> <p>The Sydney-based chef has been in the culinary industry for 30 years and is known for her unique blend of Cantonese cuisine and native Australian ingredients.</p> <p>Her restaurant, Lucky Kwong in South Eveleigh, will close on June 26, a tough decision that she had to make amid the high costs of running a business. </p> <p>“Everyone is feeling it. I have never seen the restaurant industry in such tough times as it is right now,” she told the <em>Sydney Morning Herald</em>. </p> <p>Despite this, Kwong said she was lucky to have been in the hospitality industry and that she plans to "relax and reflect" during her break from the restaurant business. </p> <p>"For all the many challenges that come with being in the hospitality industry, I consider myself fortunate for I have had far more positive experiences than negative," she said.</p> <p>Kwong opened her restaurant in 2021, after she shut the doors on her previous Sydney venue, Billy Kwong in 2019.</p> <p>She said that she also planned to further her work with charities focused on First Nations and multicultural communities, as she looks for more opportunities to  “amplify other people’s stories”. </p> <p>“I’ll still be very much connected to the food industry, but just I’ll be doing it in a different way,”  she told the<em> ABC</em>. </p> <p>She also announced that she's "hanging up my restaurateur hat" on <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C7KkTNgSXw9/?img_index=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Instagram</a>, and thanked everyone who has supported her throughout this journey. </p> <p>Celebrity chefs, Nigella Lawson and Darren Robertson shared their well-wishes on her post. </p> <p>“I feel a pang knowing that the next time I come back to Sydney there won’t be your restaurant to make a beeline for, but I’m so happy for you to have the time to do what’s right for you,” Lawson said.</p> <p>Robertson said he had massive respect for her contribution to Australian food and added: “Now try and get some bloody rest before your next adventures!" </p> <p><em>Image: Instagram</em></p>

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4 foods that ease heartburn

<p>Heartburn, acid reflux, GORD… whatever you want to call it, it’s not a pleasant thing to experience. Yet hundreds of thousands of us around the country suffer from heartburn each year. And while medication may be the solution for some, it’s not always the most effective option.</p> <p>So, you’ll be happy to learn that what you eat may ease your symptoms. Here are four of the best foods for heartburn.</p> <p><strong>1. Papaya</strong></p> <p>Papain, an enzyme found in papaya, has been proven to aid in digestion. In addition, the fibre content and proteolytic enzymes are a great source of short-chain fatty acids, which <a href="https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/handle/2142/29416" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">a recent study</span></strong></a> described as “the most important product of fermentation”, and an essential part of improving gut health.</p> <p><strong>2. Aloe vera juice</strong></p> <p>Aloe vera does much more than just ease sunburn or skin irritations – it’s been used to help ease constipation and treat type 2 diabetes and gastrointestinal disorders for centuries. “Its anti-inflammatory properties have been suggested to ease inflammation in the oesophagus caused by reflux,” Maria Bella, author of <em>The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Acid Reflux Diet</em>, tells <a href="http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/g4536/best-foods-for-acid-reflux/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Good Housekeeping</span></strong></a>.</p> <p><strong>3. Banana</strong></p> <p>Because of its low acidity, bananas are great for gastrointestinal discomfort, but they’re particularly good for heartburn as they can stick to the irritated oesophageal lining. “It forms a protective film that coats, protects and soothes,” digestive health expert Dr Gerard E. Mullin explains to <a href="http://www.prevention.com/food/foods-soothe-heartburn" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Prevention</span></strong></a>.</p> <p><strong>4. Cinnamon gum</strong></p> <p>By producing saliva, gum helps neutralise stomach acid. “It also leads to more frequent swallowing, which can move the irritating acid down the oesophagus more quickly,” Maria Bella says. Mint can make your symptoms worse, however, so stick to cinnamon, which <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20924865" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">studies show</span></strong></a> may have anti-inflammatory properties.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

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Not all ultra-processed foods are bad for your health, whatever you might have heard

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gary-sacks-3957">Gary Sacks</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kathryn-backholer-10739">Kathryn Backholer</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kathryn-bradbury-1532662">Kathryn Bradbury</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-auckland-waipapa-taumata-rau-1305">University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sally-mackay-1532685">Sally Mackay</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-auckland-waipapa-taumata-rau-1305">University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau</a></em></p> <p>In recent years, there’s been <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC11036430/">increasing</a> <a href="https://theconversation.com/ultra-processed-foods-heres-what-the-evidence-actually-says-about-them-220255#:%7E:text=Hype%20around%20ultra%2Dprocessed%20food,or%20worry%20about%20their%20health.">hype</a> about the potential health risks associated with so-called “ultra-processed” foods.</p> <p>But new evidence published <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/385/bmj-2023-078476">this week</a> found not all “ultra-processed” foods are linked to poor health. That includes the mass-produced wholegrain bread you buy from the supermarket.</p> <p>While this newly published research and associated <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/385/bmj.q793">editorial</a> are unlikely to end the wrangling about how best to define unhealthy foods and diets, it’s critical those debates don’t delay the implementation of policies that are likely to actually improve our diets.</p> <h2>What are ultra-processed foods?</h2> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30744710/">Ultra-processed foods</a> are industrially produced using a variety of processing techniques. They typically include ingredients that can’t be found in a home kitchen, such as preservatives, emulsifiers, sweeteners and/or artificial colours.</p> <p>Common examples of ultra-processed foods include packaged chips, flavoured yoghurts, soft drinks, sausages and mass-produced packaged wholegrain bread.</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7719194/#CR13">many other countries</a>, ultra-processed foods make up a large proportion of what people eat. A <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31676952/">recent study</a> estimated they make up an average of 42% of total energy intake in Australia.</p> <h2>How do ultra-processed foods affect our health?</h2> <p>Previous <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33167080/">studies</a> have linked increased consumption of ultra-processed food with poorer health. High consumption of ultra-processed food, for example, has been associated with a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38418082/">higher risk</a> of type 2 diabetes, and death from heart disease and stroke.</p> <p>Ultra-processed foods are typically high in energy, added sugars, salt and/or unhealthy fats. These have long been <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/healthy-diet">recognised</a> as risk factors for a range of diseases.</p> <p>It has also been suggested that structural changes that happen to ultra-processed foods as part of the manufacturing process <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31105044/">may</a> lead you to eat more than you should. Potential explanations are that, due to the way they’re made, the foods are quicker to eat and more palatable.</p> <p>It’s also <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35952706/">possible</a> certain food additives may impair normal body functions, such as the way our cells reproduce.</p> <h2>Is it harmful? It depends on the food’s nutrients</h2> <p>The <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/385/bmj-2023-078476">new paper</a> just published used 30 years of data from two large US cohort studies to evaluate the relationship between ultra-processed food consumption and long-term health. The study tried to disentangle the effects of the manufacturing process itself from the nutrient profile of foods.</p> <p>The study found a small increase in the risk of early death with higher ultra-processed food consumption.</p> <p>But importantly, the authors also looked at diet quality. They found that for people who had high quality diets (high in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, as well as healthy fats, and low in sugary drinks, salt, and red and processed meat), there was no clear association between the amount of ultra-processed food they ate and risk of premature death.</p> <p>This suggests overall diet quality has a stronger influence on long-term health than ultra-processed food consumption.</p> <p>When the researchers analysed ultra-processed foods by sub-category, mass-produced wholegrain products, such as supermarket wholegrain breads and wholegrain breakfast cereals, were not associated with poorer health.</p> <p>This finding matches another recent <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38417577/">study</a> that suggests ultra-processed wholegrain foods are not a driver of poor health.</p> <p>The authors concluded, while there was some support for limiting consumption of certain types of ultra-processed food for long-term health, not all ultra-processed food products should be universally restricted.</p> <h2>Should dietary guidelines advise against ultra-processed foods?</h2> <p>Existing national <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/2022-09/n55_australian_dietary_guidelines.pdf">dietary</a> <a href="https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/eating-activity-guidelines-new-zealand-adults-updated-2020-oct22.pdf">guidelines</a> have been developed and refined based on decades of nutrition evidence.</p> <p>Much of the recent evidence related to ultra-processed foods tells us what we already knew: that products like soft drinks, alcohol and processed meats are bad for health.</p> <p>Dietary guidelines <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35184508/">generally</a> already advise to eat mostly whole foods and to limit consumption of highly processed foods that are high in refined grains, saturated fat, sugar and salt.</p> <p>But some nutrition researchers have <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/384/bmj.q439">called</a> for dietary guidelines to be amended to recommend avoiding ultra-processed foods.</p> <p>Based on the available evidence, it would be difficult to justify adding a sweeping statement about avoiding all ultra-processed foods.</p> <p>Advice to avoid all ultra-processed foods would likely unfairly impact people on low-incomes, as many ultra-processed foods, such as supermarket breads, are relatively affordable and convenient.</p> <p>Wholegrain breads also provide important nutrients, such as fibre. In many countries, bread is the <a href="https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/a-focus-on-nutrition-ch3_0.pdf">biggest contributor</a> to fibre intake. So it would be problematic to recommend avoiding supermarket wholegrain bread just because it’s ultra-processed.</p> <h2>So how can we improve our diets?</h2> <p>There is strong <a href="https://www.foodpolicyindex.org.au/_files/ugd/7ee332_a2fa1694e42f423195caf581044fccf1.pdf">consensus</a> on the need to implement evidence-based policies to improve population diets. This includes legislation to restrict children’s exposure to the marketing of unhealthy foods and brands, mandatory Health Star Rating nutrition labelling and taxes on sugary drinks.</p> <p>These policies are underpinned by <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37659696/">well-established systems</a> for classifying the healthiness of foods. If new evidence unfolds about mechanisms by which ultra-processed foods drive health harms, these classification systems can be updated to reflect such evidence. If specific additives are found to be harmful to health, for example, this evidence can be incorporated into existing nutrient profiling systems, such as the <a href="http://www.healthstarrating.gov.au/internet/healthstarrating/publishing.nsf/content/home">Health Star Rating</a> food labelling scheme.</p> <p>Accordingly, policymakers can confidently progress food policy implementation using the tools for classifying the healthiness of foods that we already have.</p> <p>Unhealthy diets and obesity are among the <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/burden-of-disease/burden-of-disease-study-2018-key-findings/contents/key-findings">largest contributors</a> to poor health. We can’t let the hype and academic debate around “ultra-processed” foods delay implementation of globally recommended policies for improving population diets.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/229493/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gary-sacks-3957">Gary Sacks</a>, Professor of Public Health Policy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kathryn-backholer-10739">Kathryn Backholer</a>, Co-Director, Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kathryn-bradbury-1532662">Kathryn Bradbury</a>, Senior Research Fellow in the School of Population Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-auckland-waipapa-taumata-rau-1305">University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sally-mackay-1532685">Sally Mackay</a>, Senior Lecturer Epidemiology and Biostatistics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-auckland-waipapa-taumata-rau-1305">University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/not-all-ultra-processed-foods-are-bad-for-your-health-whatever-you-might-have-heard-229493">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Yes, adults can develop food allergies. Here are 4 types you need to know about

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/clare-collins-7316">Clare Collins</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-newcastle-1060">University of Newcastle</a></em></p> <p>If you didn’t have food allergies as a child, is it possible to develop them as an adult? The short answer is yes. But the reasons why are much more complicated.</p> <p>Preschoolers are about <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25316115/">four times more likely to have a food allergy</a> than adults and are more likely to grow out of it as they get older.</p> <p>It’s hard to get accurate figures on adult food allergy prevalence. The Australian National Allergy Council reports <a href="https://nationalallergycouncil.org.au/about-us/our-strategy">one in 50 adults</a> have food allergies. But a US survey suggested as many as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30646188/">one in ten adults</a> were allergic to at least one food, with some developing allergies in adulthood.</p> <h2>What is a food allergy</h2> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36509408/">Food allergies</a> are immune reactions involving <a href="https://www.aaaai.org/tools-for-the-public/allergy,-asthma-immunology-glossary/immunoglobulin-e-(ige)-defined">immunoglobulin E (IgE)</a> – an antibody that’s central to triggering allergic responses. These are known as “IgE-mediated food allergies”.</p> <p>Food allergy symptoms that are <em>not</em> mediated by IgE are usually delayed reactions and called <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25316115/">food intolerances or hypersensitivity</a>.</p> <p>Food allergy symptoms can include hives, swelling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, throat or chest tightening, trouble breathing, chest pain, rapid heart rate, dizziness, low blood pressure or <a href="https://www.allergy.org.au/hp/papers/acute-management-of-anaphylaxis-guidelines?highlight=WyJhbmFwaHlsYXhpcyJd">anaphylaxis</a>.</p> <p>IgE-mediated food allergies can be life threatening, so all adults need an <a href="https://allergyfacts.org.au/allergy-management/newly-diagnosed/action-plan-essentials">action management plan</a> developed in consultation with their medical team.</p> <p>Here are four IgE-mediated food allergies that can occur in adults – from relatively common ones to rare allergies you’ve probably never heard of.</p> <h2>1. Single food allergies</h2> <p>The most <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30646188/">common IgE-mediated food allergies</a> in adults in a US survey were to:</p> <ul> <li>shellfish (2.9%)</li> <li>cow’s milk (1.9%)</li> <li>peanut (1.8%)</li> <li>tree nuts (1.2%)</li> <li>fin fish (0.9%) like barramundi, snapper, salmon, cod and perch.</li> </ul> <p>In these adults, about 45% reported reacting to multiple foods.</p> <p>This compares to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25316115/">most common childhood food allergies</a>: cow’s milk, egg, peanut and soy.</p> <p>Overall, adult food allergy prevalence appears to be increasing. Compared to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14657884/">older surveys published in 2003</a> and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15241360/">2004</a>, peanut allergy prevalence has increased about three-fold (from 0.6%), while tree nuts and fin fish roughly doubled (from 0.5% each), with shellfish similar (2.5%).</p> <p>While new <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38214821/">adult-onset food allergies are increasing</a>, childhood-onset food allergies are also more likely to be retained into adulthood. Possible reasons for both <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38214821/">include</a> low vitamin D status, lack of immune system challenges due to being overly “clean”, heightened sensitisation due to allergen avoidance, and more frequent antibiotic use.</p> <h2>2. Tick-meat allergy</h2> <p>Tick-meat allergy, also called α-Gal syndrome or mammalian meat allergy, is an allergic reaction to galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, or α-Gal for short.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33529984/">Australian immunologists first reported</a> links between α-Gal syndrome and tick bites in 2009, with cases also reported in the United States, Japan, Europe and South Africa. The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38318181/">US Centers for Disease Control estimates</a> about 450,000 Americans <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/72/wr/mm7230a2.htm">could be affected</a>.</p> <p>The α-Gal contains a carbohydrate molecule that is bound to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38318181/">protein</a> molecule in <a href="https://alphagalinformation.org/what-is-a-mammal/">mammals</a>.</p> <p>The IgE-mediated allergy is triggered after repeated bites from ticks or <a href="https://www.insectshield.com/pages/chiggers">chigger mites</a> that have bitten those mammals. When tick saliva crosses into your body through the bite, antibodies to α-Gal are produced.</p> <p>When you subsequently eat foods that contain α-Gal, the allergy is triggered. These triggering foods include meat (lamb, beef, pork, rabbit, kangaroo), dairy products (yoghurt, cheese, ice-cream, cream), <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelatin">animal-origin gelatin</a> added to gummy foods (jelly, lollies, marshmallow), prescription medications and over-the counter supplements containing gelatin (<a href="https://www.drugs.com/inactive/gelatin-57.html">some antibiotics, vitamins and other supplements</a>).</p> <p>Tick-meat allergy reactions can be hard to recognise because they’re usually delayed, and they can be severe and include anaphylaxis. Allergy <a href="https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-allergy/mammalian-meat-tick-faq">organisations produce management guidelines</a>, so always discuss management with your doctor.</p> <h2>3. Fruit-pollen allergy</h2> <p>Fruit-pollen allergy, called pollen food allergy syndrome, is an <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38002141/">IgE-mediated allergic reaction</a>.</p> <p>In susceptible adults, pollen in the air provokes the production of IgE antibodies to antigens in the pollen, but these antigens are similar to ones found in some fruits, vegetables and herbs. The problem is that <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38002141/">eating those plants</a> triggers an allergic reaction.</p> <p>The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38002141/">most allergenic tree pollens</a> are from birch, cypress, Japanese cedar, <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/latex-allergy">latex</a>, grass, and ragweed. Their pollen can cross-react with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38002141/">fruit and vegetables</a>, including kiwi, banana, mango, avocado, grapes, celery, carrot and potato, and some herbs such as caraway, coriander, fennel, pepper and paprika.</p> <p>Fruit-pollen allergy is not common. Prevalence <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38002141/">estimates are between 0.03% and 8%</a> depending on the country, but it can be life-threatening. Reactions range from itching or tingling of lips, mouth, tongue and throat, called <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20306812/">oral allergy syndrome</a>, to mild <a href="https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/skin-allergy/urticaria-hives">hives</a>, to anaphylaxis.</p> <h2>4. Food-dependent, exercise-induced food allergy</h2> <p>During heavy exercise, the stomach produces less acid than usual and gut permeability increases, meaning that small molecules in your gut are more likely to escape across the membrane into your blood. These include food molecules that trigger an IgE reaction.</p> <p>If the person already has IgE antibodies to the foods eaten before exercise, then the risk of triggering food allergy reactions is increased. This allergy is called <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37893663/">food-dependent exercise-induced allergy</a>, with symptoms ranging from hives and swelling, to difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30601082/">Common trigger foods include</a> wheat, seafood, meat, poultry, egg, milk, nuts, grapes, celery and other foods, which could have been eaten many hours before exercising.</p> <p>To complicate things even further, allergic <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33181008/">reactions can</a> occur at lower levels of trigger-food exposure, and be more severe if the person is simultaneously taking non-steroidal inflammatory medications like aspirin, drinking alcohol or is sleep-deprived.</p> <p>Food-dependent exercise-induced allergy is extremely rare. Surveys have estimated prevalence as between <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1555415517300259">one to 17 cases per 1,000 people worldwide</a> with the highest prevalence between the teenage years to age 35. Those affected often have other allergic conditions such as hay fever, asthma, allergic conjunctivitis and dermatitis.</p> <h2>Allergies are a growing burden</h2> <p>The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36509408/">burden on physical health, psychological health</a> and health costs due to food allergy is increasing. In the US, this <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38393624/">financial burden was estimated as $24 billion per year</a>.</p> <p>Adult food allergy needs to be taken seriously and those with severe symptoms should wear a medical information bracelet or chain and carry an <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/how-to-use-an-adrenaline-autoinjector-epipen-anapen">adrenaline auto-injector pen</a>. Concerningly, surveys suggest only <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30646188/">about one in four adults</a> with food allergy have an adrenaline pen.</p> <p>If you have an IgE-mediated food allergy, discuss your management plan with your doctor. You can also find more information at <a href="https://allergyfacts.org.au/">Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia</a>.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223342/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/clare-collins-7316"><em>Clare Collins</em></a><em>, Laureate Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-newcastle-1060">University of Newcastle</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/yes-adults-can-develop-food-allergies-here-are-4-types-you-need-to-know-about-223342">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Body

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A tax on sugary drinks can make us healthier. It’s time for Australia to introduce one

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-breadon-1348098">Peter Breadon</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-geraghty-1530733">Jessica Geraghty</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168"><em>Grattan Institute</em></a></em></p> <p>Sugary drinks cause weight gain and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41574-021-00627-6">increase the risk</a> of a range of diseases, including diabetes.</p> <p>The <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2792842">evidence shows</a> that well-designed taxes can reduce sugary drink sales, cause people to choose healthier options and get manufacturers to reduce the sugar in their drinks. And although these taxes haven’t been around long, there are already signs that they are making people healthier.</p> <p>It’s time for Australia to catch up to the rest of the world and introduce a tax on sugary drinks. As our new Grattan Institute <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/report/sickly-sweet/">report</a> shows, doing so could mean the average Australian drinks almost 700 grams less sugar each year.</p> <h2>Sugary drinks are making us sick</h2> <p>The share of adults in Australia who are obese has tripled since 1980, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/mapping-australias-collective-weight-gain-7816">10%</a> to more than <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/waist-circumference-and-bmi/latest-release">30%</a>, and diabetes is our <a href="https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/about-diabetes/diabetes-in-australia/">fastest-growing</a> chronic condition. The costs for the health system and economy are measured in the billions of dollars each year. But the biggest costs are borne by individuals and their families in the form of illness, suffering and early death.</p> <p>Sugary drinks are a big part of the problem. The more of them we drink, the greater our risk of <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41574-021-00627-6">gaining weight</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2963518/">developing type 2 diabetes</a>, and suffering <a href="https://academic.oup.com/eurpub/article/31/1/122/5896049?login=false">poor oral health</a>.</p> <p>These drinks have no real nutrients, but they do have a lot of sugar. The average Australian consumes <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/apparent-consumption-selected-foodstuffs-australia/latest-release">1.3</a> times the maximum recommended amount of sugar each day. Sugary drinks are responsible for more than one-quarter of our daily sugar intake, more than any other major type of food.</p> <p>You might be shocked by how much sugar you’re drinking. Many 375ml cans of soft drink contain eight to 12 teaspoons of sugar, nearly the entire daily recommended limit for an adult. Many 600ml bottles blow our entire daily sugar budget, and then some.</p> <p>The picture is even worse for disadvantaged Australians, who are more likely to have <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/diabetes/latest-release">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/waist-circumference-and-bmi/latest-release">obesity</a>, and who also consume the most sugary drinks.</p> <h2>Sugary drink taxes work</h2> <p>Fortunately, there’s a proven way to reduce the damage sugary drinks cause.</p> <p>More than <a href="https://ssbtax.worldbank.org/">100 countries</a> have a sugary drinks tax, covering most of the world’s population. <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2792842">Research</a> shows these taxes lead to higher prices and fewer purchases.</p> <p>Some taxes are specifically designed to encourage manufacturers to change their recipes and cut the sugar in their drinks. Under these “tiered taxes”, there is no tax on drinks with a small amount of sugar, but the tax steps up two or three times as the amount of sugar rises. That gives manufacturers a strong incentive to add less sugar, so they reduce their exposure to the tax or avoid paying it altogether.</p> <p>This is the best result from a sugary drinks tax. It means drinks get healthier, while the tax is kept to a minimum.</p> <p>In countries with tiered taxes, manufacturers have slashed the sugar in their drinks. In the United Kingdom, the share of products above the tax threshold <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003025">decreased dramatically</a>. In 2015, more than half (52%) of products in the UK were above the tax threshold of 5 grams of sugar per 100ml. Four years later, when the tax was in place, that share had plunged to 15%. The number of products with the most sugar – more than 8 grams per 100ml – declined the most, falling from 38% to just 7%.</p> <p>The Australian drinks market today looks similar to the UK’s before the tax was introduced.</p> <p>Health benefits take longer to appear, but there are already promising signs that the taxes are working. Obesity among primary school-age girls has fallen in <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1004160">the UK</a> and <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2786784">Mexico</a>.</p> <p>Oral health has also improved, with studies reporting fewer children going to hospital to get their teeth removed in <a href="https://nutrition.bmj.com/content/6/2/243">the UK</a>, and reduced dental decay <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33853058/">in Mexico</a> and <a href="https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(23)00069-7/abstract">Philadelphia</a>.</p> <p>One <a href="https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(23)00158-7/fulltext">study from the United States</a> found big reductions in gestational diabetes in cities with a sugary drinks tax.</p> <h2>The tax Australia should introduce</h2> <p>Like successful taxes overseas, Australia should introduce a sugary drink tax that targets drinks with the most sugar:</p> <ul> <li>drinks with 8 grams or more of sugar per 100ml should face a $0.60 per litre tax</li> <li>drinks with 5–8 grams should be taxed at $0.40 per litre</li> <li>drinks with less than 5 grams of sugar should be tax-free.</li> </ul> <p>This means a 250ml Coke, which has nearly 11 grams of sugar per 100ml, would cost $0.15 more. But of course consumers could avoid the tax by choosing a sugar-free soft drink, or a bottle of water.</p> <p>Grattan Institute <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/report/sickly-sweet/">modelling</a> shows that under this tiered tax, Australians would drink about 275 million litres fewer sugary drinks each year, or the volume of 110 Olympic swimming pools.</p> <p>The tax is about health, but government budgets also benefit. If it was introduced today, it would raise about half a billion dollars in the first year.</p> <p>Vested interests such as the beverages industry have fiercely resisted sugary drink taxes around the world, issuing disingenuous warnings about the risks to poor people, the sugar industry and drinks manufacturers.</p> <p>But our new report shows sugary drink taxes have been introduced smoothly overseas, and none of these concerns should hold Australia back.</p> <p>We certainly can’t rely on industry pledges to voluntarily reduce sugar. They have been <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/trends-in-sugar-content-of-nonalcoholic-beverages-in-australia-between-2015-and-2019-during-the-operation-of-a-voluntary-industry-pledge-to-reduce-sugar-content/EE662DE7552670ED532F6650C9D56939">weak</a> and misleading, and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/apr/10/sugar-increase-in-fanta-and-sprite-prompts-calls-for-new-tax-on-australia-food-and-drinks-industry">failed to stick</a>.</p> <p>It will take many policies and interventions to turn back the tide of obesity and chronic disease in Australia, but a sugary drinks tax should be part of the solution. It’s a policy that works, it’s easy to implement, and most Australians <a href="https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/6/e027962">support it</a>.</p> <p>The federal government should show it’s serious about tackling Australia’s biggest health problems and take this small step towards a healthier future.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228906/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-breadon-1348098">Peter Breadon</a>, Program Director, Health and Aged Care, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jessica-geraghty-1530733">Jessica Geraghty</a>, Senior Associate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/grattan-institute-1168">Grattan Institute</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-tax-on-sugary-drinks-can-make-us-healthier-its-time-for-australia-to-introduce-one-228906">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

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Julie Goodwin shares her top tips for perfect potatoes every time

<p dir="ltr">Who doesn't love a good, hearty, delicious serving of fluffy and decadent potatoes?</p> <p dir="ltr">Original <em>MasterChef Australia</em> champion Julie Goodwin has shared her ultimate hacks for cooking the perfect potatoes every time, whether they’re mashed, roasted or baked.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Julie, there are three key things every home cook needs to keep in mind the next time potatoes are on the menu. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Make sure you have the right potatoes </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Depending on whether you want baked, mashed, roasted, or any other way you want to prepare your potatoes, it all starts in the supermarket. </p> <p dir="ltr">"I find that for things like mashed potatoes and gnocchi and rostis you want a floury potato, so the general rule is dirty potatoes for those things," Julie told <em><a href="https://kitchen.nine.com.au/latest/julie-goodwin-top-three-tips-to-cook-potatoes-robertson-potato-festival/4d16ba12-bf14-4af2-990e-dcf0e89c30ee">9Honey</a></em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">"And then for stuff like potato salads, boiled baby potatoes, and potato bake, it's better to have a waxy potato because they hold their substance better. And those are the ones that are sold clean, so things like the Pontiac and Desiree with the pink skin or the washed potatoes with the white skin."</p> <p dir="ltr">"If you want to use them in an Irish stew to break down and thicken the sauce you've got to use a floury potato," she says. "So tend to your dirty ones."</p> <p dir="ltr">She says that if you're buying a clean, waxy potato, you won't have to peel them since the skin is supposed to be edible.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, if you're buying a dirty, floury potato, then you're going to want to peel the dirt off first and then wash off the residue.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Get those crispy edges </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">As every home cook knows, the key to the perfect roasted potato is for the inside to be soft and fluffy while the outside stays crispy. </p> <p dir="ltr">It can be a tricky balance to master, but Goodwin says there's a simple way to get it right every time.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I like to par boil them before I roast them. Just so that they go a bit fluffy around the edges," she explains. "What happens is those bits go really crispy and lovely."</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Let the flavour flow </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">When it comes to seasoning your potatoes, it's hard to know what flavours will suit your dish best. </p> <p dir="ltr">According to Goodwin, more is less when you season potatoes, so it's best to close the spice cabinet.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Salt is absolutely the number one, pepper's beautiful [but] it depends on what the meal is," she says. "So if you're doing a bit of a Portuguese or Spanish inspired meal you might put some paprika on there.”</p> <p dir="ltr">"But I really love rosemary and that's beautiful if you pound that up with your salt and put it on the potatoes that makes it really nice."</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Instagram</em></p>

Food & Wine

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People in the world’s ‘blue zones’ live longer – their diet could hold the key to why

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justin-roberts-1176632">Justin Roberts</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/anglia-ruskin-university-1887">Anglia Ruskin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/joseph-lillis-1505087">Joseph Lillis</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/anglia-ruskin-university-1887">Anglia Ruskin University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mark-cortnage-438941">Mark Cortnage</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/anglia-ruskin-university-1887">Anglia Ruskin University</a></em></p> <p>Ageing is an inevitable part of life, which may explain our <a href="https://time.com/4672969/why-do-people-want-to-live-so-long/">strong fascination</a> with the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2726954">quest for longevity</a>. The allure of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26566891/">eternal youth</a> drives a <a href="https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/longevity-and-anti-senescence-therapy-market-A14010">multi-billion pound industry</a> ranging from anti-ageing products, supplements and <a href="https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/longevity-diet">diets</a> for those hoping to extend their lifespan.</p> <p>f you look back to the turn of the 20th century, average life expectancy in the UK was around 46 years. Today, it’s closer to <a href="https://population.un.org/wpp/">82 years</a>. We are in fact <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27706136/">living longer than ever before</a>, possibly due to medical advancements and improved <a href="https://www.health.org.uk/publications/reports/mortality-and-life-expectancy-trends-in-the-uk">living and working conditions</a>.</p> <p>But living longer has also come at a price. We’re now seeing higher rates of <a href="https://www.who.int/data/gho/data/themes/mortality-and-global-health-estimates/ghe-leading-causes-of-death">chronic and degenerative diseases</a> – with heart disease consistently topping the list. So while we’re fascinated by what may help us live longer, maybe we should be more interested in being healthier for longer. Improving our “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4632858/">healthy life expectancy</a>” remains a global challenge.</p> <p>Interestingly, certain locations around the world have been discovered where there are a high proportion of centenarians who display remarkable physical and mental health. The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15489066/">AKEA study of Sardinia, Italy</a>, as example, identified a “blue zone” (named because it was marked with blue pen), where there was a higher number of locals living in the central-eastern mountainous areas who had reached their 100th birthday compared with the wider Sardinian community.</p> <p>This longevity hotspot has since been expanded, and now includes several other areas around the world which also have greater numbers of longer-living, healthy people. Alongside Sardinia, these blue zones are now <a href="https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/81214929">popularly recognised</a> as: Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California.</p> <p>Other than their long lifespans, people living in these zones also appear to share certain other commonalities, which centre around being <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3874460">part of a community</a>, having a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4224996/">life purpose</a>, eating <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33514872/">nutritious, healthy foods</a>, keeping <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41398-021-01735-7">stress levels</a> low and undertaking purposeful daily <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30202288/">exercise or physical tasks</a>.</p> <p>Their longevity could also relate to their <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9010380/">environment</a>, being mostly rural (or less polluted), or because of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22253498/">specific longevity genes</a>.</p> <p>However, studies indicate genetics may only account for <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8786073">around 20-25% of longevity</a> – meaning a person’s lifespan is a complex interaction between lifestyle and genetic factors, which contribute to a long and healthy life.</p> <h2>Is the secret in our diet?</h2> <p>When it comes to diet, each blue zone has its own approach – so one specific food or nutrient does not explain the remarkable longevity observed. But interestingly, a diet rich in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662288">plant foods</a> (such as locally-grown vegetables, fruits and legumes) does appear to be reasonably consistent across these zones.</p> <p>For instance, the Seventh-day Adventists of Loma Linda are <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10641813/">predominately vegetarian</a>. For centenarians in Okinawa, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20234038/">high intakes of flavonoids</a> (a chemical compound typically found in plants) from purple sweet potatoes, soy and vegetables, have been linked with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11710359/">better cardiovascular health</a> – including lower cholesterol levels and lower incidences of stroke and heart disease.</p> <p>In Nicoya, consumption of locally produced rice and beans has been associated with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34444746/">longer telomere length</a>. Telomeres are the structural part at the end of our chromosomes which protect our genetic material. Our telomeres get shorter each time a cell divides – so get progressively shorter as we age.</p> <p>Certain <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21102320/">lifestyle factors</a> (such as smoking and poor diet) can also shorten telomere length. It’s thought that telomere length acts as a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31728493/">biomarker of ageing</a> – so having longer telomeres could, in part, be linked with longevity.</p> <p>But a plant-based diet isn’t the only secret. In Sardinia, for example, meat and fish is consumed in moderation in addition to locally grown vegetables and <a href="https://journalofethnicfoods.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s42779-022-00152-5">traditional foods</a> such as acorn breads, pane carasau (a sourdough flatbread), honey and soft cheeses.</p> <p>Also observed in several blue zone areas is the inclusion of <a href="https://www.jacc.org/doi/10.1016/j.jacc.2021.10.041">olive oil</a>, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33669360/">wine</a> (in moderation – around 1-2 glasses a day), as well as <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3830687/">tea</a>. All of these contain powerful antioxidants which may help <a href="https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10049696/">protect our cells</a> from damage <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6273542/">as we age</a>.</p> <p>Perhaps then, it’s a combination of the protective effects of various nutrients in the diets of these centenarians, which explains their exceptional longevity.</p> <p>Another striking observation from these longevity hot spots is that meals are typically <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7232892">freshly prepared at home</a>. Traditional blue zone diets also don’t appear to contain <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6538973/">ultra-processed foods</a>, fast foods or sugary drinks which may <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32330232/">accelerate ageing</a>. So maybe it’s just as important to consider what these longer-living populations are not doing, as much as what they are doing.</p> <p>There also appears to be a pattern of eating until 80% full (in other words partial <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9036399/">caloric reduction</a>. This could be important in also supporting how our cells deal with damage as we age, which could mean a longer life.</p> <p>Many of the factors making up these blue zone diets – primarily plant-based and natural whole foods – are associated with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35706591/">lower risk of chronic diseases</a> such as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28728684/">heart disease</a> and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37589638/">cancer</a>. Not only could such diets contribute to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37836577/">longer, healthier life</a>, but could support a more <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33397404/">diverse gut microbiome</a>, which is also associated with healthy ageing.</p> <p>Perhaps then we can learn something from these remarkable centenarians. While diet is only one part of the bigger picture when it comes to longevity, it’s an area we can do something about. In fact, it might just be at the heart of improving not only the quality of our health, but the quality of how we age.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/221463/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/justin-roberts-1176632">Justin Roberts</a>, Professor of Nutritional Physiology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/anglia-ruskin-university-1887">Anglia Ruskin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/joseph-lillis-1505087">Joseph Lillis</a>, PhD Candidate in Nutritional Physiology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/anglia-ruskin-university-1887">Anglia Ruskin University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mark-cortnage-438941">Mark Cortnage</a>, Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Nutrition, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/anglia-ruskin-university-1887">Anglia Ruskin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/people-in-the-worlds-blue-zones-live-longer-their-diet-could-hold-the-key-to-why-221463">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

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Eating some chocolate really might be good for you – here’s what the research says

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dan-baumgardt-1451396">Dan Baumgardt</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-bristol-1211">University of Bristol</a></em></p> <p>Although it always makes me scoff slightly to see Easter eggs making their first appearance in supermarkets at the end of December, there are few people who aren’t delighted to receive a bit of chocolate every year.</p> <p>It makes sense that too much chocolate would be bad for you because of the high fat and sugar content in most products. But what should we make of common claims that eating some chocolate is actually good for you?</p> <p>Happily, there is a fair amount of evidence that shows, in the right circumstances, chocolate may be both beneficial for your heart and good for your mental state.</p> <p>In fact, chocolate – or more specifically cacao, the raw, unrefined bean – is a medicinal wonder. It contains many different active compounds which can evoke pharmacological effects within the body, like medicines or drugs.</p> <p>Compounds that lead to neurological effects in the brain have to be able to cross the <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-13443-2_7">blood-brain barrier</a>, the protective shield which prevents harmful substances – like toxins and bacteria – entering the delicate nervous tissue.</p> <p>One of these is the compound <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3672386/">theobromine</a>, which is also found in tea and contributes towards its bitter taste. Tea and chocolate also contain caffeine, which theobromine is related to as part of the purine family of chemicals.</p> <p>These chemicals, among others, contribute to chocolate’s addictive nature. They have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, where they can influence the nervous system. They are therefore known as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15549276/">psychoactive</a> chemicals.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HloqayQdR6M?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>What effects can chocolate have on mood? Well, <a href="https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/71/10/665/1931144?login=false">a systematic review</a> looked at a group of studies which examined the feelings and emotions associated with consuming chocolate. Most demonstrated improvements in mood, anxiety, energy and states of arousal.</p> <p>Some noted the feeling of guilt, which is perhaps something we’ve all felt after one too many Dairy Milks.</p> <h2>Health benefits of cocoa</h2> <p>There are other organs, aside from the brain, that might benefit from the medicinal effects of cocoa. For centuries, chocolate has been used as a medicine to treat a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10917925/">long list of diseases</a> including anaemia, tuberculosis, gout and even low libido.</p> <p>These might be spurious claims but there is evidence to suggest that eating cacao has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. First, it can prevent <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8068178/">endothelial dysfunction</a>. This is the process through which arteries harden and get laden down with fatty plaques, which can in turn lead to heart attacks and strokes.</p> <p>Eating dark chocolate may also reduce <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1537189115001135?via%3Dihub">blood pressure</a>, which is another risk factor for developing arterial disease, and prevent formation of clots which block up blood vessels.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8VUcPCbSSCY?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Some studies have suggested that dark chocolate might be useful in adjusting ratios of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20968113/">high-density lipoprotein cholesterol</a>, which can help protect the heart.</p> <p>Others have examined insulin resistance, the phenomenon associated with Type 2 diabetes and weight gain. They suggest that the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963996900000697#:%7E:text=Cocoa%20is%20rich%20in%20polyphenols%20particularly%20in%20catechins,and%20cocoa%20powder%20have%20been%20published%20only%20recently.">polyphenols</a> – chemical compounds present in plants – found in foodstuffs like chocolate may also lead to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29993262/">improved control of blood sugars</a>.</p> <h2>Chocolate toxicity</h2> <p>As much as chocolate might be considered a medicine for some, it can be a poison for others.</p> <p>It’s well documented that the ingestion of caffeine and theobromine is highly toxic for domestic animals. Dogs are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4801869/">particularly affected</a> because of their often voracious appetites and generally unfussy natures.</p> <p>The culprit is often dark chocolate, which can provoke symptoms of agitation, rigid muscles and even seizures. In certain cases, if ingested in high enough quantities, it can lead to comas and abnormal, even fatal heart rhythms.</p> <p>Some of the compounds found in chocolate have also been found to have potentially negative effects in humans. Chocolate is a source of oxalate which, along with calcium, is one of the main components of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20301742/">kidney stones</a>.</p> <p>Some clinical groups have advised against consuming oxalate rich foods, such as spinach and rhubarb – and chocolate, for those who suffer from recurrent kidney stones.</p> <p>So, what should all this mean for our chocolate consumption habits? Science points in the direction of chocolate that has as high a cocoa solid content as possible, and the minimum of extras. The potentially harmful effects of chocolate are more related to fat and sugar, and may counteract any possible benefits.</p> <p>A daily dose of 20g-30g of plain or dark chocolate with cocoa solids above 70% – rather than milk chocolate, which contains fewer solids and white chocolate, which contains none – could lead to a greater health benefit, as well as a greater high.</p> <p>But whatever chocolate you go for, please don’t share it with the dog.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/226759/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dan-baumgardt-1451396"><em>Dan Baumgardt</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer, School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-bristol-1211">University of Bristol</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/eating-some-chocolate-really-might-be-good-for-you-heres-what-the-research-says-226759">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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Here’s why having chocolate can make you feel great or a bit sick – plus 4 tips for better eating

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saman-khalesi-366871">Saman Khalesi</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p>Australians are <a href="https://www.retail.org.au/media/sweet-spending-boon-predicted-for-easter-retail">predicted</a> to spend around A$1.7 billion on chocolates, hot cross buns and other special foods this Easter season.</p> <p>Chocolate has a long history of production and consumption. It is made from cacao beans that go through processes including fermentation, drying, roasting and grounding. What is left is a rich and fatty liquor that is pressed to remove the fat (cocoa butter) and the cacao (or “cocoa”) powder which will then be mixed with different ingredients to produce dark, milk, white and other types of chocolates.</p> <p>There are several health benefits and potential problems that come in these sweet chocolatey packages.</p> <h2>The good news</h2> <p>Cacao beans contain <a href="https://foodstruct.com/food/cocoa-bean">minerals</a> like iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus and some vitamins. They are also rich in beneficial chemicals called <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23150750/">polyphenols</a>.</p> <p>These are great antioxidants, with the potential to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465250/">improve heart health</a>, increase <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25164923/">nitric oxide</a> (which dilates blood vessels) and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3488419/">reduce blood pressure</a>, provide food for gut microbiota and <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/7/1908">promote gut health</a>, boost the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465250/">immune system</a> and reduce inflammation.</p> <p>However, the concentration of polyphenols in the chocolate we eat depends largely on the cocoa solid amounts used in the final product.</p> <p>In general terms, the darker the chocolate, the more cocoa solids, minerals and polyphenols it has. For example, dark chocolates may have around <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2011.614984">seven times more polyphenols</a> compared to white chocolates and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2011.614984">three times more polyphenols</a> compared to milk chocolates.</p> <h2>But also some bad news</h2> <p>Unfortunately, the <a href="https://theconversation.com/treat-or-treatment-chocolate-is-good-but-cocoa-is-better-for-your-heart-3084">health benefits of cocoa solids</a> are easily offset by the high sugar and fat content of modern-day chocolates. For example, milk and white chocolate eggs are on average 50% sugar, 40% fat (mostly saturated fats) – which means a lot of added kilojoules (calories).</p> <p>Also, there may be some side effects that come with ingesting chocolate.</p> <p>Cocoa beans include a compound called theobromine. While it has the anti-inflammatory properties responsible for some of the health benefits of chocolate, it is also a mild brain stimulant that acts in a similar way to caffeine. The mood boost it offers may also be partly responsible for how much we <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2015.00030/full?crsi=662496658&amp;cicada_org_src=healthwebmagazine.com&amp;cicada_org_mdm=direct">like chocolate</a>. Dark chocolate has higher theobromine compared to milk and white chocolate.</p> <p>But accordingly, overindulging in chocolate (and therefore theobromine) may lead to feeling restless, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3672386/">headaches</a> and nausea.</p> <h2>What else is in your chocolate?</h2> <p>Milk and dairy-based chocolates may also cause stomach upset, abdominal pain and bloating in people with <a href="https://dietitiansaustralia.org.au/health-advice/lactose-intolerance">lactose intolerance</a>. This happens when we don’t produce enough lactase enzymes to digest milk sugar (lactose).</p> <p>People with lactose intolerance can usually tolerate up to 6 grams of lactose without showing symptoms. Milk chocolate can have around <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310258/">3 grams of lactose</a> per 40 grams (the size of a standard chocolate bar). So two chocolate bars (or the equivalent in milk chocolate eggs or bunnies) may be enough to cause symptoms.</p> <p>It’s worth noting that lactase enzyme activity dramatically declines as we age, with the highest activity in newborns and children. So lactose sensitivity or intolerance may not be such an issue for your kids and your symptoms may increase over time. Genetics also plays a major role in how sensitive people are to lactose.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6815241/">Allergic reactions</a> to chocolate are usually due to the added ingredients or cross-contamination with potential allergens such as nuts, milk, soy, and some sweeteners used in the production of chocolate.</p> <p>Symptoms can be mild (acne, rashes and stomach pain) or more severe (swelling of the throat and tongue and shortness of breath).</p> <p>If you or your family members have known allergic reactions, make sure you read the label before indulging – especially in a whole block or basket of the stuff. And if you or your family members do experience symptoms of an allergic reaction after eating chocolate, <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/allergic-reactions-emergency-first-aid">seek medical attention</a> immediately.</p> <h2>4 take home tips</h2> <p>So, if you are like me and have a weakness for chocolate there are a few things you can do to make the experience a good one.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/202848/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <ol> <li>keep an eye out for the darker chocolate varieties with higher cocoa solids. You may notice a percentage on labelling, which refers to how much of its weight is from cocoa beans. In general, the higher this percentage, the lower the sugar. White chocolate has almost no cocoa solid, and mostly cocoa butter, sugar and other ingredients. Dark chocolate has 50–100% cocoa beans, and less sugar. Aim for at least 70% cocoa</li> <li>read the fine print for additives and possible cross-contamination, especially if allergies might be an issue</li> <li>the ingredients list and nutrition information panel should tell you all about the chocolate you choosing. Go for varieties with lower sugar and less saturated fat. Nuts, seeds and dried fruits are better ingredients to have in your chocolate than sugar, creme, syrup, and caramel</li> <li>finally, treat yourself – but keep the amount you have within sensible limits!</li> </ol> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saman-khalesi-366871">Saman Khalesi</a>, Postdoctoral Fellow of the National Heart Foundation &amp; Senior Lecturer and Discipline Lead in Nutrition, School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/heres-why-having-chocolate-can-make-you-feel-great-or-a-bit-sick-plus-4-tips-for-better-eating-202848">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

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How bad is junk food for you, really?

<div> <p>Consuming more junk foods, such as soft drinks, packaged snacks, and sugary cereals, is associated with a higher risk of more than 30 different health problems – both physical and mental – according to researchers.</p> <p>A study, known as an umbrella review, combined the results of 45 previous meta-analyses published in the last three years, representing about 10 million participants.</p> <p>Thirty-two different poor health outcomes were found to be linked to the consumption of ultra-processed foods (UPFs), with varying levels of evidence supporting the findings.</p> <p>The researchers found the most convincing evidence around higher ultra-processed food intake, which was associated with a 50% increased risk of cardiovascular disease-related death, a 48-53% higher risk of anxiety and common mental disorders, and a 12% greater risk of type 2 diabetes.</p> <p>Evidence marked as ‘highly suggestive’ included a 21% increase in death from any cause, a 40-66% increased risk of a heart disease related death, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and sleep problems, as well as a 22% increased risk of depression.</p> <p>The review also found there may be links between ultra-processed food and asthma; gastrointestinal health; some cancers; and other risk factors such as high blood fats and low levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, but the researchers note this evidence is limited.</p> <p>Dr Daisy Coyle from the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, who was not involved in the research, says the statistics are “staggering.”</p> <p>“Ultra-processed foods, laden with additives and sometimes lacking in essential nutrients, have become ubiquitous in the Australian diet,” she says.</p> <p>“In fact, they make up almost half of what we buy at the supermarket. While not all ultra-processed foods are linked to poor health outcomes, many are, particularly sugary drinks and processed meats.”</p> <div> </div> <p>While the findings are in line with other research that highlights the health risks associated with UPFs, some experts have pointed out that the study is observational, and therefore can’t prove the ultra-processed foods cause these health issues. It can only show an association.</p> <p>“While these associations are interesting and warrant further high-quality research, they do not and cannot provide evidence of causality,” The University of Sydney’s Dr Alan Barclay told the AusSMC.</p> <p>“By their very nature, observational studies are renowned for being confounded by numerous factors – both known and unknown.”</p> <p>Clare Collins, Laureate Professor at the University of Newcastle agreed, but added that it’s difficult to conduct dietary studies like this in a different way.</p> <p>“The studies are observational, which means cause and effect cannot be proven and that the research evidence gets downgraded, compared to intervention studies,” she says.</p> <p>“The problem is that it is not ethical to do an intervention study lasting for many years where you feed people lots of UPF every day and wait for them to get sick and die.”</p> <p>For now, researchers seem to agree that it can’t be a bad thing to minimise UPF intake.</p> <p>The review suggests a need for policies that pull consumers away from ultra-processed foods, such as advertising restrictions, warning labels, bans in schools and hospitals. It also calls for measures that make healthier foods more accessible and affordable.</p> <p>Dr Charlotte Gupta from Central Queensland University suggests that this is issue of accessibility is particularly relevant for shift workers such as doctors, nurses, firefighters, taxi drivers, miners, and hospitality workers.</p> <p>“There is a lack of availability of fresh foods or time to prepare any food, and so ultra-processed foods have to be relied on (e.g. from the vending machine in the hospital),” she said.</p> <p>“This highlights the need for not only individuals to try reducing ultra-processed foods in our diet, but also for public health actions to improve access to healthier foods.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/how-bad-is-junk-food-for-you-really/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/olivia-henry/">Olivia Henry</a>. </em></p> </div>

Food & Wine

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Restaurant sparks outrage for "ridiculous" fee

<p>As inflation rates continue to rise it is not surprising that restaurants are charging extra fees, but one disgruntled customer was particularly shocked to see this "ridiculous" fee on their bill. </p> <p>The customer, who dined at restaurant and cocktail bar in Georgia, USA shamed the restaurant for charging their customers a $20 fee for “live band entertainment”.</p> <p>They shared their complaints on Reddit with a copy of their receipt and an unexpected fee at the bottom which read: “Two Live Band Entertainment Fee — $20”.</p> <p>Most people in the comments were equally annoyed and called the fee "ridiculous". </p> <p>“This is one of those leave money on the table, hand the waiter a tip and leave, sorry but if I didn’t order it, I’m not paying for it,” one wrote. </p> <p>“Great way to not have repeat customers,” said another.</p> <p>“This will backfire for them, just be honest and upfront," a third added. </p> <p>Other commenters were less sympathetic and did not understand why the customer was complaining when it looked like they could afford it. </p> <p>“When you’re paying seven dollars for a bottle of water, you really don’t get to complain about ‘unexpected costs.’ You knew what you signed up for," one commenter wrote. </p> <p>“Imagine a live band getting paid, huh,” another added. </p> <p>“They’re buying $7 bottles of water, they can probably afford it,” added a third.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty/ Reddit</em></p> <p> </p>

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Why is gluten-free bread so expensive? A food supply chain expert explains

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/flavio-macau-998456">Flavio Macau</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p>Before the cost of living hit Australian families hard, a group of consumers were already paying top dollar for their staples. Whether it be gluten free, dairy free or lactose free, people with special dietary requirements are used to spending more at the supermarket checkout.</p> <p>A 2016 study from the University of Wollongong found that Australians were <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1747-0080.12171">paying up to 17% more for a gluten-free diet</a>.</p> <p>Current examples are easy to find. A <a href="https://www.coles.com.au/product/coles-white-bread-650g-4901345">white sandwich loaf at Coles</a> costs A$2.40 (or A$0.37 per 100g), whereas <a href="https://www.coles.com.au/product/coles-i'm-free-from-white-loaf-500g-3216673">the cheapest gluten-free option</a> costs $5.70 (or $1.14 per 100g). That’s over three times as much. Prices are closer comparing Coles Full Cream Milk at A$1.50 per litre with Coles Lactose Free Lite Milk at A$1.60, the exception that confirms the rule.</p> <p>So why are allergen-free products more expensive?</p> <h2>Is it the ingredients?</h2> <p>If manufacturers pay more for ingredients, this is usually reflected in the price of the final product. Regular and gluten-free bread share many common ingredients, but there is a substantial change where wheat flour is replaced by gluten-free flour. This ingredient may cost manufacturers around two times as much given the uniqueness of gluten-free grains, seeds, and nuts. These special ingredients are not as abundant or easy to process as wheat, and are also a bit more difficult to buy in very large scale.</p> <p>For a simple reference, compare <a href="https://www.coles.com.au/product/coles-white-plain-flour-1kg-5881232">regular</a> and <a href="https://www.coles.com.au/product/coles-i'm-free-from-plain-flour-gluten-free-500g-2478197">gluten-free flour</a> at Coles.</p> <p>Gluten, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jgh.13703">a complex mixture of hundreds of related but distinct proteins</a>, has unique properties. It is a binding agent that improves texture in recipes. Gluten-free bread therefore needs extra help to, literally, hold it together. Additional items such as thickeners, tapioca and maize starches are added to gluten-free recipes to improve viscosity and keep baked items in shape. That means a longer ingredient list and a slightly more complex manufacturing process.</p> <p>So, from an ingredient perspective, gluten-free bread costs more than regular bread. This applies for other allergen-free products as well. But with so many common ingredients, it is reasonable to say that this is not the main explanation.</p> <h2>Is it manufacturing and transporting?</h2> <p>A substantial part of price differences between regular and allergen-free foods comes from <a href="https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/economiesofscale.asp">economies of scale</a>. Regular products are manufactured in very large quantities, while allergen-free products involve much smaller volumes.</p> <p>Bulk buying from large suppliers gets you bigger discounts. The more machines in a factory, the cheaper it is to run them. Larger outputs coming from the same place mean smaller costs for each individual product. Given that you have fixed costs to pay anyway, size is king.</p> <p>You pay the same amount for a grain mill regardless of whether you grind one kilo or one tonne of grains a day. Sure, you spend more on electricity or gas, but those are <a href="https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/accounting/fixed-and-variable-costs/">variable costs</a>.</p> <p>Then, there is the need for rigorous quality control. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has a detailed <a href="https://www.fao.org/fao-who-codexalimentarius/sh-proxy/en/?lnk=1&amp;url=https%253A%252F%252Fworkspace.fao.org%252Fsites%252Fcodex%252FStandards%252FCXC%2B80-2020%252FCXC_080e.pdf">code of practice on food allergen management for food business operators</a>, covering harvesting, handling, storage, transportation, packaging, and more. The <a href="https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/food-standards-code">Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code</a> also sets specific standards.</p> <p>Deep cleaning machines, thoroughly checking that standards are met, and scrapping whole batches when they are not makes manufacturing allergen-free products more complex and expensive. The <a href="https://www.health.wa.gov.au/-/media/Files/Corporate/general-documents/food/PDF/DOHComplianceandEnforcementPolicyVersion3.pdf">implications for non-compliance</a> vary in severity, from a simple recall to a costly infringement notice, plus <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10574315/">reputational damage to consumer trust</a>.</p> <p>It is hard to exactly measure the impact of economies of scale and quality costs on the price of allergen-free products. Each manufacturer will have its own challenges and solutions. But it is reasonable to say a considerable chunk of the difference we see when comparing gluten-free bread with its regular counterpart comes from these factors.</p> <p>Transportation costs follow a similar rule. If it is easier and quicker to fill your trucks with regular products, while allergen-free products have a hard time making a full load, there are disadvantages in the latter.</p> <h2>Is it the marketing strategy?</h2> <p>The final consideration on allergen-free food prices has to do with competition and willingness to pay.</p> <p>A quick search on Coles’ website shows 276 results for “bread” once you remove the 42 items that are gluten-free. That means that there are many more brands and products competing for bread consumers than for gluten-free bread consumers. That’s over six to one! This means customers with dietary restrictions are at a disadvantage as they are beholden to the limited options on offer. As noted by the Australian Competition &amp; Consumer Commission, “<a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/business/competition-and-exemptions/competition-and-anti-competitive-behaviour">competition leads to lower prices and more choice for consumers</a>”.</p> <p>Also, fewer allergen-free products make it to the “own brand” list. Australians are <a href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/money/costs/coles-woolworths-ownbrand-products-booming-on-back-of-costofliving-crisis/news-story/d0be8b8d6e98c0a6477959cd83da17ad">relying more on these when facing the cost-of-living crisis</a>.</p> <p>There is also the <a href="https://online.hbs.edu/blog/post/willingness-to-pay">willingness to pay</a>, where consumers pay more for products deemed as having higher value. <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/obr.13525">Research</a> shows that on average consumers are willing to pay 30% more for food products that they perceive to be healthier.</p> <p>Manufacturers and retailers more often than not will capitalise on that, increasing their profit margins for allergen-free products.</p> <h2>4 tips for saving money if you have allergies</h2> <p>People with dietary requirements looking to ease the cost of their weekly grocery shop should use the same strategies as every savvy consumer:</p> <ul> <li>research prices</li> <li>buy larger quantities where possible</li> <li>keep a keen eye on price reduction and items on sale</li> <li>consider replacing products tagged “allergen-free” with alternatives from other categories, such as going for rice instead of gluten-free pasta in a dish.</li> </ul> <p>In the long run, if more customers choose allergen-free products it could lead to more volume and competition, bringing prices down. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223648/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/flavio-macau-998456"><em>Flavio Macau</em></a><em>, Associate Dean - School of Business and Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-is-gluten-free-bread-so-expensive-a-food-supply-chain-expert-explains-223648">original article</a>.</em></p>

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