Archive For The “Health” Category

Canadian Research on Blueberry Health Benefits is reviewed

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The health benefits of blueberries is backed by a substantial amount of evidence. A recent paper outlines what is known so far.

The paper, called Recent Research on the Health Benefits of Blueberries and Their Anthocyanisns was published in Advances in Nutrition.

“This review of research findings will help consumers, healthcare providers and the food and health industry understand the current state of knowledge on blueberries and health,” Wilhelmina Kalt, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Kentville Research and Development Centre, Kentville, Nova Scotia, Canada, the paper’s lead editor, said in a news release. “The paper also discusses gaps where more research is needed to better understand how blueberries affect health.” 

The authors review the scientific literature on blueberries’ potential health benefits, according to the news release, and also looks at the research on anthocyanins (163.3 mg/100 g of blueberries) – the polyphenol (plant compound), that give blueberries their vibrant blue color.

“It can be safely stated that daily moderate intake (50 mg anthocyanins, one-third cup of blueberries) can mitigate the risk of diseases and conditions of major socioeconomic importance in the Western world,” the paper said in its conclusion.

The review paper was funded by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, but the council had no role in the design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation or writing of the paper, according to the release.

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Organic Fresh Produce Demand is Expected to Increase in Canada, Report Says

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A new report from the USDA says organic fresh fruits and vegetables will find growing demand in the Canadian market.

In the 2019 retail sector review of Canada, published by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, the agency observes the Canadian retail market is characterized by a “dichotomy” of demand. A substantial sector of the market is looking for low-priced foods, while the other segment hungers for premium and specialty food items.

“The demand for organic, healthy, and natural products market in Canada is growing,” the report said. “There are excellent prospects for products with organic or natural ingredients, consumer-ready processed foods and beverages, and organic fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Breaking into the Canadian market may require success with independent retailers before business is won with a large chain, according to the report.

“U.S. companies selling natural, organic, or specialty foods will create demand and sales among the independents before tackling the larger accounts,” the report said. “Proven sales in Canada is important to help persuade category buyers of the majors to list an unknown product in their stores.”

Large players dominate 

The USDA said the population of Canada is about 37 million, and 90 percent of Canadians live within 100 miles of the U.S. border.

Canada’s retail market is mature and largely consolidated; five major stores (Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro, Costco, and Walmart) represent 62 percent of the market, according to the report. Nearly 7,000 independents and convenience stores that represent the remaining 38 percent of the market.

Taking $20.8 billion in U.S. agricultural exports in 2018, Canada was the number one export destination for U.S. farmers.

Canada’s food and alcoholic beverage retail sales in 2018 reached $96 billion, representing an increase of 3% from 2017.

Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia represent 74 percent of Canada’s retail market and are the provinces in which most of the convenience, drug, grocery and mass merchandise stores are located, according to the report.

Canada supermarkets rely on imported foods to fill their shelves, and the report said many U.S. produce brands are available throughout the year.

The report said Canada’s key market trends are:

  • Price-conscious consumers create strong demand for private label and promoted priced products;
  • Increasing demand for healthy, nutritious and ‘clean’ products is boosting demand for organic and fresh products;
  • Some retailers have expanded their private label lines to include a line focused on the higher-end of the market and another focusing on value, according to the report; and 
  • Expanding ethnic diversity is supporting the expansion of ethnic stores

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Thanksgiving Forecast: Have a Blessed Holiday

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Improved Learning for Kids Can Result from Healthy Eating

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The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention affirms that children who eat healthy foods at school learn better lifelong eating habits and are more prepared to learn. Since most children spend close to six hours a day and consume as much as half of their daily calories at school, parents want to make sure they’re packing the right stuff to keep them in optimal learning mode.

A healthy lunch + healthy snacks = healthy learning.  So whether the little one is heading off to school for the first time or one is going off to college, they will need a nutritious lunch, as well as some healthy snacks to fuel their day and stimulate neural activity.

Start with a nutritious lunch. Crispy Fruit Freeze-dried snacks are the perfect complement to any healthy lunch.  Parents who will be packing their kids’ lunches should check out the sixth annual Power Your Lunchbox campaign from Produce for Kids.  This campaign has been growing exponentially since its inception with more parents making the promise to pack a healthier lunch for their kids

“We are proud to be one of the founding sponsors of this wonderful campaign that promotes packing healthier school lunches, which aligns perfectly with our mission of using food as a force for good,” said Angela Liu, Crispy Green founder and chief executive officer.

Packing along real fruit that snacks like a chip to school or any other extra-curricular activity will make it easy for the kids to stay away from other, less healthy snacks.

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Eating Produce Improves Life Expectancy, Quality, Research Says

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Family selecting fruits and vegetables while grocery shopping in supermarket

Eating more produce reduces chronic disease risk and improves quality of life, is among the results of a wide – ranging review of research on fruits and vegetables and how consuming them affects health outcomes. The research was commissioned by The Produce for Better Health Foundation.

Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition published the paper recently. Taylor Wallace, a professor in the department of nutrition and food studies at George Mason University, was the lead author. Wallace is also the acting chief food and nutrition scientist for PBH. Wallace led a group of 13 nutrition scientists on the review project.

“Our findings confirm that eating at least five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day has benefits far beyond providing basic nutritional requirements,” Wallace said in a news release. “Increasing fruit and vegetable intake not only helps to ward off chronic disease but also extends both life expectancy and quality.”

The scientists reviewed nearly 100 studies in an effort to summarize the benefits of produce as supported by research. The review will also inform future research priorities and public health messaging strategies.

The group of authors found eating at least 5 servings of produce daily can meaningfully reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. They also found there are “hundreds of fiber structures in fruits and vegetables that support the good bacteria in the gut, which scientists are increasingly recognizing as integral to overall health.”

Research also showed produce supports eye and bone health and may help prevent a range of diseases, including certain cancers.

Another conclusion was all forms of fruits and vegetables offer “generally consistent nutritional benefits” that can improve health quality.

“The time is now for industry stakeholders across the produce supply chain, as well as health professionals, food influencers, chefs, scientists, thought leaders and other advocates, to work together and inspire Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables,” Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, president and CEO of PBH, said in the release. “We’re committed to providing Americans with smart strategies to enjoy more fruits and vegetables every day for happy, healthy and active lives.”

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Mediterranean-Style Eating is Touted for Treating Anxiety, Depression with Potatoes

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San Francisco, CA  – Side Delights® shared trending findings on how potatoes and other vegetables may actually help make people happy.  The link to diet and depression has become an increasingly hot topic following the American Psychiatric Association’s recent 2019 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, where medical experts presented research showing that the Mediterranean-style diet, associated with a reduced risk of cancer and longevity, may also help protect against depression. 1 At the meeting, Dr. Konstantinos Argyropoulos claimed that people who adhere to a Mediterranean diet are less likely to develop symptoms of depression later on in life. The Mediterranean diet, which U.S. News and World Report calls the diet a “well-balanced eating plan”, suggests that for optimum health, consumers should adopt new dietary guidelines: no grains, no dairy, less sugar, more healthy fats, medium amounts of protein, and most importantly, lots of vegetables.

A recent article in Healthline about treating depression and anxiety with a vegetable-based diet, cited two studies supporting the claims. In the first study, after clinically depressed participants ate a modified Mediterranean diet for three months, their symptoms were significantly better. In the other study, Spanish researchers found people who closely followed the Mediterranean lifestyle were 50 percent less likely to develop depression than those who didn’t.2  In another Healthline article dedicated to the health benefits of potatoes, points out that they are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants; can help with weight-loss by curbing hunger pains and cravings, and are naturally gluten-free. 3 

“Potatoes have been known as America’s favorite vegetable for decades, and as research continues to build on the health advantages of vegetable-heavy eating plans, consumers are embracing filling, flavorful ways to incorporate vegetables into more meals, “said Kathleen Triou, President and CEO of Fresh Solutions Network. “Potatoes have a high-satiety factor and are extremely versatile – making them the perfect addition to a vegetable-based diet plan that can not only improve overall health but can help relieve depression.”

For more information on Side Delights® products, programs and recipes, visit www.sidedelights.com.

About Fresh Solutions Network®, LLC:  Fresh Solutions Network (FSN) is the exclusive supplier of Side Delights® potatoes and onions.  FSN is a group of family-owned potato and onion growers and shippers who help fresh potato and onion buyers grow their categories, maximize category investment, and increase sales. FSN delivers category insights, collaborative innovation, and customized assortment. Fresh Solutions Network, LLC partners include: Sterman Masser, Inc. (Masser Potato Farms and Keystone Potato Products in Sacramento and Hegins, PA), Michael Family Farms, Inc.  (Urbana, OH), Basin Gold Cooperative, Inc. (Pasco, WA), Green Thumb Farms, Inc. (Fryeburg, ME), Red Isle Potato Growers, Ltd. (Prince Edward Island, Canada), NoKota Packers, Inc. (Buxton, ND), Sun-Glo of Idaho, Inc. (Sugar City, ID) and Mack Farms (Lake Wales, FL).

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Cancer-Fighting Properties of Plant-Based Foods are Identified in Research

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Anti-cancer molecules have the largest numbers in carrots, celery, oranges, grapes, and cabbage among plant-based foods, according to new research from the Imperial College of London.

In a report titled HyperFoods, Intelligent Mapping of Cancer-Beating Molecules in Foods, researchers said they found that plant-based foods such as tea, carrot, celery, orange, grape, coriander, cabbage and dill contain the largest number of molecules with high anti-cancer likeness.

“Our large scale computational analysis further demonstrates more cancer-beating potential of certain foods calling for more tailored nutritional strategies,” the authors said. However, the research acknowledged limitations of the study’s methodology, including questions of how much bioactive molecules would be needed to fight cancer.

“Nevertheless, food represents the single biggest modifiable aspect of an individual’s health and the machine learning strategy described here is a first step in realizing the potential role for “smart” nutritional programs in the prevention and treatment of cancer,” the authors said. “Moreover, it will pave the way to the future of hyperfoods and gastronomic medicine, encouraging the introduction of personalized “food passports” to provide nutritious, tailored and therapeutically functional foods for every individual in order to benefit the wider population.”

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Plant-Based Food Industry Raises $16 Billion in Investments Since 2009

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By VegNews

Plant-based food companies have raised more than $16 billion in the last decade, with record gains of $13 billion in 2017 and 2018 alone, according to the “State of the Industry Report” released recently by non-profit organization Good Food Institute (GFI).

A plant-based diet is a diet consisting mostly or entirely of foods derived from plants, including vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits, and with few or no animal products.

“Investors and entrepreneurs are capitalizing on a global shift in the way meat is produced. The market opportunity here is massive,” GFI Executive Director Bruce Friedrich said. “Shifting consumer values have created a favorable market for alternatives to animal-based foods, and we have already seen fast-paced growth in this space across retail and foodservice markets.”

GFI identified Impossible Food’s $189-million late-stage venture capital round as 2018’s largest investment deal, followed by vegan milk brand Ripple Foods’$65-million Series C round, Beyond Meat’s $50-million Series H round, and Califia Farms’$50-million private equity round.

The report also found that 2018 was a record year of investment activity in the cell-based meat industry—where meat is grown using a small number of animal cells in a lab-setting—which saw 12 startups raise $50 million in capital across 14 deals. Since 2009, 19 plant-based companies were acquired by non-vegan brands, with 10 of these deals—including the 2017 acquisition of plant-based milk producer WhiteWave Foods by Danone for $12.5 billion, the largest deal of its kind to date—occurring in the last two years.

“These industries are accelerating rapidly, and we are about to see them take off. There is a great deal of momentum, which has been brought about by product innovation, greater emphasis on quality, more investment, and a change in consumer values,” GFI Director of Innovation Brad Barbera said.

“There is still so much growth possible, and there are great opportunities that come with that. Investors and entrepreneurs recognize the vast market opportunity on offer to get involved while these industries take form.”

Recently, Beyond Meat became the first plant-based meat company to be publicly traded on NASDAQ and the unprecedented success of its initial public offering (IPO)—the best-performing IPO of the year—is evidence of consumer interest in investing in the plant-based industry.

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Fresh Produce Spending for 2017 is Up, But Trails Food Spending

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While consumer spending on fruit and vegetables increased in 2017, it still trailed the percentage hike in overall spending on food.

The data is found in the 2017 Consumer Expenditures report published by The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Overall total consumer spending increased 4.8 percent in 2017, following an increase of 2.4 percent in 2016. The report said the average annual expenditures by consumer units increased from $57,311 in 2016 to $60,060 in 2017. 

Spending on fruits and vegetables totaled $837 in 2017, an increase of 6.9 percent compared with 2016, which compares a 7.3 percent increase in spending on all food.

Food-at-home spending rose 7.3 percent to $4,363 while food-away-from-home spending rose 6.7 percent to $3,365, according to the CE report. The percentage of total expenditures on food was reported at 13 percent in 2017, the same share as the previous three years.

The mean average spending across all consumer units was $274 for fresh vegetables and $314 for fresh fruit. The share of fresh produce purchases compared to all consumer expenditures was 0.5 percent for fresh vegetables and 0.5 percent for fresh fruit.

By the age of consumers, for example, top spending consumers for fresh fruit were in the 45 to 54 age bracket, with mean expenditures of $378 or 2017. That compares with just $176 spend on fresh fruit for consumers aged under 25.
For fresh vegetables, the 35 to 44-year-old age group was top rated, with 2017 mean expenditures of $329 compared with $138 for consumers under age 25.

Not surprisingly, the report said that top spenders on fresh produce were top earners. Consumers making more than $200,000 per year spent an average of $529 on fresh vegetables, compared with $140 for those making less than $15,000. But consider the consumer making less than $15,000 was spending 0.6 percent of income on fresh vegetables, compared with 0.3 percent for the consumer making more than $200,000.

There is more micro-analysis where that came from. The report shows spreadsheets for spending by income before taxes by quintile, decile, and range; age of the reference person; size of the consumer unit; composition of the consumer unit; number of earners; housing tenure (homeowner or renter) and type of area (urban or rural); region of residence; occupation; highest education level of any consumer unit member; race; Hispanic or Latino origin; and generation of reference person.

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New Research Examines Effects of Blueberry Consumption on Heart Health

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By U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council

FOLSOM, Calif. – A new research study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants with metabolic syndrome who consumed the equivalent of one cup of fresh blueberries, given as 26g of freeze-dried blueberries, showed clinically relevant changes in measures of heart health. The study, “Blueberries improve biomarkers of cardiometabolic function in participants with metabolic syndrome – results from a 6-month, double blind, randomized controlled trial,” was conducted at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom in collaboration with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other UK institutions.

The study found that intake of the equivalent of one US cup per day of blueberries (given as 26g freeze-dried blueberries) resulted in clinically significant improvements in heart health measures, particularly markers of vascular function (blood flow and elasticity of the blood vessels by measuring endothelial function and arterial stiffness). Improved endothelial function and reduced arterial stiffness are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.[i]Importantly, the observed increases in nitric oxide bioactivity in the blood provided a potential mechanism for the endothelial function benefits observed.

Intake of one cup of blueberries per day also resulted in significantly increased HDL-C levels, also known as “good cholesterol,” compared to the placebo. Additional lipid biomarkers researched in the study support these findings, such as significant increases in HDL particle number and APO-A1 levels, which are other predictors of heart disease risk.

Insulin resistance, pulse wave velocity, blood pressure, and other lipid levels (including total cholesterol) were unaffected by any of the interventions. There were also no observed clinical benefits from the intake of one-half cup of blueberries in this at-risk participant group.

Over a six-month period, 115 participants (78 men and 37 women) between the ages of 50 and 75 with metabolic syndrome, were randomly assigned to receive one of three daily treatments: 26g freeze-dried blueberries (the equivalent of one US cup/d); 13g freeze-dried blueberries (the equivalent of one-half US cup/d); or a placebo powder matched for color, taste and consistency. All study subjects were instructed to limit intake of other anthocyanin (the main natural flavonoid constituent present in blueberries) containing foods to one portion per week and other foods known to modify vascular function. Participants also refrained from blueberry intake beyond the assigned daily treatments.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors which includes low levels of HDL-C, or “good cholesterol,” high blood pressure, increased abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressurerisk for heart disease and other health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and stroke.[ii] It represents a health challenge that impacts more than one-third of the U.S. population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of Americans living with metabolic syndrome substantially increased from 25 percent between 1999 and 2006 to 34.2 percent between 2007-2012.[iii]

“The results of this study provide the first evidence from a long-term study examining the impact of blueberry intake on clinically relevant measures of cardiometabolic health,” said Aedin Cassidy, Ph.D., Head of Nutrition & Preventive Medicine Department and Chair of Nutritional Biochemistry at Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia and the study’s lead investigator. “While the conclusions drawn are from a single study that cannot be generalized to all populations, the data add weight to the evidence that a dietary intervention with a realistic serving of blueberries may be an effective strategy to decrease important risk factors for heart disease.”

The research was funded by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC). The USHBC had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, or writing of the study. For more information on blueberry nutrition research visit blueberrycouncil.org/health-professionals/health-research/.

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About the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council

The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council is an agriculture promotion group, representing blueberry growers and packers in North and South America who market their blueberries in the United States and overseas, and works to promote the growth and well-being of the entire blueberry industry. The blueberry industry is committed to providing blueberries that are grown, harvested, packed and shipped in clean, safe environments.

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