Archive For The “Health” Category

Some Cities are Requiring Dollar Stores to Carry Fresh Produce

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Small-box retailers such as dollar stores are being required by more and more communities with no grocery stores to carry some fresh foods.

In Oklahoma City, the Wall Street Journal reports the city council is considering a plan requiring new retailers in the area to designate at least 500 square feet of space to fresh food.

CNN Business published a story recently called “Dollar stores are everywhere. That’s a problem for poor Americans.”

The article notes rising numbers of dollar stores upset some politicans who believe the discount chains “stifle local competition and limit poor communities’ access to healthy food.

Dollar General and Dollar Tree combine for more than 30,000 stores throughout the U.S. and company officials believe there is room in the market for many thousands more. By way of contrast, Walmart has a paltry 4,700 stores, according to the article.

The USDA offers a visualization of food deserts online in a tool known as the Food Environment Atlas. The Wall Street Journal reports the USDA estimates that 39 million people, or 12.8 percent of the population live in food deserts, with few fresh food choices close by and access to transportation is limited.

As a way to counter the effect of food deserts, the USDA also is involves the Healthy Food Finacing Initiative, which distributes some grants to improve fresh food access in under-served communities.

Recent publicity about dollar stores adding fresh produce may be overstated. The Wall Street Journal notes that soon, 650 Dollar General locations will sell produce. However, this is still only just 4.1 percent of the company’s 16,000 stores.

States have been engaged with the issue as well but have tended toward the carrot more than the stick:

  • Nevada lawmakers last year supported legislation providing providing for tax credits for businesses investing in certain fresh food retailers based in underserved communities and similar areas;
  • A Mississippi bill was passed and signed by the governor last year known as the Small Business and Grocer Investment Act” aiming to provide  “dedicated source of financing for healthy food retailers operating in underserved communities in Mississippi, in both urban and rural areas, to increase access to affordable healthy food so as to improve diets and health; to promote the sale and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, in natural and/or frozen form, particularly those that are Mississippi grown and to support expanded economic opportunities in low-income and rural communities.”
  • New Jersey  has a similar bill encouraging more fresh produce consumption. A summary of the legislation titled The Healthy Small Food Retailer Acts seeks to provide support to small food retailers operating in the Garden State, in both urban and rural areas, to sell more fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods at affordable prices to neighborhood residents in an effort to improve the health and wellness of all New Jerseyans.

Finally, CNN Business had an opinion piece by Darya Minovi called “Dollar General isn’t doing enough to bring healthy food to low-income Americans.”

 Minovi, a policy associate at the Center for Science in the Public Interest focusing on healthy retail policies, sums up her piece in this way:

“To make a meaningful difference for consumers, Dollar General will need to prioritize fresh produce and more nutritious options. If not, communities will continue to follow the example of places like Tulsa, OK; New Orleans; and Mesquite, TX, which have instituted policies to limit the rapid expansion of dollar stores, given their anticompetitive impacts. The success of America’s fastest-growing food retailer should not come at the expense of Americans’ health.”

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Organic Growth Doubles Conventional in 2019, Study Reports

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Organic fruits and vegetables grew twice as fast as sales of conventional produce, according to a new study on 2019 retail organic sales.

With growth over 5 percent last year, retail organic produce sales compared with 2 percent growth for conventional fruits and vegetables. The study is a result of the 2019 Organic Produce Performance Report released by the Organic Produce Network and Category Partners.

Retail volume growth in 2019 of organic fruits and vegetables amounted to 4.6 percent, according to a news release, compared with less than 1 percent volume growth for conventional produce.

The report was created using Nielsen retail scan data covering total food sales and outlets in the U.S.

“Organic growth in retail produce departments continues to be strong,” Matt Seeley, CEO of the Organic Produce Network, said in the release. “Last year, sales of organic fruits and vegetables established a new record, hitting $5.8 billion in retail sales. The rate of growth has slowed slightly from previous years, but there is every reason to believe that the growth of organic fruits and vegetables will continue to outpace conventional products.”

The report showed that Northeast U.S. retail sales grew 6.3 percent, tops among all regions. At 5.7 percent, the West region showed the second best growth, followed by 4.7 percent growth in the South and 3 percent growth in the Midwest region.

A key to creating bigger future retail sales is broadening the range of organic commodities, Steve Lutz, senior vice president of Insights and Innovation at Category Partners, said in the release.

“What we see in the Nielsen data is that organic produce at retail is concentrated within fewer categories than conventional produce,“ Lutz said in the release. “The top 10 organic categories in produce drive nearly 70 percent of volume. These same categories contribute only 53 percent to total volume in conventional.”

The scan data indicated top performers for generating organic sales in 2019 were packaged salads and berries, with packaged salads accounting for almost 20 percent of total retail organic sales and the combined berry category (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry) adding another 15 percent.

Bananas, carrots and apples accounted for 41 percent of total organic volume.

“The top 10 organic categories drive 61 percent of total dollars versus only 38 percent percent in conventional,” Lutz said.



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Study Claims Eating Chili Peppers Leads to Lower Mortality Risk

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The Journal of American College of Cardiology has issued a new study titled Chili Pepper Consumption and Mortality in Italian Adults, finding individuals who ate chili peppers 4 or more times per week, along with a Mediterranean diet, were at a 23 percent lower risk of mortality.

The study was performed on 22,811 Italian men and women. Chili pepper intake was estimated by the EPIC (European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer) Food Frequency Questionnaire and categorized as none/rare consumption, up to 2 times/week, >2 to ≤4 times/week, and >4 times/week.”

“Regular consumption of chili pepper is associated with a lower risk of total and CVD death independent of CVD risk factors or adherence to a Mediterranean diet.” according to the study.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out heart disease is the leading cause of deaths in the United States.  When considering all-causes for cardiovascular disease participants that consumed chili peppers 4 times/week were at a 23 percent lower risk of mortality comparing to none/rare consumption of chili peppers were at a 34 percent risk of mortality.

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Blueberries are No. 1 Recommended Fruit, Survey Concludes

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Blueberries are recommended frequently or always 86 percent of the time, according to a survey of about 200 U.S. based dietitians. The survey was conducted by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council of Folsom, CA.

Other fruits with high levels of support include strawberries, apples and oranges, according to a news release.

“We’re committed to working with registered dietitians because they’re at the forefront of making a positive difference in the health of Americans by providing science-based dietary and lifestyle recommendations,” Kasey Cronquist, president of USHBC, said in the release. “It’s part of the mission of the USHBC to continuously investigate the role blueberries may play in promoting good health, and it’s encouraging to see that research is reflected by the health professional community.”

The survey revealed:

  • 88 percent of surveyed of dietitians said blueberries are rich in vitamins and minerals;
  • 85 percent of those polled said one cup of blueberries as a good source of fiber; and 
  • 78 percent of those surveyed said cited plant polyphenols in blueberries.

Earlier this year, research published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that found participants with metabolic syndrome who consumed the equivalent of one cup of fresh blueberries showed clinically relevant changes in measures of heart health, according to the release. The council said it will continue to communicate with health professionals about the science-backed benefits of blueberries. Information on the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council’s health professional programs is available at 

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Study Shows Idaho Potatoes are America’s Favorite Veggie

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February is the Idaho Potato Commission’s favorite month because it’s American Heart Month and Potato Lovers Month, making it a great time to celebrate Idaho potatoes.

In a national survey conducted by Kelton Global, consumers were asked to pick their favorite vegetable, and Idaho potatoes topped the chart. More than a quarter of Americans (26 percent) — or nearly 68 million — say Idaho potatoes are their favored choice over broccoli (19 percent), corn (14 percent) or leafy greens (14 percent).

“Every few years we survey folks on their vegetable preferences, and I’m pleased to report that Idaho potatoes continue to rank number one,” said Frank Muir, president and chief executive officer of IPC. “What’s not to love about the superfood? They’re nutritious and can be enjoyed hundreds of different ways.”

If you’re wondering how folks prefer to eat their spuds, mashed was the hands down winner (27 percent) followed by French fries (23 percent) and baked (22 percent).

More millennials than older generations (29 percent vs. 24 percent) claim mashed potatoes are their most chosen way to eat spuds.

Close to two in five (37 percent) Northeasterners say mashed is their favorite way to consume potatoes compared to far fewer (24 percent) Americans in other regions.

However, many folks are still in the dark when it comes to the potato’s impressive nutritional profile. Less than three in 10 Americans (28 percent) are aware that spuds are chock-full of potassium, a nutrient that plays an important role in heart health. More women than men (30 percent vs. 25 percent) are in the know that potatoes contain potassium.

The survey was conducted by Kelton Global Research Co. for the Idaho Potato Commission with a sample of 1,005 Americans aged 18 and over between Jan. 7 and Jan. 11.

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Garlic Roasted Spicy Green Beans with Almonds

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Two typical New Year’s resolutions are eating healthier and being a bit more adventurous. But why wait till the New Year? Start your adventure before or during the holidays with this Garlic Roasted Spicy Green Beans with Almonds recipe!

Green beans are a classic, especially at this time of the year, but bring something new to the table by adding red pepper flakes and almonds! It takes essentially no extra time but adds a whole new dimension to the flavor and a slight crunch to the texture that will keep you coming back to this recipe. Of course, the main ingredient that will determine the flavor and taste of this dish is the green beans themselves. That’s why we want to bring your attention to Harvest Sensations. Buying produce from Harvest Sensations isn’t a mere transaction, they pride themselves in delivering the produce you deserve.

They focus entirely on sourcing and importing quality, organic ingredients in order to make the globe their local backyard. Your produce comes right from a farmer out of the U.S., Mexico, or Central and South America. And if you want assurance that you’re getting the best, Harvest Sensations is proud to be globally certified through multiple organizations including Global Food Safety Initiative and National Organic Standards.

They’re dedicated to their customers and the environment equally, committed to great service and products while also maintaining an active commitment to the environment. They have a sustainability plan based on viability, accountability, responsibility, and investment.

That’s how you know you’ll be receiving top of the line green beans! Which means a magnificent source for vitamins A, C, and K along with folic acid and fiber for you and everyone else at your table. This translates directly into your health, promoting a good mood, bone health, and even clocking carcinogenic effects.

Best of all, this recipe is easy! Check out the three steps to your adventure below:


  • 12 oz raw Harvest Sensations green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons sliced almonds


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place the green beans in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and then season with red pepper flakes, sea salt, and fresh cracked pepper and toss.
  3. On a parchment lined baking sheet, spread the green beans in a single layer. Roast for 15 minutes before removing beans from the oven to add minced garlic and sliced almonds. Mix all together and spread into a single layer again and roast for an additional 5 minutes until green beans are cooked through and the garlic and almonds are lightly golden.

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Pilot Study: Daily Almond Consumption on Facial Wrinkles

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By Almond Board of California

MODESTO, Calif. — Anti-aging regimens abound but emerging research, that one delicious addition to your skincare routine may be in your pantry instead of your makeup kit: almonds.

A new pilot study by researchers at the University of California, Davis1 found that a daily snack of almonds in place of other nut-free snacks improved measures of wrinkle width and severity in postmenopausal women. The study was funded by the Almond Board of California and is the first of its kind to examine almonds’ effects on skin health. A larger and longer-term follow-up study is underway.

In this 16-week randomized controlled trial, 28 healthy postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin type 1 or 2 (characterized by increased tendency to burn with sun exposure) were randomly assigned to one of two groups. In the intervention group, women ate almonds as a snack, which accounted for 20% of their total daily calorie intake, or 340 calories per day on average (about 2 one-ounce servings). The control group ate a nut-free snack that also accounted for 20% of calories: a cereal bar, granola bar or pretzels. Aside from these snacks, study participants ate their regular diets and did not eat any nuts or nut-containing products.

Skin assessments were made at the start of the study, and again at 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks. At each visit, facial wrinkles were assessed using high-resolution facial imaging and validated 3-D facial modeling and measurement. “These high resolution cameras allow for 3-D reconstruction of any wrinkles so that they can be mapped for their key characteristics of width and severity. The severity score is a calculation of the depth and length of a wrinkle,” explains Raja Sivamani, MD MS AP, integrative dermatologist and lead researcher on the study. Skin barrier function was also assessed, by measuring sebum production and transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Skin barrier function examines the strength of the skin barrier and how well it protects skin from moisture loss (TEWL) and from harmful irritants coming from the environment.

By the end of the study at 16 weeks, photographic image analysis showed statistically significant improvements for participants in the almond snack group compared to the control group (P<0.02):

  • Wrinkle width decreased by 10%
  • Wrinkle severity decreased by 9%

There were no significant changes in skin barrier function between groups.

“Food as a means of promoting skin health – the “health from the inside out” idea – is of growing interest to those looking for options for healthy aging,” says Dr. Sivamani. “It’s also a growing area of scientific research. Almonds are a rich source of antioxidant vitamin E and deliver essential fatty acids and polyphenols. They’re a smart choice for overall good nutrition. And, as seen in this study, almonds may hold promise as a food to include as part of a healthy aging diet, especially for post-menopausal women.”

Study at a Glance:

The Study: 28 healthy, postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin type 1 (always burns, never tans) or 2 (usually burns, tans minimally) were randomly assigned to either an intervention or a control group. Almonds were provided as 20% of total daily calorie intake for the intervention group (340 calories/day on average), about 2 one-ounce servings. The control group consumed a calorie-matched nut-free snack in place of almonds daily: cereal bar, energy bar or pretzels. All participants were advised not to consume any nuts or nut-containing products over the course of the study (except for the almond snack for the intervention group). They otherwise were advised to continue their usual daily energy intake.

After a four-week dietary wash-out period, participants were randomized to one of the two study groups detailed above. Study visits occurred at baseline, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks.

Facial wrinkles were assessed using high-resolution facial photography and validated 3-D facial modeling and measurement at baseline, 8 weeks and 16 weeks. Skin barrier function was assessed by measurement of sebum production and transepidermal water loss (TEWL).


  • Photographic image analysis showed that the almond group had significant reductions in wrinkle width and severity, by 10 and 9%, respectively, compared to the control group at the 16-week time point (P<0.02).
  • There were no significant differences in sebum production between groups after 8 and 16 weeks.
  • There were no significant differences between groups in transepidermal water loss (TEWL) from baseline after 8 and 16 weeks.
  • There were no significant changes from baseline in the skin barrier function (P=0.65) between the almond and control groups relative to baseline after 16 weeks.

Study Limitations: Aging is a long-lasting process so the findings from this 16-week study may be difficult to reproduce and generalize to extended periods of time. Skin-aging is also multi-factorial in nature and although certain groups were excluded (i.e., those with a smoking history), there is variance in aging confounders, such as frequency of UV light exposure and emotional stress, which were outside the scope of the study. This study was limited to cosmetic evaluation, as no measurements were made regarding collagen production. Study did not evaluate disease or younger subjects, so results are limited to otherwise healthy post-menopausal females. In addition, this was a pilot study with a limited number of participants. Future studies should expand to a larger recruitment pool.

Conclusion: Results of this pilot study suggest that daily consumption of almonds may play a role in reducing wrinkle severity in post-menopausal women. The outcomes warrant future studies with expanded population groups and additional evaluations for signs of skin aging.

California almonds make life better by what we grow and how we grow. The Almond Board of California promotes natural, wholesome and quality almonds through leadership in strategic market development, innovative research, and accelerated adoption of industry best practices on behalf of the more than 7,600 almond farmers and processors in California, most of whom are multi-generational family operations. Established in 1950 and based in Modesto, California, the Almond Board of California is a non-profit organization that administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture.

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N.C. Sweet Potato Shipper is Pushing Health Benefits

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A North Carolina sweet potato grower and shipper is promoting the health benefits of North Carolina Sweet potatoes this season.

Nash Produce of Nashville, N.C. reports sweet potatoes are becoming very popular because it is packed with fiber in addition to many essential vitamins and minerals. Additionally, the sweet potato is a well-rounded product that doesn’t require a lot of extra effort. 

The company notes Consumers are increasingly interested in incorporating the tasty tuber in their snacks and meals, whether with restaurants or at their local supermarket.

Nash Produce plans to highlight the value of health and versatility of the sweet potato this year as studies are showing health benefits to consuming sweet potatoes due to their naturally high levels in beta-carotene, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals.

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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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