Friday, October 27, 2006

Food Fad

Health: Get the Whole Truth

Oct. 30, 2006 issue - When Rebecca Faill began manning the baker's hot line at King Arthur Flour Company in Norwich, Vt., she expected run-of-the-mill cooking questions, like "Why aren't my biscuits fluffy?" or "How do I convert my pancake recipe to serve 300 for the church dinner?" But over the past year, another query has moved to the fore—a more basic nutritional question: "My doctor just told me I have to eat whole grains. What does that mean?"
It's a question that consumers have been asking with increasing urgency since 2005, when the USDA's Dietary Guidelines started recommending that people eat three or more servings of whole grains a day (or, as the government slogan put it, "Make half your grains whole"). The USDA action came in response to a growing body of research showing that people who eat the most whole grains have a 20 to 40 percent reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, not to mention better colon health. The reasons for the health benefits aren't hard to fathom. Whole grains include not just the starchy interior of a kernel, but also the fibrous bran that surrounds it, together with the vitamin- and mineral-rich germ (or seed). In contrast, fluffy white refined flour—the kind in most cakes, cookies and crackers—has the highly nutritious bran and germ stripped away.

Manufacturers have taken the USDA's cue and started mixing whole grains into foods ranging from Fig Newtons to Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, and even new varieties of Wonder Bread. By some estimates, 300 new whole-grain products reached grocery-store shelves in 2005 alone. But there's one huge catch. Not all the new products are as healthful as others—and some items positioned as whole grains are outright impostors. Phrases such as "made with whole grains" tell you very little, as a mere sprinkling of whole-wheat flour could justify such a claim. Even "organic," "stone-ground" and "multigrain" are no guarantee. "Multigrain simply means it contains several types of grain," says Bonnie Liebman at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "It doesn't tell you whether those grains are whole or refined."

The Whole Grains Council (wholegrains has tried to help consumers sort out the confusion, with its black-and-gold stamps on product packaging. The stamp, which the council recently revamped, now states precisely how many grams of whole grains you get per serving of a given product. Directly below the stamp is the recommendation "Eat 48g or more of whole grains daily"—in other words, three 16-gram servings. But not all companies are registering their products with the council. If that's the case, then make sure the first item on the ingredients list contains the word "whole"—not "enriched" or "unbleached," both code words for refined. Another great indicator is a claim of "100 percent whole grain," which means whole-grain flour hasn't been mixed with refined. And the fewer ingredients in the product, the healthier it is likely to be; fewer ingredients mean that a higher percentage is probably whole grain.

Even better, eat actual grains, such as quinoa, wild rice and millet. That's where you'll find the greatest nutritional benefits. Lisa Hark's recent book "The Whole Grain Diet Miracle" ($24.95) includes recipes for 16 different whole grains, along with nutritional profiles of each one.

If nutritionists have one worry about this whole-grain trend, it's that consumers will now feel free to indulge in high-calorie snacks just because they're labeled "whole grain." True, says Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at New York University, the whole-grain version of Chips Ahoy! cookies is somewhat better than the regular variety. But, as she warns, whole-grain chocolate-chip cookies are still chocolate-chip cookies.

© 2006 Newsweek, Inc.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Another Fad Hits the Wall - New York Times

Stick to "Right Carbs" and "Right Fats"

Another Fad Hits the Wall - New York Times

" Last year, 12.8 percent of all the new products churned out by food companies were emblazoned with a low-fat or fat-free label, according to ProductScan Online, everything from low-fat tortilla chips to cheese slices, peanut butter, refrigerated dip and hot dogs.

But with a new study this week indicating that a reduced-fat diet may not help ward off heart disease or cancer, marketing experts and some food companies say that the days of the low-fat phenomenon are numbered."

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Story of Wheat

Other than description of early emmer as free threshing, good piece:

The story of wheat

Ears of plenty

Dec 20th 2005
From The Economist print edition

The story of man's staple food

In 10,000 years, the earth's population has doubled ten times, from less than 10m to more than six billion now and ten billion soon. Most of the calories that made that increase possible have come from three plants: maize, rice and wheat. The oldest, most widespread and until recently biggest of the three crops is wheat (see chart). To a first approximation wheat is the staple food of mankind, and its history is that of humanity.

Yet today, wheat is losing its crown. The tonnage (though not the acreage) of maize harvested in the world began consistently to exceed that of wheat for the first time in 1998; rice followed suit in 1999. Genetic modification, which has transformed maize, rice and soyabeans, has largely passed wheat by—to such an extent that it is in danger of becoming an “orphan crop”. The Atkins diet and a fashion for gluten allergies have made wheat seem less wholesome. And with population growth rates falling sharply while yields continue to rise, even the acreage devoted to wheat may now begin to decline for the first time since the stone age.

It is time to pay tribute to this strange little grass that has done so much for the human race. Strange is the word, for wheat is a genetic monster. A typical wheat variety is hexaploid—it has six copies of each gene, where most creatures have two. Its 21 chromosomes contain a massive 16 billion base pairs of DNA, 40 times as much as rice, six times as much as maize and five times as much as people. It is derived from three wild ancestral species in two separate mergers. The first took place in the Levant 10,000 years ago, the second near the Caspian Sea 2,000 years later. The result was a plant with extra-large seeds incapable of dispersal in the wild, dependent entirely on people to sow them.

The story actually starts much earlier, around 12,000 years ago. At the time, after several warm millennia, a melting ice sheet in North America collapsed and a gigantic lake drained into the North Atlantic through the St Lawrence seaway. The torrent of cool, fresh water altered the climate so drastically that the ice age, which had been in full retreat, resumed for a further 11 centuries. The Scandinavian ice sheet surged south. Western Asia became not only cooler, but much drier. The Black Sea all but dried out.

People in what is now Syria had been subsisting happily on a diet of acorns, gazelles and grass seeds. The centuries of drought drove them to depend increasingly on wild grass seeds. Abruptly, soon after 11,000 years ago, they began to cultivate rye and chickpeas, then einkorn and emmer, two ancestors of wheat, and later barley. Soon cultivated grain was their staple food. It happened first in the Karacadag Mountains in south-eastern Turkey—it is only here that wild einkorn grass contains the identical genetic fingerprint of modern domesticated wheat.

Who first replanted the seeds and why? For a start, he was probably a she: women have primary responsibilities for plant gathering in hunter-gatherer societies. The time was certainly ripe for agriculture: the ability to make tools and control fire (cooking makes many plants more digestible) was already well established. But was it an act of inspiration or desperation? Did it perhaps happen by accident, as discarded grains germinated around human settlements?

The wheat plant evolved three new traits to suit its new servants: the seeds grew larger; the “rachis” which binds the seeds together became less brittle so whole ears of grass, rather than individual seeds, could be gathered; and the leaf-like glumes that covered each seed loosened, thus making the grains “free-threshing”. In the past two years, the very mutations that allowed these changes have been located within the wheat plant's genome.

Wheat's servants now became its slaves. Agriculture brought drudgery, subjugation and malnutrition, because unlike hunter-gatherers, farmers could eke out a living when times were bad. But at least that meant that they could survive. Population growth was now inevitable. Within a few generations, wheat farmers were on the march, displacing and overwhelming hunter-gatherers as they went, and bringing with them their distinct Indo-European language, of which Sanskrit and Irish are both descendants. By 5,000 years ago wheat had reached Ireland, Spain, Ethiopia and India. A millennium later it reached China: paddy rice was still thousands of years in the future.

Wherever they went, the farmers brought their habits: not just sowing, reaping and threshing, but baking, fermenting, owning, hoarding. By 9,000 years ago they had domesticated cattle, to which they could feed wheat to get meat and milk. They could also get precious manure to fertilise the fields. Not until 6,000 years ago did somebody invent the first plough to turn the earth, burying weeds and breaking up the seedbed.

Innovations came slowly in wheat farming. The horse collar arrived in the third century BC, in China. By not pressing on the animal's windpipe, it enabled the animal to drag greater weight—and faster than an ox. In 1701 AD the Berkshire farmer Jethro Tull devised a simple seed drill based on organ pipes, which resulted in eight times as many grains harvested for every grain sown. Like most agricultural innovators since, he was vilified. A century later the threshing machine was greeted by riots.

In 1815 a gigantic volcanic eruption at Tambora in Indonesia led to the famous “year without a summer”. New England had frosts in July. France had bitter cold in August. Wheat prices reached a level that would never be seen again in real terms, nearly $3 a bushel. Thomas Robert Malthus was then at the height of his fame and the harvest failure seemed to bear out his pessimism. In 1798 he had forecast a population crash, based on the calculation that it was impossible to improve wheat yields as fast as people made babies (each new baby can make more babies; each new field of grain leaves less new land to cultivate).

The Malthusian crash was staved off in the 19th century by bringing more land under the plough—in North America, Argentina and Australia especially. But wheat yields per acre grew worse if anything as soil nutrients were depleted. So in 1898, in a speech to the British Association, a chemist, Sir William Crookes, argued again that worldwide starvation was inevitable within a generation. Population was rising fast. There was little new land to plough. Famines became worse each season, especially in Asia.

This time it was the tractor that averted Malthusian disaster. The first tractors had few advantages over the best horses, but they did not eat hay or oats. The replacement of draft animals by machines released about 25% more land for growing food for human consumption.

The Malthusian limit would surely be reached one day, though. The only way to increase yield was to find a way of supplying extra nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to the soil. Neither a break crop of legumes, nor manure was the answer, since both demanded precious acres to produce. The search for fertiliser took unexpected turns. British entrepreneurs scoured the old battlefields of Europe searching for phosphorus-rich bones. In about 1830 a magic ingredient was found: guano. On the dry seabird islands off the South American and South African coasts, immense deposits of bird droppings, rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, had accumulated over centuries. Guano mining became a profitable business, and a grim one. Off South-West Africa, the discovery in 1843 of the tiny island of Ichaboe, covered in 25 feet of penguin and gannet excrement, led to a guano rush followed by a mutiny and battles. By 1850, Ichaboe, minus 800,000 tonnes of guano, was deserted again.

Between 1840 and 1880, guano nitrogen made a vast difference to European agriculture. But soon the best deposits were exhausted. In the dry uplands of Chile, rich mineral nitrate deposits were then found, and gradually took the place of guano in the late 19th century. The nitrate mines fuelled Chile's economy and fertilised Europe's farms.

On July 2nd 1909, with the help of an engineer named Carl Bosch from the BASF company, Fritz Haber succeeded in combining nitrogen (from the air) with hydrogen (from coal) to make ammonia. In a few short years, BASF had scaled up the process to factory size and the sky could be mined for nitrogen. Today nearly half the nitrogen atoms in the proteins of an average human being's body came at some time or another through an ammonia factory. In the short term, though, Haber merely saved the German war effort as it was on the brink of running out of nitrogen explosives in 1914, cut off from Chilean nitrates. He went on to make lethal gas for chemical warfare and genocide.

On farms, Haber nitrogen ran into much the same revulsion as had greeted the seed drill. For many farmers, the goodness of manure could not be reduced to a white powder. Fertiliser must in some sense be alive. Haber nitrogen was not used as fertiliser in large quantities until the middle of the 20th century, and for a good reason. If you put extra nitrogen on wheat, the crop grew taller and thicker than usual, fell over in the wind and rotted. On General Douglas MacArthur's team in Japan at the end of the second world war a wheat expert named Cecil Salmon collected 16 varieties of wheat including one called “Norin 10”, which grew just two feet tall, instead of the usual four. Salmon sent it back to a scientist named Orville Vogel in Oregon in 1949. Vogel began crossing Norin 10 with other wheats to make new short-strawed varieties.

In 1952 news of Vogel's wheat filtered down to a remote research station in Mexico, where a man named Norman Borlaug was breeding fungus-resistant wheat for a project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. Borlaug took some Norin, and Norin-Brevor hybrid, seeds to Mexico and began to grow new crosses. Within a few short years he had produced wheat that yielded three times as much as before. By 1963 95% of Mexico's wheat was Borlaug's variety, and the country's wheat harvest was six times what it had been when Borlaug set foot in the country.

In 1961 Borlaug was invited to visit India by M. S. Swaminathan, adviser to the Indian minister of agriculture. India was on the brink of mass famine. Huge shipments of food aid from America were all that stood between its swelling population and a terrible fate. One or two people were starting to say the unsayable. After an epiphany in a taxi in a crowded Delhi street, the environmentalist Paul Ehrlich wrote a best-seller arguing that the world had “too many people”. Not only could America not save India; it should not save India. Mass starvation was inevitable, and not just for India, but for the world.

Borlaug refused to be so pessimistic. He arrived in India in March 1963 and began testing three new varieties of Mexican wheat. The yields were four or five times better than Indian varieties. In 1965, after overcoming much bureaucratic opposition, Swaminathan persuaded his government to order 18,000 tonnes of Borlaug's seed. Borlaug loaded 35 trucks in Mexico and sent them north to Los Angeles. The convoy was held up by the Mexican police, stopped at the border by United States officials and then held up by the National Guard when the Watts riots prevented them reaching the port. Then, as the shipment eventually sailed, war broke out between India and Pakistan.

Natural-born mutants

As it happened, the war proved a godsend, because the state grain monopolies lost their power to block the spread of Borlaug's wheat. Eager farmers took it up with astonishing results. By 1974, India wheat production had tripled and India was self-sufficient in food; it has never faced a famine since. In 1970 Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for firing the first shot in what came to be called the “green revolution”.

Borlaug had used natural mutants; soon his successors were bringing on mutations artificially. In 1956, a sample of a barley variety called Maythorpe was irradiated at Britain's Atomic Energy Research Establishment . The result was a strain with stiffer, shorter straw but the same early harvest and malting qualities, which would eventually reach the market as “Golden Promise”.

Today scientists use thermal neutrons, X-rays, or ethyl methane sulphonate, a harsh carcinogenic chemical—anything that will damage DNA—to generate mutant cereals. Virtually every variety of wheat and barley you see growing in the field was produced by this kind of “mutation breeding”. No safety tests are done; nobody protests. The irony is that genetic modification (GM) was invented in 1983 as a gentler, safer, more rational and more predictable alternative to mutation breeding—an organic technology, in fact. Instead of random mutations, scientists could now add the traits they wanted.

In 2004 200m acres of GM crops were grown worldwide with good effects on yield (up), pesticide use (down), biodiversity (up) and cost (down). There has not been a single human health problem. Yet, far from being welcomed as a greener green revolution, genetic modification soon ran into fierce opposition from the environmental movement. Around 1998, a century after Crookes and two centuries after Malthus, green pressure groups began picking up public disquiet about GM and rushed the issue to the top of their agendas, where it quickly brought them the attention and funds they crave.

Wheat, because of its unwieldy hexaploid genome, has largely missed out on the GM revolution, as maize and rice accelerate into world leadership. The first GM wheats have only recently been approved for use, their principal advantage to the farmer being so-called “no till” cultivation—the planting of seed directly into untilled soil saves fuel and topsoil.

Soon after Norman Borlaug went to India in 1963, a remarkable thing began to happen. The world population growth rate, in percentage terms, had been climbing steadily since the second world war (bar a two-year drop in 1959-60 caused by Mao Xedong). But in the mid 1960s it stopped rising. And by 1974 it was falling significantly. The number of people added each year kept on rising for a while, but even that peaked in 1989, and then began falling steadily. Population was still growing, but it was adding a smaller and smaller number each year.

Demographers, who had been watching the exponential rise with alarm, now forecast that the population will peak below ten billion—ten gigapeople—not long after 2050. Such a low forecast would have been unthinkable just two decades ago. Already, in developing countries, the number of children born per woman has fallen from six to three in 50 years. It will have reached replacement-level fertility (where deaths equal births) by 2035.

This is an extraordinary development, unexpected, undeserved—and apparently unnatural. Human beings may be the only creatures that have fewer babies when they are better fed. The fastest-growing populations in the world over the next 50 years will be those of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Uganda and Yemen. All except in Yemen are in Africa. All are hungry. All remain untouched by Borlaug's green Revolution: all depend on primarily organic agriculture.

In 10,000 years the population has doubled at least ten times. Yet suddenly the doubling has ceased. It will never double again. The end of humanity's population boom will happen in the lifetimes of people alive today. It is the moment when Malthus was wrong for the last time.

Of course feeding ten billion will not be trivial. It will require at least 35% more calories than the world's farmers grow today, probably much more if a growing proportion of those ten billion are to have meat more than once a month. (It takes ten calories of wheat to produce one calorie of meat.) That will mean either better yields or less rainforest—which is why fertilisers, pesticides and transgenes are the best possible protectors of the planet. The story of wheat is not finished yet.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Why not simply switch to healthy foods?

Science's Quest to Banish Fat in Tasty Ways - New York Times:

Seems that old ways die hard

"With two-thirds of Americans considered overweight and yet many professing a desire to eat healthier, every major food producer and food-ingredient company has ordered its scientists to find the holy grail: products that either have less bad stuff - fat, white flour, sugar and salt - or more good stuff like whole grains, fiber and fish oil.

Some of these food additives are natural and some are not. But even those that are natural hardly evoke images of a country harvest. Fat-repellent coatings, after all, do not grow on trees.

Coming soon to your grocery store, for example, could be salty corn chips cooked in oil but that are marketed as healthy because the addition of chemically modified starches make them high in fiber. Labeled simply as 'modified cornstarch,' this additive cannot be broken down until it reaches the colon, much like the natural fiber found in fruit and vegetables. Also coming soon: bread containing microscopic capsules of fish oil, enabling food companies to contend that the bread is 'heart-healthy' because of the cholesterol and triglyceride-lowering omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil."


""What this does is to turn food into medicine," said Professor Nestle. "Omega-3's occur naturally in food like fish, chicken and eggs, and plants to a lesser extent. Why do we need to get it from bread?"

One reason may be that products that can be marketed as healthier often generate higher sales and fatter profits for food companies. PepsiCo, for instance, reports that sales of its healthier "Smart Spot" items - products like Baked Lay's potato crisps, Tropicana orange juice, Diet Pepsi and Quaker oatmeal - are growing at double the pace of other products.

Foods labeled as healthy also present a show of good faith to administration officials, members of Congress, consumer groups and trial lawyers, who all monitor the food industry's response to the nation's obesity problem. "


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Whole Wheat Pasta!

Most Improved Pasta - New York Times: "

Whole-wheat pasta contains the entire grain seed, usually referred to as the kernel. The kernel has three components: the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bran and the germ contain a host of vitamins, minerals and fiber, some of which are lost in the refining process. So a two-ounce serving of whole-wheat pasta can contain five to seven grams of fiber, more than a typical serving of old-fashioned oatmeal. Refined pasta has only about two grams.

Food manufacturers of whole-grain foods - think of all the good-tasting whole-grain breads that have recently appeared - are making pasta available in dozens of shapes and sizes, including lasagna, linguine, rotini and fusilli. They are making them not only with whole wheat, but also with spelt, brown rice, buckwheat, kamut and farro."


"Consumers are looking for ways to improve their health," Mr. Mendelson ( of Grocery Headquarters Magazine) said. "No. 1 is the taste factor; the other is perceived value in terms of nutrition. They want products that are healthier for them, but if the product doesn't taste good enough, consumers will abandon it."

When the new dietary guidelines for Americans were announced by the federal government in January, recommending at least three ounces of whole grains a day, the public had already begun to abandon low-carb diets because many found they did not work.

"People have decided to go back to carbs," said Bridget Goldschmidt, managing editor of Progressive Grocer, a trade publication for the supermarket industry. "But they are going to what they perceive to be healthier carbs. Whole grains have integrity."

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Oprah sings praises of whole grains

Food Solutions: Whole Grains

To ward off cancer, esp cancer of the colon.

"World-renowned heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz says that if we can work on our fiber and water intake, our digestive systems could dramatically improve.

High fiber comes in vegetable form: artichokes, lima beans, soybeans," he says. "You can get fruits that have lots of fiber like grapefruit, blackberries and raspberries.

Another fantastic source of fiber is whole grains. Dr. Oz says that eating whole grains isn't just the latest craze—they offer multiple benefits to your health. You may have already heard about the health benefits of whole wheat bread and oatmeal, but now doctors say other whole grains like spelt, bulgar and quinoa can reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure and even help prevent heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. They say that whole grains help flush fat and cholesterol out of your system and provide powerful antioxidants that help you stay healthier, look younger and live longer. The USDA just recently recommended eating at least three servings a day."


""Whole grains are an insoluble fiber, so it pulls water with it and it binds to all the other stuff you're eating that may not be so good for you."

Monday, May 02, 2005

Putting The New Food Pyramid To Work

Putting The New Food Pyramid To Work

From Business Week...excerpt :

" You don't have to become a vegetarian to incorporate healthy foods into your diet. Nutritionists favor such tricks as adding fruit to whole grain breakfast cereals, topping pizza with vegetables, or adding fruits and vegetables to standard recipes. Serve a vegetable as the first course of the evening meal -- you'll eat more of it because you're hungry. For fussy children who don't like veggies floating in their pasta sauces or soups, puree the ingredients in the blender first.

The food pyramid recommends switching at least half your grains to whole grains. Dr. Walter C. Willett of Harvard School of Public Health complains that this advice falls short -- all grains should be whole, since white flour and other processed grains can contribute to heart disease. As a start, always look for the word "whole" on bread and cereal labels. If the main ingredient on a multigrain bread is enriched wheat flour, for example, it does not contain whole grain. Mix brown rice and whole wheat pasta with their refined counterparts to get used to the taste. And add sweeteners to a healthy cereal at the table rather than buying presweetened brands; you'll consume a lot less sugar.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Whole Grains Council Research Reports

Whole Grains Council

A series of good postings on Whole Grains and Health.
From heart diease and diabetes to weight and cancer.

Friday, April 08, 2005

MSNBC - Whole-grain food: Good (for you) in many ways

MSNBC - Whole-grain food: Good (for you) in many ways

From the NBC Today Show:

"Q: What food group is so nutritious it can help you reduce your risk for major diseases, improve regularity and help reduce weight (and also is chewy, delicious and filling)?

A: Whole grains!"

Yup, we knew that, but here's more comments :

"Why are whole grains so important?
Whole grains or foods made from them contain all the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. The outer skin of the seed is the B vitamin-, antioxidant- and fiber-rich bran; the germ (or embryo) holds the protein, minerals and healthy fats; and the endosperm (the main part of the grain between the bran and the germ) has the proteins, carbohydrates and smaller quantities of vitamins and minerals. The bran and germ contain 25 percent of the protein in whole grains and many nutrients. When highly processed, these valuable nutrients and proteins are lost (not to mention healthful fiber).

How do whole grains fight disease?
One of the most important things in whole grains is fiber, a key to good intestinal health and lower cholesterol levels. If you don’t eat foods with enough fiber, toxins increase and stay in the body, which can lead to chronic constipation, lethargy and the potential for disease. The other healthful ingredients in whole grains play an important part in overall health: Antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and protein in whole grains keep our bodies healthy, operating efficiently and increase our strength.

Research has shown that just three daily servings (or 48 grams) of whole grains can reduce the risk of heart disease by 25 percent to 36 percent, strokes by 37 percent, Type II diabetes by 21 percent to 27 percent, digestive system cancers by 21 percent to 43 percent and hormone-related cancers by 10 percent to 40 percent. Although whole grains are best, partially processed ones also offer healthful benefits. If the grain has been cracked, crushed, rolled, extruded, lightly pearled and/or cooked but retains both the bran and germ, it will deliver approximately the same rich balance of nutrients found in the original grain seed. "


Important Point :

"Only 10 percent of the supermarket inventory is whole grains or foods made with whole grains. That means it’s important to read labels of packaged food products. One key to making good choices is to remember that whole-grain means ALL the nutrients are still in the food; white flour and products made from white flour means ALL or most of the nutrients are processed out."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Whole Story - Fiber, Whole Grains, & Health

From Today's Dietitian

"The nature of whole grains, with their inherent fibrous structure, has proven to have many health benefits. From lowering lipid levels to staving off diabetes and cancer to controlling blood pressure and helping with weight maintenance, whole grains can act as medicine in the body. The American Heart Association sees the power of whole grains in maintaining a healthy heart and recommends that individuals consume at least six servings per day of whole grain products such as oatmeal, cereal, bread, and brown rice."

Wonderful article covering many of the benefits of whole grains in your diet.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Minimalist: Leek Sauce in a Trice

The New York Times > Dining & Wine > The Minimalist: Leek Sauce in a Trice

Good ideas for pasta
Check for wild leeks in season
Earthy Delights

Recipe: Pasta With Leeks and Parsley

Published: March 30, 2005

Time: 30 minutes

3 big or 4 medium leeks (at least a pound, total)
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
2 or 3 dried red chilies
½ red bell pepper or 1 tomato, minced
1 pound spaghetti, linguine or other long pasta
¾ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves.

1. Trim root end of leeks, then cut off hard green leaves, leaving a bit of green where they meet the white part. Split leeks down the middle, then chop them, not too finely. Wash very well, and spin or shake dry. Set a large pot of water to boil, and salt it.

2. Put half the butter or oil in a large skillet, and turn heat to medium-high. A minute later add garlic and chilies, and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic browns; remove chilies (and garlic if you prefer). Add leeks, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they wilt, about 10 minutes. Add pepper or tomato, and lower heat; continue to cook, stirring once in a while, until leeks begin to brown.

3. Cook pasta until tender but not mushy. When it's done, drain it, reserving about ½ cup cooking liquid. Toss pasta and leeks together with remaining butter or oil, a few sprinklings of black pepper and all but a little of the parsley, adding a bit of cooking liquid if mixture seems dry. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with remaining parsley, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Hearty Pasta for Hearty Weather

The New York Times: Premium Archive

The following is interesting but a much better deal is Purity Foods Whole Spelt pasta's

Published: January 12, 2005, Wednesday

This is the time of year to come home to a bowl of earthy, rustic pasta tossed with chunks of sausage and bold, garlicky sautéed broccoli rabe beneath a drift of tangy pecorino. An excellent choice for the pasta would be the artisanal brand Latini, especially its nutty-tasting farro pasta, made with spelt, an ancient wheatlike grain. The pasta is cut on traditional bronze dies, resulting in a rough texture designed to sop up the ingredients that dress it. At, 10 shapes of farro pasta are available, each $6.50 for a 1.1-pound box plus shipping. For sausage, the short mezzi rigatoni is best. But the pastas also take beautifully to thick vegetable-based sauces and sturdy ragus made with canned San Marzano tomatoes. And your classic carbonara will never be the same. It's worth noting that farro pasta cooks faster than regular pasta, so shave a couple of minutes off the boiling.

Published: 01 - 12 - 2005 , Late Edition - Final , Section F , Column 4 , Page 9

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Arizona Republic on Whole Grains

The whole truth about whole grains

Mary Beth Faller
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 8, 2005 12:00 AM
The government's new dietary guidelines, released last month, emphasize that Americans need to eat fewer calories and exercise more. More specifically, the food we eat should be more nutritious.
One way to do that is to substitute whole-grain foods, such as brown rice or whole-wheat bread, for refined-grain foods, such as white bread and bagels. It isn't that hard to do, says Kelli Morgan, a registered dietitian at Paradise Valley Hospital.

How's this for why to look for whole grain products:
Q: Why is whole grain better?
A: Whole grains have more fiber, double the calcium, six times more magnesium and four times more potassium.
Some people probably don't know that the antioxidants found in grains are not present in fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are important for fighting cancer. Studies have shown that people who eat whole grains have lower body- mass index, lower total cholesterol and a lower waist-to-hip ratio. Epidemiological studies on a variety of different populations noted that people who eat three daily servings of whole grains reduced their risk of heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes and digestive-system cancers.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Selling Wholesomeness in the Breakfast Bowl

Interesting piece in the NYTimes on Whole Grains in the market and the new marketing push

click here for the article Eating Well: Selling Wholesomeness in the Breakfast Bowl

"Whole grains" are buzz words for 2005. One market research firm, Mintel, has declared them the ingredient of the year. On Monday, Post cereals announced its lineup of whole grain cereals. The rush brings back memories of the late 1980's and the oat bran craze , which lost steam as soon as oat bran potato chips appeared on the market.

But whole grains are different. They are not unnatural additions to food, the way oat bran was for most products. White flour did not become popular until after the Civil War, when the invention of the steel roller mill made the refining process cheap. But the process of refining grains strips them of much of their vitamin, mineral and fiber content. That is why ready-to-eat cereals are fortified with many - though not all - of those lost vitamins and minerals. Fiber is not added back.

The whole grain movement received an important boost when the federal dietary guidelines, released last month, suggested that half of the recommended grain servings consumed by Americans be whole grains, particularly because of their fiber content. Whole grains now make up only 5 percent of the grains eaten by Americans.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Initial posting

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Over time, we’ll post information that relates to the health benefits of whole grains, in particular, spelt, with citations and links to other sites with relevant information

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Much more to come down the road

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

PERSONAL HEALTH; For Unrefined Healthfulness: Whole Grains

The New York Times: Health

By Jane E. Brody
Published March 4, 2003

"Carbohydrates have been taking a beating lately, blamed for the growing obesity epidemic, a raised risk of heart disease and diabetes, among others. To be sure, the carbs that predominate in the American diet -- sugars and refined starches -- deserve much of this unsavory reputation.

Consumed to excess as they are now, refined starches act like sugars. Each is widely considered a major culprit in making people overweight, and being excessively overweight adversely affects blood lipids and blood sugar, fostering heart disease and diabetes.

But there is another far more wholesome kind of carbohydrate -- whole grains, which make up only 5 percent of Americans' carbohydrate consumption.

Whole grains contain health-enhancing bran (the outer layer) and germ (the internal embryo) naturally found in all grains. When grains are refined to make white flour and white rice, for example, the bran and germ and all their healthful nutrients, antioxidants and other disease-fighting plant chemicals are systematically removed."

and "A Role in Weight Control"
"But when a food contains all or mostly whole grains, digestion and absorption are slowed by the fibrous bran and by the protein and fat in the germ, increasing satiety and delaying the return of hunger. People who eat more whole grains tend to weigh less than those who consume fewer."

Note that the article has errors with the listings for online sources.
For Spelt (Farro) go to Purity Foods