The French know their bread. Bread and water, the basics of life are still offered free in restaurants by law. If you have to spend time in prison, opt for a French one.
The French have a Grand Prix de la Baguette de la Ville de Paris each year. We have processed food like products masquerading as bread. Given the choice, which bread would you eat? Find a local baker and ask for a sample.
A lowly legume is getting more attention from food manufacturers who want to capitalize on consumers’ clamoring for more protein.
Pea protein—yellow peas that have been processed to remove carbohydrates and leave the protein—is being added to baked goods, snack bars, drinks and cereals that aim to be protein rich while also appealing to people looking for vegan, gluten-free or soy-free products.
Experts say Americans eat more protein than their bodies need. Still, many people are looking to consume more because they associate protein with good health. Currently, soy-protein isolate—soy beans processed to remove carbohydrates and fat—is the most common ingredient added to boost protein content in foods not naturally rich in the nutrient.
Some consumers are allergic to soy. Also, most soy bean plants grown in the U.S. are genetically modified, a turnoff for some consumers. While many health advocates say eating genetically-modified plants appears to be safe, some say foods containing such organisms should be labeled as such. Retailer Whole Foods recently announced that by 2018 all products in its North American stores that contain “GMOs” must say so on the label. (Why 5 more years? They have stores in Europe and Europe has banned GMO’s)
So Delicious Dairy Free, a maker of dairy-free foods, added pea protein to its So Delicious Almond Plus Beverage last year to increase the protein content. More recently it added pea protein to a Greek almond-milk yogurt and frozen almond-milk desserts.
Companies say pea protein has a fairly neutral flavor, making it ideal to add to other foods.
General Mills Inc.’s GIS -2.44% new Lärabar Alt bar, with 10 grams of protein, uses pea protein. Other bars made by the company including Fiber One Protein and Nature Valley Protein include soy-protein isolate. Lärabar consumers want food with “recognizable and carefully selected ingredients,” says a General Mills spokeswoman.
A complete protein is one “that provides all the nine amino acids that our body needs,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, a dietitian and wellness manager at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.
Animal proteins are a source of complete protein, but plants can also provide complete protein when paired with carbohydrates like rice, she says. Pea protein is a good source of amino acids, she says.
Eating soy or peas stripped of almost everything but protein isn’t as healthy as eating the original food with all its vitamins, minerals and fiber, says Ms. Kirkpatrick.
Write to Sarah Nassauer at email@example.com
A version of this article appeared April 9, 2013, on page D2 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: LABEL DECODER | Protein Additives.
Oregon State University (OSU) scientists recently identified a new reason why some curry dishes, made with spices humans have used for thousands of years, might be good for you. New research has discovered that curcumin, a compound found in the cooking spice turmeric, can cause a modest but measurable increase in levels of a protein that’s known to be important in the “innate” immune system, helping to prevent infection in humans and other animals.
This cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP) is part of what helps the immune system fight off various bacteria, viruses or fungi even though they hadn’t been encountered before. Prior to this, it was known that CAMP levels were increased by vitamin D. Discovery of an alternative mechanism to influence or raise CAMP levels is of scientific interest and could open new research avenues in nutrition and pharmacology, scientists said.
The newest findings were made by researchers in the Linus Pauling Institute at OSU and published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, in collaboration with scientists from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
“This research points to a new avenue for regulating CAMP gene expression,” said Adrian Gombart, associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the Linus Pauling Institute. “It’s interesting and somewhat surprising that curcumin can do that, and could provide another tool to develop medical therapies.”
The impact of curcumin in this role is not nearly as potent as that of vitamin D, Gombart said, but could nonetheless have physiologic value. Curcumin has also been studied for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
“Curcumin, as part of turmeric, is generally consumed in the diet at fairly low levels,” he said. “However, it’s possible that sustained consumption over time may be healthy and help protect against infection, especially in the stomach and intestinal tract.”
In the study, Chunxiao Guo, a graduate student, and Gombart looked at the potential of both curcumin and omega-3 fatty acids to increase expression of the CAMP gene. They found no particular value with the omega-3 fatty acids for this purpose, but curcumin did have a clear effect, causing CAMP levels to almost triple.
There has been intense scientific interest in the vitamin D receptor in recent years because of potential therapeutic benefits in treating infection, cancer, psoriasis and other diseases, the researchers noted in their report. An alternative way to elicit a related biological response could be significant and merits additional research, they said.
The CAMP peptide is the only known antimicrobial peptide of its type in humans, researchers said. It appears to have the ability to kill a broad range of bacteria, including those that cause tuberculosis and protect against the development of sepsis.
A team of Croatian researchers are training honeybees to sniff out unexploded mines that still pepper the Balkans.
Nikola Kezic, a professor in the Department of Agriculture at Zagreb University, has been exploring using bees to find landmines since 2007. Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, and other countries from former Yugoslavia still have around 250,000 buried mines that were left there during the wars of the early 90s. Since the end of the war, more than 300 people have been killed in Croatia alone by the explosives, including 66 de-miners.
Tracking down the mines can be extremely costly and dangerous. However, by training bees (which are able to detect odors from 4.5 kilometers away) to associate the smell of TNT with sugar, the researchers can create an effective way of identifying the locations of mines.
Kezic leads a multimillion-pound program sponsored by the EU, called Tiramisu, to detect landmines across the continent. His team has been working in a net tent filled with the insects and several feeding posts containing a sugar solution—some of which contain traces of TNT. The bees, which have already been trained to associate food with the smell of TNT, gather mainly at those feeding posts containing TNT. The movements of the bees are tracked from afar using thermal cameras. Bees have the advantage of being extremely small, so they don’t run the risk of setting off the explosives in the same way that trained mammals such as dogs or rats do.
The research is similar to experiments conducted by DARPA in the US, where bees were mounted with tiny radio tags so their location could be accurately tracked.
The research is ongoing, but once the team is confident in the bees’ landmine-seeking abilities, they will release the creatures in areas that have been de-mined to see whether the field has been successfully swept by humans.
Kezic told AP, “it has been scientifically proven that there are never zero mines on a de-mined field, and that’s where bees could come in.”
This story originally appeared on Wired UK.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—A new database designed by researchers at the University of North Carolina will reveal what foods people are buying and eating to improve knowledge of national health trends, as reported by the Associated Press.
This “food map” can sort one product into its thousands of brands and variations, providing data on the exact ingredients and nutrients people consume. The database will also provide insight into how rapidly the market can change.
Until now, information on consumer purchases and how many calories people consume was only available through government data, which often lags behind with the rapidly changing food marketplace.
One product researchers investigated includes 2 % chocolate milk, which the government classifies as one food item. UNC researchers found thousands of 2% chocolate milk brands and averaged them out, revealing that chocolate milk has about 11 calories per cup more than the government thought.
Researchers are gathering massive amounts of nutritional information to create a better picture of what Americans are eating. Using this formula with various other items in the grocery store to uncover information that may help target better nutritional guidelines, push companies to cut down on certain ingredients and even help with disease research. Scientists are gathering caloric data for every packaged food on the shelves and comparing that to food sales in order to see how they work into Americans’ diets. Professor Meghan Slining says the research will show how quickly manufacturers change ingredients in each product and how that changes nutrition.
The project is part of first lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to reduce the obesity rate. Sixteen major food companies have pledged to reduce the number of calories they put on the market. Once consumers become more aware of the calories they’re consuming we’ll probably see a lot more food companies follow suit.