Nutrition News: Sugar by Another Name, Vegan Diets and Unhealthy Behavior

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What’s in a name?

Sugar by any other name would still taste as sweet. “Evaporated cane juice” may sound a lot healthier than “sugar,” but the Food and Drug Administration has decided it’s really the same thing. The agency has just released guidelines advising food companies to avoid using the term “evaporated cane juice” on labels and instead use the term “sugar,” which it has concluded is more accurate.

The FDA says it’s OK to modify it — as in “organic cane sugar” — as long as the word “sugar” is somewhere in there, NPR’s The Salt reports. Food blogger Marion Nestle hailed the decision, telling The Salt: “Sugar is sugar, no matter what it is called. Now the FDA needs to do this with all the other euphemisms.” Suh-weet!

Farmer's market

Should you go vegan?

Is adhering to a vegan diet better for you? Time just tackled that question and concluded that there is “room for debate.” While vegetarian diets and vegan diets (which eliminate all animal-based foods, including eggs and dairy) have been linked to lower rates of heart disease and cancer, healthier guts, lower stress levels, fewer symptoms of menopause, and lower body weight, they are also linked to lower levels of some vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamin B12, and those lower levels can create other health risks.

“Vegan diets are a massive improvement over the refined carb and sugar-heavy eating patterns to which many Americans adhere,” Time concludes. “But for optimal health and longevity, you’re probably best off eating a diet heavy in plants with a little meat, fish, and eggs on the side.”

What’s the most-challenging healthy behavior?

Do you do everything you’re supposed to do to maintain good health? We all know that by refraining from smoking, drinking only moderately (if at all), exercising consistently, getting at least seven hours of sleep each night and maintaining a healthy weight we can reduce our chances of getting chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer.

But most of us manage to do only two or three of those five things, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined. In fact, only 6.3 percent of U.S. adults manage to consistently engage in all five of those healthy goals. And guess which one of those healthy behaviors trips most of us up? (Tick, tock, tick, tock … ) Yep, maintaining a healthy weight. Only 32.5 percent of the 400,000 U.S. adults surveyed have a body mass index within the “normal” range, the CDC researchers found. Gulp.

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer.