Reading List: Soda Linked To Early Death, BPA Ban Faces Resistance and More People Going Organic

In this week’s nutrition news: Study finds high mercury levels in restaurant sushi, organic produce sales rise and food companies voluntarily cut salt before government sets standards
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Brown soda in a clear glass

Photo by: Brent Hofacker

Brent Hofacker

In this week’s nutrition news: Study compares mercury levels in supermarket and restaurant sushi, NYC mayor Bloomberg encourages companies to slash salt and soda (diet and regular) linked to early death.

Ban on BPA Faces Resistance
BPA (bisphenol-A) is a controversial chemical added to food and drink containers and has been linked to a variety of health issues (including cancer). But when legislators added a measure that would ban BPA to a long-pending food safety bill, the food industry and major business groups (including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) threatened to withdraw their support. Why? Since BPA is used in literally thousands of products, banning it would be costly to the industry. What do you think -- should BPA be banned?
Food Companies Voluntarily Cutting Salt

New York mayor and health advocate Michael Bloomberg has banned smoking and trans fat, plus passed a law requiring restaurants to post calorie counts. Now, he's on to a new initiative: cutting salt. Instead of having the government mandate how much salt should be in foods, Bloomberg is urging food companies countrywide to voluntarily reduce it. Companies like Starbucks, Au Bon Pain, Kraft, Subway, and Fresh Direct (a New York-based food delivery service) have all vowed to cut the salt.

Demand Grows for Organic Produce

Despite the steep cost, a recent survey shows many folks are spending a more of their on organic produce. Sales of organic fruit and veggies increased 11.4 percent in the past year. Over the past 10 years, sales have skyrocketed from $2.55 billion to a whopping $9.5 billion a year. If you’re looking to start buying organic or want to know when it really makes the most sense, check out our list of the most (and least) contaminated produce.

Linked: Soda and Early Death
Our post on diet soda stirred up a hot debate, and a new study will give even more fuel to anti-soda advocates. A recent study found that high levels of phosphates (like those found in diet and regular sodas) may cause early death. The study looked at three groups of mice and found that those without high phosphate levels lived 20 weeks, while the other two groups of mice with high phosphate lived between 8-15 weeks. Although the study was done on mice, researchers believe that the same theory applies to all mammals, including humans. TELL US: Are you for or against soda?

Mercury Watch: Supermarket Sushi vs. Restaurant Sushi

Taking in too much mercury has been linked to neurological damage, especially in young kids and unborn babies. So if you're springing for sushi, which varieties have more mercury? Well, a report published in mid-April analyzed sushi samples from restaurants and supermarkets in New York, New Jersey and Colorado. The findings: sushi-grade tuna from restaurants may have higher amounts of mercury than sushi from the supermarket. That's becuase supermarkets tend to sell yellowfin tuna, which contains less mercury than other tuna species like bigeye and bluefin. How much mercury is too much? The FDA suggests that pregnant women and women of childbearing age limit their fish consumption to 12 ounces per week and avoid high mercury fish like shark, tilefish, swordfish and king mackerel.

It’s easier to make conscious decisions if you know which type of tuna you are buying. Read more on how to choose the right tuna in our previous post.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »

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