This Week's Nutrition News Feed

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In this week's news: School bake-sale restrictions spark a tempest in a muffin tin; homemade yogurt is whey better than the store-bought kind; and veganism gets a high-profile new cheerleader.

Bake-Sale Ban: Half-Baked?

Ah, the beauty of the school bake sale: Hoovering homemade cookies somehow seems virtuous when the money is going to a good cause. ("It's all for the kids!") What to make, then, of reports that federal restrictions aiming to curb childhood obesity have led to a "ban" on treat-peddling school fundraisers? "In dozens of states, bake sales must adhere to nutrition requirements that could replace cupcakes and brownies with fruit cups and granola bars," the Wall Street Journal warned. The Washington Post, however, was quick to point out that the states, not the federal government, will dictate the number of nutritionally questionable bake sales schools can have. Georgia, for instance, will allow 30 bake sales per year per school -- which comes to 75,000 cupcake sprees state-wide annually.

DIY Yogurt (Call It a Culture Shift)
For health-conscious eaters, store-bought yogurt is right up there with kale on the list of life-sustaining foods. What could be better than one of those pop-top containers of probiotic goodness? Homemade yogurt, as it turns out. The from-scratch variety is apparently a whole other story when it comes to flavor and tang, Washington Post food writer Tim Carman contends. Home-kitchen versions also offer yogurt buffs a way to  sidestep the stabilizers, sweeteners and additives in many popular brands, while retaining the probiotics, which aid digestion and may have a host of other health benefits. "Making yogurt isn't cooking," Carman writes. "It’s more like conjuring spirits: You create the conditions that summon mysterious creatures, invisible to the naked eye, to do all the real work." Pass a spoon?
A Prescription for Plant Power

Attention, vegans: You have a high-profile new champion. Dr. Kim A. Williams, the incoming president of the American College of Cardiology, has written an essay describing his decision to switch to a cholesterol-free, plant-based diet, which he says helped him lower his LDL ("bad") cholesterol level from 170 to 90 in six weeks. Dr. Williams says he often counsels patients struggling with weight issues, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes or coronary artery disease to similarly modify their diets, although cardiovascular guidelines do not specifically recommend a vegan diet because the research has not been conclusive. The doctor's essay garnered some criticism, but he insists he maintains "an open mind” and knows a vegan diet may not be for everyone. "Some patients are able to do it," he told the New York Times, "and some are not."

Amy Reiter also contributes to FN Dish.
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