Nutrition News: Added-Sugar Labeling, Mediterranean Diet Benefits, Panera Bread Slices 150 Artificial Ingredients

Mars, Inc. isn’t so sweet on added sugars, a study reveals the brain-boosting benefits of the Mediterranean diet, and Panera Bread boots 150 artificial ingredients off of their menu.
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Candy maker’s sweet surprise

The movement to limit the use of added sugars and to clearly label the amount of sugar on packaged foods now has an unlikely advocate: Mars, Inc. The candy company behind M&M’s, Milky Way, Snickers, Twix and other best-selling chocolate bars just sent the honchos at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture a letter saying it supports the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recommendation that people limit their added sugar consumption to no more than 10 percent of daily energy intake. Mars also endorsed the clear labeling of added sugars and “off-label nutrition education” to “help guide decisions about their sugar intake.” Wow — sweet!

The brain-boosting benefits of a Mediterranean diet

Now you really have no excuse to put off starting that Mediterranean diet. A new scientifically rigorous clinical study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggests the Mediterranean diet, along with a supplementary handful of nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds) and about five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil daily, can mitigate the effects of aging on brain function. The Mediterranean diet includes vegetables, fruits, unrefined grains and beans as well as fish and wine, with minimal meat and unhealthy fats. “It’s never too late to change your dietary patterns to improve your health,” lead author Dr. Emilio Ros, of the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, Spain, told Time. “If you intervene with a healthy dietary pattern in people who are at risk of cognitive failure, even in people who still haven’t had any memory complaints or loss of cognitive function, you can prevent cognitive deterioration.”

Soups and sandwiches, sans artificial ingredients

Soon, when you eat at Panera Bread Co., there will about 150 fewer artificial ingredients to worry about. The sandwich-and-salad restaurant chain says it will remove more than 150 artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives — including fat substitutes and the preservative propylene glycol — from the menus of its nearly 1,900 U.S. and Canadian outlets by the end of 2016. The company, which is responding to consumer demand for simpler, healthier ingredients, has already cut several artificial ingredients (including the sweetener sucralose and the whitener titanium dioxide) from its menus and long ago abolished trans fats and meat raised with antibiotics. However, while artificial ingredients will be removed from Panera’s soups, sandwiches and salad dressings, along with most of its baked goods, they will remain in soda sold there. So you may wish to wash down your healthier meal with a cup of water.

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. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish.

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