Nutrition News: NYC Salt Proposal, "Healthy" Foods to Skip, Real vs. Artificial Sugar
During his long reign as mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg introduced public health initiatives, including banning trans fats in food prepared in NYC restaurants and requiring restaurants to post calorie counts. Now, his successor, Mayor Bill de Blasio, has proposed requiring chain restaurants to print a warning symbol (a little salt shaker) next to menu items that contain more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, the recommended daily intake per U.S. guidelines. The Wall Street Journal reports that restaurants aren’t happy about the plan, which the city’s Board of Health will vote on in September. “Every single ingredient if it’s in excess could obviously cause you problems,” restaurant industry advocate Melissa Fleischut griped to the Journal. “Do we label every ingredient?”
What widely considered “healthy” foods do diet experts steer clear of? Time magazine offers a list, which includes: agave nectar (“not at all better than sugar”), fiber-added foods (“can cause gas, bloating, nausea, flatulence, stomach cramps and even diarrhea”), veggie chips (“many varieties are fried”) and smoothies (depending on what’s in there, may have “as many calories as a burger”). Good to know!
Dieters who have scarfed down a whole box of sugar-free cookies and then found themselves unsatisfied and pawing around the cabinet for something truly sugary will be interested to hear about a recent study that may help explain the phenomenon. Researchers at the University of Michigan suggest that our brains may distinguish between real sugar and artificial sugar and respond differently. In fruit flies, which, the researchers note, have similar “molecular machinery” to humans, licking real sugar prompts a group of neurons to release a hormone received by the gut and brain. Licking an artificial sweetener didn’t stir that response, and the fruit flies, seeking satisfaction and caloric energy, abandoned it and moved toward the real sugar. The scientists believe the insects’ response could be analogous to those of human dieters. You know who you are.
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 .