Nutrition News: Super-Healthy Olives, Cartoon-Character Cookie Effect, Local Eating Is In

Chubby cartoon characters prompt snacking, olives are super-healthy, "local" now more popular than "organic."


Sant Agostino Olives

Photo by: barol16


Feel Good About Olives

Are olives a food you can feel good about eating? A panel of nutritionists and diet experts polled by Time magazine all say olives make a very healthy snack indeed. They point out that about four large olives have only about 20 calories, are nutritionally rich and contain about two grams of healthy monounsaturated fat, which benefits your heart, your brain and your belly. What’s more, olives are packed with antioxidants like biophenols, which keep bad cholesterol from building up in your artery walls. They’re also anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, and aid in disease prevention. Plus, as a fermented food, they offer gut-friendly bacteria. One drawback: Because they are cured, olives may be high in salt, so the experts suggest you compensate by cutting out another salty snack. A small price to pay …

The Fat Albert Effect?

Beware of chunky cartoon characters. According to a new study led by University of Colorado at Boulder researchers, after seeing images of plump-looking (“ovoid”) cartoon characters (think Grimace, Winnie the Pooh and Homer Simpson), kids scarf down more cookies, candy and other calorie-packed, nutritionally lacking foods . "They have a tendency to eat almost twice as much indulgent food as kids who are exposed to perceived healthier looking cartoon characters or no characters at all," lead author Margaret C. Campbell said. On the bright side, the effect was mitigated when kids were asked questions that reminded them about healthy food choices before they were shown the cartoon characters.

Lots and Lots of Locavores

If you’ve been trying to eat more “locally sourced” food, you’re part of a growing trend. “ Local food is following organic into the mainstream,” Quartz reports, citing a recent survey finding that an increasing number of people rank their food’s origins as an important factor (even more so than the food’s healthfulness) in their decision to consume it. “And while both ‘local’ and ‘organic’ labels are (often mistakenly) considered indicators of health, 43% of participants said that they would be most likely to purchase groceries with a ‘locally sourced’ label, compared to organic’s 19%,” Quartz notes, adding that sales of locally grown food have also dramatically increased over the past few years.

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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