Nutrition News: Rethink Kids and Peanuts, a New Sugar Substitute, Organics Under Fire

A new sugar substitute, allulose, is on the horizon; the guidance shifts on kids and peanuts; and is organic produce a waste of money?
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Dried peanuts

New peanuts practice

You know how parents have been urged to delay giving their kids peanuts, lest they have an allergy? Well, scratch that. New research from the National Institutes of Health indicates that putting off the introduction of peanuts into kids’ diets may increase their chances of developing peanut allergies — and the American Academy of Pediatrics has now issued a statement saying it joins other organizations in encouraging health care providers to recommend that children be given products containing peanuts when they are between 4 and 11 months old, especially if those children have severe eczema or are allergic to eggs. The AAP says this earlier introduction, may reduce peanut allergy rates by as much as 81 percent, Time reports, but the organization cautions that, to prevent choking, infants should be given creamy peanut butter and not graduate to whole peanuts until around age 4.

All hail allulose?

Sweet news for sugar fans who don’t want to pack on the pounds: A new sugar substitute is on the horizon. NPR food and agriculture correspondent Dan Charles reports from the annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists on the introduction — by the company that first brought you the sugar cube and, 100 years later, Splenda — of a new low-calorie sweetener called allulose. It’s chemically thisclose to regular sugar, featuring the same chemical components as fructose and glucose, yet in an order that prevents the body from converting it into calories, Charles reports. While the FDA says allulose is “generally recognized as safe,” questions about the comfort of digesting it and the long-term effects on one’s microbiome remain to be seen.

Organic waste

When you buy organic fruits and vegetables at the supermarket, you probably feel like you’re doing something fabulous — for your health, your taste buds and the environment, if not your wallet. But guess what? You may be wasting your hard-earned cash. Quartz has examined the research and concluded that, in most cases, spending extra for certified organic produce, instead of reaching for the regular stuff, is probably a waste of money. “Higher price doesn’t really mean higher quality,” the site reports, adding that growing foods organically may not mean they were grown in a more environmentally or worker-friendly way, that organic produce’s health benefits may be “teeny-tiny” compared with conventionally grown produce (yes, even with the “dirty dozen”), and that the taste of organic produce isn’t necessarily better either. “Bottom line: If you want to know more about your fruits and vegetables, buy them at the local farmers market, organic or not,” Quartz concludes. And “if you can’t make it to the farmers market, don’t waste your money on that little label.”

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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