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Monday, June 29, 2009

The Healthiest Candies

Want to make candy sales skyrocket? Tell everyone it's good for you.

That's the approach many candy companies are taking. Chocolate behemoth Hershey (nyse: HSY - news - people ) is selling sugar-free versions of some of its most popular candies, such as Twizzlers and New York Peppermint Patties. And this month, closely held Mars is launching a new snack line called CocoaVia that is supposed to promote heart health with a patented cocoa formula that contains a higher level of the naturally occurring antioxidant flavanol than most chocolate does.

Once upon a time, the candy industry was pretty straightforward: You made a crunchy, sticky, gooey or creamy sugar-filled product that customers, mainly kids, adored and that put many dentist's children through college. These days, however, due to heightened awareness of obesity and tooth decay, as well as an increased emphasis on eating a healthier, more balanced diet, candy makers are watching their calories.

Click here for the slide show.
To be sure, candy makers have been offering sugar-free alternatives for years. The world's No. 1 gum maker, Wrigley (nyse: WWY - news - people ), introduced its Extra gum in 1984. Cadbury Schweppes' (nyse: CSG - news - people ) Dentyne and Trident brands soon followed. Coca-Cola (nyse: KO - news - people ) introduced Tab, its first diet soda, in 1963. Breakfast cereal eaters can now choose between the regular versions of Kellogg's (nyse: K - news - people ) Frosted Flakes and Fruit Loops, and one with one-third less sugar.

Some candy makers are going one step further. "All of the candy on the market contains sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, a form of sugar that doesn't digest well in the body," says Armand Hammer (no relation to the late industrialist), president and chief executive of privately held Innovative Candy Concepts. The Atlanta-based company claims to be the first candy maker in the world to have completely overhauled its product line--including sour Suck Ups liquid candy, Super Sweet or Sour Blast spray candy, Xtra Sour Goo and Dream Chews--in 2004 to remove all refined sugars and replace them with fruit juice concentrate. Each candy contains only 17 calories per package.

"I was visiting my grandchildren one day and realized I was feeding them my own product, Too Tarts, and it was not good for them," Hammer says.

His move seems to have worked. Since he reintroduced his candies, he says, sales have increased more than 100%.

According to the National Confectioners Association in Vienna, Va., candy sales in the $27 billion industry increased by only 6% in 2004, while diet candy and gum sales grew 34.4%. Packaged Facts, a market research publisher in Rockville, Md., says the diet candy industry reached $495 million in 2004, while the market's annual growth rate from 2000 to 2004 was an estimated 43%.

Of course, there is a vast difference between candies that aren't that bad for you and candies that actually might be good for you. The latter will probably conjure horrific images in the minds of most candy lovers. What could that mean? Broccoli tarts? Wheat germ suckers? Bean sprout bars? Blech.

And, as generations of children can attest, parents are constantly trying to offer up healthy snacks such as bananas, raisins, oranges and pretzels, but to the die-hard candy user, this stuff is near beer. It may be good for you, but it isn't candy.

But some candies claim they can be both fun to eat and healthy. There are gummy bears that help keep skin looking vibrant, sugar-free tarts that fight off cavities and chocolate that helps the heart.

For many people, though, the big question is not whether a piece of candy is good for them but how good it tastes. For years, dietetic candy tasted as though it had been designed as a torture device by the Swiss Chocolate Police: dry, dull and about as exciting as chewing on bark. However, many of the candies that made our list were surprisingly tasty. Sparx candy by Xlear were sweet and didn't have the artificial sweetening aftertaste, while CocoaVia by Mars, Inc. was smooth and creamy, just the way a chocolate bar should be. Dr. Fuhrman's Date Nut Pop'ems are getting popped every few seconds, especially since they are made of real nuts and dates, they make a great mid-day snack. Borba's jellybeans and gummy bears don't taste like the candy from our childhood, but they do taste good--which may explain why the bag keeps getting lower.

There is a downside to healthy candy that tastes good. (There would be, wouldn't there?)

Experts do warn that candies marketed as healthy may cause consumers to overeat and continue avoiding the real problem that causes such diseases as obesity and diabetes: a lack of nutrient-dense food. "Americans get 40% of their caloric intake from animal fats and proteins and 51% of their calories from processed food like pasta, bread, pretzels and sugar. That's a small percentage of calories from natural fruits and vegetables," says Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of Eat to Live.

That's why Fuhrman created his own line of snacks called Pop'ems. The three flavors--original, chocolate and cinnamon--are made simply with raw nuts, seeds and dates. It's a healthy way to snack and get nutrients from unprocessed food to avoid what Fuhrman calls toxic hunger. "When we eat food low in nutrients, like candy bars, we crave more food, causing us to overeat."

At least with these candies, you won't be overeating junk.

Source:, go to original link
Originall written:
Susan Yara, 03.15.06, 12:30 AM ET

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Environmentally Friendly Kitchen Clean-up

Here is a really easy and inexpensive way to sanitize your kitchen counters and cutting boards, killing bacteria such as Salmonella and E. Coli without using toxic cleaners that are hard on you and the environment. Get two separate spray bottles and fill one with white vinegar or apple cidre vinegar, and the other with 3% hydrogen peroxide (the usual kind that is sold in drug stores). Spray with one bottle, then spray immediately with the other, and wipe clean. Keeping the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in separate bottles is more effective than mixing them into one bottle, and spraying with one bottle and then the other is more effective than using either vinegar or hydrogen peroxide alone. Tested at Virgina Polytechnical Institute and State University, this combination was extremely effective at killing harmful bacteria - even more effective than chlorine bleach and most commercial cleaners. So clean and disinfect just as effectively without the risk of inhaling or absorbing toxic chemicals through your skin, or harming the environment!

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are not a healthy substitute for sugar and they often cause people to eat more food and gain weight. When the body detects a sweet taste, it expects carbohydrates that contain nutrition, and when the gut finds no nutrition, the message is sent to the brain to eat more in order to get the nutrition needed.

The FDA has had more complaints about Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal, Canderel, NatraSweet, Spoonfuls, DiabetiSweet) than any other food additive, and yet it is still on the GRAS list (Generally Regarded As Safe) despite its strong association with brain tumours and seizures. It is a synthetic compound made up of Phenylalanine and Aspartic Acid held in a chemical bond by Methanol, which breaks down into Formic Acid, Formaldehyde and Diketopiperazine (DKP). It is the DKP that causes brain tumours. Aspartame breaks down more quickly with heat, and as such, is worse in hot drinks, or in soda pop that may have been in the sun at some point in its journey to our fridges. If you have ever tasted a diet drink that didn’t taste sweet, you know the Aspartame in it broke down into the above mentioned neurotoxins (nerve poisons). Some symptoms of Aspartame toxicity include migraines, depression, seizures, attention deficit disorder, angry rages, joint pain, muscle spasm, and it can mimic diseases like MS, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia. Symptoms like migraines may appear quickly in some people, while in others there may be no symptoms for some time. If you or someone you care about has any of these symptoms, remove Aspartame from the diet for four to six weeks before medical testing to see if the symptoms resolve, and so that the artificial sweetener won’t cloud the diagnosis. Once again, read labels, because Aspartame is everywhere, including children’s vitamins, cool aid type fruit drinks, diet soda pop, sugar free chewing gum, gelatin desserts, frozen desserts, fillings and toppings for baked goods, hot chocolate mixes, breath mints, yogurt, wine coolers, tea beverages, some flavoured bottled waters, some fibre cereals, cold remedies and other medications. Mary Nash Stoddard compiled the research on Aspartame into a report that she titled Deadly Deception: Story of Aspartame : Shocking Expose of the World’s Most Controversial Sweetener, if you are interested in looking into this subject further.

Sucralose, under the brand name of Splenda, is gaining in popularity as a substitute for sugar. Because this product is newer there is less research to look at, but what is there should give pause for thought. It is advertised as being made from sugar, but that does not mean it is anything like sugar, just as water in no way resembles the oxygen and hydrogen from which it is made. To make sucralose, three chlorine atoms are substituted for three oxygen-hydrogen groups on the sugar molecule turning it into a chlorocarbon. Chlorocarbons have been known to cause genetic, organ, immune and reproductive damage for some time, and they cause swelling of the liver as well as swelling and calcificatiion of the kidneys. If you get any mid-back pain in the kidney area or bladder irritation after consuming Splenda, take it out of your diet immediately.

Choose healthful sweeteners like raw (unpasteurized) honey, organic maple syrup, Rapadura or stevia to sweeten your food if necessary.

Teflon is Hazardous to our Health

If your family’s health and the health of the environment is important to you, you may wish to dispose of those Teflon pots and pans and use stainless steel or ceramic-coated pans instead. The US Environmental Protection Agency just put out the notice in February of 2006, that the chemical, perflourooctanoic acid (PFOA) which is used to make the non-stick coating Teflon used on pots and pans and food packaging like microwave popcorn bags, is known to be linked to birth defects in animal studies and is likely to be a carcinogen. PFOA seems to be in the blood of most Americans, as found in studies that examined blood from American blood banks, and is likely to be in the blood of most of the rest of us as well. PFOA enters into our bodies very easily through the cooked food when the non-stick pan is either scratched, or when it is heated, (which is what we do with pans and popcorn bags!) Heated Teflon also releases toxic fumes which we inhale. These chemicals seem to have a very long half-life (1.5 years for males) and they remain in our bodies because our livers cannot find a way to get rid of them. And other chemical classes break down into PFOA, so even if PFOA were banned, we will be stuck with its effects for a very long time.

Not only are the chemicals released by heating Teflon toxic to humans, but research has shown that they also break down the ozone layer of our planet thereby contributing to global warming. Their persistence in the environment is a big problem. And other chemical classes break down into PFOA, so banning PFOA would not resolve this issue.

DuPont was fined many millions of dollars by the EPA a few months ago for hiding the toxicity of PFOA from the US government for 20 years. And they are currently taking out full page newspaper ads stating that Teflon pans are safe! Please understand that most companies are usually more interested in their bottom line than in your health. Don’t be duped into thinking otherwise. For more on the extremes some companies will go to to protect their bottom line despite serious health or environmental concerns, see the DVD The Corporation.

Now, I’m no cook, but my understanding is that the way to stop food from sticking in stainless steel or ceramic cookware is to heat the fat first, and then put in the food you are cooking. (Remember to use a stable fat for cooking, such as organic coconut oil, organic butter, organic ghee, or organic beef or chicken fat, as opposed to vegetable oils that are unstable and go rancid when heated.)

Mercury - a strong nerve poison

Mercury has been known to be a potent nerve toxin for about fifteen years, and recently the University of Calgary has shown exactly how mercury causes this nerve degeneration by examining what happens to nerve cells in a culture medium when mercury is added. Please view this short yet excellent and understandable presentation from the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine, to see for yourself how mercury attaches to the receptor sites of another protein, and destroys the structure of the nerve.

Mercury is especially damaging to fetuses and infants as their nervous systems are only just developing. A very common cause of mercury exposure in infants is from vaccines that contain thimerosal, a vaccine preservative that is 50% mercury, and with the aggressive immunization schedule suggested for infants, the cumulative dose of thimerosal becomes quite high (the flu vaccine alone that is given to infants has more mercury in it than is allowable under the EPA standards!) The mercury in these vaccines has been linked to autism. Thankfully, because of the outcry, thimerosal is slowly being taken out of vaccines, but it is by no means gone, so be careful of what is being injected into your baby. Mercury is not the only problem with the infant vaccination schedule - more on this in a future tip, but for the sake of your baby under the age of two, please see the user-friendly vaccination schedule published on Dr. Mercola’s website for more information about this extremely important topic.

Lately we have been hearing news about how much of the fish we eat is now toxic due to high levels of mercury from the polluted waterways in which they swim. Many sushi restaurants in California were recently tested, and the fish in many instances were found to have dangerously high levels of mercury - especially the tuna. If you eat a lot of fish, use this mercury calculator to check your dosage, and perhaps switch to less toxic fish. This is especially important for pregnant women and infants. Remember that cooking the fish does not get rid of the mercury. It is sad that fish are now so polluted that they border on dangerous to eat, as most of us get far too few of the omega 3 fatty acids that fish can provide. For this reason, it is a good idea to get your omega 3s from fish oil supplements, as they generally have been cleaned of mercury.

In the grand scheme of things, the mercury poisoning from fish is minor compared to the mercury that gets into our systems from metal fillings in the mouth. The average amalgam filling has 750,000 micrograms of mercury and releases about 10 micrograms a day. Mercury vapor constantly leaks from silver or gold amalgams and crowns, and even more so when the person chews, or puts something hot in their mouth, like tea, coffee or hot food. The mercury is inhaled, goes up the olfactory nerve to the hippocampus in the brain where it effects memory. It is believed by some that amalgam fillings are heavily implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. Mercury also spreads throughout the body, causing degenerative problems in the nervous system and causing organs, particularly the kidneys, to function less optimally. Please see the video The smoking teeth, and see the mercury vapor coming off a 25 year old amalgam, as well as the studies done on sheep and monkeys that examined where and how quickly mercury from their fillings infiltrated their systems. Notice how the mercury got into the fetus, and into the mother’s milk. If you have metal amalgams or crowns in your mouth, particularly if Alzheimer’s disease exists in your family, a precautionary measure may be to see a biological dentist that has been trained to remove these fillings without exposing you, the dental assistants or him/herself to the vapors, and get them out of your mouth as soon as possible. If you have metal amalgams in your mouth, or you work in a dental office and are exposed to metal amalgams on a regular basis, take chlorella daily, a seaweed that is known to be very good at removing heavy metals from the body.

E-waste and Our Health

What did you do with your old cell phone? Not the one you are using now, but the one you retired? Did you just toss it? What about your old computer? VCR? In the next few years, when they decide to pull the plug on the analog signal, what is going to happen to all the millions and millions of suddenly useless analog television sets? I just got a new phone, and didn’t know what to do with the old one nor the nickel/cadmium and lithium-ion batteries that went with it, so I figured it was time to do some research.

E-waste is anything electronic including keyboards, circuit boards, PDAs, routers, printers etc., and it is now the fastest growing source of consumer waste. Because of all the really awful stuff in them, like mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, and brominated flame retardants for example, land-filling these products is a very bad idea, as these toxins leach into the soil and into drinking water. Incinerating e-waste sends the toxins into the air. Many of these toxic materials are very persistent and stay in the environment for long periods of time, accumulating in the tissue of plants and animals, slowly building up in the food chain, and can contribute to health problems such as cancer, and neurological, immune, endocrine, developmental and reproductive disorders. Children, with their smaller body size and developing systems are more vulnerable to these persistent bio-accumulative toxins.

As usual, the EU is way ahead of North America with regard to regulating these toxic substances. As of July ‘06, no new electric or electronic product on the market in the EU can contain lead, brominated flame retardants or cadmium. And of course, because of the new regulations, companies were forced to innovate to maintain market-share, and the result is slightly less toxic items coming to market.

But perhaps we need to think twice before rushing out to buy these electronic gadgets. Can you make do without? Do you really need the latest and greatest, or can you manage with what you’ve got for another few years if you upgrade memory etc? And what do we do with our current electronic garbage when we really must make a change? Don’t dump it in the garbage, that’s for sure! Some computer companies like IBM, and HP now have return programs so check with your manufacturer. Many schools, libraries, non-profit organizations, retirement homes will gladly take your old computer. In Canada, contact the Electronic Recycling Association and they will pick up your computer(s) from your home, business, or government office and donate it for free. On the left sidebar of the ERA there is a link for pick-up in the US and United Kingdom as well. Here is a list of where you can donate your old phone in Canada. In the States, look for a phone recycling program near you here. Most communities have or are developing computer and other e-waste recycling programs, so google e-waste and your community, and find out where you can recycle the stuff near you. If these products cannot be refurbished and reused, they are taken apart carefully to remove the metals, separate out the plastics and the glass. Many of the companies that do this aim for zero waste going to landfill, and there can be a good profit in this service, so if there is no e-waste recycling available near you yet, I suggest you hang onto your old electronic equipment, as this service will come to you soon. There is too much harm to our environment and therefore our health by simply allowing electronic trash to go to landfill.

Which plastic water bottles don’t leach chemicals

Plastic water bottles are very convenient for carting water around when we are on the go, as they don’t break if we drop them. It is worth paying attention to the type of plastic your water bottle is made of, to ensure that the chemicals in the plastic do not leach into the water. If you taste plastic, you are drinking it, so get yourself another bottle.

To be certain that you are choosing a bottle that does not leach, check the recycling symbol on your bottle. If it is a #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), or a #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene), or a #5 PP (polypropylene), your bottle is fine. The type of plastic bottle in which water is usually sold is usually a #1, and is only recommended for one time use. Do not refill it. Better to use a reusable water bottle, and fill it with your own filtered water from home, and keep these single-use bottles out of the landfill.

Unfortunately, those fabulous colourful hard plastic lexan bottles made with polycarbonate plastics and identified by the #7 recycling symbol, may leach BPA. (Bisphenol A is a xenoestrogen, a known endocrine disruptor, meaning it disturbs the hormonal messaging in our bodies). Synthetic chemical endocrine disruptors are particularly devastating to babies and young children.

For more of the science on the effects of BPA on our endocrine system etc. see these studies: Environmental Health Perspectives Journal. Nalgene, the company that manufactures the lexan bottles also makes #2 HDPE bottles in the same sizes and shapes, so we do have a viable alternative. Order one at Nalgene. Check the recycling numbers on all your plastic food containers as well, and gradually move to storing all food in glass or ceramic. Store water in glass or brass if possible, and out of direct sunlight.
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