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Archive for April, 2012

Nutella sued over misleading health claims

Nutella sued over misleading health claims.

Ferrero USA, the manufacturer of Nutella, the chocolate-hazelnut spread, is paying $3 million to settle a class action lawsuit as it had been misleading consumers to think that it was “healthy.” No surprise that many clients I have counseled over the years have considered Nutella a healthy spread, both for themselves and their family.

As reported in the Huffington Post, the law suit is being filed by a California mom who realized she was feeding her 4 year old “the next best thing to a candy bar.” She had been lured by some of Nutella’s ads into thinking that it was, indeed, a healthy product.

You too can receive a piece of the action. If you purchased Nutella in recent years, you are eligible for around  $4 per jar.

In addition to being fined, Ferrero must now change the product’s labeling and marketing statements. Nutella’s website no longer makes any health claims. Instead, the company now focuses on the tag line – “Breakfast never tasted this good.”

While you may enjoy the taste, Nutella is hardly health food.

Here is the nutritional breakdown per 2 tablespoon serving (a size of a walnut in a shell—which is quite small!):

190 Calories

11 grams fat

3.5 gram saturated fat

21 grams sugar

Sugar is the first ingredient!  In fact, just one serving of the spread contains the equivalent to 5 teaspoons sugar. The 11 grams of fat contains 99 calories making the product nearly 50% fat. It also contains unhealthy saturated fat. Saturated fat has been shown to raise cholesterol levels and may contribute to heart disease.

So Nutella is hardly “healthy!”

While you may enjoy Nutella, best to use the spread as an occasional treat. Nut butters such as almond butter and peanut butter would be a healthier choice. Instead of the sugar in Nutella, you’ll get some protein.

It is time that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) crack down on food companies who make food and nutrient claims on packages to help them fly off the shelves!

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Why eat vegetables.

Eating a diet with plenty of vegetables has been linked to improved health, and for good reason. Veggies (both fresh and frozen) are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants which have been shown to protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. They are also low in calories, making them a great choice for your waistline. Choosing a colorful assortment vegetables is best, as different benefits exist in the different color spectrum. The orange pigment found in carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes, for example, contain the antioxidant beta carotene. The deep red pigment found in tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene linked with prostate health.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise that we eat a diet plentiful in vegetables. And for some great news, here is  food group where you can eat a large portion and not have to worry about weight gain. (just watch your portion of starchy veggies such as corn and potatoes.)

While all vegetables are healthy, below are several pointers on some nutrition powerhouses.


Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, and part of the Brassica family that also includes kale, collards, cabbage, bok choy, brussel sprouts, turnips, and cauliflower. Members of the brassica family are rich in phytochemicals, known to have antioxidant properties. Broccoli is a true nutrition powerhouse; it is chock full of vitamin C, the mineral calcium, fiber, and vitamin A. It is also rich in sulforaphane, a health-promoting compound that can fight cancer.

Carrots are a good source of fiber, which helps to maintain bowel health, lower blood cholesterol, and aid in weight maintenance. The orange pigment found in carrots are due to the antioxidant, beta-carotene, also found in other deep orange foods such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash, papaya, and cantaloupe. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, helps to maintain healthy eyes, support your immune system, keep your skin healthy, and protect against certain cancers.

Spinach is available year-round in grocery stores around the country, offering a readily-available, source of many vitamins and minerals. Spinach contains the minerals iron and potassium, and vitamins A, K, C, and the B vitamin folate.  Spinach also contains phytochemicals which may boost your immune system and flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties that may be preventative against certain cancers.

Sweet Potatoes are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene and are also full of fiber, vitamins B6, folate, and C and the mineral potassium. They are especially nutritious when eaten with the skin on, and contrary to a popular dieting myth, they are not fattening!

Beets contain healthy doses of iron, the B vitamin folate, and fiber. Red beets offer betacyanin, a plant pigment which may protect against colon cancer.


It is best to EAT your fruits and vegetables from WHOLE foods. Popping a pill–such as taking a beta carotene supplement–does not do the trick. Fresh and frozen vegetables offer a combination of many health benefits that you will not find in a pill. So, remember to chew!!

Go LOCAL and eat what’s in season. When you can, opt for local produce that’s in season. Chances are it did not have to travel too far to get to you.

Go ORGANIC when you can.

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Want to lose weight? Eat Less.

Two thirds of Americans are overweight and succeeding at weight loss is quite a challenge for many dieters. A new study just published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM) reported that eating less, exercising more, and switching to healthier food worked best.

The researchers were from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and looked at data collected as part of the dietary intake survey  National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The authors wrote in the  study published online that “Liquid diets, nonprescription diet pills and popular diets showed no association with successful weight loss.”

The Los Angeles Times summarized what worked and what did not work for the dieters.

Here’s what the dieters tried that worked:

* 65% ate less food

* 44% ate less fat

* 41% switched to foods with fewer calories

* 4% took weight-loss medications that were prescribed by a doctor

* Joining a weight loss program was also helpful perhaps because of “the structure of being in a program.”

Here’s what the dieters tried that didn’t work:

* 41% drank more water

* 14% ate “diet foods or products”

* 10% used nonprescription diet pills, including herbal remedies

* 7% adopted a “liquid-diet formula.”

I was glad to see this study as I’ve been advocating eating less and moving more for years. While this old fashioned advice may not seem as sexy as some fad diets and supplements, it works for the long haul. And, it will save you money—no need to buy unneeded supplements.

Take home messages:

*  Skip the fad diets and practice portion control instead.

* Go out and exercise. Pick something you enjoy and stick to it.

*  Choose healthier and more nutrient dense foods. A good place to start is by eating more fruits and vegetables!

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