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Natural Products Expo West 2015 Part Four

April 13, 2015 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

One of the distinct pleasures of attending Natural Products Expo West is knowing that I can share my findings both here and directly with my clients. Over the years I’ve developed a profound appreciation for the highly individualized needs of every person I encounter. So, while some reporters marvel or even scoff at the sheer number of products displayed at Expo West, I see opportunities to address the unique requirements of my clientele and readers.

The inventive products featured today will undoubtedly fill some gaps in the natural food marketplace. There’s something for chocolate lovers, yogurt haters, gluten intolerants, paleo adherents and those looking for a different kind of plant-based protein powder. What’s more, if you study the labels of any of these products you won’t find any esoteric chemical additives or difficult to pronounce ingredients. In fact, each and every item listed below has a refreshingly simple composition. In other words, if you try any of these products, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting.

Food Find #1: Hope Foods Organic Dark Chocolate Spread (link)

The first ingredient in this decadent treat is organic garbanzo beans. But, you’d never know it by the taste. All your palate will register is a creamy, rich chocolaty flavor. Even a tablespoon or two will probably be enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. As importantly, your body will benefit from the health effects of enjoying organic cocoa regularly. Two recent studies reveal that dark chocolate intake reduces various cardiovascular risk factors and stress perception.

Food Find #2: Jarrow / Omega Nutrition Organic Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder (link)

Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of essential fatty acids, fiber, minerals, phytochemicals and protein. This one-of-a-kind product removes the fat normally found in whole pumpkin seeds while carrying over all of the other beneficial components. You may be wondering why the world needs yet another protein source. Well, some people choose or need to avoid potentially allergenic proteins derived from dairy, eggs, peas, rice or soybeans. Additionally, there are those who may have other dietary or philosophical conflicts. For instance, followers of a Paleo lifestyle and vegans. Even if you don’t fall into any of these categories, there’s another reason to consider pumpkin seed protein: current studies report that pumpkin seeds may protect against health issues affecting older men including male pattern hair loss and urinary tract symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate.

Food Find #3: Elli Quark (link)

If kefir and yogurt are a bit too tart for your taste, meet quark! Elli Quark is milder and smoother than both of its cultured cousins. However, it still contains health promoting probiotics. Another benefit for those watching their weight is that each serving has only 80 – 90 calories while boasting an impressive 14 – 17 grams of protein. Factor in its low carb count (6 grams/per serving) and quark can be really appealing for dieters who tolerate dairy well. Another thing I like about this specific brand is that it features a creative array of natural flavors which are sweetened exclusively with erythritol and stevia.

Food Find #4: Mikey’s Muffins (link)

First off, I just want to say I like the simplicity of this product’s name! “I’m Mikey and this is my line of muffins!”. Having said that, what’s really commendable about this dairy-, gluten- and soy-free product line is its nutritional composition and taste. The original formula contains: eggs, almond flour, purified water, coconut flour, baking soda and kosher salt. There’s also a cinnamon-raisin and toasted onion flavor. The only ingredients added to the latter two are a touch of cinnamon, a few raisins and toasted onion flakes. That’s it! If you find making breakfast a challenge, consider trying these out with some added nut butter or Melt spread on top. And, for those of you who may still be weary of eating eggs or foods containing eggs, please note that the latest science refutes any link between egg consumption and cardiovascular damage. Plus, a recent trial demonstrated that including almonds in your diet lowers LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and fat accumulation in the abdomen and legs. The bottom line is there is nothing in this product to worry about and a lot to admire.

Food Find #5: Simple Mills Almond Flour Mixes (link)

Now that I’ve piqued your interest about almonds, let me introduce you to Simple Mills. In my opinion, it’s wonderful that there’s a growing list of products catering to consumers who can’t or don’t want to eat grains. The trouble is that many of these alternatives replace one problematic ingredient with a host of others – which are typically high in refined carbohydrates. Simple Mills skillfully avoids this trap. Their line of bake mixes is certified gluten-free, non-GMO and is relatively low on the glycemic index. There are a few savory options (artisan bread and pizza dough) and several sweet mixes such as chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin muffins and vanilla cake. As with the other brands listed above, the ingredient lists are short and understandable. When a sweetener is necessary, they opt for modest amounts of organic coconut sugar. Flax meal is included in some of the blends as well. I approve of this because ground flax has been shown to lower elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation and triglycerides in those at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated or paid in any way to endorse the items I’ve mentioned here today. I sampled several of the products directly on the show floor – Elli Quark, Mikey’s Muffins and Simple Mills. The folks at Hope Foods gave me a few samples of their chocolate spreads to try at home. Unfortunately, Jarrow Formulas didn’t have any pumpkin seed protein testers at the expo. So, I contacted them directly and they sent me a sample to try out – without any conditions attached. As always, I present my overview of Expo West 2015 in the hope that it will benefit you and those that you care about.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – Effects of Chocolate Intake on Perceived Stress; A Controlled Clinical (link)

Study 2 – Natural Cocoa Consumption: Potential to Reduce Atherogenic Factors? (link)

Study 3 – Effects of Pumpkin Seed in Men with Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms(link)

Study 4 – Pumpkin Seed Oil or Prazosin? Which One is Better in the Treatment (link)

Study 5 – Effect of Pumpkin Seed Oil on Hair Growth In Men with Androgenetic (link)

Study 6 – Association of Egg Consumption and Calcified Atherosclerotic Plaque (link)

Study 7 – Influence of Resistance Training Combined with Daily Consumption (link)

Study 8 – Flaxseed Consumption May Reduce Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review (link)

Study 9 – Effect of Flaxseed on Blood Lipid Level in Hyperlipidemic Patients (link)

Study 10 – Impact of Weight Loss Diet Associated with Flaxseed on Inflammatory … (link)

Pumpkin Seed Extract Improves Male Urinary Function

Source: J Tradit Complement Med. 2014 Jan;4(1):72-4. (link)

Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements

5 Comments & Updates to “Natural Products Expo West 2015 Part Four”

  1. JP Says:

    Update 04/13/15:


    Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Apr 1.

    Egg consumption and risk of incident type 2 diabetes in men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study.

    BACKGROUND: The prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) is increasing around the world. Eggs are a major source of cholesterol, which has been associated with elevated blood glucose and an increased risk of T2D. However, there are limited and conflicting data from prospective population studies on the association between egg consumption and risk of T2D.

    OBJECTIVE: We investigated the association between egg consumption and risk of incident T2D in middle-aged and older men from eastern Finland.

    DESIGN: The study included 2332 men aged 42-60 y in 1984-1989 at the baseline examinations of the prospective, population-based Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. Dietary intakes were assessed with 4-d food records at baseline. Incident T2D was assessed by self-administered questionnaires; by fasting and 2-h oral-glucose-tolerance-test blood glucose measurement at re-examination rounds 4, 11, and 20 y after baseline; and by record linkage to a hospital discharge registry and reimbursement register of diabetes medication expenses. Cox proportional hazards regression analyses were used to estimate associations with the risk of incident T2D. Associations with the metabolic risk markers at baseline and at the 4-y examinations were analyzed by ANCOVA.

    RESULTS: During an average follow-up of 19.3 y, 432 men developed T2D. After adjustment for potential confounders, those in the highest vs. the lowest egg intake quartile had a 38% (95% CI: 18%, 53%; P-trend across quartiles <0.001) lower risk of incident T2D. Analyses with metabolic risk markers also suggested an inverse association with fasting plasma glucose and serum C-reactive protein but not with serum insulin. The associations between cholesterol intake and risk of T2D, plasma glucose, serum insulin, and C-reactive protein were mainly nonsignificant, especially after accounting for egg consumption.

    CONCLUSION: Higher egg intake was associated with a lower risk of T2D in this cohort of middle-aged and older men.

    Be well!


  2. JP Says:

    Update 04/13/15:


    J Sci Food Agric. 2015 Apr 2.

    Anti-influenza virus effects of cocoa.

    BACKGROUND: Cocoa contains biologically active ingredients that have broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, which includes an inhibitory effect on influenza virus infection.

    RESULTS: We prepared a cocoa extract (CE) by treating defatted cocoa powder with boiling water. The extract demonstrated dose-dependent inhibition of infection in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells infected with human influenza virus A (H1N1, H3N2), human influenza virus B, and avian influenza viruses (H5N1, H5N9). CE inhibited viral adsorption to MDCK cells. Animal experiments showed that CE significantly improved survival in mice after intra-nasal administration of a lethal dose of influenza virus. In human intervention trials, participants were allocated to two groups: one in which the participants ingested cocoa for 3 weeks before and after vaccination against A(H1N1)pdm2009 influenza virus and another in which the participants did not ingest cocoa. Neutralizing antibody titers against A(H1N1)pdm2009 influenza virus increased significantly in both groups; however, the extent of the increase was not significantly different between the two groups. Although natural killer cell activity was also elevated in both groups, the increase was more substantial in the cocoa intake group.

    CONCLUSION: Drinking cocoa activates natural immunity and enhances vaccination-induced immune response, providing stronger protection against influenza virus infection and disease onset.

    Be well!


  3. Hu Ann Says:

    Interesting info about quark. I wonder how the probiotic amount and strain varieties in quark compare to kefir and yougurt. Do you know? Thanks.

  4. JP Says:

    Hi, Hu Ann.

    I’ve contacted Elli to see what they have to say about this matter. I’ll do some more research soon as well. In the meantime, one source explains that quark contains a probiotic strain (Lactococcus lactis) that isn’t present in yogurt. Likewise, kefir “grains” have their own unique composition.

    Kefir: http://ntur.lib.ntu.edu.tw/bitstream/246246/177589/1/04.pdf

    Be well!


  5. JP Says:

    Hu Ann,

    I didn’t want you to think I forgot about your question! I just got word from an Elli Quark representative who explained that they are currently in the process of testing their products to determine the specific strains and quantities of probiotics. The Elli rep also mentioned that their product differs from yogurt because it isn’t cooked/heated in the same manner. Instead, Elli quark is allowed to ferment gently and naturally over a longer period of time.

    I’ll be sure to stay on top of this matter and report back when there’s more info available.

    Be well!


    PS – This paper provides a few details about the strains of bacteria used to make quark (and yogurt): http://bobhurt.com/articles/recipe%20-%20Making%20Quark%20Is%20Not%20Rocket%20Science.pdf

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