Natural Products Expo West 2016 Part FiveMay 14, 2016 Written by JP [Font too small?]
My fifth and final Expo West entry is geared towards healthier pleasures. These days, there are many faux-health foods on the market. Terms like “All Natural”, “Gluten Free”, “No Sugar Added” and “Non-GMO” are appearing on labels at an alarming rate. In some instances, this is the result of a positive shift in product composition which has largely been driven by consumer demand. So that is good cause to pat ourselves on the back. But, having said that, many of these so-called functional foods aren’t actually as health promoting as they may seem.
The more I dig into the field of nutritional science, the more I realize that hard and fast rules are few and far between. I’m confident that eating a diet centered on whole foods is a good start for most people. Another non-controversial factor is the quality of these whole foods. For instance, grass fed meat outshines “feed lot” meat, and organic strawberries are preferable to their conventionally grown counterparts. However, what I’ve noticed in my own life and in the lives of my clients, is that varying degrees of “wiggle room” can make all the difference if you hope to maintain a healthy lifestyle over the long term. And, that’s why it’s exceedingly helpful to have healthier versions of comfort foods at your disposal.
Simple Mills Gluten-Free Crackers (link): If you’re avoiding gluten, you may well miss a lot of the foods you grew up with. Simple Mills has a new line of grain-free crackers that boast a healthier ingredient list than most. Nutrient-rich, almonds, flax and sunflower seed meals replace nutrient-poor wheat flour. Many of the ingredients used here are organic and all are certified as non-GMO. Now, these are not exactly low in carbohydrates as they contain cassava root – a starchy, staple food widely consumed in Africa and many Equatorial countries. I don’t necessarily consider cassava a “super food”, although it does contain a fair share of several essential nutrients, including potassium and vitamin C, while yielding a lower glycemic index than some other grains and root vegetables. Perhaps, most importantly, these crackers are as crunchy and flavorful as anything I’ve found in the junk food aisles. This is an alternative that will please even the most discerning foodie.
Manitoba Harvest Hemp Heart Bites (link): If you’re looking for a mildly sweet snack that packs a real nutritional punch, consider this instead of a protein bar. Hemp seeds are a good source of dietary fiber, essential fatty acids (including GLA), and protein. Also, this tasty treat is a formidable reservoir of magnesium. You get over 50% of the daily value of magnesium in a single, 45 gram serving of Hemp Heart Bites. What’s more, carefully processed hemp seeds are showing potential as dietary antioxidants which may benefit cardiovascular and cognitive health. A brief word of caution: Mrs. Healthy Fellow, who is allergic to some nuts, had a powerful allergic reaction after trying Cinnamon Hemp Hearts for the first time. Personally, I tolerated both the chocolate and cinnamon flavors well. This goes to show how individualized our response to food can be. Because of this, I urge everyone to try exotic and/or new foods in small quantities at first.
Vixen Kitchen Paleo Vegan Gelato (link): This dairy-free, organic “gelato” really delivers. Instead of using pasteurized cream and milk as a base, Vixen Kitchen blends together purified water and organic raw cashews. To that, they add a hint of organic maple syrup and wholesome flavors such as organic raw cacao, fair trade vanilla bean and even pumpkin puree in their seasonal Pumpkin Pie offering. While unique, this is not a gimmicky product. There are many people out there who don’t tolerate dairy well. Additionally, some vegetarians (aka vegans) abstain from animal milk altogether. And then there’s the issue of nutrition. Raw cashews contain desirable monounsaturated fat, magnesium, potassium and vitamin E. Why use maple syrup? It’s one of the better sweetening options as it possesses unique phytochemicals that may actually lower the risk of diabetes and liver damage when used in moderation.
Dang Onion Chips (link): Of late, onions have been getting some well deserved attention in the scientific literature. I, myself, devoted a recent column to them. Now, a company called Dang is revolutionizing the way we can eat onions. Essentially, they’ve developed a technology to make an onion chips from whole onions without adding breading, corn or soy of any kind. The end result is a crispy, savory chip that has a clean oniony flavor. There’s nothing artificial to be found here. As a bonus, a recent batch of studies report that eating more onions may protect against cognitive decline, endometrial cancer and osteoporosis.
Hail Merry Mini Miracle Tarts (link): Sometimes all you need is a bite of sweetness to tame a craving. Hail Merry’s Mini Miracle Tarts offer up just that. Each serving of one mini-tart has about 100 calories – mostly from organic coconut and nuts. Currently, there are seven all-natural flavors: Bluberry Açaí, Chocolate Almond Butter, Chocolate Chile Pecan, Chocolate Creme, Meyer Lemon, Strawberry Rhubarb and Sweet Potato. They’re dairy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO and contain mostly free trade and organic ingredients. Best of all, their heavy reliance on organic coconut and minimally-refined ingredients boosts the fiber and fat content without being obvious. And, that helps blunt the typical rise in blood sugar that follows most desserts. These will most definitely become a staple in our household.
All of the products featured today come with the usual caveats. Presently, it may be difficult to find them at your local health food stores or markets, but you can request them or look for online sources. Unsurprisingly, these better-for-you-snacks tend to be more expensive then similar, more refined options. In all likelihood, this will always be the case. The more natural a product is, the shorter the shelf life and the more limited the audience – smaller volume production generally increases manufacturing cost. But, rather than focusing on the downsides, why not bear in mind that this is a tiny (and delicious) investment in your quest for wellness? Enjoy!
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 – Diet Quality Improves for Parents and Children When Almonds … (link)
Study 2 – SELF Nutrition Data: Raw Cassava … (link)
Study 3 – Iron and Protein Biofortification of Cassava: Lessons Learned … (link)
Study 4 – Evaluation of the Cariogenic Potential of Cassava Flours from the … (link)
Study 5 – Glycaemic Responses After Ingestion of Some Local Foods by Non- … (link)
Study 6 – Absence of Diabetes in a Rural West African Population with a High … (link)
Study 7 – Dietary Fibre and Fermentability Characteristics of Root Crops and … (link)
Study 8 – Polyphenolic Compounds and Antioxidant Activity of Cold-Pressed … (link)
Study 9 – Characterization of Lignanamides from Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) … (link)
Study 10 – Structural and Antihypertensive Properties of Enzymatic Hemp Seed … (link)
Study 11 – A Novel Hemp Seed Meal Protein Hydrolysate Reduces Oxidative Stress … (link)
Study 12 – Preventive and Treatment Effects of a Hemp Seed (Cannabis Sativa L.) … (link)
Study 13 – Nutritional Composition of Raw Fresh Cashew (Anacardium … (link)
Study 14 – Administration of a Maple Syrup Extract to Mitigate Their Hepatic … (link)
Study 15 – Changes in Plasma Glucose in Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty … (link)
Study 16 – Effect of Fat Type in Baked Bread on Amylose-Lipid Complex … (link)
Study 17 – Virgin Coconut Oil Maintains Redox Status and Improves Glycemic … (link)
Study 18 – Satiety Effects of Psyllium in Healthy Volunteers … (link)
Coconut Oil May Reduce Oral, Pathogenic Microorganisms
Source: Scientifica (Cairo). 2016;2016:7061587. (link)
Tags: Coconut, Gluten, Onions
Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Product Reviews