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The USDA Tried to Make Milk Chocolate Healthy, May Trigger Your Peanut Allergies Instead

As a food scientist myself, it’s clear that food needs to be redeveloped around what consumers want and what is necessary for the future of food. So when research is done to help make foods healthier and utilizes something like food waste to put food back into our system, it’s a double-plus. Sometimes, that research leads to amazing results, like when carrot pulp was discovered as a healthy way to make puffy chips/Cheetos.

Sometimes, however, that research goes a little too far.

That clearly is the case with what happened on this joint study between the USDA and North Carolina State University. As reported by Quartz, the research was an effort to make milk chocolate perceived by consumers as healthier.

Researchers decided to make their chocolate healthier by putting antioxidants into milk chocolate and had consumers taste it to see if they could tell the difference. Sounds tame enough on its own, but wait until you hear where it’s coming from.

They’re extracting these compounds out of the skins of peanuts, encapsulating them with maltodextrin (which is basically converted cornstarch) to hide their flavor, and then adding that to the milk chocolate.

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Photo: Phys

Don’t get caught up on the maltodextrin part, it’s the peanut concern that we’re bringing up here. Immediate concerns come from the fact that peanuts are being used as the source of antioxidants. Let’s not forget how serious peanut allergies are, like the USDA did when they performed this study. None of the tasters had peanut allergies.

Basically, the research was conducted on this new antioxidant source without even taking a look at allergenic concerns. From a food safety standpoint, allergies need to be one of the first things looked at when considering a new source for a food ingredient. What if that skin extract contains the compounds that trigger peanut allergies? That has to be considered as a first step.

Additionally, while the new milk chocolate has more antioxidants than dark chocolate does, that raises the question of how the antioxidants are lost from the milk chocolate. Milk chocolate does have a lot more milk and sugar than dark chocolate, so the antioxidant content is much lower by default. Milk chocolate is also unhealthier in that regard, since it contains a higher sugar and fat content thanks to the milk and sugar added into it.

So does adding these antioxidants suddenly make the milk chocolate healthier? The USDA was banking on that for this research, since antioxidant-rich foods are currently trending. But adding these simple compounds doesn’t change any of the caloric content, fat, or sugar in the food. We also don’t know how much this peanut skin extraction process costs, or if the antioxidant-added chocolate will be allergenic.

In simpler words, if this does become a product, dark chocolate is a healthier, natural alternative with no potential peanut allergies and much less sugar and milk. Eat that instead.

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Hit-Or-Miss Tastemade/Snapchat

This Is Why You Should Stop Being Skeptical of Pomegranates

pomegranate

I wasn’t present at whatever meeting where “they” decided that pomegranate would go in everything. All I know is that one night, I went to bed with my cocktails full of lemon juice and my shampoos reeking of “Mountain Meadow Mist” and then the next day everything from salad dressings to condoms had the word “pomegranate” on it. The hostile takeover left me impressed, though also perturbed, by its sheer audacity.

“Very bold,” I likely muttered, before thinning my eyes and concluding, “a little too bold.”

Like everyone, though, I came around. It was akin to one of those sci-fi stories where the aliens show up promising to improve the livelihoods of all mankind and everyone’s (rightfully) skeptical, but it turns out they actually do want to help us evolve.

For starters, pomegranates want to pump us full of antioxidants, which prevents damage to your cells. Pomegranate juice actually ranks as the fifth strongest antioxidant. You know what else is ranked fifth best? The Beatles’ celebrated album Rubber Soul and Aretha Franklin’s classic rendition of the song “Respect” (both according to Rolling Stone anyway). So don’t you dare write off fifth just because there’s no designated Olympic medal for it!

Are there also cool amounts of Vitamins C and K? Hell yes. You know what they do? They empower your immune system and help with blood-clotting. So, yeah, Snootypants, you’re welcome.

“Oh, but that’s probably it, really,” you’re already muttering, totally interrupting me.

NO, BE QUIET, THERE’S MORE.

They’ve got potassium, which you love because it super helps with muscle control and blood pressure regulation. I’m pretty sure everyone likes moving around and not having strokes.

“So these undeniably high-tech examples of nature are, what, made in Batman’s cave then?” you’re asking me, once again interrupting.

First of all, it’s called the Batcave. Read a comic book. Secondly, no, the total opposite! Pomegranates are grown in the sunniest, warmest spots around, and as determined survivors, they’ll even grow in partial shade. They grow on adorable trees with the fruits looking like giant ruby red Christmas ornaments (sometimes with a little pinkish hue thrown in for good, sassy measure).

Plus, their seeds are insanely stylish additions to desserts, given that they are 1) delicious and 2) high in sugar. Those seeds also pack a ton of fiber, which limits the effects on blood sugar levels, so it’s practically healthy, even in that regard.

So yes, they are, in fact, capable of pretty much everything cool forever. Thank you, pomegranates. I’m sorry I ever doubted you.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Nobody Puts Gin In A Corner

At some point in time, gin became a grandmother’s drink. Except that grandmother was probably a flapper in the 1920s who’d drink bathtub gin and dance the night away with some really cool cats. Even if that’s not the case, grandmas tend to be badass people, so why are we knocking them and gin?

Gin Can Be Lethal And Magical

It’s not as though gin doesn’t pack a punch; in order to even be considered gin worldwide, the liquor needs to be at least 37 percent alcohol. We’re so serious about the stuff in America, that the minimum is set at 40 percent.

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I mean, are there any vodkas out there made from unicorn tears? Nope, just gin. How could you possibly need more proof that this is a magical substance than it blending perfectly with unicorn tears?

Gin’s Got Your Back…And Liver…And Kidneys

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From the extra antioxidant kick it gets from juniper berries to its diuretic ingredients that help your liver and kidneys get rid of bacteria, gin is hard to accuse of malice. You hardly find gin that packs more than 110 calories per shot, no matter how many ingredients they infuse it with.

Very few gins have the poor manners to be completely awful and most good gins are between $30-40. You either taste nothing or flowers, which is definitely the least scary way anyone’s ever explained alcohol to you.

Blame It On The Queen, Gotcha Feelin’ Mean

No, not Beyoncé; she’s still flawless. Gin likely gets its matronly rep from its British roots. Because, obviously, there are only old women in the UK and they all drink tea, sherry, and a bit of gin, if they’re feeling nasty. (If you read that sentence to the tone and image of Queen Elizabeth II, try it again with Dame Helen Mirren; it should keep the nightmares away). While the latter might be a little more accurate, albeit stereotypical, we need to erase this image of old biddies throwing shade at each other over gin and tonics.

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Gin can be young, fun, and even supernatural. It can serve as a base for light summer drinks or take the front seat of a warming winter cocktail with the same ethereal elegance. There’s nothing stopping you from giving gin a chance to sweep you off your feet.

Even if you don’t, at least stop putting vodka in your martinis. James Bond barely gets away with it and even he’s been switching back to gin.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Scientists Have Discovered the Distressing Difference Between Organic and Conventional Foods

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Just how beneficial is eating organic food for you compared to conventional foodA new study reviewing 343 scientific cases of eating organic foods now gives us the most definitive answer.

The conventional skeptic believes that the only difference between organic and conventional foods, other than the price tag, are the legal amounts of pesticides you can use in order to maintain the label “organic.”

It may come as a surprise to some, but eating organic foods, vegetables specifically, is indeed much healthier than eating “non-organic,” but the difference is actually more significant than most realize.

Here are the highlights from the study:

  • The most important difference between organic and conventional is the higher amount of antioxidants, about 20 to 40 percent more, in organic foods, which help the body combat certain diseases and cancers.
  • According to the article, the price per serving difference between organic and conventional foods isn’t that different. True, it is more expensive to buy organic, but because of the higher amounts of nutrients, you can get away with buying less servings for the same nutritional value.
  • While we know that organic also means less pesticides, we may not know exactly how damaging pesticides are for us, especially for men when it comes to sperm quality. Organic foods contain 10 to even 100 times less levels of pesticides than conventional foods.
  • Researchers also found that organic foods contain lower levels of cadmium (found in cigarette smoke) and nitrogen, both of which are harmful to the human body. It is speculated that pesticides in conventional foods increases the uptake of heavy metals in crops.

So if this research doesn’t convince you to eat organic, perhaps the added study that proves eating organic is better for the environment will. It’s time you enjoy happy eating and good health.

Source: The Mind Unleashed || Originally written by Max Chang for NextShark