Weekly Round Up, 10.19.12

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Here are some of the best food stories we came across this week:

  • Whole Foods Tests Color-Coded Labels Indicating Healthfulness – Whole Foods is testing a color-coding system designed to inform consumers whether the product they’re buying is healthful, with green stickers that progress to yellow and orange. Unhealthy foods will not receive a label. The criteria includes: sugars and sweeteners, sodium, whole grains/level of grain processing, animal product content, percentage of calories from saturated fat, and calorie density.
  • Will Farming’s Future Be Found in Cities? – A host of vertical farms — urban greenhouses that unfurl upward instead of horizontally on land — are up and running in the U.S. and overseas, providing fresh produce and reducing emissions. There’s a 12-story building going up in Sweden, where plants will travel on tracks from the top floor to the bottom. In Chicago there’s The Plant, a former slaughterhouse where vegetables grow on floating rafts, nourished by waste from nearby fish tanks.
  • Lack of Sleep Also Affects Fat Cells – A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that after four nights of sleep deprivation, the body’s overall ability to respond to insulin properly decreased by an average of 16%; this is a step toward developing Type 2 diabetes. After too little sleep, the fat cells’ ability to use insulin properly (called insulin sensitivity) also dropped by 30%. When fat cells don’t respond to insulin properly, lipids (fats) circulate in the blood, which can also lead to Type 2 diabetes and other health problems.
  • Research Finds Link Between Obesity and Impulse Control – Research presented at the Neuroscience 2012 conference suggests what people eat can alter their brains (and vice versa). A study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to observe brain activity; overweight and obese participants’ brains showed more activity during difficult questions, suggesting they had to work harder. Scientists theorized that unhealthy eating choices can lead to disrupted brain connections that lead to weakened functioning — which can lead to more unhealthy choices.
  • Eight Ingredients to Avoid on Food Labels  – David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding, of the Eat This, Not That book series, offer eight ingredients to avoid when scrutinizing food labels: BHA, parabens, partially hydrogenated oil, sodium nitrate, caramel coloring, castoreum (purely for the ‘ick’ factor), food dyes and hydrolyzed vegetable protein.

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments below, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for links like these all week long.

Photo courtesy of frans16611.

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