Food & Nutrition

Time for a chemistry lesson.
Beer is chemically complex. Many different molecules are responsible for its wide variety of tastes and colors. Some of the least studied are those produced as a result of the Maillard reaction. Famous in kitchens worldwide, this reaction is responsible for the browning of meats and bread that occurs at high temperatures, when amino acids and sugars chemically combine.
Here's a dirty secret you might not be aware of: Scientists get grants because of work they have already done. Instead of being lured by money, Professor Stare, the founder of Harvard's Department of Nutrition, was a co-author on Panic In The Pantry in 1976, precisely because he saw the discourse had been hijacked by groups out to scare people about food.
Golden rice — bioengineered to contain beta-carotene — has the potential to decrease the toll of blindness and mortality due to vitamin A deficiency in the developing world. A new study modeled this potential when varying degrees of substitution and beta carotene content are involved. For the poorest, the benefit can be substantial.
For various reasons, fruits and vegetables grown out-of-season don't taste as good as the in-season variety. And some foodies turn their nose up at greenhouse-raised tomatoes. But a team of researchers from Purdue University wanted to determine if it was possible to enhance their flavor.
OCA, the notable militant trade rep group famous for creating anti-science Deniers For Hire like U.S. Right To Know and funding many others, has now laid its cards on the table, saying it wants every competitor of their clients gone. The pro-science side always knew that, but it's still odd to see it spelled out. 
A recent paper took brain scans and noted changes in response to beer flavor, namely increased activity in the right ventral striatum. Beer caused the scans there to light up more, which the authors believe signaled a desire for more beer, while Gatorade didn't increase beer desire at all.
WebMD earned its recently-bestowed moniker, WebBM, by spewing out one poop-related story after another. But they have really stepped in it now. The site, which we will now also refer to as WebD-U-M-B, published an article on fast-food scares that was really, really stupid. 
By now, anyone who has perused the grocery aisles has seen the plethora of products that proudly proclaim they're "gluten-free." But the number of people that need gluten-free foods — those with celiac disease — hasn't increased. Are people being seduced by ads, or is there some other rationale for making gluten-free choices?
Geeta Sidhu-Robb bills herself an inspirational mother of three, ex-corporate lawyer and entrepreneur who created a line of organic smoothies that she claims will detox you. Or anyone willing to give her money, really. She says her inspiration emerged because one of her children had severe food allergies, eczema and asthma and pesky medicine couldn't solve it. Really.
A new story in the British press reveals that very few lunches brought from home are actually meeting nutritional guidelines. But the way to ameliorate the situation is not pass laws to regulate what can be included in that brown bag. Nutritional guidelines should be used to educate, not punish.
Hard-boiled eggs (Credit: Shutterstock)
A major protein inside the egg, called ovalbumin, possesses the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine. When heated, these sulfur atoms are converted to hydrogen sulfide, the nasty gas associated with rotten eggs and bodily functions. It doesn't take much to wrinkle our noses.
We here at the council enjoy debunking health fads. We especially enjoy debunking — in both print and video — weight loss fads. In fact, just last week I debunked one of the hottest trends in weight loss: body wraps. I don't know why this is, but something about selling unrealistic goals to vulnerable consumers for financial gain that only benefits the person at the top of the pyramid scheme really irks me.