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Harps Foods program offers free apples, bananas and oranges to kids to encourage health eating habits.

A little fruit could go a long way in helping kids develop healthier eating habits, and now at Harps Foods kids may get a little fruit for free.

For the past two months, in the produce section at all 80 Harps Foods stores in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, parents have found a little basket offering a free banana, apple or orange for their children.

Mike Roberts, produce manager for Harps Foods, said the company decided to make the offering to help develop healthier eating habits. The produce that is set out for the kids to eat in the store is washed, Roberts added.

“We don’t track how much it costs to do this because it’s not a big expense,” Roberts said. “It’s more about the customer’s experience. … It’s a small investment for us that’s great for everybody. … It’s exciting for the kids and it makes mom’s or dad’s experience a little better.”

Sugary foods are practically everywhere these days, Roberts points out, and not only are the young grocery-store goers future customers, but they belong to a generation that has seen a steady increase in obesity.

“We want kids to eat healthy,” Roberts said.

Teaching the younger generations to eat better is also an economic move toward higher productivity and lower health care costs.

According to the latest 10-year Healthy Active Arkansas plan from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, the average annual total cost of health care for normal weight and obese Arkansans shows costs increased with age at a greater rate for the obese group.

“The cost difference was 8 percent at ages 10-14, progressively growing to 104 percent by ages 65-74.9,” the report states. “Reducing the average BMI (body mass index) of Arkansans by only 5 percent could lead to health-care savings of more than $2 billion in 10 years and $6 billion in 20 years, while also preventing thousands of cases of stroke, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cancer.”

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, “for the first time in our nation’s history obese children and teens are developing chronic diseases formerly seen on in adults.” Obesity has been connected to high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers, the department adds.

Harps has worked with the River Valley Regional Food Bank in the past to hold classes at the Grand Avenue Harps Foods store to teach methods of eating healthy on a budget, Roberts said. The Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention points out that maintaining a healthy diet is difficult for families who don’t have convenient access to affordable healthy foods.

“In too many neighborhoods, families are surrounded by high calorie, low nutritional value options with minimal if any access to affordable healthy foods, including fresh fruit and vegetables,” the coalition states at ArkansasObesity.org.

About 14.2 percent of children age 2-4 and 20 percent of those 10-17 in Arkansas are considered obese, according to the State of Obesity 2015 study, sponsored by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Health Active Arkansas plan stresses that Arkansas has the potential to be a very healthy state with plenty of outdoor activities and top-notch health-care facilities.

What’s trending

Ken Kupchick, director of the marketing and development for the River Valley Food Bank in Fort Smith, said free produce sampling at grocery stores for children is trending across the United States as an effort to encourage better eating habits. However, he was unaware Harps was doing this when he brought it up at a nutrition committee meeting Roberts attended.

“It’s not just a trending story on the Internet, but it’s happening here at home, too,” Kupchick said.

Harps and the regional food bank have worked together in the past. They put on a Cooking Matters at the Store healthy eating program at the Harps on Grand Avenue in Fort Smith. Grant funding is needed to put on another episode of that program. Kupchick said organizers are seeking $2,000 to hold a class for 200 people. The money is used for gift certificates to give participants after going through several stations such to learn how to shop smarter and eat better.

Kupchick pointed out that Sebastian County has over 32,600 people eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP benefits,formerly known as food stamps, and 12,600 of them are not using it. The average SNAP benefit plan is $112 a month, Kupchick said.


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5 helpful vegetarian diet tips for meat-free newbies

Cutting back on red meat and dairy can be one of the biggest steps to reduce your carbon footprint. While Greenpeace campaign for renewable energy and a transition from fossil fuels, we’re also looking at other ways we can protect ourselves and the environment.

Ecological produce at Raspail Market in central Paris.

Just like a fossil fuel transport system, the meat industry has an impact on the environment. When we eat red meat every day, it has an effect on our water use and carbon footprints.

According to the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s scientific report:

“Consistent evidence indicates that, in general, a dietary pattern that is higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact (GHG emissions and energy, land, and water use) than is the current average US diet.”

So why start a low-carbon diet, and where do you begin making changes? Check out these great tips on how to cut back on meat.

Food illustration of a farm created by Instagram food artist and enthusiast Ida Skivenes.

1. Your diet, your rules

Your diet is a very personal part of your life. That means you don’t need to follow the rules and trends of other herbivores – just the advice of your doctor (and maybe your mother). Some vegetarians choose to eat sustainably caught seafood, and some vegans eat eggs from their own chickens. Others – called ‘freegans’ – eat meat and dairy that would otherwise be thrown out to avoid food waste. As long as you’re safe, healthy, and making the decisions you want for yourself and the world, you’re all good.

Farm workers pack organic produce with their child at Shared Harvest Farm in Tongzhou, China.

2. It’s okay to start slow

If dropping meat from your diet right now sounds daunting, you can try phasing it out over time. Initiatives like Meatless Mondays, where people stop eating meat one day of the week, are a great place to start (not to mention you’ll be alongside people like Sir Paul McCartney and Chris Martin). You could also make an effort to choose the vegetarian option when eating out, or start by cutting the most resource-intensive meats like beef from your diet.

Francesca Kitheka from Kenya holds pigeon peas. In Kenya, farmers are effectively applying ecological farming practices that are increasing their ability to build resilience to and cope with climate change.

3. Talk to friends and loved ones

Sometimes our diets affect the people we live with or see a lot. If you’re sharing food preparation duties with someone, make sure you talk to them about your decision and make an effort to work out a plan. Maybe some nights you’ll cook separately, or you’ll make dishes with the meat on the side – or they might even make a change with you!

If you’re visiting friends or family for a meal, let them know about your new diet. You might want to bring a vegetarian dish or two to share, or offer to come early to help cook and prepare. Your diet doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying your life.

Farmer’s markets like this one in Slovakia, sell produce made with love for the nature and environment, without using chemicals.

4. The internet is your best friend

From nutritional information, to vegetarian recipes, to helping you find the perfect ingredient substitutes – the internet has everything a vegetarian needs.

If you’re a novice in the kitchen try Vegetarian Cooking Hacks Every Herbivore Should Know.

If you have a sweet tooth you’ll probably salivate over these Veganuary dessert recipes.

And if you’re not quite sure where to source that ‘egg’ that’s called for in an egg-free chocolate cake, try 17 Cooking Hacks Every Vegan Should Know.

You can have your (vegan) cake and eat it too!

5. What if I can’t cut back on meat right now?

If you can’t stop eating meat, but still want to bite away at your food footprint, there’s still lots you can do. You might choose to buy local or organic produce, stop eating processed or packaged foods, or grow your own fruit and vegetables at home. There are even ways to make changes to how you consume meat and dairy to reduce your carbon food footprint, like choosing from more ecological farming methods such as buying grass-fed rather than grain-fed beef.

A farmer uses cattle to plow his field in Kammavaripalli Village, Bagepalli, India.

Making the decision to commit to a new diet is difficult – but once you start it’s easy! But if you slip up or forget, be kind to yourself and keep at it.

Rashini Suriyaarachchi is the Digital Communications Officer at Greenpeace Australia Pacific. This article originally appeared on the Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s website here.

Ready to change your diet and impact on the Earth? Take one of the I Know Who Grew It pledges today.

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Free 10-day program at Novant calls for cutting all added sugar from diet – Winston



Daily sugar consumption

According to the American Heart Association, men should consume no more than 150 calories of added sugar per day, which is 37.5 grams or nine teaspoons.

Women should consume no more than 100 calories of added sugar per day, which translates to 25 grams or 6 teaspoons.

On average, Americans eat 20 teaspoons (84 grams) of added sugar every day, the equivalent of 320 calories.

Just one 12-ounce can of soda contains 39 grams of sugar or a little over nine teaspoons of sugar.

Posted: Sunday, May 1, 2016 12:15 am

Free 10-day program at Novant calls for cutting all added sugar from diet

By Richard Craver Winston-Salem Journal

Winston-Salem Journal

Some of the simplest pleasures and comforts in life can be eating chocolate cake at a birthday celebration, glazed doughnuts for a quick breakfast or an ice-cold soft drink on a hot day.

Like many things in life, consuming sugars can be a treat when done in moderation.

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Sunday, May 1, 2016 12:15 am.

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How To Treat Diseases Through Nutrition: 3 Healthy Diet Plans To Manage Diseases

Gruene Woche Agriculture Trade Fair

Different kinds of vegetables, including paprikas, zucchini, onions and tomatoes, lie on display
(Photo : Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Food can either help treat diseases or make them worse. Knowing the best healthy diet plans to manage diseases can make a huge difference for a person’s health and wellbeing.

These different types of healthy diet plans can help prevent and treat diseases by fighting off infection, reducing pain, strengthening the immune system, improving the digestion process and decreasing stress levels. Here are some of the best diet plans to manage diseases.

1. Heart Disease

The best healthy diet plan for heart disease is a Mediterranean diet. This kind of diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and legumes. “The small portion of protein they consume is typically fish or lamb cooked in olive oil and served with greens and fibrous whole grains,” Medical Daily shares.

2. Hypertension

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Hypertension is dangerous because it can lead to cardiac arrest, kidney failure, stroke and internal bleeding. The best healthy diet plan for high blood pressure is DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension). This diet plan includes unrefined breads, whole grains, veggies, fruits, low-fat dairy, nuts, seeds, dry beans and a small portion of meat, fish or poultry.

3. Autoimmune Diseases

“An autoimmune disease develops when your immune system, which defends your body against disease, decides your healthy cells are foreign,” Healthline explains. This will lead to your healthy cells getting attacked by your own immune system.

The best healthy diet plan for autoimmune diseases is a gluten-free diet. This can help people who suffer from an autoimmune disease like Celiac disease to keep the inner lining of their small intestine healthy.

Study: Drinking Beer Could Help You Lose Weight

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A new study suggests that an ingredient in beer could actually help people drop pounds.

The study from Oregon State University was published in Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Analysts used mice to test the effects of beer and found that xanthohumol, a flavor found in beer, helped the mice lose weight.

Researchers took 48 male mice and split them into two groups. One group was given 30-60 miligrams of xanthohumol everyday for 12 weeks, while the other group was not. All of the mice were fed high-fat diets.

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The mice that consumed the xanthohumol gained 22 percent less weight than the other mice, and also knocked their cholesterol levels down by 80 percent.

Before you head out to the bar, study authors say you would have to drink 3,500 pints of beer in a 24 hour period to get the same result as the mice.

Why Fad Diets Don’t Work, And How To Spot Them

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Fad diets come in many different forms. Some are straight up weird, and some are less crazy than others, but pretty much all of them share a few key characteristics. This video shows you how to spot health industry snake oil from a mile away.

We’ve been fed appetising solutions to quick and easy weight loss for centuries, with diets like the vinegar diet and history’s first recorded low-carb diet, the Banting diet, tracing back to the Victorian era.

Today we still see updated, new-age science fad diets because many of us still fall for them. This video by TED-Ed suggests looking out for these red flags:

  • The diet focuses on intensely cutting back kilojoules or entire food groups (like fat and carbohydrates).
  • You’re allowed to only eat very specific foods with very specific instructions.
  • Most of the foods they recommend you eat are expensive proprietary bars, powders, drinks and other products.

Another red flag that isn’t mentioned is endorsement by a celebrity or a self-proclaimed “health guru” who makes a living not treating patients, but selling books and going on speaking tours.

Admittedly, fads like the blood-type diet, alkaline diet, lemonade diet and so on could all work… for a while. In fact, any diet could “work” if you manipulate kilojoule reduction through strict rules, elaborate rituals (no carbs after 8pm!) and eliminating entire food groups and sources of high-kilojoule junk.

In the end, you’re eating fewer kilojoules, which means you’ll lose weight. Whether that lost weight is water, muscle, fat, or your sanity is another thing though.

Still, what works in the short term doesn’t translate to long-term success or even good health — mainly because for most people these diets aren’t sustainable. The video does touch on a fair point that sometimes rapid weight loss may be warranted in very specific medical circumstances.

For everyone else, the real methods for the most rewarding and lasting changes to your mind and body are unsexy.

How to spot a fad diet [TED-Ed]

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