Food News Today Transcripts for the Week of January 23rd

January 27, 2012

Ginger for colon health, how dietary changes can change your genetic lottery, the USDA Supertracker and trouble in truffle paradise? For January 25th, 2012, this is Food News Today.

Did you know that today is National Irish Coffee Day -so don't forget the RediWip!

First up, a recent study published in the Journal Cancer Prevention Research found that ginger root might helpdecrease inflammation in the body.  Study participants were assigned 2 grams of ginger root supplement or a placebo for 28 days. Before and after the study, researchers examined colon inflammation levels and found that those taking the supplements had a drop in markers of inflammation. Inflammation is a natural part of the body's healing response, signaling the body to bring nourishment and increased immune activity to the injury site or infection. Although an acute inflammatory response is necessary, chronic inflammation can damage the body, overwork the immune system, and cause illness.

For now, more research is needed, to see if taking ginger root supplements have any effect on colon cancer risk. According to Suzanna Zick, "Interest in this is only going to increase as people look for ways to prevent cancer that are nontoxic and improve their quality of life in a cost-effective way."

The 9p21 gene has been linked with a higher risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease. In a recent study, researchers genotyped an ethnically diverse 27,243 people to see if they had the 9p21 gene. Researchers found that those with the high-risk genotype and who ate a diet low in raw fruits and vegetables had a higher risk of heart attack or cardiovascular disease.  Those with the high-risk genotype who ate a diet high in fruits and vegetables had a comparable risk to those without the 9p21 gene. So despite the cards you were dealt, your genotype, you certainly can change the outcome- and diet has a significant role to play.

Complementing the First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative, The SuperTracker provides practical information to help individuals, health professionals, nutrition educators, and consumers build healthier diets. As we are experiencing epidemic rates of overweight and obesity, the online resources and tools available at will empower healthier food and physical activity choices.

With this tool, users can do everything from a quick food look up to in-depth diet and activity tracking and analysis over time, and weight management.  You can even personalize recommendations for your diet and physical activity.

Customizable features such as goal setting, virtual coaching, weight tracking and journaling are available. Consumers can measure progress with comprehensive reports ranging from a simple meal summary to in-depth analysis of food groups and nutrient intake over time.

Additional new consumer messages in the months to come will include Drink Water Instead of Sugary Drinks; Make at Least Half Your Grains Whole Grains; and Avoid Oversized Portions.  Lets hope this tool is simple and intriguing enough for Americans to incorporate in their daily lives.

From a necessary nutrition and physical activity tool to a luxury fungus… European truffles.  In a 60 Minutes segment this past Sunday, Lesley Stahl traveled to Italy to speak with Olga Urbani, whose company Urbani controls 70 percent of the world’s truffle trade- and found out that the market for European truffles, the world’s most expensive food, is being diluted with cheap Chinese imports.

Ounce for ounce, European truffles are the world's most expensive food and not just because they taste so good in expensive restaurants. White truffles sell for about  $9,500 a pound while the black variety goes for over a $1,000 a pound; both are expensive because they're rare and hard to find- and there is nothing farmers can do to make them grow.  And the specially trained dogs used to find them are as prized as the pricy fungus itself.   

Ecological changes have brought the truffle harvest down to just 30 tons a year from 2,000 tons 100 years ago.  Prices are spiking as demand increases, causing a black market for truffles that resembles the shadowy world of illegal drugs, complete with truffle thefts and murders.  The black market is also allowing an influx of inferior and cheap Chinese truffles that are raked out of the ground and collected before ripening- diluting this lucrative market – mind you they are missing the pungent smell and taste of the famous French and Italian truffles.  28 tons of Chinese truffles are brought into France each year, some are being sold on their own, others mixed in with the prized French and Italian  - but nobody really knows, or will talk about it for fear of their life.  Here in America were getting duped left and right – because whether product of France or product China, a truffle is a truffle and there is really no way to tell …  Sure this may seem a problem for only the super wealthy, but France and Italy’s most prized gastronomic delicacy and a staple of much of the cuisines future in is jeopardy.

Let me know what's on your food mind. Have you ever tried truffles?

Food News Today is sponsored by ConAgra Foods, who share with me the desire to provide the most current, interesting, and unbiased food news.