Cartoons can lead kids to bad food habits

Wow! That’s Dora the Explorer on a box of frozen treats. And you know what Dora’s discovered inside that box? High fructose corn syrup, liquid sugar and a bunch of great dyes. Good sleuthing, Dora!

But wait: Her image is there to attract, not educate, young consumers, and it works, making bad-for-you food youngsters’ top picks. That’s why the fast-food industry spends more than $5 million every day marketing unhealthy foods to children.

Researchers say even five years after kids are exposed to unhealthy food ads, they select fewer fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and increase their consumption of fast and fried foods and sugar-sweetened beverages. Intergenerational advertising targets not only today’s kids, but their kids as well by establishing lifelong brand preferences. No wonder the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that 1 in 3 U.S. adults will have diabetes by 2050.

What can you do about the onslaught? Talk to your children. Then offer great-tasting alternatives. Buy fruit that kids can blend and freeze into tasty pops. And educate them about how important it is to feed your body the healthy fuel it needs to stay strong, smart and happy.


Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmerman made their careers by eating exotic — and sometimes hard to swallow — foods. Zimmerman says the 10-year-old tofu at Taiwan’s House of Unique Stink (that’s its name!) is horrific, and Bourdain admits Icelandic fermented shark, hakarl, is revolting.

But just because you haven’t heard of a food, doesn’t mean it’s to be avoided. There are unusual taste treats out there that deliver a mouthful of good-for-you goodness.

Meet kalettes. This cross between kale and Brussels sprouts is not genetically modified, just an old-fashioned hybrid that’s created mini sprouts surrounded by small kale-like leaves. They deliver 120 percent of your daily vitamin K and 40 percent of vitamin C in every 1 ½ cups.

Hello broccoli sprouts. These aren’t just tasty, they’re loaded with the enzyme myrosinase. Combine broccoli sprouts with broccoli, and you’ll boost sulforaphane absorption by 50 percent.

Welcome Khorasan wheat. This ancient grain delivers a lot more nutrition than today’s wheat. It’s sold under the Kamut brand. You can use it to make homemade pasta or buy khorasan-containing products, like cereals, pastas and breads online and in health-food and grocery stores.


Urban Dictionary defines “fat-head syndrome” as someone who acts like a blowhard. But researchers at Louisiana State University’s Inflammation and Neurodegeneration Laboratory have found that a diet high in saturated fat can cause a lot more than a bad case of know-it-all-itis. It affects your brain, and that leads to anxiety, memory problems and other not-so-great changes in behavior.

Working in the lab, researchers transplanted gut bacteria from mice that ate a high-sat-fat diet into thin mice that ate a low-fat diet. Lo and behold, the thin mice developed brain inflammation and had behavior changes that were the same as those of their sat-fat-munching buddies.

There’s every reason to think that even if you’re not overweight, eating a diet high in saturated fat throws your gut bacteria way off balance and puts you at risk for bodywide inflammation. That means you’re in for heart and immune system problems, and brain inflammation that can affect your behavior and emotional well-being.

A moderate amount of fat is essential for your good health, but it has to be the right kind: mono- and polyunsaturated, and the odd fatty omega acids 3 and 9. So aim for, at most, 25 percent of your daily calories from healthy fats.FeaturesHealth & FitnessSaturated FatYou DocsYouDocs

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