Drinking coffee may be associated with a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a just-released study that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, April 18 to 25, 2015.
“Caffeine intake has been associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and our study shows that coffee intake may also protect against MS, supporting the idea that the drug may have protective effects for the brain,” said study author Ellen Mowry, MD, MCR, with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.
For the study, researchers looked at a Swedish study of 1,629 people with MS and 2,807 healthy people, and a U.S. study of 1,159 people with MS and 1,172 healthy people. The studies characterized coffee consumption among persons with MS one and five years before MS symptoms began (as well as 10 years before MS symptoms began in the Swedish study) and compared it to coffee consumption of people who did not have MS at similar time periods. The study also accounted for other factors such as age, sex, smoking, body mass index, and sun exposure habits.
The Swedish study found that compared to people who drank at least six cups of coffee per day during the year before symptoms appeared, those who did not drink coffee had about a one and a half times increased risk of developing MS. Drinking large amounts of coffee five or 10 years before symptoms started was similarly protective.
In the US study, people who didn’t drink coffee were also about one and a half times more likely to develop the disease than those who drank four or more cups of coffee per day in the year before symptoms started to develop the disease. “Caffeine should be studied for its impact on relapses and long-term disability in MS as well,” said Mowry.
The study was supported by the Swedish Medical Research Council, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg, AFA, and Swedish Brain Foundations, the Swedish Association for Persons with Neurological Disabilities and the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institute on Aging.
Steve Schirripa is teaming up with his Sopranos co-star Michael Imperioli to meet their fans at The Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, where Steve will be exhibiting his Uncle Steve’s Italian Specialties line of organic pasta sauces. Schirripa and Imperioli, known by Sopranos fans as Bobby Baccalieri and Christopher Moltisanti, will be signing autographs and sharing sauce with their fans at The Hilton Level 2 – Hot Products Pavilion, Booth H201 on March 5 and 6 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. There will also be raffle prizes given out continuously throughout both days.
“Michael Imperioli is like a brother to me, so it’ll be great to have him in Anaheim. We’re looking forward to breaking bread with our fans and introducing them to Uncle Steve’s sauces,” Schirripa noted.
Uncle Steve’s Italian Specialties was created by Steve Schirripa earlier this year. Each jar of Uncle Steve’s sauce is produced in the USA from small batches of fresh imported organic Italian plum tomatoes, vegetables and spices, “Our products are USDA-certified organic, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, and contain no added sugar. With no GMOs, no pesticides, and nothing artificial, you can be confident you are feeding your family not only great-tasting products, but nourishing them as well.” said Schirripa. “My mother cooked her sauce for six hours and unlike the others, we are doing the same.”
Uncle Steve’s is available in three flavors: Marinara, Tomato Basil and Arrabiata. It is available at Whole Foods Market, Central Market, ShopRite, Stop ‘n Shop and many other grocery and health food stores across the USA. For more information on where to buy or to purchase by mail, go to www.unclestevesny.com.
Wholesome Sweeteners, a brand of organic, fair trade and non-GMO sugars and sweeteners, has a new name and a new look. Now known as Wholesome!, the new brand debuted March 6-8 at Natural Products Expo West. In addition to unveiling its new look, the company will reveal its latest items like Organic Coconut Palm Syrup and a larger 24-ounce bottle of its popular Organic Honey.
The company is staying true to its Organic and Fair Trade roots and will still sell its same line of gourmet sugars, syrups, molasses, stevia and honeys, but with a different look. The Wholesome! logo and packaging incorporate a bright variety of colors, playful fonts and baking icons and quite literally lead with the heart. Not only is there a heart on the front of each item, but its packaging speaks about the love, care and consideration that was put into creating each product. The focus is on the satisfaction of the consumer, the well-being of the farmer who nurtured the product and maintaining the health of its natural environment.
“Wholesome! is the way we feel about our products, our farmers and our customers,” said Nigel Willerton, Wholesome! Chief Executive Officer. “It encapsulates our organic and social mission and how much everyone in the company cares about delivering the best-tasting, highest quality products possible.”
Samples of brand new Wholesome! Organic Coconut Palm Syrup will be available for tasting at Expo West. This delicious natural sweetener is made from coconut palm sugar, which is derived from coconut palm tree nectar. A warm, caramel flavor with a honey-like consistency, it is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, but also makes a great baking ingredient or sweet topping for dishes like oatmeal, pancakes and waffles. This syrup is Certified USDA Organic, non-GMO, gluten free, vegan and kosher and will be sold in 12-ounce recyclable bottles.
For those who love the Wholesome! Organic Honey line, the squeeze bottle honey is now available in a larger size. Shoppers will be able to purchase it in either a 16-ounce or a 24-ounce squeeze bottle. Wholesome! Organic Honey is a decadent honey with butterscotch and caramel tones perfect for baking, hot tea, Greek yogurt, warm biscuits and hard cheeses. This honey is USDA Organic and non-GMO since the bees only feast on organic wildflowers and the hives are never treated with antibiotics. It’s also fair trade, gluten free and kosher.
John Heath, the former Senior Vice President of Innovation at CHOBANI, is joining the corporate advisory board of Mediterra®.
“It’s a privilege to have John join our advisory board,” says Telemaque Lavidas, founder of Mediterra. “As an accomplished innovator and marketing expert, John’s expertise is highly coveted and he is a stellar addition to our team.”
Heath was among the first few executives hired early on at CHOBANI and in his time he helped grow the brand to number one in the category with more than one billion in sales.He held many responsibilities at CHOBANI that spanned from consumer insights and innovation strategy, to product/packaging/design development and commercialization. During his tenure, Heath helped to conceive, commercialize and launch more than 50 new products including four new product platforms and many different packaging formats.
Prior to CHOBANI, Heath worked with top communications and advertising agencies helping clients to solve business problems, position brands, create new products and develop advertising communications. He has consulted with some of the most prestigious brands in the world including ABSOLUT, AT&T, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Lindt Chocolate, MasterCard, Nabisco, Newman’s Own, Nikon, and more.
Heath joins other Mediterra advisory board members who possess a wealth of knowledge in different areas related to food and wellness. Other advisory board members include Connie Diekman, RD, Chef Diane Kochilas and Inventor Spiros Fotinos.
Mediterra is growing quickly and in seven months since its launch, already has national distribution in several retailers. Most recently, Mediterra was named one of Grocery Headquarters’ “2015 Selling Trailblazers,” an annual award competition that recognizes innovation in the grocery segment.
Stonyfield is launching its latest innovation to the yogurt aisle with an exclamation. Oh My Yog! is made with organic whole milk and fruit, and comes in a completely unique three-layer format – fruit on the bottom, honey-infused yogurt in the middle and a decadent layer of cream on top – for an everyday indulgence made better because it’s organic.
“Whole milk is part of the growing food trend of healthy fat making a comeback. Not only is it incredibly delicious – you really can’t beat a layer of cream on top of your yogurt – it’s also recognized as a more wholesome kind of real food,” shared Ben Angeloni, Vice President of Marketing for Stonyfield. “We have fans ask us for full fat yogurt every single day, and we’re excited to deliver something exceptional with Oh My Yog!”
Oh My Yog!, now available in select retailers nationwide, is easy to recognize in the yogurt aisle thanks to its colorfully striped Y&R Spain-designed packaging that was inspired by the three layers inside. “Everything about Oh My Yog! – from its name to its distinctive, striped packaging – reflects the experience you have when you’re eating it. It’s all about enjoying beautiful layers of a really delicious food,” said Angeloni.
Oh My Yog! comes in six decadent 6-oz varieties for the suggested retail price of $1.59: Madagascar Vanilla Bean, Wild Quebec Blueberry, Pacific Coast Strawberry, Gingered Pear, Apple Cinnamon, and Orange Cranberry.
Unified Grocers, Inc. has reached an agreement with Sacramento-based grocery chain Raley’s to take over its General Merchandise/Health, Beauty and Wellness (GM and HBW) operations. The agreement includes leasing the Raley’s warehouse in Stockton. Unified will become Raley’s third-party provider for GM and HBW products.
Under the terms of the agreement, Unified has hired all the employees who work in the facility. The warehouse is only eight miles from Unified’s own Stockton facility, and the partnership with Raley’s provides a unique opportunity to consolidate and add additional GM and HBW volume and store supply sales volume.
“We are looking forward to better serving our members from this facility, starting immediately with our newest member, Haggen,” said Bob Ling, President and Chief Executive Officer, Unified Grocers. “In addition, the potential is there to serve other companies from this location as well.”
The acquisition of the Stockton warehouse also signals a step-up in the growing wellness category for Unified’s specialty subsidiary Market Centre. “Market Centre has been successful in growing its HBW sales but this agreement provides the opportunity to scale the business to become big enough to buy and distribute in a more effective way,” said President of Market Centre Joe Falvey. “The addition of the Raley’s Stockton warehouse will allow Unified to make the most effective use of our other fixed assets, freeing up space in our other warehouses as we look to grow the business. It will potentially benefit all our retailers as we expand our GM and HBW business and add additional products.”
Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter (D- 3rd District) and Representative Robyn Gabel (D- 18th District) have introduced the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Act in the Illinois legislature to tax sugary drinks to raise funds to increase access to fruits and vegetables, create access to opportunities for physical activity and to expand Medicaid services. The bill is expected to generate more than $600 million dollars a year through the tax on sugary drink distributors.
“This is an important piece of legislation for the health of Illinois communities, especially those most devastated by sky-high rates of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” Sen. Hunter said. “African Americans have the highest heart disease mortality rates in the state and Latinos are twice as likely to develop diabetes as Caucasian Americans. Across Illinois, low-income communities of all types face great barriers to being healthy. The HEAL Act provides communities with tools that help children and families live healthier lives by increasing access to more affordable fruits and vegetables, creating safe and accessible opportunities for physical activity and implementing other evidence-based measures to promote health.”
The HEAL Act places a penny-per-ounce excise tax on high-sugar beverages (those with more than 5 grams of sugar per 12 ounces) and uses the revenues to invest in expanded opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity. This includes more nutrition and physical education in schools, more affordable and accessible foods at farmers markets, and more bike lanes and sidewalks for residents to be active. “Obesity and chronic disease prevention requires a multi-pronged approach, so we are excited to support the HEAL Act as an opportunity to invest in the interventions we know work in communities,” said Elissa Bassler, CEO of the Illinois Public Health Institute and Executive Director of the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity.
“This bill also helps expand prevention services in Medicaid,” said Rep. Gabel said. “Obesity-related health care costs Illinois taxpayers more than $6 billion a year. This legislation will help prevent those costly chronic conditions and reduce the economic drag they cause, while also improving the quality of life for Illinois families.”
The next step is for the bill to be considered by committees in the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate. The bill is supported by more than 25 organizations, including the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and the Illinois African American Coalition for Prevention.
The James M. Cox Foundation has made a $250,000 grant to Georgia Organics in support of the organization’s Farm to School (F2S) program. F2S is a nationwide movement that connects schools and local farms to serve healthy meals in school cafeterias, improve student nutrition and promote farm or gardening educational opportunities.
Georgia Organics founded the state’s first F2S program in 2007 and has since implemented the program in 30 school districts. The organization currently has a three-year fundraising campaign that will deepen the existing F2S programs with an anticipated impact on 900,000 students statewide.
“It is an exciting time to be a part of the Farm to School movement,” said Alex Taylor, Cox Enterprises Executive Vice President and great-grandson of company Founder James M. Cox. “These programs not only bring healthy food to our children, they also teach them about how to grow healthy food and that is a powerful investment in the future.”
The F2S program increases children’s exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as provides positive economic benefits. According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, agribusiness is the state’s leading industry and contributes $71.1 billion to Georgia’s economy. However, much of what Georgia grows is sent out of state. The F2S program allows farmers to sell closer to home and introduce children to Georgia’s rich agricultural heritage.
“A successful Farm to School program depends on many partners, and the James M. Cox Foundation is playing an important role in our expansion,” said Georgia Organics’ Executive Director Alice Rolls. “Farm to School has a great story to tell through offering fresh, healthy foods, lifetime learning experiences, school gardens, recycling techniques, composting, farm visits and more. By participating in these programs, Georgia’s students have the opportunity to experience history and achieve a healthier future.”
Cox Enterprises is a long-time partner of Georgia Organics through its national sustainability program, Cox Conserves.
Zola® Fruits of the World™ has expanded distribution of its coconut waters and acai juices into Kroger, Winn-Dixie, BI-LO, subsidiaries of Bi-Lo Holdings, Boston and NY Stop & Shop, Giant Food, Giant Food Stores and Sprouts locations. This expansion secures placement for Zola in 2,600 additional grocery and natural food stores and deepens its distribution footprint into key Northeast, Southeast, Pacific Northwest and West Coast markets across the country. The company attributes this significant momentum to Zola’s commitment to high-quality, great tasting products, positive consumer reactions to the brand’s successful line extensions and a focused produce department strategy.
Zola is the fastest growing coconut water brand in both conventional grocery and natural foods channels. Recently, sales of Zola Coconut Water surpassed Naked Coconut Water, securing the #4 position in the conventional grocery channel. “We are ready to build on our momentum with new distribution in major grocery chains and the second largest natural food retailer in the country,” said Founder and CEO Chris Cuvelier. The company will launch products in Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Southern California, Texas, Florida, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts with dedicated merchandising teams to support the accounts and build the Zola brand in these new markets. In addition to this expansion, Whole Foods Market has recently expanded its offering of Zola products in its Southern Pacific division. “At Zola, we listen to our consumers to create the very best products and partner with our retailers to deliver strong in-store programs that drive sales. We look forward to executing our growth plan for a successful 2015 and commit to delivering exciting new products to meet our consumer’s needs,” says Cuvelier.
Stonyfield is the official yogurt of the 119th Boston Marathon, fueling the runners and crowd in its native New England. A celebrator of healthy foods and healthy families, Stonyfield selected several inspirational bloggers who are moms and runners to form the 2015 Team Stonyfield. As part of their participation, the bloggers and Stonyfield will run in support of Girls on the Run, a national program that inspires third- through eighth-grade girls to be healthy and confident using a running curriculum.
“Girls on the Run envisions a world where all girls know and can activate their limitless potential, said Suzanna McCloskey,” Girls on the Run representative. “During the program, girls learn critical skills to navigate their lives with joy and confidence. And by completing the 5k that concludes the program, they experience, firsthand, that big things are possible when you keep moving forward!”
Run Like a Mother founder Megan Searfoss is serving as coach of Team Stonyfield, providing training guides, diet tips, and more, all available on the Stonyfield blog. Author of “See Mom Run,” a 5k training guide for busy moms, Megan has raced in over 20 marathons, including three Boston Marathons, and operates the Run Like a Mother 5k race series comprised of 10 events nationwide. Megan’s unique training plan emphasizes running for specific amounts of time instead of distance, making it easy for moms to schedule training sessions around work and family.
The bloggers comprising Team Stonyfield include mom runners from across the country, including women from as far as Utah, as well as local New Englanders. Team Stonyfield members include Angela Bekkala of Happy Fit Mama, Jill Whitaker of Jill Will Run, Tina Haupert of Carrots N Cake, Rachel Steffen of Running Rachel, Laura Peifer of Mommy Run Fast, and Bethany Meyer of Another Mother Runner.