Friday, March 3, 2017

Basmati Rice

Basmati is one of the best known varieties of rice out there. The word "basmati" comes from the Sanskrit word "vasmati" which means "fragrant" or "aromatic." Long-grained, extremely aromatic, with a light nutty flavor, basmati is grown in the north of India and Pakistan, mainly using traditional growing methods.

In Pakistan

In Pakistan, 95 percent of the basmati rice cultivation takes place in the Punjab Province  where total production was 2.47 million tonnes in 2010.

Pakistani varieties

Basmati 370 (Pak Basmati), Super Basmati (Best Aroma), Basmati Pak (Kernal), 386 or 1121 basmati rice, Basmati 385, Basmati 515, Basmati 2000 and Basmati 198.

In India

The areas of basmati rice production in India are in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. India's total basmati production for the July 2011–June 2012 crop year was 5 million tones. In India, Haryana is the major basmati rice cultivating state, producing more than 60 percent of the total basmati rice produced in India.

Indian varieties

Bamsati, P3 Punjab, type III Uttar Pradesh, hbc -19 Safidon, 386 Haryana, Kasturi (Baran, Rajasthan), Basmati 198, Basmati 217, Basmati 370, Bihar, Kasturi, Mahi Suganda, Pusa (duplicate basmati), Pusa 1121.Basmati 386, Pusa Basmati – 1, Basmati 217. Pusa Basmati 112, Ranbir Basmati, Punjab Basmati, Karnal Local or Taraori Basmati, Haryana Basmati – 1, Basmati 370, Kasturi and Mahi Sugandha

  Quality factors
There are many different types of rice with many different qualities to suit different consumer preferences. Quality factors relate to grain length, stickiness, aroma, texture, and flavor. Nutritional content may also vary between different types of rice.
Oryza sativa, or Asian rice, contains two broad groups: indica (long-grain) and japonica (short-grain). Other types of Asian rice include glutinous rice and aromatic rice. Oryza glaberrima, or African rice, includes long- and short-grain varieties. All varieties of rice can be processed post-harvest as either white or brown rice, affecting flavor, texture and nutritive value. Milling of rice post-harvest always leads to some grains being broken; a higher proportion of broken grains decreases the price since the quality is generally acknowledged to be reduced. 
Indica varieties of Asian rice are long-grain and usually grown in hot climates, whereas japonica varieties of Asian rice are short-grain and include both temperate and tropical varieties. African rice and glutinous rice (a variety of Asian rice) also come in long- and short-grain varieties. 
In short-grain rice varieties, including japonica varieties of Asian rice, grains tend to stick together when cooked. This is not to be confused with glutinous (or ‘sticky’) rice, descibed later on this page. Japanese rice (uruchimai or ‘sushi rice’) is a short-grain variety. Another popular short-grain variety is Arborio. Short-grain rice refers to rice with grain length up to 5.2 mm. 
Long-grain rice does not stick together when cooked, but tends to remain separate and ‘fluffy’. Most of the rice produced in southern Asia, including India and Thailand, is Indica (long-grain) rice. Basmati rice (mainly grown in India and Pakistan) and Jasmine rice (only grown in Thailand) are two popular varieties of long-grain rice, and both are aromatic or fragrant, described in more detail later on this page. Long-grain rice refers to rice with grain length over 6.0 mm.
Medium-grain rice refers to rice with grain length above 5.2 mm up to 6.0 mm. 
Stickiness (glutinousness)
Glutinous rice varieties originate from Lao PDR and northeast Thailand, where they are the staple food (Almanac 2012; Chaudhary, 2003). Among glutinous rice varieties, physical characteristics, quality and environmental adaptations vary widely. Some glutinous rices are aromatic, colors include white, purple and black, and grain size varies. Glutinous rice is opaque when raw, unlike most non-glutinous rice varieties, which are somewhat translucent when raw. With regards to starch, amylose content is low, ranging from 2.6% to 4.8% (Chaudhary, 2003) compared to 10% to 30% in non-glutinous rice (, but amylopectic content is high, accounting for the glue-like stickiness of glutinous rice. Glutinous rice does not contain dietary gluten (i.e. it does not contain glutenin and gliadin), and is thus safe for gluten-free diets. See also information on cooking methods. Glutinous rice can be cooked as grains or ground into flour and cooked as a paste or gel.
Aromatic rice is another variety of Asian rice, with medium to long grains and a light, fluffy texture and nutty or popcorn-like aroma when cooked. Aromatic rice is also generally said to have a nutty flavor, which is more pronounced in brown (unpolished) aromatic rice. The most internationally well-known types of aromatic rice are basmati and jasmine. 
Basmati rice, grown mostly in India and Pakistan, is renowned for its long, slender shape that elongates rather than expands in width when it is cooked. The word ‘basmati’ means ‘queen of fragrance’, and the rice is distinguished by its aroma. There are hundreds of other aromatic varieties grown and consumed locally, but basmati is the only one that is exported (Chaudhary, 2003). 
Jasmine rice, grown only in Thailand, is distinguished by its fragrance and a water milling process that leaves the grains silken to the touch. The grains are similar in size to long-grain rice but cook moist and tender like a medium-grain rice. In Thailand there are many other aromatic rice varieties, but jasmine and KDML 105 are the only ones exported (Chaudhary, 2003).
In the United States, domestically grown aromatic rice varieties include Texmati (a cross between ‘American’ long-grain rice and basmati rice), Wehani (developed by Lundberg Family Farms in California, using basmati seeds), and wild pecan rice (another basmati hybrid developed in Louisiana). 
Aroma is detected when the volatile compounds of the rice enter the nasal passage. A good perfumer can reportedly differentiate 150–200 odorous qualities and rice aroma is typically described by trained panelists using a lexicon with 10–12 descriptors (Champagne, 2008). 
The aroma of rice is mainly caused by the presence of the chemical compound 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline. But it is likely that many oils, phenolics and organic compounds are involved, such that hundreds of unique varieties of aromatic rice exist, in addition to many hybrids (Chaudhary, 2003). 
Flavor of rice differs by type of rice (variety, grain length, stickiness, color, etc.) and also depends on whether or not it has been polished (i.e. brown or white rice) and, of course, cooking methods. Those considerations are obvious to most of us. But flavor may also vary by genetics, the growing environment, type of fertilizer and cultural practices (which affect amylose and protein content), the timing of draining and harvesting the field (affecting maturity and moisture content, and also amylose and protein content), harvest moisture content, rough rice drying conditions, final moisture content, storage conditions (temperature and length of time), degree of milling, and also finally also washing and soaking practices and serving temperature of the cooked rice (Champagne, 2008). 
As explained in a review by Champagne (2008): “Flavor is the impression perceived through the chemical senses from a product in the mouth (Caul 1957). According to Meilgaard et al (2007), when defined in this manner, flavor includes aromatics (olfactory perceptions caused by volatile substances released from a product in the mouth through the posterior nares); tastes (gustatory perceptions [salty, sweet, sour, bitter] caused by soluble substances in the mouth); chemical feeling factors that stimulate nerve ends in the soft membranes of the buccal and nasal cavities (astringency, spice heat, cooling, bite, metallic flavor, umami taste).”
“Descriptive sensory analysis has identified over a dozen different aromas and flavors in rice. Instrumental analyses have found over 200 volatile compounds present in rice. However, after over 30 years of research, little is known about the relationships between the numerous volatile compounds and aroma/flavor. A number of oxidation products have been tagged as likely causing stale flavor. However, the amounts of oxidation products, singly or collectively, that need to be present for rice to have stale or rancid flavor have not been established. Only one compound, 2- acetyl-l-pyrroline (2-AP; popcorn aroma) has been confirmed to contribute a characteristic aroma. Furthermore, 2-AP is the only volatile compound in which the relationship between its concentration in rice and sensory intensity has been established.” (Champagne, 2008).
Specialty rice types
In some parts of the world, especially in North America and Europe, rice is developing a new market niche as a staple and as a gourmet food. This trend appears to be related to the arrival of large numbers of immigrants from Southeast Asia, who introduced aromatic rice to markets where it was previously unknown. It has been adopted by a food-quality-conscious public over the past several years.
There are a number of ‘speciality’ rices available, including colored rice and aromatic rice (already described above) and wild rice. 

Black, purple and red rice
Wild rice (not really rice!)
Twenty-two wild species of rice are found in Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. Only a few are closely related to Oryza sativa (Asian rice) and Oryza glaberrima (African rice). However, ‘wild rice’ is usually used to refer to the grain harvested from four species of grass that form the genus Zizania, including both wild and domesticated varieties. Historically, wild rice was gathered and eaten in North America and China. Currently it is a delicacy in North America, due to it’s taste and nutritional value, and it is now cultivated there, mainly in California, Minnesota and Saskatchewan. It is also produced in Hungary and Australia. In China, although Manchurian wild rice was once an important grain, now the plant’s stem is used as a vegetable and the grain is less commonly eaten. 

The Basmati Controversy
A well known Company in USA had applied for the Patent of Basmati Rice i.e. it could label its product as Basmati Rice and in turn nobody else could use this nomenclature for its product. It is like somebody, say in Pakistan, gets a patent registered for Champagne and then nobody, even people in France (where Champagne originated from) would be allowed to call its product as Champagne. Though the authorities in USA have rejected the claim however they have allowed their three strains of rice to be called basmati rice. This is also against the principles as basmati rice is only grown in Punjab, Haryana and J&K in India and Punjab in Pakistan since decades. Any rice grown elsewhere other than the above regions cannot be called Basmati, as it cannot have the combined characteristic of aroma and elongation post cooking because of the soil and weather conditions.

What are the difference kinds of Non Basmati rice
Any rice other than basmati rice is called non- basmati rice. In the world it has been reported that there are 10000 varieties of rice, the maximum number being in India. In fact, basmati rice equals to only 1% production of the total rice grown in Pakistan/India.
Non- basmati rice comes in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. Some are long and slender, some are short and thick, some are like beads, and some may be round. None have the same characteristics as basmati rice i.e. they do not have both the aroma and post cooking elongation. Only some of the long slender rice is shaped like basmati rice and may have either the aroma or the elongation but not both.

The difference between ordinary and sella rice
Any rice other than basmati rice is called non- basmati rice. In the world it has been reported that there are 10000 varieties of rice, the maximum number being in India. In fact, basmati rice equals to only 1% production of the total rice grown in India.
Non- basmati rice comes in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. Some are long and slender, some are short and thick, some are like beads, and some may be round. None have the same characteristics as basmati rice i.e. they do not have both the aroma and post cooking elongation. Only some of the long slender rice is shaped like basmati rice and may have either the aroma or the elongation but not both.

What`s the difference between basmati and Non basmati rice
As mentioned, basmati rice has both and elongation post cooking and no other rice in the world has these characteristics in combination. The taste is also different. Once the taste buds get used to basmati rice no other rice will be likened. But since the yield of basmati rice, per acre of land, is less than half of that of non- basmati rice and because of higher inputs - basmati rice has become unaffordable for most people. Basmati Associates has made basmati rice affordable for people of various income brackets- with its different varieties of basmati rice, starting with Rs.115 per kg to Rs.188 per kg.

What are the advantages of being basmati rice 
Each grain of matured old basmati rice on cooking, separates out and with its unique characteristics of aroma and elongation post cooking, it is a treat for the diner. Also its elongation requirement on weight basis will be less than any other rice per meal.

How to recognize the various varieties

It is true that recognizing pure basmati rice is as difficult as recognizing a diamond. Like a diamond, the cut of the grain indicates whether it is basmati or any other rice. A basmati grain is shaped like a sword and post cooking each grain elongates at least twice that of its original size. The rich aroma is another way by which one can recognize basmati rice. All other varieties do not match the above qualities, and non - basmati is recognized only by its various sizes and shapes.

Friday, December 2, 2016

What is Xanthan Gum

is a food additive that is primarily used to thicken, emulsify, and stabilize water-based foods. It helps things like salad dressings stay mixed, for instance. As a general rule, oil will try to pull away from other ingredients, particularly water, and the gum helps prevent this from happening. The additive also helps lend a smoother, creamier texture to certain foods, particularly ice cream. Fresh ice cream often has a really custard-like smooth taste, but this can be hard to maintain after a lot of time in a deep freeze; the gum can help preserve a lot of the smoothness and can help the ingredients resist becoming crumbly or dry. The additive is also effective as a general binding agent, and is often a really popular choice for gluten-free foods like breads that might be prone to disintegrating without the stickiness of gluten molecules to hold them together. Most food safety organizations and oversight committees have found the additive to be safe, particularly if used only in small quantities. There are some people who are allergic to it, though, and in rare cases there have been some adverse reactions.

As an Emulsifier
One of the gum’s most common uses is as an emulsifier, which basically means that it helps keep liquids from separating and pulling apart. In salad dressings, sauces, and condiments, for instance, it helps decrease the separation of oils, keeping the product well mixed while in the jar or bottle. As a result, all of the ingredients are held in a sort of suspension, and the customer doesn’t have to re-blend or shake things before use.
As a Thickening and Smoothing Agent
The same qualities that make xanthan gum a good emulsifier also make it a good thickener, of liquids and solids both. When something like salad dressing is shaken or agitated, it tends to thin out, making it easier to pour. This process is called pseudoplasticity. After the product has been poured and is allowed to rest, the gum helps it begins to thicken again slightly. Among other things, this helps it adhere to the food on which it’s been poured.
In frozen foods, xanthan gum creates the palatable feel of the food to the mouth. Along with guar gum and locust bean gum, it helps create the smooth texture of ice creams. It is also used to replace the fatty texture of egg yolks in many egg substitutes.
Improving Dough Cohesion
The additive is frequently also used as an addition to gluten-free flour, and can improve the overall quality of baked goods that are used with it. Gluten is a molecule most commonly found in wheat, and it is by nature a strong binding agent — it’s what gives most breads and baked goods their springy, chewy texture. Omitting gluten, which is all but essential for people who are allergic to wheat or prefer gluten-free products for dietary reasons, can leave many baked goods tasting dry and cooking poorly. Adding the gum to make up for the lost gluten can make a big difference.
How It’s Made
From a chemical perspective, the gum is a polysaccharide gum, or three-chain sugar compound, and it is created through the fermentation of the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris with glucoseand, in some cases, sucrose, both of which are naturally occurring sugars. It is also sometimes called corn sugar, particularly on ingredient labels. This additive is very stable at a wide variety of temperatures and pH levels.
It was discovered by chemist Allene Rosalind Jeanes at the United States Department of Agriculture, and was first approved for use in foods in 1968 after going through rigorous testing for toxicity. In the United States, Canada, Europe, and many other countries, it is considered to be safe for human consumption, and it is permitted as an “approved” additive in a range of different foods. It is very effective in small quantities and usually makes up only 0.5% to 1% of the total ingredients in any given product.
Safety Concerns
Xanthan gum is a natural carbohydrate that is not absorbed into the body, so it often raises less controversy than other more chemically-based food additives. Many people still want to avoid this and other additives as a way of returning to natural foods or looking for more nature-based alternatives, though. Some people with food allergies may also be sensitive to the product, and in rare cases it has been linked to headaches, stomach pain, and diarrhea. Other "gums," such as guar gum, carrageenan, and locust bean gum, can often be substituted, though these usually come with their own sets of pros and cons.
Xanthan gum is a common food binder available for purchase at grocery stores in the form of an inconspicuous white powder. As the term “gum” implies, xanthan gum gives items such as gluten free bread some of the texture and consistency that we’re all familiar with from our non-gluten free days. It provides some of that natural gumminess inherent to gluten in products without it.
This ingredient becomes even more important when you remove other binders, such as eggs, when making gluten free products vegan. Sounds like xanthan gum is a good thing, right? Not so fast…
The Dark Side of Xanthan Gum
Most people have no idea what xanthan gum is made from. Granted, the pure white powder doesn’t sound any alarms. It’s easy to confuse it with some of the other “white powders” we’re used to adding to baking mixes. And frankly, when I ate a lot of gluten free baked goods and breads, I didn’t necessarily care in the beginning what each ingredient was and where it came from. I just wanted to eat something similar to what I was used to before going gluten free.
To be clear, xanthan gum is a food additive approved for use in the USA in 1968 and is pervasive in the gluten free food category. It’s actually pretty difficult to find products without it (and that includes items outside of food such as shampoos and other beauty products). When mixed with some of the other gums, such as locust or guar gum, the result is an even better binder which explains why they are often used together in products.

The question few ask though is how xanthan gum is produced so that this common white powder has the power to make ingredients bind together as effectively as it does. The journey to your plate all starts with a lovely strain of bacteria known as Xanthomonas Campestris which in the world of Botany is responsible for producing what’s known as Black Rot on vegetables of the cruciferous family (ie. cauliflower, broccoli, kale).
Yes, Black Rot… it sounds awful and it is for plants that become infected. As you can see here in a picture that I personally took of of my cauliflower plants attacked by Black Rot during the summer of 2013. I couldn’t save them and lost the entire crop after a summer’s worth of hard work.
But What’s Xanthan Gum Made From?
To be clear, xanthan gum isn’t black rot. However I’ll leave it up to you whether you feel comfortable eating it from here on out.
The action of the bacteria produces black rot or a slimy gel depending on where it is applied. In the case of producing xanthan gum, Xanthomonas campestris is applied to some sort of starchy material (ie. corn, wheat, dairy or soy) and ferments it to produce a slimy, indigestible polysaccaride (a string of multiple glucose molecules) substance. This slimy material is then further refined, dried and milled into the white powder we know as xanthan gum.
Before we go further, you may have questions about whether the original starch would cause any reactivity in humans who are sensitive to those particular foods — corn, soy, dairy or wheat (which is most important to all of us here). It appears that there have been very few studies conducted on humans about the safety of xanthan gum according to the research provide by Chris Kresser.
Another question is whether xanthan gum is made from source materials (ie. corn and soy) that are GMO (genetically modified organisms). For those who do their best to avoid consuming those GMO crops, that would mean nixing xanthan gum off your list unless it’s certified as organic.
However it’s been noted on several sites, including that of Bob’s Red Mill, that folks with a corn or soy allergy may want to avoid xanthan gum produced from those starches since there’s no guarantee that it’s free from those allergens. Their particular product is produced on wheat starch which lacks the portion of wheat containing gluten (but makes me wonder about safety for those with an actual wheat allergy). With the FDA regulations now, I would assume they actually test their gluten free products to fall under 20 ppm.
Side Effects of Xanthan Gum
As you may already know, everything in nature can cause side effects that vary from person to person. Xanthan gum is no different and can cause issues for people. According to WebMD, it’s contraindicated to consume it in large quantities (over 15 grams per day) which is difficult considering how little one uses in a large recipe. It may also interfere with diabetic medication, causing blood sugar levels to drop too low. And xanthan gum is listed as a “bulk-forming laxative” which can cause problems such as nausea, vomiting and hard stools to name a few.
And it is possible to develop a sensitivity to xanthan gum just as you would to other foods. If you find that you’re still reacting to food that’s labeled gluten free, remember that other food intolerances are possible and can sometime mimic the symptoms of getting glutened. Leaky Gut Syndrome is a big reason why folks may find themselves adding more foods to the “NO” list. There is plenty of anecdotal accounts all over the web from people who react to xanthan gum.
What To Do…
If you follow my work here at Gluten Free School, you know I’m a fan of eating real food. By doing so, you reduce your exposure to wacky ingredients such as xanthan gum. It’s not to say that you can’t ever indulge in a gluten free baked good or a slice of gluten free bread, but ask yourself if you feel comfortable doing so all the time now that you know what it is.
I recognize that some people may not care while others, like me, absolutely will. We are each responsible for tending to our own health. The decision you make rests entirely on your shoulders.
If you bake, you can replace xanthan gum with guar gum which is derived from the guar bean. And you could also search on Google for the paleo version of the baked good you’re hoping to make. Even if you don’t eat paleo, you’ll at least end up with a recipe that’s focused solely on real food over a gluten free recipe comprised of 20+ ingredients (like xanthan gum).
I’d also suggest contacting companies with products you love and let them know that you’re not comfortable with their choice of binder. If they receive enough complaints, they may very well reformulate the product without it.
I’ll certainly follow up with another article looking at some of the other gums in the future, so please stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Aryan Cuisine: Nutella

Aryan Cuisine: Nutella: is the   brand   name of an   Italian   sweetened   hazelnut   cocoa   spread. Manufactured by the   Itali...


is the brand name of an Italian sweetened hazelnut cocoa spread.Manufactured by the Italian company Ferrero, it was introduced to the market in 1964
Pietro Ferrero, who owned a bakery in Alba, Piedmont, an area known for the production of hazelnuts, sold an initial batch of 300 kilograms (660 lb) of "Pasta Gianduja" in 1946. This was originally a solid block, but Ferrero started to sell a creamy version in 1951 as "Supercrema".
In 1963, Ferrero's son Michele Ferrero revamped Supercrema with the intention of marketing it throughout Europe. Its composition was modified and it was renamed "Nutella". The first jar of Nutella left the Ferrero factory in Alba on 20 April 1964. The product was an instant success and remains widely popular.
In 2012, French senator Yves Daubigny proposed a tax increase on palm oil from €100 to €400 per metric tone. At 20 percent, palm oil is one of Nutella's main ingredients and the tax was dubbed "the Nutella tax" in the media.
World Nutella Day is February 5.
On 14 May 2014, Posted Italian issued a 50th anniversary Nutella commemorative stamp. The 70 Euro cent stamp was designed by Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Statoand features a jar of Nutella on a golden background. Ferrero held a Nutella Day on 17 and 18 May to celebrate the anniversary.

I used to love Nutella when I was kid–that is before studying nutrition and discovering its harmful ingredients. The scariest thing that people don’t know about Nutella is that it contains monosodium glutamate (MSG), also known as E621. It’s cleverly hidden inside an artificial flavor called vanillin which is labeled on every Nutella jar. It also contains the toxic GMO emulsifier soy lecithin and palm oil whose extraction is ravaging forests and wildlife throughout the world.
Nutella was introduced in 1964 by the Italian company Ferrero who still manufactures the product, however they do have local manufacturers in many countries.
As kids we went crazy over nutella in the 70s and 80s, but parents back then weren’t taking as many precautions as they are today, especially when it comes to reading ingredient labels.
According to the official US Nutella Website, the ingredients are as follows:
“sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey (milk), soy lecithin as emulsifier, vanillin: an artificial flavor”

Nutella claims their product contains “No Artificial Colors and No Artificial Preservatives”.
The definition of artificial is “made or produced by human beings rather than occurring naturally.” Every single one of their ingredients goes through very heavy processing which would imply that the natural state of these ingredients which contribute to color and preservation is completely absent from their formula. Their soy lecithin alone is about as artificial as an emulsifier/preservative gets.
Nutella contains 67% saturated fat and processed sugar by weight. A two-tablespoon (37 gram) serving of Nutella contains 200 calories, 11 grams of fat, 3.5 of which are saturated and 21 grams of sugar. To put that into perspective, a typical chocolate and nut candy bar has 250 to 300 calories and 12 to 16 grams of fat.
When most people see vanillin, they think…oh it has vanilla. However, this is likely one of the most harmful ingredients in Nutella. Scent and flavor of vanillin are nothing but chemicals. When we talk about actual real-life non-imitation vanilla flavor, what we’re really talking about is a bunch of molecules that are extracted from a vanilla bean.
The grandest chemical of all of these is vanillin. Sure, vanilla has plenty of other odor molecules, but vanillin is about 95% of the scent. And, thanks to technology, you can make it cheaply from petroleum and in a lab. The largest vanillin manufacturers in the world are in China and more than 90% of food products manufactured contain vanillin from China including Nutella.
The worst part of vanillin is that it contains unlabeled MSG. It is not a nutrient, vitamin, or mineral and has no health benefits. The part of MSG that negatively affects the human body is the “glutamate”, not the sodium. The breakdown of MSG typically consists of 78% glutamate, 12% sodium, and about 10% water. Any glutamate added to a processed food is not and can not be considered naturally occurring. Natural glutamate in plants and animals is known as L-glutamic acid. MSG Lurks As A Slow Poison In Common Food Items Without Your Knowledge and vanillin is one of them.
MSG has been proven to act as an excitotoxin which stimulates the reward system of the brain, so we think it tastes better (than it actually does) and consequently consume more.
There are a growing number of Clinicians and Scientists who are convinced that excitotoxins play a critical role in the development of several neurological disorders, including migraines, seizures, infections, abnormal neural development, certain endocrine disorders, specific types of obesity, and especially the neurodegenerative diseases; a group of diseases which includes: ALS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and olivopontocerebellar degeneration.
Palm oil is taken from the fruit of the oil palm tree.
The use of palm oil in processed foods, its most widespread application in the United States, jumped sharply after government authorities took aggressive steps to reduce the trans fat content in processed foods. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reports that palm oil is second only to soybean oil in terms of worldwide popularity as a food oil.
In support of its warnings about the dangers of palm oil, the center cites two meta-analyses that show that palm oil raises blood cholesterol levels. A 1997 British analysis evaluated 147 human trials and concluded that palmitic acid, an active ingredient in palm oil, raised total blood cholesterol levels. A Dutch analysis, released in 2003, weighed data from 35 clinical studies and found that palmitic acid significantly increased the ratio of total cholesterol to so-called “good cholesterol,” a widely recognized risk factor for heart disease.
In a study published in a 1999 issue of “Plant Foods for Human Nutrition,” three Nigerian biochemistry researchers extol some of the nutrients found in fresh palm oil, but point out that the oil in an oxidized state can threaten physiological and biochemical functions of the body. They acknowledge that manufacturers of processed foods oxidize palm oil in their products for a variety of culinary purposes, meaning that much of the palm oil consumers eat is in an oxidized state. The dangers of oxidized palm oil include organotoxicity of the heart, kidney, liver and lungs, as well as reproductive toxicity, the researchers claim. Additionally, they note, oxidized palm oil can cause an increase in free fatty acids, phospholipids and cerebrosides.
Indonesia has achieved its goal of becoming one of the two largest palm-oil producers and exporters in the world. But at what cost?
At least half of the world’s wild orangutans have disappeared in the last 20 years; biologically viable populations of orangutans have been radically reduced in size and number; and 80 percent of the orangutan habitat has either been depopulated or totally destroyed. The trend shows no sign of abating: government maps of future planned land use show more of the same, on an increasing scale


Back in 1806, Napoleon tried to freeze out British commerce as a means to win the Napoleonic wars (and take over the world). The result was a disastrous continental blockadethat caused the cost of chocolate to skyrocket and left Piedmontese chocolatiers in the lurch. Ever resourceful, chocolatiers in Turin started adding chopped hazelnuts to chocolate to stretch the supply as much as possible. The ensuing deliciousness was a fateful paste dubbed “gianduia.”
Over a century later, chocolate again became expensive and scarce due to rationing in Europe during World War II. An Italian pastry maker named Pietro Ferrero once again turned to the mighty hazelnut for salvation in 1946 and created Pasta Gianduja, renamed “Nutella” in 1964.


According to the Guinness World Records, Nutella's 40th Anniversary breakfast celebration in Germany in 2005 earned the title of “Largest Continental Breakfast.” A total of 27,854 people gathered in Gelsenkirchen to enjoy a meal that consisted of little more than Nutella itself. 


One jar of Nutella is sold every 2.5 seconds throughout the world. According to the United States Census Bureau, one person is born every eight seconds. You do the math.


Not only is it available for purchase and feverish consumption in 75 countries, all of the Nutella sold in a year could be spread over more than 1000 soccer fields.


In 2013 the chocolate-hazelnut spread made headlines in Germany, where thieves pulled off a $20,000 heist, stealing 5.5 metric tons of the sweet stuff from a parked truck. Several weeks earlier, Columbia University found itself at the center of “Nutella-gate,” an expose smearing the school for spending $6000 per week on the spread for one of its dining facilities, where students were allegedly snarfing 100 pounds of it per day.


Two bloggers in Italy decided to take their love of Nutella to the next level in 2007, and created a worldwide day of celebration dedicated to the addictive substance. Thus, every year February 5th is a day for eating Nutella, sharing Nutella recipes and memories, and looking at photos of Nutella food-porn. In 2013, Nutella manufacturer Ferrero tried to shut down World Nutella Day before reconsidering. But as of 2015, at the request of Nutella Day founder Sara Rosso, Ferrero took over the holiday.


The chocolate and hazelnut substance gianduia is named after a character from Italian commedia dell'arte named Gianduja. He is depicted as a smiling Piedmontese peasant with a three-point hat who rides around town on a donkey clutching a duja—which in the Piedmontese dialect means “container.” The duja was said to hold wine ... but could have just as easily held a few pounds of that chocolatey hazelnut goodness, no? Gianduja masks are sold all over the Piedmont region of Italy, and his face was plastered all over early Nutella advertisements.


Nutella became so popular in Italy that Italian markets began to offer free “smears” of Nutella to any kid who showed up with a piece of bread. The phenomenon was referred to as “The Smearing,” and while it could potentially double as the name of a horror flick, was a highly successful marketing strategy. No wonder we're all addicted.