TIME Diet/Nutrition

6 Ways You’re Using Olive Oil Wrong

Bubbles in olive oil
Getty Images

A slightly bitter taste can indicate the presence of antioxidants

Everyone knows olive oil is great for your health and a staple of the Mediterranean diet. But even though it’s now found in most kitchens, it’s still steeped in mystery and confusion. Read on for some of the biggest mistakes people make with olive oil, and how to use it correctly.

1. You buy the “light” version to save calories

All olive oils have roughly the same amount of calories and fat (about 120 calories and 14g fat per tablespoon). “Light” refers to the color and flavor of this oil, which is highly refined to make it more neutral than other types of olive oil.

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2. You’re afraid to cook with the extra-virgin stuff.

It’s true that extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point than other types of olive oil and some other fats—that is, the temperature where oil begins to smoke and impart an unpleasant odor and flavor (peanut oil is 450ºF and grapeseed is 445ºF, for example. For more, check out this chart on Serious Eats). Extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point around 410ºF, according to The Science of Good Food, so it’s perfectly safe for sautéing at medium temperatures. Extra virgin is the purest form of olive oil, and contains the most health supportive oleic acid so there’s no need to use it only for salad dressing.

3. You toss any that tastes slightly bitter.

Don’t toss that oil just yet: it may not have gone bad. A slightly bitter taste can indicate the presence of antioxidants, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis, Olive Center. With a fresh extra virgin olive oil, you should taste, well, olives, and also some grassy or fruity notes.

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4. You keep it right next to the stove.

Nothing will make your olive oil go rancid quicker than heat and light. Look for olive oil in a dark-colored glass or tin container, and store it in a cool spot, away from sunlight.

5. You stock up when you see a great deal.

Unless you’ll use it all quickly, it’s better to buy olive oil in smaller quantities. Ideally you want to use it up within about 6 weeks.

6. You use the “fridge test” to see if yours is high quality.

Sorry, but no. After a 2013 episode of the Dr. Oz Show, in which he claimed you can test to see how pure your olive oil is by refrigerating it (if it solidifies in the fridge, it’s pure), UC Davis researchers put the fridge test to the test, and it flunked. That is, if an olive oil turns to a solid at lower temperatures, it doesn’t mean it’s of higher quality.

The best way to ensure your oil is good quality? Look for seals on the bottle from the USDA Quality Monitoring Program, the North American Olive Oil Association, the California Olive Oil Council, or the Extra Virgin Alliance.

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This article originally appeared on Health.com

TIME psychology

How to Get in Shape Using Psychology: 6 New Tricks From Research

Bathroom scale on white tile floor.
Getty Images

Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Why is there an obesity epidemic? It’s not because we eat the wrong things or we lack exercise.

Research shows that, plain and simple, most of us just eat too much:

Reported consumption increased by 268 calories for men and 143 calories for women between the two surveys. This increase is more than enough to explain the increase in steady-state weight… The available evidence suggests that calories expended have not changed significantly since 1980, while calories consumed have risen markedly.

That’s hardly shocking.

But what’s interesting is there’s a way to fix this that doesn’t involve exercise or being deprived of your favorite foods.

No, this is not some silly pitch for low carb, low fat, Crossfit or the magical supplement of the week. Actually, it’s about psychology.

Brian Wansink is a Cornell researcher who studies how we eat. He was appointed by the White House to head up changes to US Dietary Guidelines.

He’s also the author of two fascinating books:

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think

Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life

In the course of his research, Brian realized something pretty interesting:we eat for lots of reasons — but usually not because of hunger.

Via Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

Everyone — every single one of us — eats how much we eat largely because of what’s around us. We overeat not because of hunger but because of family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers. This list is almost as endless as it’s invisible.

We are slaves to context. We eat because friends are around, because something’s free, because it’s in reach, because things are tasty, etc.

We respond to “food cues” over feelings. What we see is usually more important than what we actually eat. And Wansink wanted to prove this.

One of the things that makes his research so clever is that he’s sneaky.

(If you have the choice of trusting what a used car salesman says or what a psychology researcher tells you before a study, go with the car salesman.)

Wansink rigged bowls to be “bottomless.” A hidden tube made sure that no matter how much soup a subject ate, the bowl would not empty.

Then he fed people. What happened? People with normal bowls ate 15 ounces. Some with the rigged bowls more than a quart.

Except at extremes, what made people “full” was their eyes, not their stomachs. If the bowl didn’t look empty, they kept eating.

Via Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

Surely diners realized that they ate more from the refillable bowl? Absolutely not. With a couple of exceptions, such as Mr. Quart Man, people didn’t comment about feeling full. Even though they ate 73 percent more, they rated themselves the same as the others—after all, they only had about half a bowl of soup.

Wansink realized that you can increase or decrease the number of calories someone eats by 20% without them realizing.

He calls this the “mindless margin.” And over a year it can easily cause you to gain or lose ten pounds.

Via Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

If we eat way too little, we know it. If we eat way too much, we know it. But there is a calorie range—a mindless margin—where we feel fine and are unaware of small differences. That is, the difference between 1,900 calories and 2,000 calories is one we cannot detect, nor can we detect the difference between 2,000 and 2,100 calories. But over the course of a year, this mindless margin would either cause us to lose ten pounds or to gain ten pounds.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

Yes, we’re slaves to context. But that can be a good thing. By manipulating our environment we can drop 10 pounds (or more) without even noticing it.

So what do we need to do? Here are 6 insights from Wansink’s research that can make getting in shape much, much easier and nearly mindless.

1) Change What’s Visible

You don’t have to throw all that tasty junk food in the trash. But you do have to make sure it’s not sitting out, calling to you all day.

Via Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

Out of sight is out of mind. If the candy dish sits on your desk, you consistently have to make a heroic decision whether you will resist the chocolate that has been giving you the eye all day. The easy solution is to lose the dish, move the dish, or replace the candy with something you personally don’t like.

Wansink studied how slim people behave at buffets vs what heavy people do. What was one of the differences?

Slim people were more likely to sit facing away from the buffet, while chubbier people were 3x more likely to sit looking at it.

Via Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life:

Moreover, they were three times more likely to sit facing the food, where they watched all the people who went back for seconds and thirds and fourths. Every time they saw someone take another lap around the stir-fry, it reminded them that was “normal” behavior.

Brian’s Syracuse study revealed that just by looking at what food was visible in a home he could predict what someone weighs.

Via Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life:

“In sight, in stomach.” We eat what we see, not what we don’t. Our Syracuse Study showed that we could roughly predict a person’s weight by the food they had sitting out.

Do you have fruit sitting out visibly in your house? You probably weigh 8lbs less than your neighbor who doesn’t.

Have cookies or chips sitting out? You probably weigh 8lbs more.

Have breakfast cereal sitting out? You probably weigh 19lbs more.

Have soda sitting out? You’re going to weigh, on average, 25lbs more than someone who doesn’t.

Brian discusses it at 55:30 of this video:

(To learn what to eat if you want to look sexier, click here.)

Okay, you’ve hidden the food. But what about when you’re eating? You have to bring the food out then, right?

2) Change What’s Reachable

Brass tacks here, people: Make eating more food a hassle.

Want to start losing weight easily? Use smaller dishes and make sure getting seconds requires you to cross the room.

Keeping serving dishes off the table reduced how much men ate by 29%.

Remember the people at the buffet? Heavy people, on average, sat 16 feet closer to all that delicious food than skinny people did.

Via Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life:

Slim people even acted differently after taking their food. They trotted back to faraway booths along the walls, and— here’s what’s cool— 73 percent faced away from the buffet. Heavy diners did the opposite. They sat at tables that were on average sixteen feet closer to the buffet.

Got candy on your desk at work? That’s probably a double digit increase in your weight, right there.

Via Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life:

People who had candy in or on their desk reported weighing 15.4 pounds more than those who didn’t.

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely is a big believer in context. When I interviewed him he told me a story about Google.

What happened when Google put M&M’s in containers instead of out in the open? People ate 3 million less of them in one month.

Here’s Dan:

Here’s an experiment that Google did recently. The M&Ms in their New York office used to be in baskets. So instead they put them in bowls with lids. The lid doesn’t require a lot of effort to lift but it reduced the number of M&Ms consumed in their New York office by 3 million a month.

(For more on how to build good habits, click here.)

Food is hidden and you’ve made overeating a hassle. But what if that’s not enough?

3) Plan Ahead

The skinny people at the buffet looked at everything, made a plan and then grabbed their food.

The heavy people just dove right in.

Via Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life:

Slim diners “scouted” out the buffet before grabbing a plate— before even picking up a plate, 71 percent of them walked around and scanned the salad bar, the steam trays holding fourteen seemingly identical chicken dishes, the sushi station, and the dessert bar. Only after they figured out the lay of the land did they grab their plate and swoop down to cherry-pick their favorites, with an eagle eye on the stir-fry. Heavier diners did the opposite. They were twice as likely to charge ahead to the nearest stack of plates, take one, and fill it up. They didn’t skip to the foods they really liked. Instead they served themselves a bit of everything they didn’t hate.

Shopping while hungry is a cardinal sin. It doesn’t make us buy more, it just makes us buy junk.

Via Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life:

They don’t buy more, but they buy worse. When we’re hungry, we buy foods that are convenient enough to eat right away and will stop our cravings. We don’t go for broccoli and tilapia; we go for carbs in a box or bag. We go for one of the “Four C’s”: crackers, chips, cereal, or candy. We want packages we can open and eat with our right hand while we drive home with our left.

Anything that distracts us causes us to eat more because we aren’t paying attention to how much we’re eating. TV is especially bad here.

Via Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

The basic rule: distractions of all kinds make us eat, forget how much we eat, and extend how long we eat—even when we’re not hungry… The longer they watched TV, the more they ate. In fact, if they watched TV for an hour, they ate 28 percent more popcorn than if they watched for a half hour.

Guess what’s more effective than exercise when trying to drop those extra pounds? Merely reading food labels:

Label users who did not exercise displayed a slightly greater likelihood of weight loss than those who exercised but did not read food labels.

And what personality trait best predicts obesity? Being impulsive:

Impulsivity was the strongest predictor of who would be overweight, the researchers found. Study participants who scored in the top 10 percent on impulsivity weighed an average of 22 lbs. more than those in the bottom 10 percent, according to the study.

Our environment calls to us and if you’re not thinking before you’re acting, your surroundings had better be arranged properly.

(For more on how to increase willpower and self-control, click here.)

We’re making progress but is there any important advice on how to eat? Yup.

4) Slow Down

The heavy people at the buffet chewed 12 times per mouthful. The skinny people chewed an average of 15 times.

Research shows eating slower gives time for the “fullness” signal to kick in:

That study found that women who were told to eat quickly consumed 646 calories in nine minutes, but the same women consumed just 579 calories in 29 minutes when encouraged to pause between bites and chew each mouthful 15 to 20 times before swallowing.

How long does the fullness signal take to do its job? About 20 minutes.

Problem is, the average American meal today doesn’t even last 20 minutes.

Via Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

Many research studies show that it takes up to 20 minutes for our body and brain to signal satiation, so that we realize we are full. Twenty minutes is enough time to inhale two or three more pieces of pizza and chug a large refill of Pepsi. Here’s the problem. We Americans start, finish, and clear the table for many of our meals in less than 20 minutes.

The same amount of food can make you full or still hungry entirely depending on how quickly you eat it, so slooooooow down.

(For more on why your relationship with food is so crazy, click here.)

Nobody likes to have to avoid their favorite foods so what’s an easier thing to avoid that can have big results?

5) Variety Is Not The Spice Of Weight Loss

This is one of the reasons we overeat at buffets: we want to try everything.

Give people three options and they eat 23% more than if they only had one choice.

Via Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

Increasing the variety of a food increases how much everyone eats. To demonstrate this, Dr. Barbara Rolls’ team at Penn State has showed that if people are offered an assortment with three different flavors of yogurt, they’re likely to consume an average of 23 percent more than if offered only one flavor…

What does Brian recommend?

Never have more than two items on your plate at any time. You can go back for more, but lack of variety and having to get up makes you eat less.

(For more on how to be resilient when faced with challenges, click here.)

You’ve reduced your options. But food isn’t the only thing that affects how much you eat. Another element of your environment is key too.

6) Be Mindful Of Those You Eat With

How much you eat is strongly affected by how much those around you eat, but you rarely realize it.

Dining with friends? You’ll probably eat twice as much.

Via Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

On average, if you eat with one other person, you’ll eat about 35 percent more than you otherwise would. If you eat with a group of seven or more, you’ll eat nearly twice as much—96 percent more—than you would if you were eating alone at the Thanksgiving card table in the other room. If you get a reservation for a table for four, you’ll end up right in the middle—you’ll eat about 75 percent more calories than if you reserve a table for one.

Eating with overweight friends? You’ll eat more.

Is your waitress overweight? You’ll eat more.

Are you a woman eating with a man? You’ll eat less.

Who do you need to be most careful around? Skinny overeaters.Why?

It makes your brain think you can eat like they do without any downside. But for all you know that might be their only meal of the day…

(For more on how to make friends and improve your friendships, click here.)

So we’ve got lots of stuff that can help us eat less. Let’s round it all up.

Sum Up

Here are great tips from Brian Wansink:

  1. Change what’s visible. Hide the soda and put out the fruit.
  2. Change what’s reachable. Make a plate, leave the rest in the kitchen and force yourself to walk back for more.
  3. Plan ahead. Size up the buffet before you load your plate. Don’t shop hungry.
  4. Eat slower. It takes 20 minutes for the “full” signal to kick in so make sure meals last at least that long.
  5. Reduce your food options. Only two things on your plate at a time. Make yourself get bored with them.
  6. Be mindful of those you eat with. Trying to drop weight? Might want to eat alone a bit more often.

So you’re ready to start implementing all this tomorrow? Going to totally overhaul how you eat? Bad idea.

Wansink realized people who were successful at this made changes slowly but were consistent.

Via Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life:

People who most successfully lost weight made only one or two changes but stuck with them day after day— an average of at least twenty-five days a month. Unfortunately, the people who didn’t lose weight often tried to tackle too much all at once. They tried to change everything, and most gave up within a month.

We live most of our lives on autopilot. But with a few simple controls in place, autopilot can get us where we want to go.

As Wansink is fond of saying:

The best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on.

Want more lessons from Brian’s research?

I’ll be sending out how to handle eating in restaurants and the most important secret to good grocery shopping in my weekly email.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

For those tips and more, join over 135,000 readers and get my free weekly email update here.

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME ebola

Ebola’s Other Toll: Food On the Table

People draw water in the West Point neighborhood, where many people have died from Ebola, in Monrovia, Liberia on Oct. 17, 2014.
People draw water in the West Point neighborhood, where many people have died from Ebola, in Monrovia, Liberia on Oct. 17, 2014. John Moore—Getty Images

Liberian families are feeling the pressures of food insecurity, and are eating less.

Eighty-five percent of households in Liberia are eating fewer meals a day as a way to deal with lower incomes and higher prices related to the Ebola epidemic, according to a new report from the global humanitarian agency Mercy Corps.

Most households are also reducing the amount they’re eating at each meal, and report supplementing with lower-quality and cheaper food. When asked in surveys about household priorities, Liberians listed food as their most urgent need even before health care and clothing. A variety of factors are playing into Liberian families’ inability to get food on the table, including restrictions on transportation and lack of quality products at local markets.

One of the major industries hit by the Ebola outbreak in the three countries affected by the outbreak is agriculture, which is a dominating industry in Liberia. Other Liberians lost incomes due to protocols put in place to contain the virus, like closing schools. Teachers employed by the government still receive salaries, but private school teachers do not.

Decrease in number of household income earners MercyCorps

About 63% of households also reported an increase in expenses since a state of emergency was declared in August. Liberians used to rely on cross-border trade with Guinea and Sierra Leone, but the epicenter of the outbreak was the very area around shared borders. Now, all imports have shifted to Monrovia, putting pressure on supply chains and prices. But vendors in local markets estimate a 52% reduction in their number of customers each day, since large gathering of people has been discouraged.

“If attention is not paid to the economic impact of the crisis, the situation will continue to deteriorate over the coming months,” the report reads.

Mercy Corps says it plans to help farmers by offering cash transfers, emergency food assistance, and aid in goods transport. Working with the local government to improve transportation conditions while maintaining tight Ebola protocols is another way to increase both incomes and food availability. However, bigger initiatives have to start now in order to ensure the current food crisis is temporary. For instance, the upcoming planting season needs to continue on schedule and there needs to be a greater assessment of the whole region’s transportation system.

If action isn’t taken soon, the impact on the country’s economy and food system after the outbreak could be devastating.

TIME Food

What Pizza Hut’s Radical New Menu Actually Tastes Like

Pizza Hut Menu Launch Press Event in NYC
Pizza Hut unveils its new menu in New York on on November 10, 2014. Rob Kim—Getty Images/Pizza Hut

Depends how you feel about honey sriracha crust and balsamic drizzles

The half-dozen servers were dressed in all black, down to the sleek leather gloves they wore as they doled out slices of Pretzel Piggy, Old Fashioned Meatbrawl and Cherry Pepper Bombshell. On the side: balsamic, buffalo, BBQ and honey sriracha sauces, or in Pizza Hut’s new parlance, “drizzles.” All of it was surrounded by a new logo, new delivery boxes, new casual-looking uniforms, and a new motto: “The Flavor of Now.”

This is the new, at times unrecognizable, Pizza Hut. Or, at least, it was the one shown to members of the media Monday afternoon to mark what David Gibbs, the company’s newly installed CEO, calls “one of the biggest moves we’ve ever made in our history.”

On Nov. 19, Pizza Hut will essentially relaunch its entire brand, changing the food it serves, the way its ordered and even the company logo. There are 11 new signature pizzas, six new sauces, 10 new crust flavors and four drizzles — enough options to allow for 2 billion unique pizza combinations. For the company known for trencherman staples like Stuffed Crust, Meat Lover’s and Supreme, the new menu is the fast-food equivalent of a Hail Mary pass.

“It’s a fear of irrelevance,” says Darren Tristano, a food industry analyst at Technomic. “But the potential to negatively influence their current customer base is certainly there.”

It’s a risk Pizza Hut is willing to take, though they’re hedging bets by keeping those old favorites on the menu. Sales at the nation’s largest pizza chain have been dropping for two years, as Domino’s, Little Caesars and Papa John’s—the No. 2, 3 and 4 chains, respectively—have cut into Pizza Hut’s business. Regional build-your-own pizza chains like Blaze and Pieology and customization-heavy fast-casual brands like Chipotle are also luring diners from the pan pizza depot.

“America’s tastes are changing,” Gibbs says. “People are interested in bold new flavors. It’s a pretty natural move to be the one to take the pizza category where nobody’s taken it before with all these new flavors and ingredients.”

Domino’s offered a template in 2009, when the company admitted that its sauce and crust weren’t that great and invited customers to taste the new version. They bolstered their campaign with an updated social media presence and smoother online ordering to cater to millennials. Sales have soared since, which is as much a reason for Pizza Hut drizzling hot sauce on garlic crusts as anything.

So what does the “flavor of now” taste like? Thankfully, better than it sounds (The Cock-a-Doodle Bacon. Why?).

We started with Pizza Hut’s new asiago breadsticks alongside four dipping sauces: balsamic, BBQ, buffalo and honey sriracha. They’re miles from your basic marinara or cheese sauce, but not necessarily for the better. Whether dipping in the sweet but mild balsamic, tangy, molasses-heavy BBQ, unmemorable buffalo or lightly spicy honey sriracha, my asiago sticks longed for a red sauce.

The newfangled pizzas tended to come together better. The Cock-a-Doodle Bacon pie is spread with a creamy garlic parmesan sauce topped with grilled chicken and bacon. The riff on Alfredo is rich enough that you don’t miss the marinara.

The Old Fashioned Meatbrawl is a reasonably restrained update on the classic topping: the meatballs are small enough not to dominate each bite, and a garlic crust adds an extra salty pop.

Cherry Pepper Bombshell is also better than it sounds. The cherry peppers and balsamic drizzle add a sweet punch that goes well with meaty salami. But the shower of fresh spinach on top didn’t add much. It felt similarly unnecessary on the Pretzel Piggy, which is one of the most convoluted combinations on the new signature menu. A salted pretzel crust with the creamy garlic parmesan sauce from the Cock-a-Doodle is topped with bacon, mushrooms and spinach and then finished with a balsamic drizzle. It worked, kind of, though you’d need to be in a particular kind of mood to take one down solo.

The custom crusts are Pizza Hut’s attempt to make choosing your dough as common as picking your toppings. Of the two new ones I tried, the Ginger Boom Boom crust—with regular cheese and marinara—was subtle, a bit garlicky, with only a mildly taste of ginger. The honey sriracha crust (with a pepperoni topping), meanwhile, was sticky and a bit too overpowering.

So is this really what millennials crave? Maybe. Pizza Hut will likely cast off a kicked-up drizzle, flavor-dusted crust or meatbrawl pie if it turns out it isn’t selling. Besides, it’s not as if Pizza Hut is a sauce and dough purist.

“We’ve always been the one taking the category to new places,” says Gibbs, Pizza Hut’s CEO. “Yes, the younger customers are more interested than the older demographics in experimenting with flavor. But I think across all demographics, there’s something on the menu for everybody.”

Read next: Watch McDonald’s Prove the McRib Is Made of Actual Food

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 10

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Food touches everything in our lives. Yet we have no national food policy. That must change.

By Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, Ricardo Salvador and Olivier De Schutter in the Washington Post

2. Electronic Medical Records should focus more on patient care and less on meeting the needs of insurance companies and billing departments.

By Scott Hensley at National Public Radio

3. Anonymous social media often hosts vicious harassment targeting women and minorities. A new plan to monitor threats online is working for a solution.

By Barbara Herman in International Business Times

4. “You can’t wear a Band-Aid for long, particularly when the wound keeps bleeding.” Two years after Hurricane Sandy, New York is far from stormproof.

By Lilah Raptopoulos in the Guardian

5. China and the U.S. should take aim at a new “grand bargain” to head off tensions and mistrust in their relationship.

By Wei Zongyou in the Diplomat

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Food

USDA Approves Genetically Engineered Super Potato

potato
Stuart Minzey&—Getty Images

But some food-safety experts aren't psyched about the spud

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday approved a genetically engineered potato that is resistant to bruising and cuts down on a possible cancer-causing substance, though some food-safety experts aren’t so excited about the super spud.

The Innate Potato, trademarked by Simplot, contains the DNA of other kinds of potatoes mixed in through a process known as RNA interference technology, The Guardian reports.

“If this is an attempt to give crop biotechnology a more benign face, all it has really done is expose the inadequacies of the US regulation of GE crops,” Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist at Center for Food Safety, said in a statement. “We simply don’t know enough about RNA interference technology to determine whether GE crops developed with it are safe for people and the environment.”

Simplot says the new potato minimizes the creation of an amino acid that at high temperatures reacts with certain chemicals to become acrylamide, a substance the International Agency for Research on Cancer has called a “probably human carcinogen.”

The company has reportedly worked on the potato for more than a decade, but activists are already asking one of the company’s biggest customers, McDonald’s, not to buy it.

[The Guardian]

TIME Diet/Nutrition

The 5 Biggest Salad Mistakes You’re Making

salad
Getty Images

The best ways to build a balanced bowl

I eat some type of salad nearly every day. It’s a go-to staple I really look forward to, and I love mixing it up. Some days I toss greens with pico de gallo, black beans, and guacamole, others involve grilled veggies, quinoa, and almonds, or roasted chickpeas and olive tapenade.

I enjoy creating new combinations, and to do so without throwing my meal off balance, I use a mix-and-match philosophy: I start with a greens and veggie base, add a lean protein, choose a good-for-you fat, include a small portion of healthy starch, season, and commence crunching.

When I talk to my clients about how they build salads, I often find that they’re doubling up in some areas, and missing out in others; and those imbalances can either prevent a salad from being slimming, or lead to missing out on key nutrients. Here are some common salad-building blunders, and the best ways to build a balanced bowl.

Too little or too much protein

In my clients’ food journals I’ve seen plenty of salads with lots of veggies but no protein, and others with protein overload, like chicken plus cheese and hardboiled eggs. Protein is an essential salad component for several reasons—it boosts satiety, revs metabolism, and provides the raw materials for maintaining or building lean tissue, including both muscle as well as hormones, healthy hair, skin, and immune cells. But excess protein, beyond what your body needs, can prevent weight loss or lead to weight gain. In short, your body requires a certain amount of protein for maintenance and healing. When too little is delivered those jobs don’t get done. But when your body has more than it needs, it has no choice but to send the surplus straight to your fat cells. For balance, choose a half cup of a plant-based protein, like lentils or beans, or 3 ounces of lean meat or seafood (that’s about the size of a smartphone). If you choose dairy, stick with ½ cup of organic cottage cheese, or one whole hardboiled organic egg and three whites. If you like to include more than one type, reduce the portions of each.

HEALTH.COM: 11 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Belly Fat

Not enough veggie variety

Greens and veggies are the typical salad base, but if you’re keeping your selections narrow (e.g. just spinach or romaine) you’re missing out on important veggie benefits. One Colorado State University also found that over a two-week period, volunteers who downed a broader array of the exact same amount of produce (18 botanical families instead of 5) experienced significantly less oxidation, a marker for premature aging and disease. Another study, which evaluated more than 450,000 people and looked at their consumption of commonly eaten veggies found that regardless of quantity, the risk of lung cancer decreased when a wider variety of veggies were consumed. This may be because each plant contains unique types of antioxidants, nutrients, and natural cancer fighters, so a wider variety exposes your body to a broader spectrum of protection. To reap the benefits aim for at least two cups of veggies total, with lots of different colors, such as field greens, red tomatoes, purple cabbage, orange bell peppers, white onion… and keep changing up the variety.

HEALTH.COM: 13 Ways to Make Veggies Delicious

Too little or too much fat

Like protein, fat serves as one of the body’s building blocks. Fat is a major structural component of your cell membranes, brain, hormones, and skin. Healthy fats also reduce inflammation, boost satiety (so you feel fuller longer), and significantly up the absorption of fat soluble vitamins and antioxidants, which hitch a ride with fat to get transported from your digestive system into your bloodstream. A few years back, researchers at Iowa State looked at the absorption of key antioxidants when men and women ate salads with fat-free, low-fat, and full fat salad dressings. They found that those who ate the fat-free dressing absorbed almost no antioxidants at all. The reduced-fat version upped the absorption, but not as much as the full fat dressing. Important info! But in your salad, dressing isn’t the only healthy way to include fat. Sometimes I crave a simple vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, and dried Italian herbs. But I’ll often skip the oil to make room for sliced avocado or chopped nuts. Or I’ll toss my greens and veggies with olive tapenade, or add oven roasted, grilled, or sauteed veggies that already have olive oil in the mix. Include some fat for sure—just choose wisely, and be mindful of your portions to prevent going overboard.

HEALTH.COM: Good Fats, Bad Fats: How to Choose

Skipping starch

Without any starch in a salad, you may wind up burning the protein you’ve added for fuel, which prevents the protein from being used for key maintenance and repair work. To strike a healthy balance, include a small portion—even just a third or half cup of a nutrient-rich whole food carb source, such as cooked chilled quinoa, roasted organic corn, or a cubed roasted red potato. I find that for my clients, this starch addition boosts satiety and energy in the hours after eating, but it’s still a small enough portion to allow for weight loss. In fact, when I’ve had clients resist adding carbs and skip this step, they typically seek out more snacks and wind up stalling weight loss. If you’re hesitant, try it and see how your body responds.

HEALTH.COM: 12 Foods That Control Your Appetite

Not enough seasoning

When I’ve heard people complain about disliking salads it’s typically because they’ve been eating very plain pairings, like romaine with just oil, vinegar, and bland grilled chicken. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to spruce salads up, and adding natural seasonings has been shown to further boost satiety and increase metabolism. Easy ways to add flavor include: toss fresh herbs into the mix like basil, cilantro or mint; whisk herbs, spices and raw or roasted garlic into oil and vinegar, and add pre-seasoned ingredients, like herbed quinoa, pesto-slathered grilled veggies, or spicy guacamole. A healthy salad should be a feast for your senses, and a dish you savor. And guess what? It’s entirely possible to achieve just that and shed pounds enjoying it!

HEALTH.COM: 16 No-Calorie, No-Salt Ways to Add Flavor to Food

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

TIME celebrities

Who Wants a Piece of This Life-Sized Jennifer Lawrence Cake?

There's also one of Tyrion Lannister from 'Game of Thrones'

A British baker named Lara Clarke won gold at the Cake International contest for her life-sized cake version of Jennifer Lawrence as The Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen. In case that didn’t work out, she had a back-up plan: another entry consisting of a cake version of Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones.

Clarke, who taught herself to bake a couple of years ago by watching YouTube tutorials, has became an expert quickly— she’s also made roughly human-sized cakes of Miley Cyrus and Johnny Depp. “At the time I was watching Pirates of the Caribbean,” she told the BBC back in 2013. “I was watching Jack Sparrow, played by Johnny Depp, and I thought he would make the perfect cake.”

After using up 150 eggs, 22 pounds of butter and 132 pounds of icing to make Jennifer Lawrence, it looks like she’s got enough cake to last her until Mockingjay — Part 1 hits theaters.

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

How Sharing Food Makes You a Better Person

sharing food
Getty Images

The link between shared meals and altruism

Bad news for anyone planning a lonely night of delivery for one: sharing a meal with others actually makes you a better person, suggests a new study in the journal Appetite.

In primitive times, food was delivered in bulk in the form of a whole animal—bison for four, anyone?—so it had to be shared by more than just a single family, the study notes. Since the very early days, food has been closely linked with cooperation. Learning how to distribute those portions fairly helped promote mortality and equality.

But now that you can order a bison burger built for one, is sharing food obsolete?

Researchers led by Charlotte De Backer of the University of Antwerp in Belgium surveyed 466 Belgian students, asking them how often they ate home-cooked family meals during childhood and their current prosocial behavior—or altruistic acts towards others. Those who had shared meals more frequently in childhood scored better for altruistic behaviors, particularly giving directions to strangers, offering their seats on public transportation, helping their friends move, and volunteering.

“I think our Western individualised societies can benefit from sharing food more than ever,” De Backer told TIME in an email. “Sharing food primes people to think about fairness (do I get as much as everyone else at the table?), authority (who is being served first?), and greed (Sometimes I cannot take as much as I would personally want.)”

There’s a difference between “sharing a meal” and sharing food, however. Simply grabbing dinner with friends and ordering your own entrees doesn’t have the same bonding effect. But when food is served “family style” or on a large platter meant to share, we seem to engage with our more prosocial selves.

Next time you meet friends for dinner, consider a restaurant with more shareable cuisine. “Asian countries have a strong tradition of food sharing,” De Backer says. “Even in Western countries most Asian restaurants will still serve food in platters to be shared with everyone seated around their table.”

And it’s never too early to teach kids that food shouldn’t be territorial. Any opportunity to instill it in children is important, De Backer says, and individualizing kid food is a lost opportunity.

Take the birthday party. “If you bring out one cake that needs to be cut, children will automatically be primed about fair behavior,” she says. Letting them evaluate if the pieces are equal and fair helps them practice altruistic behavior—while unwrapping a cupcake, De Backer says, gets them nowhere.

TIME food and drink

5 Things You Need To Know About Japanese Whisky

Food Japanese Whisky
From left are Hibiki 12-year-old, Yamazaki 18 and 12-year-old Japanese whiskys at the Rickhouse bar in San Francisco, Aug. 6, 2010. Eric Risberg—AP

A single-malt from Japan has been named the best whisky in the world for the first time. Here's why you shouldn't be all that surprised

The whisky world was shocked on Tuesday, when it was announced that the 2015 edition of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible had named Suntory’s Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013 the best whisky in the world — the first time the honor has gone to a whisky from Japan. Even more of a shock, particularly to the Scottish who pride themselves on their whisky, for the first time in the 12 years the Whisky Bible has been published, not a single Scotch made the top five.

But perhaps the surprise is unwarranted. After all, Japanese whisky has been a rising star in the spirits world for some time now. So, in honor of the big win, here are five things you should know about Japanese whisky.

It’s The New Kid on the Block — Japanese whisky has been commercially produced since since the early 1920s, when the Yamazaki distillery was first built near Kyoto. Throughout the 20th century, Japanese whiskies were primarily sold and consumed within Japan, yet they’ve become increasingly popular in Europe and North American in recent years.

Production — Japanese whiskies were first modelled on Scottish whiskies — Suntory’s first master distiller Masataka Taketsuru studied in Scotland and wanted to bring the drink home — so they are produced in much the same way, distilled twice using pot stills. Many distilleries even use malted and sometimes peated barley imported from Scotland.

About That Missing “E” — As Japanese whisky has much in common with Scottish whiskies, rather than the Irish or American varieties, its name follows the Scotch tradition and is spelled without an “e.”

Pop Culture Moment — Japanese whisky makes a prominent appearance in 2003’s Lost in Translation. In the film, Bill Murrary’s character Bob Harris is a washed-up actor who heads to Japan to shill for Suntory whisky. Tag line: “For relaxing times, make it Suntory time.”

In real life, it was actually actor Sean Connery who appeared in Suntory commericals in the 1990s.

It’s a Winner – The World Whisky Bible coup isn’t the first time Japanese whisky has been recognized with an international award. In 2001, Nikka’s Yoichi whisky was named the “Best of the Best” in an international tasting by Whisky Magazine. Then, in 2003, Suntory’s 30-year-old Hibiki won the top award at the International Spirits Challenge and Suntory went on to earn awards at the competition for the next 11 years.

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