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‘McVegan’ burger makes debut in Finland

McDonald’s introduced its “McVegan” burger on Wednesday, but vegan lovers will have to travel a long way to find it for now.

>> Read more trending news

The fast-food giant said its newest menu item will only be available at one restaurant — Tampere, Finland — and for a limited time, Elite Daily reported. The burger will be available through Oct. 21, Fox News reported.

The burger consists of mustard, pickles, onion, lettuce, tomato and a soy-based patty on a sesame seed bun. Food & Wine reported the McDonald's Finland also serves vegan fries, but that's just because their fry recipe is vegan by default (McDonald's fries in the U.S. are made with a hydrolyzed milk, and therefore not technically vegan), Fox News reported.

A McDonald’s spokesman told Today that the company was not planning to offer the burger anywhere else — for now.

BYU is allowing Coca-Cola, caffeinated soda on campus and everyone is freaking out

On Thursday morning, Brigham Young University announced the university will offer caffeinated soft drinks – including Coca-Cola – on campus and fans couldn’t contain their excitement.

The BYU Twitter account posted the news along with a Q&A with BYU director of dining services Dean Wright on the decision to bring caffeinated soft drinks on the Provo, Utah, campus for the first time since the mid-1950s.

>> Read more trending news

BYU is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints and requires students to adhere to a strict honor code in line with the church’s beliefs. The honor code enforces a mandated dress code, personal grooming standards as well as abstinence from premarital sex, drugs and alcohol.

BYU is the largest religious university and third-largest private university in the United States.

>> Click here or scroll down for more

How to lose weight: Take a break from your diet for 2 weeks, study suggests

Diets are a great way to cut down on calories. But if you’re hoping to shed the pounds, taking a two-week break from your regimen could help you lose even more weight, according to a new study.

>> On AJC.com: Why this diet praised by Jennifer Aniston could work for you

Researchers from the University of Tasmania in Australia recently conducted an experiment, which was published in the International Journal of Obesity, to determine ways to improve weight loss success based on eating patterns.

To do so, they assessed 51 obese men over a four-month period, breaking them off into two groups. Those in the first one were asked to follow a diet, which cut one-third of their calories, for all four months. Those in the second group were required to go on the same diet only for two weeks, taking a break from it for the next two weeks. They repeated the cycle eight times.

>> Read more trending news

After analyzing the data, they found that those who took breaks lost 50 percent more weight than those who didn’t. Those who deviated from the plan also shed more fat.

Six months after the study, both groups regained weight. However, those who took breaks were about 18 pounds lighter than those who followed the diet continuously. 

>> On AJC.com: Lose the belly pooch: 7 do’s and don’ts to accomplish a flat stomach

Why is that?

Researchers believe dieting can alter the body’s biological process, which can lead to slower weight loss or even weight gain. 

“When we reduce our energy (food) intake during dieting, resting metabolism decreases to a greater extent than expected; a phenomenon termed ‘adaptive thermogenesis’ – making weight loss harder to achieve,” co-author Nuala Byrne said in a statement. “This ‘famine reaction’, a survival mechanism which helped humans to survive as a species when food supply was inconsistent in millennia past, is now contributing to our growing waistlines when the food supply is readily available.”

Although the researchers’ method proved to be more successful than nonstop dieting, they noted that it wasn’t more effective than other popular diets. But it could provide another weight loss alternative. 

>> On AJC.com: 6 of the best apps to track your eating

“It seems that the ‘breaks’ from dieting we have used in this study may be critical to the success of this approach,” Byrne said. “While further investigations are needed around this intermittent dieting approach, findings from this study provide preliminary support for the model as a superior alternative to continuous dieting for weight loss.”

These are the most hated foods in each state

Many states are known for producing edible staples -- Georgia is known as the Peach State, Idaho is known for its potatoes, and people traveling to Illinois expect to indulge in some of the nation’s best deep dish pizza.

>> Read more trending news 

 

But there’s one delicacy locals despise the most in each state, according to a new report. And some of the findings might surprise you. 

Hater, a dating app that matches people based on the things they hate, pulled data from its hundreds of thousands of users to round up the cuisine that every state dislikes the most, compared to the rest of the world.

They found that Georgians can’t stand tuna salad, Floridians don’t like licorice, and people from Nevada don’t deal with La Croix, the popular sparkling water drink. Also according to the results, Oklahomans prefer to stay away from veggie burgers, North Carolina residents don’t favor cottage cheese, and you won’t catch many Pennsylvanians sipping on chai lattes.

 

Possibly surprising? Californians aren’t fans of Chick-fil-A.

Then there were some findings that were more in line with the state’s traditional specialties. 

Texans, known for their grilled and barbecued meats, do not like steak cooked well done, and people from Washington, which is the world center for coffee, stay away from k-cups. 

Others were a bit more specific. Residents in Maryland avoid the corner piece of a brownie, Louisianans roll their eyes at cookies with raisins, and Massachusetts residents don’t like mayonnaise on fries. 

Curious about the other locations? Take a look at the map of findings below. 

Couple fulfills goal of visiting every Cracker Barrel in America

Ray Yoder celebrated his 81st birthday at a Cracker Barrel with his wife, Wilma, on Monday, but the couple had something even bigger to celebrate. The Goshen, Indiana, couple visited all 645 Cracker Barrels in America.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Couple's quest to visit every Cracker Barrel in America nears end

“Travel was in our blood and we’ve always liked it,” Ray said. “And, of course, the best place to eat was at Cracker Barrel. It took the boredom out of the highway to eat there because it was so much like home — we could order what we liked, and they always had what we liked.”

>> Read more trending news

The employees at the Tualatin, Oregon, Cracker Barrel helped make the visit special by giving customized aprons and forming a “clap tunnel” for the pair, cheering them on when they arrived. Cracker Barrel also gave the Yoders an all-expenses-paid trip to the Oregon location.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

Cracker Barrel even made a video to commemorate the achievement:

>> Watch the video here

The Cheesecake Factory releases boxed mixes for at-home baking 

Craving cheesecake but don’t feel like going out to a restaurant? 

Thanks to The Cheesecake Factory’s new at-home mixes, you can enjoy the taste of the restaurant’s signature desserts from the comfort of your own kitchen. 

The company released a series of boxed options, including cupcakes, cookies and cheesecake.

>> Read more trending news 

The cheesecake mixes include three recipe flavors -- classicstrawberry and salted caramel -- each with a bake time of less than one hour.

Descriptions on the official Cheesecake Factory website show the boxes contain everything needed for the sweet treat except refrigerated items such as milk, eggs, cream cheese and butter. 

Cheesecake Factory’s boxed cookie mix comes in two flavors: snickerdoodle and chocolate chip. The company is also selling chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with frosting for what it promises is a “fantastical food experience that is absolutely certain to satisfy.”

According to Pop Sugar, the cheesecake mixes can be found at retailers like Publix and Walmart for as little as $3.

Couple's quest to visit every Cracker Barrel in America nears end

An Indiana couple have nearly completed their decades-long quest to visit every one of the 665 Cracker Barrel Old Country Store locations across the United States, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Ray and Wilma Yoder, both 80, have only one location left to visit: a Cracker Barrel in Tualatin, Oregon, The Lebanon Democrat and the “Today” show reported.

Ray Yoder told the newspaper he embarked on his mission to visit each Cracker Barrel 40 years ago, while he was working a job that saw him traveling the country to deliver recreational vehicles.

“It took the boredom out of being on the road,” Ray Yoder told the Democrat. “It has a down-home spirit, and everybody is friendly. It’s like being at home.”

His trips were initially made without his wife, who stayed home with their four children, according to a 2015 report from The News Herald in Morganton, North Carolina. Wilma Yoder eventually joined her husband.

In the 1980s, Ray Yoder said the couple thought, “Well, now why don’t we try to go to all of them?”

“It’s not like a McDonald’s place, where they have 26 or 30 thousand of them,” Ray Yoder told The News Herald. “It was something we wanted to do, so we are trying to hit all of them.”

The Yoders have since traveled more than 5 million miles in their quest, which once included trips to eight Cracker Barrel locations in a single day, according to the Democrat.

In all their visits in the last 40 years, Ray Yoder said, they never had a bad experience.

“It’s the same good service and great people wherever you go,” he told the Democrat.

Coffee recalled for Viagra-like ingredient

A coffee brand has issued a recall after the FDA found it contained an ingredient similar to the active one in Viagra.

Bestherbs Coffee LLC voluntarily recalled all the lots of New of Kopi Jantan Tradisional Natural Herbs Coffee after an FDA lab found “the presence of desmethyl carbodenafil. Desmethyl carbodenafil is structurally similar to sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, an FDA-approved prescription drug for erectile dysfunction.”

The analysis also said instant coffee brand contains undeclared milk.

>> Read the recall notice here

Additionally, the recall notice said: “These undeclared ingredient [sic] may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs, such as nitroglycerin, and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels. Men with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease often take nitrates. In addition, people who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk run the risk of serious or life threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product.”

Now, it should not be a total shock, as “New of Kopi Jantan Tradisional Natural Herbs Coffee is used as a male enhancement.”

Still, the recall notice has been issued for the 13-gram, red packs with UPC 557205060083 on the box and containing 25 packets.

>> Read more trending news

The packages were distributed from July 2014 through June 2016. New of Kopi Jantan Tradisional Natural Herbs Coffee is consumed as an instant coffee. No illnesses have been reported so far.

The recall notice advises: “Bestherbs Coffee LLC is notifying its customers by phone. Consumers that have New of Kopi Jantan Tradisional Natural Herbs Coffee which is being recalled should stop using/discard/ and contact their doctor. Please return the product to Bestherbs Coffee LLC, 4250 Claremont Dr, Grand Priarie, TX 75052. Customers returning the product will be reimbursed by check for the returned goods and postage. Consumers with questions regarding this recall can contact Bestherbs Natural Coffee at 817-903-2288 or Albertyee.abc@hotmail.com, Monday thru Friday 9am to 5pm CST. Consumers should contact their physician or healthcare provider if they have experienced any problems that may be related to taking or using this drug product.”

Customers at Virginia Chipotle report illness, suspect norovirus

Chipotle temporarily closed one of its restaurants in Sterling, Virginia, after an unspecified amount of customers reported illnesses with symptoms consistent with norovirus after eating food at the Mexican grill, The Associated Press reported.

>> Read more trending news

According to the AP a “small number” of customers reported the illnesses. 

Chipotle said the company planned to reopen the Virginia location the same day after completing a full sanitation of the restaurant. 

Chipotle officials are working with health officials to discover the cause of the illnesses. Restaurant officials assured customers that norovirus does not come from its food supply.

>> Related: Chipotle testing queso offering

Chipotle’s shares dropped more than six percent Tuesday as investors responded to the incident with concern. 

Symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea. 

In 2015, Chipotle’s revenue and reputation suffered after an E. coli outbreak at restaurants in nine states and a norovirus outbreak at a Boston location. Approximately 500 customers reported illnesses.

“We may be at a higher risk for food-borne illness outbreaks than some competitors due to our use of fresh produce and meats, rather than frozen, and our reliance on employees cooking with traditional methods rather than automation,” Chipotle officials said at the time

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, restaurant workers are often the source of norovirus outbreaks, as they often touch foods such as raw fruits and vegetables with their bare hands before serving them.

In 2016, Chipotle shut down all locations for a day retrain employees on food safety.

 

Do low-calorie sugar substitutes, artificial sweeteners help you lose weight?

Of the 41 percent of American adults and 25 percent of U.S. children who consume artificial sweeteners, most consume them at least once a day, according to a study published earlier this year.

» RELATED: These 9 healthy-sounding foods have more sugar than a Krispy Kreme doughnut 

And the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has said artificial sweeteners can be used to manage weight or blood sugar by limiting energy intake.

But if you’re looking for a sweet secret solution to your weight loss woes, new research warns against falling into the growing trap of artificial sweeteners or low-calorie sugar substitutes for weight management.

>> Read more trending news

In fact, according to the new study, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), artificial sweeteners (like stevia, aspartame or sucralose) may actually lead to heart disease, higher risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and long-term weight gain.

» RELATED: Exercising to lose weight? Skip these popular workouts 

To determine whether or not artificial sweeteners are associated with the negative long-term effects previous studies have cited, researchers from the University of Manitoba’s George and Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation examined more than 11,000 studies on both artificial and natural sweeteners, performed a meta-analysis of 37 studies and then divided them into randomized controlled trials (seven) and longitudinal studies (30).

» RELATED: Are artificial sweeteners safe (and how much can you have)? 

In total, scientists followed more than 400,000 people for an average of 10 years, with seven of those studies (the randomized controlled trials) involving 1,003 people for an average of six months.

Here’s what the researchers found:

  • In the short seven randomized control trials of 1,003 people, those who consumed artificial sweeteners did not lose or gain more weight or see a decrease in body mass index (BMI) or in waist circumference than the controls in that group.
  • The 30 longer, observational studies showed people who consumed those low-calorie sweeteners were actually more likely to face increased risk of type 2 diabetes (14 percent), obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and other related cardiovascular issues (32 percent higher risk for the heaviest participants compared to the lightest).
  • The longer observational studies also pointed toward an increase in BMI and waist circumference due to consumption of artificial sweeteners.

» RELATED: New study on Splenda's link to cancer sparks controversy 

“Despite the fact that millions of individuals routinely consume artificial sweeteners, relatively few patients have been included in clinical trials of these products. We found that data from clinical trials do not clearly support the intended benefits of artificial sweeteners for weight management,” Ryan Zarychanski, assistant professor at University of Manitoba and author of the study, said.

But there are some limitations to the study. For example, the way people consumed artificial sweeteners in the clinical trials may not exactly mimic how people would actually consume them.

» RELATED: Scientists say eating cheese can help weight loss 

Most of those involved in the randomized trials were on a weight-loss program, but the larger population consuming low-calorie sweeteners may not be doing so to lose weight.

It’s important to remember the study’s findings are associations, not cause and effect.

But lead author Meghan Azad, who is also an assistant professor, cautioned against the consumption of artificial sweeteners until more research is done to identify long-term health effects.

Azad and her colleagues are currently researching how such sweeteners consumed by pregnant women may impact their baby’s weight, metabolism and gut bacteria, according to Medical News Today.

In the meantime, instead of using artificial sweeteners as a healthy substitute for sugar, try to decrease your sweet tooth altogether by consuming fruit-infused water, black coffee or plain yogurt with fruit, Azad told NPR.

Read the full study at CMAJ.ca. 

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