2005 Innovation Awards: Works of Art

Our editors, readers and advisors pick the masterpieces of 2005 (and a couple of potboilers) with an eye toward healthier eating.

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Bertolli chef Anthony Strong spent three months in Italy to perfect the varieties, which include: Grilled Chicken Alfredo; Italian Sausage and Rigatoni; Shrimp Scampi & Linguine; Spinach and Ricotta Cheese Ravioli; Chicken Parmigiana and Penne; Chicken and Garden Vegetable Primavera; Roasted Chicken and Linguine; and Shrimp, Penne and Asparagus.

Bertolli Dinner for Two also is the only frozen dinner to gain unprecedented recognition by the prestigious Federation of Italian Chefs of America (FIC). Founded to promote traditional Italian cooking in the U.S., FIC chefs cite the dinners' restaurant-quality, authentic Italian recipes, professional culinary techniques and fine ingredients such as aged Pecorino Romano cheese, imported Italian pastas and Bertolli (of course) extra virgin olive oil as the reasons for the designation.

“Bertolli is making it easier than ever for people to spend less time in the kitchen and enjoy a special, Italian dinner in,” says Brian Manning, senior director of Bertolli. Although a little pricey at $7.99, they’re a lot cheaper than an Italian meal out. And frankly, you might not get an entrée this good. –Dave Fusaro

Yoplait Healthy Heart;
Dannon Light ’n Fit With Fiber
Even more health benefits from yogurt

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women. Yogurt is one of their favorite foods. Both sexes can improve more than their heart-health with tasty new products from the country’s two leading marketers of yogurt.

Yoplait, a brand of General Mills, Minneapolis, found the way to a woman’s heart by rolling out Yoplait Healthy Heart yogurt, the first yogurt available in the U.S. that contains cholesterol-lowering plant sterols, clinically proven cholesterol reducers. And Dannon early in the year introduced Light ’n Fit With Fiber, an extension to its Light ’n Fit line, with 3g of fiber per 4 oz. serving.

Studies have shown that eating 0.8g of plant sterols — the amount in two servings of Yoplait Healthy Heart — each day over as little as four weeks may reduce LDL or "bad" cholesterol by an average of 6 percent.

To the delight of consumers looking for a tasty way to control their cholesterol, Yoplait Healthy Heart is available in four flavors — Strawberry, Harvest Peach, Cherry Orchard and Strawberry Banana. Soaring sales prove that if consumers can get wellness benefits along with good taste, they will make that choice.

"Often, when women set out to lower their cholesterol through the foods they eat, they think they need to remove their favorites from their diet,” says Jean Storlie, manager at General Mills' Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. “With Yoplait Healthy Heart, they can continue to enjoy Yoplait yogurt while getting the cholesterol-lowering benefits of plant sterols."

Plant sterols naturally occur in certain foods. However, to get the same amount of plant sterols as two servings of Yoplait Healthy Heart through other foods, it would take one of the following choices: 22 servings of Brussels sprouts; 24 servings of broccoli or cauliflower; 70 large carrots; 100 medium potatoes; 56 servings of wax beans; 44 medium apples; or 26 oranges.

At 3g of fiber, Dannon Light 'n Fit with Fiber is a good source of fiber, but with a smooth and creamy texture, not the dry, grainy texture common to other fiber-filled products. And at 70 calories, it qualifies for the Light 'n Fit name. Of course it contains live cultures, potassium and calcium and is low in cholesterol and fat-free.

According to the American Dietetic Assn., Americans should eat 20-35g of fiber a day for heart and digestive health, but the average American only consumes 12-17g a day. Light 'n Fit with Fiber, with more fiber than any other light yogurt, gets you closer to that goal. –Diane Toops

Somebody pinch me: Eat chocolate for health?

Speaking of heart-health, Hackettstown, N.J.-based Mars Nutrition for Health & Well-Being, a new division of Mars Inc., introduced CocoaVia, its first heart-healthy snacks line. A chocoholic’s dream come true, this revolutionary new line combines real chocolate pleasure with ingredients formulated to promote a healthy heart. Just two servings a day can significantly reduce LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels and promote healthy circulation to maintain heart health.

After 15 years of scientific research on flavanols, Mars developed a patented and proprietary process called Cocoapro that helps ensure the heart-healthy flavanols remain active and are not destroyed. This technology guarantees CocoaVia contains a consistent level of cocoa flavanols – which is what really counts when you're talking about cocoa and heart health, according to Harold Schmitz, chief science officer at Mars.

"The very exciting potential heart-health benefits of cocoa flavanols is not about simply adding more cocoa or consuming any dark chocolate," adds Schmitz. "In fact, the percentage of cocoa in a product is meaningless. Research from several universities clearly shows that it's about retaining the flavanols from the cocoa bean so you're confident of enjoying a flavanol-rich, cocoa-based product."

CocoaVia, which contains a patented blend of cocoa flavanols, also contains cholesterol-lowering plant sterols from soy, and is fortified with calcium and a mix of heart-healthy nutrients including folic acid, vitamins B-6, B-12, C and E. And there are only 150 calories per serving.

The product was available since early in the year on the web, but started hitting retail shelves just in the past month. –Diane Toops

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