September 2014

Research Roundup: September 2014

Subscribers Only Sugar directly impacts blood pressure and risk of heart disease. In a review and meta-analysis of 39 clinical trials, added sugar consumption had significant influence on the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, independent of the effects of sugar on body weight. Research suggests that the body handles sugar differently than it does other carbohydrates. Findings support public health recommendations to reduce added dietary sugar as a means to reduce cardiovascular diseases.

The Quintessential Kiwi

Subscribers Only The folklore. Drab, rough and rather homely looking, kiwifruit is proof that true beauty is on the inside. Kiwi’s vibrant green flesh with a dash of tropical flair has been coveted since it was discovered in its native China. Soon known as the Chinese gooseberry, New Zealand growers exported it around the world. A California produce dealer dubbed it kiwifruit in the 1960s because it resembled New Zealand’s national bird, the fuzzy brown kiwi! Today, California grows 98 percent of the U.S. supply of this beautiful and nutritious fruit.

Making Sense of Sodium Recommendations

Subscribers Only We’ve all heard the recommendations to cut back on salt intake because it’s bad for your health, especially for your heart. Eat too much salt and you increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, which can trigger a heart attack or stroke. The tricky question that experts wrestle with is how much is too much.

Pair Beans and Grains for Good Health

Subscribers Only Beans and grains have sustained cultures around the world for centuries. The pairing of the two began out of necessity, due to shortages of animal protein and abundant plant foods during the earliest days of agriculture, but has long since become a sustained marriage that has shaped culinary tradition, from Indian dal with rice to Middle Eastern hummus with pita, and Mexican black beans with corn tortillas. It’s no coincidence that bean-grain pairings are also an economical protein source, serving up nutrition and health benefits as well as global culinary adventure.

Stacking Up Nutrition Bars

Subscribers Only What could be better for you than a nutrition bar, right? Their labels boast sources of protein, fiber, energy, and much more. Plus they’re non-perishable, making them ideal for grab-and-go meals and snacks. Here’s how you can tell if they’re the nutrient-packed meal-replacement or snack they claim to be and not just a candy bar with a few vitamins and minerals tossed in.

The Best Dietary Fats for Health

Subscribers Only Standing in the butter and margarine aisle of the supermarket, deciding which to purchase can get overwhelming. While this is just one of many choices you make about dietary fats on a typical grocery trip, you also make dietary fat decisions when you buy cooking oil and foods that contain fats, such as animal products, packaged foods, bakery products, nuts, and seeds. Here are some helpful factors to consider.

BPA Safety Science Update

Subscribers Only Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical used to produce polycarbonate plastic (clear, rigid, shatter-proof plastic) and epoxy resins. It is found in plastic containers, food and beverage cans, cash register receipts, some dental sealants and composites, medical devices, and other metal and plastic products. Exposure occurs when BPA leaches into foods, especially if containers are heated or washed with harsh detergents. It is estimated that 93 percent of Americans age 6 and over are exposed to BPA. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared that BPA is safe, despite concerns about the chemical’s toxicity.

Antinutrients in foods? Don’t worry about them.

Subscribers Only There has been a lot of negative talk about antinutrients in plant foods. So, what are antinutrients? They are compounds—found naturally in whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and leafy greens—that may decrease nutritional value of foods by making the nutrients less available to your body. Antinutrients may sound scary, but there’s no need to ditch these healthy plant foods from your diet. The simple act of preparing and cooking foods, such as grains and beans, helps to reduce antinutrient content and improve the availability of nutrients. Also, since a varied, balanced diet provides more than enough nutrients, the small loss due to antinutrients isn’t a problem.

It’s Not about Nutrients, It’s about Diet Patterns

Subscribers Only Nutrition science began with the study of individual nutrients, with an emphasis on preventing deficiencies, such as vitamin C deficiency, which results in scurvy. But we don’t consume nutrients in isolation; we consume a variety of them in the diverse foods we consume within our overall diet. Hence, nutrition researchers are beginning to focus on overall dietary patterns rather than individual foods and nutrients.

New Cancer Prevention Diet Guidelines

Six cancer-preventing dietary guidelines, from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, emphasize a diet rich in plant foods, and warn about the links between cancer and alcohol, red and processed meats, dairy, and meats cooked at high temperature, according to the June 30, 2014 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. The guidelines are based on the principle that diet changes are justified when evidence is substantial, even if not conclusive.

Top Eco Fish Choices

Fish—the major source of omega-3 fats in our diet—is a healthy protein source that people should include more often. Many health organizations, including the American Heart Association (AHA) and Alzheimer’s Association recommend eating a seafood-rich diet—at least two 4-ounce servings per week—to maintain overall health and prevent chronic disease.