Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Healthy Habits Can Add 15 Years to Your Life

From the 3 August 2011 Medical News Today article

Women with a healthy lifestyle such as a Mediterranean diet, regular exercise, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight, are more likely to live 15 years longer than their less healthy counterparts, while for men, the effect of such healthy habits appears to be less, nearly 8.5 years, according to a study from Maastricht University in the Netherlands that was published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition…

Read the entire article here

  • Four ways to add 15 years to your life (psychologytoday.com)
  • Longevity More Linked To Genes Than Lifestyle, Research RevealsIndividuals who live past 95 years of age have similar lifestyles to the rest of the population regarding smoking, drinking, diet and exercise, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University revealed in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. As far as longevity is concerned, it really does seem that nature matters more than nurture, the authors explained. Dr. Nir Barzilai and team interviewed 477 people aged at least 95 years, they were all Ashkenazi Jews and lived independently. 75% of them were female…

August 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition, Public Health | , | Leave a comment

Healthy Restaurant Eating: Is The Tide Turning In Fast Foods?

From the 6 August Medical News Today article

Eating out, and the amount we spend on it, especially on fast foods, has been rising steadily for decades, and parallels the increase in daily calorie intake that is contributing to the growing obesity crisis. But is that about to change? Official figures, which take years to emerge, don’t appear to show it, but some more recent findings suggest the tide could be starting to turn, although for surprising reasons…

More Tips for Healthy Eating Out

Here are some more tips, based on information from the University of Wisconsin, on how to be kind to your waistline and your health when eating out, without spoiling the fun and enjoyment of good food.

  1. Do your research first: find out who is offering healthy, low fat meals.
  2. Eat something, like a piece of fruit, or drink a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon, about half an hour before, so you are not starving when you order, which can affect your choices.
  3. If you can’t control your portions, avoid restaurants that offer buffet or “all you can eat” menus.
  4. Eat half the entrée and ask them to wrap the rest for you to take home.
  5. Order one meal with two plates, one for you, one for your dining partner.
  6. Have an appetizer as a main course.
  7. Don’t eat everything: skip the bits you like less.
  8. Prefer spinach, watercress, dark green leaf salads (they are more nutritious) to those where the only leaf is pale iceberg lettuce.
  9. Avoid thick sauces made with butter or cream: ask the waiter if you are not sure. Go for stock-based sauce, or cooked in own juices instead.
  10. Instead of french fries, have baked potato, a side salad, or some steamed vegetables.
  11. Skip the mayonnaise and rich sauces in sandwiches and ask for extra tomatoes, onions, lettuce, mustard instead.
  12. Eat less at another meal in the day – but don’t skip meals, as this can lead to binge eating.
  13. Watch the alcohol and sweetened drinks: they are also rich in calories.
  14. Look for low fat, grilled, flame-cooked, broiled and steamed main dishes instead of battered, tempura, breaded, fried foods.
  15. Choose hard rolls, plain bread sticks, french bread or wholemeal buns and avoid dishes made with pastries, croissants and biscuits.
  16. Choose soups that are broth-based rather than cream or milk-based.
  17. Have extra vegetable toppings on your pizza instead of meat and extra cheese.

Read the entire article

August 8, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

How Healthy People Eat Cheap

How Healthy People Eat Cheap

From a March 2009 posting at Experience Li!fe

http://www.experiencelifemag.com/issues/march-2009/healthy-eating/how-healthy-people-eat-cheap.php

Eating well doesn’t have to break your budget. Our experts offer 15 tips on cutting your tab at the grocery store, without scrimping on the good stuff.

By Alyssa Ford / March 2009

Spendy vs. Savvy 

If there was one sound that rose above all others at the grocery checkout line last year, it was this: Ouch! When your grocery budget is under assault, it’s easy to succumb to panic (“Nine dollars a pound for organic chicken?!”) and become tempted to fill your cart with less healthy, but ostensibly cheaper, fare. Trouble is, downgrading the quality of your food is never a bargain. First, your health is just too valuable, and courting an avoidable health condition or lowered immunity by eating poorly is just way too expensive. Second, even in the toughest economic times, you don’t have to scrimp on the good stuff. You just have to know how to shop smarter.

In this, the second in our series on “How Healthy People Eat,” we’ve assembled another team of health-conscious experts to dish on their personal shopping habits:

Here, they share their top tips for creating wholesome, delicious meals on the cheap.

1. Make a strategic shopping list. Buying food on a whim, shopping haphazardly and going shopping when hungry all tend to drive your expenditures steeply upward. By planning your meals before shopping, you can save a bundle. Swensson and her boyfriend eat a nutrient-rich, whole-foods diet for no more than $55 a week. Swensson searches online circulars to find deals near her Brooklyn home, combines that information with what she knows about the food she already has on hand, then searches online for recipes that make the most of both. Then she creates a detailed shopping list from which she never strays.

2. Know the cost of your staples. Even though Farino lives in one of the most expensive food markets in the country, she’s able to eat well by keeping track of what things cost. “I know the price of Wildwood organic tofu at four different stores to the penny,” she says. By knowing what things cost, she can quickly identify a deal.

3. When you spot a sale, strike. Occasionally, olive oil, tamari and frozen peas will go on sale at Farino’s co-op, and she’ll stock up for several weeks. Plus, she doesn’t hesitate to buy in bulk when the opportunity arises. “I drink unsweetened almond milk, so when my favorite brand went on sale, I bought a whole case,” she says. The trick here is to buy only what you actually will use. (You may be able to get a truckload of olive oil for a song, but it won’t keep forever.)…

Read article

August 1, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Home is where the healthy meal is

New study finds home setting nurtures better food choices

Can a cozy dining table and nice music prompt people to reach for the greens and go light on dessert?

From the 28 July 2011 Eureka news alert

So suggests a new study probing why people tend to eat more-nutritious meals at home than away from home. The findings, based on data from 160 women who reported their emotional states before and after meals, add to mounting evidence that psychological factors may help override humans’ wired-in preference for high-fat, sugary foods.

“Over the course of evolution in a world of food scarcity, humans and animals alike have been biologically programmed to elicit more powerful food reward responses to high-caloric foods” than to less-fattening fare, the study notes. Given those hard-wired urges, it may not be enough to understand that broccoli is better for the waistline than French fries. Home is known to be where people feel most content, and the positive emotions often associated with home-cooked meals may be part of the recipe for a healthy diet, the researchers indicate.

The findings, published in the July issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that people who are in a good mood at home tend to prepare healthier meals – and feel more emotionally rewarded after eating them. That cycle of positive reinforcement was more pronounced at home than elsewhere.

The report, by Prof. Ji Lu of Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Catherine Huet, and Prof.. Laurette Dubé of McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management, concludes that “the home is a privileged environment that nurtures healthy eating and in which healthier food choices trigger and are triggered by more positive emotions.”

July 29, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

Front-of-Package Nutrition Labeling — An Abuse of Trust by the Food Industry?



Sample Front-of-Package Label Adhering to the Nutrition Keys System Developed by the Grocery Manufacturers of America and the Food Marketing Institute.

Sample Front-of-Package Label from the Traffic-Light System Used in Britain.

From http://eatdrinkbetter.com/2009/10/26/smart-choices-food-labeling-program-suspended/

Excerpts from the New England Journal of Medicine 23 June 2011 Perspective

On January 24, 2011, two major food-industry trade associations, the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute, announced a new and voluntary nutrition-labeling system that major food and beverage companies would use on the front of packages to “help busy consumers make informed choices.” …
…This program, called Nutrition Keys, follows on the heels of an industry free-for-all in which different companies used different, and in many cases self-serving, symbols to communicate how healthful their products were. An example is the Smart Choices program, whereby industry established nutrition criteria that would qualify products for a special Smart Choices label. This enterprise was met with disbelief when products such as Froot Loops and Cocoa Krispies qualified as Smart Choices,…
…At first glance, the industry action might seem positive — a single standardized system with objective nutrition information might guide better food choices. The industry plans to list the amount and percentage of the recommended daily value (%DV), when available, for calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugars….
…There are, however, major flaws in this approach. First, the timing of this action by the food industry is suspicious at best, and the move is being made in a political context where the industry is pitted against both government and the public health community. …
…Most troubling is the fact that the industry announced its own approach even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA have already commissioned an objective body, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), to convene an expert committee and issue recommendations for front-of-package labeling. The IOM committee is scheduled to release its final report this fall….

Related IOM Links

Includes History of nutrition labeling, Overview of Health and Diet in America, Scientific basis of front-of-package nutritionrating systems, and appendixes

  • Consumer labelling: Food fights (economist.com)
  • Small step forward in global food labelling (Canadian Medical Association News, June 2011)
    “Global standards for “mandatory nutrition labelling” on the back of food packaging appear to be in the offing but standards for the front of packages appear to be a distant dream.The guidelines will be crafted this summer by the Codex Food Labelling Committee, which is part of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, created in 1963 by United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization to develop food standards, guidelines and codes of practice to protect consumer health and ensure fair trade practices with regard to food…….Proponents hope the back-of-package labels — which would articulate general information about such things as fat, protein, fibre, calorie content — will serve as an impetus to all nations to adopt official labelling requirements,  if only because they would soon become a requisite element of international trade…….Although several countries are experimenting with forms of front-of-packaging labelling, such as the United Kingdom, which  introduced a voluntary colour-coded traffic light system in 2007, (www.cmaj.ca/cgi/doi/10.1503/cmaj.081755), no nation has mandatory regulations.”…
  • U.S. Seeks New Limits on Food Ads for Children (nytimes.com)
  • Sunday Comic Strip: Isn’t Food One of the Ingredients? (fooducate.com)

June 26, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dawn of Agriculture Took Toll On Health

 

Amanda Mummert led the first comprehensive, global review of the literature regarding stature and health during the agriculture transition. (Credit: Image courtesy of Emory University)

From the 18 June 2011 Science Daily article

 

ScienceDaily (June 18, 2011) — When populations around the globe started turning to agriculture around 10,000 years ago, regardless of their locations and type of crops, a similar trend occurred: The height and health of the people declined….

…”Many people have this image of the rise of agriculture and the dawn of modern civilization, and they just assume that a more stable food source makes you healthier,” Mummert says. “But early agriculturalists experienced nutritional deficiencies and had a harder time adapting to stress, probably because they became dependent on particular food crops, rather than having a more significantly diverse diet.”

She adds that growth in population density spurred by agriculture settlements led to an increase in infectious diseases, likely exacerbated by problems of sanitation and the proximity to domesticated animals and other novel disease vectors.

Eventually, the trend toward shorter stature reversed, and average heights for most populations began increasing. The trend is especially notable in the developed world during the past 75 years, following the industrialization of food systems.

“Culturally, we’re agricultural chauvinists. We tend to think that producing food is always beneficial, but the picture is much more complex than that,” says Emory anthropologist George Armelagos, co-author of the review. “Humans paid a heavy biological cost for agriculture, especially when it came to the variety of nutrients. Even now, about 60 percent of our calories come from corn, rice and wheat.”…

An abstract of the article may be found here.

Click here for suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost.

June 20, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Why Do Hopeful Consumers Make Healthier Choices Than Happy Ones?

Happy people are more likely to eat candy bars, whereas hopeful people choose fruit, according to a new study. That’s because when people feel hope, they’re thinking about the future. (Credit: © Andrea Berger / Fotolia)

From the 20 April 2011 Science News Today article

ScienceDaily (Apr. 20, 2011) — Happy people are more likely to eat candy bars, whereas hopeful people choose fruit, according to a new study in theJournal of Consumer Research. That’s because when people feel hope, they’re thinking about the future.

Most of us are aware that we often fall victim to emotional eating, but how is it that we might choose unhealthy or healthy snacks when we’re feeling good?” write authors Karen Page Winterich (Pennsylvania State University) and Kelly L. Haws (Texas A&M University).

Because previous research has explored how feeling sad leads to eating bad, the authors focused on the complicated relationship between positive emotions and food consumption. “We demonstrate the importance of the time frame on which the positive emotion focuses and find that positive emotions focusing on the future decrease unhealthy food consumption in the present,” the authors write….

Journal Reference:

  1. Karen Page Winterich and Kelly L. Haws. Helpful Hopefulness: The Effect off Future Positive Emotions on ConsumptionJournal of Consumer Research, October 2011 (published online March 18, 2011) DOI:10.1086/659873

[For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here]

April 20, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Expert: Pairing some foods packs big benefits

Sass recommends eating whole grains with onions or garlic to fight inflammation.

Sass recommends eating whole grains with onions or garlic to fight inflammation.  (CBS)

From the 12 April 2011 CBS Early Show Web site item 

Pairing up certain foods is natural, such as peanut butter and jelly. But, according to registered dietician Cynthia Sass, combining some foods can actually make them much more beneficial to your health than eating them separately.
Sass, author of “Cinch: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches” discussed some of those great food combos she says pack powerful benefits.

The article describes the benefits of and gives examples of the following pairings

  • Salsa and guacamole
  • Beans and Red Peppers
  • Broccoli and tomatoes
  • Apples and cranberries
  • Green Tea and Black Pepper
  • Whole Grains with Garlic or Onions

April 17, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

The School Food Revolution: The Healthy Changes In School Cafeterias You Haven’t Seen On TV

School Nutrition Association

From the School Nutrition Association Press Release

The School Food Revolution: The Healthy Changes in School Cafeterias You Haven’t Seen on TV

National Harbor, MD (April 13, 2011) – Despite limited resources and rising food costs, school nutrition programs across the country have made tremendous progress in offering healthier meals in school cafeterias.  But don’t expect to see these successes on television – good news about school meals just doesn’t bring in the ratings.

School Nutrition Association’s 2010 Back to School Trends Report found that schools are serving more whole grains and fresh produce, while working to reduce added sodium and sugar in foods served on the lunch line.  Many school districts are bringing in more locally-grown produceencouraging extra helpings of fruits and vegetables or offering salad bars.  To get kids excited about these healthy choices, schools are experimenting with kids cooking competitionspartnerships with local chefs and nutrition education programs.

Many schools are cooking up more menu items from scratch, and schools with limited ability to scratch cook, due to staffing, equipment or cost challenges, are using higher quality pre-prepared foods.  Food companies have been using leaner meats, more whole grains and less salt and sugar to make the pre-prepared foods served in schools healthier than ever.  These days, baked sweet potato “fries” or wedges are common choices, while school pizza is often served on whole grain crust with low-fat cheese and low-sodium sauce.  Meanwhile, local dairies have been working with school nutrition programs to reduce the fat and sugar in flavored milk choices, which leading health and nutrition organizations support keeping in schools.

These changes are being achieved through the perseverance of school nutrition professionals who must contend with paltry budgets, burdensome regulations, strict food safety standards or insufficient equipment and support.  Often, critics of school nutrition programs and advocates for healthier food choices fail to acknowledge these cost constraints and the complexity of the rules governing the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

Over the next several weeks, School Nutrition Association will issue a series of articles highlighting the School Food Revolution occurring nationwide and the ways schools have raised the bar for school meals.
SNA, (http://www.schoolnutrition.org ) the School Nutrition Association, is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 53,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. Founded in 1946, the Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals.


 

April 14, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

The Health Halo Effect: Don’t Judge A Food By Its Organic Label

Official seal of the National Organic Program

Image via Wikipedia

From the April 11 2011 Medical News Today article

Jenny Wan-chen Lee, a graduate student in Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, has been fascinated with a phenomenon known as “the halo effect” for some time. Psychologists have long recognized that how we perceive a particular trait of a person can be influenced by how we perceive other traits of the same individual. In other words, the fact that a person has a positive attribute can radiate a “halo”, resulting in the perception that other characteristics associated with that person are also positive. An example of this would be judging an attractive person as intelligent, just because he or she is good-looking.

A growing literature suggests that the halo effect may also apply to foods, and ultimately influence what and how much we eat. For instance, research has shown that people tend to consume more calories at fast-food restaurants claiming to serve “healthier” foods, compared to the amount they eat at a typical burger-and-fry joint. The reasoning is that when people perceive a food to be more nutritious, they tend to let their guard down when it comes to being careful about counting calories – ultimately leading them to overeat or feel entitled to indulge. This health halo effect also seems to apply to certain foods considered by many to be especially healthy, such as organic products. Specifically, some people mistakenly assume that these foods are more nutritious just because they carry an “organic” label – an area of longstanding active debate among food and nutrition scientists. …

…As part of the scientific program of the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting, results from this [halo effect ]study were presented on April 10 at the Experimental Biology 2011 meeting.

April 11, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype & Dietary Supplement Web Sites

Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype

Antioxidant pills

From the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source Web page – Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype
This summary includes the following

Excerpt (Bottom Line)

The Bottom Line on Antioxidants and Disease Prevention

Free radicals contribute to chronic diseases from cancer to heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease to vision loss. This doesn’t automatically mean that substances with antioxidant properties will fix the problem, especially not when they are taken out of their natural context. The studies so far are inconclusive, but generally don’t provide strong evidence that antioxidant supplements have a substantial impact on disease. But keep in mind that most of the trials conducted up to now have had fundamental limitations due to their relatively short duration and having been conducted in persons with existing disease. That a benefit of beta-carotene on cognitive function was seen in the Physicians’ Health Follow-up Study only after 18 years of follow-up is sobering, since no other trial has continued for so long. At the same time, abundant evidence suggests that eating whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—all rich in networks of antioxidants and their helper molecules—provides protection against many of these scourges of aging.

Information about ingredients in more than three thousand selected brands of dietary supplements. It enables users to determine what ingredients are in specific brands and to compare ingredients in different brands. Information is also provided on the health benefits claimed by manufacturers. These claims by manufacturers have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Check out the Help section for tips on how to browse and search this site.

Prescription and over-the-counter medication information contains answers to many general questions including topics as what a drug is used for, precautions, side effects, dietary instructions, and overdoses. From the American Society of Health System Pharmacists

Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers and clinicians.

Somewhat lengthy drug and over-the-counter medicationinformation with these sections: description, before using, proper use, precautions and side effects. From Micromedex, a trusted source of healthcare information for health professionals. 

Herb and supplement information includes information on uses based on scientific evidence as well as safety and potential interactions with drugs, herbs, and supplements. From Natural Standard, an independent group of researchers and clinicians.

    March 29, 2011 Posted by | Health News Items, Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

    Protein Food Dietary Information from the USDA

    The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has good dietary information summaries  on protein foods.

    Links on the page guide readers to information on vegetarian choices, what counts as an ounce, tips for making wise choices, and the roles of various nutrients in this group (as Vitamin E as an antioxidant)

     

    From the USDA Web site Protein Foods

    What foods are in the protein foods group?
    Divider

    All foods made from meat, poultry, fish, dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the protein foods group. Dry beans and peas are part of this group as well as the vegetable group. For more information on dry beans and peas click here.

    Most meat and poultry choices should be lean or low-fat. Fish, nuts, and seeds contain healthy oils, so choose these foods frequently instead of meat or poultry. (See Why is it important to include fish, nuts, and seeds?)

    Some commonly eaten choices in the protein foods group, with selection tips, are: [listing at the Web site]

     

     

    The Meats Food Gallery
    link at this Web site has pictures  (marked in inches) of  serving portions along with their related meat/bean daily equivalents.
    For example

     

    Salmon steak — 8 ounces cooked weight
    spacer

    Meat and Beans Group: counts as 8 ounce equivalents meat and beans

    spacer

    Picture of Salmon

    previous Previous

     

     

     

    The USDA also has similar information on other Food Groups.

     

     

     

    March 17, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

    Is Local More Nutritious? It depends

    Is Local More Nutritious? It depends

    From the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment Web site

    Local food advocates and confirmed “locavores” are quick to claim that local food is more nutritious. But is it really? While this seems like a simple straightforward question, it is anything but! The answer, like many having to do with food and nutrition, is a definite, “It depends.”By the time fruits and vegetables reach your kitchen counter – whether from a stall at a local farmers market, or the supermarket produce department – several factors determine their nutritional quality: the specific variety chosen, the growing methods used, ripeness when harvested, post harvest handling, storage, extent and type of processing, and distance transported. The vitamin and mineral content of fruits and vegetables depends on decisions and practices all along the food system – from seed to table – whether or not that system is local or global.

    But before concluding there is no nutritional justification for eating locally, let’s take a closer look at this system.

    Variety. Most varieties of fruits and vegetables found in supermarkets today were chosen first and foremost for yield (how many pounds, pecks, bushels, etc. are harvested per acre), growth rate, and ability to withstand long-distance transport. Unfortunately, these traits which benefit national and international produce distribution often come at a cost: nutritional quality. Fruit and vegetable varieties differ in appearance and taste, as well as their vitamin, mineral, and phytochemical content. Farmers producing for a local and direct market (farmers’ market, community supported agriculture (CSA) members, or a local restaurant or grocer, for example), are more likely to prioritize taste and nutritional quality over durability when making varietal decisions.

    Production Method. Production methods that improve the health of the soil – such as the use of cover crops and composted manure for fertilizers – tend to yield crops with higher nutritional content. The roots of crops grown organically or in some Integrated Pest Management systems are healthier and grow deeper allowing them to more efficiently take up nutrients. Composted manures and other organic fertilizers release nutrients more slowly and over longer periods than synthetic chemical alternatives, which also enhances nutrient uptake by the plants.

    Ripeness. When produce is ready for harvest varies from one fruit and vegetable to another and depends on whether it is “climacteric” not. Climacteric fruits – such as apples, nectarines, melons, apricots, peaches, and tomatoes – are capable of generating the ripening hormone ethylene, after being detached from the mother plant. Non-climacteric crops – for example, peppers and citrus – reach commercial maturity on the plant only. Being somewhat autonomous, from the ripening point of view, climacteric fruits will change in taste, aroma, color and texture as they reach and pass a transitory respiratory peak related to ethylene production. Climacteric produce such as tomatoes reach full red color even when harvested green while non-climacteric vegetables, such as bell peppers, will not. As a general rule, the more mature the product, the shorter its post-harvest life. So, if destined for distant markets, climacteric fruits are often harvested as early as possible, after reaching their physiological maturity, in order to withstand mechanical harvesting and long-distance transport without damage.

    While full color may be achieved after harvest, nutritional quality may not. Total vitamin C content of red peppers, tomatoes, apricots, peaches and papayas has been shown to be higher when these crops are picked ripe from the plant which, in the case of tomatoes, is attributable to increased sun exposure while attached to the mother plant. While the vitamin C content of tomatoes, for example, will increase to some degree after picking, it will not reach levels found in those allowed to vine ripen. Because tomatoes make up nearly a quarter of total US vegetable consumption, following production and harvest practices that maximize their nutritional content is particularly important to public health of Americans.

    Post-harvest Handling. Maintaining nutritional quality after fruits and vegetables are harvested requires careful handling. This means, chilling (to remove the “field heat”) immediately, preventing bruising, and maintaining specific temperature, and humidity during storage and distribution. Careful handling preserves plant integrity and quality and careless handling chemically alters plant structure, often diminishing nutritional quality. Further, nutrients differ in how they are affected by various farming and post-harvest practices.

    Bruising from handling is one of the most common problems. Mechanical harvesting methods like those used in mass production have the potential to be most damaging and can result in accelerated nutrient losses. Bulk handling involving forklifts or trucks after picking significantly contributes to crop injury particularly with apples. Delicate items like berries and tomatoes are also easily affected. In tomatoes, there has even been evidence of abnormal ripening following impact bruising.

    Processing and Packaging. Fruits and vegetables are increasingly found on supermarket shelves pre-cut in open containers or in various types of packaging. These items are considered “fresh cut” or “lightly or minimally processed products” and have increased in sales in the US in billions of dollars since the mid-1990s. These products are highly perishable, as they have already experienced stress and are left without intact skin for protection and prevention of nutrient loss. Minimal processing – cutting, slicing, chopping, peeling, etc. – while tremendously useful from a food service standpoint, causes injuries to the plant tissues and initiates enzymatic changes, such as ethylene production, respiration, accumulation of secondary metabolites and water loss from tissues. This increases susceptibility to microbial spoilage, which not only compromises food safety, but alters chemical make-up and promotes loss of nutrients. The effect of processing on antioxidants and phytonutrients vary.

    To preserve moisture and humidity as well as protect fresh-cut products, films and coatings are used. Packaging can help preserve some nutrients in fresh-cut products, particularly if done at the right time and under appropriate conditions, mainly because it delays ripening and deterioration. Other techniques such as irradiation, chemical preservation (dips in ascorbic acid, calcium chloride, and/or citric acid), modification of pH, and reduction of water activity (with sugars/salts) are also used to control deterioration of processed products.

    Storage. Due to continued respiration and enzymatic activity, minimally processed fruits and vegetables suffer changes in nutritional value and sensory quality including loss of texture, appearance and flavor during storage,18 especially if factors such as temperature, atmosphere, relative humidity and sanitation are not well regulated.16 Fresh-cut produce must be maintained at lower temperatures than whole fruits and vegetables, as they tend to have higher respiration rates, which increase as temperature rises. Temperature maintenance is considered most deficient factor in post-harvest handling of minimally processed foods, which is why contained, modified atmospheres are important.

    Transportation. The advent of refrigerated trucks and rail cars has made it possible to eat fresh California or Mexico produce in the Northeast. But even when temperature and humidity are optimal from harvest to supermarket, there is some nutrient loss during days-long trip. If temperature control is faulty, losses accelerate. Bruising damage, with subsequent decrease in nutrition quality, is likely when transported at high speeds on bumpy roads. The longer the trip, the more potential for damage.

    The Bottom Line
    While all of the factors affecting nutritional quality of fruits and vegetables – crop variety, production method, post-harvest handling, storage, and processing and packaging – apply equally to produce that is produced locally or on farms across the country, relying on local sources for your produce needs has some distinct advantages. First, even when the highest post-harvest handling standards are met, foods grown far away that spend significant time on the road, and therefore have more time to loss nutrients before reaching the marketplace.17,18 Second, farmers growing for a local (and especially a direct) market favor taste, nutrition and diversity over shipability when choosing varieties. Greater crop diversity from the farmer means greater nutritional diversity for the eater. Third, in direct and local marketing strategies, produce is usually sold within 24 hour after harvest, at its peak freshness and ripeness, making consuming them a more attractive prospect. Fourth, during this short time and distance, produce is likely handled by fewer people, decreasing potential for damage, and typically not harvested with industrial machinery. Minimizing transportation and processing can ensure maximum freshness and flavor, and nutrient retention.

    This may seem like an overly simplistic explanation of why local fruits and vegetables are more healthful than those from our conventional long haul agricultural system. In the Northeast, diets based on foods available locally can be nutritionally adequate year-round. Concerns over nutritional adequacy usually arise because people are unaware of what is available. Fortunately, this guide can provide you with information regarding the delicious seasonal items of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, and how to prepare and store them.

    “Locavore”, the 2007 New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year, refers to a person whose diet focuses on foods grown and produced nearby, typically 100 miles. The term reflects a growing trend of using locally grown ingredients, taking advantage of seasonally available foodstuffs that can be bought and prepared without the need for extra preservatives. The “locavore” movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers’ markets or even to grow or pick their own food, arguing that fresh, local products.


    References:

    1.) Halweil B. Still No Free Lunch: Nutrient levels in U.S. food supply eroded by pursuit of high yields. Critical Issues Report. The Organic Center. September 2007.

    2.) Howard LR, Pandijaitan N, Morelock T, Gil MI. Antioxidant capacity and phenolic content of spinach as affected by genetics and growing season. J Agric Food Chem. 2002; 50: 5891–5896.

    3.) Liu M, Li XQ, Weber C, Lee CY, Brown J, Liu RH. Antioxidant and anti proliferative activities of raspberries. J Agri Food Chem. 2002; 50 (10): 2926–2930.

    4.) Kopsell DA, Kopsell DE. Accumulation and bioavailability of dietary carotenoids in vegetable crops. Trends Plant Sci. 2001; 11(10): 499–507.

    5.) López Camelo A F. Manual for the preparation and sale of fruits and vegetables: From field to market. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Services Bulletin 151. ISSN 1010-1365. August, 2002

    6.) Lee, SK, Kader, AA. Preharvest and postharvest factors influencing vitamin C content of horticultural crops.Postharvest Biol Technol. 2000; 20: 207 –220.

    7.) Dumas Y, Dadomo M, Di Lucca G, Grolier P. Review. Effects of environmental factors and agricultural techniques on antioxidant content of tomatoes. J Sci Food Agric. 2003; 83: 369–382.

    8.) Harris RS, Karmas E ed. Nutritional Evaluation of Food Processing. 3rd ed. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, Inc; 1988.

    9.) US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Pesticide Programs and US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2000b. Document files – Section 2: “Essential Information in Food Commodity Intake Database (FCID).”. Version 2.1 (CD-ROM computer file). National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA.

    10.) Dobrzañski B, Rabcewicz J, Rybczyñski R. Handling of Apple. 1st ed. Lublin: B Dobrzañski Institute of Agrophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences; 2006.

    11.) Jeffrey EH, Brown AF, Kurilich AC, Keck AS, Matusheski N, Klein BP, Juvik JA. Variation in content of bioactive components in broccoli. J Food Comp Anal. 2003; 16 (3): 323–330.

    12.) Moretti CL, Sargent SA, Huber D, Calbo AG, Puschmann R. Chemical composition and physical properties of pericarp, locule, and placental tissues of tomatoes with internal bruising. J Am Soc Hortic Sci. 1998; 123: 656–660.

    13.) Watada AF, Ko WP, Minott DA. Factors affecting quality of fresh-cut horticultural products. Postharvest Bio Technol. 1996; 9: 115–125.

    14.) Shah NS, Nath N. Minimally processed fruits and vegetables – Freshness with convenience. J Food Sci Tech. 2006; 43 (6): 561–570.

    15.) Goldman IL, Kader AA, Heintz C. Influence of production, handling, and storage on phytonutrient content of food. Nutr Rev. 1999; S46–S52.

    16.) Cantwell, M. Postharvest handling systems: minimally processed fruits and vegetables. UC Vegetable Research and Information Center. Available at:  http://vric.ucdavis.edu/selectnewtopic.minproc.htm. Accessed January 20, 2007.

    17.) Heaton S. Organic Farming, Food Quality and Human Health. A Review. Soil Association, 2001.

    18.) Worthington V. Nutritional quality of organic versus conventional fruits, vegetables, and grains.  J Altern Complement Med. 2001; 7(2): 161–173.

    19.) Wilkins JL, Gussow JD. Regional dietary guidance: is the northeast nutritionally complete? In: Lockeretz W, ed. Agricultural production and nutrition. Proceedings of an international conference, Boston, March 19-21, 1997. Medford, MA Tufts University School of Nutrition Science and Public Policy, September 1997.

    Related articles

     

     

     


    February 25, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Carbohydrates: How carbs fit into a healthy diet

    Grain products are often baked, and are rich s...

    Image via Wikipedia

    Carbohydrates: How carbs fit into a healthy diet

    By Mayo Clinic staff

    Carbohydrates often get a bad rap, especially when it comes to weight gain. But carbohydrates aren’t all bad. Because of their numerous health benefits, carbohydrates have a rightful place in your diet. In fact, your body needs carbohydrates to function well. But some carbohydrates may be better for you than others. Understand more about carbohydrates and how to choose healthy carbohydrates.

    Understanding carbohydrates

    Carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient found in many foods and beverages. Most carbohydrates are naturally occurring in plant-based foods, such as grains. Food manufacturers also add carbohydrates to processed foods in the form of starch or added sugar. The most basic carbohydrate is a sugar molecule, which joins together one or two units of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Other carbohydrates contain three or more units of the carbon-hydrogen-oxygen trio.

    Common sources of naturally occurring carbohydrates include:

    • Fruits
    • Vegetables
    • Milk
    • Nuts
    • Grains
    • Seeds
    • Legumes

    Types of carbohydrates

    There are three main types of carbohydrates:

    • Sugar. Sugar is the simplest forms of carbohydrates. Sugar occurs naturally in some foods, including fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products. Sugars include fruit sugar (fructose), table sugar (sucrose) and milk sugar (lactose).
    • Starch. Starch is made of sugar units bonded together. Starch occurs naturally in vegetables, grains, and cooked dry beans and peas.
    • Fiber. Fiber also is made of sugar units bonded together. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and cooked dry beans and peas are among foods that are naturally rich in fiber.

    More carbohydrate terms: Net carbs and glycemic index

    You may see terms such as “low carb” or “net carbs” on some products, or promoted by some diet programs. But the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate these terms, so there’s no standard meaning. Net carbs is typically used to mean the amount of carbohydrates in a product excluding fiber or excluding both fiber and sugar alcohols.

    You’ve probably also have heard talk about the glycemic index. The glycemic index classifies carbohydrate-containing foods according to their potential to raise your blood sugar level. Many healthy foods, such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products, are naturally low on the glycemic index. Weight-loss diets based on the glycemic index typically restrict foods with a relatively high glycemic index ranking, such as potatoes and corn. However, there also are health benefits from these foods, so you don’t necessarily have to eliminate them from your diet.

    How many carbohydrates do you need?

    The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calories. So, if you get 2,000 calories a day, between 900 and 1,300 calories should be from carbohydrates. That translates to between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates a day.

    You can find the carbohydrate content of packaged foods by reading the Nutrition Facts label. The Nutrition Facts label shows total carbohydrates, which includes starches, fiber, sugar alcohols, and naturally occurring and added sugars. It may also list total fiber, soluble fiber and sugar separately. You may also be able to find nutrient calculators online or find information on a manufacturer’s website.

    Carbohydrates and your health

    Despite their bad rap, carbohydrates are vital to your health for a number of reasons.

    Providing energy
    Your body uses carbohydrates as its main fuel source. Sugars and starches are broken down into simple sugars during digestion. They’re then absorbed into your bloodstream, where they’re known as blood sugar (glucose). From there, the glucose enters your body’s cells with the help of insulin. Some of this glucose is used by your body for energy, fueling all of your activities, whether it’s going for a jog or simply breathing. Extra glucose is stored in your liver, muscles and other cells for later use or is converted to fat.

    Protecting against disease
    Some evidence shows that whole grains and dietary fiber from whole foods helps reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Fiber may also protect against obesity and type 2 diabetes. Fiber is also essential for optimal digestive health.

    Controlling weight
    Evidence shows that eating plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains can help you control your weight. Their bulk and fiber content aids weight control by helping you feel full on fewer calories. Contrary to what some weight-loss diets claim, very few studies show that a diet rich in healthy carbohydrates leads to weight gain or obesity.

    Choosing carbohydrates wisely

    Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet, and they also provide many important nutrients. Still, not all carbs are created equal. Here’s how to make healthy carbohydrates work in a balanced diet:

    • Emphasize fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Aim for whole fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables without added sugar. They’re better options than are fruit juices and dried fruits, which are concentrated sources of natural sugar and therefore have more calories. Also, whole fruits and vegetables add fiber, water and bulk, and help you feel fuller on fewer calories.
    • Choose whole grains. All types of grains are good sources of carbohydrates. They’re also rich in vitamins and minerals and naturally low in fat. But whole grains are healthier choices than are refined grains. Whole grains are better sources of fiber and other important nutrients, such as selenium, potassium and magnesium. Refined grains go through a process that strips out certain parts of the grain — along with some of the nutrients and fiber.
    • Stick to low-fat dairy products. Milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products are good sources of calcium and protein, plus many other vitamins and minerals. Choose the low-fat versions, though, to help limit calories and saturated fat. And beware of dairy products that have added sugar.
    • Don’t forget beans and legumes. Legumes — beans, peas and lentils — are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. Legumes are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also have beneficial fats, and soluble and insoluble fiber. Because they’re a good source of protein, legumes can be a healthy substitute for meat, which has more saturated fat and cholesterol.
    • Limit added sugars. Added sugar probably isn’t harmful in small amounts. But there’s no health advantage to consuming any amount of added sugar. In fact, too much added sugar, and in some cases naturally occurring sugar, can lead to such health problems as tooth decay, poor nutrition and weight gain.

    So choose your carbohydrates wisely. Limit foods with added sugars and refined grains, such as sugary drinks, desserts and candy, which are packed with calories but low in nutrition. Instead, go for whole grains and fruits and vegetables.

    From the Mayo Clinic patient handout

    Carbohydrates aren’t bad, but some may be healthier than others. See why carbs are important for your health and which ones to choose.

    By Mayo Clinic staffCarbohydrates often get a bad rap, especially when it comes to weight gain. But carbohydrates aren’t all bad. Because of their numerous health benefits, carbohydrates have a rightful place in your diet. In fact, your body needs carbohydrates to function well. But some carbohydrates may be better for you than others. Understand more about carbohydrates and how to choose healthy carbohydrates.

    Understanding carbohydrates

    Carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient found in many foods and beverages. Most carbohydrates are naturally occurring in plant-based foods, such as grains. Food manufacturers also add carbohydrates to processed foods in the form of starch or added sugar. The most basic carbohydrate is a sugar molecule, which joins together one or two units of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Other carbohydrates contain three or more units of the carbon-hydrogen-oxygen trio.

    Common sources of naturally occurring carbohydrates include:

    • Fruits
    • Vegetables
    • Milk
    • Nuts
    • Grains
    • Seeds
    • Legumes

    Types of carbohydrates

    There are three main types of carbohydrates:

    • Sugar. Sugar is the simplest forms of carbohydrates. Sugar occurs naturally in some foods, including fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products. Sugars include fruit sugar (fructose), table sugar (sucrose) and milk sugar (lactose).
    • Starch. Starch is made of sugar units bonded together. Starch occurs naturally in vegetables, grains, and cooked dry beans and peas.
    • Fiber. Fiber also is made of sugar units bonded together. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and cooked dry beans and peas are among foods that are naturally rich in fiber.

    More carbohydrate terms: Net carbs and glycemic index

    You may see terms such as “low carb” or “net carbs” on some products, or promoted by some diet programs. But the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate these terms, so there’s no standard meaning. Net carbs is typically used to mean the amount of carbohydrates in a product excluding fiber or excluding both fiber and sugar alcohols.

    You’ve probably also have heard talk about the glycemic index. The glycemic index classifies carbohydrate-containing foods according to their potential to raise your blood sugar level. Many healthy foods, such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products, are naturally low on the glycemic index. Weight-loss diets based on the glycemic index typically restrict foods with a relatively high glycemic index ranking, such as potatoes and corn. However, there also are health benefits from these foods, so you don’t necessarily have to eliminate them from your diet.

    How many carbohydrates do you need?

    The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calories. So, if you get 2,000 calories a day, between 900 and 1,300 calories should be from carbohydrates. That translates to between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates a day.

    You can find the carbohydrate content of packaged foods by reading the Nutrition Facts label. The Nutrition Facts label shows total carbohydrates, which includes starches, fiber, sugar alcohols, and naturally occurring and added sugars. It may also list total fiber, soluble fiber and sugar separately. You may also be able to find nutrient calculators online or find information on a manufacturer’s website.

    Carbohydrates and your health

    Despite their bad rap, carbohydrates are vital to your health for a number of reasons.

    Providing energy
    Your body uses carbohydrates as its main fuel source. Sugars and starches are broken down into simple sugars during digestion. They’re then absorbed into your bloodstream, where they’re known as blood sugar (glucose). From there, the glucose enters your body’s cells with the help of insulin. Some of this glucose is used by your body for energy, fueling all of your activities, whether it’s going for a jog or simply breathing. Extra glucose is stored in your liver, muscles and other cells for later use or is converted to fat.

    Protecting against disease
    Some evidence shows that whole grains and dietary fiber from whole foods helps reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Fiber may also protect against obesity and type 2 diabetes. Fiber is also essential for optimal digestive health.

    Controlling weight
    Evidence shows that eating plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains can help you control your weight. Their bulk and fiber content aids weight control by helping you feel full on fewer calories. Contrary to what some weight-loss diets claim, very few studies show that a diet rich in healthy carbohydrates leads to weight gain or obesity.

    Choosing carbohydrates wisely

    Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet, and they also provide many important nutrients. Still, not all carbs are created equal. Here’s how to make healthy carbohydrates work in a balanced diet:

    • Emphasize fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Aim for whole fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables without added sugar. They’re better options than are fruit juices and dried fruits, which are concentrated sources of natural sugar and therefore have more calories. Also, whole fruits and vegetables add fiber, water and bulk, and help you feel fuller on fewer calories.
    • Choose whole grains. All types of grains are good sources of carbohydrates. They’re also rich in vitamins and minerals and naturally low in fat. But whole grains are healthier choices than are refined grains. Whole grains are better sources of fiber and other important nutrients, such as selenium, potassium and magnesium. Refined grains go through a process that strips out certain parts of the grain — along with some of the nutrients and fiber.
    • Stick to low-fat dairy products. Milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products are good sources of calcium and protein, plus many other vitamins and minerals. Choose the low-fat versions, though, to help limit calories and saturated fat. And beware of dairy products that have added sugar.
    • Don’t forget beans and legumes. Legumes — beans, peas and lentils — are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. Legumes are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also have beneficial fats, and soluble and insoluble fiber. Because they’re a good source of protein, legumes can be a healthy substitute for meat, which has more saturated fat and cholesterol.
    • Limit added sugars. Added sugar probably isn’t harmful in small amounts. But there’s no health advantage to consuming any amount of added sugar. In fact, too much added sugar, and in some cases naturally occurring sugar, can lead to such health problems as tooth decay, poor nutrition and weight gain.

    So choose your carbohydrates wisely. Limit foods with added sugars and refined grains, such as sugary drinks, desserts and candy, which are packed with calories but low in nutrition. Instead, go for whole grains and fruits and vegetables.

    Related news item

    Further research needed to develop evidence-based nutrition guidelines for cancer survivors


    February 18, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Tasty Healthy Family Meals

    Tasty Healthy Family Meals

    Keep the Beat™ Recipes: Deliciously Healthy Eating

    From the NIH (National Institute of Health) February 4 press release

    Nutritious and tasty meals can be easy to prepare for your family. Get some ideas and inspiration from a new NIH cookbook. Keep the Beat Recipes: Deliciously Healthy Family Meals has more than 40 kid-tested recipes featuring a variety of healthy entrees, side dishes and snacks that parents and children can enjoy together. The free cookbook also offers time-saving tips and helpful resources for busy families.

    The recipes were developed by David Kamen, a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef/instructor and father of 2. The dishes are based on heart-healthy principles from the NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Recipes include nutrition analysis and provide guidance for preparing meals that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars.

    “With a healthy approach to cooking, families learn to enjoy the taste of heart-healthy meals that can help lower their risk of heart disease and other conditions,” says NHLBI Acting Director Dr. Susan B. Shurin.

    The cookbook and individual recipes are available on the Keep the Beat: Deliciously Healthy Eating website athttp://hin.nhlbi.nih.gov/healthyeating. Or call the NHLBI Health Information Center at 301-592-8573.

     

    A few links to recipes at this Web site


     

     

     

     

    February 9, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment

    Processed, Fatty Foods May Dumb Down Your Kids: Study

    Processed, Fatty Foods May Dumb Down Your Kids: Study
    But healthful diet for toddlers can boost intelligence later on, researchers say

    HealthDay news image

    From a February 8, 2011 Health Day news item

    MONDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) — Feeding children lots of fatty, sugary and processed foods may lower their IQ, while a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients appears to boost it, British researchers say.

    This is particularly true during the first three years of life when the brain is developing rapidly, the study authors explained. They speculate that good nutrition may promote brain growth and cognitive development.

    “We have found some evidence to suggest that a diet associated with increasing consumption of foods that are high in fat, sugar and processed foods in early childhood is associated with small reductions in IQ in later childhood,” said lead researcher Kate Northstone, a research fellow in the department of social medicine at the University of Bristol.

    A more health-conscious diet was associated with small increases in IQ, she said.

    Children should be encouraged to eat healthy foods from an early age, she said. “We know this is important for physical growth and development, but it may also be important for mental ability,” she added.

    For the study, published online Feb. 7 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Northstone’s team collected data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children on 3,966 children born in 1991 and 1992.

    The children’s parents had answered questions about their kids’ diets at age 3, 4, 7 and 8.5 years. The children’s IQs were measured using the standard Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children when they were 8.5 years old.

    The researchers identified three basic diets: “processed,” crammed with fats, sugar and convenience foods; a “traditional” diet high in meats and vegetables; and a “health conscious” diet with lots of fruit, vegetables, salads, fish, rice and pasta.

    Children who ate a diet high in processed foods at age 3 had a lower IQ at 8.5 years than kids with a healthy diet. For every one point increase in processed foods consumption, they lost 1.67 points in IQ. Conversely, every one point increase in healthy eating translated into a 1.2 point increase in IQ, the researchers found.

    The key seemed to be the diet at age 3, since diet at 4 and 7 seemed to have no effect on IQ, the research team noted. However, to truly understand the effect of diet on children’s intelligence, further studies are needed, they said.

    Commenting on the study, Samantha Heller, a dietitian, nutritionist and exercise physiologist in Fairfield, Conn., said that “most of us do not realize that the foods we eat have direct consequences on brain growth, function and performance.”

    When a child’s diet consists primarily of high-calorie foods that are low in the nutrients they need (such as healthy fats, vitamins and minerals), their brains don’t get the compounds necessary to develop and function properly, Heller said. “This can have a series of deleterious effects, including decreased cognitive ability, poor behavior and social skills,” she said.

    “Fast and junk food seem like an easy and affordable option for busy parents, but defaulting to high-fat, high-sugar, high-calorie foods is putting their children’s health and future at risk,” Heller said.

    Cooking easy, healthy meals for the family will give “children’s brains a boost in essential nutrients needed for healthy development and improved cognitive skills,” she added.

    SOURCES: Kate Northstone, Ph.D., research fellow, department of social medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, England; Samantha Heller, M.S., R.D., dietitian, nutritionist, exercise physiologist, Fairfield, Conn.; Feb. 7, 2011, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health**

     

    Go to the Tasty, Healthy Family Meals posting for great recipes. Or go directly to the online  meals cookbook.

    ** For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here


     


    February 9, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Coffee, energy drinkers beware: Many mega-sized drinks loaded with sugar, MU nutrition expert says

    From the February 3, 2011 Eureka news alert

    COLUMBIA, Mo. – Starbucks recently announced a new-sized 31-ounce drink, the “Trenta,” which will be in stores this spring. The mega-sized coffee joins the ranks of other energy drinks that can pack plenty of caffeine and calories. Ellen Schuster, a University of Missouri nutrition expert, says that Americans should be wary of extra calories and sugar in the quest for bigger, bolder drinks.

    “The sheer size of new coffee and energy drinks increases consumers’ potential for unhealthy calorie and sugar consumption,” said Schuster, state specialist for MU Extension and the College of Human Environmental Sciences. “A ‘Trenta’-sized Starbuck’s lemonade could include 21 teaspoons of sugar – much more than should be consumed at one time, or in one day.”

    Excess sugar is common in many prepared beverages. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, people who consume drinks with added sugars consume more total calories, and studies have found that drinking sweetened beverages is related to weight gain.

    Health experts at the Mayo Clinic note that moderate consumption of coffee and other caffeinated beverages is unlikely to cause harm, but large quantities in excess of 500 mg, or more than four cups of coffee, can cause difficulty sleeping, irritability, restlessness, stomach problems and irregular heartbeat. Especially of concern is caffeine consumption among children and adolescents.

    “Energy and coffee beverages are subject to the same nutrition rules as other foods and drinks; it’s all about moderation,” Schuster said. “Ideally, it’s best to avoid drinking calories, because drinks leave you less full than solid foods. By eating calories in the form of high-calorie, high-sugar drinks, people crowd out other nutritious foods. However, like any indulgence, it’s fine to order a ‘Trenta’ drink as an occasional treat.”

    ###

    These tips are based on findings from MU research conducted throughout the year. For more information, visit: missourifamilies.org and nutritionmythbusters.blogspot.com. The research is conducted through MU Extension and the MU Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology – a joint department in the College of Human Environmental Sciences, the School of Medicine and the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at MU.

     

    A few other recent nutrition related press releases


    During the cold winter months, Minnesotans know how to stay warm. They also know how to stay healthy! Try one (or all) of these recipes from the Minnesota state government this month.


    February 4, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    New USDA Dietary Guidelines (released January 31, 2011)

    The US Dept of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion released Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.

    Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 - cover

    Some excerpts from the Introduction

    The ultimate goal of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is to improve the health of our Nation’s current and future generations by facilitating and promoting healthy eatingand physical activity choices so that these behaviors become the norm among all individuals….

    … The recommendations contained in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans traditionally have been intended for healthy Americans ages 2 years and older. However, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 is being released at a time of rising concern about the health of the American population. Its recommendations accommodate the reality that a large percentage of Americans are overweight or obese and/or at risk of various chronic diseases. Therefore,the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 is intended for Americans ages 2 years and older, includingthose who are at increased risk of chronic disease….

    …Dietary Guidelines for Americans also recognizes that in recent years nearly 15 percent of American households have been unable to acquire adequate food to meet their needs because of insufficient money or other resources for food.10 This dietary guidance can help them maximize the nutritional content of their meals within their resource constraints….

    Chapters include Balancing Calories to Lose Weight, Foods and Food Components to Reduce, Foods and Nutrients to Increase, Building Health Eating Patterns, and Helping Americans Make Health Choices.

    In the coming days and weeks, links will be added here to related news items, commentaries, and additional informational resources.

    Links a few media news items (the author does not endorse the views in these links, they are provided for informational purposes only)

    Alex Wong/Getty Images

     

     




    February 1, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Using the nutrition facts label – A FDA guide for older adults

    The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published a nutrition facts label guide in PDF format.

    It includes information on how to read the labels and also provides guidance in other nutrition areas as calories, daily values of nutrients, and importance of select nutrients as fat, fiber, cholesterol, and calcium.

    The FDA Website has a Web page devoted to food safety, regulations, and other FDA related topics. It includes links to recall information, information on dietary supplements, food ingredients, and more.

    Related Web Sites of Note

    Nutrition (MedlinePlus) provides links to overviews, health check tools, videos, patient handouts, and related issues

    Diet and Nutrition (Netwellness) gives links to general nutrition information, symptoms & tests, how to stay healthy tips, and treatment (as the DASH diet)

    One may Ask-An-Expert, and receive a reply within a few days. There is a link to previously answered questions.

    Food and Nutrition (FamilyDoctor.org) has links to general nutrition Web pages, nutrition for weight loss, kids & nutrition, and special diets (as the Mediterranean diet)

     

    December 29, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

    You are what your father ate

    You are what your father ate
    UMMS research suggests paternal diet affects lipid metabolizing genes in offspring

    From the December 23, 2010 Eureka news alert

    WORCESTER, Mass. — Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the University of Texas at Austin have uncovered evidence that environmental influences experienced by a father can be passed down to the next generation, “reprogramming” how genes function in offspring. A new study published this week in Cell shows that environmental cues—in this case, diet—influence genes in mammals from one generation to the next, evidence that until now has been sparse. These insights, coupled with previous human epidemiological studies, suggest that paternal environmental effects may play a more important role in complex diseases such as diabetes and heart disease than previously believed.

    “Knowing what your parents were doing before you were conceived is turning out to be important in determining what disease risk factors you may be carrying,” said Oliver J. Rando, MD, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology at UMMS and principal investigator for the study, which details how paternal diet can increase production of cholesterol synthesis genes in first-generation offspring….

    …These observations are consistent with epidemiological data from two well-known human studies suggesting that parental diet has an effect on the health of offspring. One of these studies, called the Överkalix Cohort Study, conducted among residents of an isolated community in the far northeast of Sweden, found that poor diet during the paternal grandfather’s adolescence increased the risk of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease in second-generation offspring. However, because these studies are retrospective and involve dynamic populations, they are unable to completely account for all social and economic variables. “Our study begins to rule out the possibility that social and economic factors, or differences in the DNA sequence, may be contributing to what we’re seeing,” said Rando. “It strongly implicates epigenetic inheritance as a contributing factor to changes in gene function.”

    The results also have implications for our understanding of evolutionary processes, says Hans A. Hofmann, PhD, associate professor of integrative biology at the University of Texas at Austin and a co-author of the study. “It has increasingly become clear in recent years that mothers can endow their offspring with information about the environment, for instance via early experience and maternal factors, and thus make them possibly better adapted to environmental change. Our results show that offspring can inherit such acquired characters even from a parent they have never directly interacted with, which provides a novel mechanism through which natural selection could act in the course of evolution.” Such a process was first proposed by the early evolutionist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, but then dismissed by 20th century biologists when genetic evidence seemed to provide a sufficient explanation.

    Taken together, these studies suggest that a better understanding of the environment experienced by our parents, such as diet, may be a useful clinical tool for assessing disease risk for illnesses, such as diabetes or heart disease. “We often look at a patient’s behavior and their genes to assess risk,” said Rando. “If the patient smokes, they are going to be at an increased risk for cancer. If the family has a long history of heart disease, they might carry a gene that makes them more susceptible to heart disease. But we’re more than just our genes and our behavior. Knowing what environmental factors your parents experienced is also important.”

    The next step for Rando and colleagues is to explore how and why this genetic reprogramming is being transmitted from generation to generation. “We don’t know why these genes are being reprogrammed or how, precisely, that information is being passed down to the next generation,” said Rando. “It’s consistent with the idea that when parents go hungry, it’s best for offspring to hoard calories, however, it’s not clear if these changes are advantageous in the context of a low-protein diet.”

     

     

    December 27, 2010 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Scientist shows link between diet and onset of mental illness

    From the December 13 2010 Eureka news alert

    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Changes in diet have been linked to a reduction of abnormal behaviors in mentally ill people or animals, but a Purdue University study shows that diet might also trigger the onset of mental illness in the first place.

    Joseph Garner, an associate professor of animal sciences, fed mice a diet high in sugar and tryptophan that was expected to reduce abnormal hair-pulling. Instead, mice that were already ill worsened their hair-pulling behaviors or started a new self-injurious scratching behavior, and the seemingly healthy mice developed the same abnormal behaviors.

    “This strain of mouse is predisposed to being either a scratcher or a hair-puller. Giving them this diet brought out those predispositions,” said Garner, whose results were published in the December issue of the journal Nutritional Neuroscience. “They’re like genetically at-risk people.”…

    …Garner’s study raises questions of how diet might be affecting other behavioral or mental illnesses such as autism, Tourette syndrome, trichotillomania and skin-picking. He said that before now, a link between diet and the onset of mental disorders hadn’t been shown.

    “What if the increase of simple sugars in the American diet is contributing to the increase of these diseases?” Garner said. “Because we fed the mice more tryptophan than in the typical human diet, this experiment doesn’t show that, but it certainly makes it a possibility.”

    Garner next wants to refine the experiments to better imitate human dietary habits, including the amount of tryptophan people consume. Internal Purdue funding paid for his work..
    …Abstract on the research in this release is available at: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2010/101213GarnerTryptophan.html

    December 14, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , | Leave a comment

    10 Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat Vegetables and Fruits

    From the American Heart Association Web page

    In a new study, children who ate the most vegetables and fruits had significantly healthier arteries as adults than children who ate the fewest.  Here are 10 tips to encourage your children to eat more vegetables and fruits.

    1.   Make fruit and vegetable shopping fun: Visit your local green market and/or grocery store with your kids, and show them how to select ripe fruits and fresh vegetables. This is also a good opportunity to explain which fruits and vegetables are available by season and how some come from countries with different climates.

    2.   Involve kids in meal prep: Find a healthy dish your kids enjoy and invite them to help you prepare it. Younger kids can help with measuring, crumbling, holding and handing some of the ingredients to you. Older kids can help by setting the table. Make sure you praise them for their help, so they feel proud of what they’ve done.

    3.   Be a role model: If you’re eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables — and enjoying them — your child may want to taste. If you aren’t eating junk food or keeping it in your home, your kids won’t be eating junk food at home either.

    4.   Create fun snacks: Schedule snack times — most kids like routines. Healthy between-meal snacks are a great opportunity to offer fruits and vegetables. Kids like to pick up foods, so give them finger foods they can handle. Cut up a fruit and arrange it on an attractive plate. Make a smoothie or freeze a smoothie in ice cube trays. Create a smiley face from cut-up vegetables and serve with a small portion of low-fat salad dressing, hummus or plain low-fat yogurt. A positive experience with food is important. Never force your child to eat something, or use food as a punishment or reward.

    5.   Give kids choices — within limits: Too many choices can overwhelm a small child. It’s too open ended to ask, “What would you like for lunch?” It may start a mealtime meltdown. Instead, offer them limited healthy choices, such as choosing between a banana or strawberries with their cereal, or carrots or broccoli with dinner.

    6.   Eat together as a family: If your schedules permit, family dining is a great time to help your kids develop healthy attitudes about food and the social aspects of eating with others.  Make sure you are eating vegetables in front of your children. Even if they aren’t eating certain vegetables yet, they will model your behavior.

    7.   Expect pushback: As your kids are exposed to other families’ eating habits, they may start to reject some of your healthy offerings. Without making a disparaging remark about their friends’ diet, let your children know that fruits and vegetables come first in your family.

    8.   Grow it: Start from the ground up — create a kitchen garden with your child and let them plant tomatoes and herbs, such as basil and oregano in window boxes. If you have space for a garden, help them cultivate their own plot and choose plants that grow quickly, such as beans, cherry tomatoes, snow peas and radishes. Provide child-size gardening tools appropriate to their age.

    9.   Covert operations: You may have tried everything in this list and more, yet your child’s lips remain zipped when offered a fruit or vegetable. Try sneaking grated or pureed carrots or zucchini into pasta or pizza sauces. Casseroles are also a good place to hide pureed vegetables. You can also add fruits and vegetables to foods they already enjoy, such as pancakes with blueberries, carrot muffins or fruit slices added to cereal. On occasions when you serve dessert, include diced fruit as an option.

    10. Be patient: Changes in your child’s food preferences will happen slowly. They may prefer sweet fruits, such as strawberries, apples and bananas, before they attempt vegetables. Eventually, your child may start trying the new vegetable. Many kids need to see and taste a new food a dozen times before they know whether they truly like it. Try putting a small amount of the new food — one or two broccoli florets — on their plate every day for two weeks; but don’t draw attention to it.

    December 4, 2010 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Personalized diets for elderly after hospitalization decreases mortality rates

    From a Dec 2 2010 Eureka news alert

    BEER-SHEVA, ISRAEL, December 2, 2010 — Intense, individually tailored dietary treatment for acutely hospitalized elderly has a significant impact on mortality, according to a new study by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

    The intervention study just published in the prestigious Journal of the American Geriatric Society showed higher death rates six months after discharge (11.6 percent) of the control group compared to the intervention group’s death rate of 3.8 percent, which received intensive nutritional treatment designed and implemented by a registered dietician.

    The study recruited 259 hospitalized adults aged 65 and older who were nutritionally at risk. After six months, the rise in the mini-nutritional assessment score (an indicator of nutritional status) was significantly higher in the intervention group than in the control group.

    According to BGU researcher Dr. Danit R. Shahar, “This is the first study that used an individually tailored dietary treatment for acutely hospitalized elderly people. The results indicate that intense dietary treatment reduces mortality and can help reduce the need for re-hospitalization.”

    In the study, a dietician met each patient upon admission to the hospital. The dietitian then followed the patient in his home, visiting three times after discharge.

    The study dieticians (case managers) were the decision-makers regarding appropriate treatment and set up treatment goals. The basic approach was to develop a dietary menu based on inexpensive food sources and recipes. Patients had monthly contact by telephone to improve cooperation and prevent dropout from the study. The dieticians performed follow up assessment three to six months after discharges for all patients.

    While the overall dropout rate was 25.8 percent, a standard range for elderly studies, after six months the rise in the mini-nutritional assessment score (an indicator of nutritional status) was significantly higher in the intervention group than in the control group.

     

     

    December 3, 2010 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

    Poor Diet May Make COPD Worse, Study Finds

    From a November 2, 2010 Health Day news item By Robert Preidt

    TUESDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) — Certain vitamin deficiencies may lead to decreased lung function in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, says a new study……

    …..”Further studies are needed to clarify the role gender has on the loss of lung function in COPD and the impact of antioxidant nutrient intake,” Khan said.

    Khan added that antioxidants might also benefit people with severe asthma.

    “We would guess that the role of antioxidant nutrients in a well-controlled asthma patient would be less than that seen in patients with COPD,” Khan said. “However, in patients with severe asthma with poorly controlled symptoms and frequent, recurring exacerbations, antioxidant nutrient intake may indeed play an important role in the preservation of lung function.”…

    ……”Our study, along with other research, suggests that strategies for dietary modification and supplementation should be considered in patients with COPD,” Dr. M. Salman Khan of Akron City Hospital, Ohio, said in an ACCP news release.

    ….The study was to be presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) in Vancouver, Canada….

    …..COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in America, with 119,000 deaths annually, according to the ACCP.

    SOURCE: American College of Chest Physicians, news release, Nov. 2, 2010

    A good place to start for nutrition information….

    Nutrition.gov “Providing easy, online access to government information on food and human nutrition
    for consumers. A service of the (US)National Agricultural Library, USDA.”

     

    November 5, 2010 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

    Wrapped in Data and Diplomas, It’s Still Snake Oil (NY Times Book Review – “Bad Science”)

    Excerpt from the book review by Katherine Boutin (NY Times, Nov 1)

    Ben Goldacre*** is exasperated. He’s not exactly angry — that would be much less fun to read — except in certain circumstances. He is irked, vexed, bugged, ticked off at the sometimes inadvertent (because of stupidity) but more often deliberate deceptions perpetrated in the name of science. And he wants you, the reader, to share his feelings.

    Goldacre’s targets include

    • overpriced beauty and spa treatments
      (for example, Vaseline moisturizes just as well as Almont Cellular DNA Complex (made from “specially treated salmon roe DNA”))
    • diets, dietary supplements, and vitamin regimes that are not based on solid scientific evidence
    • “diploma mills” (where even his cat could get a degree)

    Goldacre does teach in this book

    • the importance of evidence-based medicine
      (“Studies show” is not good enough, he writes: “The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not data.”)
    • how to weigh evidence through the funnel plot, meta-analysis, and the Cochrane collection**
    • how to  critically read claims through statistics related questions as who is being tested? what is the control group?

    The book is available online at http://us.macmillan.com/badscience

    BAD SCIENCE Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks.By Ben Goldacre. Faber and Faber. 288pages. $15.

    ——————————————————-

    *Evidence-based medicine is the integration of best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values. (Sackett DL, Straus SE, Richardson WS, et al. Evidence-based medicine: how to practice and teach EBM. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2000.) Click here for a medical library guide on evidence based medicine.

    **The Cochrane collection is a fee (subscription) based collection of systematic reviews (where scientific evidence on specific medical questions (as does Vitamin X help with Condition Y) is gathered and analyzed for effectiveness).
    It is available to the public at some medical and hospital libraries. Call ahead and ask for a reference librarian.

    Want to learn more about statistics but don’t have the time to take a course? Ask a reference librarian at any library for book and Web site recommendations.  Or email me at jmflahiff@yahoo.com.

    ***Ben Goldacre is a writer, broadcaster, and doctor best known for the Bad Science column in The Guardian. Trained in Oxford and London, with brief forays into academia, Goldacre works full-time for the National Health Service.  He has a blog, badscience.net

    November 3, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

    Nutrition Basics Help Fight Child Obesity

    As the school year gets underway, parents and teachers are focused on reducing child obesity. FDA nutrition expert Shirley Blakely, a registered dietitian, says using the Nutrition Facts and list of ingredient on prepared foods are the keys to healthy eating.

    Excerpts from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Web page Nutrition Basics Help Fight Child Obesity

    As you head down the supermarket aisle, Blakely says you should zero-in on two things:

    • the Nutrition Facts label—tells the number of calories and percentage of a day’s worth of nutrients in one serving
    • the ingredients on the label of all prepared foods—lists every ingredient that went into the product, with the predominant ingredient first, the next most prominent second, and so on in descending order

    Ingredients in prepared foods are listed in descending order of predominance. If the cereal your kids like has some type of grain listed first, that’s a good sign. But if fructose, high fructose corn syrup, or sucrose—in other words, sugar—is listed first, you’d best leave that item on the store shelf because added sugars are taking the place of other, more nutritious ingredients.

    And sugar isn’t always an additive. Some foods—fruits, for example—are naturally sweet without adding any sugar at all. If you check the Nutrition Facts label on canned or dried fruits that have no added sugar, you’ll still see sugars listed. That’s because the sugars in pineapple, raisins, prunes, and other fruits occur naturally….
    ……

    Blakely also says parents and kids should pay attention to portion sizes. Her advice: put just one serving on each person’s plate. And make sure everyone in the family knows how to use the Nutrition Facts label to guide their food choices. Blakely says there are three things everyone should check when they read the label:

    Serving size—one container isn’t necessarily one serving; make sure you’re eating only one serving by pre-measuring your food and eating it from a plate or bowl instead of out of the container.

    Percent Daily Value—tells what percentage of the recommended daily amount of each nutrient is in one serving of a food. Based on the amount of each nutrient recommendation for one day, 5 percent or less is low; 20 percent or more is high.

    Nutrients—try to get 20 percent or more of protein, fiber, and some essential vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin C and calcium) in a single serving; but limit your intake of saturated fats and sodium to 5 percent or less per serving of food. Strive for 0 trans fat, or trans fatty acids—this harmful fat raises your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers your good cholesterol (HDL).

    Good nutrition is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to being healthy. For more information about how to live healthier, go to www.letsmove.gov!

    Some additional child nutrition Web sites and Web pages

     

     

    October 28, 2010 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

    Health Tip: Should You Take Probiotics?

    From an October 20th Health Day news item

    By Diana Kohnle

    (HealthDay News) — Probiotics are micro-organisms designed to help manage digestive health. Manufacturers are now including them in everything from yogurt to granola bars, the American Gastroenterological Association says.

    [Probiotics: What They Are and What They Can Do for You]

    While studies have shown that probiotics may help people with a host of digestive conditions, their benefit hasn’t been proven in people with severely compromised immune systems, the association says.

    On the other hand, probiotics may help treat people with:

    • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
    • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
    • Diarrhea caused by infection with a virus, bacteria or parasite.
    • Diarrhea caused by taking antibiotics.

     

    HealthDay
     

     

    October 23, 2010 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

    Communities Putting Prevention to Work Program Launches New Website

    From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site “Communities Putting Prevention to Work

    CDC’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work program was developed to highly impact the nation’s health by reducing chronic diseases related to obesity and tobacco using a prescribed set of effective strategies to build public health policies, strengthen the community environment to support health, and establish successful and sustainable interventions over the long term.

    The Communities Putting Prevention to Work program is focused on preventing chronic disease by producing sustainable, positive and improved health outcomes through the implementation of programmatic efforts through policy, systems, and environmental level change.

    Communities of the Communities Putting Prevention to Work program are funded under a 2-year cooperative agreement to implement evidence and practice based MAPPS (Media, Access, Point of decision information, Price, and Social support services) strategies that are expected to have lasting healthful effects in the years following the end of the 2-year funding period.

    Highlights from this Web site

    Tools and Resources for community planning , including both general information and specific resources on the topics of physical activity, nutrition, obesity, and tobacco

    MAPPS Strategies which give advice on how to change individual behaviors through avenues as the media, social support services, and signage (as billboards)

    Media Resource Center has specific resources related to physical activity, nutrition, obesity and tobacco

     

     

     

    October 20, 2010 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

    Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project

    A stretch…when it comes to health/medical Web sites…however, it seems to be of historical interest to professionals and others in the area of nutrition

    From a Michigan State University Library announcement

    Recent Updates:

    • We are pleased to announce that the United States Library of Congress has selected the Feeding America web site for inclusion in its historic collections of Internet materials. We share the Library Congress’ vision for preserving Internet materials and are excited to make this collection available for their web archiving program (see more athttp://www.loc.gov/webarchiving/faq.html).

    Per the agreement, the Library of Congress shall make the Feeding America collection
    available to researchers both onsite at Library facilities and though the Library’s public Web
    site      http://www.loc.gov/webarchiving/. [Editor note: Not yet available online (Oct 12,2010)]

     

    October 12, 2010 Posted by | Finding Aids/Directories, Historical Collections | , | Leave a comment

    6 Easy Steps toward healthier eating

    [From NIH MedlinePlus: The Magazine (Spring/Summer 2010)]

    While the 6 steps are geared towards children, adults might find them useful also. Web page includes 3 smoothie recipes.

    August 18, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | | Leave a comment

    ‘Locally Grown’ May Mean Healthier, But Not Always

    Knowing foods’ origins can help consumers make smart, nutritional choices.

    Excerpts from the news article:

    “Of all types of food, fresh produce is most likely to be best when it is grown nearby and sold quickly, she said. That’s because exposure to oxygen and light causes produce to lose nutrients from the moment it’s been picked, she said. Produce with water-soluble nutrients such as vitamin C tend to lose nutritional value more quickly than produce containing more stable nutrients, such as beta-carotene.”

    “There are exceptions. Nuts and legumes, for instance, tend to retain flavor and nutritional value whether they are locally grown or shipped in, Giancoli said.”

    Meat does not lose flavor, nutritional value, or freshness when transported across long distances. However it is easier to find out answers to how local livestock were raised. For example,  grass-fed beef is leaner and has a better ratio of healthy fatty acids. One can also inquire if the livestock were given antibiotics or hormones.

    So people who buy locally grown produce will probably get a little more nutrition as a result — but only if they eat the produce soon after it’s purchased.”

    August 10, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | | Leave a comment

    August 10 Webinar—Using a Food Label to Make Smart Food Choices

    From an US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) news item:

    “What’s %DV and why is it important?
    What’s the relationship between serving size and total calories?

    Learn the answers to these questions and more when FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition hosts a 30-minute webinar on making smart choices using the Nutrition Facts Label.

    There will be an opportunity to ask questions following the presentation.

    When: Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010, 1:30 p.m. ET

    Where: To join the webinar, see the instructions athttp://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Basics/ucm221173.htm. Webinar materials will also be available there.”

    Cannot attend the Webinar?

    These resources may be useful in using food labels

    * Food Label Helps Consumers Make  Healthier Choices
    (an overview of food labels by the FDA)

    *How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label (US FDA)
    (information on serving sizes, DV (Daily Values, listed nutrients, and more)

    *Deciphering Food Labels (Nemour Foundation)

    *Food Labelling (US National Institutes of Health/National Library)

    August 8, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | , | Leave a comment

    Health Tip : Reduce Your Sugar Consumption

    The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests how you can limit added sugar:

    • Cut back on candy, desserts, baked goodies and other sweet treats.
    • Stick to fresh and healthy foods, such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lean forms of protein.
    • Drink water instead of sweetened drinks.
    • Avoid foods that are processed.
    • Opt for lower-sugar recipes when baking.
    • Substitute applesauce (unsweetened) or an artificial sweetener, instead of sugar.

    From Health Tip: Reduce Your Sugar Consumption

    July 22, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | , | Leave a comment

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