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Nutrition News: Nutrition For Kids

Many people start their new year with health goals, including calorie control for weight loss and anti-aging, increased exercise, and daily green tea.

But what about health goals for children?

One important goal may be eating wisely.

A new study found that only 3% of fast food meals for children met U. S. federal nutritional guidelines.

Fast food restaurant servings marketed as "kid's meals" were compared to nutrient criteria of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Nutrients included total calories, percentage of calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, added sugars, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

Those that met the criteria were mostly lower calorie deli sandwiches with a side of fruit and milk.

97% of the fast food "kid's meals" failed to meet the Lunch Program criteria (O'Donnell SI, Nutrient quality of fast food kids meals, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2008).

For high antioxidant, zero calorie nutrition, healthy children may enjoy the introduction of green tea into their diets with a tea party.

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Nutrition News: Avoiding High-fat Food

During the holidays, it's hard to avoid those high-fat high-calorie treats.

But while we all know controlling our calorie intake is important, we might end up helping ourselves in unexpected ways when we skip that extra high-fat bite.

A preliminary study has found that a high-fat diet may promote Alzheimer's disease.

Using an animal Alzheimer's model, researchers found that animals on a diet high in animal fat and low in omega-3s increased the development of amyloid beta (characteristic of Alzheimer's disease in humans) in the brain over 8 times more than the same Alzheimer model animals fed a low-fat diet. Tau protein, another Alzheimer's marker, also increased significantly (Julien C, High-fat diet aggravates amyloid-beta and tau pathologies in the 3xTg-AD mouse model, Neurobiology of Aging, October 2008).

While this study has not been verified with humans, controlling fat and calories in our diets can help prevent obesity and other diseases.

Read previous Health News For You

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Nutrition News: Metabolic Syndrome And Your Diet

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of health risks that increase the risk of cardiovascular damage. It includes belly fat, blood sugar problems, high blood fats including high cholesterol, low levels of good HDL cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

A recent study examined the risk of having metabolic syndrome and eating a diet according to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans DGI) developed by Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture.

Scientists reviewed information from 3177 participants in the Framingham Heart study cohort and found highly significant differences in metabolic syndrome and dietary intake.

They found that people who most closely followed the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were able to significantly reduce their risk of metabolic syndrome by 36% (Fogli-Cawley JJ, The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and risk of the metabolic syndrome, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, October 2007).

The 2005 dietary guidelines recommend including four servings various fruit daily, five servings of a variety of vegetables daily, at least three ounces of whole grains daily, and at least three cups of non-fat milk products daily, as part of a balanced diet.

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Nutrition News: Better Grades With Better Diet

Do you want your children to do well in school?

Improving their diet may help.

Researchers studied 5200 5th grade students in Canada and found that their academic performance was associated with the nutritional quality of their diet.

Students with the best diet quality were 41% less likely to fail in their school subjects.

The strongest dietary factors that improved academic performance were increased fruits and vegetables, and decreased calorie intake from fat (Florence MD, Diet quality and academic performance, Journal of School Health, April 2008).

But can changing their diet actually help?

An interesting experiment was reported in the movie Supersize Me. Problem students were sent to a school that provided a healthy diet, including fresh vegetables, fruits, and controlled fats. Not only did the student's behavior improve, but their academic performance improved.

While some fats are necessary, a high fat diet may interfere with blood flow to the brain. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of phytochemicals, as is green tea.

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Nutrition News: Too Sweet To Think?

A new animal study has found that drinking sugary beverages may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers used mice that genetically develop a disease like Alzheimer's as they become adults.

Over a 25-week period, the scientists added 10% sugar water daily to the regular mouse diet.

At the end of the test period, they checked metabolism, maze and memory skills, and brain composition compared to control mice.

The sugar-added mice were 17% heavier than controls, had insulin resistance, higher cholesterol, more memory problems, and had twice the amyloid plaques in the brain (Li L, Am Soc Biochem Mol Biol, 2007). Amyloid plaque is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, and is a target for many treatment experiments.

The amount of sugar consumed would be the equivalent of five cans of regular soda daily in humans. Some fruit and energy drinks also have as much sugar as sodas.

For people who want to avoid sugar in their beverages, there are diet drinks and water.

For many, green tea is the perfect substitute for sugary drinks because you never add sugar to green tea. Also, the different varieties of green tea offer a wide selection of taste choices.

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Nutrition News: Production Practices And Contaminated Food

As more people understand the health benefits of the recommended nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily, the demand for fresh produce increases.

A direct consequence is the opportunity for contaminated food to be distributed widely and affect more people.

Food poisoning outbreaks, like E. coli in meat and Salmonella in tomatoes, have prompted more research into improving production practices.

Some researchers are tracking field production practices since some of the recent food poisoning outbreaks have occurred because of contamination before harvest (Mandrell R, Society General Microbiology, 2007).

Others have examined produce decontamination procedures during packing. One study found that the more wash water was re-used, the greater the loss of sanitizing efficacy (Luo Y, HortScience, 2007).

In other words, dirty water can't give you clean produce.

You can reduce your possible exposure to contaminated food by washing produce yourself whenever possible prior to eating.

One favorite old-fashioned technique is to carefully add small amounts of 2% hydrogen peroxide to the final produce washing to enhance sterilization of the surface of the produce.

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Nutrition News: Turnaround For Older Brains?

A new animal study gave both old and young male rats a 0.5% green tea extract for eight weeks prior to testing them with several learning situations, cognition behaviors, and biochemical responses.

Both learning and memory behaviors were significantly improved in the older rats. Exploratory behavior was improved in both young and old rats (Kaur T, Brain Cognition, 2007).

Researchers hope that since this study showed the effectiveness of green tea extract for enhancing learning and memory for older animals, that further research might learn if green tea could help reverse other age-related memory problems, including possibly helping geriatric people.

Here are more ways that green tea may protect the brain.

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Nutrition News: Carbs And Diabetics

Simple carbohydrates are absorbed more quickly than complex carbohydrates which usually have more fiber.

This absorption rate is called the glycemic index. The glycemic index or glycemic scale measures blood sugar highs and lows after eating a certain food. Foods high on the glycemic index cause a rapid and high rise in blood sugar. This usually causes the body to respond with a rush of insulin to control the blood sugar.

Although controversial, this process has been implicated in the development of diabetes.

A new study based on the glycemic index, researchers studied data from over 40,000 black women in the U. S.

After eight years of follow-up, women who ate foods high on the glycemic index had a significantly greater chance of developing diabetes. Eating foods lower on the glycemic index, such as whole grain cereals high in fiber, provided significant protection (Krishnan S, Archives Internal Medicine, 2007).

Studies on the glycemic index are considered preliminary. In general, sugars, refined processed carbohydrates, and some vegetables are high on the index, while proteins, fats, and complex carbohydrates are lower.

Effective weight management, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle are some of the most important factors in preventing diabetes.

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Nutrition News: Top Seven Thanksgiving Spices

Here's a brief look at the top seven Thanksgiving and harvest holiday herbs and spices:

    Parsley offers Vitamin C, beta-carotene to make Vitamin A, luoteolin antioxidants, myristicin for glutathione enhancement, and volatile oils that may protect against carcinogens.

Sage offers antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral effects, and helps memory, memory, memory. Two favorite quotes: Middle Ages herbalists: Why should a man die who has sage growing in his garden? Jesse Alma Sears: How much sage do you put in your stuffing? You can't have too much sage.

    Rosemary offers antiseptic effects and upper body blood flow for asthma, memory, and mental concentration benefits.

Thyme offers antioxidants, volatile oils for respiratory problems, and decontaminates Shigella on lettuce, along with powerful antimicrobial action against Stapholococcus, Bacillus, E. coli, among others.

Desserts, drinks, and side dishes?

Ginger offers a digestive aid, relief from sinus infection, menstrual cramping, seasickness, and nausea during pregnancy, along with antioxidants, strong anti-inflammatory chemicals for rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer-fighting chemicals.

    Cloves offer eugenol for cancer-fighting help, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant chemicals, and helps toothaches.

Cinnamon offers antimicrobial, antioxidant, cancer-fighting chemicals, helps memory and attention, and may help some diabetics and people with insulin resistance (still controversial).

Ladies cooking with cinnamon should be ready for romance. Popular polls say that men find cinnamon the most attractive smell in the whole world.

Have a happy Thanksgiving and bountiful harvest season!

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Nutrition News: Universities Study Food Poisoning

Occasionally, putting dinner on the table can be dangerous.

It's not easy for most of humanity to find and acquire healthy food. We no longer have to fight off large competitors, but the little competitors like bacteria are even more deadly.

Even when food is abundant, it may have to be recalled and destroyed because of bacterial contamination.

But universities are continually studying ways to protect our food supply from its source to our dinner tables.

Kansas State University is working with E. coli 0157 transmission from flies (Ahmad A, Prev Vet Med, 2007), and drug-resistant Salmonella.

Texas Tech University has shown that feeding cattle high doses of Lactobacillus acidophilus (found in yogurt) reduces the likelihood of Salmonella by 48% (Stephens TP, J food Prot, 2007).

The University of Tennessee is studying the application of one atmosphere uniform glow discharge plasma (OAUGDP) to fruits and vegetables like apples, lettuce, and cantaloupe. This nonthermal technology reduced E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella (Critzer FJ, J Food Prot, 2007).

But the best way to handle contamination is still to prevent it in the first place, through healthy lifestyle practices and good hygiene from the source of the food supply to your table.

Learn more about food poisoning here.

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Nutrition News: Who's Drinking Those Energy Drinks? Hello, Chicago!

A new survey found that people in Chicago drink more energy drinks, cola, and coffee, and eat more chocolate than any other city in the U. S.

Also high in caffeine were Tampa, Miami, Phoenix, and Atlanta.

The five least caffeinated cities were San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York, Detroit, and Baltimore according to Prince Market Research in November, 2007.

Hey, Chicago--if you ever want more of a boost, try adding some super-duper-antioxidant polyphenols like EGCG to your daily caffeine. It's called green tea. Works great with dark chocolate.

And for you lucky people living 100 feet away from a Starbucks store in Seattle, Starbucks carries Portland's own Tazo green tea bags.

It's in the store.

On the shelf.

Really.

Here's the 7-part series on caffeine and green tea.

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Nutrition News: Are Energy Drinks For You?

Energy drinks are the latest rage.

You can find them in supermarkets and convenience stores. People drink them for a quick jolt of "energy" to help them manage daily life.

But are they for everyone?

A small study looked at the consequences of using daily energy drinks with a group of young healthy volunteers.

After drinking two energy drinks a day, participants experienced increased blood pressure and heart rate. Four hours after consumption, both blood pressure and heart rate increased almost 8% on day one.

Researchers said the circulatory system usually adapts to caffeine intake within a few days, returning to normal readings. But after 7 days with the energy drinks, participants' blood pressure and heart rate was increasing even more--between 9.6% and 11% (Kalus J, American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, 2007).

An increase in blood pressure and heart rate this high and this persistent may be a risk for people with heart disease, or hidden heart disease. Those people should consult their physician before using energy drinks.

Curious about caffeine in green tea? Check out this 7-part series.

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Nutrition News: Tidings Of Tea And Tomatoes

Most men don't wake up in the morning planning to include green tea and red tomatoes in their meals that day.

But if they want to prevent prostate cancer, they may want to consider just that.

A new study from China examined the diets of 130 prostate cancer patients and a group of matched controls.

The men who drank the highest amount of daily green tea had a significant 86% less prostate cancer. These findings are similar to other green tea prostate cancer studies.

Also the men who had the highest daily intake of lycopene, a red carotenoid (part of the Vitamin A and beta-carotene family) found in tomatoes, had a significant 82% less prostate cancer (Jian L, Asia Pac Journal Clinical Nutrition, 2007).

This study is small and considered preliminary.

But it's enough to make a guy think twice.

If you're offered green tea and red tomatoes, don't say "yuck!" You might want to say "yes!"

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Nutrition News: Eat A Rainbow 2: One Color At A Time

We all know we should eat a rainbow every day.

But making all the colors available at the same time may increase our calorie intake.

Research on jellybeans (don't salivate) showed that presenting all the colors of the candy in one bowl caused people to eat 69% more candy than when the colors were presented in separate bowls (Wansink B, Journal Consumer Research, 2004).

People also consume more calories when servings are supersized, dishes are larger, food is close at hand, and food packages are open.

The solution to overconsumption is to keep learning how to reduce high calorie foods and increase high-nutrient, low calorie foods every day.

Check the colors of high-nutrient, low-calorie fruit here

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Nutrition News: Are Americans Learning To Eat Better?

In 2004, researchers found that Americans consumed 30% of their calories from sweets, desserts, soft drinks, alcohol, salty snacks, and fruit-flavored drinks (Block G, Journal Food Chemistry Analysis, 2004). These foods, called "junk foods" by the researchers are low in necessary nutrients like protein, vitamins, and minerals.

In contrast, only 10% of calories that Americans ate came from nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables.

Recommendations to increase nutritious low calorie food and reduce high calorie food are everywhere. Even the federal government recommends more fruits and vegetables.

So are Americans choosing healthier food?

Not if it costs more and tastes bland.

According to a new analysis, Americans are eating out around five times a week, mostly at fast food restaurants. And not just for a family dinner. Fast food restaurants are the most popular for breakfast and lunch, too.

But the consequences are quite visible.

The body mass index (BMI) is significantly higher for people who eat three to six fast food meals per week than for those who only eat one or two weekly.

About half of Americans studied said they would change their choices if healthy items had better pricing and if they were given nutritional information in the fast food restaurants (Borradaille K, North American Assoc Study Obesity, 2007).

But the cost of avoiding weight gain is always less than the cost of trying to take it off. So here's a quick look at fast food calories to help you with your choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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Nutrition News: Heart Healthy Breakfast

Researchers have discovered a significant decrease in heart failure in men who eat whole grain cereal for breakfast every morning.

21,376 adult men were examined during a medical study for almost 20 years.

After eliminating other possible causes of heart disease like smoking, overweight, age, and medical history, researchers determined that men who ate whole cereal for breakfast every morning had approximately 30% less heart failure than men who never ate whole cereal, or men who ate refined cereal for breakfast (Djousse L, Archives Internal Medicine, 2007).

The FDA already allows oatmeal and oat bran to claim heart healthy status in advertising.

Here's a list of low cholesterol foods for breakfast.

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Nutrition News: New Hope For Bangladesh Environmental Catastrophe

59 out of 64 districts in Bangladesh are currently experiencing severe arsenic contamination in drinking water from tubewells. Hydrologists are still disputing the causes for the recent contamination, including diversion of rivers.

Now there is a study showing that folate or folic acid, part of the vitamin B complex, reduces total blood arsenic levels.

Participants from Bangladesh were given folic acid which increased methylation of arsenic, allowing for greater detoxification within the blood and easier excretion (Gamble M, American Journal Clinical Nutrition, 2007).

Folic acid can be obtained from nutritional supplements, or by eating dark green leafy vegetables, beans, and whole grains.

Arsenic poisoning can be fatal. Symptoms range from pain, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, confusion to cancer, liver and kidney failure, seizures, coma, and death, among others.

Arsenic contaminates drinking water in over 70 countries around the world including widespread areas of the U.S, and affects over 100 million people.

Some other sources of arsenic include rat poison, some pesticides, metallurgy, and tobacco smoke.

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Nutrition News: Please, Please Don't Microwave The Garlic

People have eaten garlic for thousands of years. There are records of laborers building the pyramids in Egypt receiving extra rations of garlic for strength.

But garlic can be hard for some people to love.

Other people, that is. Your own body probably loves it.

Garlic contains beneficial chemical compounds including antioxidants and allicin thiosulfinates.

While much of the scientific garlic research is considered inconclusive, significant benefits have been noted for keeping the blood flowing freely (anti-platelet activity) for heart protection (Tattleman E, American Family Physician, 2005).

So are there any special ways to make sure we get the benefits of garlic?

After thousands of years, we may have an answer.

It's best raw. Or you can crush it slightly, cook it for three minutes or less at low temperatures and still have the powerful healthy chemicals.

But if you put it in the microwave, the allicin thiosulfinate chemicals are rapidly destroyed (Simon P, Journal Agricultural Food Chemistry, 2007).

So, forget about putting garlic in the microwave.

Some great things are just technophobes.

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Nutrition News: Eat A Rainbow

For decades we've been told to choose our fruits and vegetables so that we "eat a rainbow" every day.

The reason to choose fruits and vegetables with the brightest colors or pigments is because those colorful chemicals are not just temptingly beautiful, but are also anti-oxidants.

Thousands of these colorful chemicals in plants have been identified including a special group called anthocyanins responsible for those beautiful reds, blues, and purples.

Now researchers have identified some of the DNA genes governing the enzymes that make anthocyanins in plants (Martin C, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, 2007).

Learning about the DNA of anthocyanins may lead to safer food coloring as well as increase our understanding of anti-oxidant benefits.

Here are colorful low-calorie fruits you might add to your rainbow.

The anti-oxidants from colorful anthocyanins are studied for cancer prevention, cardiovascular protection, and anti-aging properties.

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Nutrition News: Will Vitamin D Prevent Breast Cancer?

A recent study by Notre Dame researchers states that Vitamin D may be related to breast cancer prevention.

Epidemiological evidence from searching through human populations shows that breast cancer is lower in people that have sufficient Vitamin D. This research includes Vitamin D from dietary sources as well as Vitamin D made by the body from sunlight on the skin.

Laboratory studies also confirm that adding dietary Vitamin D reduces the number of breast cancer tumors (Welsh J, Acta Pharm Sin, 2007). These studies are considered preliminary.

Learn more about breast cancer prevention here.

There are few sources of Vitamin D. It is added to milk in the United States and is in fish oil. Your body also can make Vitamin D if you are in sunlight and have a plain oil on your skin.

While too much Vitamin D can be toxic, cases of overdose are rare.

The Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin D is 400 international units.

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This page was last updated by Sharon Jones on August 4, 2012.

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