2010-05-04 23:00

In a news release on Eurekalert, Barbara J. Rolls and Helen A. Guthrie, Chair of Nutritional Sciences, said "We have shown that you can use portion size strategically to encourage children and adults to eat more of the foods that are high in nutrients but low in calories,"

Rolls and her Penn State colleagues study how varying the portions of fruit and vegetable side dishes can be used to raise vegetable consumption in children and adults.

The study

  • Researchers served lunch to 51 children at a daycare center on four occasions and measured their vegetable intake. Children were provided with no carrots or 30 grams (about 1 ounce), 60 grams (about 2 ounces), or 90 grams (about 3 ounces) of carrots as the first course of their lunch.
  • The children had 10 minutes to eat the carrots, after which researchers served them pasta, broccoli, unsweetened applesauce, and low-fat milk.
  • They found that when preschool children received no first course of carrots, they consumed about 23 grams (nearly 1 ounce) of broccoli from the main course.
  • When the children received 30 grams (about 1 ounce) of carrots at the start of the meal, their broccoli intake rose by nearly 50 percent compared to having no carrots as a first course. But when the first course was increased to 60 grams (about 2 ounces) of carrots, average broccoli consumption nearly tripled to about 63 grams -- or a third of the recommended vegetable intake for preschool children.
  • The extra carrots eaten at the start of lunch did not reduce the amount of broccoli eaten in the main course, but added to the total amount of vegetables consumed. The team's findings appear in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"We gave the children carrots first without other competing foods," explained Rolls. "When they are hungry at the start of the meal, it presents us with an opportunity to get them to eat more vegetables."

According to news release, the findings challenge the conventional belief that children won't eat vegetables. It also provides parents a simple strategy to get their children eating a more healthy and nutritious diet.

2010-05-04 23:00

The food industry has made great strides to make food for children as appealing as possible and less healthy products might come in bright colours, unusual shapes or with a gift or toy.

With pressure to address the growing tide of obesity, as well as measures to curb marketing of unhealthy foods to kids, both parents and the food industry are keyed into ways to encourage children to eat more healthily.

The researchers behind the new study, accepted for publication in the Elsevier journal Appetite, set out to assess the impact of restriction and visual appearance on children’s willingness to eat.

The study

  • Researchers recruited 94 children aged between four and seven years from primary schools in Belgium and The Netherlands.
  • Two tasting sessions took place, both involving one platter of regular fruit and one platter of visually appealing fruit cut into shapes.
  • In the first session, the children were divided into two groups. Each group was allowed to eat from one platter but not the other.
  • In the second session, all the children were allowed to eat as much as they wanted from both platters.


  • The researchers, led by Ester Jansen of Maastricht University, were surprised to observe that previous restriction of one form of fruit did not seem to make the children eat more the next time they were allowed to. This opposed their hypothesis that sweets are attractive to children because parents often restrict them.
  • They found the children were prepared to eat twice as much of the attractive fruit as they were the normal, unprepared fruit.
  • The children expressed awareness that the two forms of fruit would taste exactly the same. The researchers suggest that perhaps it was not about taste, but about fun, as the visual appeal was the driver behind higher consumption.
  • They also suggest novelty could be a factor.

According to the article, when children are exposed to a new kind of fruit presentation for a number of times, they might lose interest in the fruit. Therefore, in the long term, it is probably necessary for parents and food producers to remain innovative.”

2010-05-04 23:00

According to a Nutra Ingredients article, researchers believe that eliminating the CSCs is key to controlling cancer and in findings published in Clinical Cancer Research they found that, in both mice and cell cultures, sulforaphane targeted and killed the cancer stem cells and prevented new tumours from growing.

The researchers report that recent studies indicate CSCs have the capacity to drive tumor resistance and relapse/recurrence of cancer, with evidence building for the theory that a variety of cancers are driven and sustained by a small proportion of CSCs. They argue that a lack of efficacy of current chemotherapies in advance and metastatic disease requires novel approaches to specifically target CSC populations.

The article indicates the anticancer efficacy of sulforaphane, derived from broccoli/broccoli sprouts, has been evaluated in various cancers and the risk of premenopausal breast cancer was shown to be inversely associated with broccoli consumption.

Furthermore, as a chemoprevention agent, sulforaphane possesses many advantages, such as high bioavailability and low toxicity. According to the researchers, sulforaphane from broccoli extracts is efficiently and rapidly absorbed in the human small intestine and distributed throughout the body.

Clinical trials

  • Previous studies, said the researchers, provide a strong rationale for investigating the chemoprevention property of sulforaphane in clinical trials, and its chemoprevention properties against cancer through both ‘blocking’ and ‘suppressing’ effects.
  • The concentrations of sulforaphane used in the study were higher than what can be achieved by eating broccoli or broccoli sprouts, and they added that prior research suggests the concentrations needed to impact cancer can be absorbed by the body from the broccoli extract, but side effects are not known.
  • A method is currently being developed to extract and preserve sulforaphane.
  • Researchers will then develop a clinical trial to test it for the prevention and treatment for breast cancer.

According to the article, this research suggests a potential new treatment that could be combined with other compounds to target breast cancer stem cells. Developing treatments that effectively target the cancer stem cell population is essential for improving outcomes.

2010-03-31 23:00

Cutting calories increases production of cortisol, the stress hormone, which is linked to added belly fat, a new study finds.

"For the first time in humans, we are finding out that cutting your calories increases cortisol," said lead researcher A. Janet Tomiyama, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the University of California, San Francisco.

"We think this may be one reason dieters tend to have a hard time keeping weight off in the long-term," she said.

People who count calories feel stressed, she said, but it's the reduction in calories that increases cortisol, which, in turn, stresses the body and leads to weight retention.

"No matter how you cut calories, whether that's doing it on your own, or doing something like Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig, it doesn't matter, it's still going to increase your cortisol level," she said.

At any given time, 47 percent of U.S. adults are dieting, but up to 64 percent gain back more weight than they lost, according to background information in the report published online April 6 in Psychosomatic Medicine.

For the study, Tomiyama's team randomly assigned 121 women to one of four diets. One group tracked their calories, keeping them to 1,200 a day; another group ate normally but recorded the number of calories they consumed; a third group ate 1,200 calories a day, but did not have to record them, and the fourth group ate normally without any calorie-tracking.

At the start and end of the three-week trial, the researchers measured each woman's cortisol and stress levels. When calories were restricted, cortisol levels increased. In addition, calorie-counting also increased the women's perceived stress, the researchers found.

"The term 'dieting' brings to mind deprivation, starvation, being miserable and uncomfortable and ultimately failing in weight loss efforts," Samantha Heller, a dietitian, nutritionist and exercise physiologist who is familiar with the study, said.

Burning more calories than you consume is how your body loses weight, she said. "However, severe calorie restriction, diet fads, pills and potions, detox cleanses and other quacky approaches to weight loss only contribute to people's diet failures and, in fact, may increase the likelihood of regaining even more weight than what was lost -- if any," Heller added.

The best way to drop unwanted pounds is to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors that include eating a variety of healthy foods, physical activity, patience and a game plan, she said.

"Many people want to lose weight and do not know how to begin. Creating a step-by-step plan is one piece of the puzzle a lot of people forgo," Heller said.

Starting a weight-loss program takes discipline, motivation and a desire to make behavioral changes and finding support can be very helpful, Heller added.

Another expert, Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., said while dieting isn't easy, certain strategies can help reduce stress and achieve a healthier lifestyle.

"Food itself, a reliable source of immediate gratification, may be used to relieve stress," Katz said. "When food intake is restricted, something else should replace it."

In general, dieting alone is not all that useful, Katz added. "Eating well and being active for life is the way to go," he said.

"By eating foods of higher overall nutritional quality, fullness can generally be achieved on fewer calories, eliminating the need for deprivation," Katz said. "In addition, physical activity can accelerate weight loss, promote health and alleviate stress in the bargain."

2010-03-31 23:00

Those who adhered most to diets rich in dark, leafy vegetables, poultry, fish and nuts and low in red meat, butter and fatty dairy products had a 38 percent lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease than those who followed that plan the least, according to a report today in the Archives of Neurology.

These foods may protect blood vessels in the brain, preventing tiny strokes that may contribute to Alzheimer’s, said Nikolaos Scarmeas, an associate professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York and author of this study. There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, which causes memory loss that can devolve into severe cognitive decline. About 30 million people worldwide have the disease, according to London-based Alzheimer’s Disease International.

“We know that these foods are definitely helpful for other conditions and diseases, and now we have this hint that they may be helpful for brain diseases,” Scarmeas said in a telephone interview. “It makes sense to follow this diet.”

The study was done by observing the participants’ eating habits rather than as a controlled clinical trial that prescribed their food, so scientists can’t make recommendations based solely on this research, he said.

Food Habits Documented

The researchers tracked subjects for four years, checking in every 1.5 years to document dietary patterns and neurological status. No participant had dementia when the study began, and 253 developed Alzheimer’s disease throughout the four years.

The dietary pattern that was linked most to a lowered risk for Alzheimer’s also consisted of oil-and-vinegar salad dressing, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables including broccoli and cauliflower, and fruit, the researchers said.

Today’s study builds on previous research showing a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, red wine, fish and fresh produce may lower the odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 68 percent. Scarmeas published a paper on that research, also done in northern Manhattan, in 2006.

“What they have done is try to look at dietary intake as more of a whole process,” said Claudia Kawas, a professor of neurology and neurobiology and behavior at the University of California in Irvine. “That’s really important. We don’t just take vitamin E alone; there are definitely a lot of reasons to assume these things interact in various ways.”

Exercise Not Studied

The study didn’t measure participants’ exercise, which is another factor that has been associated with lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, said Kawas, who is also a member of the Alzheimer’s Association’s medical advisory council.

“People with good diets are also more likely to exercise more,” which could have had an unmeasured impact on the study’s results, she said.

Further studies may focus more on the mechanisms by which these foods prevent Alzheimer’s, looking at changes in blood vessel health in the brain in relation to diet, Scarmeas said. Today’s research was funded by the National Institute on Aging.

“The best evidence is sort of the general things we’ve always known are useful for a healthy lifestyle: a good diet, exercise, engaging in social activities with friends and families, avoiding stress,” Kawas said. “Taking care of yourself is not a trivial thing.”


2010-03-31 23:00

Hairless mice developed 25 per cent fewer skin tumours following exposure to UV radiation and fed a the broccoli extract for 13 weeks, compared with mice receiving a standard protective agent, researchers from Johns Hopkins University report in Photochemistry & Photobiological Sciences, a journal from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

In addition, the tumours the broccoli-fed mice did develop were 70 per cent smaller, added the researchers.

If additional studies can repeat the results, and particularly human studies, it may see skin protection added to the long list of potential health benefits of broccoli and its extracts.

Benefits of broccoli

The tissue of cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, contain high levels of the active plant chemicals glucosinolates. These are metabolised by the body into isothiocyanates, which are known to be powerful anti-carcinogens. The main isothiocyanate from broccoli is sulphoraphane.

Broccoli sprouts have previously been shown to reduce blood pressure in rats with hypertension due to the presence of a compound called glucoraphanin (Grn+). Sprouts are the richest source of Grn+, containing up to 50 times more than mature broccoli

Glucoraphanin, also known as sulforaphane glucosinolate (SGS), is the precursor of sulforaphane.

For the new study, the Baltimore-based scientists exposed hairless mice to 17 weeks of chronic UV radiation and then divided them into two groups: One groups received an extract from broccoli sprouts providing a daily dose of 10 moles of glucoraphanin, while the other group received no extract.

After a further 13 weeks, the researchers noted an inhibition in the development of skin tumours, with the incidence of skin cancer reduced by 25 per cent, and the tumour volume by 70 per cent.

Skin cancer stats

According to Cancer Research UK, skin cancers are extremely common with almost 82,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) documented in the UK alone.


2010-03-31 23:00

U.S. researchers analyzed data from more than 470,000 men and women in 10 European countries and found only a weak association between high intake of fruits and vegetables and reduced cancer risk.

The study found that heavy drinkers who ate plenty of fruits and vegetables had a somewhat reduced risk, but only for cancers associated with smoking and alcohol.

According to the article, any cancer protective effect of fruits and vegetables is likely to be modest, at best, the researchers reported in the study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Among the study participants, "a higher intake of fruits and vegetables was also associated with other lifestyle variables, such as lower intake of alcohol, never-smoking, short duration of tobacco smoking and higher level of physical activity, which may have contributed to lower cancer risk," wrote Dr. Paolo Boffetta, of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and colleagues.

The study "strongly confirms" the findings of other prospective studies that concluded that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has little or no effect on cancer risk, Dr. Walter C. Willett, from the Harvard School of Public Health, wrote in an accompanying editorial

Willett suggested that future research should focus on the potential cancer-reducing benefits of specific types of fruits and vegetables, and on the effects of fruit and vegetable consumption early in life.

The World Health Organization recommends people eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day to prevent cancer and other diseases.

2010-02-28 23:00

The study led by Dr. Lesley M. Butler, of Colorado State University and colleagues showed the Singapore Chinese women who followed a diet full of vegetables, fruit and soy products were significantly less likely to acquire breast cancer than those who followed a diet high in meat, starch, saturated fat, and sugar.

For the study, Dr. Butler and colleagues analyzed data collected during 1993 and 1995 through in-person interviews with 34,000 women aged 45 to 74 years in Singapore including information on diet, weight, education, smoking and exercise habits and hormone use.

They compared those who used the meat-starch-saturated fat based diet with the vegetable-fruit-soy diet which was characterized by high amounts of veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage and bok choy for their risks of breast cancer.

During a 10-year follow-up, 629 cases of breast cancer were identified. Those who ate highest amounts of vegetables, fruit and soya products were 30 percent less likely to develop breast cancer compared to those who ate the least amounts, the study found.  

During a-5-year follow-up, the risk for developing breast cancer was apparently reduced by about 50 percent among the postmenopausal women who ate the highest amounts of vegetables, fruits and soybeans compared to those who ate low amounts.

The results were published in the Feb 24, 2010 issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


2010-02-28 23:00

Food and nutrition experts agree that getting an antioxidant boost and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can provide important health and wellness benefits. But, scientists now understand that it's the unique phytonutrient profile of each fruit or vegetable that tells the whole story behind the benefits of these foods.

In fact, cherries' unique compounds may work synergistically to deliver a powerful antioxidant punch, according to a new study from the University of Michigan researchers published in Food Chemistry. The researchers isolated individual cherry phytonutrients and tested the antioxidant power alone, or paired together. They found that the "whole" was greater than the sum of its parts – specific compounds worked together to boost antioxidant power more than would be expected for any one compound on its own.

"This research tells a powerful 'whole' fruit story – there's something about the unique array of compounds in a fruit that is vital for the full health potential," said E. Mitchell Seymour, PhD, research scientist at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center and one of the study co-authors. "If you pull out any of the phytonutrients to stand on its own, you simply won't get the same power as the full combination you find in whole cherries."

The Phytonutrient Match Up, available at, provides an at-a-glance look at how cherries unique package of phytonutrients stack up to other Super Fruits, including "gold standards" like blueberries and pomegranates.

A True Super Fruit

Known for their bright red color, cherries are particularly rich in anthocyanins – compounds linked to reduced inflammation associated with heart disease, arthritis and even muscle recovery post-exercise. In fact, the latest in a growing body of science linking cherries to powerful anti-inflammatory benefits shows that drinking tart cherry juice may help runners recover more quickly and effectively from post-race pain.

"What I love about cherries is that their powerful phytonutrient profile gives them a unique anti-inflammatory advantage which supports today's active, on-the-go consumer," said Leslie Bonci, Director of Sports Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh. "It's important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, but cherries are an ideal power-packed food."

In addition to pain and recovery benefits, previous research from the University of Michigan revealed that cherry-enriched diets in animals lowered multiple risk factors for heart disease. In 2007, researchers found that cherry-enriched diets in animals lowered total blood cholesterol levels and reduced triglycerides (fatty acids). And, in 2008, the University of Michigan researchers found animals fed a cherry-enriched diet saw reduced total body weight and fat by 14 percent, in particular the "belly fat" that is most often associated with heart disease risk.

Your Daily Diet: Powered by Red

With year-round availability as dried, frozen and juice, it's easy to incorporate cherries into the daily menu. Bonci recommends the following tips to help reap the powerful phytonutrient benefits every day:

  • Brighten up Breakfast – Swap your typical berries for dried cherries and add them to your cereal, oatmeal, yogurt or pancakes. Just one half cup of dried tart cherries gives you one whole serving of fruit!

  • Power Snacking – Keep a stash of dried cherries on hand for a phytonutrient-rich snack break. Buy single-serve packages or portion out those bought in bulk to keep in your purse, desk or gym bag

Grab and Go – Get your antioxidants on-the-go with an easy "do-it-yourself" trail mix using dried cherries, almonds and whole-grain cereal. Or add dried cherries to ready-made granola.

2010-02-28 23:00

Kids are snacking more than ever, a trend that has added 168 calories per day to their diets between 1977 and 2006, tracking with the rise in childhood obesity.

These snack facts were reported in the journal Health Affairs by UNC nutrition researchers Carmen Piernas and Barry Popkin. They analyzed national survey data representing the diets of more than 31,000 children.

Kids snack almost three times a day, according to the research. They are eating almost continuously. Why? Because the food is there.

Not all snacks are bad, but our kids eat too much, too often. Most children ages six and older need no more than one snack each day, and fruits and vegetables should figure prominently. Right now, they don't. In addition to desserts and sweet drinks, kids are also snacking on more candy and chips than before.

How can you help get a handle on your child's snack habits? Several strategies may help.

  1. Get into a reliable meal routine. It may reduce the need for a boost between meals and help reduce hunger-induced, impulse eating. To do this: start with a substantial breakfast. Whole grain cereal or toast with nonfat milk or yogurt and fresh fruit are good examples.

  2. Make sure your child eats a decent lunch. The standard school lunch isn't perfect, but it's not junk. Or pack your child's lunch, but make sure it includes fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and water to drink. No snack chips, soft drinks, candy or junk.

  3. Try to offer fruit between meals. Between lunch and supper, keep calories from snacks to a minimum. If cookies and chips are handy, that's what you and I will eat and so will our kids. Set out a bowl of colorful, seasonal fruit and then snack only from it.

  4. Sit down to dinner. Include plenty of vegetables and a salad. Research suggests that kids who eat meals with their parents have healthier diets.

  5. Next, reduce the number of snackable moments. Field trips, sporting events and meetings do not require food.

  6. Supply water - not soft drinks and sports drinks - at sports practices and games.

  7. Take a hard look at the quality of the snacks you make available, too.

Vending machines should be off limits to kids when they're away from home. Instead, redirect kids to better options to take with them when they're out or at home. Good choices include all fresh fruits, vegetable salads, whole grain breakfast cereals with skim milk or any fortified, nondairy milk, popcorn, hummus with pita bread, and nonfat yogurt.



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