Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Nutrition News - brain food, learning power, tasty food wraps and more

It's time for some great news on the nutrition front. Here's a short collection of news items that have surfaced recently in areas of nutrition:

Keeping Our Brains Sharp Through Aging
Friedman Nutrition Notes - September/October 2005:

According to a recent report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, folate, a B vitamin found in foods like leafy green vegetables and citrus fruit, may protect against cognitive decline in older adults. The research team, led by Katherine L. Tucker, PhD, was conducted by scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.

Tucker and her colleagues found that men who obtained more folate in their diets showed significantly less of a decline in verbal fluency skills over the course of three years than did men with lower dietary folate intake. High folate levels, both in the diet and in the blood, also appeared to be protective against declines in another category of cognitive skills known as spatial copying.

Enhance Your Learning Power With -- Breakfast!
Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, September 9, 2005:

What simple practice seems to have one of the greatest effects on how well children do in school? The answer is: Eating breakfast.

Study after study has shown that children and adult students who eat breakfast do more and better work in school than those who don't. Those who don't eat breakfast tend to tire more quickly, be more irritable and react less quickly than those who do eat breakfast.

In a recent study conducted in the United Kingdom, school children were randomly given one or four breakfasts on four consecutive days, then tested for cognitive skills (attention, working memory and episodic memory) throughout the morning. The breakfasts consisted of wheat cereal and milk, oat cereal and milk, a sugar-based beverage or nothing at all. The children scored significantly better on the days following the two cereal-based breakfasts than when they had no breakfast or only a sugar-based beverage for breakfast.

USDA Adding New Zing To Sushi-Style Delicacies?
USDA Website - July 2005 News

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at Albany, Calif., and research partner Origami Foods, LLC, based in Pleasanton, Calif., are experimenting with dozens of delicious, attractively colored wraps made from familiar vegetables and fruits. For example, they've tested a bright-orange carrot-based wrap to encircle a cucumber, garlic and rice filling, and a deep-red tomato and basil wrap to hold a spicy tuna and rice filling.

Wholesome, colorful sushi wraps made from vegetables, fruits and spices enhance the flavor of traditional and novel sushi fillings, according to Origami Foods and ARS. In addition to two spinach sushi-style wraps, nine others were being tested in July of this year, including: apple-cinnamon, red bell pepper, mango-orange, carrot-ginger, tomato-basil, broccoli, soybean, strawberry and peach.


It's Pumpkin Season -- And Check Out How GREAT They Are!
Pumpkin Power! Calculating the Carotenoids in a Fall Favorite - ARS Oct. 2005

With the exception of pure juice made from a certain strain of goji berry (believed to be the most dense source of carotenoids on the planet) -- those cans of cooked, pureed pumpkin on your pantry shelf probably have more of a healthful phytonutrient called beta-carotene than any other food in your cupboard.

Our bodies can convert beta-carotene, a carotenoid and antioxidant, into vitamin A -- a nutrient essential for good eyesight and proper growth, according to ARS. Until now, there hasn’t been a fast, simple, and environmentally friendly way to precisely measure the beta-carotene and other carotenoids in pumpkin, but a new study may change this.

Why do we need to measure carotenoids more precisely?

These natural plant compounds, responsible for the orange hues of pumpkins and carrots and the deep reds of tomatoes, continue to capture the attention of nutrition and public health researchers worldwide. That's because these specialists are eager to discover more about carotenoids' health benefits.

"Some carotenoids are thought to help reduce incidence of cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and particular kinds of cancer," explains ARS chemist Betty J. Burri. And although beta-carotene is still the most studied type, the importance of other carotenoids, such as cryptoxanthin, lutein, and lycopene -- and the amounts in which they occur -- may become clear as more is learned about them.

Today, the exact sequence of steps that our bodies use to take up beta-carotene and convert it to vitamin A remains mostly mysterious. But it's thought that other carotenoids may play a role.

Besides being the star of that traditional pie dessert favored by many at Thanksgiving dinners, pumpkin can add a pleasing taste and texture to everything from appetizers to soups, stews, and even chili.

Enjoy it with zest, knowing how much it could be doing for YOU!