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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Higher potato consumption associated with increased risk of high blood pressure





Mashed potatoes. Four or more servings a week of baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes was associated with an increased risk of hypertension compared with less than one serving a month in women, but not in men.
Higher intakes of boiled, baked, or mashed potatoes, and French fries is associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) in adult women and men, according to a study published by The BMJ today.

The US-based researchers suggest that replacing one serving a day of boiled, baked, or mashed potatoes with one serving of a non-starchy vegetable is associated with a lower risk of developing hypertension.

But a linked editorial argues that studying overall dietary patterns and risk of disease is more useful than a focus on individual foods or nutrients.

Potatoes are one of the world's most commonly consumed foods -- and have recently been included as vegetables in US government healthy meals programs, due to their high potassium content. But the association of potato intake with hypertension has not been studied.


So researchers based at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School set out to determine whether higher long term intake of baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes, French fries, and potato chips (crisps) was associated with incident hypertension.

They followed over 187,000 men and women from three large US studies for more than 20 years. Dietary intake, including frequency of potato consumption, was assessed using a questionnaire. Hypertension was reported by participants based on diagnosis by a health professional.

After taking account of several other risk factors for hypertension, the researchers found that four or more servings a week of baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes was associated with an increased risk of hypertension compared with less than one serving a month in women, but not in men.

Higher consumption of French fries was also associated with an increased risk of hypertension in both women and men. However, consumption of potato chips (crisps) was associated with no increased risk.

After further analyses, the researchers suggest that replacing one serving a day of boiled, baked, or mashed potatoes with one serving of a non-starchy vegetable is associated with a decreased risk of hypertension.


The authors point out that potatoes have a high glycaemic index compared with other vegetables, so can trigger a sharp rise in blood sugar levels, and this could be one explanation for the findings.

They also acknowledge some study limitations and say that, as with any observational study, no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect.

Nevertheless, they say their findings "have potentially important public health ramifications, as they do not support a potential benefit from the inclusion of potatoes as vegetables in government food programs but instead support a harmful effect that is consistent with adverse effects of high carbohydrate intakes seen in controlled feeding studies."

In a linked editorial, researchers at the University of New South Wales argue that, although diet has an important part to play in prevention and early management of hypertension, dietary behaviour and patterns of consumption are complex and difficult to measure.

"We will continue to rely on prospective cohort studies, but those that examine associations between various dietary patterns and risk of disease provide more useful insights for both policy makers and practitioners than does a focus on individual foods or nutrients," they conclude.

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by BMJ. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Thursday, June 2, 2016

How A Scientist Sounded The Alarm On Sugar Back In The 1950s—But Was Ignored


By Rachel Lapidos for Well+Good


Imagine if people thought you were crazy for saying sugar is bad for you.
British scientist John Yudkin knew the feeling: He died a pariah in the 1970s because he held the unpopular idea that sugar was the number-one health threat, The Guardian reports. Yudkin’s findings from more than a decade of research—published in 1972’s Pure, White, and Deadly: How Sugar is Killing Us and What We Can Do to Stop It—had unfortunate timing, according to the Guardian. At the time, the idea that saturated fat was the number-one health threat was so widespread that Yudkin’s findings were ridiculed and his reputation was ruined.
Today, however, he’s being celebrated by a new breed of “sugar is the devil“ nutritional experts. His ahead-of-his-time claims (last year the US issued guidelines on curbing sugar for the first time) are being championed by people like journalist Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise, and science writer Gary Taubes, who wrote Why We Get Fat, according to the Guardian.

How did Yudkin get overlooked to begin with? He began floating a theory that sugar was a public health hazard in the late 1950s, around the same time that President Dwight Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in office. His doctor treated him with a low-cholesterol regimen (which US health authorities have since backed off from)—an approach that Yudkin was very publicly critical of, the Guardian reports. A bit of a scientific pissing match resulted, and Yudkin lost.

“They took him down so severely—so severely—that nobody wanted to attempt it on their own,” Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California who specializes in the treatment of childhood obesity, told the Guardian.
But posthumously, Yudkin’s findings are back in the scientific mainstream—guiding a new generation of scientists (not to mention documentarians and dessert lovers!). Sweet irony. But a bitter pill for those of us who were careful about cholesterol and saturated fat—ignoring sugar grams—for years.
Are You Addicted To Sugar Without Knowing It?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Meat consumption raises mortality rates, analysis of more than 1. 5 million people finds

A review of large-scale studies involving more than 1.5 million people found all-cause mortality is higher for those who eat meat, particularly red or processed meat, on a daily basis. Conducted by physicians from Mayo Clinic in Arizona, "Is Meat Killing Us?" was published today in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.


The authors analyzed six studies that evaluated the effects of meat and vegetarian diets on mortality with a goal of giving primary care physicians evidence-based guidance about whether they should discourage patients from eating meat. Their recommendation: physicians should advise patients to limit animal products when possible and consume more plants than meat.

"This data reinforces what we have known for so long -- your diet has great potential to harm or heal," said Brookshield Laurent, DO, assistant professor of family medicine and clinical sciences at New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine. "This clinical-based evidence can assist physicians in counseling patients about the important role diet plays, leading to improved preventive care, a key consideration in the osteopathic philosophy of medicine."


While findings for U.S. and European populations differed somewhat, the data found the steepest rise in mortality at the smallest increases of intake of total red meat. That 2014 study followed more than one million people over 5.5 to 28 years and considered the association of processed meat (such as bacon, sausage, salami, hot dogs and ham), as well as unprocessed red meat (including uncured, unsalted beef, pork, lamb or game).


A 2014 meta-analysis examined associations with mortality from cardiovascular disease and ischemic heart disease. In that study of more than 1.5 million people, researchers found only processed meat significantly increase the risk for all-cause mortality.

Combined, the findings of these studies are statistically significant in their similarity, the reviewers noted. Further, a 2003 review of more than 500,000 participants found a decreased risk of 25 percent to nearly 50 percent of all-cause mortality for very low meat intake compared with higher meat intake.

They also found a 3.6-year increase in life expectancy for those on a vegetarian diet for more than 17 years, as compared to short-term vegetarians.

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by American Osteopathic Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Italian court rules food theft 'not a crime' if hungry




The court found that the homeless man was acting "in a state of need" so his actions could not be considered offences
Stealing small amounts of food to stave off hunger is not a crime, Italy's highest court of appeal has ruled.
Judges overturned a theft conviction against Roman Ostriakov after he stole cheese and sausages worth $4.50 from a supermarket.
Mr Ostriakov, a homeless man of Ukrainian background, had taken the food "in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment", the court of cassation decided.
Therefore it was not a crime, it said.
A fellow customer informed the store's security in 2011, when Mr Ostriakov attempted to leave a Genoa supermarket with two pieces of cheese and a packet of sausages in his pocket but paid only for breadsticks.
In 2015, Mr Ostriakov was convicted of theft and sentenced to six months in jail and a $100 fine.
'Right and pertinent' ruling, say papers
For the judges, the "right to survival prevails over property", said an op-ed in La Stampa newspaper (in Italian).
In times of economic hardship, the court of cassation's judgement "reminds everyone that in a civilised country not even the worst of men should starve".
An opinion piece in Corriere Della Sera says statistics suggest 615 people are added to the ranks of the poor in Italy every day - it was "unthinkable that the law should not take note of reality".


It criticised the fact that a case concerning the taking of goods worth under $5 went through three rounds in the courts before being thrown out.
The "historic" ruling is "right and pertinent", said Italiaglobale.it - and derives from a concept that "informed the Western world for centuries - it is called humanity".
However, his case was sent to appeal on the grounds that the conviction should be reduced to attempted theft and the sentence cut, as Mr Ostriakov had not left the shop premises when he was caught.
Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation, which reviews only the application of the law and not the facts of the case, on Monday made a final and definitive ruling overturning the conviction entirely.
Stealing small quantities of food to satisfy a vital need for food did not constitute a crime, the court wrote.

"The condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the seizure of merchandise took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of an immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of necessity," wrote the court. 

*Source BBC*

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

We Owe Our Caffeine Addiction To Goats That Got High



As you sip your cup of morning joe or cappuccino, don't forget to thank goats. Why? Because, legend has it, it's thanks to them that we even have coffee. As the story goes, an Ethiopian goatherd named Kaldi was minding his own business one day when he found his charges getting super-frisky. They were nibbling on the berries and leaves of a mysterious plant, leading them to dance on their hind legs. Kaldi decided to take a bite of the berries and experienced a rush of energy. He took the berries to a holy man who tossed them on a fire, emitting the heavenly scent of coffee we know and love today. Someone wise took the roasted beans from the embers of the fire and used them to brew a cup of what we guzzle today! The word "coffee" itself may derive from the Ethiopian region of Kaffa, though Yemenites claim their country as the place of origin. Look at this gorgeous cup of cappuccino! Thanks, goats. 



Whether or not goats actually led humans to discover coffee, Ethiopia was one place with a strong coffee history. The first written reference to coffee came in the tenth century, courtesy of the great Persian doctor named Rhazes, author of one thousand books, though the drink was probably made for centuries beforehand. Rhazes referred to bunn, as it was referred to in Ethiopia, of which he quipped, “It is a drink that is good for those with hot nature, but it decrease[s] the libido." Unfortunately, this probably wasn't the exact same kind of brew that we drink today, which didn't appear for another few centuries.

Feature image via World on a Fork Written by Carly Silver, HistoryBuff http://stst.io/xnikc7mvy6YhGvBbD

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Global shift in farmed fish feed may impact nutritional benefits ascribed to seafood

The fish-farming industry is increasing its use of plant-based ingredients in its feed and moving away from traditional feed made from fish, which could impact some of the health benefits of eating certain types of seafood, suggests a new analysis from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


The findings are published March 11 in the journal Environment International.

Half of the seafood consumed by Americans is farmed. Fish farming, also known as aquaculture, is the fastest-growing food animal sector, outpacing the beef and poultry industries. While wild fish find their own food -- which includes smaller fish for carnivorous species -- intensively farmed fish are fed a manufactured aquaculture feed. Until recently, this manufactured feed was typically composed of high levels of fishmeal and fish oil derived from wild fish -- but it has become unsustainable to catch more wild fish to feed growing numbers of farmed fish, so the industry has shifted the makeup of the feed. For example, twice as much soybean meal was used in commercial aquaculture feed in 2008 as compared to fishmeal, and the use of crop-based ingredients is projected to increase 124 percent between 2008 and 2020.



"Farmed fish get their health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, from their feed, and specifically from fish oil," says study leader Jillian Fry, PhD, director of CLF's Public Health and Sustainable Aquaculture Project and a faculty member at the Bloomberg School. "Our review found that increasing plant-based ingredients can change the fatty acid content in farmed fish, which can affect human nutrition."

The new study details the industry shift to crop-based feed ingredients, such as soy, corn, and wheat, to replace wild fish as a key ingredient in manufactured feed. The researchers -- in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment and McGill University -- reviewed aquaculture and public health literature, and conducted a new analysis to estimate the environmental footprint for the top five crops used in commercial aquaculture feed.

The shift has been hailed by some as a positive change in light of the increasingly depleted oceans and the rapidly expanding aquaculture industry. But the shift may have some unintended consequences as well.

Using vegetable oils instead of fish oil changes the fatty acid content of fish and nutritional value for human consumption, the researchers say. Considering Americans are encouraged to consume seafood high in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote improved cardiovascular health and neurodevelopment, this has large implications for dietary recommendations and the aquaculture industry. More research is needed, they say, to better understand the impact of this shift in feed on the health benefits of consuming farmed fish.

While fish-based ingredients are seen as acutely limited, so are the resources such as land, water and fertilizer used to produce feed crops. Aquaculture's environmental footprint likely now includes increased nutrient and pesticide runoff from the industrial crop production needed to supply fish food. This runoff is a key driver of water pollution globally, and can negatively impact public health. Depending on where and how feed crops are produced, plant-based fish feed could be indirectly linked to negative health outcomes for agricultural workers and nearby communities due to exposure to air, water or soil contaminated by nutrients and/or pesticides.

Fry says that these new findings may raise more questions than they answer.

"The nutritional content of farmed fish should be monitored," Fry says. "The aquaculture industry should assess the environmental footprint and public health impacts of their crop-based feed ingredients and seek those produced using sustainable methods."

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Time to rethink your vegetable oil?

Risk of heart disease and diabetes may be lowered by a diet higher in a lipid found in grapeseed and other oils, but not in olive oil, a new study suggests.


Researchers at The Ohio State University found that men and women with higher linoleic acid levels tended to have less heart-threatening fat nestled between their vital organs, more lean body mass and less inflammation.

And higher linoleic acid levels also meant lower likelihood of insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.

This finding could have obvious implications in preventing heart disease and diabetes, but also could be important for older adults because higher lean body mass can contribute to a longer life with more independence, said Ohio State's Martha Belury, a professor of human nutrition who led the research.

But there's a catch. Low-cost cooking oils rich in linoleic acid have been disappearing from grocery shelves, fueled by industry's push for plants that have been modified to produce oils higher in oleic acid.

"Vegetable oils have changed. They're no longer high in linoleic acid," said Belury, an expert in dietary fats and part of Ohio State's Food Innovation Center.

The research appears online in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

The research team also looked at the health effects of oleic acid, found in olive oil and some other vegetable oils, as well as long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish including salmon and tuna.

Though inflammation decreased as blood levels of those fatty acids rose, higher levels of oleic acid or long-chain omega-3s did not appear to have any relationship to body composition or signs of decreased diabetes risk despite longstanding recommendations that people eat more of these "healthy" fats.

"It really kind of popped out and surprised us," Belury said.

Previous research found that taking linoleic acid supplements increased lean body mass and lowered fat in the midsection. As little as a teaspoon and a half was all it took, Belury said. The current study is the first study to examine linoleic acid alongside body composition and other health markers in people who hadn't been given supplements or prescriptive diets, she said.

Because of previous research showing cardiovascular benefits of linoleic acid, the American Heart Association in 2009 recommended people take in at least 5 to 10 percent of their energy in the form of omega-6 fatty acids, which includes linoleic acid.

But U.S. consumption of linoleic acid is declining because of genetic modification of plants for food manufacturers seeking oils higher in oleic acid, Belury said.


There's been a pronounced shift in the last five years, she said, and it is linked to the push against trans fats. When linoleic acid is made solid (hydrogenated) for processed foods, it is more likely to convert to trans fat than its oleic cousin.

So oils, notably safflower, sunflower and soybean, now routinely contain less linoleic acid -- it often makes up less than 20 percent of the fatty acids in commonly purchased oils, based on food labels and confirmed by testing in her lab, Belury said.

Grapeseed oil for now remains an excellent source of linoleic acid, which constitutes about 80 percent of its fatty acids, she said. Corn oil also remains a decent source, she said.

The team used data from two previous studies that focused on stress and included 139 people. In those studies, researchers assessed body composition using DXA scanning, an advanced way of measuring fat and muscle mass.

They tested blood drawn after the men and women fasted for 12 hours, calculating the amount of linoleic acid (and other fatty acids) in red blood cells. All of the linoleic acid in our bodies comes from food sources.

They also evaluated the blood for insulin resistance and two markers of inflammation that are connected with disease.

Then they plotted results for each health category against the group's results for each of the three fat categories: linoleic acid, oleic acid and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.

Belury said the study doesn't explain the apparent interplay between linoleic acid and measures of risk for heart disease and diabetes. It shows an association between those things, but not a cause and effect. And its power is limited because it relied on looking back on two previous research efforts and those involved middle-aged men and women who were slightly healthier on average than the general population.

The study participants lived in and around Columbus, Ohio. It's possible that the results would have been different in a population with diets that tend to be higher in omega-3 rich fatty fish, Belury said.

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Ohio State University. The original item was written by Misti Crane. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.