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Period: March 15, 2014 to April 1, 2014
Comment & Opinion or Companies, Organizations or Consumers or Controversies & Disputes or Deals, M&A, JVs, Licensing or Earnings Release or Finance, Economics, Tax or Innovation & New Ideas or Legal, Legislation, Regulation, Policy or Market News or Marketing & Advertising or Other or People & Personalities or Press Release or Products & Brands or Research, Studies, Advice or Supply Chain or Trends

Supplements Are Not The Only Viable Source Of Healthful Vitamin E

Vitamin E has been shown to improve age-related diseases and conditions, like Alzheimer’s and macular degeneration. That fact, and the growing proportion of older people in the world, led Swiss vitamin supplier DSM to recently call for a substantial increase in the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin E. But supplements are not the only viable source, Euromonitor says. The two most common food sources are gamma-tocopherol – found in corn oil, soybean oil and margarine – and alpha-tocopherol, found in wheat germ oil, sunflower and safflower oils, as well as sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts. According to Euromonitor, in 2012 nearly 1,500 tons of vitamin E were consumed in food and drink products, of which 40 percent came from oils and fats.

"Increasing Vitamin E Intake: No Need to Rely Solely on Supplements", Euromonitor International, March 21, 2014

Teaching People How To Substitute Herbs And Spices Reduces Salt Intake

A two-phase U.S. clinical study in which participants were taught strategies for substituting herbs and spices for salt found that those involved in the intervention learned to consume healthier levels of sodium. More than 60 percent of the participants had high blood pressure, 18 percent had diabetes; all were overweight. In phase 1 of the study, all participants ate a low-sodium diet for four weeks, reducing average sodium intake by half. In phase 2, half of the participants spent 20 weeks learning how to use herbs and spices in recipes, how to make low-sodium intake permanent, etc. Those in the intervention group consumed on average 966 mg less sodium daily than the control group, indicating that the coaching process was a more effective way to reduce sodium intake.

"Spices and herbs intervention helps adults reduce salt intake", News release, research presented at the American Heart Association scientific sessions on nutrition and metabolism, March 19, 2014

Scientists Explain Why Dark Chocolate Is So Good For You

Louisiana State University chemists recently told a scientific meeting that dark chocolate is healthful because good microbes (e.g., Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria) in the intestines “feast on chocolate”, growing it, fermenting it and producing compounds that fight inflammation. When absorbed by the body, the compounds reduce cardiovascular inflammation and cut the long-term risk of stroke. But how? It seems that cocoa powder, found in dark chocolate, contains several polyphenolic (antioxidant) compounds such as catechin and epicatechin, as well as some dietary fiber. None of these are well-digested or absorbed. But when they reach the colon, the beneficial bacteria do their job.

"The precise reason for the health benefits of dark chocolate: mystery solved.", News release, presentation at the American Chemical Society annual meeting., March 18, 2014

Agave Sugar May Be Answer To A Type 2 Diabetic’s Prayer

Mexican researchers have determined that a natural form of sugar found in the agave plant – used to distill tequila –  may help people with type 2 diabetes lose weight because, though sweet-tasting, they not digestible and therefore act as a dietary fiber that reduces blood glucose levels. Agavins also increase levels of a hormone that stimulates production of insulin. Agavins are not expensive, have no known side effects, and help support the growth of healthful microbes in the mouth and intestines. Agavins should not be confused with agave nectar or agave syrup (found in health food stores) that contain fructans sugars similar to high fructose corn syrup.

"Tequila plant possible sweetener for diabetics, helps reduce blood sugar, weight.", News release, presentation at the American Chemical Society annual meeting., March 16, 2014

Researcher Figures Out How To Gather Grocery Checkout Data To Target Public Health Interventions

A researcher in Canada has devised a way to gather consumer purchase data from grocery store checkouts that public health agencies can use to determine where people tend to eat unhealthy foods and perhaps focus diet improvement interventions. It’s a public health issue because the direct health costs of diseases associated with obesity total $1.8 billion – a “huge toll both on lives and public finances”. Data gathered from store scanners in Montreal in 2008 and 2010 showed, for example, that for each $10,000 decrease in median personal income, there was a fivefold increase in estimated monthly sales of soft drinks.

"What you buy at grocery store now a clue for food researchers", Montreal Gazette, March 16, 2014

Innovation Breathes Life Into Moribund RTE Breakfast Cereal, Snack Bar Markets

Ready-to-eat (RTE) breakfast cereals got a long-awaited sales boost in 2013 from granola-based – and other seed-packed cereals – and Greek yogurt products that were able to claim high protein content, a major interest of consumers concerned about weight management and muscle building. Other innovations and trends showing up on Datamonitor’s breakfast cereals and snacks radar: increased breakfast product portability, including hot cereals in lidded cups and resealable pouches; snack bars with “added value” (i.e., premium ingredients like nuts, fruits, ancient grains, etc.) and Greek yogurt bars; savory and spicy flavors; high-protein snack bars, including some with meat or alternative proteins; and, lastly, breakfast biscuits.

"A Healthy Start with Cereals and Bars", Prepared Foods, March 14, 2014

Drinking Two Quarts Of Water A Day Does Not Contribute To Weight Loss

Just about every diet plan recommends drinking a lot of water – usually eight 8-oz. glasses a day – to reduce appetite and help burn calories. But a nutrition professor at the University of Alabama could find no scientific evidence that drinking a lot of water leads to weight loss. She acknowledges that people need to drink plenty of fluids during the day, but they can come from many sources: diet soda, green tea, juice, powdered beverages mixed with water and, yes, plain water. Caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea also count, and they do hydrate. For weight loss, Beth Kitchin suggests long-term, science-based weight management programs like EatRight (by UA-Birmingham) or Volumetrics.

"Debunking water myths: Weight loss, calorie burn and more", News release, University of Alabama, Birmingham, March 12, 2014

FDA May Drop Some Stick Margarine Products From GRAS List

The FDA recently proposed removal of some processed food products – including stick margarines – containing partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) from the list of foods generally recognized as safe (GRAS) because they contain high levels of trans fats, a significant contributor to heart disease and cardiac deaths. The industry association representing margarine manufacturers has advised against that move because most margarine products contain no partially hydrogenated oils and “margarine is not a significant contributor of trans fats to the American diet”. The National Association of Margarine Manufacturers said soft spread margarine is the “healthiest buttery spread option”, especially compared to real butter that is high in unhealthy saturated fat.

"National Association of Margarine Manufacturers Asks FDA to Report the Facts: Margarine Products are No Longer a Major Source of Trans Fat", News release, NAMM, March 11, 2014

Bread, Cereals Contribute Heavily To Elevated Salt Consumption Among British Children

A British study finds that children in London eat way too much salt, and they get it from some surprising sources. Researchers analyzed urine samples from 340 children aged five to 17. Five and six year olds ate 3.75 grams of salt a day, while teenagers between 13 and 17 ate 7.55 grams a day. Thirty-six percent of the sodium the children ate came from breads and cereals; meat products provided 19 percent and dairy products accounted for 11 percent. The American Heart Association recommends adults and children consume no more than 3.75 grams a day (about a teaspoon). Salt starts increasing the risk of high blood pressure in children starting at age one.

"Salt Intake of Children and Adolescents in South London: Consumption Levels and Dietary Sources. ", Hypertension, March 10, 2014

Debate Rages In Diet Industry Over “Cleansing” Products And Regimens

Physicians and nutritionists argue that the human body’s digestive system is already very efficient at removing harmful substances. But others – who are making millions of dollars selling detoxifying diets, diet books, supplements, juices, etc. – disagree, saying the liver, kidneys and colon are simply overwhelmed by the environmental toxins they have to deal with. And that’s the great debate in the $60 billion U.S. diet industry. Still, most gastroenterologists – acknowledging the confusion caused by the “jumble of science, pseudoscience and hype” of the cleansing industry – advise against the supplements, laxatives, enemas and irrigation devices sold to unclog the colon. For one thing, their use can lead ironically to constipation. Instead, eat more fruits and vegetables to keep the digestive system functioning normally.

"The Debate Over Juice Cleanses and Toxin Removal", The Wall Street Journal, March 03, 2014

Research, Studies, Advice  

Proximity To Fast-Food Eateries Linked To Greater Risk Of Obesity

A British study finds that people who live or work near fast-food restaurants tend to be more obese than those whose access is more limited. The study, based on data from 5,442 adults aged 29-62, showed that when the three exposure possibilities (work, home and commute) were combined, there was a significant relationship between take-out exposure and food consumption. Those who lived or worked close to fast-food take-out outlets had higher body mass indexes. The researchers said that replacing fast-food restaurants with more healthful outlets probably wouldn’t work. But the food offered could be changed for the better because "in the food environment, what matters is the menu … not the venue”.

"Associations between exposure to takeaway food outlets, takeaway food consumption, and body weight in Cambridgeshire, UK: population based, cross sectional study. BMJ", BMJ, March 13, 2014

Older Men Who Eat More Animal Protein Experience Less Mental, Physical Decline

Life expectancy has increased steadily around the globe, but older people often lead lives plagued by mental and physical decline.  Researchers in Japan report that one way to combat  functional decline may be through  greater consumption of animal protein. With aging, the ability to absorb and process protein deteriorates. In their seven-year study, the researchers analyzed questionnaire data from 1,007 people whose average age was 67 years. Tests determined higher-level functional abilities  Men who consumed the most animal protein were 39 percent less likely to experience functional decline than those who ate the least animal protein. The association was not seen in women, nor were any benefits derived from eating plant protein in either sex.

"Animal Protein Intake Is Associated with Higher-Level Functional Capacity in Elderly Adults: The Ohasama Study", Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, March 11, 2014

Study Questions Fat and Heart Disease Link

New York Times, March 17, 2014

The Effects of Midlife Diet on Late-Life Cognition

Publications of the University of Eastern Finland, March 10, 2014

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