Ask the Experts

Q: With the increasing evidence for the benefits of vitamin D, is there any...

Answer : While not even the most avid vitamin D advocate suggests broiling yourself in a tanning booth, it is true that people in northern climes cant get enough sunshine during winter to trigger the bodys natural ability to make vitamin D.

Q: I have heard that the greatest nutritional value of the apple is in...

Answer :Jeffrey B. Blumberg, PhD, director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at Tufts Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, replies, There is certainly nutritional value in apple skin, as it contains a variety of phytochemicals (phytonutrients), particularly flavonoids. This is the case for the skin of most fruits and vegetables, as these compounds are phytoalexins (compounds protecting the plant from environmental stresses, like UV light, molds and insects) and so need to…

Q: Ive heard a lot about arthritis sufferers consuming ginger to reduce inflammation and...

Answer :Although ginger seems to be effective against nausea and vomiting, especially that related to pregnancy, the jury is still out on the medicinal use of this popular cooking ingredient against arthritis symptoms. One 2005 study did show anti-inflammatory effects for ginger. But a 2007 review of the medical literature concluded that the results on ginger for the treatment of arthritis are mixed. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), which is currently…

Q: My doctor has prescribed me Coumadin (warfarin) to fight blood clots. I see...

Answer : We checked with Sarah L. Booth, PhD, director of the Vitamin K Laboratory at Tufts Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, who shared the advice on warfarin and vitamin K shed recently reviewed for the Tufts-New England Medical Center:

Q: I understand how to identify trans fats as partially hydrogenated. But I sometimes...

Answer :To understand the difference between partially and fully hydrogenated oils, youll need a short chemistry lesson-bear with us! In saturated fats, all the positions for hydrogen on the carbon atoms are filled. Monounsaturated fats have one pair of carbon atoms per chain that are connected to each other instead of to hydrogen atoms this carbon-carbon bond is thus unsaturated); so oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid, which has 18 carbon atoms per chain, is…

Q: In your November 2007 issue, you said that experts prescribe strength training for...

Answer :An excellent starting point is the Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults program, developed by experts at Tufts and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Growing Stronger is an exercise program based upon sound scientific research involving exercises that have been shown to increase the strength of your muscles, maintain the integrity of your bones, and improve your balance, coordination and mobility. At the Web site growingstronger.nutrition.tufts.edu you can jump right into…

Q: How does microwaving affect the nutritional value of food?

Answer : We posed this question to Helen Rasmussen, PhD, RD, senior research dietitian at Tufts Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging.

Q: Which is fresher- vegetables canned soon after harvesting, frozen or so-called fresh as...

Answer :Theres no real scientific measure of freshness, but if you mean vegetables that are closest in nutrient content to freshly picked vegetables, the best bet is probably frozen produce. Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, Stanley N. Gershoff professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts Friedman School, says, For the most part, frozen vegetables are processed close to the point of harvesting, and, unless thawed and refrozen prior to sale, should retain most of their…

Q:I have been hearing about cinnamon as a cure or at least a treatment...

Answer :A 2003 study of 60 people with type 2 diabetes did find that intake of one to six grams of cinnamon daily improved blood glucose levels, as well as lipid factors (such as cholesterol) important to cardiovascular disease. Subsequent research on possible benefits for diabetics from the popular spice, however, have been disappointing. Most recently, two reviews of the scientific literature both came to similar negative conclusions: Based on the currently available evidence, cinnamon…

Q: I take flax-oil supplements every day and I was alarmed to read in...

Answer : We checked with the lead researcher on that study, Elaine W. T. Chong, MBBS...