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February 2014

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Discover the Digestive Benefits of Fermented Foods

Dating back millennia, fermented foods are among humanity's oldest attempts to preserve food. But today these foods are newly popular for their purported health benefits. Fermented foods, ranging from sauerkraut to yogurt, are increasingly being seen as a boon to the gut - and in turn to benefits not only for digestive health but possibly also for allergies and even weight loss.

Cranberries: They’re Not Just for Thanksgiving Anymore —Subscribers Only

If you think of cranberries as strictly Thanksgiving fare, you're missing out on the unique health benefits of this tart red fruit. "The profile of cranberries' biologically active constituents is distinct from that of other berry fruit," says Jeffrey B. Blumberg, PhD, director of Tufts' HNRCA Antioxidants Research Laboratory. Blumberg and colleagues recently authored a comprehensive review of cranberries' bioactive compounds and their effects on human health, published in Advances in Nutrition.

Protecting Your Heart Also Better for Your Bones —Subscribers Only

You might not think that eating smart for your heart would have anything to do with also protecting your bones. But a new study finds that following the American Heart Association’s diet and lifestyle recommendations is also associated with better bone health.

Active Leisure Improves Heart Health and Longevity

How you spend your free time may affect how much life time you have to spend. While nothing beats regular exercise, a new Swedish study reports that older adults who are more active in their leisure time were less prone to cardiovascular problems and lived longer than their sedentary peers. The benefits were seen regardless of whether the seniors also engaged in vigorous exercise.

Ask Tufts Experts

Q. We have been hearing about the benefits of lycopene. Is it true that red and yellow tomatoes have different types of lycopene, and that the type in yellow tomatoes is more easily absorbed by the human body?

Q. We have been hearing about the benefits of lycopene. Is it true that red and yellow tomatoes have different types of lycopene, and that the type in yellow tomatoes is more easily absorbed by the human body?…

Q. Can olive oil be used in cooking, or should it be used only for salads and other cold foods?

A. Alice H. Lichtenstein, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, answers: “To my knowledge Italians have been using olive oil for centuries in cooking. There is no reason why it could not be used for cooking. Theoretically, olive oil would be more stable than a more unsaturated oil.…

Q. I am changing all my recipes from sugar to honey and pure maple syrup. Which one has the most nutrients?

A. “Sugar is sugar is sugar,” cautions Diane L. McKay, PhD, an assistant professor at Tufts’ Friedman School about making such a switch. “Per tablespoon, granulated (table) sugar has no vitamins or minerals, and honey has slightly higher, but still negligible amounts, while the same amount of maple syrup actually has about 15% of the Daily Value (DV) for riboflavin and 30% of the DV for manganese. Honey and maple syrup also contain several different…

Q. The vitamin D supplement I take also contains calcium carbonate, cellulose gel, maltodextrin, croscarmellose sodium, stearic acid, magnesium stearate and corn starch. Only vitamin D3 is listed in the Supplement Facts label. Do these other ingredients have any nutritional value? Are they safe?

A. Bess Dawson-Hughes, MD, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Bone Metabolism Laboratory, answers: “The amount of calcium present is very small and so not very consequential. The other ingredients have negligible nutritional value, are commonly used, and I know of no evidence that they are unsafe.…


European Agency Says Aspartame Safe

After “one of the most comprehensive risk assessments of aspartame ever undertaken,” the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has concluded the artificial sweetener is safe at recommended levels of consumption.

Frozen Produce as Good as Fresh, Better Than Refrigerated

Frozen produce is just as nutritious as fresh—and superior in vitamin and mineral content to fresh produce stored in the refrigerator for a few days.

Hearing Loss Linked to Overweight

Here’s a new reason for watching your waistline and keeping active that’s worth listening to: Extra weight and greater waist circumference are linked to a higher risk of hearing loss with aging, while moderate physical activity is associated with reduced risk.

US Healthy Eating Drops

By their own report, Americans ate less healthfully last year than any time since 2008. A daily poll by Gallup and Healthways, totaling more than 150,000 adults over a year’s polling, asks whether respondents “ate healthfully” the previous day.

Vitamin D Pills No Help Against Colds and Flu

Don’t count on extra vitamin D to get you through cold and flu season sniffle-free. Results from a large new clinical trial show no significant difference in upper respiratory tract infections between people randomly assigned to vitamin D supplements and those getting a placebo. The study, published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, also found no benefit from calcium supplements, either in duration of infection or severity of symptoms. The 759 generally healthy participants, ages 45-75, received either 1,000 IU of vitamin D, 1,200 milligrams of calcium, vitamin D plus calcium, or a placebo daily. Their days of illness and symptom severity were tracked over four winters.

Special Reports

10 Keys to Cardiovascular Health —Subscribers Only

When the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association released new guidelines for preventing cardiovascular disease in November, the headlines all focused on their controversial recommendations for statin use. Almost lost in the coverage was another set of ACC/AHA recommendations, which looked at diet and physical activity rather than drugs for reducing cardiovascular risk. Whether your physician has prescribed statin medications or not, these Lifestyle Management Guidelines can help protect your heart.