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June 2014

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Protein Plus Exercise Equals Less Muscle Loss with Aging —Subscribers Only

Most Americans get plenty of protein—in fact, their problem isn’t too little protein but too much of the calories and saturated fat that accompany such popular protein sources as cheeseburgers or fried chicken. But people over age 50 might need to pay attention to getting adequate protein, not just at dinner time but throughout the day. Tufts researchers are finding that a steady intake of protein from healthy sources, combined with aerobic activity and weight-training exercises, can help counter the loss of muscle mass often associated with aging.

Calcium and Vitamin D May Benefit Cholesterol as Well as Bones

If you’re taking extra vitamin D or calcium to protect your bones, there’s good news about these bone-building nutrients and your cholesterol levels. According to a new analysis of data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), supplements of vitamin D and calcium might modestly improve your cholesterol numbers. Previous studies of calcium and cholesterol had produced inconsistent results, while little was known about vitamin D’s effects.

Glucosamine Fails to Help Arthritic Knees —Subscribers Only

Arthritis sufferers worldwide spend more than $2 billion a year on glucosamine, and more than 1 in 10 US adults use the supplement. But the latest clinical trial of glucosamine has once again failed to find evidence that it does any good.

Does New Study Mean “Butter Is Back”?

Somewhere, Julia Child is smiling. A new review published in Annals of Internal Medicine has given ammunition to those, like the famous French chef, fond of cooking with butter and other sources of saturated fat. The meta-analysis looked at 27 prior clinical trials and 49 observational studies, totaling more than 600,000 participants. It concluded that “current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.”

Ask Tufts Experts

Q. Is oat bran as good as oatmeal for nutrition value? —Subscribers Only

Q. Is oat bran as good as oatmeal for nutrition value?

Q. I keep seeing advertisements for multivitamins that say I need antioxidants to promote “cell health.” What does this mean?

Q. I keep seeing advertisements for multivitamins that say I need antioxidants to promote “cell health.” What does this mean?

Q. What are the pros and cons of traditional modes of making yogurt, especially Greek yogurt?

Q. What are the pros and cons of traditional modes of making yogurt, especially Greek yogurt?


“Natural” Label Still Popular

A slew of lawsuits—58 in 2013 alone—hasn’t persuaded the food industry to jump off the “natural”-labeling bandwagon. Some experts had predicted that fear of legal action over the vague definition of “natural” might deter companies from using the term, which has been challenged in products using genetically modified (GMO) ingredients or high-fructose corn syrup, for example. But Mintel, which tracks global product launches, reports that 14% of new food products introduced in the US last…

Married People Heart-Healthier

The largest study of its kind reports that married people are less likely to suffer from a range of cardiovascular problems, from heart disease to stroke to circulatory issues. In an analysis of data on more than 3.5 million Americans, average age 64, who’d undergone health screenings by a private company, married people were 5% less likely to have cardiovascular problems than singles. Compared to married participants, widowed people were at 3% greater risk and divorced people at 5% more risk. The correlation between marital status and cardiovascular health was strongest for those under age 50.

For Most Products, “0 g Trans Fat” Really Means Zero

When the US Food and Drug Administration began requiring trans fat amounts to be listed on Nutrition Facts labels in 2006, it left what some regard as a loophole: Products containing trans fat with less than 0.5 grams per serving could nonetheless be labeled “0 g trans fat.” Crunching the numbers on a database of 130,000 branded and private-label food products, however, revealed that concerns about heart-unhealthy trans fat lurking under that “0 grams” label…

Activity Levels Drop After Retirement

Plans to become more active once people have greater free time after retirement may be just that, according to a new British study. Among 3,334 men and women followed over about 10 years, those who retired during the study period showed significant declines in physical activity compared to their working years. All were employed at the study’s start, but 785 subsequently retired. Researchers measured physical activity in metabolic equivalents (METS); mowing the lawn, for example,…

Large Study Will Test Chocolate Compounds

Participants in a recently announced nationwide study won’t get to eat chocolate candy in the name of science, but they will be testing the cocoa flavanols thought to give dark chocolate heart-healthy properties. The four-year study will give participants either a placebo or flavorless capsules containing doses of cocoa flavanols higher than could be easily obtained by eating chocolate. It will be by far the largest trial of the chocolate compounds, which previous findings have…

Special Reports

How Safe Are So-Called “Dietary Supplements”? —Subscribers Only

If you turn to herbal or botanical treatments or other alternative products marketed as “dietary supplements” to counter chronic conditions or boost your well-being, recent headlines might make you think twice before reaching for that pill bottle. Just in the past 12 months, regulators have warned of dangers from unlabeled pharmaceutical ingredients in an arthritis product and thyroid hormones in “energy-boosting” pills. Medical experts have reported an alarming increase in liver damage linked to weight-loss and “fat-burning” products.

Smart Shopping for Salmon —Subscribers Only

Among the many pleasures of summer is the return of fresh, wild-caught salmon to local supermarkets. In general, wild salmon are in season from May through September, depending on species. Richly flavored and easy to prepare in a variety of ways (see recipe on the next page), it’s no wonder salmon is America’s third most-consumed seafood, behind only shrimp and tuna, at about two pounds per person annually.