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February 2019

Full Issue (PDF)

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Articles

Should You Show Your Love with (Chocolate) Flavonoids?

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and many of us will say, “I love you!” with the classic gift of chocolate. Ever since scientists discovered that cocoa beans contain potentially health-promoting biologically active compounds, chocolate treats have taken on a healthy halo. February seems like the perfect time to examine the current state of science around this crave-worthy confection.

New Physical Activity Guidelines Released —Subscribers Only

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, an update of recommendations published in 2008. “The new guidelines provide more evidence-based reasons to be active than ever before,” says Roger A. Fielding, PhD, director of Tufts’ Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, and Sarcopenia Laboratory, “and they make it clear that even some activity is better than none.”

Vegetables: to Cook or Not to Cook

Vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber, and health-conscious consumers naturally want to know how to get the most nutritional impact from these powerful foods. “Nutritionally, there are pluses and minuses to cooking vegetables,” says Helen Rasmussen, PhD, RD, a senior research dietitian at Tufts’ Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. For example, cooking carrots reduces levels of vitamin C (which plays an important role in maintaining collagen, the glue that holds cells together) but increases availability of beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A (which plays an important role in vision, reproduction, bone growth, and regulating the immune system).

Ask Tufts Experts

Q. Does taking omega-3 fish oil help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer?

Q. Does taking omega-3 fish oil help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer?

Q. I prefer tea to coffee, and I also eat a lot of fruit and enjoy some dark chocolate. Does it matter what food I get flavanols from?

Q. I prefer tea to coffee, and I also eat a lot of fruit and enjoy some dark chocolate. Does it matter what food I get flavanols from?

Q. I am a vegetarian. Is it necessary for me to eat certain foods together in order to ensure I get appropriate protein?

Q. I am a vegetarian. Is it necessary for me to eat certain foods together in order to ensure I get appropriate protein?

NewsBites

Healthy Vegan Diet May Promote Weight Loss

Following a vegan diet may promote weight loss and reduce insulin resistance in overweight individuals. A recent 16-week randomized clinical trial, published in the journal Nutrients, examined the role of carbohydrate consumption on body composition and insulin resistance.

Hypertension Risk High, Especially for Blacks

Black men and women had one and a half to two times higher risk for hypertension (high blood pressure) compared to white men and women, according to the CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) study recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Mediterranean-style Diet Plus Vitamin D3 for Osteoporosis

The NU-AGE (New Dietary Strategies Addressing the Specific Needs of the Elderly Population for Healthy Aging in Europe) trial, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the effects of a Mediterranean-style diet combined with vitamin D3 supplementation on bone health. In this study, conducted in five European countries, participants were randomized to either follow a Mediterranean-style diet or maintain their current diet for a one-year period.

Community-Based Physical Activity Promotes Health

The Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) trial showed that older adults who follow a structured physical activity program can reduce mobility-disability by up to 28 percent. Based on these encouraging results, a pilot study was recently conducted by Tufts University to test the approach among older adults in an existing community setting.

Special Reports

Nutrition News: How Do We Know What to Believe?

Nutrition information (and mis-information) is all around us, in books, magazines, talk shows, news stories, or just a tap of the mouse or the touchscreen away. How do we know if the information we are getting is credible? “Interpreting research studies can be difficult, even for highly-trained researchers,” says Jeanne P. Goldberg, PhD, professor of nutrition communication at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. “Sometimes news stories or websites simply get it wrong. Sometimes the author may have an agenda of their own, such as the desire to sell more of a particular product.” To be more confident in the information you’re getting, try following the ABC’s: does the information have Authority? Is there Bias? Is it Complete and current?

Added Sugars: The Facts about Caloric Sweeteners

Americans consume 17 teaspoons of added sugars a day on average (more than one-third cup). That’s not to say we scoop that much into our coffee or tea. Sugar, in one form or another, is added to a huge variety of processed foods, from sweet drinks to cakes, cookies, candy, ice cream, and even breads, yogurt, and seemingly savory condiments and sauces such as ketchup and tomato sauce. Sugars and high added-sugar foods are not healthful choices, and switching sweeteners (say, from high fructose corn syrup to raw cane sugar) is not the answer.