Sunday, July 2, 2017

Processing Depletes Cranberry Flavonols

Fresh whole cranberries contain high levels of flavonols, far more than most berries and more than most fruits or vegetables. But research by Agricultural Research Service scientists has revealed that nearly half of the total flavonol content of whole berries is left behind in the pomace - stems, skins, seeds, and pulp - left over when cranberries are pressed to make juice or canned products.

Flavonols are a class of polyphenols that includes, for example, quercetin and myricetin.

Cranberries are also known to be rich in fiber, and to provide vitamin C and potassium, both of which are essential nutrients.

Berries
In Season Guide to Cranberries
Source: ARS
Artwork: Cranberry



Sunday, June 4, 2017

Mangoes Linked to Better Health

Recent human studies on mango consumption have found potential health benefits associated with the fruit, including improved blood pressure, blood sugar control, and gut health.

Scientists from Texas A&M University investigated the metabolic effects of daily consumption of freshly frozen mango pulp (400g) for six weeks in lean and obese subjects and the relationship between mango metabolites to Body Mass Index (BMI) and circulating biomarkers.

Researcgers from Oklahoma State University examined the post-prandial response of young, healthy males (18-25 years) following consumption of a typical American high-fat breakfast with or without a mango shake, which included 50g of mango pulp (equivalent to ~250g of fresh mango).

In a randomized pilot study, researchers from Texas A&M University investigated the potential role of mango consumption in changes of the gut microbiota, bioavailability of galloyl metabolites, and anti-inflammatory activities in lean and obese subjects.

"This emerging research shows promising outcomes on mango's potential to reduce the risk of metabolic disorders and chronic inflammation," said Leonardo Ortega, Director of Research at the National Mango Board.

Researchers from Texas A&M University examined the absorption, metabolism, and excretion of gallic acid, galloyl glycosides, and gallotannins in lean and obese individuals that consumed 400g of freshly frozen mango pulp daily for six weeks. The study's lead researcher, Susanne Mertens-Talcott, Ph.D. suggests that extended mango consumption may offer increased anti-inflammatory benefits compared to sporadic mango consumption and this would need to be confirmed within an extended efficacy study.

Bites
Farm Produce
Salmon Ceviche with Mango
Artwork: Mangoes


Friday, February 10, 2017

Choose Dark Chocolate for Valentine's Day

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a gift of dark chocolate and its heart-healthy advantages. Dark chocolate contains high levels of flavonoids, which are antioxidants that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can alter and weaken cells, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Research has found that flavanols, which are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate, have potential influences on vascular health, including lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot.

Milk chocolate, on the other hand, doesn’t provide the same health benefits. Generally speaking, dark chocolate has more cocoa than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate also has fewer unhealthy sugars and saturated fats than milk chocolate. Researchers at Harvard University Medical School suggest choosing chocolate that has at least 70 percent cocoa or more.

Chocolates
Chocolate Guide
The Gift Shop
Artwork: Valentine's Day Gift Heart


Friday, December 23, 2016

Cinnamon Lowers Diabetes Risk

A recent USDA study suggests that cinnamon reduces risk factors associated with diabetes and heart disease.

 During the 12-week study, 22 obese participants with impaired blood glucose values -- "prediabetes" -- were divided randomly into two groups and given either a placebo or 250 milligrams (mgs) of a dried water-soluble cinnamon extract twice daily along with their usual diets. Blood was collected after an overnight fast at the beginning of the study, after six weeks, and after 12 weeks to measure the changes in blood glucose and antioxidants.

The study demonstrated that the cinnamon improved a number of antioxidant variables by as much as 13 to 23 percent, and lowered blood glucose by an equivalent percentage. More details on the study can be found in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Spices and Seasonings
Organic Cinnamon
Specialty Foods
Artwork: Cinnamon Sticks

Monday, July 27, 2015

Say More Cheese

Americans are eating more cheese than ever before, explains. A recent report on food availability and consumption from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that the amount of cheese manufactured in the U.S. has nearly tripled since 1970, with mozzarella and cheddar accounting for well over half of the cheese produced.

While the U.S. leads the world in cheese production, with over 4,000 tons annually, it doesn't make the short list of leading cheese exporters in economic value, nor dooes it top the list of cheese-eating countries per capita. The French and the Greeks eat the most cheese per person.

"We saw an increase in cheese consumption starting in the late '80s as fast food became more popular, including pizza, burgers, and tacos. However, now we are seeing a great increase in the number and variety of American-made artisanal cheeses as consumers are looking to have more of a connection with their food producers, want more local foods, and are looking for new flavors and textures in their foods," says Kerry Kaylegian, dairy foods research & extension associate in Penn State's department of food science.

Specialty Foods
Cheese
Artwork: Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese


Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Big Fat Surprise

"What if the crusade against cholesterol had fed the spread of obesity by encouraging a population to retreat from the very foods that would have satiated its hunger more efficiently than the hallowed grains and fruits and vegetables of the great dietary pyramid? What if the low-fat mantra had driven a population into feeling perpetually hungry? What if you were better off eating meat, eggs and dairy than a diet bloated in carbs and vegetable oils? 
"Ms. Teicholz's book is a lacerating indictment of Big Public Health for repeatedly putting action and policy ahead of good evidence. It would all be comical if the result was not possibly the worst dietary advice in history. And once the advice had been reified by government recommendations and research grants, it became almost impossible to change course... The Big Fat Surprise is more than a book about food and health or even hubris; it is a tragedy for our information age. From the very beginning, we had the statistical means to understand why things did not add up; we had a boatload of Cassandras, a chorus of warnings; but they were ignored, castigated, suppressed. We had our big fat villain, and we still do."

excerpted from "Book Review: 'The Big Fat Surprise' by Nina Teicholz" by Trevor Butterworth. The Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2015.
Health and Beauty
Give Eggs a Break
Artwork: The Big Fat Surprise


Monday, May 18, 2015

Why Men Like It Spicy

A recent study at Pennsylvania State University examined people's spicy food preferences and how they correlate with other factors like gender and personality.

The love of spicy food broke down along gender lines: Men were more likely to report enjoying spicy food more than women. But in the actual taste test, the female test subjects were more likely to report actually enjoying the burning taste. Men, on the other hand, did not — even if they had said they loved spicy foods.

So, why did they say they did?

The researchers examined the results of personality tests and found that men who enjoyed spicy food inordinately craved excitement as well as the respect and adoration from their peers.

There also found a physiological basis for their tastes: testosterone.

In a separate study of spicy foods, French researchers asked participants to spice up plates of mashed potatoes with salt and Tabasco sauce according to their preference. The men who went heaviest with the hot sauce? Those with the most testosterone in their saliva.

Another study also found that people prone to risky sensation-seeking behavior had an increased penchant for spicy foods.

The researchers hypthesize that the enjoyment of food is not just a matter of taste, but also hormones and social pressures.

Sources: 

Artwork: Hot Sauce Bottle Costume 
Hot Sauce
Peppers
Specialty Foods