Trends to Watch, September 2018
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Open Your Heart to Green Tea
Scientists in Great Britain have discovered a compound in green tea that breaks up and dissolves the plaques that clog blood vessels, causing heart attacks and strokes. Researchers from Lancaster University and the University of Leeds found that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) binds to amyloid fibers in the blood and converts them to smaller, soluble molecules that are less likely to damage blood vessels. ”The health benefits of green tea have been widely promoted, and it has been known for some time that EGCG can alter the structures of amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease,” said David Middleton, professor of chemistry at Lancaster University. “Our results show that this intriguing compound might also be effective against the types of plaques which can cause heart attacks and strokes.”
It’s doubtful, the researchers noted, that people can get enough EGCG from drinking green tea to promote this beneficial effect, but more targeted forms of the compound (e.g., supplements) may be effective. Their findings were published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Constipated? Try Eating a Mango
A Texas A&M University pilot study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that mangos, rich in polyphenols and fiber, may be more effective than powdered fiber in relieving constipation.
For the four-week study, 36 adult men and women with chronic constipation were randomly divided into two groups: the mango group ate about 300 grams of mango per day (equivalent to about 2 cups or 1 mango), while the fiber group added a comparable amount of fiber powder into their daily diet (1 teaspoon or 5 grams of dietary psyllium fiber supplement). Measures of constipation severity were taken at the beginning and end of four weeks, and both the mango and fiber groups improved over the course of the study. However, mangos were found to be more effective in reducing constipation symptoms than fiber alone. Mango consumption also helped to reduce certain biomarkers of inflammation.
Mango Recipes at betternutrition.com
Two favorites: Mango Sunrise Ice Cream with Coconut Lime Dust and Fresh Thai Salad, featuring mango cubes.
An Orange A Day Keeps Macular Degeneration Away
A new study reveals that people who regularly eat oranges are less likely to develop macular degeneration. Scientists at the Australia-based Westmead Institute for Medical Research interviewed more than 2,000 Australian adults over 50, following them over a 15-year period. People who ate at least one serving of oranges daily had more than a 60 percent reduced risk of developing macular degeneration 15 years later.
Lead researcher Bamini Gopinath, an associate professor at the University of Sydney, noted that previous investigations on eye health have centered on common nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and E. “Our research is different because we focused on the relationship between flavonoids and macular degeneration,” says Gopinath. ”And the data shows that flavonoids found in oranges appear to help protect against the disease.“
Obesity, Inflammation, … and Garlic?
According to researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Gainesville, supplementing with Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) helps reduce inflammation associated with obesity and improves several other obesity-related health markers. Researchers recruited 51 healthy, yet obese, adults and divided them into two groups—one taking 3.6 grams of Kyolic AGE powder daily, and another a placebo. At the end of the six-week trial, markers for inflammation were significantly lower in those taking AGE than in the placebo group. The study was published in the April issue of Clinical Nutrition ESPEN.
Trouble Brewing for Moms-to-Be
A new study published in the journal BMJ Open shows that even moderate caffeine consumption—for example, one to two cups of coffee per day—may be a bad idea during pregnancy.
As part of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, researchers from Sahlgrenska Academy, in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, examined information from 50,943 women and found that children born to mothers who consumed caffeine during pregnancy were more likely to be overweight at preschool and school age. At age five, for instance, the share of children who were overweight or obese was five percent greater in the group whose mothers had the highest caffeine consumption, compared to those whose mothers had the lowest caffeine intake. The researchers included different sources of caffeine in the study, including coffee, black tea, and energy drinks.