Friday, April 03, 2009

Watered Down Tea Nutrition

Tea is good for you. The chatechins and other anti-oxidants are obviously important for your health.

But something like tea can sit on the shelf for a long, long time before it makes it into your cup. How does that change the health properties ... if at all??

This report looked at tea bags that were kept stored in their original packaging ... in dark rooms ... heated to 68 degrees Fahrenheit for one of five different lengths of time: one week, one month, two months, four months and six months.

Undesirable moisture exposure was not a factor.

"We found that among the teas we looked at there seems to be a progressive decrease in the amount of antioxidants as a function of time," lead author Friedman said.

The team found at least some drop-off in catechin antioxidant content early on in the storage process, and went on to observe that by the end of six months catechin concentrations had plummeted among all eight teas by an average of 32 percent -- a figure the authors characterized as "highly significant."

Specifically, the most prevalent form of catechin (EGCG) decreased by 28 percent after six months of storage, while the second most common catechin (ECG) dropped by 51 percent in the same timeframe.

Friedman described his work as preliminary, and expressed the hope that the findings would prompt more research into the storage-antioxidant question, given the large variety of teas on the market and the strong probability that not all teas would experience nutrient degradation in exactly the same way or pace.

I guess the bottom line is that we need to eat foods close to the source of their growing, and close to the time of their picking.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Vegetarian Concerns?

Eating a vegetarian diet is one of the healthiest ways to go.

But this article suggests that there may be some concerns you should watch out for, especially for your teenagers.

According to this work in the April issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, twice as many teens and nearly double the number of young adults who had been vegetarians reported having used unhealthy means to control their weight: things like diet pills, laxatives and diuretics and inducing vomiting.

When I pulled up this article, at first it seemed like they were making a link between disordered eating and being a vegetarian. The authors later took pains to say that this is not the case, but it is noticeable that I had to get well into the article body to read the disclaimer.

There are at least two take-home messages from this study.
  1. Despite the title of the article ("The Dark Side of Vegetarianism"), one should not fear that eating veggies leads to disordered eating.
  2. It is important to keep an open line of communication with your kids, at all times. If they suddenly want to be a vegetarian, that's great! Just talk to them about the motivation behind it.

When you read articles like this, remember the scientific rule of analysis: correlation is not causation.

Just because two things are linked does not mean they are related. They MAY be, but they don't have to be. For example, just because teens who adopt vegetarianism can also fall into disordered eating behaviors, does not mean that you should be worried about your kids eating veggies.

The disordered eating is coming from somewhere else ... and that's why it's so important to stay in communication about such changes.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Failure

Patients receiving optimal drug therapy after suffering a heart attack do not gain any additional benefit from taking supplemental omega-3 fatty acids.

That conclusion is according to this new study, in which almost 4,000 people who suffered heart attacks took Omega-3 supplements.

Researchers wanted to see whether this pill lowered their rates of heart attack, stroke, sudden cardiac death or death from any cause.

The answer is no. They do not.

This finding contradicts previous studies, which suggested that taking omega-3 fatty acids improved long-term survival. Those studies with positive results describe the benefit as "modest".

Monday, March 30, 2009

Return to the Family Table

There are some things that we have forgotten ... and just need to remember. Need an example?

Return to the Family Table.

This study just published in the March/April issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior showed that kids who eat with their families are more likely to eat better, and to develop better eating behaviors.

According to the authors, of the 677 adolescents followed over 5 years, those who ate "regular family meals" had more healthful diets, meaning they consumed more vegetables, calcium-rich food, dietary fiber and essential nutrients.

This is something that has been lost in many families, because it is deemed to be less important than many other items on the To-Do list. Unfortunately, we can also erode our nutritional, social, and familial health in the process.

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