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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

The Power of Produce!

From A to Zinc, vitamin and minerals like vitamin D, vitamin C, iron and calcium are household terms. We all know that to have a healthy diet we should consume adequate amounts of these nutrients. But what about isothiocynates, terpenes, indoles, flavonoids, polyphenols, sulfides, etc? Although they sound like the ingredients on your shampoo bottle, these strange sounding compounds, collectively called phytochemicals, are the newest arrival in the field of nutrition. Phytochemicals are found in fruits, vegetables, grains and other plant foods. For example, isothiocynates, flavonoids and indoles are found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. Polyphenols are found in tea and terpenes are in citrus fruits and the oil from caraway seeds. Sulfides are found in garlic and onions. (more...)

Copper - A nutrient with ancient connections

Millions of years ago when the first organisms appeared, the earth's atmosphere was low in oxygen. However, this condition changed when some of these early organisms developed the ability to use light for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen generated by these organisms raised the oxygen content of the Earth's atmosphere. Today, the atmosphere is 21% oxygen and supports many diverse life forms that need oxygen to live. However, oxygen is toxic. Primitive organisms needed to develop defensive mechanisms that would protect them from oxygen toxicity and assure their survival. While the evolution of these defensive mechanisms allowed organisms to cope with oxygen, it also allowed them to begin using oxygen in metabolic processes. (more...)

Arsenic Bad, Good or Both?

Could it be that a little bit, but not too much, of a "bad" thing is actually "good" it appears to be that way with arsenic. (more...)

Wish We Knew More, But We Don't

We know that a complete and balanced diet promotes physical health and performance. It seems reasonable therefore to assume that what we eat can also affect mental performance--our abilities to pay attention, to remember things, to make decisions--and how we feel. I believe there is a relationship between nutrition and behavior. But contrary to the impression given by stories in the popular press and promotions by health food and dietary supplement manufacturers, there are few scientifically sound studies to support recommendations to alter our diet to improve how we think and feel. Studies that lack important experimental controls have been widely reported, leaving the public with the impression that we know more than we really do about the relationship between nutrition and behavior. (more...)

Eat Like a Champion

Grand Forks residents reconstructing their flood-damaged homes and engaging in recreational activities have a great deal in common with athletes in training: They need to eat correctly to perform well. Proper food selection and fluid replacement are the keys to success. (more...)

A Healthy Heart - the Mineral Connection

Coronary heart disease is this nation’s number one killer. World wide it is estimated to kill 800,000 annually. (more...)

Nutrition or Self-Medication?

The standard cup of coffee made by me or my wife is twice as strong as the cup my mother used to make. The mix of chemicals that we enjoy in a hearty brew depends on the amount and type of coffee, the quality of the water, type of pot and the temperature and time of preparation. And this mix will change if the coffee is prepared and kept warm for later consumption. The many variations on this theme illustrate some of the problems of self medication with botanicals such as ginger, ginko biloba or valerian, or with hormones such as DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) or melatonin. The number and type of dietary supplements available commercially has mushroomed during the last decade. Some of these materials are subjects of current, scientific research; others are in use as folk remedies, mainly in other countries. (more...)

Iron and the Battle of the Sexes

"We could sell bread in pink or blue wrappers," joked a dietitian friend of mine as we discussed the problem of fortifying foods with iron to prevent iron deficiency in women without risking iron toxicity in men. It’s another battle of the sexes: Women of childbearing age are more likely to become iron deficient, while men are at greater risk of too much iron. (more...)

If A Little Is Good, A Lot Must Be Great??

We have all heard the logic, perhaps even used it ourselves - if a little of something is good, then a lot more should be great. This logic pervades our culture and one of the places it is most entrenched is in our concepts of nutrition. We hear that a nutrient is important, and soon we are bombarded with advertisements urging us to buy "supplements" and "nutritional additives" containing the nutrient. The inference is always the same: Nutrient "X" helps your body fight cancer, so if you consume copious amounts of "X" everyday, you will ward off the dreaded disease. But is this true? Common sense casts doubt on this logic - if you put 10 gallons of gas in your Yugo and it runs well, does it run like a Ferrari if you put in 100 gallons? No, if you attempt to put in 100 gallons, 90 go down the storm drain, and you still have a Yugo. (more...)

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Recent human studies at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center show that claims about chromium picolinate causing you to gain muscle and lose fat are not substantiated. (more...)


Last Modified: 7/30/2009