Fast-Acting Carbs May Hasten Vision Loss Over Time
Consuming higher-than-average amounts of so-called "fast carbohydrates" that cause blood sugar levels to spike and fall rapidly could be a risk factor for central vision loss with aging. Scientists supported by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and grants reported these findings this year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Consuming a diet high in fast carbs is also suspected of being involved in the vision loss that sometimes occurs in people with diabetes.
Mineral Nutrition's Impact on Neonatal Development
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists now have described how adequate amounts of copper are important to brain function. Their animal model studies suggest that levels of copper intake are critical to the fetus during pregnancya concept called "nutritional programming." Study rats were fed low-copper diets during gestation, lactation, or both. Those rats' pups, when compared to pups born to mothers fed copper-sufficient diets, exhibited slowed development of the dentate gyrus and hippocampal areas of their brains.
Diet for Brain Development, From the Beginning
Studies looking into how diet and nutrition affect central nervous system development from birth are being conducted by Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-funded scientists. The scientists are using noninvasive tools to assess infant, toddler and school-aged children's psychological, neurological and physiological development, as well as other brain-related functions.
Data on Food Antioxidants Released
Measures of the antioxidant capacities of 277 selected foods were released recently by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists. The new database provides easy access to antioxidant values for a wide variety of foods, many of which may be excellent sources of healthful compounds. Many of the fruits, nuts, vegetables and spices listed were analyzed for their Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, known as ORAC. ORAC is one of a number of methods available to evaluate the antioxidant capacities of foods. The new release expands upon the 2004 data released by ARS on estimates of the antioxidant capacity of 171 foods.
When It Comes to Vitamins, More Is Not Always Better
Scientists funded by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) found an interesting association among seniors aged 60 and older whose vitamin B12 blood levels were low. Aging and taking stomach-acid blockers can contribute to a gradual lessening of B12 absorption in the body. People with high folate and low B12 status were found to be at a disadvantage when compared to those with normal folate and low B12 status; the former group was more likely to exhibit both anemia and cognitive impairment.
Eating Beans Helps Lower Cholesterol
Consuming as little as one-half cup of cooked dry beans every day helped volunteers lower their total cholesterol levels in an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) study in North Dakota. These results, published in the November issue of the Journal of Nutrition by the ARS scientists and their colleagues, add to a growingand convincingbody of evidence that beans are a heart-healthy food choice.
Scientist Developing Bread Rich in Beta-Glucan
An Agricultural Research Service (ARS) chemist is baking soft white bread that resembles any store-bought loaf, except for a key difference: its beta-glucan content. Research suggests that, when ingested, this soluble fiber helps the body regulate blood glucose and lower "bad" cholesterol, diminishing the risk of coronary heart disease. The bread owes its 0.75 grams of beta-glucan per serving to C-TRIM, a barley- and oat-bran-based powder developed at the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill.
New Campylobacter-Detecting Medium Licensed
A quicker, simpler way to distinguish between Campylobacter species has now been licensed for manufacture by two U.S. companies: Becton Dickinson and Co. of Franklin Lakes, N.J., and Neogen Corp. of Lansing, Mich. An Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist began working with Polish scientists in 1987 to develop the new medium, which was patented in 1999. The new culture medium, called Campy-Cefex, is specifically designed to detect and differentiate C. jejuni and C. coli mixtures of food-contaminating microbes. These two bacteria are important causes of foodborne illness. Campy-Cefex selects for Campylobacter among competing flora in a sample, cultivating colonies that resemble tiny water droplets. From these, microbiologists can estimate the level of Campylobacter contamination in the sample.
Secrets of Fish Oil Compound Probed
A compound found in oil-rich fish such as salmon reshaped the blood lipid profiles of volunteers in an Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-led study. Blood samples taken after fasting, and within eight hours after meals, showed that DHA reduced the number of small LDL (low-density lipoprotein) particles by 22 percent. LDLµs small particles are the size most harmful to the cardiovascular system. The research, reported earlier this year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is likely the first to analyzein high-triglyceride malesDHA's effects on both fasting and post-meal triglycerides, and on quantities and sizes of different types of cholesterol particles.
U.S.-Thai Scientific Efforts Peg Guava's Nutritional Value
A cooperative study by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Thai scientists has shown that guava fruit is high in antioxidants, adding it to the list of other antioxidant-rich foods such as blueberries, black beans and broccoli. In the study, guava's antioxidant content ranked just below that of blueberries, which is No. 1 in antioxidant activity. Other fruits ranking surprisingly high were carambola, lychee, mango and papaya.