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Table place setting with apple. Title: Food and Nutrition Research Briefs. Link to FNRB home page

January 2016

 


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Contents

Connecting Overeating, Emotions and Cognitive Control in Young Children

Food Toxin Detector Incorporates Camera

Low Vitamin D Linked to Osteoarthritis in the Knee

Confirming Nutrient Content of Supplements

E. coli Gets a Boost from Lettuce Disease

Quick-Serve Foods Slow To Change

A Wash that Reduces Health Risks in Fresh Produce

Consumers Missing Out on Health Benefits of Seafood Consumption

Wine Grape Flour Reduces Cholesterol in Lab Animal Study

A New Blueberry for Home Growers

   

Connecting Overeating, Emotions and Cognitive Control in Young Children

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) researchers have found the first relationship between cognitive control and emotional eating behavior in preschool children. They found cognitive control—which includes abilities to make decisions, plan, manage time, and maintain emotional and self-control—is significantly associated with the relationship between overeating and emotions. Researchers examined the balance between emotional state, snacking, and cognitive control in children ages 3 to 6 at a preschool on the University of California, Davis campus. They used computerized and hands-on tasks, parent questionnaires, and standardized teacher reports to measure cognitive control and assign a cognitive control score. Results, which were published in Appetite, indicate that young children with lower cognitive control skills may be more likely to overeat when experiencing heightened emotions, while children with higher cognitive control skills are less likely to overeat.

Details

For details, contact: Kevin Laugero, (530) 752-4173, Obesity and Metabolism Research Unit, Western Human Nutrition Research Center, Davis, California.

Wireless sensor worn on wrist of child to measure emotional fluctuations through monitoring sweat gland activity. Link to photo information
A wristwatch-like device measures activity in children's sweat glands, which fluctuated with children's state of emotion.

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X-rays of a healthy knee and an osteoarthritic knee. Link to photo information
Inadequate vitamin D in the diet may increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis in your knees (right, compared to a healthy knee, left).

Low Vitamin D Linked to Osteoarthritis in the Knee

A study supported in part by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) suggests that without adequate vitamin D in the diet, people may be at increased risk of developing osteoarthritis in their knees. Osteoarthritis occurs when the natural cushioning between joints in the body wears away, allowing bones to rub together. Researchers focused on 418 volunteers for whom blood serum concentrations of vitamin D and radiographs to assess knee osteoarthritis progression were available. The volunteers were followed for 4 years and monitored for knee osteoarthritis progression and vitamin D levels in their blood. Compared to volunteers with healthy levels, participants with low vitamin D levels had more than double the risk of their knee osteoarthritis worsening during the study. Scientists concluded that increased, adequate dietary intake may be beneficial for those with knee osteoarthritis.

Details

For details, contact: Sarah Booth, Associate Director, (617) 556-3231, USDA Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Boston, Massachusetts.

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E. coli Gets a Boost from Lettuce Disease

Escherichia coli O157:H7, a bacterium that causes foodborne illness in humans, is more likely to contaminate lettuce when downy mildew is already present. Downy mildew, a lettuce disease caused by the fungus-like water mold Bremia lactucae, is one of the biggest problems lettuce growers must deal with. The question is why so many E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks can be traced back to lettuce fields when E. coli O157:H7 sources are as diverse as undercooked beef, sprouts, raw dairy, shelled walnuts, fruits and vegetables. ARS researchers found that under warm temperatures and on wet leaves, E. coli O157:H7 multiplied 1,000-fold more in downy mildew lesions than on healthy lettuce leaf tissue. Even on dry lettuce leaves, where most bacteria struggle to survive, E. coli O157:H7 persisted in greater numbers when downy mildew disease was present. E. coli O157:H7 did not grow as well in downy mildew lesions on the downy mildew resistant lettuce line RH08 as the bacteria did on Triple Threat, a commercial variety highly susceptible to downy mildew.

Details

For details, contact: Maria Brandl, (510) 559-5885, Produce Safety and Microbiology Research Unit, Western Regional Research Center, Albany, California.

Photo: Rows of Romaine lettuce in a field.
Lettuce infected by downy mildew is more easily contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7. Photo courtesy of USDA-NRCS.

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Sliced cantaloupe. Link to photo information.
An ARS scientist has developed a sanitizing wash that could reduce the number of bacteria on produce.

A Wash that Reduces Health Risks in Fresh Produce

An Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist in Pennsylvania has developed a sanitizing wash that could reduce the number of foodborne illnesses caused each year by E. coli,Salmonella, and Listeria from fresh-cut produce. The solution works better than water, chlorinated water, or hydrogen peroxide at ridding surface bacteria from produce. It rids cantaloupes, honeydew melons, and other produce of bacteria that can migrate on to cut pieces. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that each year about 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. The wash, which is called "Lovit," could be formulated into a spray and used by food processors, supermarkets, restaurants, and anyone concerned about food safety. A patent application has been filed, and a commercial partner has expressed interested in marketing the wash.

Details

For details, contact: Dike Ukuku, (215) 233-6427, Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research Unit, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania.

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Wine Grape Flour Reduces Cholesterol in Lab Animal Study

The potential health benefits of specialty flours—particularly those made from wine grape seeds—are being investigated. Working with WholeVine Products, a Sonoma, California, company that makes wine grape flours, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) chemist Wallace Yokoyama found that hamsters fed diets similar in caloric content to the American diet mixed with Chardonnay white wine grape seeds had reduced blood cholesterol, hepatic steatosis—also known as "fatty liver"—and weight gain compared to hamsters fed diets without grape seeds or Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah red grape seed flour. Hamsters were used in these preliminary laboratory experiments because they absorb cholesterol from food and synthesize it in the liver, in a similar manner to humans. Yokoyama and his team also examined changes in the activity of some of the genes associated with obesity. They found that leptin, which is usually high in people who are obese, decreased. Adiponectin, which is believed to help prevent diabetes and atherosclerosis, increased.

Details

For details, contact: Wallace Yokoyama, (510) 559-5695, Healthy Processed Foods Research Unit, Western Regional Research Center, Albany, California.

Photo: A package of grapeseed flour and cookies made from the flour. Link to photo information
Flour made from Chardonnay white wine grape seeds can lower cholesterol.

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Photo: A computer and camera system which detects the foodborne toxin Shiga. Link to photo information
ARS scientists have developed a low-cost camera system to test for foodborne toxins.

Food Toxin Detector Incorporates Camera

A new system that incorporates a digital camera to detect pathogens that cause foodborne illness has been developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists. The high cost of equipment used to identify pathogens restricts widespread testing of foods for toxins that cause food poisoning, which sickens millions of Americans each year. The new system measures Shiga toxin activity as effectively as equipment that costs 100 times more. The new inexpensive system, which can distinguish between active and inactive toxins, uses a $300 camera and a light-emitting source to biologically identify active toxins. A fluorometer, which is generally used to detect toxins, costs about $35,000. The system is easy to adapt and also can be used to detect other foodborne toxins.

Details

For details, contact: Reuven Rasooly, (510) 559-6478, Foodborne Toxin Detection and Prevention Unit, Western Regional Research Center Albany, California.

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Confirming Nutrient Content of Supplements

The Dietary Supplement Ingredient Database Version 3.0 (DSID-3), a database that validates the contents of dietary supplements, has been updated to help researchers more accurately determine relationships between dietary supplement use and public health. This is the third edition of the data resource released by scientists from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). DSID-3 is designed to help researchers estimate nutrient intakes from dietary supplements. For example, most multivitamin and mineral supplements (MVMs) contain iodine, but the DSID-3 shows that labels for adult, child, and non-prescription prenatal MVMs consistently underreport iodine levels by about 25 percent, based on chemical analyses. The DSID-3 is available at https://dietarysupplementdatabase.usda.nih.gov/releases_3.php

Details

For details, contact: Karen Andrews, (301) 504-0710, Nutrient Data Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Beltsville, Maryland.

Dietary supplements and bottles. Link to photo information
Dietary supplements being prepared for shipment to labs for blind testing of ingredients.

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Photo: French fries with ketchup. Link to photo information
During an 18-year study in quick-serve restaurants, ARS scientists found a decline in trans fats in French fries.

Quick-Serve Foods Slow To Change

Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-funded scientists investigated trends in portion sizes and the calorie, sodium, saturated fat and trans fat content of popular meal combos at U.S. quick-serve chain restaurants. They found little change in portion sizes during an 18-year period. On a positive note, the study recorded a decline in trans fat content of French fries during the study period. The team gathered data on 27 common food items served from three quick-serve chains, commonly called "fast food" restaurants, between 1996 and 2013. They also examined the classic bundled meal of fries, cola and a burger. The team found that based on data from 2013 alone, a large-sized combo meal (large cheeseburger, large fries and a large sweetened cola) at the three chains contained between 65 percent and 80 percent of the estimated daily calorie needs of an individual adult.

Details

For details, contact: Alice H. Lichtenstein, (617) 556-3127, Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, USDA Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Boston, Massachusetts.

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Consumers Missing Out on Health Benefits of Seafood Consumption

Studies by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists show that while most U.S. consumers eat some seafood, the amounts are inadequate to meet federal dietary guidelines. Both fish and shellfish, referred to as "seafood," are nutrient-rich protein foods, and consumption has been associated with reduced heart disease risk. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, in effect at the time of the study, recommended eating two servings of seafood (about 8 ounces) weekly to get at least 1,750 milligrams of two omega-3s known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) weekly. The data were collected during the national survey known as "What We Eat in America/NHANES." Overall, about 80 to 90 percent of U.S. consumers did not meet their seafood recommendations. Additionally, a review of published studies that explored fish consumption’s link to heart health pointed to consistent evidence supporting a reduced risk of heart disease due particularly to eating oily fish.

Details

For details, contact: Lisa A. Jahns, (701) 795-8331, Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Photo: A salmon fillet and a salad on a plate. Link to photo information
Most U.S. consumers eat less than the 8 ounces of seafood a week recommended by Federal dietary guidelines.

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Photo: Nocturne blueberry. Link to photo information
Nocturne, a new winter-hardy, black-fruited blueberry developed by ARS.

A New Blueberry for Home Growers

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) was recently awarded a patent for Nocturne, a new blueberry cultivar. It is a vigorous, winter-hardy, black-fruited blueberry, especially notable for being slow to break dormancy in spring, making it unlike any other rabbiteye blueberry hybrids currently available. This variety is intended to be a specialty market plant for home, landscape, and ornamental use, which incorporates germplasm from three different blueberry species, including one with extreme cold-hardiness.

Details

For details, contact: Mark Ehlenfeldt, (609) 726-1590 ex. 4421, Genetic Improvement of Fruits and Vegetables, Chatsworth, New Jersey.

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