Do you want your children to eat more healthy food and less fast food? Researchers have recommended placing healthy food more visibly, attractively and conveniently so that your child can eat and stay healthy.

Strongly preferred foods — like fries at fast food restaurants or red meat at buffets — are so standard that it can be difficult to get people — especially children — to opt for healthier options, even if the healthy option is the default.

The findings indicated that more children choose French fries over apples when apples were presented as the default option. “We guessed that children would opt out of a healthier default when much-loved fries were an option,” said David Just from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab in the US. “We were surprised that this was the case even for a relatively attractive healthy option like apple slices,” Just added in a paper published in the journal BMC Research Notes.

The team analysed 15 children aged from six to eight in a study in which they ordered a meal of chicken nuggets from a fast food restaurant to see if they would opt out of the healthy option. Half of the children were given fries with their meal and told they could exchange them for apples and the other half were given apples and told that they could exchange them for fries.

The results suggested that even when the default side was apples, 86.7 per cent opted to swap for fries.

“A more realistic solution would be to offer a smaller portion of fries with apples and in this way, children aren’t forfeiting their favourite food. They are just eating less of it,” said another researcher Brian Wansink.

Source: IANS

Eating a special mixture of dietary fibres found in barley can help reduce appetite and blood sugar levels, finds a new study.

According to researchers, barley can also rapidly improve people’s health by reducing risk for cardiovascular disease.

“It is surprising yet promising that choosing the right blend of dietary fibres can — in a short period of time — generate such remarkable health benefits,” said Anne Nilsson from Lund University in Sweden.

Approximately 11-14 hours after their final meal of the day, participants were examined for risk indicators of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The study was conducted with healthy middle-aged participants who were asked to eat bread largely made out of barley kernels (up to 85 percent) for three days — at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The researchers found that the participants’ metabolism improved for up to 14 hours, with additional benefits such as decreases in blood sugar and insulin levels, increases in insulin sensitivity and improved appetite control.

The effects arise when the special mixture of dietary fibres in barley kernel reaches the gut, stimulating the increase of good bacteria and the release of important hormones, the researchers said.

“After eating the bread made out of barley kernel, we saw an increase in gut hormones that regulate metabolism and appetite, and an increase in a hormone that helps reduce chronic low-grade inflammation, among the participants. In time this could help prevent the occurrence of both cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” said Anne Nilsson.

The ambition is also to get more people to use barley in meals, for example in salads, soups, stews, or as an alternative to rice or potatoes.

Source: IANS

Drinking cherry juice can significantly reduce high blood pressure, particularly in males with early hypertension, to a level comparable to that achieved by medication, new research has found.

High blood pressure if left untreated, increases risk of heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, stroke or dementia.

The findings showed that men who drank tart Montmorency cherry juice — a variety of sour cherry — saw a peak reduction in their blood pressure of seven millimetre of mercury (mmHg) in the three hours after consuming the drink.

This reduction is comparable to the level achieved by anti-hypertensive drugs, the researchers said.

When phenolic acids, protocatechuic and vanillic — compounds present within the cherry concentrate — reached their peak levels in the plasma, systolic blood pressure showed greatest improvement.

“The magnitude of the blood pressure lowering effects we observed was comparable to those achieved by a single anti-hypertensive drug and highlights the potential importance that Montmorency cherries could have in the effective management of high blood pressure,” said lead author Karen Keane, lecturer at Northumbria University in Britain.

Raised blood pressure is the leading cause of deaths from heart diseases, yet relatively small reductions in blood pressure can have a large impact on mortality rates, Keane added in the paper published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The team worked with fifteen participants who were displaying early hypertension with blood pressure readings of at least 130/90 mmHg, meaning they were at higher risk of experiencing heart related problems.

They were given either 60ml of a Montmorency cherry concentrate or the same amount of a commercially available fruit-flavoured cordial.

Blood pressure and blood samples were taken before the cherry concentrate was consumed and blood pressure was measured on an hourly basis thereafter.

Source: IANS

Drinking coffee, tea and wine may be associated with a healthier and more diverse community of microbes living in the gut, a new study has claimed. The opposite is true for drinking sugary beverages and whole milk, as well as for continually eating snacks and a lot of carbohydrates, researchers said.

Scientists from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands analysed the microbes inside the guts of more than 1,100 people. They identified 126 factors that were correlated with changes in the makeup of an individual’s microbial community – including 60 associated with diet, 12 related to diseases, 19 linked with drugs and four tied to smoking.

“In total we found 60 dietary factors that influence diversity. But there is good correlation between diversity and health – greater diversity is better,” said Alexandra Zhernakova from University of Groningen. Researchers studied stool samples of 1,135 Dutch participants. They collected their own stool samples at home
and then immediately put them in the freezer.

After a few days, samples were transported to labs at the university, where they remained frozen until they were processed by researchers, ‘Los Angeles Times’ reported. This ensured that none of the bacteria had a chance to grow or change from the time the sample was collected and guaranteed that all samples were treated the same way, researchers said.

After analysing the samples and comparing them with other data, researchers found that consuming fruits, vegetables and yogurt positively influenced microbial diversity in the gut. Drinking tea, wine, coffee and buttermilk had the same effect.

Sugary sodas and savoury snacks were associated with lower levels of diversity. Similarly, so was having irritable bowel syndrome and smoking during pregnancy, researchers said. Women and older people tend to have more microbial diversity than men and younger people, they said.

Source: IANS

Living in a neighbourhood dotted with fast food outlets can be linked to poorer bone development in early childhood, a new report suggests. The researchers also found that greater neighbourhood access to healthy specialty stores is linked to higher bone mass in young children.

“These findings suggest that the exposure of mothers and children to more healthy food environments might optimize childhood bone development through its influence on the quality of the maternal diet and dietary choices during childhood,” said study co-author Cyrus Cooper from the University of Southampton in Britain.

The study looked at the bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) of 1,107 children at birth and at four and/or six years of age and compared the data to the number of supermarkets, healthy specialty stores and fast food outlets within a child’s neighbourhood.

After adjustments for other variables, they found that greater access to fast food outlets was associated with lower BMD and BMC in newborns.

“More extensive research is needed, but if confirmed in further studies, this would imply that action to improve the food environment could have benefits for childhood bone development,” Cooper said.

The results of the study provide some evidence to support the introduction of zoning policies to increase the number of healthier food retailers and to decrease the number of fast food outlets within neighbourhoods.

The study appeared in the journal Osteoporosis International.

Source: IANS

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