Natural Foods Merchandiser

Science Briefs

Peanuts Don't Add Pounds
Many people consider peanuts a dietary no-no because of their high fat content. But C.M. Alper of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., found there is little price to be paid, weight wise, for enjoying peanuts. In this cross-over study, seven women and eight men (average age 33) were given 500 calories worth of peanuts a day to eat. For eight weeks, they were given no additional dietary advice ("free feeders"). For three weeks, they were told to eat the peanuts in addition to their usual diet ("peanut adders"). Finally, for eight weeks they decreased their dietary fat by 50 percent and replaced it with peanuts ("peanut substituters"). The free feeders gained only 0.5 kg compared with the 1.4 kg predicted by the researchers. The peanut adders gained 1 kg, instead of the 3.6 kg predicted. The substituters did not gain weight. Participants found the peanuts filling, and compensated by eating smaller quantities of other foods. In addition, researchers used metabolic tests and found participants' energy consumption increased by 11 percent, possibly because the peanut oils revved up their metabolism. Compared with baseline diets, eating peanuts increased intake of monounsaturated fats, fiber, folate, copper and magnesium.

International Journal of Obesity 2002 Aug;26:1129-37.

SAMe Works for Osteoarthritis
SAMe relieves osteoarthritis just as effectively as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, but without the side effects. That's the conclusion of a new meta-analysis conducted by Karen Soeken, Ph.D., of the Complementary Medicine Program, University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Soeken combined the results from 11 randomized, placebo-controlled studies on S-adenosylmethionine and osteoarthritis. Seven of the studies were conducted in Italy, where SAMe is a prescription drug, available in 200- and 400-mg doses. Together, the studies involved 1,442 people, 70 percent of whom were women, most with osteoarthritis in the knee. Patients reported the same improved mobility with SAMe supplementation as with NSAIDS. The dose used in six of the studies was 1,200 mg per day. Although this dose is greater than what is usually recommended, there was no correlation between dose and efficiency, so lower amounts may work. However, Soeken warns that recent tests revealed 50 percent of SAMe brands sold in the United States contained less than half the amount stated on the label. As such, U.S. patients may not get enough SAMe for pain relief. In the studies, participants taking SAMe experienced 58 percent fewer side effects than those taking NSAIDs. Scientists do not know how SAMe functions to relieve pain.

The Journal of Family Practice 2002 May;51(5);425-9.

Soy Formula Slashes Baby Testosterone
Soy formula may drastically slash infant testosterone levels, if results of a new study using marmoset monkeys apply to humans. Both human and marmoset male infants normally experience a neonatal testosterone surge. In this experiment, Richard Sharpe and his staff from the Centre for Reproductive Biology in Edinburgh hand-fed either soy or cows' milk infant formula to 30 newborn marmosets, including 13 pairs of twins, while the babies' fathers cared for them. The rest of the time, the monkeys were breast-fed by their mothers. After 35 to 45 days, testosterone levels of the soy-fed monkeys were 50 percent to 70 percent lower than the monkeys fed cows' formula or those that were exclusively breastfed. Of the soy-fed baby marmosets, 80 percent had very low testosterone levels (< 0.5n/ml); only 8 percent of cows' milk formula-fed or exclusively breast-fed monkeys had such low levels.

Human babies fed soy formula may get proportionately more than twice the phytoestrogenic isoflavones than the monkeys in this experiment, so they may be even more severely affected. The long-term effects of this neonatal testosterone reduction are unknown, although sperm counts should not be compromised. The researchers will continue studying the monkeys as they mature in 2003. Meanwhile, Sharpe advises we "avoid feeding infants with soy milk formula whenever alternatives are possible."

Human Reproduction 2002 Jul;17(7):1692-1703.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 10/p. 82

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