Natural Foods Merchandiser

Natural Products Industry Grocery & Produce Bites

An apple a day keeps heart attacks away
A new study of more than 34,000 post-menopausal women found apples were one of three foods—along with pears and red wine—that decrease the risk of death from both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. The researchers, from the University of Minnesota and the University of Oslo, Norway, credit the fruit's high flavonoid content for its heart-health benefits. Flavonoids, compounds found in small quantities in numerous plant foods, have antioxidant properties that are linked to the reduction of oxidation of low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol, which has been shown to lead to the development of CVD. The study was published in the April issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Americans not eating their fruits and veggies
Sure, mom told you to finish 'em or there'd be no dessert, but now the Centers for Disease Control is also worried about Americans' lack of fruit and vegetable intake. According to research published in the April issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, less than 11 percent of Americans meet the current U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for both fruit and vegetables. What's worse, there was no improvement in Americans' fruit consumption and a small decrease in vegetable intake during the decade-long study. To encourage Americans to eat more produce, the CDC and Produce for Better Health Foundation have teamed up to initiate a public health campaign, "5 A Day for Better Health." A corresponding Web site,, offers recipes, serving ideas and shopping advice, and also gives consumers the chance to submit their own easy and fun serving ideas online.

Moms-to-be need their 'D'
Move over pickles and ice cream: New research shows vitamin D is a crucial nutrient for pregnant women. According to a study published in the March issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, high levels of vitamin D during pregnancy—obtained through the diet or supplements—reduces the risk of wheezing, which can lead to asthma, during childhood. But despite taking prenatal multivitamin supplements, most pregnant women are deficient in the vitamin, according to another study from researchers at the University of Pittsburgh. The study claimed this has led to 92 percent of African-American babies and 66 percent of Caucasian-American babies having insufficient vitamin D at birth.

The powerful punch of pomegranate
People have been flocking to pomegranate juice for its widely reported anti-aging benefits, and now men, especially, have good reason to add this exotic fruit juice to their diets. Two recent studies, reported in the April issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch, suggest that pomegranate juice might help ward off prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease. In one study, pomegranate juice slowed tumor growth in mice injected with highly aggressive prostate cancer cells. In the other, the antioxidant powerhouse protected low-density lipoprotein ("bad" cholesterol) from oxidative damage and slowed the progression of arterial plaque, conditions that can lead to heart problems.

Soft drinks hard to swallow for health
New research from Yale University provides more evidence for why it's smart to skip soda: A review of more than 88 studies found that soft drinks are associated with increased caloric intake, higher body weight, a decrease in calcium and other nutrients, and increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The report, published in the American Journal of Public Health, also found that funding sources and study design had a strong impact on the findings, and noted that research funded by the food industry was much less likely to show detrimental effects from soft drinks than studies that received no industry funding.

— M.R.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 5/p.24,29

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