May 1, 2006
Great Grain Debate
The debate over the benefits of refined versus whole grains continues. Eating the recommended three servings of whole grains may have more benefits than people think, according to a study that unlocks their fat-fighting secrets. Agricultural Research Service chemist Nancy Keim and her University of California-Davis colleagues followed 10 healthy female volunteers on three-day regimens of whole grain or refined grain diets. The scientists found that the women, ages 20 to 45, who ate refined grain diets — such as sugar or white flour — had higher levels of triglycerides, associated with a higher risk of heart disease. Keim is planning a larger follow-up study later this year. For more information, visit www.ars.usda.gov.
There is more “wonder” in that slice of enriched bread than previously thought. A recent study found that the number of deaths from stroke in North America has decreased by 5% since the introduction of folic acid fortification. First introduced in 1998 to reduce birth defects, folic acid fortification of enriched grain products has lessened stroke mortality rates in the United States and Canada. Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compared stroke mortality rates in the two countries from 1990 to 1997 and 1998 to 2002 with those from England and Wales, which do not require folic acid fortification. England and Wales were found to have increased its mortality rate, while the United States decreased by 2.9 % and Canada decreased by 5.4 percent after 1998. The findings were published in Circulation journal.
Soy might become the hip new word in baked goods, thanks to a new deodorized soybean variety developed by the National Agricultural Research Organization in Japan. The non-GMO naturally deodorized L-Star soybean is free of the enzyme that is known to produce an “off” or “beany” flavor in some soy products. Low-carbohydrate soy flour containing little or no added wheat flour currently is in development for doughnuts and cakes. L-Star, which claims to be the only one of its kind currently set for use in the U.S. food industry, currently is being formulated into various food products by the University of Georgia. These new soybeans would be healthier and have three times the Vitamin E levels of traditional soybeans because of their lack of need for deodorization. For more information on L-Star soybeans, visit www.l-starsoy.com.
Stick to it!
Your scale isn’t lying. A recent study by the Agricultural Research Service found that sticking to a diet is more important than the type of diet in order to lose weight. Some 160 overweight or obese volunteers were assigned to stick to one of four popular diet plans — the low-carb Atkins diet, low-fat Ornish diet, high-protein Zone diet and calorie-and-portion-control Weight Watchers plan — for one year. Those who completed the 12-month regimen on any diet plan had modest, but significant, weight reductions and a 10% improvement in cholesterol balance. It also found that two-thirds of volunteers were able to stay on the more moderate Weight Watchers and Zone plans versus half the participants who were able to stick with the more extreme Atkins and Ornish plans. The study’s findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and Agricultural Research, show the importance of choosing a diet that restricts calories but also is best suited to one’s food preferences, lifestyle and health status … and sticking to it!