By Megan O. Steintrager
The Disease-Fighting Power of Omega-3s. New research from UCLA draws a link between the consumption of fructose and damage to genes in the brain, associated with a wide range of diseases including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
But the study has some good news, as well: The omega-3 fatty acid DHA “seems to reverse the harmful changes produced by fructose.” The study was on rats, not people, but this is hardly the first research to indicate that excess consumption of sugar is bad for us, nor the first to show the health benefits of omega-3s, which has been linked to improved heart and brain health, among other benefits. Our advice: Take this as a reminder to keep added sugar in your diet in check and to eat plenty of fish. Need an idea for dinner tonight? Try our recipes for Halibut in a Pouch with Leeks and Tomatoes and Grilled Wild Salmon with Avocado and Pickled Ginger.
Foods That Cause Acne — and Foods That Fight It. Here’s another reason not to go crazy on the sugar: Foods with a high glycemic index — that is, foods like sugar and white bread that cause a rapid blood sugar spike — may cause acne flare-ups, The New York Times reports. “Scientists aren’t sure why, but one reason may be that high glycemic foods not only cause blood sugar levels to rise but also prompt the release of various hormones, such as insulin, IGF-1 and growth hormone, which can exacerbate acne,” the article explains. Also on the bad list: low-fat dairy, but not full-fat varieties. Now for the good: Eating plenty of produce may help prevent pimples. The article specifically touts foods rich in polyphenols, which we discussed in last week’s Sound Bites. In addition to colorful produce, dark chocolate is a good source of polyphenols, which should help chocolate fight its reputation for causing breakouts.
Freaked out About Calcium Supplements? You many have seen some scary headlines recently suggesting that taking calcium supplements may cause heart attacks. The headlines were prompted by a study from researchers at Johns Hopkins and others that were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. But according to Nutrition Action, the study that caused the hubbub was misinterpreted by many in the media. While Nutrition Action says it’s safe to take a supplement if you don’t get enough calcium from food, they point out that you probably don’t need much, and that taking a daily supplement with 1,000 milligrams or more of calcium may raise the risk of kidney stones and hip fractures, while taking a daily supplement with 2,000 milligrams or more may raise prostate cancer risk.
Still confused and frustrated? It’s always best to talk to your doctor about which supplements you might (or might not) need. And keep in mind that the new study, along with other research, indicates that a diet rich in calcium — from actual food, that is — helps protect your heart. A few good sources of calcium include dairy products, sardines, tofu, and greens.
Yes, You Still Need to Hydrate in Cold Weather. As temperatures drop, so might your desire to drink plenty of water when you exercise. But your hydration needs don’t change much with the seasons, according to a new article from Triathlete. “I actually find that athletes are just as likely to become dehydrated during winter workouts,” writes Lauren Antonucci, MS, RDN. If the thought of chugging cold drinks in chilly weather is unappealing, try a nourishing bone broth or hot herbal tea.
High-Tech Personalized Nutrition Meets Meal Delivery. The meal delivery world just keeps growing. The latest service getting tons of buzz is Habit, a start-up with backing from Campbell’s Soup that promises to deliver meals tailored to your specific dietary needs based on, among other things, your DNA. “The company, which is launching in January, offers a $299 blood test to screen for 60 biomarkers, including amino acids, vitamin levels, and blood sugar, as well as some genetic variants that may play a role in how an individual responds to diet,” Fast Company reports.