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Sugary Drinks, Foods Might Put Teens at Risk for Heart Disease

Teens whose diets include lots of sugary drinks and foods show physical signs that they are at increased risk for heart disease as adults, researchers from Emory University report. Among 2,157 teens who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the average amount of added sugar eaten in a day was 119 grams (476 calories), which was 21.4 percent of all the calories these teens consumed daily, the researchers noted. “We need to be aware of sugar consumption,” said lead researcher and postdoctoral fellow Jean Welsh. “It's a significant contributor of calories to our diet and there are these associations that may prove to be very negative,” she said. “Sugar-sweetened soft drinks and sodas are the major contributor of added sugar and are a major source of calories without other important nutrients.” Awareness of the negative effects of added sugar may help people, particularly teens, cut down on the amount of sugar they consume, Welsh added. “Parents and adolescents need to become aware of the amount of added sugar they are consuming and be aware that there may be some negative health implications if not now, then down the line,” she said.

The report is published in the Jan. 10 online edition of Circulation.

Welsh's team found that teens who consumed the most added sugar had 9 percent higher LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, and 10 percent higher triglyceride levels (another type of blood fat), compared with those who consumed the least added sugar. Teens who took in the highest amount of added sugar also had lower levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol than those who consumed the least amount of added sugar. In addition, teens who consumed the highest amount of added sugar showed signs of insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes and its associated risk of heart disease, the researchers found.

The American Heart Association has recommended an upper limit for added sugars intake, based on the number of calories you need. “Most American women [teens included] should consume no more than 100 calories of added sugars per day; most men, no more than 150 calories,” the association states.

One caveat to these findings is that because of the way the study was done it is not clear if added sugars caused the differing cholesterol levels, only that they are linked. In addition, the data are only for one day and may not reflect the teen's usual diet, the researchers noted. Commenting on the study, Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, said that “this study does not prove that dietary sugar is a cardiac risk factor in this population, but it strongly suggests it.”

The paper has three important messages, he said. First, dietary sugar intake in a representative population of teenagers is nearly double the recommended level. Second, the higher the intake of sugar, the greater the signs of cardiac risk, including elevated LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Third, the apparent harms of excess sugar are greater in overweight than in lean adolescents.

“Sugar is by no means the sole dietary threat to the health of adolescents, or adults,” Katz said. “But we now have evidence it certainly counts among the important threats to both. Reducing sugar intake by adolescents, to prevent them becoming adults with diabetes or heart disease, is a legitimate priority in public health nutrition,” he said.

SOURCES: HealthDay; Jean Welsh, M.P.H., Ph.D., R.N., postdoctoral fellow, Emory University, Atlanta; David L. Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Prevention Research Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.; Jan. 10, 2011, Circulation, online

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Beetroot juice could help people live more active lives

Beetroot juice could help people live more active lives

New research into the health benefits of beetroot juice suggests it's not only athletes who can benefit from its performance enhancing properties – its physiological effects could help the elderly or people with heart or lung-conditions enjoy more active lives.

Beetroot juice has been one of the biggest stories in sports science over the past year after researchers at the University of Exeter found it enables people to exercise for up to 16% longer. The startling results have led to a host of athletes – from Premiership footballers to professional cyclists – looking into its potential uses. A new piece of research by the university in conjunction with the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry has revealed the physiological effects of drinking beetroot juice could help a much wider range of people.

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In the latest study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, the researchers looked at low intensity exercise and found that test subjects used less oxygen while walking – effectively reducing the effort it took to walk by 12%. Katie Lansley, a PhD student from the university's Sport and Health Sciences department and lead author of the study, said: “As you get older, or if you have conditions which affect your cardiovascular system, the amount of oxygen you can take in to use during exercise drops considerably. This means that, for some people, even simple tasks like walking may not be manageable. “What we've seen in this study is that beetroot juice can actually reduce the amount of oxygen you need to perform even low-intensity exercise. In principle, this effect could help people do things they wouldn't otherwise be able to do.”

When consumed, beetroot juice has two marked physiological effects. Firstly, it widens blood vessels, reducing blood pressure and allowing more blood flow. Secondly, it affects muscle tissue, reducing the amount of oxygen needed by muscles during activity. The combined effects have a significant impact on performing physical tasks, whether it involves low-intensity or high-intensity effort. So far the research on the impacts of beetroot juice has only been carried out on younger people who are in good health, but the researchers believe there is no reason why the effects of beetroot juice wouldn't help others. “While we haven't yet measured the effects on the elderly or those with heart or lung conditions, there is the potential for a positive impact in these populations which we intend to go on and investigate further,” Katie Lansley added.

Beetroot juice contains high levels of nitrate. The latest study has proved that this is the key ingredient which causes the increase in performance, rather than any other component of the beetroot juice. Professor Andy Jones, the senior scientist on the study and a pioneer of research into beetroot juice, said: “In this study, we were able to use – for the first time – both normal beetroot juice and beetroot juice with the nitrate filtered out. Test subjects didn't know which one they were getting. The drinks both looked and tasted exactly the same. Each time the normal, nitrate-rich juice was used, we saw a marked improvement in performance which wasn't there with the filtered juice – so we know the nitrate is the active ingredient.”

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Amount of Alcohol You Drink Greatly Affects Your Diet

According to a new study by researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the USDA, conducted a study with 15,000 adults in the United States, and found that people who drink too many alcoholic beverages are more likely to eat less fruit and consume more calories from a combination of alcoholic beverages and foods high in unhealthy fats and sugar.

“Heavy drinking and dietary factors have independently been associated with cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and other chronic health problems,” said NIAAA Acting Director Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D. “This finding raises questions about whether the combination of alcohol misuse and poor diet might interact to further increase health risks.”

“We found that as alcoholic beverage consumption increased, Healthy Eating Index scores decreased, an indication of poorer food choices,” said first author Rosalind A. Breslow, Ph.D., an epidemiologist in NIAAA's Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research.

A previous study by Dr. Breslow showed that the more alcohol people drink, the poorest quality diets they had. In addition to eating less fruits and vegetables, the researchers also found that increased alcoholic beverage consumption was associated with a decreased intake of whole grains and milk among men.

“Our findings underscore the importance of moderation for individuals who choose to consume alcoholic beverages, and a greater awareness of healthy food choices among such individuals,” says Dr. Breslow.

It is very important to control the amount of alcohol you consume. It could greatly affect you health.

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Serving Size vs. Portion Size : What’s the difference

Let’s look at some examples:

You eat 2 waffles for breakfast

  • One serving from the Food Guide Pyramid is equal to 1 waffle.
  • So that means if you ate 2 waffles, you also ate 2 servings from the grains group.

Here are some other common portions and their respective Food Guide Pyramid serving sizes:

Common portions that people eat Food Guide Pyramid Serving Size Total servings per Food Guide Pyramid
1 bagel ½ bagel = 2 servings
1 English Muffin ½ English muffin = 2 servings
1 Hamburger bun ½ bun = 2 servings
1 cup cooked rice ½ cup cooked rice = 2 servings
1 cups cooked pasta ½ cup cooked pasta = 2 servings

In each food group, look at these different Food Guide Pyramid examples indicating 1 serving each. How do these compare with what your portions look like?

  • Grains
  • 1 slice bread, waffle or pancake
  • ½ bagel, hamburger bun, or English muffin
  • ½ cup cooked rice, pasta or cereal
  • 1 cup ready to eat cereal
  • Vegetables
  • ¾ cup (6 fluid ounces) 100% vegetable juice
  • 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables or salad
  • ½ cup cooked or canned vegetables
  • Fruits
  • 1 medium apple, orange or banana
  • ½ cup fruit (canned, cooked or raw)
  • ½ cup (4 fluid ounces) 100% fruit juice
  • ¼ cup dried fruit (raisins, apricots or prunes)
  • Milk
  • 1 cup milk or yogurt
  • 2 ounces processed cheese (American)
  • 1 ½ ounces natural cheese (cheddar)
  • Meat and Beans
  • 1 tablespoons of peanut butter counts as 1 ounce
  • ¼ cup nuts or 20-24 almonds
  • 1 medium size egg
  • 2-3 ounces of poultry, meat or fish (2-3 servings)
  • ¼ cup of beans

Tips on how to visually estimate 1 serving size

 

Grains Group
1 oz. bread or 1 slice of bread CD case
10 French fries Deck of cards
½ cup cooked rice or pasta Computer mouse
Vegetables Group
1 cup raw leafy vegetables Baseball
½ cup vegetables Computer mouse
Fruit Group
1 medium fruit such as an apple or an orange Tennis ball or the size of your fist
¾ cup juice 6 ounce juice can (1 ½ servings)
½ cup chopped or canned fruit Computer mouse
Milk and Milk Products Group
1 ounce cheese Pair of dice or the size of your thumb
1 ½ ounces cheddar cheese 2 (9-volt) batteries
1 cup of milk 8 ounce carton of milk
8 ounces yogurt Baseball or tennis ball
Meat & Beans Group
3 ounces of meat, fish or poultry Deck of cards (3 servings)
2 tablespoons of peanut butter Ping–pong ball (2 servings)
½ cup cooked beans Baseball (2 servings)

Try these ideas to help control portions at home:

  •  When your child is hungry and looking for a snack take the amount of food that is equal to one serving (refer to the Nutrition Facts label) and have your child eat it off a plate instead of eating it out of the box or bag.
  • Don’t be tempted to finish off leftover dinner the next day. Freeze leftovers as single servings so that you can pull it out of the freezer when you need a quick, healthy meal for your family.
  • Be prepared and have emergency snacks on hand if your family is running late and needs a quick snack. Make your own snack bags for traveling by reading the Nutrition Facts label and placing a single serving size into plastic bags.
  • Have your child measure out a single serving of food before sitting in front of the television or doing other activities that can distract him/her from realizing how much food is being consumed. This way your child will know exactly how much he or she is eating!

Serving sizes on food labels are sometimes different from the Food Guide Pyramid servings. For example, the serving size for beverages is measured in cups or fluid ounces. Whether it is milk, juice, or soda the nutrition facts labeling guidelines is 1 cup or 8 fluid ounces, which equals 1 serving size. However, the Food Guide Pyramid serving size for milk is 1 cup, but for juice it is ¾ cup.

So, even though the amount of 1 serving on nutrition facts labels and the Food Guide Pyramid may be slightly different it is still a great tool to help you and your child decide if you are getting enough or too much food each day. Encourage your child to get familiar with the serving sizes because smart eating is an essential part of growing and staying healthy!

Source: Nourish Interactive.

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Vitamin D – What you need to know

Some people may be at risk of not getting enough vitamin D because they don’t get enough in their diet or because they have more limited sun exposure which reduces the amount of vitamin D their bodies make. Those at risk include:

  • Breastfed infants require 400 IU vitamin D per day from birth. Because breast milk is naturally low in vitamin D and infants are not usually exposed to the sun, a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU is recommended. Healthy term infants fed infant formula do not require a vitamin D supplement as it is already added to the formula.
  • Pregnant women should consume vitamin D from food (for example, from a least 3 glasses of milk der day) or supplements (usually 200-400 IU is provided in a supplement) to ensure the baby is born with optimal vitamin D in their body. If a supplement is taken, be sure not to exceed 2000 IU vitamin D per day.
  • Adults over 50 years may not prodce vitamin D in skin as well as when they were younger. It is recommended that adults (men and women) over 50 years take a supplement of 400 IU / day.
  • People with skin darkly pigmented with melanin are less able to make vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. Since many people with darker skin colour also avoid vitamin D fortified milk due to lactose intolerance, their dietary intake of the vitamin may be low, so extra vitamin D, such as the amount typically found in a general multivitamin-mineral supplement (200-400 IU) would be a good idea.
  • People with limited sun exposure sun exposure is limited due to mostly living or working indoors, wearing clothing such as long robes and head coverings, then it is wise to carefully choose vitamin D rich foods (see above) or to take a vitamin D supplement, such as the amount typically found in a general multivitamin-mineral supplement (200-400 IU).
  • Some medical conditions such as Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, surgical removal of part of the stomach or intestines, and some forms of liver disease, interfere with absorption of vitamin D. Being overweight and obese causes fat to stay stored in fat tissues and not be released into the blood, preventing vitamin D from being available to the body. If you have one of these conditions, check with your doctor to ask if a vitamin D supplement is needed.
  • Can I take too much vitamin D?

    Yes. Too much vitamin D can be harmful. The total daily intake from food and supplements combined should not exceed 1000 IU for infants and young children and 2000 IU for adults.

    The Bottom Line

    Most people, except those in the risk groups noted above, can get enough vitamin D if they eat enough vitamin D rich foods (for example, milk, vitamin D fortified foods and some fatty fish) and if they engage in safe sun practices. If you are concerned about your vitamin D status, discuss the issue with Nastaran.

    Source: Dietitians of Canada. Reproduced with Permission. Note: The Australian adequate intake is 200 IU however Nastaran recommends 400 IU as per the Canadian recommended intake.

     

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