A Summary of a Selection of Relevant Journal Articles:
1. The Functional Nutrients of Flaxseed and Their Effect on Human Health: A Review.
by Abebe Ayelign and Taddese Alemu (2016)
Flaxseed (Linum usitatisimum) also known as linseed is an ancient crop with a long history of cultivation. It was used for medical purposes in ancient Egypt and Greece, mainly to relieve abdominal pains. It has been used as ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, breakfast drinks, salad dressings, porridge, and as beverages.
To date, flaxseed is recognized as a functional food in the world’s food market because of its health benefits besides the basic nutrition. Functional foods are inventive and potential products, which can provide health benefits in addition to the basic nutrition . Flaxseed fits this depiction, because it is rich in ALA, phytochemical known as lignan, and crude fiber.
Eating flaxseed meal in different forms may have beneficial effect in preventing or reducing various forms of:
Further studies about the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) and more in vivo studies to ascertain the health benefits of flaxseed nutrients are recommended.
2. Primary and Secondary Prevention of Colorectal Cancer
by P.J. Tarraga Lopez, J. Solera Albero, J.A. Rodriguez-Montes (2014)
Cancer is a worldwide problem that affects 1 in 3 men and 1 in 4 women during their lifetime.
Colorectal or bowel cancer (CRC) is the second most frequent cause of death by cancer.
Modifiable risk factors of CRC include:
Screening programmes are only available in economically developed countries however attention needs to be paid to geographical areas with ageing populations and a western lifestyle. Screening done with people aged 55-64 years has been demonstrated to reduce the incidence of CRC by 33% and mortality by CRC by 43%.
The authors assessed the effect on the incidence and mortality of diet and lifestyle and to determine the effect of secondary prevention through early diagnosis of colorectal cancer.
There is no doubt whatsoever which environmental factors help account for the high cancer rates.
A modification of diet and lifestyle could reduce morbidity and mortality. Early detection through screening also improves prognosis and reduces mortality.
3. Should We Go Nuts About Nuts?
by S. Rohrmann and D. Faeh (2013)
It has been over 20 years since the first studies were published on the possible favourable health effects from nut consumption.
Nut consumption improves the body’s lipid profile and may influence inflammatory processes, oxidative stress, vascular reactivity and glycemic control.
The study by Guasch-Ferré et al. published in BMC Medicine which used information of the dietary intervention trial PREDIMED, provides additional convincing support for protective effects on cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality.
Guasch-Ferré et al. examined the association between consumption of almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts and walnuts (as a separate group) and mortality in nutrition intervention trials.
Compared to people who never consumed nuts, a decreased overall mortality was seen in those who consumed one to three servings (one serving = 28 g of nuts) per week and those who consumed three or more servings per week. An effect on overall mortality was also observed for walnuts and ‘other types of nuts’. The effect was similar for cardiovascular mortality, whereas for cancer mortality an inverse association was observed only in those eating three or more servings and only for walnuts.
‘Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces (42 g) per day of most nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.’ The European Union added in 2012 ‘Walnuts contribute to the improvement of the elasticity of the blood vessels.’ The claim may be used only for food that provides a daily intake of 30 g of walnuts.
The above analysis contributes further evidence that nut consumption is good for health and may prevent premature deaths. However, questions about specific constituents, amount, duration and type of nuts to be consumed remain to be elucidated. Meanwhile, we might need to focus on the question of how to better promote nut consumption in the population and sustainably integrate it into the daily diet. Currently, several dietary guidelines recommend replacing one of five servings of fruits and vegetables a day by a serving of nuts. This appears to be a simple and practical recommendation to start with.
4. Metabolic and Performance Effects of Raisins Versus Sports Gel as Pre-Exercise Feedings in Cyclists
by M. Kern, C.J. Heslin, R.S. Rezende (2007)
Study was designed to examine the potential differences in metabolism and cycling performance after consumption of raisins vs a commercial sports gel.
Eight endurance-trained athletes were fed 1g of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight from either raisins or sports gel 45 minutes prior to exercise.
Blood was collected prior to the exercise bout, as well as after the 45th minute of exercise to determine serum concentrations of glucose, unsulin, lactate, free fatty acids, and triglycerides.
Performance was not different between the raisin and gel trials.
Overall, minor differences in metabolism and no difference in performance were detected between the trials. Raisins appear to be a cost-effective source of carbohydrate for pre-exercise feeding in comparison to sports gel for short-term exercise bouts.
5. Dietary Intakes of Iron and Zinc Assessed in a Selected Group of the Elderly: Are They Adequate?
by D. Madej et al. (2013)
Many studies have demonstrated that the elderly consume a nutritionally inadequate diet that includes deficiencies in macro and microelements; iron and zinc being significant examples.
This study therefore assesses the adequacy of dietary iron and zinc intakes in the elderly.
The study was conducted on 102 elderly people over the age of 65 by tracking their food consumption over a three-day period.
The study found that 5% of respondents had an inadequate iron intake, while 44% showed deficits in zinc. Very high zinc deficiencies were observed in 20% of cases.
The insufficient energy intake that was observed among respondents contributes to a high risk of zinc deficiency. Zinc is necessary to ensure health in the elderly. This highlights the need for educating the elderly, especially with a focus on improving zinc intake without changing iron intake. This can be done through appropriate dietary choices such as including dairy, wheat bran, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, beans, lentils and nuts.
6. Childhood Obesity, Prevalence and Prevention
by M. Dehghan et al. (2005)
Childhood obesity has reached epidemic levels in developed countries. 25% of children in the US are overweight and 11% are obese. Being overweight or obese in childhood are known to have significant impact on both physical and psychological health.
The mechanism of obesity development is not fully understood and it is believed to be a disorder with multiple causes. Environmental factors, lifestyle preferences and cultural environment play pivotal roles in the rising prevalence of obesity worldwide.
In general, overweight and obesity are assumed to be the results of an increase in caloric and fat intake. On the other hand, there are supporting evidence that excessive sugar by soft drink, increased portion size, and steady decline in physical activity have been playing major roles in the rising rates of obesity all around the world.
Consequently, both over-consumption of calories and reduced physical activity are involved in childhood obesity.
Almost all researchers agree that prevention could be the key strategy for controlling the current epidemic of obesity. Until now, most approaches have focused on changing the behaviour of individuals in diet and exercise.
It seems, however, that these strategies have had little impact on the growing increase of the obesity epidemic. While about 50% of the adults are overweight and obese in many countries, it is difficult to reduce excessive weight once it becomes established.
Children should therefore be considered the priority population for intervention strategies. Prevention may be achieved through a variety of interventions targeting built environment, physical activity, and diet. Some of the potential strategies for intervention in children can be implemented by targeting preschool institutions, schools or after-school services as natural setting for influencing the diet and physical activity.
All in all, there is an urgent need to initiate prevention and treatment of obesity in children by influencing their diet and physical activity in their learning institutions.
7. Appetitive, Dietary and Health Effects of Almonds Consumed with Meals or as Snacks: A Randomized, Controlled Trial
by S.Y. Tan and R.D. Mattes (2013)
Snacks contribute toward a significant proportion of human total daily energy intake. This study investigated the effects of almonds, a satiating and nutrient-rich, common snack, on appetite, short term body weight and fasting blood paramaters when consumed with meals or alone as a snack.
The study lasted 4 weeks and entailed either eating 43g of almonds with breakfast or lunch, alone as a morning or afternoon snack or not eating any almonds at all. The 137 participants were all people who had an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
The results showed that almonds lowered serum glucose responses following a meal. Effects were most prominent in the snack groups. Almonds, consumed as snacks, also reduced hunger and desire to eat. Dietary monounsaturated fat intake was significantly increased in all almond groups.
Almonds provide post-ingestive metabolic and appetitive benefits and did not increase the risk for weight gain. This suggests that almonds may be a healthful snack option.
8. Phytochemicals in Quinoa and Amaranth Grains and their Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory, and Potential Health Beneficial Effects: A Review
by Yao Tang and Rong Tsao (2017)
Quinoa and amaranth are pseudocereal grains rich in both macronutrients and micronutrients including vitamins and minerals. Recent research strongly suggests that nonessential nutrients such as phytochemicals of quinoa and amaranth may also have potential health beneficial effects. It has been shown that the phytochemical composition of quinoa and amaranth seeds and the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of hydrophilic (water loving) and lipophilic (fat loving) nutrients, contribute to potential health benefits, especially in lowering the risk of the oxidative stress related diseases e.g. cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Quinoa and amaranth have been evaluated for their potential in lowering risk of type 2 diabetes. The amaranth grain and its oil fraction significantly decreased the serum glucose and increased serum insulin level in diabetic rats, thus amaranth seeds are beneficial for correcting hyperglycaemia and preventing diabetic complications.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the world’s number one cause of death and disability, and diet is one of the most important risk behaviors. Total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (LDL-c), triglyceride concentrations are the risk markers of CVD. Amaranth oil was found to lower total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL and VLDL cholesterols significantly in human subjects who took 18 mL per day for 3 weeks.
Quinoa and amaranth grains have been recognized as a complete food due to their excellent essential nutrients especially the amino acid balance and an array of phytochemical nutrients. They contain high quality fatty acids especially the PUFAs, and other lipophilic phytochemicals including carotenoids and tocopherols. The phytochemical composition of quinoa, amaranth and related food products contribute to antioxidant and anti-inflammation activities. The potential health benefits and/or issues related to the various phytochemicals of quinoa and amaranth seeds need further research.
9. Review of Dried Fruits: Phytochemicals, Antioxidant Efficacies, and Health Benefits
by Chang, Alasalvar and Shahidi (2016)
Nutrition plays a major role in the primary and secondary prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Consumption of fruits and vegetables is one of the essential nutritional recommendations to prevent NCDs. Numerous studies have demonstrated that the intake of 3–5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables would protect against NCDs. Dried fruits, which serve as important healthful snacks worldwide, provide a concentrated form of fresh fruits. . Daily consumption of dried fruits is recommended in order to gain full benefit of essential nutrients, health-promoting phytochemicals, and antioxidants that they contain, together with their desirable taste and aroma.
Dietary phytoestrogens present in dried fruits have attracted much interest due to their potential protective effects against various disease conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), osteoporosis, and menopausal symptoms. Apricots contain the highest amount of phytoestrogens among dried fruits, followed by dates, prunes, and raisins.
Various studies have reported the bioactive compounds and corresponding antioxidant activities of dried fruits (e.g., peaches and dates) which are always higher than those of their corresponding fresh counterparts. This is because antioxidants are concentrated after the dehydration process. Dried fruits are rich sources of antioxidant polyphenols. Pellegrini et al. (2006) determined the total antioxidant activity of some dried fruits (apricots, figs, prunes, and raisins) in which prunes had the highest value followed by apricots.
Dietary phytoestrogens in dried fruits also play beneficial roles in diabetes, bone health, breast cancer, CVD, and metabolic syndrome. Phytoestrogens have been shown to improve plasma triacylglycerol (TAG) and free fatty acid (FFA) concentrations by reducing intestinal cholesterol absorption. Therefore, it may be presumed that high amounts of phytoesterogens contained in dried fruits may potentially help to maintain normal glucose and lipid metabolism in both healthy populations as well as in obese/diabetic patients.
Various scientific evidence suggest that individuals who consume dried fruits regularly have a lower risk of CVD, obesity, certain types of cancer, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and osteoporosis as well as other NCDs. The health benefits of dried fruits are mainly due to the additive and synergistic combinations of their essential nutrients and phytochemicals related to their antioxidant activities. Dried fruits are essential sources of potassium and dietary fibre with a low amount of fat (0.32– 0.93 g/100 g). It has been reported that consuming 40 g (on a per serving basis) of dried fruits supplies 3.8–9.9% of potassium and more than 9% of dietary fibre for recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for adults. High intake of potassium can help in reducing blood pressure. High fibre diets are recommended to reduce the risk of developing various NCDs, including type II diabetes, obesity, diverticulitis, colorectal cancer, and CVD.
10. A Review of the Relationship Between Pulse Consumption and Reduction of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors
by Padhi and Ramdath (2017)
Pulses are valuable dry grains from leguminous crop with excellent nutritional properties and numerous bioactive compounds, including phytochemicals, bioactive peptides, and fermentable fibres. Pulses reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, primarily by altering plasma lipid composition. Pulses also lower CVD risk by other mechanisms, including increased satiety, thereby reducing food intake and the accumulation of excessive adipose tissue; through improvements in glycemic control; and by reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
The absolute and relative concentrations of the plasma lipids LDL cholesterol (LDL-C), HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C), and triglycerides (TG) are integral to defining CVD risk. Indeed, elevated LDL-C is a well-established CVD risk factor and a target for CVD risk reduction involving pharmaceutical and lifestyle interventions. Although pharmacological therapy remains the primary mode of CVD prevention among high-risk individuals, dietary modifications make significant contributions toward reducing CVD risk. Pulses contain several components with bioactive properties, including fibres, polyphenols, and protein fractions. The cardio-protective effect of dietary pulses is partially explained by the high content of viscous soluble fibres as soluble fibres lower cholesterol through a number of mechanisms.
There is good evidence emerging to suggest that pulses may lower CVD risk by increasing satiety, thereby reducing food intake and the accumulation of excessive adipose tissue. An accumulating body of evidence suggests that pulses incorporated into energy-restricted diets designed for weight loss exert additional improvements in plasma lipid concentrations that may be independent of body weight reduction, thus defining an additional role for dietary pulses in reducing CVD risk through weight management and reducing adiposity.
Data from observational studies consistently demonstrate that consuming dietary pulses lowers incident CVD and mortality. The mechanism underlying this cardio-protective effect appears to be related to the ability of pulse legumes to attenuate total cholesteroland LDL-C, The evidence available to date suggests consuming a diet enriched with whole pulses results in a significant and clinically meaningful reduction in total cholesterol and LDL-C, supporting a role for dietary pulses in the management and prevention of CVD.
11. Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA: Health Benefits Throughout Life
by Swanson, Block and Muosa (2012)
Fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA have been associated with fetal development, cardiovascular function, and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, because our bodies do not efficiently produce some omega-3 fatty acids from marine sources, it is necessary to obtain adequate amounts through fish and fish-oil products. Studies have shown that EPA and DHA are important for proper fetal development, including neuronal, retinal, and immune function. EPA and DHA may affect many aspects of cardiovascular function including inflammation, peripheral artery disease, major coronary events, and anticoagulation.
Several studies confirmed the benefit of omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy in terms of proper development of the brain and retina. EPA and DHA supplementation during pregnancy has been associated with longer gestation and increased concentrations of EPA and DHA in fetal tissues. There is also evidence that mothers who use EPA and DHA supplementation during pregnancy and breastfeeding may protect their children against allergies. This may be due to the fact that fish-oil supplementation has been associated with decreased levels of body cells associated with inflammation and immune response.
Chronic inflammation is thought to be the cause of many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease. EPA and DHA are thought to have antiinflammatory effects and a role in oxidative stress and to improve cellular function through changes in gene expression. Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to play a role in atherosclerosis and peripheral arterial disease (PAD). It is thought that both EPA and DHA improve plaque stability, decrease endothelial activation, and improve vascular permeability, thereby decreasing the chance of experiencing a cardiovascular event.
There have been many studies conducted regarding the use of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and AD. DHA is present in large amounts in neuron membrane phospholipids, where it is involved in proper function of the nervous system, which is why it is thought to play a role in AD.
The omega-3 PUFA EPA and DHA are important throughout life and are a dietary necessity found predominantly in fish and fish-oil supplements. The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are essential for proper fetal development, and supplementation during pregnancy has also been linked to decreased immune responses in infants including decreased incidence of allergies in infants. Omega-3 fatty acid consumption has been associated with improved cardiovascular function in terms of antiinflammatory properties, PAD and reduced major coronary events.
12. Food-Based Solutions for Vitamin D Deficiency: Putting Policy into Practice and the Key Role for Research
By Hayes and Cashman (2016)
There is widespread acknowledgement of the presence of vitamin D deficiency in the community and the pressing need from a public health perspective to address this deficiency. Recent re-evaluations of dietary reference values (DRV) for vitamin D have established intake requirements between 10 and 20 µg/d. National nutrition surveys indicate that mean intakes of vitamin D in the population are typically in the range 3–7 µg/d. Creative food-based solutions are needed to bridge the gap between current intakes and these new requirement values.
Benchmarking European population intakes against a vitamin D intake value of 10 µg/d shows that there is between 55 and 100 % of adults (19–64 years) and older adults (>64 years) with inadequate intakes. Typical average intakes by adult populations in the European Union are generally about 3–7·5 µg/d, depending on the country. While recommending improving intake of naturally occurring vitamin D-rich foods would appear intuitive, it is the least likely strategy to counteract low dietary vitamin D intake due to the fact that there are very few food sources that are rich in vitamin D. Relying on supplements is not an appropriate public health strategy to increase intakes across the population distribution either because supplements are only effective in those who consume them and uptake within the population would generally be too low to provide widespread population protection. Food fortification may represent the best opportunity to increase the vitamin D supply to the population.
Currently within Europe, fortification practices vary between countries and may be applied voluntarily by manufacturers or implemented by national legislation. There is little doubt that vitamin D-fortified dairy foods play a key role in addressing low vitamin D intakes, especially where there is mandatory fortification.
There is little doubt that current European population intakes of vitamin D fall short. Increasing vitamin D intakes across the population distribution is important from a public health perspective to reduce the high degree of inadequacy of vitamin D intake in Europe and elsewhere, which contribute to prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. Fortification, including biofortification, of a wider range of foods, is likely to have the potential to increase vitamin D intakes across the population distribution and in so doing minimise the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D-biofortified eggs are a good example of one of these novel food-based solutions, which together with other vitamin D-containing foods, can play a role in tackling low vitamin D intakes. Research has had, and will continue to have, a key role in terms of developing food-based solutions and tackling vitamin D deficiency.