Saturday, November 05, 2011

Handful of nuts a day can help beat belly fat (?)

Maybe they would but the study below did not examine that

A handful of nuts a day can keep hunger at bay and beat belly fat, according to scientists.

This is the first time a link between eating nuts and higher levels of serotonin - a substance that decreases appetite, boosts happiness and improves heart health - has been detected.

Researchers from the University of Barcelona say that it only took one ounce of raw and unpeeled walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts a day to produce the positive health effects.

It is hoped the findings, published in the Journal of Proteome Research, will benefit patients with metabolic syndrome (MetS) which is characterised by excess abdominal fat, high blood sugar and high blood pressure.

Dietary changes along with the regular consumption of nuts, which
contain healthy fats and antioxidants, may help patients shed excess weight, decreasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The team led by Cristina Andris-Lacueva in collaboration with the Human Nutrition Unit of the Rovira i Virgili University said: 'An increased excretion of serotonin metabolites was associated for the first time with nut consumption.' Adding that the discovery raises the 'prospects for new intervention targets'.

During the study, scientists put 22 MetS patients on a nut-enriched diet for 12 weeks and compared them to another group of 20 patients who were following a nut-free diet. Compounds excreted in the patients' urine were then examined. Those consuming 30 grams of mixed nuts a day displayed higher serotonin levels.

Approximately 90 per cent of the body's serotonin is located in the gut while he remainder is found in the central nervous system where it regulates mood and appetite.

Most prescribed drugs used to treat conditions such as depression, anxiety disorder and social phobia treat are designed to alter serotonin levels.


Nanny state taxation

Comment from Australia

The nanny state’s irresistible urge to meddle in peoples’ choices, combined with government’s voracious appetite for revenue, is producing a new class of highly targeted behavioural taxes. France recently announced a new tax on sugary soft drinks (which has the typically French twist of harming mostly non-French companies). Meanwhile, Denmark has introduced a new tax on the saturated fat content of food (the ‘fat tax’).

Australia has its own examples. The Labor government introduced the ‘alcopops’ tax in 2009 and imposed a 25% increase in the excise on cigarettes last year. Both of these actions built on the existing excise system in the traditional domain of ‘sin taxes,’ but their motive was the same as the more recent and less traditional French and Danish taxes. Our government is also toying with the idea of using the tax system to jack up the price of wine so that the minimum price would be considerably above existing prices at the low end.

The recent tax forum in Canberra was held just as Denmark’s fat tax hit the news. There were calls from predictable quarters at the forum for Australia to follow suit. In contrast Gary Banks, Chairman of the Productivity Commission, sounded a strong note of caution against behavioural taxes, saying that much of the detail on how to change behaviour through taxation is unresolved and that behavioural taxes may produce perverse results.

Quite apart from Banks’ technical arguments about the effectiveness of behavioural taxes, there are other reasons for Australia not to follow France and Denmark:

* Such taxes take the state too far into the territory of attempting to influence choices freely made by individuals.

* By penalising the great majority who eat and drink in moderation, such taxes use a sledge hammer to crack a nut.

* They make the tax system more complex and more expensive to comply with – the Henry tax review rightly emphasised the need for simplification and broader tax bases.

* The unstated motive is often revenue-raising, but if more revenue is needed it should be raised more efficiently.

When new or increased behavioural taxes are announced, governments invariably say that the increase in revenue is incidental to the main motive. The test of their sincerity is whether they pocket the revenue or hand it back through cuts in other taxes. I have never known the latter to happen. I do not want to see Australian governments go further down the road of nanny-state taxation, but if they do then they should commit themselves to equivalent cuts in other taxes.


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