Friday, January 13, 2012

Health secrets of walnuts... They are loaded with antioxidants that fight disease (?)

This is all just assertion, part of the antioxidant religion. It is a religion because deliberate antioxidant intake is in fact associated with REDUCED lifespans. See the sidebar here

The festive season may be over, but there is at least one Christmas treat worth making a habit of eating throughout the year – walnuts. Scientists have discovered they are the healthiest nuts to eat as they are loaded with antioxidants.

Snacking on as few as seven a day could help ward off disease and lower cholesterol, they claim.

Walnuts contain very high levels of polyphenol, an anti-oxidant which can protect the body from molecules which damage tissue. Walnuts contained the most polyphenol out of a list of nine commonly eaten types of nuts, tests revealed.

Brazil nuts and pistachios were close behind, and cashews and hazelnuts had slightly lower levels of antioxidants.

Professor Joe Vinson, from the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania, said walnuts inhibit the growth of ‘bad’ cholesterol. He said: ‘Walnuts rank above Brazil nuts, pistachios, pecans, peanuts, almonds, macadamias, cashews and hazelnuts. ‘Walnuts had the highest free and total polyphenols in both the combined and roasted samples’.

Despite the ‘superfood’ potential of walnuts, peanuts are the favourite with consumers and account for 45 per cent of the nuts bought in Europe.

The antioxidants in peanut butter were considerably lower than in roasted peanuts, the study found.

Dr Vinson said many people were put off by the seemingly high fat content of nuts, but they contained only polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats, rather than artery-clogging saturated fats. He added: ‘Nuts are high in fibre, low in saturated fats, high in beneficial unsaturated fats, and very high in antioxidants. ‘Nuts are a nutritious snack providing both nutrients and bioactive antioxidants which provide significant health benefits.’

Advising consumers to keep the portion size small, Dr Vinson said it takes only about seven walnuts a day to get the potential health benefits. The antioxidants found in raw walnuts were 15 times as powerful as Vitamin E, which can protect the body against damaging natural chemicals. Roasted cashew nuts contained just double the level found in Vitamin E.

Nuts have long been promoted as a nutritious snack by health professionals.

Pecans contain around a sixth of the recommended daily allowance for zinc, which is vital for the functioning of white blood cells that fight bacteria and viruses, including colds and flu.

A couple of handfuls of shelled pistachios have more potassium than a banana. This can help control blood pressure, as part of a healthy diet, because potassium blunts the effects of salt.

And the brazil nut is the richest source of selenium, a nutrient that helps protect cells. Higher selenium levels have been linked with a reduced risk of certain cancers such as bladder and prostate.


Is breast really best? Study finds babies fed on formula milk cry less and are easier to get to sleep

A lot of foot shuffling over that below!

It is often said that breast is best. But bottle-fed babies are the best behaved. A study of British infants found those who were breast-fed cried more, smiled and laughed less and were harder to soothe and get off to sleep than their formula-fed counterparts.

In one of the first studies of its kind, the temperament of more than 300 babies was assessed when they were three months old.

This was done by asking their mothers to answer almost 200 questions about their children from how they responded to being washed and dressed to how easy they were to get down to sleep.

The results varied little between boys and girls, socio-economic status of the parents or the mother’s age. However, there was a clear link with the method of feeding, the journal PLoS ONE reports.

Researcher Ken Ong, of the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge, said that the cries of a breast-fed baby don’t necessarily mean it is hungry. Instead, the child may simply be seeking the comfort and closeness of its mother.

Dr Ong, a paediatrician, said: ‘If anything, what might account for the difference is that bottle-fed babies possibly get more nutrients than is typical. ‘Research suggests that these infants may be over-nourished and gain weight too quickly. ‘Our findings are essentially similar to other stages of life; people often find that eating is comforting.

‘Rather than being put off breast-feeding, parents should have more realistic expectations of normal infant behaviour and should receive better understanding and support to cope with difficult infant behaviours if needed. ‘These approaches could potentially promote successful breastfeeding, because currently many mothers attempt to breastfeed but give up after the first few weeks.’

Breastfeeding has been shown to help protect babies against obesity, eczema and ear, chest and tummy bugs. Avoiding formula can cut the odds of child being a fussy eater in later life, as well as cut the woman’s odds of some cancers and help with weight loss.

Despite this, Britain has one of the lowest breast-feeding rates in Europe. Around three-quarters of new mothers start breastfeeding but by four months, this number has dropped to just a one-third.

Professor Nick Wareham, director of the MRC Epidemiology Unit, said that while the results don’t prove breastfeeding to be the cause of the babies’ irritability, learning more about the subject could help boost breastfeeding rates.

But others said that in some cases only a bottle will satisfy a baby’s hunger.

Clare Byam-Cook, a former midwife who has taught celebrities such as Kate Winslet and Natasha Kaplinsky how to feed their babies, said: ‘Breast is definitely best – as long as mother and baby are thriving on it. ‘But if your baby is crying and unsettled and when you give it a bottle it becomes calm and settled, then a bottle is best.

‘If you offer the baby a bottle and he doesn’t settle, then something else is the problem and the mother needs to find out what it is.’


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