Posts Tagged “nutrition”

New Study Highlights The Health Benefits Of Eating Pistachios

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DSCN2875+1By The American Pistachio Growers

FRESNO, Calif. — Eating pistachio nuts does not contribute to weight gain or an increased body mass index – a measure of body fat based on height and weight – when included in a balanced diet, according to a scientific review of several clinical studies. This is among the many findings described in a review article published in the British Journal of Nutrition titled, “Nutrition attributes and health effects of pistachio nuts.” The article analyzes the results of more than 100 research studies and clinical trials regarding nut consumption and health, highlighting the potential health benefits of pistachios, which are a source of plant-based protein, vitamins and minerals and also a good source of fiber.

Pistachios and Weight Management

Reviewers analyzed randomized controlled trials that looked at pistachios’ effect on body weight and found that diets that include pistachios have not been linked to weight gain. In fact, one study found a decrease in body mass index, and another noted a significant decrease in waist circumference for those who ate pistachios.

An important component of weight management is satiety, the feeling of fullness after eating, and evidence shows that all nuts help promote satiety, suppress hunger and inhibit eating.

Heart Disease

Researchers also looked at five studies that examined the effects of pistachios on heart disease. Many of the studies found that diets that include pistachios tend to be linked to significantly lowered cholesterol and blood pressure levels, even for those who are at high risk of diabetes.


Researchers found that a one-ounce serving of pistachios (about 49 nuts) provides 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein and 11 percent of the RDA of fiber for adults. With three grams of fiber per serving, pistachios rank among the top two nuts in fiber content. The authors note that fiber intake is linked to decreased weight gain and helps lower the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.

Pistachios vs Other Nuts

  • Vitamin Content: Pistachios contain Vitamin K and the B vitamins, including thiamin (B1), pyridoxine (B6), and folic acid (B9).
  • Mineral Content: Pistachios contain a number of minerals, including potassium, magnesium, calcium, copper, and manganese, which are thought to play a role in blood pressure control, bone health management, and the prevention of several chronic diseases.
  • Antioxidant Support: Numerous studies suggest that pistachios contain phytochemicals that may act as antioxidants in the body.
  • Role in Eye Health: Pistachios contain approximately 13 times more lutein and zeaxanthin (carotenoids) than the next highest nut. High amounts of these carotenoids are found in the retina of the eye and are known to benefit eye health, which may help prevent vision loss associated with aging.

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Cut Prices, Sell More Produce (No Kidding!)

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DSCN5886The importance of lower prices as a way to promote the purchase and consumption of fruit and vegetables has been highlighted by Researchers from Deakin University’s Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research (C-PAN).

The study was released after the first Australian evidence that cutting prices can be an effective way to get people to buy more fresh produce.

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the C-PAN “Supermarket Healthy Eating for Life” (SHELf) trial found that a 20 per cent price reduction in fruit and vegetables resulted in increased purchasing per household of 21 per cent for fruit and 12 per cent for vegetables over the price reduction period.

Crucially, the study also found that the price reduction worked equally well across both low and high income groups – good news for low income groups who are at particular risk of poor diets and associated ill health.

The study, the first of its kind ever done in Australia, was led by Professor Kylie Ball from C-PAN and focused on female primary household shoppers.

“Women remain primarily responsible for food selection and preparation and as household food ‘gatekeepers’, represent important targets for nutrition interventions.

“We also know that individuals from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds tend to have lower intakes of fruits and vegetables and higher intakes of energy-dense, nutrient poor foods than their more advantaged counterparts.

“High costs are often given as a reason that people don’t eat more fruit and vegetables, but until now we didn’t know much about how effective price reductions might be.

“A staggering 95 per cent of the Australian adult population do not eat enough fruit and vegetables for good health, so strategies to help people to eat more fruit and vegetables are urgently needed,” she said.

The C-PAN study is the first rigorously designed trial in Australia and one of only a few in the world to test how price reductions in real world settings where people select and purchase food influence purchases of different foods and beverages


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Avocado Study Reveals Why Consumers Buy the Fruit

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DSCN4628600 consumers preferred nutrition and sensory over other themes when participating in a Hass Avocado Board marketing study, Engaging and Influencing Shoppers at Shelf.

20 messages were among other themes in the study, which was intended for use on retail display shelves, signs and point-of-sale materials, and were a call to action and usage or occasion.

“Our goal was to ascertain message themes that resonate most with consumers, and in particular, understand which messaging within each theme motivates purchases of hass avocados,” Emiliano Escobedo, executive director of the Irvine, Calif.-based board, said in a news release.

Under the sensory theme, “Naturally Delicious” was the most popular tagline and most likely to motivate purchase. The consumers, all primary shoppers, were drawn by the promise of taste and the sense of “real” food that “may be good for you,” the study cited.

Among the nutrition messages, “Naturally Good Fats” was the top choice, deemed simple, important and believable. Also popular were “Cholesterol Free” and “Good Fat in Avocados Can Replace Saturated Fat.”

It found ratings varied by consumption level, with “super heavy” and heavy users — who buy 120-plus or 37-plus avocados per year, respectively — responding more positively overall to shelf messaging. The study also included medium buyers, who purchase 12 to 36 avocados annually.

Each tagline was tested with identical graphics.

As a second objective, the study measured reactions to everyday category signs. Messages tested were “Fresh Avocados,” “Hass Avocados,” and “Ripe Avocados.” Of those, the former was the most likely to drive purchases.

“The information in this study is intended to help retailers enhance their messaging to appeal to their core market,” Escobedo said in the release. “In-store presentation and messaging are important factors influencing the shopper’s decision to purchase hass avocados.”


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Survey Indicates Greater Interest in Healthy Eating

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DSCN3876+1The latest Kitchen Audit survey by The NPD Group indicates consumers are showing reinvigorated interested in fresh, more healthful options, based upon the appliances, cookware, utensils and food ingredients they have on hand in their kitchens.

Shoppers are stocking their pantries with more almond milk, Greek yogurt, quinoa and sea salt than they were in 2011, revealing growth in the focus shoppers place on nutrition.

Additionally, consumption of fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and eggs grew by 20 percent to more than 100 billion eatings between 2003 and 2013, and NPD forecasts that all three meal occasions will get even fresher over the next five years, particularly driven by younger generations.

“The fact that U.S. consumers are stocking items that are perceived fresher or healthier speaks to the bigger picture needs of consumers today,” says Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst.  “Not that people are stopping the consumption of other items that historically have been on hand in kitchens, but what people are grabbing for more readily seems to be toward the fresh side with more healthful benefits.”

For example, Greek yogurt, which maintains a strong source of protein, rose from a market penetration of 9 percent in 2011 to 29 percent in 2014.

Likewise, Quinoa, a popular “super food,” increased its presence in U.S. kitchens by 8 percent since 2011 and is now a staple in 13 percent of households, based on NPD’s audit.

And both Sea Salt and Almond milk, healthier alternatives to their popular counterparts, have each seen a 6 percent increase in household penetration in that four-year period.

Now in its 8th edition, the 2014 Kitchen Audit study is based on reporting by a nationally representative sample of approximately 2700 U.S. households.

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Mango Research Suggests Good Health, Disease Prevention

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IMG_6527There has long been research — both anecdotal and data-based — suggesting a positive link between the eating of fruits and vegetables and healthy outcomes, including disease prevention.

The National Mango Board is working to pursue the connection, specifically with mangos, and has some research on its side. The board is publicizing early results of some studies and  refining the nutrition message as it promotes mango and green papaya salad.

New mango nutrition research on obesity and cancer are the subjects recently presented at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Boston.  The research identifies important findings that merit further investigation to determine whether mangos can potentially have a positive effect on blood sugar in obese individuals and help to limit inflammation.

An Oklahoma State University study examined the effects of daily mango consumption on the obese. Twenty adults participated in the study, consuming significant amounts of mangos in a dried form for 12 weeks.  Blood sugar levels at the conclusion of the study were significantly lower than the baseline in both male and female subjects, but there were no significant changes in body composition for either gender.

Texas A&M had another study on the effects of polyphenols found in fresh mangos on cancerous and non-cancerous breast cells, which were examined. This study suggests that mango polyphenols might limit inflammatory response in both cancerous and non-cancerous breast cells. Because this was an in vitro study, more research is needed to determine whether mango polyphenols can have the same effect in humans.

The National Mango Board is actively marketing the nutrition message, which claims that mangos are a nutrient-rich fruit containing more than 20 different vitamins and minerals. The NMB states that mangos are an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamins C and A. Vitamin C is important for wound healing and immune function; and vitamin A is critical for vision and helps maintain healthy skin.

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An Apple a Day May Prevent Hardening of the Arteries

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Eating an apple a day might in fact help keep the cardiologist away, according to research from Ohio State University.

In a study of healthy, middle-aged adults, consumption of one apple a day for four weeks lowered by 40 percent blood levels of a substance linked to hardening of the arteries.

Taking capsules containing polyphenols, a type of antioxidant found in apples, had a similar, but not as large, effect.

The study, funded by an apple industry group, found that the apples lowered blood levels of oxidized LDL — low-density lipoprotein, the “bad” cholesterol. When LDL cholesterol interacts with free radicals to become oxidized, the cholesterol is more likely to promote inflammation and can cause tissue damage.

“When LDL becomes oxidized, it takes on a form that begins atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries,” lead researcher Robert DiSilvestro, professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University and a researcher at the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research & Development Center, said in a press release. “We got a tremendous effect against LDL being oxidized with just one apple a day for four weeks.”

The difference was similar to that found between people with normal coronary arteries versus those with coronary artery disease, he said

The study is published online in the Journal of Functional Foods and will appear in a future print edition.

DiSilvestro described daily apple consumption as significantly more effective at lowering oxidized LDL than other antioxidants he has studied, including the spice-based compound curcumin, green tea and tomato extract.

“Not all antioxidants are created equal when it comes to this particular effect,” he said.

DiSilvestro first became interested in studying the health effects of eating an apple a day after reading a Turkish study that found such a regimen increased the amount of a specific antioxidant enzyme in the body.

In the end, his team didn’t find the same effect on the enzyme, but was surprised at the considerable influence the apples had on oxidized LDL.

For the study, the researchers recruited nonsmoking healthy adults between the ages of 40 and 60 who had a history of eating apples less than twice a month and who didn’t take supplements containing polyphenols or other plant-based concentrates.

In all, 16 participants ate a large Red or Golden Delicious apple purchased at a Columbus-area grocery store daily for four weeks; 17 took capsules containing 194 milligrams of polyphenols a day for four weeks; and 18 took a placebo containing no polyphenols. The researchers found no effect on oxidized LDLs in those taking the placebo.

The study also found eating apples had some effects on antioxidants in saliva, which has implications for dental health, DiSilvestro said. He hopes to follow up on that finding in a future study.

The study was conducted as a master’s thesis by graduate student Shi Zhao, and was funded by a grant from the U.S. Apple Association/Apple Product Research and Education Council and a donation from Futureceuticals Inc. of Momence, IL.

Also involved in the study were associate professor Joshua Bomser and research associate Elizabeth Joseph, both in the Department of Human Nutrition, which is housed in the university’s College of Education and Human Ecology.

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Website Covers Safe Fruits and Vegetables

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A recent Stanford University nutritional comparison study has generated intense consumer interest about the differences between conventionally and organically grown fruits and vegetables.  But, a website – – was created specifically for consumers who are interested in science based information and perspectives about the safety of both conventional and organic produce.
“The Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) wanted to create an information resource for people so that they can make educated shopping decisions for themselves and their families,” says Marilyn Dolan, Executive Director for the AFF.  “We think the information presented on will reassure consumers that they can choose either organic or conventionally grown products with confidence.  The science and the facts support that both production systems are very safe,” Dolan explains.
The website features information from experts in the fields of toxicology, nutrition, risk analysis, consumer attitudes, organic and conventional pesticide usage trends and farming.  “One of the most popular features is the calculator function on the website,” Dolan says. This function allows consumers to click on who they are (man, woman, teenager or child) and then select their favorite fruit or vegetable.  The tool then calculates the number of servings you would have to eat in a day and still not see any effect from pesticide residues.  “The calculations show a consumer would literally have to eat hundreds to thousands of servings  – no matter if you are an adult or a child – and still not see any health impact from pesticide residues,” Dolan adds.
The calculator function and corresponding report was developed using information from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Pesticide Data Program.  The USDA’s monitoring data was analyzed by Dr. Robert Krieger, a toxicologist who heads the Personal Chemical Exposure Program at University of California, Riverside. It should be noted that Dr. Krieger was asked to analyze the highest residue levels found by USDA.
Another report “Scared Fat” features new consumer research results concerning how fear based messaging and marketing tactics are actually becoming a barrier to consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables, especially among low income consumers.  “The survey showed that almost 10% of low income consumers stated they would reduce consumption of fruits and vegetables after hearing commonly used messaging that calls into question the safety of fruits and vegetables,” Dolan says.
Dolan points out that this month the USDA’s Economic Research Service issued a report that showed 10% of American households were not able to provide their children with “adequate, nutritious” food at times during 2011.  “The USDA report illustrates the real issue,” Dolan says. “Low income consumers already struggle to put healthy and nutritious foods on their tables.  This is why reassurance that more affordable produce is nutritious and safe is of crucial importance if we are to improve the diets of Americans and lower obesity rates.  Misguided  safety fears cannot become another barrier to increasing consumption of the very foods that health experts say we should be eating more of,” Dolan explains.
Other popular sections on the website include “Ask the Experts,” which features videos of farmers explaining how they control pests and diseases on their organic and conventional farms, a list of the most popular fruits and veggies with explanations on their nutritional value, regular blog postings and consumer food safety tips.
“These are only a few examples of the information that can be found on and there is just so much more,” Dolan explains.  “We hope provides consumers with a place that they can go to read and learn more so they can make educated shopping choices,” Dolan says.  “But we also hope that this information helps them to include more fruits and vegetables in their diets with confidence.”
The Alliance for Food and Farming is a non-profit organization formed in 1989 which represents organic and conventional farmers and farms of all sizes.  Alliance contributors are limited to farmers of fruits and vegetables, companies that sell, market or ship fruits and vegetables or organizations that represent produce farmers.  Our mission is to deliver credible information to consumers about the safety of all fruits and vegetables.  We do not engage in lobbying nor do we accept any money or support from the pesticide industry.  In the interest of transparency, our entire 2011 tax return is posted on

Source: Alliance for Food and Farming

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Asian Pears: Tasty, Nutritious and Pricey

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Consumers tend to absolutely love Asian pears.  It is a very attractive looking fruit and somewhat resembles a golden delicious apple.   The hosui variety harvest in California ends in  mid-September, but thanks to storage is available in supermarkets through April or May.

Availability in stores will be at peak levels until around New Year’s.  Asian pears tend to be a little pricy, but folks that love ’em will pay extra.   This piece of fruit shown in the photo cost $1.21.

Around mid October consumers will also begin to see Asian pears  from Japan arriving in stores.


An Asian pear contains approximately 51 total calories. Carbohydrates account for 47 calories, fat contributes 2 calories and protein provides the remaining 2 calories. An Asian pear provides 3 percent of the daily value (DV) for total calories based on a diet of 2,000 calories per day.

The fruit has 13g of total carbohydrates. Simple sugars provide 9g of this total and dietary fiber accounts for the remaining 4g. An Asian pear has 4 percent of the DV for total carbohydrates and 18 percent of the DV for dietary fiber. An Asian pear doesn’t have any complex carbohydrates.

It contains 0.3g of fat, or less than 1 percent of the DV for fat. It doesn’t have any unsaturated fats, trans fats or cholesterol. An Asian pear also contains 0.6g of protein, which is slightly more than 1 percent of the DV for protein.

An Asian pear contains 8 percent of the DV for vitamin C, 7 percent of the DV for vitamin K and 2 percent of the DV for folate. It also has 4 percent of the DV for potassium, 4 percent of the DV for manganese, 3 percent of the DV for copper and 2 percent of the DV for magnesium. An Asian pear provides 1 percent or less of the DV for all other vitamins and minerals.


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Study Touts Nutrition in Kiwifruit

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Besides being one of the better priced items in your produce deparment this year, a new study touts the benefits of eating kiwifrut..

Kiwifruit have long thought to be a nutritional powerhouse.  But a new nutritional analysis published in the peer reviewed journal Nutrition Today further verifies that fact.  The author of the paper, Dr. Keith Singletary, Professor Emeritus of Nutrition at the University of Illinois, found that in addition to its antioxidant benefits, kiwi fruit can also help the digestive tract and even your skin.

“Potential benefits include a rich source of antioxidants, improvement in gastrointestinal laxation, lowering of blood lipids, and alleviation of skin disorders,” as stated in the published paper titled, “Kiwifruit:  Overview of Potential Health Benefits.”

The Nutrition Today paper stated that kiwifruit is also a rich source of vitamin C as well as folate, potassium and dietary fiber.  The paper cited ongoing, preliminary research that is investigating other possible health benefits associated with kiwi consumption. “The fruit’s content of nutrients and biologically active phytochemicals has stimulated investigations into its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions that might then help prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer and other degenerative disorders.”

The California kiwifruit growers, as a member of the International Kiwifruit Organization (IKO), partnered with other kiwifruit growers around the world in conducting the research that further affirms these known potential nutritional benefits of consuming kiwifruit. 

California represents 98% of U.S. kiwifruit production or about one-third of all the fresh kiwifruit supplies in the United States during the season.  California farmers produce up to eight million trays of the nutritious fruit from September to May with its primary production in October and November.  As domestic production from California has increased, kiwifruit has become an increasingly popular fruit for Americans.

The 2012/13 crop is well on its way into the growing season and the mild summer weather California has experienced thus far is sure to promote good size and great flavor.

The full Nutrition Today article can be viewed here.

Source: California Kiwifruit Growers

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