Archive For The “Health” Category

Examining Whether Eating Berries Reduces the Effects of Stress

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More consumption of berries has been associated with reduced stress indicators, according to a study by Penn State University. Published in the journal Nutrients, the research looked at the link between berry consumption and the allostatic load in U.S. adults.

According to the research abstract, allostatic load is an aggregate measure of chronic stress-induced indicators across cardiovascular, metabolic, autonomic and immune systems. The research found that greater consumption of berries was associated with a lower composite allostatic load score.

“The mean [allostatic load] composite scores for consumers of any berries (11.9), strawberries (11.6), and blueberries (11.6), respectively, were significantly lower than nonconsumers (12.3), after fully adjusting for sociodemographic, lifestyle, and dietary confounders,” the abstract said. “A significant dose-response relationship was determined between greater consumption of total berries, strawberries, and blueberries and lower mean [allostatic load] composite scores.”

In conclusion, researchers said that “increasing berry intake is a simple dietary modification that could reduce stress-related morbidity/comorbidity and promote health.”

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Research Reveals Orange Peel Extract Can Improve Heart Health

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Recent studies reveal that orange peel extracts may help combat cardiovascular disease, offering a new use for this often-wasted citrus byproduct.

According to the American Heart Association, of Hispanic adults over 20 in the United States from 2015 to 2018, 52.3% of men and 42.7% of women had cardiovascular disease, a condition that caused 31,864 deaths among men and 26,820 among women of all ages.

Research has shown that some intestinal bacteria help in the development of cardiovascular disease. When they feed on certain nutrients during digestion, these bacteria produce Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). According to researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, TMAO levels may help predict future cardiovascular disease.

With the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, University of Florida’s UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center professor Yu Wang and her research team studied the potential of orange peel extracts, rich in beneficial phytochemicals, to reduce TMAO and trimethylamine (TMA) production. The scientists experimented with two types of extracts: a polar fraction and an apolar fraction.

To obtain the different polarity fractions, the scientists used polar and nonpolar solvents in the orange peels.

“Imagine your salad dressing, whatever is in the water or vinegar part is the polar fraction; whatever is in the oil away from the water is the non-polar fraction,” Wang said in remarks reported by the University of Florida.

“The solvents we used were not exactly like water and oil, but they have similar polarity,” she added.

According to the university, study results showed that extract of the non-polar fraction of orange peel effectively inhibits the production of harmful chemicals. The researchers also identified a compound called feruloyl putrescine in the extract of the polar fraction of orange peel, which also significantly inhibits the enzyme responsible for the production of TMA.

“This is a novel finding that highlights the potential of feruloyl putrescine in health by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease,” Wang said.

The finding in orange peel is significant because 5 million tons of peels are produced each year during juice production in the United States. Nearly 95% of Florida oranges are used to make juice, with half of the peels going to livestock feed, and the rest going to waste.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers the natural extracts in orange peel to be safe for human consumption. Therefore, Wang hopes to put them to better use.

“The findings suggest that orange peels, often turned into waste in the citrus industry, can be reused as valuable health-promoting ingredients, dietary supplements, or food ingredients. Our research paves the way for the development of functional foods enriched with these bioactive compounds, providing new therapeutic strategies for heart health,” Wang said.

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Cantaloupe Burger is Created by New York Chef

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Last month the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board (CCAB) introduced an exciting new concept for a meatless burger to attendees at the International Fresh Produce Association/Foundation for Fresh Produce (FFP) Consumer Connection Conference in Dinuba, CA.

“What better place to roll out our new campaign featuring this unique vegan burger made from fresh cantaloupe?” said Garrett Patricio, Chairman of CCAB and President of year-round melon supplier, Westside/Classic. “This group already understands that fresh produce suppliers can gain new customers, especially younger ones, with exciting ideas for using fresh produce.”

As part of the the Consumer Connection Conference, Emily Holdorf, influencer and community manager for FFP, shared data showing that Gen Z consumers are more health-focused than other generations. As an example, they are under indexing in alcohol consumption and over indexing in meat alternatives.

“This is exactly why we tapped New York-based Chef Will Horowitz who has developed a series of interesting meatless options using fresh produce like prosciutto made from radishes, hot dogs from carrots and even a watermelon ham,” said Marilyn Freeman, Farmers Communications Exchange, which serves as the marketing and public relations firm for the CCAB. “We were really excited for the produce industry members and influencers attending Consumer Connection to meet Will and to try the cantaloupe burger.”

Will Horowitz, the creator of the cantaloupe burger is an acclaimed New York based chef, food writer and culinary consultant.

Hailed by the NY Times in a 2016 front-cover exposé as a “fearless explorer of all things culinary.” He is most known as the former owner of well-awarded New York City restaurants Ducks Eatery and Harry & Ida’s Meat and Supply Co. And he is the inventor of multiple international food products and viral social media sensations. He specializes in integrating heritage food techniques and ingredients into modern renewable practices.

“For me as a chef, we want consumers to have all the options they are looking for. With the rise of vegan and plant-based diets, restaurants really don’t have a lot of options,” explains Horowtiz. “With items like the cantaloupe burger, we can take whole vegetables and whole fruits and prepare them using old processes like smoking, barbecuing and grilling. For us that’s much more of a natural route than taking something that is over-processed or created in some sort of laboratory and really isn’t in the same ethos as a farm-to-table restaurant.”

“We heard about Will and his watermelon “ham” that went viral back in 2018 before his restaurants closed during the pandemic,” explains Patricio. “But when we learned he had developed a cantaloupe burger, we were intrigued. After speaking with him about how and why he creates these products, we knew he would be a great fit with cantaloupe farmers and the produce industry in general.”
“We designed the cantaloupe burger so that consumers can look at this fruit in a completely new, reimagined way,” explains Horowitz. “In this concept, we wanted cantaloupe to really be the star of the plate. And people love burgers.

“The cantaloupe burger came about simply because of how much moisture was in the melon and how delicious they are from the start,” Horowitz continues. “We started by taking slightly under ripe cantaloupe, curing it and smoking it, so that when you bit into it, it wasn’t too sweet. I wouldn’t say it’s a replica of a burger. It’s really its own beautiful thing.”

The CCAB campaign has dubbed this smoked cantaloupe burger the Possible Burger. The recipe is posted on the organization’s website and this summer it will be promoted widely on social media. A how-to video, consumer giveaways, and more information about Will and why he created this concept will be coming soon.

“We started out letting the marketing professionals attending Consumer Connection try the burger,” said Freeman. “It was really well received and a lot of people were truly surprised at how great it tastes. A video of conference attendees experiencing the Possible Burger for the first time is featured here.”

According to the CCAB, this recipe can be made at home.

“We hope consumers will suspend their previous beliefs about cantaloupe and give this a try. Why not?” says Patricio.

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Health Benefits of Table Grapes to be Promoted in Upcoming Season

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Findings from a research program have shown that regular grape consumption is beneficial to heart, brain, skin, colon and immune health.

A study published in 2023 in scientific journal Food & Function that looked at the impact of regular grape consumption on biomarkers for eye health found that eating grapes for 16 weeks improved key markers for eye health in older adults, reports the California a Table Grape Commission of Fresno, CA.

Findings have been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Journal of the American Academy of DermatologyJournal of Cancer Management and Research and Journal of Nutrition Research.

The California Table Grape Commission will focus on the health benefits of the Golden State’s table grapes as it launches its 2024-25 global marketing campaign, said Kathleen Nave, commission president.

The campaign, designed to drive demand for California table grapes, will target the U.S. and 21 export markets.

“Consumer research conducted in 2023 in the U.S. and 12 export markets showed that, in all markets, grape purchasers were motivated to purchase fresh grapes by knowing grapes have health benefits,” the commission noted. “Therefore, health messaging is a key component of the marketing campaign, and a new campaign focused on healthy snacking will launch with the new season.”

The commission is celebrating 25 years of its grape and health research program this year.

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Connection Between Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Sleep Examined: New Study

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Woman with cart choosing fresh sweet yellow peppers in a supermarket, family shopping. Female customer in shop, buyer in market

A new study from Finland has examined the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and sleep duration — and the results are mixed.

Both short and longer sleepers reported consuming fewer fruits and vegetables than normal sleepers, the study shows.

The study, according to the research abstract, examined the association between sleep duration and fruit and vegetable consumption among Finnish adults, considering the role of demographic, socio-economic and chronotype as confounders.

Participants in the study reported their habitual sleep duration and dietary consumption through a validated self-administered questionnaire, the abstract said. The study evaluated data from the “National FinHealth 2017 Study” involving 5,043 adults aged 18 years and above.

Average dietary consumption was compared across three sleep duration categories: short, normal and long. The data revealed short sleepers consumed 37 grams (about 1.3 ounces) per day fewer fruits and vegetables than normal sleepers, while long sleepers consumed 73 grams (almost 2.6 ounces) per day fewer fruits and vegetables than normal sleepers.

“Specifically, short sleep was significantly associated with lower consumption of total fruits and vegetables,  green leafy vegetables, root vegetables, and fruit vegetables, with similar patterns observed for long sleepers,” the abstract said.

“In conclusion, this study suggests a consistent pattern where deviation from normal sleep duration was associated with decreased fruit and vegetable consumption, suggesting the need for considering sleep patterns in dietary intervention,” the abstract said.

Researchers said more studies are needed to study the association between fruit and vegetable consumption and sleep duration.

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Reasons Consumers are not Eating Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: New Research

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Washington, DC — Consumers are thinking about what’s healthy for both people and the planet— with fresh fruits and vegetables top of mind. But despite the best of intentions, new research from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) reveals significant barriers to produce consumption.

“Spring is the time when people are planning gardens and planting seeds; it is also typically a time when lists of which fruits and veggies are safer for you to eat start to circulate on newsfeeds,” Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, IFIC President & CEO, said.

“Our consumer research shows Americans consider how their food was grown when making food decisions, yet at the same time, Americans have never been more removed from the farm. It is our mission to help bridge that gap with consumer insights and science communications.”

According to the 2024 IFIC Spotlight Survey: Public Perceptions Of Pesticides & Produce Consumption, the majority of Americans (91%) consider how their food is grown when making food and beverage decisions; less than one in ten (8%) never consider how it travels from farm to fork.

Keeping food safe (70%) and the use of pesticides (60%) are top concerns when considering how food is grown. Nutritional content, use of agricultural technology, environmental sustainability, animal welfare, and farm workers welfare were other listed concerns consumers factor into their purchase decisions.C

Pesticides are commonly utilized by farmers for pest control as a tool to protect public health by ensuring safe and sufficient food production. Pesticides are regulated by several government agencies worldwide. Yet it is clear consumers remain confused regarding the methods, reasons, and situations where pesticides are used.

Many Americans (47%) believe that “organic agriculture does not use pesticides to grow food,” despite the fact that both organic and conventional produce are grown with the use of pesticides.

Nearly 60% of Americans who are concerned with pesticide use believe consuming foods grown with pesticides are bad for their health, 36% believe that pesticides used today are “more toxic than they have ever been,” and 35% believe pesticides are bad for the environment.

Of the Americans who are not concerned about pesticide use, 35% cited they rinse their fresh produce, and 29% “trust farmers to use pesticides responsibly.”

“The pesticide residue found on both conventional and organic produce has time and time again been found to be present in minute amounts. Multiple government agencies confirm that these low residue levels do not pose a health or safety risk, yet consumers are still clearly concerned,” explained Tamika Sims, PhD, IFIC Senior Director of Agriculture Technology Communications. “I would simply recommend that consumers wash their fresh produce with cold water prior to consuming, to remove any remaining residues.”B

According to the data, when a consumer is concerned about pesticide use, the majority simply avoid purchasing or consuming vegetables (71%) and fruits (59%) altogether.

“Low intake of fruits and vegetables by Americans is not a new phenomenon—it’s been chronically low for decades,” explained Reinhardt Kapsak. “This research highlights gaps in not only consumer understanding of pesticides, but also how harmful misinformation can further widen the fruit and vegetable consumption gap in the U.S. and around the world. Our aim is always to empower consumers with evidence-based, truthful information. We must reassure Americans that consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables—in all forms and from all production methods—is safe, nutritious, and important for their health and well-being.”

Research Methodology

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) commissioned an online research survey with consumers based in the US to measure knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about pesticides and their application in food production. One thousand adults aged 18+ years completed the survey from February 9-13, 2024, and responses were weighted to ensure proportional results. The Bayesian confidence?level for 1,000 interviews is 3.5, which?is?roughly equivalent to a margin of error of ±3.1 at the?95%?confidence level.

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization with a mission to effectively communicate science-based information about food safety, nutrition, and sustainable food systems, serving the public good. To fulfill this mission and demonstrate its thought leadership in action, IFIC:?1) delivers best-in-class research and consumer?insights to inform food, nutrition, and health stakeholders; 2) promotes science communications to positively impact consumer behavior and?public health; and 3) convenes critical thought leaders?to advance the food systems dialogue and science-based decision-making. For more information, visit and our resource hub; Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and X

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New Study Looks at Fresh Produce Positive Affects in Fighting Sleep Apnea

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Sleep apnea (OSA) affects nearly one billion people around the world. It is a condition known to increase the risk for cardiometabolic diseases.

Because of its association with obesity, weight management through caloric restriction is the most commonly taken course of action to mitigate the effects of OSA.

However, a new study is looking at diet quality over caloric intake in hopes of treating this condition.

Researchers Yohannes Adama Melaku, Lijun Zhao, Robert Adams, and Danny J. Eckert took cross-sectional data from 14,210 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey participants to determine the association of plant-based dietary indices (PDI) with OSA risk.

“Higher adherence to a healthy plant-based diet is associated with reduced OSA risk, while an unhealthy plant-based diet has a positive association,” the research stated.

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Food as Medicine Strategy is Effective, According to New Study

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A new study of programs concludes providing free, weekly home delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms helped improve health outcomes.

The research, presented at the March 18-21 American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Scientific Sessions 2024 in Chicago, said the home delivery of fresh produce improved recipients’ nutrition levels, physical activity levels and cardiovascular disease risk factors.

A summary of the research said that after 16 weeks of free, weekly home delivery of fresh produce, study participants boosted their fruit and vegetable consumption by almost half of a serving per day and added 42 minutes to their weekly level of physical activity.

One year later, participants had better blood sugar control and lower bad cholesterol levels compared to adults who did not receive free, weekly produce deliveries, according to the research summary. The study also found that adults who participated in the free, weekly produce program had improved cardiovascular health measures.  

“We all know that eating healthier foods, like fruits and vegetables, is good for you, however, sometimes we focus too much on finding a simple solution rather than taking small, preventative measures to improve health,” lead study author Lisa Goldman Rosas, an assistant professor in the department of epidemiology and population health and the department of medicine at Stanford School of Medicine, said in a news release. “Food as Medicine programs, such as the Recipe4Health program we studied, aim to shift the focus to ensuring a healthy diet including fresh fruits and vegetables is consistently accessible and affordable to all people to help improve health outcomes.”

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Research Shows Benefits of Daily Avocado Consumption

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As the common proverb goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. After a recent Penn State study, it appears the same may be true about avocados.

Nutritional science researchers Kristina Petersen and Penny Kris-Etherton found, in a study of 1,008 U.S. consumers, that eating just one avocado a day improved overall diet quality among participants.

“Previous observational research suggests avocado consumers have higher diet quality than non-consumers,” Petersen said in a press release. “So, we developed this study to determine if there is a causational link between avocado consumption and overall diet quality.” 

The scientists examined changes in the Healthy Eating Index, a measure of diet quality based on national Dietary Guidelines, after the addition of a daily avocado. 

They used an exploratory analysis approach to examine changes over 26 weeks. Petersen and Pugh hoped to assess the link between HEI and food intervention on cardiometabolic risk–related outcomes, as few past clinical trials have evaluated diet quality change.

They randomly split participants into two groups. One continued its usual diet, limiting avocado intake, while the other incorporated one avocado a day.

Of the control group, 72% were female. The self-reported racial and ethnic distribution of the cohort was 69% white, 21% Hispanic, 15% Black, and 6% Asian. The remaining 10% either did not answer, were listed as American Indian, or checked multiple races or ethnicities.

At week 26, a greater increase in the HEI score was observed in the avocado-supplemented diet group than in the habitual diet group. The reason for the change was more surprising than the outcome.

 “We determined that participants were using avocados as a substitute for some foods higher in refined grains and sodium,” Petersen said. “In our study, we classified avocados as a vegetable and did see an increase in vegetable consumption attributed to the avocado intake, but also participants used the avocados to replace some unhealthier options.”

Petersen said she hopes implementation of healthier diets will help reduce incidents of chronic and preventable conditions, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and kidney disease.

The Avocado Nutrition Center supported the study but did not contribute to data analysis or interpretation, the university said.

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‘A Dozen Reasons’ to Enjoy Safe and Healthy Fruits and Vegetables

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It’s time for the Alliance for Food and Farming’s annual “A Dozen Reasons” list to celebrate the bounty of choices in the produce aisle and remind everyone why it’s so important to eat more fruits and vegetables for better health and a longer life.

Nutrient-dense, delicious and filled with goodness, fruits and vegetables offer it all. Plus, decades of nutritional studies (mostly using conventionally grown produce) have shown that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables prevents diseases, improves physical and mental health and increases lifespan.

Here’s our 2024 list of A Dozen Reasons to Eat More Produce:

1) Apples: In addition to the many disease-fighting nutrients in an apple, red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin, which can help fortify your immune system, especially when you’re under stress. And remember to eat the peel, which is rich in fiber and antioxidants.

2) Bell Peppers: Peppers are rich in Vitamin A and C. And the yellow, orange and red peppers are also high in beta carotene which has been shown to have cancer-fighting benefits.

3) Berries: Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Eat them together for a powerful nutrient-rich punch.

4) Cherries: Cherries are a good source of antioxidants, which studies have indicated may reduce the risk of heart disease. Can’t sleep, suffering from jet lag? Try eating some cherries. This delicious fruit also contains melatonin, which regulates sleep cycles and may be a helpful food for fighting jet lag and insomnia.

5) Grapes: Grapes of all colors are a natural source of beneficial antioxidants and other polyphenols, including the stilbenoid resveratrol, which studies have shown positively influence immune function. Big words to describe a nutritional benefit for this powerful little fruit.

6) Green Beans: A vegetable staple in many households, green beans are a good source of vitamins include Folate, and Vitamin A and C. But did you also know that green beans are a good source of minerals, especially manganese, that supports your metabolism and has antioxidant abilities.

7) Leafy Greens, Like Kale and Spinach: Often referred to as superfoods, studies have recently shown that in addition to disease-fighting characteristics, leafy greens keep your mind healthy too. Peer reviewed research found that people who ate one to two servings of leafy greens per day had a slower rates of cognitive decline.

8) Peaches and Nectarines: Juicy and delicious, these fruits provide 10 different vitamins plus fiber and potassium. Pregnant? Not only are these nutrient-rich fruits good for your growing baby, but the abundance of potassium assists in preventing muscle cramps and keeps energy levels up.

9) Pears: This fruit is high in fiber, a good source of Vitamin C and contains natural antioxidants. Including pears in your diet lowers the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease while promoting a healthy complexion and increased energy.

Reasons 10, 11 and 12:

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown to:
• Improve mental health by promoting a greater sense of well-being;
• Give your skin an attractive glow;
• Promote healthy weight maintenance;

And to make it a baker’s dozen, peer reviewed research has shown that if half of Americans increased their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables by a single serving, 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented annually.

Choose the produce that you prefer and is affordable and accessible for you and your family. Organic and conventional – decades of studies and government sampling data show that both production methods yield very safe food that consumers can eat with confidence. Don’t let anyone or any group discourage or scare you away from choosing the produce you enjoy.

And remember to follow the advice of the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and wash your fruits and vegetables. According to the FDA, washing produce under running tap water can reduce and often eliminate any minute pesticide residues, if present at all, as well as dirt and bacteria.

Visit and @safeproduce to learn more about produce safety.

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