Children sitting in front of the TV, play stations, or computers are munching on too many pretzels and not enough pistachio nuts. Moms, childrens’ caregivers, and school cafeteria personnel can choose to feed kids a modest amount of pistachio nuts instead of excess pretzels as snacks.
According to a new UCLA, Los Angeles, May 3, 2011 study and EurekAlert! news release, “Pistachios pummel pretzels as a weight-wise snack,” this first study of its kind now finds greater weight management support in pistachio nuts eaters, but not among pretzel snackers.
When it comes to healthy snacking and weight management, a new study bolsters the long-held view that not all calories are created equal. According to nutrition researchers at UCLA, choosing to snack on pistachios rather than pretzels as part of a healthy diet not only supports your body mass index (BMI) goals, but can support heart health too.
The study, recently published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition is especially significant in today’s diet as snack foods account for more than a quarter of the total caloric intake among Americans. “This study is important because it’s the first of its kind to show that pistachios can be part of a successful weight management program,” said Dr. David Heber, MD, PhD, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, according to the May 3, 2011 news release. “Snackers often think pretzels are a better choice for weight management compared to a nut like pistachios just because they are lower in fat. This study debunks that myth.”
Research Weighs In
In this 12-week randomized study, 52 overweight subjects were placed on a 500-calorie deficit diet and were assigned to either a pistachio snack or pretzel snack group. The pistachio group included a daily snack of 240 calories (about 75 pistachios) and the pretzel group, a two ounce snack of similar caloric value totaling 220 calories.
The results showed that the pistachio group had better success with supporting their body mass index (BMI) goals compared to the pretzel group and that pistachios can help support heart health too, proving that pistachios can be included in a healthy diet, even for those who are managing their weight.
Interestingly, with the pistachio group, 30 percent of total calories came from fat compared to the pretzel group providing 20 percent. Almost 90 percent of the fat found in pistachios is the healthy unsaturated type. Click here for more information on pistachio nuts. Pistachios also are a good source of fiber providing 3 grams per serving, that’s more than many types of whole fruit. Also check out other sources on nutrition such as the Harvard Health newsletter site, Healthy Eating: A guide to the new nutrition.
The UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, has been established to provide leadership in nutritional sciences at UCLA by facilitating interdisciplinary research, improving patient care, and creating educational initiatives for health professionals and the public. As we move into the 21st Century, healthy food and nutrition will be the central focus of our efforts to prevent and treat common chronic diseases like child and adult obesity, through integrating scientific, medical, and public health approaches.
Nutrition Objectives of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition
- Provide scientific leadership in nutritional sciences within the Center for the Health Sciences and the University of California, Los Angeles.
- Provide the support structure to enhance research, education, patient care, and community outreach in nutrition.
- Provide the resources and environment uniquely attractive and suited to unprecedented interdisciplinary integration of nutrition research.
- Continue to foster the pioneering tradition of Medical Center physicians and University scientists to study methods of using naturally occurring nutrients and chemicals in foods to treat and prevent disease like obesity and weight control problems.
- Increase the biodiversity and health benefits of the American diet.
Moms, food service personnel, and health care teams who are researching nutrition might also check out the website, PistachioHealth.com. The type of fats in nuts and the fiber, as long as you eat modest amounts, are under study in a wide variety of research programs nationally. But where can you find information for health professionals and consumers on pistachio nuts? You could check out the research at PistachioHealth.com if you’re looking for health-related information.
PistachioHealth.com, the leading online source of information on the health and nutrition benefits of pistachios, reaches more than 20,000 visitors each month. The site is offered in 12 languages and includes research updates and educational materials for both consumers and health professionals. “Like” PistachioHealth.com on Facebook and follow @pistachiohealth on Twitter. For more information about the health benefits of pistachios, visit the Pistachio Health website.
Whenever you learn about nutrition, you’ll usually find a need for a specific type of diet related to lifestyle, genetics, metabolism, or environment where changes can help. Although you can’t change your genes, you might be able to change your destiny by switching on the tags on your ‘good’ genes and switching off the tags on the ‘variant’ genes you don’t want to “take over.” Now let’s look at another study on how some mothers may pass a rare mitochondria variant to their children which also may pass high blood pressure from generation to generation, inherited only from the mother’s side of each family. The question then becomes, is there a special type of nutrition or diet that can help the children of moms with this DNA variant?
Some Mothers May Pass High Blood Pressure To Children Via Mitochondria (mtDNA) Variation
How rare, really, is this ‘rare’ phenomenon, where families are passing high blood pressure only from mother to male and female children through a variant in the mother’s mitochondria? And if this is being passed from generation to generation in your family, would nutrition that helps lower blood pressure help? That’s one of the questions being studied by researchers.
Nutrition that helps lower blood pressure includes fruits and vegetables that help the body create more nitric acid or fruits and vegetables that contain magnesium and potassium in the small amount needed to balance your body’s response to food. See the site, Foods That Lower Blood Pressure.
A new study done in China on why some mothers pass high blood pressure (hypertension) onto their children asks the question and opens the door to further research on the issue. Could a specific type of hypertension be caused by a genetic mutation in the mitochondria?
Interestingly, the fathers with high blood pressure aren’t passing this gene to their sons or daughters. In the case of this particular mutation in the mitochondria, the female relative passes the mutation to her children. That’s because fathers don’t pass mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups to their children. Mothers do.
A new study shows that a genetic mutation may be responsible for passing high blood pressure from one generation to the next. Check out the March 31, 2011 Web MD article, “Study Shows Genetic Mutation May Send High Blood Pressure to Next Generation,” by Kathleen Doheny. Check out the article.
The researchers found in these people a genetic mutation that affects the mitochondria. These are the ”powerhouses” of the cells that convert energy into useable forms. The discovery suggests that a mitochondrial DNA mutation could be the basis for high blood pressure in some people.
Do others with a specific genetic mutation in their mitochondria (mtDNA) pass high blood pressure to their children? The issue the researchers examined was whether the mutation reduces the cellular energy production. When the mitochondria is defective, the mutation allows the production of free radicals which can damage the cells.
The antidote might be taking more antioxidants and eating more foods containing antioxidants. But more research is needed. These mitochondrial dysfunctions may contribute to the development of hypertension. The new study is published in Circulation Research, a journal of the American Heart Association.
In the study, researchers tracked the maternal transmission of high blood pressure. The investigation began after one of its members developed high blood pressure at age 45. You might also find helpful the article, Super Foods That Lower Blood Pressure.
The mutation may be rare. For example, the researchers examined family members descended from one woman in the study, but could find no abnormalities to explain the elevated pressure. They went on to interview other family members. They found 15 of the 27 maternal relatives had high blood pressure even after treatment. Only seven of the 81 non-maternal relatives did. None of the offspring of the affected fathers had high blood pressure.
Because the high blood pressure was maternally transmitted, the researchers suspected involvement of the mitochondrial DNA. What the scientists found was a mutation on the mitochondrial tRNA-Ile gene, involved in reducing cellular energy production. More research is needed to find out whether maternally-inherited high blood pressure is linked to oxidative stress. And if it is, researchers want to know whether you can treat high blood pressure with antioxidants. For example, antioxidants have little or no side effects.
According to an article, “The Antioxidant,” of how antioxidants function at the Green Tea Library, antioxidants work against “electron stealing” by neutralizing and stabilizing free radicals. They do this by donating an electron so that singlet oxygen and other free radicals no longer have the urge to “steal.”
Your body produces a certain amount of antioxidants for the express purpose of taking care of such problems. But your body also needs the added help of antioxidants found in foods. Among others nutrients, antioxidants include beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, the mineral selenium, and various phytochemicals such as lycopene and quercetin. But the catechins, especially EGCg, are among the most powerful and effective antioxidants of all, according to the Green Tea Library’s explanation of antioxidants.
That’s why scientists are looking at what happens when there’s an increase in free radicals and then high blood pressure develops. An increase in free radicals seen with this mutation leads to a decrease in nitric oxide, which helps keep blood vessels relaxed. As blood vessels constrict and narrow, high blood pressure can result.
Nitric oxide can in some cases, open up and relax the blood vessels, and blood pressure may go down. At this point, more research is needed as mitochondrial malfunction will probably explain a very small percent of total cases, scientists report. Do you treat this type of maternally-inherited hypertension in some cases as a genetic variation or ‘defect?’
At this point no one really knows the mechanism of how the mutation is linked to high blood pressure. Scientists are doing more research. But for those with this genetic mutation, imagine how the insurance companies will treat you if you’re genetically screened for a defect in your mtDNA and charged accordingly. On the other hand, more research could lead to treatments with antioxidants, and in the future, hopefully a way to repair the mtDNA.
For people who have a type of high blood pressure that’s not responding to drugs, could a more natural approach be examined, for example, treating the condition with antioxidants? If the research pans out, perhaps people with high blood pressure (not due to tumors on the adrenal glands) might be looking at ways to more safely increase their nitric oxide with antioxidants. That’s why more research is necessary.
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For more info: browse my books, How Nutrigenomics Fights Childhood Type 2 Diabetes & Weight Issues (2008). Or see my books, How to Safely Tailor Your Foods, Medicines, & Cosmetics to Your Genes (2003) or How to Open DNA-driven Genealogy Reporting & Interpreting Businesses. (2007). Or browse my paperback book, Neurotechnology with Culinary Memoirs from the Daily Nutrition & Health Reporter. (2009).