Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

Power Peas and Dinosaur Broccoli Trees

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Scientists have long appreciated the importance of consistent scientific names for plants. Now they’re beginning to appreciate the power of common names, too — at least over vegetable-averse preschoolers.

Anyone who’s tried to get a preschooler (or any kid, or adult for that matter) to down the recommended five fresh fruits and vegetables a day by resorting to playing airplane, reciting “this little piggy went to market,” bribery, and other choice tactics will certainly appreciate a new Cornell study that was presented on Monday at the annual meeting of the School Nutrition Association in Washington,  DC. The researchers found that veggies with snazzy names had the little ones begging for more. When 186 four-year-olds were given carrots called “X-ray Vision Carrots,” for example, they ate nearly twice as much as they did on the days when they were offered plain old “carrots.” And the magic spell persisted—the kids continued to eat about 50 percent more even on the days when the carrots were no longer labeled.

Memo to plant breeders and parents: Remember Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Name them so fresh vegetables will not seem so atrocious….

Fighting Obesity With a Farmer’s Market

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Faculty and students at The University of Texas School of Public Health Brownsville Regional Campus have come up with a new way to combat obesity and related diseases like diabetes—a farmer’s market

At the Brownsville Farmer’s Market, shoppers can find a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers at low prices. On-site nutrition, obesity, and diabetes information is provided, and a weekly health booth makes it easy for area residents to be screened for diabetes and other illnesses.

Organizers hope the market will spark an interest in creating community gardens and eventually a co-op.

That Anemic-Looking Tomato is Less Tasty and Less Nutritious

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Opponents of industrial food production have long maintained, almost as an act of faith, that the vegetables, fruits, and grains grown by Big Agriculture have become not just blander but also less healthy. In a paper in the February 2009 issue of HortScience, University of Texas researcher Donald R. Davis provides ample evidence to support such claims. According to Davis:

[T]hree recent studies of historical food composition data found apparent median declines of 5% to 40% or more in some minerals in groups of vegetables and perhaps fruits; one study also evaluated vitamins and protein with similar results.

He also cites a study in which researchers compared high- and low-yielding varieties of broccoli and grain grown side-by-side and concluded that the high-yielding varieties contained less protein and minerals.

Moral of the story: When it comes to food, less is more, and funders and policy wonks should stop fetishizing maximum yield through excessive use of fertilizers and the breeding of high-yielding crops and start promoting agricultural systems based on building the healthy soils that support nutritious foods.

Brain Food

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Just in time to assuage the guilt of holiday indulgers, a new study in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that chocolate and wine enhance cognitive performance. According to Oxford researchers working with colleagues in Norway, study participants who consumed chocolate and wine as well as tea had significantly better test scores than those who did not. The brain benefits are attributed to polyphenols, micronutrients found in plant foods, especially flavonoids. Wine produced the biggest benefits.