by Alejandra "Alex" Ruani — Get free science updates here.
Welcome to our Thursday’s Science Catch-up: curated links by The Health Sciences Academy. Get our email updates every other Thursday here (it’s free).
Let’s catch you up with studies and news that recently made the headlines!
Click on your favourite topics to read our summary:
Beans and lentils to lose weight
Eating 1 serving per day of pulses (beans, peas, chickpeas, or lentils) could contribute to some weight loss, this new study suggests.
This systematic review analysed 21 clinical trials (involving 940 participants) and the effect of eating pulses on body weight.
They found that eating about 132 grams a day of cooked pulses led to greater weight loss: 0.34 kilograms (0.75 pounds) in 6 weeks, compared to a diet that didn’t contain any pulses.
It’s thought that this is due to their low-glycaemic, high-fibre, high-protein content, which promotes fullness and helps regulate blood sugar.
Music influences sweet taste?
When participants liked the music while eating chocolate ice cream, they experienced a sweeter taste. But if they didn’t like the music, the ice cream tasted bitterer and less pleasant!
The scientists concluded that liked music elicits positive emotions, which is correlated with your perception of sweetness. Particularly pleasurable music provoking “shivers-down-the-spine” or “chills”.
Why not test this on your own?
Here’s a little take-home experiment for you: Play one of your favourite songs (the one that gives you goosebumps!) and see if this experience enhances the sweetness of “blander” foods. Not a bad strategy if you’re trying to cut down on sugar!
Sugar-high from smoothies
It seems that the sugar amount in kids’ smoothies beats all fruit juices: an outrageous 26 grams of sugar per 200ml glass. That’s over the maximum intake level for adults, let alone children!
Parents embracing smoothies and fruit juices for their children, and perceiving them as ‘healthier’ than fizzy drinks, could be misguided.
Although smoothie brands like Innocent may not have “added” sugars, they do have natural “free” sugars, which still count towards the recommended intake limit (new guidelines here).
To save you some time, I checked the Innocent smoothies marketed to kids, and yes, they contain a preposterous amount of free sugars. For example, a 200ml glass of apple and blackcurrant has 24 grams. Not so innocent anymore!
Pictures of big portions lead to overeating
Portion images featured on food packaging can cause consumers to overestimate appropriate serving sizes, a Cornell study discovered.
Happy faces make food taste better
Italian scientists highlight that your enjoyment of food can be affected by the facial expressions of those around you. Guess which food they tested this with? Pizza! Happy faces evoked the highest rating of food enjoyment, while angry or neutral faces the lowest. Something to keep in mind if you’re a restaurant or café owner!
Gene-diet interaction key to personalised nutrition success
If you haven’t heard about the concept of “personalised nutrition” before, this is a good summary. In essence, your inherited genes influence how differently you metabolise foods. But inherited genes are not destiny. For example, what you eat can change the expression of your genes, switching them on or off. Gene-diet interactions are studied by Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics, two fairly young fields of scientific research. Expect to see loads of new fascinating discoveries in the coming years!
Ice-swimming the next big winter sport?
Have you heard? Athletes around the globe are competing in ice swims! Performance and human physiological response in water 5 degrees Celsius or less has not been well-studied yet. Sports scientists will investigate on how environmental factors (such as wind chill) affect ice swimming performance.
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What has inspired you this week? What are your thoughts on some of these topics? Leave a comment and let us know!