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:
Study highlights which fruits and vegetables can aid weight loss
When most health messages highlight the generic benefits of fruits and vegetables, what I like about this one is that it compared 70 of them in relation to body weight changes.
This huge observational study followed the diets of 133,468 men and women for 24 years. It looked at their consumption of 70 unprocessed fruits and vegetables in relation to their body weight. Here’s what they found:
- When the participants increased their intake of higher-fibre, non-starchy, lower-glycaemic vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, their weight went down: 0.25 lbs (0.11kg) of body weight per daily serving over 4 years.
- Whole fruits (not juices), mainly berries, apples and pears, which are low-glycaemic, contributed to greater weight loss: 0.53 lbs (0.24kg) per daily serving over 4 years.
High-fibre, non-starchy, low-glycaemic vegetables are quite filling and you can eat bigger portions of these foods without feeling deprived. They’re great if you enjoy eating until complete satiation, like I do (Italian genes!).
Here’s the full study: Changes in intake of fruits and vegetables and weight change in United States men and women followed for up to 24 years: analysis from three prospective cohort studies, Bertoia et al., 2015. PLOS Medicine.
Coffee consumption ‘does not raise risk for common form of irregular heartbeat’
This is one of those studies where I think the scientists love their coffee (!). In this trial involving 248,910 individuals, they didn’t find any link between coffee intake and atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation is a “common form” of irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that this news headline didn’t mention. But that’s not the only form of arrhythmia, so this study cannot prove that coffee won’t cause “other” kinds of arrhythmia.
At the end of the day, we all metabolise coffee differently (some faster than others) and it has a lot to do with your genetics. You can learn more here: Nutrigenomics 101: Coffee and Your Genes (premium subscription needed).
How to teach… sugar?
I think this is a great list of resources if you’re trying to raise awareness about added sugars. I particularly liked the downloads at British Sugar, including PowerPoint presentations, worksheets, and scientific experiments for schools. Here’s the British Sugar link.
Cocoa flavonols good, but chocolate not?
This is hilarious and I could not resist sharing it with you.
A Science Daily headline says: “Cocoa flavanols lower blood pressure and increase blood vessel function in healthy people”.
But this other headline bursts the bubble: “Chocolate “unsuitable” for cocoa flavanol delivery despite new heart health pros, says Mars-backed consortium”.
In essence, they are talking about the same study. It appears that cocoa flavanols are tied to lowering blood pressure and heart disease risk in healthy people. However, the scientists said that chocolate is too calorific to “safely” deliver the same amount of concentrated cocoa flavonols used in the study: 450mg a day.
I ran some numbers and this means you’d need to eat 414 to 841 grams of dark chocolate daily. That’s around 2260 to 4592 calories a day of chocolate, alone! So Mars are now looking at creating a “super chocolate”, with more cocoa flavonols in it. This is going to be tough to achieve, because much of these flavonols are destroyed during processing. In the meantime, you can stick to raw chocolate – if it’s the flavonols that you’re after!
Paleo nutrition for metabolic syndrome?
There isn’t much research about our “modern-day” Paleo diet and this systematic review pulls the data from 4 studies. Each of these 4 studies used different Paleo diet plans, so it’s difficult to compare the results like-for-like. Although the review highlights some benefits, the studies were short-term.
All 4 included meat, but we know of some Paleolithic ancestors who ate mostly plant-based foods. Here’s how scientists can tell when ancestral diets were plant-based or meat-based: Plant-Based or Meat-Based: What Did Paleo Humans Really Eat? (premium subscription needed).
Beans match beef for satiety – but consumers don’t expect it to
Here’s an interesting one for those who believe that animal protein is more satiating. It appears that beans match meat for satiety because of their blend of both protein and fibre. As we know, meat doesn’t contain any fibre. Besides being high-fibre, beans are low-glycaemic – all of which play a role in appetite suppression.
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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!