Monday, March 28, 2016

Food Scientists Create Healthier, Diabetic-Friendly Bread

Adding natural plant pigment extract to bread slows down its digestion rate and adds health benefits

Newswise, March 28, 2016 — A team of food scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has successfully formulated a recipe for making healthier bread by adding a natural plant pigment, called anthocyanin, extracted from black rice.

This new bread option gets digested at a slower rate – hence improving blood glucose control – and is high in antioxidants, among other health benefits. This is the first study where anthocyanin extract has been fortified into a bread product, and the findings open up new possibilities of creating healthier, diabetic-friendly food products.

Bread is a popular staple food for many people around the world. Most bread contain a high amount of rapidly digestible starch, and hence many of them have a high glycemic index.

Food high on the glycemic index are rapidly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, causing a sharp increase in blood sugar levels and making them unsuitable for diabetic patients.

In addition, rapid digestion of bread may result in people consuming more bread than required to make up the hungry feel. The excessive consumption of bread could increase the risk of overweight and obesity, and their associated diseases, such as Type II diabetes.

The anthocyanin-fortified bread created by NUS researchers could potentially bring health benefits to consumers looking for a healthier option to normal bread.

Fortifying bread with anthocyanins

Anthocyanins belong to the group of flavonoids that are naturally occurring pigments in fruits and vegetables, and are responsible for the orange, red, violet, and blue colours observed in nature.

Fruits, such as blueberries, grapes, blackberries, as well as grains and vegetables like black rice and purple sweet potatoes, are naturally rich in anthocyanins.

Scientific studies have shown that anthocyanins are rich in antioxidant properties and may help prevent cardiovascular and neurological diseases, cancer, and inflammation.
Anthocyanins are also known to play a role in controlling obesity and diabetes as they can inhibit digestive enzymes and hence reducing blood glucose levels.

Professor Zhou Weibiao, Director of the Food Science and Technology Programme at the NUS Faculty of Science, said, “Despite their antioxidant capacity and associated health benefits, the knowledge of using anthocyanins as an ingredient in food products, particularly semi-solid products, is very limited. Hence, we wanted to explore the feasibility of fortifying anthocyanins into bread, to understand how it affects digestibility and its impact on the various quality attributes of bread.”

Currently, approaches for developing health-promoting bread are dominated by adding whole grains and fibres in bread, partly aiming to slow down its digestion among several health benefits.

Dr Sui Xiaonan, a recent PhD graduate from the Food Science and Technology Programme at NUS and first author of the study said,

“Reducing the digestion rate of the bread will lead to a lower glycemic index and slower absorption of the bread’s carbohydrates. This usually suggests a lower insulin demand, and could potentially improve long-term blood glucose control. Our study explores an alternative way of producing functional bread that delivers health benefits to consumers.”

Lowers digestion rate

The NUS team, led by Prof Zhou, found that digestion rates of the anthocyanin-fortified bread reduced by 12.8 per cent, when 1 per cent of anthocyanin extract from black rice was added into the bread dough and baked at the optimal condition of 200 degree Celsius for 8 minutes. The digestion rate dropped further to 20.5 per cent, when the amount of anthocyanin extract increased to 4 per cent.

High antioxidant capacity
Another area of interest for the team was to explore a way to incorporate anthocyanins into bread to improve its value as a health-promoting food. The team had previously conducted a study in 2014 to examine the degradation of anthocyanins during baking.

They found that more than 80 per cent of the antioxidant capacity was retained in the bread crust and crumb, even when baked at temperatures as high as 240 degree Celsius for up to 12 minutes.

“Our results demonstrate that it is indeed feasible to create functional food products through anthocyanin fortification, using bread as an example. We hope to conduct further studies to incorporate anthocyanins into other food items, such as biscuits. Our team is also keen to explore opportunities to work with industry partners to introduce the anthocyanin-fortified bread to the market,” Prof Zhou said.

Friday, March 18, 2016

8 Essential Nutrients for Aging Individuals

Essential Nutrients for Aging Individuals
Newswise, March 18, 2016– When it comes to aging, the focus is not just on living longer, quality of life is equally important. According to the National Institute on Aging, people aged 50 and older need more of some vitamins and minerals than younger adults do.

In the March issue ofFood Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Linda Mila Ohr wrote about 8 essential nutritional ingredients that can help aging individuals maintain an active lifestyle.

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: A recent study showed that fish oil-derived omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid therapy slowed the normal decline in muscle mass and function in older adults, and should be considered a therapeutic approach for preventing sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle and function, which can help maintain physical independence in older adults.1 Another study showed omega-3 supplementation plus physical and mental training may help slow cognitive decline in older adults, especially for those who have mild cognitive impairment.2
2. Antioxidants: Antioxidants help reduce oxidative damage, which is associated with aging and overall wellness. Important antioxidants include beta-carotene, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Antioxidants such as coenzyme Q10, resveratrol, lutein and zeaxanthin can play a role in more targeted aging concerns such as heart health and vision.
3. Probiotics: A study showed that daily consumption of a probiotic by adults aged 65-80 increased beneficial groups of bacteria in the human gut and potentially increased production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, which help control the immune system and fight disease.3
4. Prebiotics: A trial of 40 subjects aged 65-80 who received a certain prebiotic showed that consumption of it produced positive effects on both their gut microbiota and immune systems.
5. Collagen: Proteins such as collagen peptides are essential for healthy bones because they promote intestinal calcium absorption and stimulate bone formation.
6. Proteins: Research shows that consuming a diet higher in protein has been shown to help maintain muscle as people age.
7. Vitamin D: A study of 1,658 elderly adults demonstrated that vitamin D deficiency was associated with a substantially increased risk of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
8. Blueberries: Phytochemicals found in fruits such as blueberries are currently being investigated for their health benefits in slowing the aging process including memory loss.

Read the article in Food Technology here.

About IFT
Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is committed to advancing the science of food. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 17,000 members from more than 95 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government and industry. For more information, please visit

Breakfast Boom Times: 8 American Breakfast Trends

Newswise —March 18, 2016-- Consumers want it all from their breakfast foods: portability, high protein, and great taste. 

By delivering that and more, food companies are boosting sales in several breakfast food categories. In an article in the March issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Carolyn Schierhorn writes about current breakfast trends.

1. Breakfast products constitute the three fastest-growing categories in the grocery sector. Ranked number one is shelf stable convenient breakfast items, followed by frozen egg substitute products, and eggs.
2. Breakfast is the fastest-growing meal purchased at restaurants.
3. 28 percent of consumers usually eat breakfast away from home. A rise from 11 percent ten years ago.
4. 63 percent of consumers might grab something from home to eat for breakfast when eating on the go, while 45 percent would go through a drive-through restaurant, and 31 percent would stop at a convenience store or gas station.
5. Approximately 80 percent of consumers eat frozen breakfast foods, with 25 percent eating these foods as a snack and 25 percent eating them on the go.
6. 93 percent of Americans say they consume ready-to-eat cold cereal.
7. 21 percent of Americans skip breakfast when time is limited in the morning.
8. Women consume 65 percent of yogurt in the U.S.

Read the article in Food Technology here.

About IFT
Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is committed to advancing the science of food. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 17,000 members from more than 95 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government and industry. For more information, please visit

Time to Rethink Your Vegetable Oil?

Leaner bodies, less heart disease and diabetes risk found in people with higher levels of linoleic acid

Newswise, March 18, 2016-- Risk of heart disease and diabetes may be lowered by a diet higher in a lipid found in grapeseed and other oils, but not in olive oil, a new study suggests.

Researchers at The Ohio State University found that men and women with higher linoleic acid levels tended to have less heart-threatening fat nestled between their vital organs, more lean body mass and less inflammation.

And higher linoleic acid levels also meant lower likelihood of insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.

This finding could have obvious implications in preventing heart disease and diabetes, but also could be important for older adults because higher lean body mass can contribute to a longer life with more independence, said Ohio State’s Martha Belury, a professor of human nutrition who led the research.

But there’s a catch. Low-cost cooking oils rich in linoleic acid have been disappearing from grocery shelves, fueled by industry’s push for plants that have been modified to produce oils higher in oleic acid.

“Vegetable oils have changed. They’re no longer high in linoleic acid,” said Belury, an expert in dietary fats and part of Ohio State’s Food Innovation Center.

The research appears online in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

The research team also looked at the health effects of oleic acid, found in olive oil and some other vegetable oils, as well as long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish including salmon and tuna.

Though inflammation decreased as blood levels of those fatty acids rose, higher levels of oleic acid or long-chain omega-3s did not appear to have any relationship to body composition or signs of decreased diabetes risk despite longstanding recommendations that people eat more of these “healthy” fats.

“It really kind of popped out and surprised us,” Belury said.

Previous research found that taking linoleic acid supplements increased lean body mass and lowered fat in the midsection. As little as a teaspoon and a half was all it took, Belury said. The current study is the first study to examine linoleic acid alongside body composition and other health markers in people who hadn’t been given supplements or prescriptive diets, she said.

Because of previous research showing cardiovascular benefits of linoleic acid, the American Heart Association in 2009 recommended people take in at least 5 to 10 percent of their energy in the form of omega-6 fatty acids, which includes linoleic acid.

But U.S. consumption of linoleic acid is declining because of genetic modification of plants for food manufacturers seeking oils higher in oleic acid, Belury said.

There’s been a pronounced shift in the last five years, she said, and it is linked to the push against trans fats. When linoleic acid is made solid (hydrogenated) for processed foods, it is more likely to convert to trans fat than its oleic cousin.

So oils, notably safflower, sunflower and soybean, now routinely contain less linoleic acid – it often makes up less than 20 percent of the fatty acids in commonly purchased oils, based on food labels and confirmed by testing in her lab, Belury said.

Grapeseed oil for now remains an excellent source of linoleic acid, which constitutes about 80 percent of its fatty acids, she said. Corn oil also remains a decent source, she said.

The team used data from two previous studies that focused on stress and included 139 people. In those studies, researchers assessed body composition using DXA scanning, an advanced way of measuring fat and muscle mass.

They tested blood drawn after the men and women fasted for 12 hours, calculating the amount of linoleic acid (and other fatty acids) in red blood cells. All of the linoleic acid in our bodies comes from food sources.

They also evaluated the blood for insulin resistance and two markers of inflammation that are connected with disease.

Then they plotted results for each health category against the group’s results for each of the three fat categories: linoleic acid, oleic acid and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.

Belury said the study doesn’t explain the apparent interplay between linoleic acid and measures of risk for heart disease and diabetes. It shows an association between those things, but not a cause and effect.

And its power is limited because it relied on looking back on two previous research efforts and those involved middle-aged men and women who were slightly healthier on average than the general population.

The study participants lived in and around Columbus, Ohio. It’s possible that the results would have been different in a population with diets that tend to be higher in omega-3 rich fatty fish, Belury said.

Financial support for the study came from the National Institutes of Health.

Belury’s collaborators, all from Ohio State, were Rachel Cole and Jia-Yu Ke of the College of Education and Human Ecology, Brittney Bailey and Rebecca Andridge of the College of Public Health and Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.

Does a 'Western Diet' Increase Risk of Alzheimer's Disease?

JAX research provides insight into the role of the western diet in Alzheimer’s disease

Possible Alzheimer's link Western Diet
Newswise, March 18, 2016 — Recent research has established associations between certain environmental factors, including eating a western diet and being sedentary, with an increased susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease.

In fact, it is estimated that a combination of diet and inactivity contributes to as many as 25% of Alzheimer’s cases. Nonetheless, little is known about the exact disease mechanisms and how or why this increasingly common middle-age lifestyle can play such a big role in subsequent cognitive function.

In a paper published online in Nature Scientific Reports, researchers led by Tufts University/The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) Ph.D. student Leah Graham and JAX Assistant Professor Gareth Howell, Ph.D., took a closer look at connections between diet and Alzheimer’s disease susceptibility.

They used a “western diet” chow for mice developed by HHMI Professor Simon John, Ph.D., and members of his lab, that combines high amounts of animal products, fat and sugars with low plant-based content and nutrient density.

Previous studies had focused on specific components of the western diet, but it may be that the combination is important. Graham et al fed the chow to healthy mice of a commonly used inbred strain (C57BL/6J) and to mice that model some aspects of Alzheimer’s disease (APP/PS1) for eight months (from two to 10 months of age, about the equivalent of late adolescence to early middle age in humans).

What the researchers found was that prolonged consumption of the western diet chow led to a dramatic increase in immune response activity in the brains of all mice, including those that don’t model Alzheimer’s disease.

The diet greatly increased the activity of microglia, which function as the brain’s immune cells, and monocytes, circulating white blood cells that may cross into the brain in response to immune signaling.

Some components of the western diet have been associated with the development of peripheral inflammation over time, and the study’s findings strengthen the possibility that immune activity in the brain increases Alzheimer’s disease susceptibility.

All mice also had a significant increase of microglia/monocytes that express TREM2, a key immune regulatory protein. TREM2 has been strongly linked with susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related neurodegenerative diseases, but this is the first study to show an increase in TREM2+ cells in response to prolonged consumption of a western diet.

Further, there was a strong correlation between increased TREM2+ cell numbers and increased beta-amyloid plaque burden in the brains of the mice, indicating that targeting TREM2 may be beneficial for patients with diet-induced cognitive decline.

Graham, L. C. et al. Chronic consumption of a western diet induces robust glial activation in aging mice and in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Sci. Rep. 6, 21568; doi: 10.1038/srep21568 (2016).

Monday, March 14, 2016

Blueberries, the Well-Known ‘Super Fruit,’ Could Help Fight Alzheimer’s

Newswise, March 14, 2016 —  The blueberry, already labeled a “super fruit” for its power to potentially lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, also could be another weapon in the war against Alzheimer’s disease. New research being presented today further bolsters this idea, which is being tested by many teams.

The fruit is loaded with healthful antioxidants, and these substances could help prevent the devastating effects of this increasingly common form of dementia, scientists report.

The researchers present their work today at the 251st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday.

It features more than 12,500 presentations on a wide range of science topics.

“Our new findings corroborate those of previous animal studies and preliminary human studies, adding further support to the notion that blueberries can have a real benefit in improving memory and cognitive function in some older adults,” says Robert Krikorian, Ph.D., leader of the research team. He adds that blueberries’ beneficial effects could be due to flavonoids called anthocyanins, which have been shown to improve animals’ cognition.

Currently 5.3 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. But that number is expected to increase, Krikorian notes, as the U.S. population ages.

By 2025, the number of Americans with this degenerative disorder could rise 40 percent to more than 7 million, and it could almost triple by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

In an effort to find ways to slow down this alarming trend, Krikorian and colleagues at University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center conducted two human studies to follow up on earlier clinical trials.

One study involved 47 adults aged 68 and older, who had mild cognitive impairment, a risk condition for Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers gave them either freeze-dried blueberry powder, which is equivalent to a cup of berries, or a placebo powder once a day for 16 weeks.

“There was improvement in cognitive performance and brain function in those who had the blueberry powder compared with those who took the placebo,” Krikorian says.

“The blueberry group demonstrated improved memory and improved access to words and concepts.”

The team also conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which showed increased brain activity in those who ingested the blueberry powder.

The second study included 94 people aged 62 to 80, who were divided into four groups. The participants didn’t have objectively measured cognitive issues, but they subjectively felt their memories were declining. The groups received blueberry powder, fish oil, fish oil and powder or placebo.

“The results were not as robust as with the first study,” Krikorian explained. “Cognition was somewhat better for those with powder or fish oil separately, but there was little improvement with memory.”

Also, fMRI results also were not as striking for those receiving blueberry powder. He says that the effect may have been smaller in this case because these participants had less severe issues when they entered the study.

Krikorian said the two studies indicate that blueberries may be more effective in treating patients with cognitive impairments, but may not show measurable benefit for those with minor memory issues or who have not yet developed cognitive problems.

In the future, the team plans to conduct a blueberry study with a younger group of people, aged 50 to 65. The group would include people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s, such as those who are obese, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. This work could help the researchers determine if blueberries could help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms.

American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress.

With more than 158,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Tufts University Nutrition Scientists Provide Updated MyPlate for Older Adults

Collaboration with AARP Foundation Will Reach and Empower More Americans

BOSTON (March 9, 2016)—Nutrition scientists at the Jean Mayer U. S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University with support from AARP Foundation are introducing an updated MyPlate for Older Adults icon today.

The updated icon emphasizes the nutritional needs of older adults in a framework of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The icon and an accompanying website can be viewed at

“It is never too late to make smart changes in your diet. Shifting towards healthier food choices can improve symptoms or decrease risk for developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease – all of which are more common in older than younger adults,” said Alice H. Lichtenstein, D.Sc., senior scientist and director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA. Lichtenstein served as vice chair on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

The new MyPlate for Older Adults icon depicts a colorful plate with images to encourage older Americans to follow a healthy eating pattern bolstered by physical activity. The plate is composed of approximately:

• 50 percent fruits and vegetables;
• 25 percent grains, many of which are whole grains; and
• 25 percent protein-rich foods such as nuts, beans, fish, lean meat, poultry, and fat-free and low-fat dairy products such as milk, cheeses, and yogurts.

The new MyPlate for Older Adults icon also includes images of good sources of fluid, such as water, milk, tea, soup, and coffee; heart-healthy fats such as vegetable oils and soft margarines; and herbs and spices to be used in place of salt to lower sodium intake.

“We are so proud to collaborate with the USDA HNRCA at Tufts on the MyPlate for Older Adults icon to create practical nutritional guidance and awareness of the need for accessible meals,” said Jim Lutzweiler, vice president, hunger impact area, AARP Foundation.

“We believe at AARP Foundation in the importance of encouraging vulnerable and low-income older adults to develop healthy eating and physical activity patterns to maintain quality of life as they age.”

The MyPlate for Older Adults icon also reminds older Americans to stay active by walking, riding a bicycle, swimming, or engaging in another activity. The Dietary Guidelines offers suggestions for older adults who are interested in improving their lifestyle and reducing their risk of disease and disability with regular exercise.

“Older adults who want to improve their overall health will benefit from using MyPlate for Older Adults. Many people are not aware of the key role that healthy eating patterns play in improving their bodily function such as that of brain, eye and the immune system,” said Simin Nikbin Meydani, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the Jean Mayer USDA HNRCA at Tufts University in Boston, and senior scientist and director of its Nutritional Immunology Laboratory.

“Our collaboration with AARP Foundation will help us empower a larger group of older Americans to act on the Dietary Guidelines by making our new MyPlate for Older Adults icon more widely available.”
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans:
• Follow a healthy eating pattern across their lifespan;
• Focus on the variety and amount of nutrient-dense food they consume;
• Reduce their intake of added sugars, saturated fats and sodium to allowed limits;
• Shift toward healthier food and beverage choices; and
• Support healthy eating patterns for all.

Lichtenstein advises older adults to begin by making small shifts in food and beverage choices to improve their overall eating pattern, and then continue to build on them.

Making small changes, she says, and sticking with them is the best approach to long term improvements in eating habits. If someone plans on making major changes in their diet they are advised to talk with their primary healthcare provider.

The website that accompanies the updated MyPlate for Older Americans icon offers information about physical activity, using spices to reduce sodium, shopping tips, and recipes. Additionally, the MyPlate for Older Adults emphasizes all forms of food – fresh, frozen, dried and canned – to ensure the icon is relevant across personal preferences, availability, and cultural backgrounds.

The website also offers helpful links to studies from researchers at the USDA HNRCA that are especially relevant for older adults. Both can be found online at

The updated MyPlate for Older Adults is the fourth such icon created by Lichtenstein and USDA HNRCA researchers specifically for older adults. AARP Foundation provided funding and creative input for the newest icon of MyPlate for Older Adults and the related website.

About the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

For three decades, the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University has studied the relationship between good nutrition and good health in aging populations. Tufts research scientists work with federal agencies to establish the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Dietary Reference Intakes, and other significant public policies.

The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is the only independent school of nutrition in the United States. The school’s eight degree programs – which focus on questions relating to nutrition and chronic diseases, molecular nutrition, agriculture and sustainability, food security, humanitarian assistance, public health nutrition, and food policy and economics – are renowned for the application of scientific research to national and international policy.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

High-Fat Diet Linked to Intestinal Stem Cell Changes, Increased Risk for Cancer

Avoiding High Fat Diets reduces risk for cancer
Newswise, March 3, 2016– Over the past decade, studies have found that obesity and eating a high-fat, high-calorie diet are significant risk factors for many types of cancer. Now, a new study from Whitehead Institute and MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research reveals how a high-fat diet makes the cells of the intestinal lining more likely to become cancerous.

The study of mice suggests that a high-fat diet drives a population boom of intestinal stem cells and also generates a pool of other cells that behave like stem cells — that is, they can reproduce themselves indefinitely and differentiate into other cell types.

These stem cells and “stem-like” cells are more likely to give rise to intestinal tumors, says Omer Yilmaz, an MIT assistant professor of biology and co-leader of the research team.

“Not only does the high-fat diet change the biology of stem cells, it also changes the biology of non-stem-cell populations, which collectively leads to an increase in tumor formation,” says Yilmaz, who is a Koch Institute member and a gastrointestinal pathologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Under a high-fat diet, these non-stem cells acquire the properties of stem cells so that when they are transformed they become tumorigenic,” says Whitehead Member David Sabatini, who is also an MIT professor of biology and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Sabatini and Yilmaz, who previously collaborated on research into the effects of caloric restriction on stemness in the intestine, are the senior authors of the study, which appears in Nature on March 2.

People who are obese have a greater risk of developing colorectal cancer, according to previous studies. Sabatini and Yilmaz, whose labs study the relationship between diet and cancer, set out to uncover the cellular mechanisms underpinning the enhanced risk of colon cancer.

“We wanted to understand how a long-term high-fat diet influences the biology of stem cells, and how such diet-induced changes that occur in stem cells impact tumor initiation in the intestine,” Yilmaz says.

Recent studies have shown that intestinal stem cells, which last a lifetime, are the cells most likely to accumulate the mutations that give rise to colon cancer.

These stem cells live in the lining of the intestine, known as the epithelium, and generate all of the different cell types that make up the epithelium.

To investigate a possible link between these stem cells and obesity-linked cancer, researchers fed healthy mice a diet made up of 60 percent fat for nine to 12 months.

This diet, according to the scientists, is much higher in fat than the typical American diet, which is usually about 20 to 40 percent fat.

During this period, the mice on the high-fat diet gained 30 to 50 percent more body mass than mice fed a normal diet, and they developed more intestinal tumors than mice on a normal diet.

These mice also showed some distinctive changes in their intestinal stem cells, the researchers discovered. First, they found that the mice on a high-fat diet had many more intestinal stem cells than mice on a normal diet. These stem cells were also able to operate without input from neighboring cells.

Normally, intestinal stem cells are surrounded by support or “niche” cells, which regulate stem cell activity and tell them when to generate stem cells or differentiated cells.

However, the stem cells from mice on a high-fat diet were more able to function on their own. When these stem cells were removed from the mice and grown in a culture dish without their niche cells, they gave rise to “mini-intestines” much more readily than intestinal stem cells from mice on a normal diet.

“You have more stem cells and they’re able to operate independent of inputs coming from their microenvironment,” Yilmaz says.

The researchers also found that another population known as progenitor cells — differentiated daughter cells of stem cells — started to behave like stem cells:

They began to live much longer than their usual lifespan of a few days, and they could also generate mini-intestines when grown outside of the body.

“This is really important because it’s known that stem cells are often the cells in the intestine that acquire the mutations that go on to give rise to tumors,” Yilmaz says.

 “Not only do you have more of the traditional stem cells (on a high-fat diet), but now you have non-stem-cell populations that have the ability to acquire mutations that give rise to tumors.”

The researchers also identified a nutrient-sensing pathway that is hyper-activated by the high-fat diet. The fatty acid sensor, known as PPAR-delta, responds to high levels of fat by turning on a metabolic process that enables cells to burn fat as an energy source instead of their usual carbohydrates and sugars.

“Indeed, small-molecule agonists of PPAR-delta mimic the effects of a high-fat diet in animals fed a normal diet,” Sabatini says.

In addition to activating this metabolic program, PPAR-delta also appears to turn on a set of genes that are important for stem cell identity, Yilmaz says. His lab is now further investigating how this happens in hopes of identifying possible cancer drug targets for tumors that arise in obesity.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants R01 CA103866, AI47389, K08 CA198002, R00 AG045144, R00 AG041765, DK0433051, P30-CA14051), Department of Defense PRCRP Career Development Award CA120198, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Ellison Medical Foundation, American Federation of Aging Research, Kathy and Curt Marble Cancer Research Fund, V Foundation, Koch MIT Ludwig Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation

Myths and Facts About Greek Yogurt

Myths about Greek Yogurt examined
Newswise, March 3, 2016— Since it was first imported in the 1980’s on a large scale, Greek yogurt has quickly grown to a very popular healthy snack in the United States. 

Many consumers have wondered what Greek yogurt is all about and if it’s really much healthier than regular yogurt and worth the higher price.

Dr. Zhiping Yu, assistant professor in the Nutrition and Dietetics Flagship Program at the University of North Florida, shares more about this popular dairy product. In order to include Greek yogurt in your diet, a recipe is included.

Myth: Greek yogurt is a yogurt from Greece.

Fact: The history of where Greek yogurt originated is unclear. Greece is the obvious best guess. It’s also a common yogurt found in South Asia, other Mediterranean countries, the Middle East and now the United States.

Myth: Greek yogurt is made the same way as regular yogurt.

Facts: Greek yogurt starts out the same as regular yogurt by fermenting the milk with healthy live bacteria cultures, then it’s strained or concentrated to remove the liquid whey. Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier than regular yogurt. It takes up to four times the liquid milk to make the same amount of Greek yogurt as it does to make regular yogurt, which is the reason it’s more expensive than regular yogurt.

Myth: Greek yogurt is uniquely nutritious.

Fact: The nutrition value of Greek yogurt is superior to regular yogurt in that it’s higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates for a similar calorie count. A 6-ounce serving of Greek yogurt contains 15 to 20 grams of protein, almost twice that of regular yogurt. The high-protein content helps to control hunger level, a benefit for those who are cutting calories or managing weight.

Like most yogurts, Greek yogurt is an excellent source of probiotics, which helps ensure proper digestion, absorption of some nutrients and support immune health. While calcium content is lower in Greek yogurt than regular yogurt (as it’s lost through the straining process), it’s still considered a good source of calcium.

Myth: Greek yogurt is lower in calories than regular yogurt.

Fact: The same serving of plain Greek yogurt has a similar calorie count as plain regular yogurt. Though Greek yogurt is lower in carbohydrates due to the straining process, some varieties of Greek yogurt have added sweeteners, which may significantly increase the carbohydrate and calorie content. Check the label for the nutrition value of different varieties of Greek yogurt.

Myth: The only way to enjoy Greek yogurt is as a snack.

Fact: Greek yogurt can be consumed in a variety of occasions – as a snack, a meal, an ingredient or as a substitution in cooking. Plain Greek yogurt may be eaten sweet or savory. In cooking, its thicker consistency makes it a great addition in place of higher fat ingredients, such as regular sour cream, heavy cream, mayonnaise and cream cheese.

Pasta Carbonara
Yields: 6 servings
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 ounces thinly-sliced prosciutto, diced
2 red bell peppers, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1½ cups plain Greek yogurt
2 whole eggs
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound dry spaghetti
1 cup frozen sweet peas
¼ cup freshly chopped parsley

In a medium nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add prosciutto and bell peppers. Cook while stirring often until heated through (about 2 minutes). Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook 30 seconds, stirring. Remove from heat; set aside. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, eggs, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Cook pasta in boiling water for 6 minutes, stirring often. Add peas to boiling water. Cook until pasta is tender but firm, about 4 additional minutes. Drain and reserve 1 cup pasta water. Put pasta directly in bowl with yogurt mixture; add reserved pasta water. Add prosciutto mixture. Toss to coat well. Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped parsley.

This recipe was created and tested by Clemson University’s Culinary Nutrition Undergraduate Student Research Group.