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What Makes ‘Superfoods’ So Super? New Studies Dive Deep

Discussion in 'Dietetics' started by Mahmoud Abudeif, Jun 25, 2021.

  1. Mahmoud Abudeif

    Mahmoud Abudeif Golden Member

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    Superfoods are foods that are thought to be very nutritionally dense, meaning they provide a substantial amount of nutrients and very few calories. In a series of papers presented this week at the NUTRITION 2021 LIVE ONLINE, scientists took a close look at why items like turmeric and honey are worthy of their superfood status.

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    Mangoes lower risk of chronic disease

    Researchers at the San Diego State University recruited 27 overweight and obese adults who had to consume 100 calories of fresh mangoes or 100 calories of low-fat cookies daily for 12 weeks straight.

    Compared to the group who consumed cookies, those that ate mangoes showed improvements in fasting glucose levels and inflammation — all key risk factors in certain chronic diseases. However, cholesterol levels and body weight were not affected.

    The creamy fruits are an important source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, folate, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin K, potassium, copper, calcium, and iron, as well as the antioxidants zeaxanthin and beta-carotene.

    Honey contains anti-inflammatory nanoparticles

    The nutritional qualities of honey have been acknowledged since ancient times, but scientists are still learning new things about the sweet nectar-derived food. In a new study, researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that honey contains nano-scale particles with a membrane-enclosed structure resembling exosomes, which are cell-derived vesicles that are present in many and perhaps all biological fluids, including blood, urine, and cultured medium of cells.

    These exosome-like nanoparticles present in honey reduced inflammation in mice that had a liver injury. As such, they could potentially inhibit the activation of a key inflammatory enzyme complex. The high content of antioxidants found in the smooth liquid may also contribute to its anti-inflammatory properties.

    These findings add to a growing body of evidence supporting honey’s role in both nutrition and medical applications. For instance, honey’s low moisture content and acidity makes it inhospitable to bacteria, conferring it antibacterial properties. Some evidence from animal and human studies also suggests that honey may be beneficial in the treatment of coughs and digestive upsets.

    Some spices and herbs may lower blood pressure

    Besides making food taste better, some herbs and spices may produce desirable cardiometabolic effects. Researchers at Penn State University and Texas Tech University recruited 71 participants who included 6.6, 3.3, and 0.5 grams per day of herbs/spices in their diets for four weeks.

    No significant changes in cholesterol or blood sugar levels were recorded. However, the study found that the diet with the most herbs and spices, equivalent to about a teaspoon and a half, led to improvements to 24-hour blood pressure levels compared to the diet with the lowest amounts of herbs and spices.

    Ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric improves cholesterol in patients with type 2 diabetes

    Scientists at Clemson University examined how ginger, cinnamon, as well as curcumin and curcuminoid pigments found in turmeric affect cholesterol levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. The team of researchers performed a meta-analysis on 28 studies, collectively involving 1049 control patients and 1035 patients who received the spice supplements in capsule form for one to three months.

    Superfoods are foods that are thought to be very nutritionally dense, meaning they provide a substantial amount of nutrients and very few calories. In a series of papers present this week at the NUTRITION 2021 LIVE ONLINE, scientists took a close look at why items like turmeric and honey are worthy of their superfood status.

    According to the findings, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, curcumin and curcuminoids were associated with an improved lipid profile for people with type 2 diabetes. This effect was mediated by the spice dose, species, duration of consumption and population characteristics. Despite some limitations, these findings suggest that these spices may be benefitial to patients with type 2 diabetes and unhealthy high cholesterol levels.

    In all, these collection of studies add new insights into the properties that truly set some foods head and shoulders above others.

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