HEADLINES / TRENDS l STATS l RESEARCH l MEDIA l PEOPLE

July/August 2012

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Berry Buying Guide

Berries of all kinds have always been popular choices for everything from tasty breakfasts to light desserts. That appeal has grown at an accelerated rate over the past decade as researchers keep finding new berry-related benefits: Blueberries for brain health, raspberries for antioxidant defense,
cranberries for bladder infection protection. Here’s some tips for selecting and storing these healthy, tasty fruits.

Strawberries

More than 600 cultivated species, as well as wild varieties; season runs from mid-June through August, although they are generally available year round; choose firm fruits with a shiny, deep red color and attached caps—those with green or white patches are not ripe and will not ripen after picking; medium-sized fruits are usually more flavorful thanvery large ones; remove caps after washing to avoid having them absorb excess water.

Blueberries

Species are split among three groups, highbush (the most common kind), lowbush and rabbiteye; domestic season runs from May through October (imported berries are available at other times of the year); look for plump, firm fruits with a uniform color and whitish bloom; shake the container gently—berries that don’t move freely may be damaged or moldy; store, unwashed, for up to three days in the refrigerator; wash and pat dry just before use.

Raspberries

Available in red (the most common type), gold, purple and black varieties, in addition to such crossbreeds as loganberries and boysenberries; season runs from early summer through mid-fall; make sure packaged berries aren’t wrapped too tightly, which can crush the fruit; because they are highly perishable, only buy what you’ll need for one or two days and remove damaged berries before putting them in the refrigerator.

Blackberries

Similar to raspberries but with a solid core (raspberries, including black raspberries, are hollow); peak flavor develops in July and August; look for fruits that are fully ripe, with deep purple
coloration and smooth, shiny skin—fruits with a reddish cast or the stem caps still attached were picked too early; refrigerate in a covered container for no more than a day before using; place in
a colander and wash under cool water just before use.

Cranberries

Belongs to the same genus as blueberries; appears in markets between October and December, available frozen and in dried, sweetened form at other times of the year; quality fruits are very firm and deep red in color; can be refrigerated for up to 20 days after removing any shriveled, soft or discolored fruits.

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Multivitamins Help Build Better Brains

One way to bolster brain function may be as simple as taking a multivitamin every day.

Several teams of British researchers studied the effects of multivitamin supplementation on mood and cognition among both adults and children. The trials involved taking the supplements every day for between four and 12 weeks, after which participants were tested for attention span, memory and other cognitive functions. Mood assessments were also performed.

Children, who were all between the ages of 8 and 14, did well on tasks that required the ability to pay attention, while women did well on tests that measured their ability to multitask effectively. Men who received high-dose B-complex supplements not only showed improvements in cognitive function but also reported less mental fatigue and greater feelings of vigor.

Study results have appeared in the British Journal of Nutrition, Human Psycho­pharmacology and Psychopharmacology.

“There’s been a huge research effort into the effects of one or two vitamins on cognitive function, not the effects of many,” says study coauthor David Kennedy, PhD, director of the Brain, Per­formance and Nutrition Research Centre at Northumbria University.

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EDITOR'S CHOICES

Healthier Popcorn

We’re tired of seeing all those packages of microwave popcorn on supermarket shelves. There’s just been too much research about the risks associated with microwave popcorn. Sure, popcorn is a healthy snack, but not when it’s in a bag lined with chemicals that are among compounds that have caused cancer in animals and, as a recent University of California, Los Angeles, study showed, may be linked to infertility. What’s more, long-term inhalation of diacetyl in artifical butter flavor has caused respiratory problems. The Environmental Working Group has expressed concerns. So we’re ditching the microwave bag but we’re not about to give up our popcorn.

We like Wabash Valley Farms’ newest stovetop popcorn popper, the Sweet & Easy Snack Machine, which makes popcorn in about three minutes, plus more than 30 other snacks. The stainless steel pan holds six quarts of popcorn and has a direct-drive stirring system for smooth and effortless stirring. Wabash also makes outdoor popcorn makers for use over an open flame (www.wabashvalleyfarms.com). Fresh popcorn around the campfire!

We also like the West Bend retro movie-theater popper for combining fun with a healthier alternative to the microwave (www.westbend.com). There’s some oil but it’s still a safer bet. If the extra calories from oil are a concern, West Bend makes an air popper as well as a Kettle Krazy model that lets you make kettle corn and a Stir Crazy model that leaves relatively few unpopped kernels and lets consumers use less oil. You can also use high antioxidant grape seed oil, high oleic sunflower oil and olive oils.

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Vitamin D May Aid Senior Mobility

A lack of vitamin D can make it difficult for older people to move around freely.

That’s the conclusion reached by a research team from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, after studying data from nearly 3,000 people in their 70s.
Initially, all the volunteers had no difficulties in tasks such as walking a quarter mile and climbing 10
steps. However, those participants with low levels of vitamin D in their blood had a 30% increased risk of reduced mobility by the time the study ended six years later.

Study results have been published in the Journal of Gerentology: Medical Sciences.“This is one of the first studies to look at the association of vitamin D and the onset of new mobility limitations or disability in older adults,” says lead author Denise Houston, PhD, RD. “It’s difficult to get enough vitamin D through diet alone and older adults, who may not spend much time outdoors, may need to take a supplement.”

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WORD

MELANIN

The substance responsible for human skin coloration. Melanocytes, cells that produce melanin, can turn malignant when damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The resulting cancer, melanoma, is less common than other types of skin cancer, but potentially more dangerous because of its tendency to spread.

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