Research Roundup: September 2012

  • Low carb diets may raise risk of heart disease. A 25-year study by Swedish researchers found that, while trends to reduce fat intake lead to lowered cholesterol levels, the more recent dietary switch to low carbohydrate diets increased cholesterol levels. Researchers concluded that this diet may result in short term weight loss, but may have a major impact on cardiovascular disease.
    (Nutrition Journal, June 2012)
  • Bananas rival sports drinks in athletic performance. A study comparing the effects on athletic performance between consumption of bananas and a carbohydrate sports drink found the two equal in terms of supporting performance, but the bananas provided antioxidants, healthier sugars, fiber, potassium, and vitamin B6. Trained cyclists had either one cup of sports drink or half a banana every 15 minutes during a 3-hour intense race. The researchers reported that these findings can be translated to any form of exercise. 
    (PLoS One, May 17, 2012)
  • Saturated milk fat may compromise gut health. The rising rates of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) have been linked with the Western diet, which is high in saturated fats. Researchers found that diets high in saturated fats derived from milk, which are prevalent in processed and sweet foods typical in a Western diet, promoted an influx of harmful bacteria in the gut which increased inflammation and incidence of colitis in mice. In a mouse model with similar characteristics to human IBD, only 20 percent of the mice developed colitis when fed a low-fat or high polyunsaturated fat diet, but when given a diet high in saturated milk fats, the disease rate jumped to 60 percent.
    (Nature, May 10, 2012)
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