Health Studies

Peanuts Linked to Lower Mortality Across Different Ethnicities

Nuts and peanuts (technically legumes) are largely recognized as health promoting foods, but experts wondered if these benefits extend across all ethnic groups and income levels. In this study, researchers at Vanderbilt University analyzed nut intake in over 200,000 people, including a large group of Asian men and women in China, and a large group of low-income black and white men and women in the southeastern United States. For those with the highest nut consumption (mostly peanuts), mortality from all causes significantly decreased 17-21%, depending on ethnicity. Death from heart disease specifically (including ischemic heart disease) also significantly decreased across all ethnic groups for those eating the most nuts. The researchers identified this study as “strong evidence that the association of nut/peanut consumption with mortality does not vary by ethnicity “ or income level. Additionally, they conclude that “consumption of nuts, particularly peanuts given their general affordability, may be considered a cost-effective measure to improve cardiovascular health.”
JAMA Internal Medicine. 2015 Mar 2. [Epub ahead of print] (Luu HN et al.)

Fast Food Restaurants -- and Childhood Obesity -- Boom in China

This report documents the problem of childhood obesity in China.  One of the key contributing factors is the consumption of fast food.  Fast food establishments are growing rapidly in China.  Eating at McDonald’s is convenient for Chinese families and also signifies social status.
International Journal of Cardiology. 2012 June 14;157(3):315-317. (Cheng)

Traditional Japanese Breakfast Foods Improve Glucose Tolerance

Researchers studied the effect of traditional Japanese breakfast foods on insulin sensitivity in a small sample of individuals with impaired glucose tolerance.  The group which ate foods such as natto (fermented soybeans) and viscous vegetables (such as Japanese yams and okra) for 2 weeks demonstrated improved insulin sensitivity, serum lipids, and oxidative stress compared to the control group.
British Journal of Nutrition. 2012 Apr;107(8):1184-1191. (Taniguchi-Fukatsu et al.)

Red Mold Rice has Antidiabetic Effects

Red mold rice is a fermented food product common in China (where it’s used to enhance flavor and color of foods) and valued in Chinese medicine.  Scientists at National Taiwan University reviewed the properties of this functional food, highlighting potential antidiabetic and antioxidant effects.
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology.  2012 Apr;94(1):47-55  (Shi et al.)

Green Tea May Aid Weight Control

Chinese researchers seeking to evaluate the effect of green tea in combination with inulin for potential impact on body weight and fat mass asked 30 obese and overweight adults to drink either regular tea or catechin-rich green tea with inulin, for six weeks.  Researchers concluded that continuous intake of green tea and inulin may support weight management, and that the positive effects continued were sustained two weeks after ending consumption.
British Journal of Nutrition.  2012 Mar; 107:749-754  (Yang et al.)

Hawthorn and Kiwifruit Extracts May Improve Lipid Status

Traditional Chinese therapeutic foods such as hawthorn and kiwifruit extracts were evaluated for their effect on dyslipidemia in a clinical trial conducted in Australia.  Researchers found evidence which suggests that consuming these extracts for 4 weeks may increase levels of HDL-c “good cholesterol” which could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 508683 (Sun et al.)

Nutrition Transition Alters Cancer Risks

Researchers in China systematically evaluated rates of cancer mortality in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Singapore, and noted changes that began to occur about 10 years into a “nutrition transition” characterized by increased intake of energy, animal fat, and red meats. Breast, colon, and prostate cancer mortality increased “remarkably,” while esophageal and stomach cancers showed a “precipitous decrease.”
European Journal of Cancer Prevention. 2012 Feb 18; Epub ahead of print (Zhang et al.)

Asian Herbal Food Ingredients May Impact T2DM

Many herbal food ingredients of Asian origin -- such as garlic, onion, fenugreek, and pomegranate -- may have medicinal properties.  Scientists in Nanjing, China reviewed the literature, and suggest that some of these ingredients may be beneficial in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes based on their chemical components.  These foods merit further research based on the increasing prevalence of diabetes.
Pharmacognosy Review. 2012 Jan;6(11):37-45  (Perera et al.)

Diet and Metabolic Syndrome in Korean Women

Researchers evaluated the dietary patterns of Korean women in relation to the prevalence of metabolic syndrome.  Three overall patterns were identified: Western, Healthy, and Traditional.  The Healthy pattern features a higher intake of green-yellow vegetables and lean proteins and was associated with a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome in post-menopausal women compared to the Western and Traditional patterns.
Nutrition, Metabolism, & Cardiovascular Disease. 2011 Nov;21(11):893-900. (Cho et al.)

Gender Differences in Acculturation for Korean Immigrants

Based on a survey of Korean immigrants living in the United States, researchers at Queens College in New York City concluded that acculturated Korean immigrants consumed both healthy and unhealthy American foods.  Overweight men were reported to eat more fast food, hot dogs, and tacos than men of healthy weight.  Researchers noted gender differences in acculturation that should be considered for future research and health initiatives.
American Journal of Health Behavior. 2011 Nov;35(6):734-45 (Jasti et al.)

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