Health Studies

Pulses May Help Aid Weight Loss

Dietary changes are a key target in obesity prevention programs, so many foods are being studied for their affect on body weight. To see if eating more pulses (the food group that includes beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas) might help reduce obesity, researchers analyzed 21 randomized control trials looking at pulses’ role in weight, body fat, and waist circumference in overweight and obese adults. Diets that included dietary pulses did not significantly reduce waist circumference. There was a trend in reduction of body fat (-0.34%), but it was not significant as well. Overall, the researchers found that those eating about 1 serving of pulses per day lost, on average, about 0.75 pounds over six weeks. Not surprisingly, results were stronger in weight loss diets (3.8 pounds over 6 weeks) than weight maintenance diets (0.6 pounds over 6 weeks). Although the weight loss was small, this study indicates that a modest serving of pulses may help produce weight loss, even without cutting calories.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2016 Mar 30. [Epub Ahead of Print] (Kim SJ et al.)

Eating Fish May Prevent Depression

Fish is well known for its place in many of the healthiest diets around the world. To determine the link between eating fish and depression risk, Chinese scientists reviewed 26 studies of over 150,000 people. The researchers concluded that “high fish consumption can reduce the risk of depression.”  
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 2015 Sep 10. pii: jech-2015-206278. [Epub ahead of print.] (Li Fu et al.)

Peanut and Nut Intake May Lower Death from Heart Disease

Nuts have long been associated with longevity, and new research in diverse populations further supports this relationship. Researchers tracked peanut and nut intake of about 206,000 people in the US (low income blacks and whites) and China for over 5 years. High nut intake was associated with a 21% lower risk of death from all causes among the US participants, and a 17% lower risk in the Chinese participants. High nut and peanut intake was also associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease, especially in ischemic heart disease (the type of heart disease caused by narrowed arteries).
JAMA Internal Medicine. 2015 May;175(5):755-66. (Luu HN, et al.)

Leafy Greens Can Keep Your Brain Young

It is no secret that green vegetables are some of the healthiest foods for our bodies, but new research shows that they are also good for our brains. Researchers in Chicago and Boston analyzed the eating patterns and cognitive abilities of over 950 older adults for an average of five years. The scientists found a significant decrease in the rate of cognitive decline for people who ate more green leafy vegetables (like spinach, kale, collards, and mustard greens). In fact, people who ate just one to two servings of leafy greens per day had the cognitive ability of a person 11 years younger than those who ate none.

Presentation at the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) Annual Meeting during Experimental Biology. Boston MA. March 30, 2015.

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.)

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