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Sourdough Fermentation Methods Improve Quality of Partially Whole Wheat Pasta

Swapping out some of the white flour for whole wheat flour in pasta is a simple way for manufacturers to bump up the nutritional quality of their products. But researchers wonder if different whole wheat pasta formulations might be better than others. In this study, researchers compared the nutritional and sensory (taste, acceptability, etc.) characteristics on two types of partially (28.5%) whole wheat fresh pasta: in one, the whole wheat flour was fermented (essentially a sourdough starter) and in the other, the whole wheat flour was not fermented. The fermented pasta showed a higher content of free essential amino acids and phenolic compounds, lower phytic acid content, and higher antioxidant activity. In consumer testing in a group of 54 people, the fermented pasta was rated higher for overall acceptability (taste, texture, and flavor). Interestingly, when people were told about the use of sourdough fermentation in the pasta, the acceptability ratings were even higher, reflective of the growing appetite for functional foods.
Foods. 2019 Sep 18;8(9). pii: E422. doi: 10.3390/foods8090422. (Fois S et al.)

Red Wine Linked with Diversity of “Friendly Bacteria” in Gut

Moderate red wine intake has been linked with numerous health benefits, and researchers wonder if the gut microbiome might play a role in its protective effect. To test this relationship, researchers analyzed the alcohol intake (red wine, white wine, beer/cider, and spirits) across a group of 916 UK twins, as well as large cohorts of Flemish and American participants. Red wine consumption was linked with significantly greater diversity of gut microbes across all large cohorts studied, and even rare consumption of red wine showed a positive relationship. The authors also found that twins drinking red wine at least 2 categories above their co-twins had significantly higher gut microbe diversity. However, this significant relationship was not observed for the other alcoholic drinks studied.
Gastroenterology. 2019 Aug 23. pii: S0016-5085(19)41244-4. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2019.08.024. (CI Le Roy et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Improvements in Brain Function in Adults Age 70+

What nourishes your body can also help nourish your brain as well. In this study, researchers analyzed the eating habits and brain function of more than 1,400 older adults. In the adults aged at least 70 years old, closely following a Mediterranean diet was linked with improvements in global cognitive function, visual-spatial organization, memory, scanning, and tracking. However, the results were not statistically significant in the adults younger than age 70, or in the group as a whole.
Nutritional Neuroscience. 2019 Aug 21. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2019.1655201. (Wade AT et al.)

Mediterranean Diet with Olive Oil May Delay Need for Meds in People with Type 2 Diabetes

People with diabetes often need to control their blood sugar using injectable or oral medications, such as insulin. In this study, researchers followed 3,230 people with type 2 diabetes who had been randomly assigned to either a Mediterranean diet with olive oil, a Mediterranean diet with nuts, or a low-fat control diet, and analyzed how the patients managed their blood sugar. Those in the Mediterranean diet with olive oil plan were significantly less likely to need new blood-sugar lowering medications at the 3-year and 5-year follow-up than the low-fat control group. The benefit of the Mediterranean diet with nuts group was not strong enough to be statistically significant. However, it should be noted that 22% of calories in the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil group came from olive oil, while only 8% of the calories in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts group came from nuts.
Diabetes Care. 2019 Aug;42(8):1390-1397. doi: 10.2337/dc18-2475. (Basterra-Gortari FJ et al.)

Mediterranean Diet During Pregnancy Linked with Lower Risk of Diabetes During Pregnancy

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that develops in pregnant women, and if left untreated, it can pose risks for birth complications down the road. In this study, researchers randomly assigned participants to either follow a Mediterranean diet (starting at 18-weeks pregnant) or receive their routine care. Those following a Mediterranean diet were 35% less likely to develop gestational diabetes. However, there was no significant relationship detected between the Mediterranean diet and other maternal or child outcomes (such as maternal high blood pressure, still birth, small birth size, or NICU admissions).
PLOS Medicine. 2019 Jul 23;16(7):e1002857. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002857. (Al Wattar BH et al.)

An Overview of Healthy Phenolic Compounds in Foods

Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant that can combat cell damage, and they are also linked with lower inflammation and lower risks of chronic disease. In this review, researchers analyzed the different types of phenols in foods and how they are commonly measured, noting that “phenols are mainly found in vegetable foods in which the Mediterranean Diet is rich.”
Journal of AOAC International. 2019 Jun 14. doi: 10.5740/jaoacint.19-0128. [Epub ahead of print] (Delgado AM et al.)

Mediterranean and Vegetarian Diets Can Improve Cholesterol in People with Type 2 Diabetes

Poor cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, but dietary approaches can be used to keep cholesterol in check. In this review, researchers analyzed 52 randomized controlled trials (the “gold standard” of nutrition research) encompassing 5,360 people with type 2 diabetes, to determine the relationship between diet and cholesterol. They found that vegetarian diets most effectively reduced LDL (“bad”) cholesterol compared with control diets, and that the Mediterranean diet was the overall most effective diet to treat poor cholesterol, raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lowering triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood that is a risk factor for heart disease when elevated).
European Journal of Epidemiology. 2019 Jun 14. doi: 10.1007/s10654-019-00534-1. [Epub ahead of print] (Neuenschwander M et al.)

More Exposure to Nutritious, Bitter Staples of Med Diet May Improve Consumer Acceptability

Many bitter foods, such as green vegetables, contain a wealth of antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals. In this review, scientists analyzed existing research on consumer opinions of two bitter-tasting, healthful essentials of the Mediterranean diet: extra virgin olive oil and brassicaceae vegetables (the family of vegetables that includes broccoli and arugula). They found the most important factor in influencing someone’s perception of these bitter foods is exposure, meaning the more often someone tries these foods, the more likely they’ll be to like them. They also note that music and certain food pairings can make these bitter foods appear to taste less bitter to consumers. In certain demographics (women and elderly consumers), promoting the healthfulness of these bitter foods can also improve acceptability.
Nutrients. 2019 May 24;11(5). pii: E1164. doi: 10.3390/nu11051164. (Cavallo C et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Better Cognitive Function in Adults with Well-Controlled Type 2 Diabetes

Healthy diets are known to support brain health in a general population, so researchers wonder if this benefit also extends to patients with diabetes. Scientists analyzed the eating habits, blood sugar control, and brain function in 913 adults, nearly half of whom had type 2 diabetes. In patients who had good blood sugar control, those most closely following a Mediterranean diet significantly improved their cognitive function over the 2-year study. However, the results were not statistically significant in patients without diabetes or patients with poor blood sugar control.
Diabetes Care. 2019 May 23. pii: dc190130. doi: 10.2337/dc19-0130. [Epub ahead of print] (Mattei J et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Longevity

The Mediterranean diet has been associated with longevity since its discovery, so researchers wanted to see if newly-published studies find the same association. In this review, researchers analyzed 29 prospective studies following more than 1.6 million people over several years, and they found that each 2-point increase in Mediterranean Diet adherence was linked with a 10% lower risk of death over the study period, and that this relationship was even stronger in people who lived in the Mediterranean.
Advances in Nutrition. 2019 May 21. pii: nmz041. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmz041. (Soltani S et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Lower Risk of Diagnosed Depression

Good food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and emerging research suggests that certain food choices might ward off depression as well. Researchers analyzed the diets and mental health of 154 older adults in Greece, to see how a Mediterranean diet might relate to depression. Eating a Mediterranean diet was not linked with a change in risk of depressive symptoms. However, those most closely following a Mediterranean diet were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with depression. When looking at individual foods, eating more vegetables, more poultry, and less alcohol was also linked with a lower risk of depression. (Note that findings presented at meetings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.)
Presentation at American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting. San Francisco, CA. May 19, 2019

Following Mediterranean Diet During Pregnancy Linked with Healthy Outcomes for Mothers and Children

Pregnant mothers have a special opportunity to impact not only their own health, but the health of their babies as well, and researchers wonder what some of the short-term and long-term impacts of maternal diet might be. In this article, researchers analyzed 22 studies of pregnant mothers following a Mediterranean diet. They found that, compared with children of mothers who aren’t following a Mediterranean diet, children of mothers who follow a Mediterranean diet during pregnancy are significantly less likely to have depressive behaviors or aggression, and are significantly less likely to have birth defects (such as dangerous heart defects). Allergic disorders (including eczema and asthma) are less likely in children when mothers follow a Mediterranean diet during pregnancy, and an even stronger association is found when children continue with a Mediterranean diet. The researchers also found benefits for the mothers themselves, as those following a Mediterranean diet during pregnancy were less likely to develop diabetes during pregnancy.
Nutrients. 2019 May 17;11(5). pii: E1098. doi: 10.3390/nu11051098. (Amati F et al.)

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