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Guiding consumers toward the best choices for a healthy lifestyle is a growing role for today’s grocer. From national campaigns such as Fruits & Veggies—More Matters® to Guiding Star labeling projects, this position is ever expanding.
Sorting through the mire of health reports can be a cumbersome process. So, here are some recently released studies in a digested form, as they relate to food choices and health:
• A study, which was funded by the National Mango Board (NMB) and conducted at Texas A & M University, tested the impact of mangos on seven types of cancer cells in vitro. The most significant response was observed from certain colon and breast cancer cells. The study also revealed that mango polyphenols consist of both small molecules that are readily absorbed during digestion and larger molecules, which would not be absorbed and would remain present in the colon where they would have more exposure to colon cancer cells. Next on the NMB’s nutrition research agenda is a human study that will involve daily mango intake by people who are at high risk for colon cancer. In addition to this cancer research, the NMB is also conducting research in two other nutrition-related areas. The first seeks to understand mango’s ability to modulate glucose and lipids, while the second is looking at mango’s impact on bone density.
• New research indicates that the antioxidants found in Wonderful variety pomegranates can speed muscle recovery while reducing the soreness that often follows intense physical activity. The study, conducted at the University of Texas at Austin and published in the March issue of “Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise,” is the first to link the daily intake of polyphenol antioxidants from Wonderful variety pomegranates with a boost in exercise performance. The placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover study showed that when the research subjects consumed a daily dose of POMx, a highly concentrated source of pomegranate polyphenol antioxidants, they experienced over 30 percent less strength loss as well as 28 percent less muscle soreness compared to placebo.
• Apples and apple products (like juice and sauce) help lower the risk of developing heart disease, as well as decrease waist sizes and possibly even lower blood pressure. A 2008 study reported at the “Experimental Biology” meeting found that all adult apple-eating consumers had a 27 percent decreased likelihood of having metabolic syndrome — defined as having three or more symptoms related to heart disease risk, including elevated blood pressure, increased waist size and elevated c-reactive protein levels — compared to non-consumers. The study was based on an analysis of adult food consumption data collected in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the government’s largest food consumption and health database. When compared to non-consumers, adult apple and apple product consumers had a 27 percent decreased likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome.
In other news, a recently filed lawsuit in California alleges fish oil capsules sold as health supplements for their omega-3 fatty acids content have illegally undisclosed and unnecessarily high levels of contamination with polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) compounds. The lawsuit names eight makers and sellers of fish oil, shark oil, fish liver oil and shark liver oil supplements that have PCB contamination above the so-called “safe harbor” limits set for human PCB consumption under California’s Proposition 65. That law requires consumers to be warned about such exposures. Proposition 65, passed as a ballot initiative by a 2-to-1 margin in 1986, has a consistent history of forcing consumer products to eliminate toxic chemical ingredients or reduce them below published “safe harbor” limits.
The initial defendants named, in alphabetical order, are: CVS Pharmacy, Inc.; General Nutrition Corp. (GNC); Now Health Group, Inc.; Omega Protein, Inc.; Pharmavite LLC (Nature Made brand); Rite Aid Corp.; Solgar, Inc.; and TwinLab Corp.
Plaintiffs are conducting more tests and expect to add other companies to the legal action, if and when test results of their fish oil products show levels of PCB contamination that should have been warned about under California law. More information is available at www.fishoilsafety.com.