Study: Stroke survivors lacking antioxidant carotenoids in their gut flora
GOTHENBURG, Sweden — Researchers at the University of Gothenburg along with the Chalmers University of Technology earlier this month demonstrated that an altered gut microbiota in humans is associated with symptomatic atherosclerosis and stroke.
These findings were presented in a study published in Nature Communications on Dec. 4.
The researchers compared a group of stroke patients with a group of healthy subjects and found major differences in their gut microbiota. In particular, they showed that genes required for the production of carotenoids were more frequently found in gut microbiota from healthy subjects. The healthy subjects also had significantly higher levels of a certain carotenoid in the blood than the stroke survivors.
Carotenoids are a type of antioxidant, and it has been claimed for many years that they protect against angina and stroke. Thus, the increased incidence of carotenoid-producing bacteria in the gut of healthy subjects may offer clues to explain how this affects disease states.
Carotenoids are marketed today as a dietary supplement. The market for them is significant, researchers noted, but clinical studies of their efficacy in protecting against angina and stroke have produced varying results.
Jens Nielsen, professor of systems biology at Chalmers, suggested that it may be preferable to take probiotics that contain types of bacteria that produce carotenoids.
"Our results indicate that long-term exposure to carotenoids, through production by the bacteria in the digestive system, has important health benefits," Nielsen noted. "These results should make it possible to develop new probiotics. We think that the bacterial species in the probiotics would establish themselves as a permanent culture in the gut and have a long-term effect."
Study: Babies born to vitamin D-deficient mothers more likely to have lower birth weight
PITTSBURGH — Women deficient in vitamin D early in their pregnancies are more likely to deliver babies with lower birth weights, according to research released last week by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, will be reported in the January print edition of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
"A mother’s vitamin D level early in pregnancy may impact the growth of her baby later in pregnancy," stated lead author Alison Gernand, post-doctoral associate in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. "Also, if the mother was deficient in vitamin D during the first trimester, her baby had twice the risk of suffering from growth restriction in utero."
Gernand and her co-authors discovered that mothers with levels of vitamin D in their blood of less than 0.015 parts per million (37.5 nmol/L) in their first 26 weeks of pregnancy delivered babies who weighed an average of 46 grams less than their peers. Only full-term babies — those delivered between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy — were included in the study.
In addition, women who were vitamin D-deficient in the first trimester of pregnancy — 14 weeks or less — were twice as likely to have babies who fell in the lower 10th percentile for weight when compared to other full-term babies born in the same week of pregnancy, a condition known as "small for gestational age."
Babies born small for gestational age are at five to 10 times greater risk for death in their first month and have a higher risk of such chronic diseases as heart disease, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes later in life.
"This is one of the largest studies to examine a mother’s vitamin D levels and their relationship with birth weights," noted senior author Lisa M. Bodnar, assistant professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. "It shows that clinical trials to determine if you can improve birth weights by giving women of reproductive age vitamin D supplements may be warranted."
The Pitt Public Health study used a random sample of 2,146 pregnant women who participated in the Collaborative Perinatal Project, which was conducted in 12 U.S. medical centers from 1959 to 1965. The blood samples collected by the project were well-preserved and able to be tested for vitamin D levels half a century later.
"Although the blood samples were in remarkably good condition, it would be beneficial to repeat our study in a modern sample," Bodnar said. "Today women smoke less, weigh more, have less sun-exposure and get more vitamin D in their foods — all things that could impact their vitamin D levels and babies’ birth weights."
Kraft keeps innovation flowing with 40-plus new products
NORTHFIELD, Ill. — Kraft will introduce more than 40 new products in 2013, the company stated. This is the first comprehensive new products launch since Kraft became an independent public company in October. In keeping with the company’s initiative to offer consumers good, better and best choices, Kraft is using its iconic brands and successful new platforms to deliver innovation across multiple categories. While some new products are hitting store shelves now, others debut in early 2013.
"Bland and boring do not cut it anymore," said Barry Calpino, Vice President, Breakthrough Innovation, Kraft. "We’re seeing an all-out quest for fun, passion and adventure in food and beverages as people embrace a multitude of global and regional flavors. Culinary experimentation is ‘in,’ so everyone wants the flexibility to customize their food. Our latest innovations are fun, great-tasting products that meet those needs and are in sync with today’s lifestyles."
The Bolder, The Better
Whether inspired by global cuisine, local street foods, farmers markets or restaurant trends, Kraft is intent on satisfying flavor fanatics. In 2013, peppers of any kind take center stage while bacon continues to sizzle. New Miracle WhipDipping Sauces offer unexpected yet distinctive tangy flavors: Smokin’ Bacon Ranch, Kickin’ Onion Blossom and Sassy Sweet Tomato. Bagels now will benefit from a "schmear" of Philadelphia Spicy Jalapeno Cream Cheese, while fruits, graham crackers and pretzels will welcome two new additions to the Philadelphia Indulgence Spread line -Cinnamon and Dulce de Leche Caramel. And string cheese will no longer be just a kids’ snack, thanks to Cracked Black Pepper, Italian Style Pizzeria and Sweet BBQ varieties on both the Kraft and Polly-O String Cheese brands. Also on the snacking front, Planters NUT-ritionPeanut Butter will add a robust Cherry Chocolate flavor. Fiery notes like Chipotle BBQ, Tomato & Chili Pepper and Cracked Peppercorn add some heat to the A.1. Dry Rubs and A.1. Marinade Mixes lines. Kraft Anything Dressings adds a citrus twist with Zesty Lime Vinaigrette – a refreshing addition to salads or as a marinade for meats and seafood. Even beloved Oscar MayerBologna experiences a flavor makeover with the addition of Jalapeno and Bacon options, which provide affordable variety to everyday sandwiches.
Flexible Meal Choices
Convenience counts as consumers want fast but flexible meal options that don’t skimp on taste. Oscar MayerCarving Board Pulled Meats are leading the way. This new line combines succulent spice blends with pulled pork that has been slow smoked with natural hardwood to lock in the real meat flavors. A resurgent Velveeta brand expands to include on-trend Cheesy Casseroles in Chili Cornbread, Chicken Pot Pie and Shepherd’s Pie varieties. The Velveeta Cheesy Skillets Dinner Kitsfranchise will build its "liquid gold" platform with three new flavor combinations: Jambalaya, Chicken Parmesan and Ultimate Cheeseburger Mac with 2% Milk Cheese. Adding to its successful 2012 launch, Kraft Fresh Take cheese and breadcrumb mixwill help cooks transform everyday chicken, pork or fish with three more tasty choices: Smokey Mesquite BBQ, Spicy Chipotle Cheddar and Classic Four Cheese.
Simpler Ingredient Lines
Finding a wholesome balance for some consumers is no longer just about calories. It also includes looking for simpler ingredient lines. So Kraft will be adding to its Oscar Mayer Selects brand. Oscar Mayer Selects Chicken Breast Franks are made with quality cuts of white chicken breast meat, that are hardwood smoked and have no artificial preservatives.
Individuality matters when it comes to food and people want to be able to whip up a custom-made food experience. Kraft helped pioneer the customization trend by launching the portable liquid water enhancer category in 2011 with MiO. Look for new options in early 2013, including Cherry Blackberry. In addition, Crystal Light Liquid will debut with six refreshing flavors – Mango Passionfruit, Strawberry Lemonade, Blueberry Raspberry, Iced Tea, Peach Bellini and Pomtini – and no artificial flavors and zero calories. When it comes to hot beverages, customizing your brew is as easy as a touch of a button with the Tassimo on-demand system. And now the delicious taste of Tim Hortons coffee, including decaf and latte, is available in T Discs. For those looking to add their personal touch to baked goods, Cool Whip Frosting is an innovation worth celebrating. This new frosting is available in the freezer aisle, perfectly whipped to spread easily on cakes, cupcakes and more. To spur even more culinary creativity, the rapidly growing Jet-Puffed MallowBites marshmallows line is expanding to include fruit-flavored, ice cream cone shaped and brownie bite mini-marshmallows which are perfect for snacks, dipping or hot chocolate. For a hearty snack, Planters NUT-rition Sustaining Energy Mix will come in three varieties that include ingredients such as honey roasted peanuts, crunchy honey soy clusters with soy protein and wholesome roasted almonds.
"Our newest products demonstrate how an innovative spirit is taking hold in today’s Kraft," said Calpino. "New products and expandable platforms will help us fulfill our mission of being North America’s best food and beverage company. In 2013, we’re capitalizing on several trends — bold flavors, better-for-you choices, flexible meals and customizability — to win with both customers and consumers."