subject: Western diet

Getting the Balance Right

Getting the Balance Right

Once described as an epidemic, obesity has now reached pandemic status with an estimated 600 million obese adults worldwide, and an additional 1.4 billion that are overweight. The cause of the pandemic is known—people consuming more energy (calories) than they expend—so it would seem that the solution would be to simply eat less. But a team of nutritional ecologists believes that cutting calories will not solve anything, because it ignores some basic tenets of human (and animal) biology. Using data from fruit flies, mice, birds, fish, monkeys, and humans, Raubenheimer, Simpson and their colleagues demonstrate a seemingly universal law of animal nutrition: a predominant appetite for protein. They propose that the human need to meet a fixed daily protein target leads to weight gain through the overconsumption of low protein foods that have come to dominate the Western diet. Rather than advocating for a high protein diet that eschews carbohydrates, they emphasize a balance of macronutrients for optimal health. Can dairy help strike this balance? Whole-food sources of protein that are easy to access, like dairy, can help balance out those beloved low-protein, high-carbohydrate processed foods and keep energy consumption in check. Read More...

A Tale of Fats, Fish, Dolphins, and Dairy

A Tale of Fats, Fish, Dolphins, and Dairy

For decades, we have been warned about the evils of saturated fats in our food. We have heard that this whole “family” of fats increases our “bad cholesterol,” and hence increases our risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Recently, however, this widely accepted mantra has been challenged by growing evidence that some saturated fats, such as milk fats, do the exact opposite: they appear to reduce our risk of many diseases, including type 2 diabetes. While scientists debate the mechanisms involved, the changing view on saturated fats is underpinned by a new study of some unexpected contenders: dolphins (1). Read More...

Got Vegetables?

Got Vegetables?

One of the marvels of breast milk is that its composition stays roughly the same, even when working mothers have lopsided diets, or mothers in poor places cannot find enough to eat. That much is at least true for overall levels of the major components—the fats, proteins and sugars in milk. However, recent research has suggested that chemicals called carotenoids—natural pigments found in fruits and vegetables—appear in breast milk according to how much of them a mother eats. And when compared across countries, by some measures, American moms do a fairly poor job of providing their suckling infants with them. Read More...

Getting More Omega-3 Fatty Acids from Milk

Getting More Omega-3 Fatty Acids from Milk

In the early 20th century, vitamin D was added to commercial cow’s milk in response to the rise in malnourished children and adults with insufficient amounts of this essential nutrient in their diets. Today, many Americans and other populations consuming a primarily Western diet face another nutritional challenge. Despite having plentiful amounts of fat, the Western diet is lacking in a specific group of fatty acids called omega-3s, touted for their benefits to heart and brain health. In an effort to increase omega-3 intake, food manufacturers have started fortifying commonly consumed foods, including breads, cereals and eggs, with these essential fatty acids. Cow’s milk also is getting in on the act, in more ways than one. Do more omega-3s for cows mean more omega-3s for milk consumers? Read More...