New research: Fresh avocado enhances absorption of essential nutrients for healthy living

Released on EurekAlert! On July 10, 2014

Study explores improvements in the absorption of vitamin A when avocados are eaten with tomatoes or carrots


IRVINE, Calif. (July 10, 2014) – Consuming a whole fresh avocado with either an orange-colored tomato sauce or raw carrots significantly enhanced provitamin A carotenoid (alpha- and beta-carotene) absorption and conversion of these carotenoids to an active form of vitamin A, according to new research (1) published in The Journal of Nutrition.

Vitamin A is involved in reproductive health and growth promotion; helps support healthy skin, immune function, and vision; and has antioxidant properties. Provitamin A carotenoids, like alpha- and beta-carotene, impart the orange and yellow colors to many fruits and vegetables. The body converts these plant pigments into an active and usable form of vitamin A.

The research, “Avocado consumption enhances human post-prandial absorption and conversion from a novel high beta-carotene tomato sauce and from carrots,” conducted at The Ohio State University and supported by the Hass Avocado Board (HAB), investigated if avocados could help the body better use and absorb vitamin A from carotene-rich foods when eaten together.

Specifically, the research was based on two randomized, two-way crossover feeding studies in 12 healthy men and women. The first study investigated if fresh avocado, when eaten with high beta-carotene tomato sauce, would promote the absorption of provitamin A carotenoids, and the conversion of these carotenoids to an active form of vitamin A. The second study investigated the same outcome, but replaced high beta-carotene tomato sauce with raw carrots.

For the first study, researchers found that compared to a tomato sauce meal without avocado, the addition of one avocado (150 g):

  • More than doubled (2.4 times) beta-carotene absorption

  • More than quadrupled (4.6 times) the conversion of provitamin A (inactive vitamin form) to vitamin A (active vitamin form)

Similarly, researchers found in the second study that compared to a raw carrot meal without avocado, the addition of one avocado (150 g):

  • Significantly increased beta-carotene absorption 6.6 times

  • More than quadrupled (4.8 times) alpha-carotene absorption

  • Significantly increased (12.6 times) the conversion of provitamin A (inactive vitamin form) to vitamin A (active vitamin form)

“The results of this study strengthen the current body of research on this topic and complements a previous study (2) conducted in my lab that showed a similar enhancement in carotenoid absorption with one-half of an avocado (75 g),” said Steven Schwartz, PhD, Professor, Carl E. Haas Endowed Chair, The Ohio State University. “The results also provide promising clues and a basis for future research to determine avocados’ effect on the conversion of provitamin A to vitamin A.”

“Pairing certain foods together is more than just about taste – specific foods eaten together can help your body utilize the benefits more effectively. We know that avocado consumers are interested in foods that act like a ‘nutrient booster,’ ” said Nikki A. Ford, PhD, Director of Nutrition, HAB. “While additional studies are needed to determine if these results can be applied to everyone, the studies’ outcomes help to strengthen and advance the body of published research on avocado benefits and their role in everyday healthy living. Avocados are a nutrient dense, cholesterol-free fruit with naturally good fats, and are a delicious and easy way to add more fruits and vegetables to everyday healthy eating plans.”


To view the abstract or the full study visit

About the Hass Avocado Board

The Hass Avocado Board (HAB) is an agriculture promotion group established in 2002 to promote the consumption of Hass Avocados in the United States. A 12-member board representing domestic producers and importers of Hass Avocados directs HAB’s promotion, research and information programs under supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. Funding for HAB comes from Hass avocado producers and importers in the United States.

In 2010, HAB established a Nutrition Research program to increase awareness and improve understanding of the unique benefits of avocados to human health.

For a comprehensive collection of published nutrition and scientific literature, authoritative reports, and other articles on or related to avocados, their nutrients and eating patterns that include them, visit

For more information visit or follow HAB on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

1. Kopec RE, Cooperstone JL, Schweiggert RM, et. al. Avocado consumption enhances human post-prandial absorption and conversion from a novel high beta-carotene tomato sauce and from carrots. J Nutr. 2014; Jun 4. [Epub ahead of print] 2. Unlu NZ, Bohn T, Clinton SK, Schwartz SJ. Carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of avocado or avocado oil. J Nutr. 2005; 135: 431-6.

 Original Article released:

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20 Summer Foods to Beat the Heat

Posted on IndiaTImes

1 Mangoes
The arrival of the king of fruits is the arrival of the true summer season. Have it in the form of a milkshake, lassi or an aampanna, nothing beats the heat like a mango!

2 Sugar Palm Fruit 
The fruit of Sugar Palm tree is a summer season fruit. The transparent, watery fruit is high on water content, and is available cheap during summer.

 3 Chaas (Buttermilk) 
Chaas or buttermilk is widely preferred in India to cool off after a heavy meal.

 4 Green Tea 
This summer, ditch the caffeine, and go for green tea to experience a great change in terms of body weight and health. Green tea is extremely beneficial for weight loss, diabetes and blood pressure.

 5 Papaya 
The high Vitamin E content in Papaya helps in delaying the ageing. Its anti-ageing element makes it important to be included in this list.

 6 Lemons 
All you need is a glass of good old nimbupaani to quench the summer thirst.

 7 Mint
The pudina leaves act as a great skin cleanser. It can also keep acidity at bay. 

 8 Mushrooms 
Mushrooms contain zero cholesterol and are low on carbs, thus keeping you weight in check during the summer.

9 Bananas 
Bananas have a cooling effect on your stomach, and is therefore recommended a piece after lunch and dinner.

10 Coconut Water 
The more you consume nariyal pani , the less you will have summer problems.

11 Corn 
Pack boiled corn as snacks as it can provide Vitamin B to lower the summer stress.

12 Amla (Gooseberry)
Don’t go by its bitter taste, as amla has sweet benefits for your body. Rich with Vitamin C, amlas can be a great help to combat the harsh summer sun.

13 Tomatoes 
Red, juicy tomatoes are a powerhouse of Vitamin C and K, which are the essential vitamins needed to combat the summer heat.

 14 Berries 
Be it strawberries or blueberries, you ought to have a handful of them with a bowl of yogurt during the summers.

 15 Bell Pepper
Bell Pepper ensures beautiful skin during the scathing weather as it contains Vitamin C which builds collagen.

 16 Green Beans
The succulent green beans are a great source of Omega-3 fats. They are also rich in fiber and can control cardiovascular diseases.
17 Yogurt
This probiotic not only keeps gastrointestinal problems at bay, but also keeps the digestive system in check during summer.

 18 Oranges
The citrus fruits will always keep you hydrated during the hot weather.

 19 Cucumber
The phrase ‘cool as a cucumber’ explains it all. Cucumber or kakdi (as it is locally known) is high on water content and is extremely helpful to beat the sizzling summer heat.

 20 Watermelon
The juicy watermelon is a rich source of Vitamin A and C. It does a great job of replenishing lost fluids for the body during summer. A glass of watermelon juice or 5-6 pieces of the fruit is recommended after lunch and dinner.


Less exercise, not more calories, responsible for expanding waistlines

Released on EurekAlert! On July 7, 2014

Lack of leisure-time physical activity linked to increased obesity, particularly in young women, reports the American Journal of Medicine

Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 2014 – Sedentary lifestyle and not caloric intake may be to blame for increased obesity in the US, according to a new analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). A study published in the American Journal of Medicine reveals that in the past 20 years there has been a sharp decrease in physical exercise and an increase in average body mass index (BMI), while caloric intake has remained steady. Investigators theorized that a nationwide drop in leisure-time physical activity, especially among young women, may be responsible for the upward trend in obesity rates.


Caption: This graph shows the percentage of people who report no leisure-time physical activity, based on data from the 1988-94 vs. 2009-2010 NHANES.

Credit: The American Journal of Medicine, Ladabaum et al.

By analyzing NHANES data from the last 20 years, researchers from Stanford University discovered that the number of US adult women who reported no physical activity jumped from 19.1% in 1994 to 51.7% in 2010. For men, the number increased from 11.4% in 1994 to 43.5% in 2010. During the period, average BMI has increased across the board, with the most dramatic rise found among young women ages 18-39.

“These changes have occurred in the context of substantial increases in the proportion of adults reporting no leisure-time physical activity, but in the absence of any significant population-level changes in average daily caloric intake,” explains lead investigator Uri Ladabaum, MD, MS, Associate Professor of Medicine (Gastroenterology and Hepatology), Stanford University School of Medicine. “At the population level, we found a significant association between the level of leisure-time physical activity, but not daily caloric intake, and the increases in both BMI and waist circumference.”

The study looked at the escalation of obesity in terms of both exercise and caloric intake. While investigators did not examine what types of foods were consumed, they did observe that total daily calorie, fat, carbohydrate, and protein consumption have not changed significantly over the last 20 years, yet the obesity rate among Americans is continuing to rise.

Researchers also tracked the rise in abdominal obesity, which is an independent indicator of mortality even among people with normal BMIs. Abdominal obesity is defined by waist circumference of 88 cm (34.65 in) or greater for women and 102 cm (40.16 in) or greater for men. Data showed that average waist circumference increased by 0.37% per year for women and 0.27% per year for men. Just like the rise in average BMIs, the group most affected by increased rates of abdominal obesity was women.

“The prevalence of abdominal obesity has increased among normal-weight women and overweight women and men,” observes Dr. Ladabaum. “It remains controversial whether overweight alone increases mortality risk, but the trends in abdominal obesity among the overweight are concerning in light of the risks associated with increased waist circumference independent of BMI.”

When Ladabaum et al grouped respondents to the most recent NHANES survey by race/ethnicity and age, they found that more than 50% of the workforce-aged adults in eight demographic subgroups reported no leisure-time physical activity. The following chart displays the results and highlights the differences between the 1994 survey results and those collected in 2010 (albeit, with slightly different survey methods). According to this data, women, and black and Mexican-American women in particular, showed the greatest decreases in reported exercise.

While increased caloric intake is often blamed for rising rates of obesity, no association between these was found in this study; in contrast, an association was found between the trends over time for lack of physical activity and high BMI numbers. “Our findings do not support the popular notion that the increase of obesity in the United States can be attributed primarily to sustained increase over time in the average daily caloric intake of Americans,” concludes Dr. Ladabaum. “Although the overall trends in obesity in the United States are well appreciated and obesity prevalence may be stabilizing, our analyses highlight troublesome trends in younger adults, in women, and in abdominal obesity prevalence, as well as persistent racial/ethnic disparities.”

There is no easy answer in our ongoing battle against obesity, but identifying the link between the drop in physical activity and increased BMIs, as well as the groups particularly affected, can assist public health officials to develop targeted, effective interventions. In an accompanying commentary Pamela Powers Hannley, MPH, Managing Editor, the American Journal of Medicine, notes, “If we as a country truly want to take control of our health and our health care costs, the Ladabaum et al paper should be our clarion call. From encouraging communities to provide safe places for physical activity to ensuring ample supply of healthy food to empowering Americans to take control of their health, we must launch a concerted comprehensive effort to control obesity.”

Original Article released:

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What Are Benefits of Eating Watermelon to Lose Belly Fat?

Posted on LIVESTRONG.COM on April 18, 2014 by Jamie Logan 


In the battle of the belly bulge, food plays a starring role. Rich, fatty, high-calorie and high-sugar foods will obviously cause you to pack on pounds — often around your midsection. Some foods, however, can actually help you lose total body weight, which will help slim your stomach. Look for foods that are high in water and fiber content and low in calories — like watermelon, for example.

Biting into a big, juicy slice of watermelon can 
help you manage your weight.
Photo Credit Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Weight-Loss Basics

Beating belly bulge is a matter of reducing overall body fat. Everyone loses fat differently, but eventually, if you reduce your total body fat, your stomach will become smaller. The best way to do this is by lowering your calorie intake and increasing your calorie burn through regular exercise. Substituting foods like watermelon in your diet for higher calorie foods like sweets can help you create a calorie deficit. If you create a calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day, you could lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week.

Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Loss

Foods that are low in calories per gram should be the focus of a weight-loss diet, suggests the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These foods are normally high in fiber or water content, or both. Neither fiber nor water contributes calories, but both help fill you up. This creates a lasting feeling of fullness, which can help you eat less of higher calorie foods so you reduce your total calorie intake and lose weight. Fresh vegetables and fruits, such as watermelon, are the lowest energy-dense foods around because they’re typically highest in fiber and water content.

Watermelon Stats

Watermelon is a little more than 91 percent water by weight. It’s not a very good source of fiber, with only 0.6 gram per cup of diced fruit, which is a normal serving size, but it’s still a very low-energy-dense food with only 0.3 calorie per gram. One 152-gram cup contains only 46 calories. Compare that to one ounce of sour cream-and-onion potato chips that have an energy density of 5.3 calories per gram, or 151 calories total and you can see why snacking on watermelon is a better choice when you have some extra padding to lose around your midsection.

Watermelon in Your Diet

Watermelon will only help you lose belly fat if you eat it instead of other higher calorie foods — and not in addition to those foods. Next time you’re craving something sweet, sink your teeth into a slice of watermelon. You can also get a little more creative with your melon. Make a fresh salad with watermelon chunks, basil and a small amount of feta cheese, or use diced watermelon in a fresh salsa with tomatoes, onions, cilantro and diced green pepper.

Original Article:  LIVESTRONG.COM

Photoscape / Tiny models a giant boon to small factory

a5Posted on The Japan Times by The Yomiuri Shimbun on June 20, 2014

A remarkably accurate miniature kitchen is seen in Arakawa Ward, Tokyo.
Observing the miniature kitchen gives a sensation of being drawn into a miniature world.

By Kunihiko Miura / The Yomiuri Shimbun

A plate of gyoza dumplings smaller than a thumbnail and a glass of beer with a nice frothy head—a Chinese restaurant with these mouthwatering sights has been recreated on a micro level.

These miniature models were produced by Yukio Kawai, 64, who runs a metal stamping factory in Arakawa Ward, Tokyo, where a considerable number of small factories are located. His wife Tomoko, 64, and other family members lend him a helping hand.

The scale model of the Chinese restaurant was ordered by a woman in Kita Ward. She plans to close a Chinese restaurant that her late husband ran, and asked Kawai to recreate it, saying, “I’d like to preserve the restaurant, which is full of memories.”

Kawai took many photos of the restaurant and spent six months making a replica as accurately as he could, even down to the stains on the wall. The woman had tears in her eyes when she received the model.


“It feels like my husband could appear at any time,” she told Kawai.

Miniature dollhouses are extremely common in Europe, and dollhouse-making has become popular in Japan as well, mainly among homemakers. Kawai first started making miniature models when Tomoko, who was attending a dollhouse-making class, asked him to create a miniature pot.

The recreated restaurant kitchen contains a remarkably real-looking sink and cooking utensils, made with a stamping machine capable of processing stainless steel with great precision. Tomoko and other family members are in charge of making miniature food replicas from clay.


Small factories have been struggling as their orders have decreased. Kawai therefore started model production roughly 10 years ago under the name Mini Chuboan (kitchen). Today, model production accounts for 80 percent of the sales at his factory.

Kasahara Spring Seisakusho in Sumida Ward, Tokyo, is another struggling factory that has forged a path forward with a new idea. The company used to produce parts for industrial sewing machines but its workload decreased by half, so fourth-generation company president Katsuyuki Kasahara, 48, developed a business specializing in the production of tongs for serving food.

The company’s castanet-shaped tongs without a handle became a hit for their novel design and user-friendliness. In addition to their popularity in Japan, the product is also displayed in select shops in Paris today.

“I thought I couldn’t allow the company’s business to end during my time as president,” Kasahara said.

Small factories in Tokyo are branching out into new businesses with their wisdom and effort.

Original Article:  The Japan Times by Yomiuri Shimbun

14 Healthy Reasons to Eat Kiwi

Posted on Care2 on April 17, 2013 by Diana Herrington


People are attracted to kiwifruit because of its brilliant green color and exotic taste. But, the real uniqueness of kiwi fruit comes from its health benefits. Read the kiwi’s fourteen health benefits, interesting facts, and how to use this amazing powerfood.

14 Health Benefits

1. Helps Your Digestions with Enzymes
Raw kiwi contains actinidain, a protein-dissolving enzyme that can help digest a meal much like the papain in papaya or bromelain in pineapple.

2. Helps Manage Blood Pressure
Kiwi’s high level of potassium helps keep our electrolytes in balance by counteracting the effects of sodium.

3. Protects from DNA Damage
A study by Collins, Horska and Hotten showed that the unique combination of antioxidants in Kiwi fruit helps protect the cell DNA from oxidative damage. Some experts conclude this can help prevent cancer.

4. Boosts Your Immunity
Kiwi’s high vitamin C content along with other antioxidant compounds has been proven to boost the immune system.

5. Smart Carb for Weight Loss
Kiwi’s low glycemic index and high fiber content means it will not create a strong insulin rush like other fruit with high sugar contents — so the body will not respond by storing fat.

6. Improves Digestive Health
Kiwis are a great source of fiber. This prevents constipation and other intestinal problems.

7. Helps Clean Out Toxins
The fuzzy fiber of Kiwi helps bind and move toxins from your intestinal tract.


8. Helps Fight Heart Disease
Eating 2-3 kiwis a day has been shown to reduce the potential of blood clotting by 18% and reduce triglycerides by 15%. Many individuals take aspirin to reduce blood clotting, but this causes many side effects including inflammation and intestinal bleeding. Kiwi fruit has the same anti-clotting benefits with no side effects, just additional health benefits!

9. Suitable For Diabetics
Kiwi is in the ‘low’ category for glycemic index, meaning it does not raise your blood sugar quickly. It has a glycemic load of 4 which means it is safe for diabetics.

10. Protects Against Macular Degeneration and Other Eye Problems
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. A study on over 110,000 men and women showed that eating 3 or more serving of fruit per day decreased macular degeneration by 36%. This is thought to be associated with the kiwi’s high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin — both of which are natural chemicals found in the human eye. Although both fruits and vegetables were studied, this same effect was not shown for vegetables.

11. Create Alkaline Balance
Kiwi is in the ‘most alkaline’ category for fruits, meaning it has a rich supply of minerals to replace the excess of acidic foods most individuals consume. A few of the benefits of a properly acid/alkaline balanced body are: youthful skin, deeper sleep, abundant physical energy, fewer colds, less arthritis, and reduced osteoporosis.

12. Great for the Skin
Kiwis are a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant known to protect skin from degeneration.

13. Exotic Taste and Look for Food Variety
Kiwis look and taste great. Kids often love them because they are so different from most fruits.
For nutritional balance it is always good to eat a variety of foods. Each food has its own unique qualities and powers. The trouble with most people’s diet is that we eat such a limited number of foods. It increases our chances of not getting enough of important nutrients.

14. Naturally Organic
Kiwi fruit is on the list of foods that are generally safe from a lot of pesticide residues. For 2012 it came in with the top 10 safest foods. While it is always good to support organic when you can as a matter of principle, it’s also good to know whether there is a big danger if organic is not available or viable for you.

Read more:

Fatty liver disease prevented in mice

Washington University in St. Louis, on June 2, 2014
BY Julia Evangelou Strait


Studying mice, researchers have found a way to prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, the most common cause of chronic liver disease worldwide. Blocking a path that delivers dietary fructose to the liver prevented mice from developing the condition, according to investigators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

 The study appears in a recent issue of The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

 In people, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease often accompanies obesity, elevated blood sugar, high blood pressure and other markers of metabolic syndrome. Some estimate as many as 1 billion people worldwide have fatty liver disease, though some may not realize it.

 “Fatty liver disease is a major topic of research right now,” said first author Brian J. DeBosch, MD, PhD, clinical fellow in pediatric gastroenterology. “There are competing hypotheses about the origins of metabolic syndrome. One of these hypotheses is that insulin resistance begins to develop in the liver first. The thought is if we can prevent the liver from becoming unhealthy to begin with, maybe we can block the entire process from moving forward.”

 The research team, led by Kelle H. Moley, MD, the James P. Crane Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, showed that a molecule called GLUT8 carries large amounts of fructose into liver cells. Fructose is a type of sugar found in many foods. It is present naturally in fruit and is added to soft drinks and myriad other products in the form of high-fructose corn syrup.

 Scientists have known that fructose is processed in the liver and stored there as fat in the form of triglycerides. In this study, researchers showed that blocking or eliminating GLUT8 in mice reduced the amount of fructose entering the organ and appeared to prevent the development of fatty livers. Mice with GLUT8 deficiency also appeared to burn liver fat at a faster rate than control mice.

 “We showed that GLUT8 is required for fructose to get into the liver,” DeBosch said. “If you take away or block this transporter in mice, they no longer get diet-induced fatty liver disease.”

The researchers also saw differences between male and female mice in the degree to which they were protected from fatty livers and in whole-body metabolism. Male mice fed a high-fructose diet while deficient in GLUT8 still had evidence of fatty liver disease, but whole-body metabolism was healthy. They showed no evidence of metabolic syndrome in the rest of the body. Females fed fructose while lacking GLUT8, in contrast, had healthy looking livers but exhibited more evidence of whole-body metabolic syndrome.

 “If the fructose doesn’t go into the liver, it may go to peripheral tissues,” DeBosch said. “Female mice with a GLUT8 deficiency had increased body fat. They also had increased circulating triglycerides and cholesterol.

 “So the liver is healthier in female rodents, but you could argue that the whole body has worse overall metabolic syndrome,” he said. “This supports the idea of the liver acting as a sort of sink for processing fructose. The liver protects the whole body, but it may do so at its own expense.”

 While DeBosch said future therapeutics might be able to target GLUT8 to block fructose from entering the liver, more work must be done to understand how this would impact the rest of the body.

 “In a perfect world, it would be good if we could figure out a way to direct fructose to tissues in which you’re more likely to burn it than store it, such as in skeletal muscle,” he said.

 In the meantime, DeBosch advises his pediatric patients, many of whom are overweight or obese, to avoid fructose, especially sugar-sweetened drinks, and to find ways to increase physical activity.

  Original Article released:  
Washington University in St. Louis 

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