Monthly Archives: August 2011
By Julie Upton, RD
At any given time, my refrigerator has at least three different types of milk in it. I have cow’s milk for my family, soy milk for tea, and usually almond milk because it can have half the calories of skim milk, making it an easy way to cut calories without really giving anything up.
To compare cow’s milk to the new nondairy milk alternatives, here’s a look at what’s best for refrigerated and shelf-stable milk products.
Skim (1-cup serving): 80 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 8 g protein, 30% of your daily value (DV) of calcium, and 25% DV vitamin D. Milk also offers potassium, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and niacin.
The skinny: Cow’s milk is loaded with nutrients and it’s also a natural source of whey protein and leucine, compounds that may provide benefits for burning fat and gaining muscle. Always choose skim or 1%, because 2% and whole milk are rich in saturated fat.
Original flavor (1-cup serving): 100 calories, 4 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 6 g protein, 30% DV calcium, and 30% DV vitamin D. Soy milk also offers vitamin A, iron, riboflavin, folate, vitamin B12, potassium, and magnesium.
The skinny: Soy milk is a fortified vegetarian option that provides the calcium and vitamin D of cow’s milk but is naturally lower in saturated fat. Plus, because it’s plant based, it provides beneficial compounds that may protect against heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Original flavor (1-cup serving): 80 calories, 5 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 1 g protein, 45% DV calcium, 25% DV vitamin D, and 50% DV vitamin B12.
The skinny: Coconuts are a source of medium-chain fatty acids, which are thought to be burned more readily as fuel rather than being stored as fat. However, since the research is not conclusive and coconut milk is rich in saturated fat, I wouldn’t make it my main source of milk.
Unsweetened Almond Breeze (1-cup serving): 40 calories, 3 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 45% DV calcium, 25% DV vitamin D, and 50% DV vitamin E. Almond milk also offers riboflavin, vitamin B12, and zinc.
The skinny: This is a calorie bargain because its first ingredient is water. Most almond milk varieties have more calcium than cow’s milk does. Like many of the other nondairy sources, almond milk is 100% lactose free.
Original flavor (1-cup serving): 120 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 1 g protein, 30% DV calcium, 25% DV vitamin D, and 25% DV vitamin B12. Rice milk also provides phosphorus.
The skinny: Rice milk is considered the least allergenic of all milk products, and it's dairy- and nut-free. It is higher in calories and lower in protein than most other milk products.
Original flavor (1-cup serving): 100 calories, 6 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 2 g protein, 30% DV calcium, 25% DV vitamin D, 25% DV riboflavin, and 25% DV vitamin B12. Hemp milk also provides phosphorus and magnesium.
The skinny: You won’t get the munchies after drinking this milk that’s made from the seeds of the edible part of marijuana plants. It is lower in protein than most other nondairy milk products.Health World
An independent lab analysis has found that some brands of coconut water contain far fewer hydrating electrolytes than advertised.
By Alyssa Sparacino
THURSDAY, August 4, 2011 (Health.com) — Coconut water, which came to fame as a celebrity health fad, has become an increasingly popular way to stay hydrated or recover after a workout. Filled with electrolytes like sodium and magnesium, the slightly sweet water has come to be seen as a natural alternative to sports drinks like Gatorade.
That reputation may not be entirely deserved. According to a report released today by an independent health-product testing firm, the nutritional content of some brands of coconut water doesn't live up to what's on the label.
Researchers at ConsumerLab.com tested the sodium, potassium, magnesium, and sugar content of three leading brands of coconut water, and they found that only one brand, Zico Natural, contained the stated amount for all four ingredients.
The sugar and potassium content in the other two brands, Vita Coco and O.N.E., also matched the label. But the amounts of sodium and magnesium—two nutrients key to hydration—were as much as 82% and 35% lower, respectively, than the listed amount.
Since the electrolyte content is one of the main selling points of these drinks, thirsty consumers may not be getting what they paid for, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
"When something like this becomes wildly popular, people have a tendency to look at the claims rather than reality," says Taub-Dix, the author of Read It Before You Eat It. "If you're working out and sweating a lot, this isn't going to do the trick."
Taub-Dix recommends hydrating with water instead and getting nutrients like sodium and potassium from foods such as bananas and almond butter. And unless you're running a marathon or climbing mountains, she adds, you probably don't need a sports drink.
Tod Cooperman, the president of ConsumerLab.com, says the growing popularity of coconut water got the company's attention and prompted the testing. "This was really the first look into what’s really in these bottles and whether or not they live up to their claims," he says.
"If you enjoy the taste of coconut water, they’re fine, but I wouldn’t rely on them for rehydrating after strenuous exercise," he adds.
Celebrities—like Victoria's Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio, shown here with a carton of O.N.E. in 2011—have helped fuel the coconut-water craze.
Arthur Gallego, the director of communications for Vita Coco, said in a statement that he could not comment specifically on the report, as the company has not thoroughly reviewed it.
He noted, however, that Vita Coco is derived from coconuts grown in multiple locations in Brazil and Southeast Asia, and that the individual cartons tested by ConsumerLab.com aren't necessarily representative of Vita Coco's average nutritional content.
The company routinely conducts its own tests, and some variation in electrolytes between batches (or lots) is normal, he added.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not test the nutrient content of foods itself, and the agency does not specify how companies should do so. Nor do they do prohibit food and drink manufacturers from using average values if the nutrient content varies from batch to batch, as long as "a manufacturer is confident that the values obtained meet FDA's compliance criteria."
The test results don't mean that consumers should pass on coconut water altogether. Though some cartons may contain lower-than-expected electrolyte levels, the drinks are a healthy, low-calorie alternative to soda or fruit juice, Taub-Dix says.
"If you're looking to cut your calories and looking for something tropical, sure, but when it comes to hydration, it may not work as well as some other fluids," she says.Health World
By Amanda Gardner
MONDAY, August 1, 2011 (Health.com) — Pregnant women who consume plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from supplements or natural sources such as salmon may be helping to fortify the immune system of their babies, a new study in the journal Pediatrics suggests.
Infants whose mothers took supplements containing docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA—one of the two main ingredients in fish oil—had fewer days with cold symptoms during their first six months of life than infants whose mothers received a placebo, the study found.
Newborns in the DHA group were also slightly less likely to come down with a cold in the first place.
Though promising, the new findings are preliminary. And the researchers say it's too soon for doctors to advise moms-to-be to take DHA supplements as an essential part of their pregnancy diet.
"Recommending women to take a dose of up to 400 milligrams of DHA during pregnancy would be safe, [but] how much of a benefit there is we don't know yet," says Usha Ramakrishnan, PhD, the lead author of the study and an associate professor of global health at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health, in Atlanta.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to have anti-inflammatory effects, have long been touted as a natural way to fight a range of ailments, from heart disease to depression.
"There is research to suggest that the fatty acid composition of many of our cells—particularly the immune cells—affect their function," Ramakrishnan says.
Previous research has suggested that DHA supplements can improve respiratory health and overall immune function in babies and children, but this is just the second study to explore whether exposure to DHA in the womb might have similar effects.
Ramakrishnan and her colleagues randomly assigned more than 800 pregnant women in Mexico to receive either 400 milligrams of DHA per day or a placebo. (The researchers used DHA supplements derived from algae rather than fish, because the distinctive taste of fish oil would have made it harder to disguise which type of pill the women were receiving.) The women began taking the pills during their second trimester and continued to do so until they gave birth.
Then, at three separate points over the next six months, the researchers surveyed the mothers about whether their child had experienced cold symptoms such as coughing, nasal congestion, and fever in the previous 15 days—and if so, how long the symptoms lasted.
At all three time points, the duration of cold symptoms tended to be shorter in the children whose mothers had taken the DHA supplements. And at the one-month mark, the DHA babies had 24% lower odds of having had any cold symptoms.
Ramakrishnan says the findings can likely be extrapolated to the Hispanic population in the U.S. and most probably to other ethnic and racial groups, but more research will be needed to confirm the results.Health World USP