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Higher Vitamin D Levels Linked To Better Fitness

There’s another reason to make sure you’re getting enough of the sunshine vitamin: High levels of vitamin D in the blood are now linked with better fitness, according to research from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. In the study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 20- to 49-year-olds with better vitamin D status also tended to have greater cardiorespiratory fitness, a measure of aerobic fitness often determined by measuring maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) during exertion.

Something’s Fishy With Fish Oil

Don’t like fish? Well, you might not be able to turn to the supplement aisle to get the same benefits for your heart. A Cochrane report exploring 79 randomized trials of more than 112,000 adults (both with and without heart disease) showed that increasing omega-3 intake, mainly from fish oil pills taken for at least 1 year, did not significantly prevent heart attacks, strokes or deaths in general.

Belly Fat vs. Vitamin D

Here’s another good reason for people to reduce their Buddha-bellies: improving their vitamin D status. According to data presented at the 2018 European Society of Endocrinology’s annual meeting in Barcelona, Spain, researchers from the Netherlands found that more body fat around adults’ waistline is associated with lower vitamin D levels. Beyond raising the risk of weak bones, poor vitamin D status could set the stage for other health issues, including heart disease and compromised immunity.


Understanding Soy Safety

The growing popularity of soy products in U.S. and European diets has raised considerable controversy. While the soy-rich diets of Asia generate documented health benefits, questions persist about the safety of soy in some products, especially infant formula.
To make sense of this debate, it helps to understand the nature of dietary compounds called phytoestrogens—plant-based compounds whose chemical structure resembles estrogens, the female sex hormones of mammals. Also called isoflavones, phytoestrogens are most prevalent in soybeans and red clover.

Who Is (and Isn’t!) Reading Food Labels

The Nutrition Facts panel displayed on all packaged food can relay critical nutrition information like calorie, sugar and fiber content—but only to those who read the label.
An investigation by the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health and Medical School found that a mere one-third of adults aged 25–36 report frequent use of the Nutrition Facts label. Women, people with more education and income, those who cook more of their own food, and people who exercise regularly were more likely to examine their food purchases carefully.

Question of the Month

Do you or your clients drink energy beverages to get a lift? Do you think government agencies should better regulate these drinks? What do you consider the major health concerns of heavy consumption? Or do you believe the reported dangers are overblown? Send your responses to Sandy Todd Webster at [email protected]

Go Fish for Stronger Bones

A trip to the fishmonger can help your bones and your heart. Scientists have long noted a link between eating omega-3 fats in certain fish and improving heart function, but these mega-healthy fats are not a one-hit wonder. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition published a meta-analysis of previous research (which included 292,657 people)—and reported an inverse relationship between fish consumption and risk of hip fracture. Mechanisms still need to be sussed out, but in the meantime it’s a good idea to work fish into our diets at least twice per week.

Environmental Endocrine Disruptors Partly to Blame for Weight Regain in Women?

Maintaining weight loss is extraordinarily difficult for most people for myriad reasons, some understood and others less so.
In February, PLOS Medicine published results of the first randomized controlled human study looking for connections between weight loss and exposure to synthetic chemicals called perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The researchers found that higher blood levels of PFAS don’t affect weight loss but are associated with greater weight regain, especially in women.

Question of the Month: McDonald’s Makes Kids’ Menus Healthier—Are They Healthy Enough?

A Happy Meals makeover is underway at McDonald’s. As of June, all Happy Meals in the U.S. will contain fewer than 600 calories. By 2022, they will have less than 650 milligrams of salt, and under 10% of calories will come from saturated fats and added sugars. Water is now the default beverage. Cheeseburgers are off the Happy Meal menu, while chicken nuggets and hamburgers are served with fruits, vegetables or a 110-calorie mini-side of fries.

Trending: Sparkling Water

Out with soda and in with . . . sparkling water. Health-conscious Americans looking for a carbonated-beverage fix are in luck as sparkling water takes over store shelves across the country. The sugar-free bubbling water is a great hydration source and is free of artificial sweeteners and other processed ingredients common in diet sodas.

Childhood Obesity Stats Remain Grim

A February study in the journal Pediatrics debunked reports that childhood obesity rates were leveling off or in decline. In fact, the study found that despite substantial efforts to curb the epidemic in recent years, obesity rates have increased for every demographic—especially preschool children and adolescent girls. Moreover, the study cited a substantial rise in severe obesity in children.

Cracking The Nutrition Code On Toddler Drinks

An April study looked at the marketing and promotion of toddler drinks—formulas, milk drinks and other beverages for children aged 9–36 months. The research, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, found that these drinks are heavily marketed to parents, poorly regulated, and nutritionally inferior to whole cow’s milk and a balanced diet. The drinks consist primarily of powdered milk, corn syrup solids or other added caloric sweeteners, plus vegetable oil. They also have more sodium and less protein than cow’s milk.

Summer Reading: Devoured

2016) is the book for you.
Sophie Egan, MPH, RD, food writer and program director at The Culinary Institute of America, takes readers on an eye-opening journey through the American food psyche, examining connections between our eating habits and the values that define our national character—work, freedom and progress. Egan explores why these values enable such an unstable and often unhealthy food culture while, paradoxically, making America’s cuisine really impressive.

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