This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's nutrition news, berries benefit everything from your heart to your memory — and trans fats do the opposite.


Blueberries in Cartons

In this week's news: Study casts shadow on claims that blueberries improve night vision; researchers provide an unforgettable reason to avoid trans fats; and a whole heap of new whole grains to try.

Berry Revealing Study

Blueberries — so delicious, so healthy. Studies have shown them to be beneficial for everything from your heart to your memory, but a report in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agriculture & Food Chemistry sheds new light on claims that the wonder fruit also improves night vision. A group of Canadian researchers found that the studies which claimed blueberries could boost night vision were poorly controlled and could not be replicated. While eating blueberries did not help the study subjects see better in the dark, it did help speed their recovery from "retinal photobleaching" following exposure to bright light. However, the authors warn, "it is not known whether this improvement would have an impact on everyday vision."

Trans fats Terrible for Memory

In case you needed yet another reason to steer well clear of trans fats, researchers have now provided one: A study released by the American Heart Association has linked diets high in trans fats to worse memory in healthy men under age 45. Of the 1,000 men participating in the study, those who consumed a lot of trans fats performed notably worse on word memory tests — findings that held even after accounting for age, education, ethnicity and depression. Further research is needed to determine whether the effects on women are similar. "Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory, in young and middle-aged men, during their working and career-building years," lead author Beatrice A. Golomb, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of California, San Diego, said. "From a health standpoint, trans fat consumption has been linked to higher body weight, more aggression and heart disease. As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people."

Whole Lot of Whole Grain

We all know we’re supposed to be eating whole grains. After all, they’re loaded with nutrients and associated with a host of health benefits, such as a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. But though we may have the best of intentions, our whole-grain repertoire may not be very vast.  Time and have helpfully provided a list of whole grains — beyond your morning oatmeal and go-to quinoa — to include in your daily mix. They include black rice, kaniwa, sorghum, teff, buckwheat and millet, all of which are gluten-free, as well as rye and barley, which are not. Never heard of some of those? Well, now you have! Your whole-grain world just got a whole lot bigger.

Amy Reiter also contributes to FN Dish.
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