News Feed: Fish and Brains, Sugar in Fruit, Pomegranate Healthfulness

Eating fish may aid your brain, sugar in fruit beats sugar in soda — plus, parsing pomegranates and health.
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Fish for brain health

You’ve heard fish is good brain food, but also worry about the effects of mercury in fish on your brain. What to do? New research tips the scales in fish’s favor. A recent study by Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago, indicates that eating a serving of seafood per week may protect the brains of older adults from the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease — especially among those at a higher genetic risk for developing Alzheimer’s. The study also concluded that, although those who ate seafood had higher levels of mercury in their brains, that mercury did not correlate to brain damage. "The evidence is quite clear that people who consume healthier forms of fish … are going to end up with healthier brains," James T. Becker, an Alzheimer's expert who was not involved in the study, told CNN.

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The word 'sugar' written into a pile granulated sugar

All sugars are not equal

“Does the sugar in fruit cause insulin to spike in the same way as regular sugar?” That question was recently put to The New York Times’ Well blog, which responded that, in the case of a whole fruit, the answer is no. “Unlike honey, cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and other forms of sugar that are added to many processed foods, the sugar naturally found in fruit is consumed in the company of fiber, which helps your body absorb the sugar more slowly,” Well writer Sophie Egan explained, later adding, “Four apples may contain the same amount of sugar as 24 ounces of soda, but the slow rate of absorption minimizes the blood sugar surge.” Dr. David Ludwig, of Boston Children’s Hospital, told Egan that all sugar is not equal and that it’s best to take “a whole foods view.”

Photo by: Dejan Lecic

Dejan Lecic

The healthfulness of pomegranates

Another question recently put to the Times’ Well blog: “Are Pomegranates Good for You?” Writer Roni Caryn Rabin consulted Dr. Brent Bauer, of the Mayo Clinic, who noted that, while it has been suggested that pomegranates contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory micronutrients, there is “very limited data” to back up claims that the fruit is truly beneficial for your health. Some trials have linked compounds found in pomegranates to a reduced risk for chronic diseases, such as cancers of the prostate, breast, colon and lung, and heart disease (aiding blood pressure, “good” HDL cholesterol levels and vascular health), but research is still in progress. Further, Dr. Bauer cautioned, people on blood thinners and blood-pressure medications should consult their doctors before consuming a lot of pomegranate, because the fruit may influence how the drugs are metabolized.

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish.

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