This Week's Nutrition News Feed

Flax Seeds

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Flax seeds

In this week's news: Scientists get the skinny on coffee and obesity; nutritionists root for plant-based omega-3; and why kids shouldn't heart energy drinks (or even drink them).

Can Coffee Curb Obesity?

Here's a new one to add to your long (and growing) list of reasons coffee is good for you — in addition to tasting wonderful and keeping you awake: A study, published in the journal Pharmaceutical Research, suggests an antioxidant found abundantly in coffee, chlorogenic acid (CGA), may protect against a variety of obesity-related diseases. Mice who were fed a high-fat diet and injected twice a week with CGA, a compound also found in some fruits and vegetables, did not gain weight during the test period. What's more, lead author Yongjie Ma told Yahoo Health, "We found that CGA significantly blocked the development of high fat diet-induced obesity, and in the meantime, CGA treatment curbed obesity-related metabolic syndrome, such as fatty liver and insulin resistance." Ma and his colleagues are not suggesting coffee as an antidote to “an unhealthy lifestyle," he said in a release, but rather hope "to create a useful therapeutic using CGA” to ”help those at risk for obesity-related disease as they make positive lifestyle changes."

A Vote for Fish-Free Omega-3

We've long been aware of evidence indicating that omega-3 fatty acids from fish and seafood — eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA and DHA) — lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. A new review of existing literature by Penn State nutritionists suggests that the omega-3 fatty acid found in plant-based foods like flaxseed, flaxseed oil, vegetable oils and some nuts — alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) — may be just as effective at reducing the risk of heart disease. The nutritionists behind the research, which was supported by the California Walnut Commission, are calling for dietary guidelines to be amended to boost the recommended daily ALA consumption and for randomized clinical trials to pinpoint the proper levels.

Energy Drinks Definitely not Kids' Stuff

A new study released by the American Heart Association underscored the grave dangers energy drinks may pose for young children. According to the organization, more than 40 percent of reports to the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System about "energy drink exposure," between October 2010 and September 2013, involved "unintentional" contact/consumption by children under age 6. Among the effects reported were abnormal heartbeats or seizures. “Energy drinks have no place in pediatric diets," study senior author Steven Lipshultz, M.D., pediatrician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, said in a release. "And anyone with underlying cardiac, neurologic or other significant medical conditions should check with their healthcare provider to make sure it’s safe to consume energy drinks." The researchers have also called for clearer labeling about high caffeine content and potential consequences.

Amy Reiter also contributes to FN Dish.

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