This Week's Nutrition News Feed
In this week's news: Researchers suss out the skinny on tomato juice; allergen labeling may get less nutty; and tempeh's time may have come.
You say tomato? Researchers in Taiwan say tomato juice — just one glass a day — may reduce waist circumference, cholesterol and inflammation markers in healthy young women. For the study, the results of which were published in the journal Nutrition, researchers gave 30 healthy women, ages 20 to 30, a 280-mililiter serving of tomato juice, containing 32.5 milligrams of lycopene, a carotene and phytochemical known to protect against metabolic diseases, every day for eight weeks. The women did not change their regular diets or exercise regimes in any other way. The researchers compared the women’s metabolic indices at the beginning and end of the two-month timespan and concluded that the daily dose of tomato juice had reduced participants’ waist size "as well as serum cholesterol and inflammatory adipokine levels … and that these effects are unrelated to body fat changes." It’s worth noting, before you run out and stock up on tomato juice, that the study was small (only 25 women completed it) and did not include a control or placebo group.
We've all seen food labels indicating that something may contain trace ingredients of an allergen, like nuts, or have been processed in a factory that also handles nuts. But because all food sensitivities are not the same — some people can tolerate more of an allergen than others without a reaction — it's often not clear which products those with allergies really need to avoid, and which only those with the highest level of sensitivity need to steer clear of. In hopes of paving the way for clearer labeling, researchers at the University of Manchester conducted a study to pinpoint the levels of the five most-common food allergens that prompt reactions from 10 percent of those sensitive to them. "This sort of data can then be used to apply a consistent level of warning to food products," Clare Mills, the professor who led the study, said. "What we'd like to see are warnings which tell people with allergies to avoid certain products completely or just apply to those who are most sensitive."
Will 2015 be the year of Tempeh? Washington Post Food and Dining Editor Joe Yonan has written a love letter to tofu’s overlooked Indonesian cousin. Yonan’s ardent New Year’s wish, he writes, is for tempeh, that protein-rich cake of cultured soybeans, to break through to the mainstream. "Fermentation makes tempeh quite possibly the most nutritious, digestible form of soy around," Yonan contends. "It’s also one of the least-processed, using the whole bean (as opposed to tofu, made from soy milk)." But eating it — or more of it — should be on our list of resolutions not only because of its impressive nutritional profile, but also because of its "earthy, slightly bitter, even somewhat sweet flavor," "firm, nutty texture" and versatility, Yonan argues. He added that, with fermented products like kombucha and sauerkraut getting their time in the spotlight, it may well be time for a "tempeh takeover."