Posts Tagged ‘ omega-3 fatty acids ’

Organic Milk Is Healthier, Study Finds

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Researchers at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University have published a study that finds more nutrients–including heart-healthy fatty acids and proteins–in organic milk than in non-organic milk.  NBC News has more:

“There’s really no debate around the world — when you feed dairy cows more grass, you improve the fatty acid profile of milk. You also increase the protein level,” [study author Charles] Benbrook says. On the other hand, cows fed a corn-based diet produce milk that’s higher in omega-6 fatty acids.

The reason organic milk is healthier comes down to its ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which is lower than in regular milk. A diet containing too many omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3s has been linked to heart disease, as well as cancer, inflammation and autoimmune diseases. That’s because your gut converts omega-6s to arachidonic acid, which can cause inflammation. But the anti-inflammatory powers of omega-3s help to counterbalance that reaction, which is why keeping that ratio low is so important. (An omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 2.3 to 1 is best for heart health, research suggests.)

“It’s true that both omega 6s and omega 3s are essential – we have to have some of them,” Benbrook says. “But it’s when they get out of balance, the adverse health effects appear to kick in.”

If organic milk is out of your budget, conventional milk is still OK – but choose whole milk, rather than skim or 2 percent. “The heart-healthy fatty acids in milk are part of milk’s overall fat content,” Benbrook says. “This benefit will be reduced about 50 percent when people choose 2 percent fat milk, and by about two-thirds when purchasing skim or low-fat dairy products.”

Even if you don’t consume dairy, Benbrook says the larger message here is to try to cut back on foods that are very high in soybean or corn oil, both of which have high omega-6 to omega-3 ratios – things like fried foods, or chips.

Learn how to make healthy homemade baby food with our guide. Then, check out which 20 snacks kids find irresistible.

Image: Glass of milk, via Shutterstock

Valentine's Day Treats: Strawberry Milk
Valentine's Day Treats: Strawberry Milk
Valentine's Day Treats: Strawberry Milk

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Omega 3s’ Effect on Babies’ Brain Development Questioned

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

A new review of the scientific study of the effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplements on babies’ brain development shows that the supplements are not necessarily beneficial, according to an article published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  Reuters reports:

“There are so many trials where pregnant women are supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids and they’ve all got different results,” said lead study author Jacqueline Gould, a researcher at the Women’s and Children’s Health Research Institute in Adelaide, Australia. “We found that there was neither a positive nor a negative effect on visual or neurological outcomes.”

The Australian team, who published their findings in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, analyzed data from 11 clinical trials with a total of 5,272 participants who were randomly assigned to take omega-3 supplements or placebos during the last half of their pregnancies.

Across the trials, the amount of omega-3 taken by the mothers ranged from 240 to 3,300 milligrams per day. And the ages at which children’s brain and vision development were assessed ranged from newborn to 7 years old.

According to the researchers, most of the clinical trials included too few participants to distinguish subtle differences expected from nutritional studies, excluded complicated pregnancies (in which greater differences might have been seen) and didn’t follow the children long enough during development.

“Our analysis highlights that more research is needed,” Gould told Reuters Health.

Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for healthy fetal brain development and are commonly found in fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel and sardines. Human brains and eyes contain large amounts of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), both forms of omega-3.

Developing fetuses can get DHA from their mothers’ fat stores, and from food and supplements they consume during pregnancy.

Image: Omega 3 supplements, via Shutterstock

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Mercury, ADHD Linked in New Study

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

The levels of mercury in a pregnant woman’s bloodstream has been linked to a higher risk of her child being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by a new study conducted by researchers at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health.  The Boston Globe reports that children whose mothers tested high for mercury were 40-70 percent more likely to exhibit ADHD symptoms by age eight:

On the flip side, those children whose mothers consumed the most fish while pregnant were the least likely to exhibit fidgety, distracted, and impulsive behaviors in class, according to the study of 604 children published Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

At first blush, this finding appears contradictory because most of the mercury we consume comes from fish. “It seems a little paradoxical,” said study co-author Dr. Susan Korrick, an assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s. “But fish consumption doesn’t necessarily correlate with mercury levels since you could eat a high amount of fish that are low in mercury.”

….

Fatty kinds of fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to be crucial for cognitive function. All types of fish have a host of nutrients such as vitamin D, B-12, and iodine, which could play a role in brain development as well.

While government agencies have advised pregnant women to limit their fish intake to no more than two six-ounce servings a week, Korrick said they might want to aim for three or four servings of low-mercury fish such as salmon, canned light tuna, haddock, cod, and shrimp. (Albacore tuna has more mercury, so consumption should be limited to six ounces a week.)

The key is for pregnant women to avoid fish known to have high mercury levels, including swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel, Korrick added.

Image: Salmon, via Shutterstock

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Kids’ Vitamin Maker Issuing Refund for False Advertising

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

The children’s vitamin manufacturer NBTY and two of its subsidiaries, Rexall Sundown and NatureSmart are offering refunds to customers after the Federal Trade Commission discovered that the vitamins contain far less of the omega-3 DHA than the package claims.  From CNN:

The vitamins’ packaging featured Disney princesses, Winnie the Pooh, Nemo and Spider-Man. Manufacturer NBTY and two of its subsidiaries, Rexall Sundown and NatureSmart, claimed in product advertising and on packaging that the vitamins contained a dose of DHA that would satisfy 100% of a child’s daily requirement.

But in some cases the vitamins contained only minuscule amounts of DHA, the Federal Trade Commission said.

The amount of DHA — an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish — in Disney and Marvel Complete Tablets equaled only one-thousandth of what the marketers claimed per serving for children age 4 and older.

For smaller children, the discrepancy was even more significant. Only five-10-thousandths of what the company claimed the pills contained on the packaging was in a serving of Disney and Marvel Complete tablets for children ages 2 to 4, court documents filed by the FTC alleged.

The packaging claimed the DHA the vitamins contained would help vision and brain development in children. The FTC said those claims were unsupported.

Sold at CVS Pharmacy, Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, Kroger, Kmart, Meijer and Rite Aid, as well as online, the boxes were priced at between $4 and $8 each.

Parents who believe they may have purchased the vitamins dating back to between May 1, 2008, and September 30, 2010, can file a claim through the FTC’s website, anytime before October 12.

Image: Girl taking vitamins, via Shutterstock

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