Nutrition

Diet File: Eat Smart 2

Author: Canadian Living

Nutrition

Diet File: Eat Smart 2

Read up on dairy products as they relate to weight-loss and the benefits of a high-calcium diet in Dairy and Weight Loss.

Wanna-be Dads Need Folic Acid takes a look at research that suggests prospective fathers need folic acid because it plays a key role in reproductive function. It includes a list of the best food sources of folic acid.

Can the Pop provides information on studies that show children who partake of soft drinks have a greater chance of becoming obese.

Dairy and Weight Loss

If you've given up dairy products because you think they're fattening, think again. New research suggests that foods such as milk, yogurt and other dairy sources of calcium may actually help you lose weight.

"When you're on a low-calorie diet, the body's natural drive is to be more efficient and conserve fat," explains Michael Zemel, professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of Tennessee. When you add calcium to a low-calorie diet, your body releases a hormone that affects fat cells and increases your body's ability to break down fat, he says. Calorie counting is still important, but dietary calcium can help your body decide if those calories will be stored as fat or burned.

The level of calcium that appears to be effective is 1,200 to 1,600 milligrams a day, and research suggests that food sources – not supplements – are best. Zemel adds that a high-calcium diet is also important for weight maintenance and prevention of obesity.

Wanna-be Dads Need Folic Acid

You've probably heard this one many times before: women who want to become pregnant should take folic acid supplements to prevent brain and spinal cord defects, such as spina bifida, in their babies. Now research suggests that folic acid may also be important for prospective fathers.

Scientists at the Western Human Nutrition Research Center in San Francisco, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Alabama in Birmingham studied 48 healthy men whose diets did not include a lot of fruits and vegetables and who did not take vitamin supplements. Their study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, suggests that low levels of folic acid in these men were associated with decreased sperm counts and lower sperm quality, both of which play a role in reproductive function.

The best food sources of folic acid are dark green leafy vegetables (such as broccoli, spinach, romaine lettuce, peas and brussels sprouts), orange juice, liver, dried peas and beans. In Canada, white flour, enriched pasta and enriched cornmeal are fortified with folic acid.

Can the Pop

Here's another good reason to go easy on the soft drinks. An American study published in Great Britain's prestigious medical journal The Lancet suggests that children who drink a single soft drink a day have a 60 per cent greater chance of becoming obese than those who don't drink pop. The study, from Children's Hospital in Boston, followed 548 children aged 11 and 12 for two school years. The researchers found that for every can or glass of sugar-sweetened beverage that a child drank during that time, his body mass index inched up and his chances of becoming obese rose significantly. This held true regardless of initial body mass, diet, television-viewing habits and level of physical activity.

Studies show that while people tend to eat less at a meal if they've consumed excess calories at a previous one, they don't tend to cut down if extra calories come from beverages. In other words, it's not likely that a child would eat less food to compensate for extra soft drink calories. The overall result is that a child will take in more calories than he burns off.

The incidence of obesity among children is growing at an alarming rate. Many factors are contributing to this increase, with soft drinks being only one piece of the puzzle. Eating a balanced diet and daily physical exercise are still the most important strategies in controlling this dangerous trend.

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Nutrition

Diet File: Eat Smart 2

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