Gadget: Portable Ice Shaver

Advertisements

Do Carrots Really Help Your Vision?

Natalie Jacewicz wrote . . . . . .

Many lifelong carrot eaters feel a little betrayed.

“There is no way [carrots] affect eyesight,” says Silvio Fontecchio, a project manager at a print shop in Tallahassee, Fla., whose parents told him when he was young that munching the orange veggie would help his eyes. “As a kid, my go-to snack was carrots and ranch [dressing], and I have really bad nearsighted vision.”

For some, disillusion comes even earlier: When Rozalynn Goodwin, a health care executive in Columbia, S.C., told her 6-year-old son to eat his carrots to help his eyesight, he said, “I’ve been eating carrots, and I still had to get glasses.” Goodwin didn’t have a response.

We’ve all been sold the bill of goods that carrots improve eyesight. Yet many faithful crunchers still find themselves squinting at street signs. So, do carrots actually help us see better?

Absolutely, according to ophthalmologist Rebecca Taylor, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology — and one of the most enthusiastic carrot champions around.

“There’s a reason why these adages become adages: in large part because they’re true,” says Taylor. “When you eat a carrot, you’re helping your body take a light source [and interpret it]. … That makes food pretty darn important. That’s the stuff that will keep me up at night, it’s so exciting.”

For eyesight, a carrot’s nutritional punch comes from beta carotene, a “carotenoid” the body can convert into vitamin A, according to T. Michael Redmond, chief of the Laboratory of Retinal Cell and Molecular Biology at the National Eye Institute. Vitamin A enables opsin proteins to form in “cone cells” and rhodopsin protein to form in “rod cells” near the back of the eye. Cone cells process light in daytime conditions, while rhodopsin does the same in dim light. When light hits rhodopsin or cone opsins, it creates an electric impulse that travels to the brain for interpretation, helping us see.

Vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness, a condition in which people have difficulty adjusting their vision to low levels of light. “You go into a movie theater,” Taylor explains, “and you see nothing. You can’t process the little bit of light that’s in there.”

But night blindness is rare in the U.S. because vitamin A deficiency is rare in this country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That may help explain why carrot enthusiasts don’t have superior eagle eyes compared with carrot detractors: Even without carrots, most people are getting enough vitamin A from other sources. (Sweet potatoes can provide even more vitamin A than carrots do, and dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are also vitamin A treasure troves.)

Enabling vision is not the same as improving vision. According to the online World Carrot Museum — which exists — the British government began touting carrots’ health benefits during World War II to lure consumers away from rationed foods. Part of that campaign emphasized vitamin A’s role in seeing in the dark. From the campaign, the myth grew that carrots improved already-healthy vision in the dark — for example, during blackouts. That claim is false, according to Harvard Health Publications.

“Vitamin A will [help] keep your vision healthy; it won’t improve your vision,” Taylor says. “It won’t keep you from needing glasses or contacts.”

There’s one more catch to vitamin A’s powers. Because vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, one needs to eat it with fat in order to fully absorb it and its benefits. Eating a raw carrot won’t deliver as much vitamin A punch. “That’s why you need to dip it in ranch,” quips Taylor.

Because the process of converting beta carotene to vitamin A is somewhat inefficient, the National Eye Institute’s Redmond says it’s important to eat orange-colored foods frequently, as well as other foods with vitamin A, like dairy and fish.

To make nourishing the eye easier, Taylor recommends an ideal plate for healthy vision. Most of the plate would be taken up with a spinach and kale salad, red peppers, almonds and carrots on top — good sources of vitamin A, E and C, all of which support eye health. An oily dressing helps with intake of fat-soluble vitamins A and E. (Some hard-boiled eggs would also add carotenoids that protect vision, as well as fat to help absorption.) On the side, kiwi and oranges provide vitamin C, and fish like swordfish or salmon offer zinc, another key ingredient for eye health.

But if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, Taylor recommends a favorite from childhood. “I used to grow carrots with my daddy in the garden,” Taylor says. “Try roasting carrots, parsnips, beets and fingerling potatoes with olive oil, rosemary and sea salt. … Life just doesn’t get better than that.”

Source: npr

Mexican-style Plant-based Breakfast

Ingredients

1 Tbsp coconut or extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into julienne strips
19 oz (540 mL) can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 Tbsp sliced canned jalapeno peppers
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp sea salt
generous pinch of cayenne, plus extra
4 organic eggs
4 large leafy lettuce leaves
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
1 Ataulfo mango, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges
several cilantro sprigs

Method

  1. In large saucepan, warm oil over medium heat. Add onion and red pepper, saute until soft and clear and red pepper is still crisp, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add beans, jalapeno, and seasonings and gently fold together until warmed. Add more seasonings to taste. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. In large non-stick frying pan, gently fry eggs until set but yolk is still runny.
  4. To serve, arrange a lettuce leaf on each of 4 serving plates. Top each with a scoop of black bean mixture and slices of avocado, and mango. Nestle fried egg on top and dust with a little cayenne.
  5. Serve with a lime wedge and cilantro sprigs.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Alive magazine

In Pictures: Home-cooked One-plate Breakfasts

Dairy Products a Good Dietary Source of Some Types of Vitamin K

Vitamin K, with its multiple forms, is among the lesser known nutrients. Now, new research from scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University sheds new light on the vitamin and its significant presence in some dairy products available in the United States.

In the study, published June 1 in Current Developments in Nutrition, researchers quantified the activity of two natural forms of vitamin K in dairy products of various fat contents and found that common U.S. dairy items, including milks, yogurts and cheeses, contain appreciable amounts of multiple forms of vitamin K. Vitamin concentrations varied by fat content.

Vitamin K, which helps the blood to clot, is most commonly thought to come from leafy greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli. In fact, dietary sources of vitamin K are found in two natural forms: phylloquinone (PK, or vitamin K1), which is widely distributed through plant-based foods, and menaquinones (MK, or vitamin K2), which appear to be primarily in animal products and fermented foods. Almost all MK forms are also produced by bacteria in the human gut. Not much is known about MK amounts in U.S. dairy products.

“Dairy foods contain minute amounts of PK, the best known of the vitamin K forms, and so dairy is not commonly considered a rich dietary source for this nutrient. However, when it comes to MK forms, we found that dairy items already found in many peoples’ refrigerators are indeed a good dietary source for vitamin K,” said Xueyan Fu, Ph.D., first and corresponding author and scientist in the Vitamin K Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA.

Guidelines for adequate vitamin K intake are based only on PK intake without consideration for other forms of vitamin K. MK differ from PK in structure in that they are compounds with different numbers of isoprenoid units in the side chain, designated as MK4 through MK13. Which forms of MK are present reflects which bacteria might be in the dairy products. Lactic acid bacteria, for example, are widely used in dairy and fermented foods.

To understand the presence of MK and PK in dairy products, the researchers used 50 nationally collected dairy samples provided by the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory and 148 dairy samples purchased in 2016 from Boston area retail outlets. The products were divided into categories based on dairy types and fat content: milks, yogurts, Greek yogurts, kefirs, creams, processed cheeses, fresh cheeses, blue cheeses, soft cheeses, semi-soft cheeses, and hard cheeses. The effect of fat content on total vitamin K in all forms was compared using a two-sample T-test. The vitamin K content of cream products, for which the researchers had a smaller sample size, was analyzed using a general linear model, with heavy cream as the reference group.

Among the findings:

  • All full-fat dairy products contained appreciable amounts of MK, primarily in the forms of MK9, MK10 and MK11. Combined, these three forms of MK accounted for approximately 90 percent of total vitamin K present in the foods tested.
  • In cheeses, the total vitamin K content varied by type, with soft cheese having the highest concentration, followed by blue cheese, semi-soft cheese, and hard cheese. All of the cheeses contained MK9, MK10 and MK11, and modest amounts of PK, MK4, MK7, MK8 and MK12. Little MK5, MK6 or MK13 was measured in the majority of cheeses.
  • In milk, the vitamin K concentrations varied by fat content; both total vitamin K and individual MK concentrations in full-fat milk were significantly higher than in 2 percent milk. PK was only detected in full-fat milk. Only MK9-11 were detected in milk.
  • In yogurts, full-fat regular and Greek yogurts exhibited similar vitamin K concentrations as in full-fat milk; neither MK nor PK were detected in fat-free yogurt.

“Estimated intakes of PK and MK in dairy-producing countries in Western Europe suggest that between 10 and 25 percent of total vitamin K intake are provided by MK, and primarily from dairy sources. Additionally, observational data from Europe suggest that MK from dairy products have a stronger association with heart health benefits compared with PK intakes. This data from other countries highlights the need to analyze MK in commonly consumed foods in the U.S.,” said Sarah L. Booth, Ph.D., last author on the study. Booth is senior scientist and director of the Vitamin K Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA, interim director of the USDA HNRCA, and professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

Additional research is needed to determine the role of microbes used in production of dairy products, and their impact on MK content. The researchers also say there is a need to determine the relative bioavailability of all MK forms given their abundance in the U.S. diet.

The researchers acknowledge limitations of the study, including the reliance on food labels for fat content instead of direct measurement of fat content. Additionally, whereas the dairy product samples obtained from the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory were geographically representative of the U.S. diet, those purchased in the Boston region were not. However, items purchased locally were selected from retail outlets with national representation.

Source: Tufts University


Today’s Comic