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Drinking concentrated blueberry juice improves brain function in older people, according to research by the University of Exeter.
In the study, healthy people aged 65-77 who drank concentrated blueberry juice every day showed improvements in cognitive function, blood flow to the brain and activation of the brain while carrying out cognitive tests.
There was also evidence suggesting improvement in working memory.
Blueberries are rich in flavonoids, which possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Dr Joanna Bowtell, head of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter, said: “Our cognitive function tends to decline as we get older, but previous research has shown that cognitive function is better preserved in healthy older adults with a diet rich in plant-based foods.
“In this study we have shown that with just 12 weeks of consuming 30 ml of concentrated blueberry juice every day, brain blood flow, brain activation and some aspects of working memory were improved in this group of healthy older adults.”
Of the 26 healthy adults in the study, 12 were given concentrated blueberry juice – providing the equivalent of 230 g of blueberries – once a day, while 14 received a placebo.
Before and after the 12-week period, participants took a range of cognitive tests while an MRI scanner monitored their brain function and resting brain blood flow was measured.
Compared to the placebo group, those who took the blueberry supplement showed significant increases in brain activity in brain areas related to the tests.
The study excluded anyone who said they consumed more than five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, and all participants were told to stick to their normal diet throughout.
Previous research has shown that risk of dementia is reduced by higher fruit and vegetable intake, and cognitive function is better preserved in healthy older adults with a diet rich in plant-based foods.
Flavonoids, which are abundant in plants, are likely to be an important component in causing these effects.
Source: University of Exeter
Acronyms like DOP, IGP, and DOC represent different legal certifications for the origin, production, and quality of Italian food and wine.
They were introduced in the mid-1900s: as Italy’s products gained in popularity, the market was flooded with low-quality food and wine sold under the guise of the high-quality products they mimicked. To protect its culinary reputation, Italy worked with the European Union to create legal certifications that encourage food and wine producers to focus on quality, tradition, and reliability. To earn the labels, producers must adhere to a strict set of guidelines, overseen by the government.
THE SECRET TO QUALITY LIFE
The certifications promise the authenticity – and with that, the tastiness – of a product. We can discover the story of a product just by looking at the label: where it is made, by whom, and with what ingredients.
This translates to you, our customers! By creating and offering the best products, we improve our own lives and bring added value to yours. Enter a world dedicated to quality: that means quality food, quality drink, and ultimately quality time.
But we know that the abundance of acronyms may be overwhelming to navigate at first blush. Check out our guide to Italian certifications, then discover your favorite high-quality Italian products!
DOP: Denominazione d’Origine Protetta | Protected Designation of Origin
Created by the EU, DOP ensures that your favorite cheeses, fruits and vegetables, salumi (cured meats), balsamic vinegars, and olive oils are all grown, produced, and packaged within a designated zone and according to tradition. Every step, from production to packaging, is regulated.
This mark separates Parmigiano Reggiano from parmesan cheese, San Marzano from regular tomatoes, and Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from the thin condiment you might drizzle over a salad.
IGP: Indicazione Geografica Protetta | Indication of Geographical Protection
Similar to DOP, this certification represents food and condiments. However, it is less strict, tracing food specialties solely back to their geographical location to at least one phase in production. IGP is a good reference, but it does not guarantee all phases, like DOP.
DOC and DOCG: Denominazione di Origine Controllata (E Garantita) | Controlled (and Guaranteed) Designation of Origin
Introduced in 1963, DOC pertains solely to wines produced in a specific geographic zone from an officially permitted grape varietal.
The DOCG category is reserved for the highest quality wines from Italy. In addition to the conditions required for DOC, the wines must be “guaranteed” by passing a blind tasting test, administered by officials from the government. Since 1992, there have been additional limitations on permitted yields and natural alcohol levels, ensuring that the wines that meet the criteria for this prestigious category are undoubtedly the best that Italy has to offer
IGT: Indicazione Geografica Tipica | Indication of Typical Geography
The IGT classification was introduced in 1992 to acknowledge the wines that do not fit into the DOC or DOCG categories but are of superior quality. In particular, the much-lauded “Super Tuscan” wines, made from nontraditional grapes, could not be considered for DOC; however, they deserved recognition. This has also provided an opportunity for winemakers to experiment with grape varieties that are perhaps not native to their region, and truly interesting wines have emerged.
Auguri! With your new knowledge of Italian food and wine, you are ready to eat and drink!
Heavy alcohol drinking habits over the years may prematurely age arteries, especially in men, putting them at an increased risk for heart disease, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.
Drinking too much, can affect the elasticity of the arterial walls (arterial stiffness) and prematurely age the arteries, interfering with blood flow.
Moreover, researchers found that male former drinkers were at risk for accelerated rates of arterial stiffness compared with moderate drinkers who were in early old age. This observation was not found in females, although the study of 3,869 participants was 73 percent male.
The findings, which looked at alcohol drinking habits over a 25-year period, support previous research on moderate alcohol consumption and its association with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease. The question is how much alcohol is too much and at what point does alcohol start to cause damage to the arteries?
Participants ranged in age at the initial alcohol assessment from their 30s to their 50s, with statistical adjustment made for age (amongst other characteristics) in the study’s analyses, and anyone with a history of heart disease were excluded from the study. Few of the participants were current smokers, however 68 percent of the men and 74 percent of women failed to meet recommended weekly exercise guidelines. Among both men and women, one in 10 had Type 2 diabetes. Men were more likely to be heavy drinkers compared with women; however, there were twice as many stable nondrinkers and former drinkers among the women than the men.
Researchers compared data about participants’ alcohol consumption with carotid-femoral pulse wave artery velocity (PWV) measurements, or pulse waves between the main arteries found in the neck and thigh. The greater the velocity, the stiffer the artery. Alcohol intake was measured periodically across 25 years and the researchers subsequently looked at how those long-term intake patterns were associated with pulse wave velocity and its progression over a 4-to-5-year interval.
Consistent long-term, heavy drinking was defined in this U.K. study as more than 112 grams (3.9 ounces) of ethanol per week (roughly equivalent to one serving of alcoholic spirit, half a pint of beer, or half a glass of wine.); consistent moderate drinking was 1-112 grams of ethanol per week.
The American Heart Association defines moderate alcohol consumption as an average of one to two drinks per day for men, and one drink per day for women. A drink is 12 ounces of beer, four ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits. Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk for alcohol dependency, cardiovascular risk factors including high blood pressure and obesity, stroke, certain types of cancer, suicide and accidents.
Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide, contributing to nearly one-third of deaths, researchers said.
How alcohol may impact arterial health is unclear, said Darragh O’Neill, Ph.D., lead study author and epidemiological researcher at University College London. “It’s been suggested alcohol intake may increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels — the good cholesterol — or decrease platelet stickiness. Conversely, heavier alcohol intake may activate certain enzymes that would lead to collagen accumulation, which could, in turn exacerbate the rate of arterial stiffening.”
“Based on these findings, the research team wants to look at multiple groups of people — since this study was limited to a single group that was mostly male — and identify the relationship that drinking patterns over time have with other indicators of cardiovascular disease.” O’Neill said
Source: American Heart Association
Automation is eliminating jobs for factory workers and Uber drivers. Will your morning fix soon come from a precision caffeine machine? WSJ’s Geoffrey A. Fowler tastes the new robot lattes at San Francisco’s Cafe X.
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