Nutrition in Research - November 2015

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Nutrition in Research - November 2015

Stay up to date with the latest research on how nutrition plays a role in your health.

Plant-Based Foods Protect Against Depression

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may protect against depression, according to a study published in BMC Medicine. Researchers assed the dietary intakes over a 10-year period for 15,093 participants as part of the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) Cohort study. Participants followed either a Mediterranean diet, a diet that included red meat, or a vegetarian diet. While each diet differed slightly in foods consumed, researchers suspect common foods shared between all three led to reduced risk for depression when participants consumed them regularly. High consumption of fruits, nuts, vegetables, and legumes had the most protective effect against this condition. These foods provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that may reduce the risk for depression.

Sánchez-Villegas A, Henríquez-Sánchez P, Ruiz-Canela M, et al. A longitudinal analysis of diet quality scores and the risk of incident depression in the SUN Project. BMC Med. 2015;13:197-209.

Beetroot Juice Improves Muscle Power in Heart Failure Patients

Beetroot juice improves muscle and joint function in patients with heart failure, according to a study published in Circulation: Heart Failure. Researchers examined beetroot juice intake in nine participants with heart conditions, who often lose muscle strength and a lower quality of life as a result. Participants received either a nitrate-enriched juice, a compound linked to improved heart function, or a juice devoid of nitrate. Those who consumed the enriched juice experienced a 13 percent increase in knee muscle power after a two-hour period and exercise regimen. Researchers hope to continue investigating nitrates and their potential benefits for older populations with impaired muscle function.

Coggan AR, Leibowitz JL, Spearie CA, et al. Acute dietary nitrate intake improves muscle contractile function in patients with heart failure: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. Circ Heart Fail. 2015;8:914-920.    

Western Diet Shrinks Area of Brain

A Western diet, high in fat and animal protein causes the hippocampus to shrink, according to a study published in BMC Medicine. Researchers monitored the diets of 255 participants from the Personality and Total Health Through Life Study and measured the size of the left hippocampal section of the brain. Those who ate a diet rich in fruits and vegetables had a larger hippocampal volume while those who ate a Western diet of processed meats, fried foods, and soft drinks had smaller volumes after a four-year period. The implications from decreased hippocampus volume include impaired cognitive ability and learning and depression. This study hopes to emphasize dietary interventions as a valid method for to promote cognitive health in advanced age.

Jacka FN, Cherbuin N, Anstey KJ, Sachdev P, Butterworth P. Western diet is associated with a smaller hippocampus: a longitudinal investigation. BMC Med. 2015;13:215-223.

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