Could the key to a healthy white bread be within reach? This week’s Nutrition News looks at the latest research and published articles to deliver you everything that is new in the world of nutrition.
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The scientists trying to make white bread healthier

In the pursuit of enhancing the nutritional profile of white bread while maintaining its characteristics that make it popular, scientists are embarking on a groundbreaking endeavour. With funding from the government, researchers are delving into the intricacies of bread formulation to create a novel product that bridges the gap between the aesthetics of white bread and the health benefits of wholemeal.

Led by Dr. Catherine Howarth of Aberystwyth University, this ambitious project hinges on a meticulous analysis of the chemical composition of conventional white flour. By strategically reintroducing constituents typically stripped away during the milling process, such as wheat germ and bran, and incorporating nutrient-rich grains such as quinoa and sorghum, researchers aim to fortify white bread with essential vitamins, minerals, and fibre.

At the heart of this endeavour, which has been reported by the BBC in the article “Scientists work to make healthier white bread” lies a delicate balance between nutritional enhancement and the preservation of sensory attributes. Chris Holister, a seasoned baker, is tasked with translating these scientific insights into tangible loaves. Initial prototypes, featuring a blend of traditional white flour and supplementary grains and legumes, have showcased promising results, offering a glimpse into the future of bread innovation.

Beyond mere culinary innovation, the implications of this research are profound. With statistics underscoring the health benefits associated with wholegrain consumption—including benefits to heart health by reducing the risk of heart disease, as well as reducing stroke, and diabetes risk —the potential impact of fortified white bread on public health cannot be overstated. As this pioneering project progresses, it holds the promise of revolutionising our dietary landscape, offering a pathway to enhanced nutritional well-being for consumers worldwide.

How avocados could reduce diabetes risk

New research unveils yet another reason to love avocados beyond their creamy texture and heart-healthy attributes – they might just help support your blood sugar levels and reduce diabetes risk. A cross-sectional study featured in the article “Eating Avocado May Lower Diabetes Risk, Especially for Females” examined the avocado consumption habits of over 28,000 adults participating in the Mexican National Health and Nutrition Survey. The findings revealed a significant association between avocado intake and reduced diabetes risk among females.

While males didn't exhibit the same correlation, the study has sparked interest among health experts including registered dietitian Wendy Bazilian, who underscores the nutritional prowess of avocados. Bazilian points out that avocados boast a trifecta of benefits for diabetes support: high fibre content for satiety and blood sugar management, unsaturated fats to promote heart health and stabilise blood sugar, and a sugar-free composition that doesn't disrupt glycaemic responses.

The study's gender-specific findings prompt speculation on potential lifestyle and hormonal factors influencing avocados' metabolic impact. Despite the nuanced results, Bazilian emphasises the importance of holistic research interpretation and ongoing inquiry into nutritional science.

For those inspired to incorporate more avocados into their diet, registered dietitian nutritionist Kristen White suggests in the article simple swaps such as using mashed avocado as a sandwich spread or salad dressing base, or incorporating sliced avocado into tacos and burritos. Avocado's versatility extends to smoothies and desserts, making it a delicious and nutrient-rich addition to any meal plan.

In conclusion, avocados offer a convenient and tasty means to potentially reduce diabetes risk, with modest consumption yielding notable benefits. Whether spread on toast or blended into a smoothie, integrating avocados into your diet presents a flavourful way to support overall health and wellness.

How prunes could support bone health postmenopause

In an illuminating retrospective analysis of the Prune Study, reported in the article “Prunes might alter postmenopausal gut for bone health” researchers have uncovered intriguing insights into the potential benefits of prune supplementation on bone health, particularly in postmenopausal women. Delving into the complex interplay between diet, gut microbiota, and immune responses, the study sheds light on how certain individuals may derive enhanced bone protection from incorporating prunes into their diet.

One of the standout findings of the investigation was the distinct differences observed in the gut microbiomes of individuals who responded positively to prune supplementation compared to non-responders. Responders exhibited a higher diversity of microbial taxa, suggesting a potential correlation between gut microbial composition and the ability to metabolize prune components into beneficial compounds.

The presence of Moryella, a member of the Lachnospiraceae family known for its immunomodulatory properties, was found to be higher in responders. This finding underscores the potential of certain gut microbes to contribute to the health benefits associated with prune consumption. However, the study also highlighted the complexity of the relationship between baseline characteristics, prune response, and BMD (Bone Mineral Density). Individuals with lower baseline BMD and specific microbial signatures appeared to derive greater benefits from prune supplementation, suggesting a personalised approach to nutrition may be warranted.

While the study provides valuable insights into the potential mechanisms underlying prune-induced bone protection, further research is needed to fully elucidate the underlying pathways and causal relationships. Interventional studies and mechanistic investigations are essential to confirm and expand upon these findings. Nevertheless, the results offer promising implications for the role of prunes as a whole-food supplement in promoting bone health, particularly in populations at risk of osteoporosis, such as those who benefit from menopause support. As our understanding of the gut-bone axis continues to evolve, incorporating nutrient-rich foods, such as prunes, into dietary strategies may offer a natural and holistic approach to supporting skeletal health in ageing populations.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is the Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.