Through my research as a PhD student at North Carolina State, I’ve realized that there is a disconnect between scientific knowledge in the field of nutrition and the public’s perception of what makes a “healthy” diet. This blog serves as an intermediary between the nutrition science and the public. I aim to share the results of important nutritional studies which are not covered by traditional media sources, and that often go against traditional diet advice. Thanks for reading!

Another Study Questions US Nutritional Recommendations

ImageFindings from the most recent review comparing the effects of fatty acids on heart disease do not agree with the current US nutritional recommendations. Current recommendations encourage replacing saturated fat intake with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to reduce heart disease risk. The meta-analysis, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, finds no association of saturated fat intake with heart disease.  Continue reading

Whey vs Soy Protein Supplementation

ImageProtein supplementation has become very popular among athletes and gym-goers. Whey protein, a derivative of milk, is the most popular choice. Soy protein is particularly popular among vegans and individuals intolerant to dairy. However, concerns have been raised regarding soy’s effects on testosterone and estrogen. A study from the University of Connecticut has provided clarity on the effects of whey versus soy protein supplementation on testosterone, estrogen and cortisol levels following resistance training.  Continue reading

Sun Exposure: The Good and The Bad

beachAfter a long winter trapped inside the house, anyone can appreciate the wonderful feeling of a day in the sun. The effect is not simply due to the fresh air and warm breeze. Vitamin D, synthesized in the skin from sun exposure, has been shown to decrease anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing heart disease and certain types of cancer. However, too much time in the sun can increase the risk of developing skin cancer. For those of you wondering how to strike the right balance, I’ll recap the current science on sunlight, vitamin D and health.  Continue reading

Consuming Too Much or Too Little Salt Could Increase Risk of Heart Disease

ImageA new report from the Institute of Medici­­­ne opposes the United States’s recommendation to sharply reduce sodium consumption as a way to prevent heart disease. After reviewing the scientific evidence, an expert committee concluded that sharp reductions in sodium consumption do not decrease risk of heart disease and might actually increase the risk in some populations. The committee’s findings contradict recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which urged all Americans to reduce sodium intake below 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day and below 1,500 mg per day for at-risk individuals, who constitute more than half of the United States population.  Continue reading

The Low-Fat Diet: How it became so popular and where it stands today

ImageThe low-fat diet has been widely popular for the past 50 years and for much of that time it was the default diet advocated by most health practitioners. For a time, the consensus was that a diet had to be low in fat to be healthy, especially for cardiovascular health. With the increasing number of studies, our understanding of the effects of dietary fat has shifted and the scientific consensus is beginning to change.  Continue reading

Eggs Under Fire: Review of Another TMAO Study

ImageTwo weeks ago, I reviewed a study by Dr. Stanley Hazen’s research group, which proposed a new hypothesis for the cause of heart disease. The authors argued that production of trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), in part by gut bacteria, promotes heart disease in humans. The group demonstrated that TMAO is produced upon the consumption of red meat because of its high carnitine content, a precursor to TMAO. On April 25, 2013 the group published another study in The New England Journal of Medicine that implicates choline in the formation of TMAO, and argues that foods high in choline should be avoided to prevent heart disease.  This new hypothesis by Tang et al. is exciting because it is one of the few to challenge the widely accepted argument that fat and cholesterol cause heart disease. Yet, there are critical problems with the TMAO hypothesis that the researchers seem to be overlooking.  Continue reading