News bites, May 2009

This article was originally published in May 2009

Eggs linked to cardiovascular health

Research from the University of Alberta in Canada suggests that the proteins in fried and boiled eggs might reduce blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. Once ingested, the proteins in fried and boiled eggs are converted by enzymes and generate a number of potent ACE inhibitory peptides that result in improved blood flow and blood pressure. Protein from fried eggs showed greater ACE-inhibition than proteins from boiled eggs. (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2009, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp. 471-477)

Nutrient declines in fruits and vegetables

More research is showing that nutrients may be declining in fruits and vegetables available in the United States and the United Kingdom. Three recent studies found apparent declines of 5 percent to 40 percent or more in some minerals in groups of vegetables and fruits.

One study found similar declines of vitamins and protein. Other studies found that the higher the crop yield, the lower its concentrations of minerals and protein.(Journal of HortScience, 44: 6-223, Feb. 2009)

Mad cow rule delayed?

Thirty members of Congress are asking the administration to delay new rules intended to keep mad cow disease out of the food supply. Led by Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb) and Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo), the lawmakers say the new rules will make getting rid of cattle carcasses more costly and put rendering plants out of business. The new rule would prohibit cattle brains and spinal cords from being used as ingredients in livestock feed and pet food. (Associated Press)

Downer cows banned

The Obama administration has banned permanently the slaughter of “downer” cows to help prevent mad cow disease from entering the food supply. A partial ban on cows too sick or weak to stand on their own was put in place after the first U.S. case of mad cow disease in 2003. But there was a loophole: If a cow collapsed after passing inspection, it was allowed to enter the food supply if it showed no signs of a central nervous disorder. (

New food-safety commission in China

China’s Xinhua news agency reports that China will set up a central food safety commission to “strengthen the country’s food monitoring system.” Critics of the current system say China has too many different agencies in charge of the food industry. New food safety laws attempt to increase punishments for companies found to make tainted food, but skeptics say the tougher laws still might not be able to prevent more Chinese food scandals. (Agence France-Presse/USA TODAY)

HFCS and insulin resistance

A new study by Yale scientists finally has clarified the relationship between consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and insulin resistance, which leads to type II diabetes. Conclusion: Fructose metabolizes to fat in the liver much faster than glucose does, and diets high in HFCS can result in fatty liver disease, which in turn leads to insulin resistance. (Yale Alumni Magazine)

Kansas bans rBGH-free labels

The Kansas legislature has passed a rule restricting dairies’ ability to label their products as being produced without artificial hormones (rBGH-free). Critics say the state rule deprives consumers of information, puts farms that don’t use rBGH at a disadvantage, and undermines national labeling rules. The artificial hormone rBGH has been linked to increased rates of cancer and consumers increasingly have rejected milk produced with it. (Food & Water Watch)

No GM crops on national wildlife refuge

A federal judge ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should not have permitted farming with genetically modified (GM) crops on the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware, saying the agency failed to conduct studies to determine the environmental impact.

The successful suit was brought by the Audubon Society, the Center for Food Safety, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Until 2006, the federal agency had permitted local farmers to plant GM soybeans and corn on the 10,000-acre refuge. The ruling prohibits any future cultivation with GM crops until an environmental assessment is conducted. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Cold activates calorie-burning fat

Findings from three new studies show humans have cells known as “brown fat” that can burn large numbers of calories when activated by the cold, as when sitting in a chilly room between 61 and 66 degrees. In one study, mice predisposed to obesity were put in a cold room (41 degrees) for a week. They lost 47 percent of their body fat, even while eating a high-fat diet with two and a half times more calories than usual. The research could have implications for safe weight loss strategies and obesity prevention. (New York Times)

BPA in energy drinks and soda

A study by Canada’s health ministry has found detectable levels of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) in 69 of 72 canned soft drinks. The highest levels were in energy drinks. BPA is used in the linings of cans and leaches into liquids during storage. The levels are below regulatory limits but peer-reviewed studies suggest BPA may be harmful even at extremely low doses, increasing the risk of breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. (Globe and Mail/CBC News)

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Your co-op, May 2009

Vote now — PCC annual board election April 28 to May 22, Meet the candidates — virtually and in person, Notice of 2009 ballot counting meeting, and more