WHO guidelines on dietary fat attacked by scientists

A review by an international group of leading scientists from top universities and nutritional research institutions published in the BMJ questions the World Health Organization’s (WHO) advice to cut saturated fats in the diet. It warns that following the guidelines could cause the very diseases they seek to reduce or prevent. The study also cautions that cutting out foods containing saturated fats may result in a reduced intake of essential nutrients. The study goes on to highlight the lack of findings connecting saturated fat and heart disease. Check out our recent video and article to find out more about the benefits of healthy fats (including saturated!) for your health.

Tree planting best solution for climate change

A group of Swiss, Italian and French scientists, publishing in Science magazine, argue that tree planting is likely the most effective and cheapest way of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and associated climate change. They argue there’s currently space to plant around 500 billion trees on nearly 1 billion hectares (an increase in around 25% of the present forested area). This, they say, has the capacity to absorb some 200 gigatonnes of carbon at maturity.  They estimate such a programme could remove two-thirds of human based emissions in the next 50-100 years. However, in order to be effective, all deforestation activities and burning of fossil fuels will need to be halted to prevent further increases in greenhouse gases. The lead scientist, commenting in the Guardian newspaper said this is “a climate change solution that doesn’t require President Trump to immediately start believing in climate change, or scientists to come up with technological solutions to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere”.

 First it was ‘superfoods’, soon there will be ‘hyperfoods’!

As researchers struggle to find new ways to combat cancer, scientists at Imperial College London using artificial intelligence (AI) are working to identify active molecules in plant foods with anti-cancer properties. Their aim is to create what they call ‘hyperfoods’ and ‘gastronomic medicine’ to tackle not only cancer, but other chronic disease. That’s an interesting notion given the EU’s ban on the term ‘superfoods’ when applied to commercially available foods. While researchers continue to hunt down ‘silver bullets’ that might help deliver their research grants and keep them in favour with the agri-industrial-food complex, heritage varieties cultivated in sustainable, agro-ecological systems already provide the spectrum of phytonutrients, fibres and other nutrients required for health and resilience. Cancer remains the second-leading cause of death after heart disease in the US (and most other industrialised countries) according to the latest figures from the American Cancer Society. Dietary patterns, as in the ‘what, how and when’ we eat, remain among the most important modifiable risk factors in tackling the development of cancer and other chronic disease.

Have we had our fill of sweet food?

Research at the Monell Center in Philadelphia, the world’s leading, independent, non-profit research institute focusing on our sense of taste, suggests that consumers may finally have decided that too many commercial foods are too sweet. The conclusions are based on a comprehensive study of Amazon reviews, based on nearly 400,000 unique food product reviews by over 250,000 reviewers rating nearly 70,000 products.  While bitter foods are an essential part of nature’s preventative medicine chest, plant breeding programmes focusing on ‘desirable’ traits such as sweetness have increasingly bred out bitter principles, so contributing to increased cancer and heart disease risk. In support of the findings from the study of Amazon reviews,  Mattson’s 2019 10 Macro Trends report forecasts that foods will become less sweet in future. However, as food producers move to lower sugars in food products, the market for artificial sweeteners is still predicted to grow to $13,421.5 million by 2023 bringing with it its own unique set of health risks.