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Popcorn may keep heart disease at bay

Scientists have found that snack foods like popcorn and many popular breakfast cereals contain ‘surprisingly large’ amounts of healthful antioxidant substances called ‘polyphenols’.

Polyphenols are a major reason why fruits and vegetables — and foods like chocolate, wine, coffee, and tea — have become famous for their potential role in reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.

The is the first-of-its kind study to establish that whole grain cereals — regarded as healthful for their fibre content — and snack foods also were a source of polyphenols.
“Early researchers thought the fibre was the active ingredient for these benefits in whole grains, the reason why they may reduce the risk of cancer and coronary heart disease,” said Joe Vinson, University of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Genetic variations linked to brain size

In what may help improve the scientific understanding of autism and other neurological disorders, an international team of researchers have for the first time shown that natural variations in a specific gene influence brain structure.

Co-led by Scripps Research Institute scientists, the research grew out of a larger project called the Thematic Organised Psychosis (TOP) study, which was led by Ole Andreassen at Ullelval University Hospital and Institute of Psychiatry at the University of Oslo in Norway.

TOP called for using extensive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning of hundreds of patients, including many with severe mental disorders, in collaboration with Anders Dale of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), School of Medicine.

In the current study, the researchers focused on a gene called MECP2 because it plays major roles in controlling brain development.

Gaze at pictures of cake to fight flab

Contrary to popular opinion, pictures of tasty morsels can actually help strengthen self-control in weight-conscious women rather than encouraging them to eat, a new study has found.

Lead researcher Floor Kroese of Utrecht University in the Netherlands insists that the temptation might in fact heighten self-control.

During the study, the researchers recruited 54 female students and showed them a picture of either a slice of chocolate cake or a flower under the guise of a memory test.
The participants were then offered a choice between a chocolate or oatmeal cookie.
The study showed that women shown the cake picture gave a higher priority to their healthy eating intentions than their counterparts shown the flower.

How sugar ‘feeds’ cancer

Gaining fresh insights into the notion that sugar ‘feeds’ cancer, researchers at the University of Utah may have moved a step closer to realising potential treatments to stop tumour growth.

“It’s been known since 1923 that tumour cells use a lot more glucose than normal cells. Our research helps show how this process takes place, and how it might be stopped to control tumour growth,” says Dr Don Ayer, a Huntsman Cancer Institute investigator and professor in the Department of Oncological Sciences at the University of Utah.

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