Most of us know that breakfast is an important meal. A new study suggests breakfast is even more important for adolescent males than previously thought. The study, reported in the journal Pediatrics and by Reuters Health, finds that young adults might be less attentive in school when they skip breakfast.
Dr. Katharina Widenhorn-Mueller of Ulm University in Ulm, Germany, and her colleagues note that males reported being in a worse mood when they went without breakfast, and their visual-spatial memory was also negatively affected, but the same wasn't true of girls.
While parents and teachers often argue that eating breakfast is essential for school success, one review of more than 50 years of research on the topic found that "evidence in support of breakfast is equivocal," Widenhorn-Mueller and her team wrote in the study.
To examine the effects of eating breakfast on learning in students' natural environment, the researchers looked at 104 boarding school students aged 13 to 20. Half of them ate a standardized breakfast on the first day of the study and half didn't, after which both groups completed several tests of cognitive function and a questionnaire designed to gauge their mood. A week later, the breakfast group fasted and underwent the tests, and vice versa.
Eating breakfast had no effect on students' ability to sustain attention, but all of the students reported feeling more alert after eating breakfast. Boys said their mood was better after they ate breakfast, while they also scored better on tests of visual-spatial memory.
There are several ways that eating breakfast might be helpful, the researchers found. It could give people the energy and nutrients they need to produce brain-signaling chemicals known as neurotransmitters, while the protein, carbohydrate and fat composition of the meal might also effect mood.
"Alternatively, if breakfast is consumed with other students or with family members, then the social interaction might lead to increased alertness, a prerequisite for the successful completion of cognitive tasks," they wrote in the study.
— Pediatrics, August 2008.
Kiwi, with their fuzzy brown skin, can be a bit daunting to serve. Should you serve with the skin on or off? Either way is fine. Should you keep the in the refrigerator? It depends on whether they are ripe or not. For more info on kiwis and recipes to use these nutrient powerhouses, go to www.cookinglight.com/features.
Q: Can drinking tea help lower your cancer risk?
A: Tea has shown anti-cancer activity in test-tube and animal studies. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, a natural plant chemical found in green tea, seems to influence the rate of cell growth, cancer cell self-destruction, and the ability of cancer cells to develop a blood supply and metastasize. But data from population-based studies remains very inconsistent.
Although some studies have shown lower cancer risk among tea-drinkers, others find no direct link. Emerging research could help identify if there are certain populations that may benefit more from tea drinking tea — based on particular genes or dietary habits.
In the meantime, tea remains a smart beverage choice because it is calorie-free — unless you load it with sugar; it also provides some antioxidants. The best dietary advice to help lower cancer risk is to concentrate on an overall healthy plant-based diet that helps you stay at a healthy weight.
— American Institute for Cancer Research.
Salmon is one of those foods that you can't get enough of. This recipe for Maple-Grilled Salmon, from the July 2008 Cooking Light magazine, offers plenty of flavor and healthy Omega 3s. The marinade could also be used on a lean pork tenderloin.
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skinned
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Yields 4 servings.
Combine vinegar, maple syrup and orange juice in a large, zip-top plastic bag; add fish. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 3 hours.
Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
Remove fish from bag, reserving marinade. Pour marinade into small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 5 minutes.
Place fish on grill rack or pan coated with cooking spray. Grill 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with fork. Baste occasionally with marinade. Remove fish from grill; season to taste with salt and pepper.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 270 calories, 31.1 g protein, 11 g carbohydrate, 10.6 g fat, 80 mg cholesterol, .1 g fiber, 216 mg sodium.
Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian in Springfield, Ill. For comments or questions, contact her at [email protected] To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.