From far inside the Deep Freeze at Chez Siberia (ooooo-wee, that’s chilly!), it’s Granny Toby (I have a new grandson and yes, he IS the most handsome child ever born; thank you for asking) with whatever strikes my fancy in terms of food and nutrition news. And a small reminder: Food is how we get the energy from the sun. We are far less efficient than plants so we have to eat other things and beings that are. That’s the way it goes. So, choose wisely.

Zinc: It’s what’s for dinner if you don’t want to get pneumonia when you are elderly. “A high proportion of nursing facility residents were found to have low serum (blood) zinc concentrations during an observational study funded by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute on Aging. The scientists found that those with normal blood zinc concentrations were about 50 percent less likely to develop pneumonia than those with low concentrations.”  Read more here about the zinc study.

How do you get zinc? Eat wheat germ, low fat beef, hummus, cocoa powder and chocolate, lamb and peanuts! So be sure to getcher zinc.   . . .
B vitamins: How many times do I have to tell you? Eat the damn greens.

“An analysis of volunteers’ blood samples showed that lower levels of one B vitamin, folate, were associated with symptoms of dementia and poor brain function, also called “cognitive decline,” as determined by standard tests of memory and other factors. The impairments were detectable even though less than 1 percent of the volunteers were actually deficient in folate.

In women, but not men, low levels of folate were associated with symptoms of depression. In fact, female volunteers whose plasma folate levels were in the lowest third were more than twice as likely to have symptoms of depression as volunteers in the highest third. That finding provided new evidence of an association between lower blood folate and depression. Depression is already known to affect brain function.”

More at this link about Vitamin B and brain function.

Cinnamon: good stuff and smells great too.

“The volunteers were divided randomly into two groups and given either a placebo or 250 milligrams (mgs) of a dried water-soluble cinnamon extract twice daily along with their usual diets. Blood was collected after an overnight fast at the beginning of the study, after six weeks, and after 12 weeks to measure the changes in blood glucose and antioxidants.

The study demonstrated that the water-soluble cinnamon extract improved a number of antioxidant variables by as much as 13 to 23 percent, and improvement in antioxidant status was correlated with decreases in fasting glucose, according to Anderson.”

Source: USDA’s Agriculture Research Service on cinnamon and diabetes.

Proof that Organic (milk) is better:

“But [UK researchers] also discovered that switching to organic milk could help overcome these problems. Organic supermarket milk showed higher levels of nutritionally beneficial fatty acids compared with ‘ordinary’ milk regardless of the time of year or weather conditions.”

More here on organic milk and fatty acids.

Blueberries are good for high blood pressure:

“Anthocyanin-rich blueberries can help reduce people’s risk of developing hypertension. The researchers found that regular eaters had a 10% lower chance of having high blood pressure compared to those who did not eat blueberries. A regular blueberry eater consumes them at least once a week.

Anthocyanins are part of a parent class of molecules called flavonoids, which are odorless and flavorless. They give foods a moderately astringent sensation. Anthocyanins can be found in all higher plants – in their stems, roots, flowers, leaves and fruits. They can be found in high amounts in herbs, grains, and many fruits and vegetables. Anthocyanin-rich foods include blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, plums, cabbage, red onion and blood orange juice.”

Yeah, so eatcher colors, too.

And in “so local, I could trip over it” news, I’m making a beef arm roast today for dinner. For those of us who are not familiar with this cut, it is part of a more commonly available cut — the chuck — and has to be dealt with (not harshly) the same way. That is to say, cooked with moisture and low heat. It is a prime candidate for slow cooking and the dutch oven, which is how I’m bringing it to heel.

Brown both sides of the piece of meat in a little bit of oil. Throw in some chopped up onions, carrots and garlic. Pour over enough beef broth (or other liquid – red wine, water, canned tomatoes, etc.) to just come up to the top of the piece of meat. Cover, put on low and cook until tender, making sure there always is enough liquid in the pot to keep at least an inch in the bottom. This takes several hours to cook, folks so this is not a dish that you decide to do when you get home from work, unless you are doing it slow cooker style and you mean to serve it the next day. In which case, put everything on low in the slow cooker when you get up in the morning and it will be ready that night.

Bon Appetit!