TIME Supplements

Know Right Now: GNC Will Start DNA Testing Its Products

The company's new testing procedures will be more rigorous than required by federal law

GNC, the largest specialty retailer of health and wellness supplements in the country, said it will begin DNA testing its products to identify which plants are found in its supplements. Watch Know Right Now above to find out more.

Read next: Foods You Should Eat Instead of Taking Vitamins

TIME Exercise/Fitness

This Study Busts Your Work Out Excuse

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Brent Winebrenner—Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

Air quality may not be the best in cities, but the benefits of physical activity can outweigh the harms of breathing in pollutants

Exercising outdoors is certainly preferable to being cooped up in a stuffy gym, but if you live in an urban area, the pollution from cars and buses may give you pause. It shouldn’t. Zorana Andersen from the center for epidemiology and screening at the University of Copenhagen and her colleagues report in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives that being active trumps some of the negative health effects that breathing in polluted air might have.

MORE: Pollution: Dangerous to Joggers

In a study involving 52,061 people who were followed for around 13 years, Andersen found that those who were more active were less likely to die during the study than those who were more sedentary, regardless of the pollutant levels where they lived. The researchers asked the participants to detail their physical activities, including their leisure sports, how much they walked, whether they biked or walked to work, and whether they spent time gardening. They compared these responses to the levels of nitrogen dioxide near their homes; NO2 is a gas produced from the burning of fossil fuels in cars, and is an ingredient for other harmful pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter, which can cause respiratory illnesses. Previous studies found that walking along a busy London street, for example, caused a drop in lung function and that cycling or running near high traffic roadways also compromised people’s respiratory functions slightly.

In Andersen’s study, however, people who participated in sports showed a 22% lower risk of dying from any cause during the 13-year followup, while those who cycled regularly showed a 17% lower risk and people who spent time gardening showed a 16% lower risk compared to those who didn’t do either of those activities — and regardless of the pollution levels where they lived.

MORE: Ozone Can Harm the Heart in as Little as Two Hours

“We found an even more positive message around physical activity than we even hoped for,” says Andersen. “Physiologically it’s plausible that you inhale more particles [of pollution] when you exercise in polluted areas, and we thought maybe the accumulated lifetime effect of this would reduce the benefit of exercise. But we don’t see that.”

Essentially, the benefits of being active were strong enough to overcome some of the negative effects of breathing in pollutants. That makes sense, she says, because even if people aren’t exercising to avoid inhaling pollutants, they are still exposed to them, and Andersen’s study shows that even if exercises might be exposed to slightly higher levels of compounds like NO2, that still doesn’t negate the positive effects of physical activity on their heart, blood sugar levels and more. In fact, for specific conditions, the benefits of exercising remained quite high; active people even in highly polluted areas had a 66% lower chance of dying early from diabetes compared to those who didn’t exercise.

She notes, however, that some cities may have significantly higher pollution levels than Copenhagen, where the participants lived, and it’s not clear yet how greater concentrations can affect the exercise-pollution-mortality balance. So if you have a choice for working out, biking or walking in a less polluted area, however, such as a park or a quieter side street, that might be a good idea. But don’t worry too much if you don’t. “Being active prolongs life more than staying away from air pollution,” says Andersen. “So pollution shouldn’t be a barrier to exercise.”

TIME Diet/Nutrition

An Apple a Day Keeps the Pharmacist Away

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But not the doctor

Researchers who set out to determine if the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is actually true have found it a bit more complicated.

In their study, published online Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, they concluded that people who consumed apples daily were not less likely to stay overnight at a hospital or visit a mental health professional, but they were likely to use fewer prescription medications.

The study authors reached that conclusion after surveying 8,399 people (753 were apple-a-day folks). Apple eaters were more likely to be educated, less likely to smoke and more likely to be a racial or ethnic minority.

“Our findings suggest that the promotion of apple consumption may have limited benefit in reducing national health care spending,” the study authors write. “In the age of evidence-based assertions, however, there may be merit to saying ‘An apple a day keeps the pharmacist away.'”

Even if apple lovers still have to visit the doctor, there’s other perks to eating fruit every day—a healthy habit Americans are encouraged to pick up.

Read next: Foods You Should Eat Instead of Taking Vitamins

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Finally, Some Good News About Kids and Fast Food

a fast food tray full of hamburgers
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Kids are eating fewer calories from burger, pizza and chicken restaurants

Fast food is rarely the harbinger of good news, but here’s some: kids are eating less of it. According to a new report published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, the percentage of kids eating fast food on any given day has dropped, along with the number of calories they consume at certain fast-food joints.

Using data collected from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers found that back in 2003-2004, nearly 39% of American kids were eating fast food regularly. But in 2009-2010, about 33% of kids were eating it. In addition, children consumed fewer calories from burger, pizza and chicken fast-food restaurants. Calories from Mexican and sandwich fast-food restaurants remained stable.

MORE: This Is the Scary Amount of Pizza Kids Are Really Eating

“We’ve seen similar trends in adults, so we suspected the trend would be similar in children,” says study author Colin D. Rehm, a postdoctoral fellow at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. “What was surprising was the difference in trends by type of fast-food restaurant.”

The study didn’t look at why children were consuming fewer fast-food calories, but Rehm speculates that the trend is due to a combination of factors. “I think some are related to consumer preference and demand, and some are changes made by restaurants, which may include reducing the portion sizes, reformulating existing items or offering different items to potentially replace higher-calorie offerings,” he says. Less likely, he says, is the idea that people are eating less of their meals at each sitting.

During the eight-year period of the study, none of the restaurant types experienced a significant increase in the calories their children customers consumed.

“We saw a decrease in the number of calories per eating occasion, which suggests that a combination of consumer behavior and changes made by the restaurants can actually impact diet and change the amount of calories people are consuming,” says Rehm. “That’s promising. It means people are not unchangeable.”

The researchers acknowledge that their study looked purely at reported calorie consumption, and not on the quality of those calories. “If the calories are dropping and sodium, added sugar and refined grains are increasing, then we haven’t made much progress,” says Rehm. “We are going to need to drill deeper and figure out if the quality of the calories have changed or remained stable. The last thing we want to be doing is replace calories with even poorer quality calories.”

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Foods You Should Eat Instead of Taking Vitamins

If you're eating a healthy diet, you shouldn't need all those bottles of vitamins

The supplement chain GNC announced on Monday that it plans to overhaul its quality control systems with new high-tech testing. The move comes after an investigation by the New York Attorney General that revealed the quality of supplements is highly variable, and many pills do not contain the ingredients they say they do or contain other ingredients that may not be on the label.

Most experts say that if you’re eating a healthy diet and don’t have an underlying health conditions that interferes with your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from your food, you generally shouldn’t need to take supplements. The same vitamins and minerals are often available in food. We’ve listed several popular supplements, and suggested a food that you should eat instead.

MORE: 8 Things You Should Know About Supplements

  • Vitamin C

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    Danny Kim for TIME

    Citrus fruits are some of the best sources of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant in the body and helps with the absorption of iron. Oranges in particular are high in vitamin C—one large orange boasts 97.9 mg. It’s recommended that adult men get 90mg of vitamin C a day and women get 75 mg. Other high sources are red and green peppers, kiwi and tomatoes.

  • Calcium

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    Danny Kim for TIME

    Kale may be a less obvious choice, but it’s a high source of calcium that’s needed for strong bones and teeth as well as muscle movement and nerve function. Just one serving of kale has 150 mg of calcium which is slightly over 10% of the recommended daily amount. Other sources of calcium are dairy products like yogurt, as well as other foods like broccoli and chia seeds.

    MORE: Here’s Why Kale is So Good For You

  • B Vitamins

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    Photograph by Danny Kim for TIME; Gif by Mia Tramz for TIME

    Vitamin B12 is commonly taken in supplement form since it’s important for red blood cell formation and neurological function. Eggs are a good source, and nutritional experts recently confirmed that eggs shouldn’t be chastised for being high in cholesterol. One large hard boiled egg has 0.6 micrograms of B12, which is about 10% of the recommended daily value. Just 3 oz of trout or salmon give you almost your entire daily needs.

    In addition, vitamin B6 which is involved in metabolism and brain development during pregnancy is found in foods like nuts, tuna and chickpeas.

  • Vitamin A

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    Danny Kim for TIME

    Vitamin A is important for vision, immune system function, reproduction and support for the heart, lungs and kidneys. Sweet potatoes are a particularly potent source of vitamin A. Just one sweet potato baked in the skin has 28,058 international units (IU) of vitamin A per serving, which is 561% of the daily recommended value. According to National Institutes of Health (NIH), around 28%–37% of the general population take supplements with vitamin A.

    MORE: Should I eat potatoes?

  • Vitamin E

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    Danny Kim for TIME

    Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant in the body and supports the immune system in fighting off bacteria and viruses. Almonds, as well as other nuts like peanuts and hazelnuts are high sources of vitamin E. One ounce of dry roasted almonds contains 6.8 mg of vitamin A, which is 34% of the daily recommended value.

     

  • Magnesium

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    Cashews are a high source of magnesium, which is important for regulating blood sugar and blood pressure levels as well as maintaining nerve function. The NIH says Americans consistently do not consume the recommended amount of magnesium. Not only are cashews tasty, but one ounce of dry roasted cashews host 74 mg of magnesium—19% of the daily recommended amount.

     

     

  • Iron

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    Danny Kim for TIME

    Around 14% to 18% of Americans use a supplement that contains iron, many of which are designed for women who are at a greater risk for not having enough. It’s recommended that men age 19 to 50 get 8 mg of iron a day and women in the same age group get 18 mg (and 27 mg if they are pregnant). Half of cup of boiled and drained spinach has 3 mg of iron which comes out to around 17% of the daily recommended amount.

  • Vitamin D

    healthiest foods, health food, diet, nutrition, time.com stock, salmon, fish, protein
    Danny Kim for TIME

    Vitamin D is a tricky nutrient. It’s available in very few foods, though fatty fish like salmon and tuna contain it. Lots of foods are fortified with Vitamin D, which is needed for calcium absorption and cell growth. Three ounces of cooked salmon contains 447 IUs (international units) of vitamin D which is 112% of the daily recommended value. People can also get vitamin D from sun exposure.

    MORE: Who Should—and Who Souldn’t—Take Vitamin D

  • Multivitamin

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    Danny Kim for TIME

    The NIH says more than one-third of Americans take multivitamins, even though they agency says they “cannot take the place of eating a variety of foods that are important to a healthy diet.” One of the problems with multivitamins is that there is no regulatory definition for what a multivitamin is, so a supplement from one company can be completely different from another company’s version. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables can ensure that you are getting the nutrients you need.

    MORE: 50 Healthiest Foods of All Time

TIME Food & Drink

Easter Egg Cookies Recalled For Containing … Eggs

Yes, really

Well here’s an ironic food recall for you.

Silver Lake issued a voluntary recall Friday for Easter Egg Cookies because they contained eggs. The company hadn’t declared the ingredient in the “nutrition facts” section of its label.

According to the FDA release, “People who have an allergy or a severe sensitivity to eggs run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these cookies. The cookies are safe for consumption by those who do not have egg allergies.”

No illnesses have been reported yet.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

12 Superfoods for Stress Relief

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Skip the chips and fill up on these stress-fighting foods

When work deadlines begin piling up and your social calendar is booked, the last thing you want to hear is to steer clear of the vending machine. Who has time for healthy eating? But when it comes to combating stress levels, what you eat may actually help relieve your tension. Indeed, some foods may help stabilize blood sugar or, better yet, your emotional response. Here, 12 foods to reach for when you’ve just about had enough.

Green leafy vegetables

It’s tempting to reach for a cheeseburger when stressed, but go green at lunch instead. “Green leafy vegetables like spinach contain folate, which produces dopamine, a pleasure-inducing brain chemical, helping you keep calm,” says Heather Mangieri, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A 2012 study in the Journal of Affective Disorders of 2,800 middle-aged and elderly people and found those who consumed the most folate had a lower risk of depression symptoms than those who took in the least. And, a 2013 study from the University of Otago found that college students tended to feel calmer, happier, and more energetic on days they ate more fruits and veggies. It can be hard to tell which came first—upbeat thoughts or healthy eating—but the researchers found that healthy eating seemed to predict a positive mood the next day.

Read more: New Greens to Power Up Your Salad

Turkey breast

You’ve probably heard that the tryptophan in turkey is to blame for that food coma on Thanksgiving. The amino acid, found in protein-containing foods, helps produce serotonin, “the chemical that regulates hunger and feelings of happiness and well-being,” Mangieri says. On its own, tryptophan may have a calming effect. In a 2006 study published in the Journal of Psychiatry Neuroscience, men and women who were argumentative (based on personality tests) took either tryptophan supplements or a placebo for 15 days. Those who took tryptophan were perceived as more agreeable by their study partners at the end of the two weeks compared with when they didn’t take it. (The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.) Other foods high in tryptophan include nuts, seeds, tofu, fish, lentils, oats, beans, and eggs.

Watch: How to Make a Healthy Turkey Club Sandwich

Oatmeal

If you’re already a carb lover, it’s likely that nothing can come between you and a doughnut when stress hits. First rule of thumb: Don’t completely deny the craving. According to MIT research, carbohydrates can help the brain make serotonin, the same substance regulated by antidepressants. But instead of reaching for that sugary bear claw, go for complex carbs. “Stress can cause your blood sugar to rise, Mangieri says, “so a complex carb like oatmeal won’t contribute to your already potential spike in blood glucose.”

Yogurt

As bizarre as it may sound, the bacteria in your gut might be contributing to stress. Research has shown that the brain signals to the gut, which is why stress can inflame gastrointestinal symptoms; communication may flow the other way too, from gut to brain. A 2013 UCLA study among 36 healthy women revealed that consuming probiotics in yogurt reduced brain activity in areas that handle emotion, including stress compared to people who consumed yogurt without probiotics or no yogurt at all. This study was small so more research is needed to confirm the results—but considering yogurt is full of calcium and protein in addition to probiotics, you really can’t go wrong by adding more of it to your diet.

Salmon

When you’re stressed, it can ratchet up anxiety hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. “The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon have anti-inflammatory properties that may help counteract the negative effects of stress hormones,” says Lisa Cimperman, RD, of the University Hospitals Case Medical Center and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, Oregon State University medical students who took omega-3 supplements had a 20% reduction in anxiety compared to the group given placebo pills. One 3-ounce serving of cooked wild salmon can have more than 2,000 milligrams of omega-3s, double the daily intake recommended by the American Heart Association for people with heart disease.

Read more: 19 Natural Remedies for Anxiety

Blueberries

“When you’re stressed, there’s a battle being fought inside you,” Mangieri says. “The antioxidants and phytonutrients found in berries fight in your defense, helping improve your body’s response to stress and fight stress-related free radicals.” Research has also shown that blueberry eaters experience a boost in natural killer cells, “a type of white blood cell that plays a vital role in immunity, critical for countering stress,” says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health’s contributing nutrition editor.

Pistachios

When you have an ongoing loop of negative thoughts playing in your mind, doing something repetitive with your hands may help silence your inner monologue. Think knitting or kneading bread—or even shelling nuts like pistachios or peanuts. The rhythmic moves will help you relax. Plus, the added step of cracking open a shell slows down your eating, making pistachios a diet-friendly snack. What’s more, pistachios have heart-health benefits. “Eating pistachios may reduce acute stress by lowering blood pressure and heart rate,” Mangieri says. “The nuts contain key phytonutrients that may provide antioxidant support for cardiovascular health.”

Dark chocolate

Calling all chocoholics: a regular healthy indulgence (just a bite, not a whole bar!) of dark chocolate might have the power to regulate your stress levels. “Research has shown that it can reduce your stress hormones, including cortisol,” Sass says. “Also, the antioxidants in cocoa trigger the walls of your blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation. And finally, dark chocolate contains unique natural substances that create a sense of euphoria similar to the feeling of being in love!” Go for varieties that contain at least 70% cocoa.

Read more: 17 Surprising Reasons You’re Stressed Out

Milk

Fortified milk is an excellent source of vitamin D, a nutrient that might boost happiness. A 50-year-long study by London’s UCL Institute of Child Health found an association between reduced levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of panic and depression among 5,966 men and women. People who had sufficient vitamin D levels had a reduced risk of panic disorders compared to subjects with the lowest levels of vitamin D. Other foods high in vitamin D include salmon, egg yolks, and fortified cereal.

Seeds

Flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are all great sources of magnesium (as are leafy greens, yogurt, nuts, and fish). Loading up on the mineral may help regulate emotions. “Magnesium has been shown to help alleviate depression, fatigue, and irritability,” Sass says. “Bonus: When you’re feeling especially irritable during that time of the month, the mineral also helps to fight PMS symptoms, including cramps and water retention.”

Watch: 5 Healthy Seeds You Should Be Eating

Avocado

You can’t just reach for slice after slice of avocado toast during crunch time if you don’t want to gain weight, but this superfruit might help shut down stress-eating by filling your belly and making you feel more satisfied. In a 2014 study by Loma Linda University (which, full disclosure, was sponsored by the Hass Avocado Board), researchers had participants add half an avocado to their lunches, which reduced their desire to eat more by 40% for the three hours following the midday meal. That full feeling will make you less inclined to reach for unhealthy snacks when stress kicks in.

Cashews

One ounce of the buttery nut packs 11% of the daily recommended value of zinc, an essential mineral that may help reduce anxiety. When researchers gave zinc supplements to people who were diagnosed with both anxiety symptoms (irritability, lack of ability to concentrate) and deficient zinc levels over a course of eight weeks, the patients saw a 31% decrease in anxiety, according to Nutrition and Metabolic Insights. This is likely because zinc affects the levels of a nerve chemical that influences mood. If you’re already getting enough zinc, then it may not help your mood to chow down on cashews (or other zinc-rich foods like oysters, beef, chicken, and yogurt). But, cashews are also rich in omega-3s and protein, so they’re a smart snack no matter what.

Read more: 13 Ways to Beat Stress in 15 Minutes or Less

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME public health

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria From Texan Cattle Yards Are Now Airborne, Study Finds

A herd of longhorn cattle stand as wildfire rages near on September 1, 2011 in Graford, Texas
Tom Pennington—Getty Images A herd of longhorn cattle stand as wildfire rages near on September 1, 2011 in Graford, Texas

Researchers say the bacteria are capable of "traveling for long distances"

A new study says the DNA from antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in American cattle yards has become airborne, creating a new pathway by which such bacteria can potentially spread to humans and hinder treatment of life-threatening infections.

Researchers gathered airborne particulate matter (PM) from around 10 commercial cattle yards within a 200 mile radius of Lubbock, Texas over a period of six-months. They found the air downwind of the yards contained antibiotics, bacteria and a “significantly greater” number of microbial communities containing antibiotic-resistant genes. That’s according to the study to be published in next month’s issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

“To our knowledge, this study is among the first to detect and quantify antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes…associated with airborne PM emitted from beef cattle feed yards,” said the authors, who are researchers in environmental toxicology at Texas Tech University and at a testing lab in Lubbock.

Co-author Phil Smith told the Texas Tribune that the bacteria could be active for a long time and “could be traveling for long distances.”

His colleague, molecular biologist Greg Mayer, told the paper that some of the study’s findings “made me not want to breathe.”

Because antibodies are poorly absorbed by cows they are released into the environment through excretion. Once in the environment, bacteria will undergo natural selection and genes that have acquired natural immunities will survive.

The genes that have gone airborne are contained in dried fecal matter that has become dust and gets picked up by winds as they whip through the stockyards.

The Texas Tribune reported that representatives from the Texas cattle industry (estimated to control around 14 million beef cows) criticized the study, saying it portrayed the airborne bacteria as overly hazardous to human health.

But the mass of PM2.5 particles (the kind that can be inhaled into lungs) released into the atmosphere is eye opening, with the study estimating the total amount released by cattle yards in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas exceeds 46,000 lbs.(21,000 kg) per day.

Antibiotic-resistant bacterial DNA is already known to be transferable to humans if ingested via water or meat.


TIME Research

Can You Draw the Apple Logo From Memory?

In one study, only 1 out of 85 participants could

Corporate logos are designed to be not only recognizable but also memorable. So why is it that so few people are able to accurately reproduce logos when put to the test?

Researchers say it’s most likely because memories are recorded in broad strokes, while details are often forgotten, according to a new study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Over the course of the study, 85 UCLA undergraduates were asked to reproduce an Apple logo from memory. Only one was able to draw the image correctly.

Here are some of the versions they came up with. Only one is correct — can you tell which one?

“There was a striking discrepancy between participants’ confidence prior to drawing the logo and how well they performed on the task,” said Alan Castel, a senior author of the study. “People’s memory, even for extremely common objects, is much poorer than they believe it to be.”

Try it for yourself.

[Science Daily]

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Eating Eggs With Raw Veggies Boosts Nutritional Benefits, Study Says

Fern salad made from fern with quail eggs.
Noel Celis—AFP/Getty Images

Cooked eggs increase carotenoid absorption in salads

Next time you’re eating a raw-vegetable salad, consider adding cooked eggs to the mix. A new study suggests that mixing eggs with raw vegetables increases carotenoid absorption almost ninefold, entailing a range of benefits including longer life span, fewer chronic illnesses and a reduced cancer risk.

Researchers at Purdue University in Indiana served 16 subjects three different varieties of the dish: an eggless salad, a salad with 1½ scrambled eggs and a salad with three scrambled eggs. There was a threefold to ninefold increase in carotenoid absorption from the salad containing the most eggs, according to Science Daily.

The salubrious ingredients — from beta-carotene to lycopene — serve as antioxidants protecting against cancer and heart disease.

“Americans underconsume vegetables, and here we have a way to increase the nutritive value of veggies while also receiving the nutritional benefits of egg yolks,” said the study’s researcher Wayne Campbell.

“Next time you visit a salad bar, consider adding the cooked egg to your raw veggies,” added Campbell. “Not only are lutein and zeaxanthin available through whole eggs, but now the value of the vegetables is enhanced.”

[Science Daily]

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