A banana that still shows some green has slightly less sugar, and more starch. (Dreamstime)
Photo: Dreamstime/TNS
Photo: Dreamstime/TNS

Nutrition this and that’s

I often get asked if it’s difficult to come up with a new topic about nutrition each week. Are you kidding me? My biggest challenge is to narrow down the daily input of nutrition research into just one subject. Call it summertime, but this week I wasn’t up to the challenge. So here are more than one newsworthy findings that popped up in the field of nutrition this week: 

If you want to get less sugar from your daily banana, eat one that still shows some green, says registered dietitian Abbey Sharp. That’s because under-ripe bananas contain more starch that slowly converts to sugar as it ripens. Both sugar and starch are carbohydrates, to be sure. But greener bananas are especially high in “resistant starch” — a carbohydrate with some unique health benefits. 

Resistant starches are not digested in the intestinal tract so they affect our bodies more like dietary fiber and don’t raise blood sugars like other carbohydrates. Resistant starch also helps feed the good bacteria in our guts which promote health and may even have a role in controlling our weight. No need to toss bananas when they turn black, however. At this stage, they make an ideal replacement for sugar in recipes. Banana bread, anyone? 

Here’s one treatment where more is better. Osteoarthritis (OA) — sometimes called “wear and tear” arthritis — is caused when the cartilage that cushions our joints breaks down over time. And it hurts, especially if the wear and tear is in the joints of our knees. 

Hauling around extra pounds can aggravate osteoarthritis. But how much weight do we need to lose for relief? Experts currently say that an overweight person can cut their knee pain in half by losing just 10 percent of their current weight. (That would be 20 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds). A recent study published in Arthritis Care & Research, however, found that losing 20 percent (40 pounds for the person who weighs 200 pounds) improved knee pain an additional 25 percent. I know, I know, easier said than done. 

And here’s the bad news for those of us who use SuperTracker — an easy-to-use online tool developed by the US Department of Agriculture to calculate and track calories and nutrients. This great resource was discontinued in June. 

Why? I cried. Apparently there are similar free tools in the private sector so USDA decided to save us some tax money. Here are a few alternatives to explore, according to registered dietitian Marisa Moore: Spark People wwwsparkpeople.com, My Fitness Pal www.myfitnesspal.com, Self Nutrition Data www.nutritiondata.self.com. Moore also reminds us to look for nutrition trackers that utilize reliable nutrient databases such as the USDA Food Composition databases https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/. 

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