Strip Recall; Spices Reduce Negative Effects of High-Fat Meals

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Strip Recall
On August 17, 2011, Bayer HealthCare voluntarily issued a recall of 10- and 25-count vials of Contour test strips and 10-count vials of Contour TS test strips from retail distribution channels and the offices of health-care providers due to a packaging issue that could result in inaccurate blood glucose readings.

During routine quality testing, Bayer discovered that strips in half of the low-count bottles produced inaccurate readings, likely due to the interaction of the strips with gasses trapped in the bottles. Affected strips have not been shipped to the United States since June, and Bayer estimates the remaining number of these strips in the market to be quite small. No adverse events from the use of the strips have been reported to Bayer.

Neither Contour test strips from 50-count vials nor strips used with the Breeze 2 blood glucose meter are affected by the recall.

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Spices Reduce Negative Effects of High-Fat Meals
Spices don’t just taste good: From the potential role of cinnamon in controlling blood glucose to the anti-inflammatory abilities of turmeric to the nausea-reducing properties of ginger, these flavor enhancers have a wide variety of health benefits as well. And according to recent research from Penn State, another benefit of spices can be added to the list — combating the negative effects of high-fat meals.

According to the study’s lead author, Sheila G. West, PhD, “Normally, when you eat a high-fat meal, you end up with high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat, in your blood. If this happens too frequently, or if triglyceride levels are raised too much, your risk of heart disease is increased.”

To determine the metabolic and antioxidant effects of adding spices to a meal, the researchers prepared two meals on separate days for men between the ages of 30 and 65 who were overweight but otherwise healthy. The control meal consisted of chicken curry, Italian herb bread, and a cinnamon biscuit. The test meal was identical, except for the addition of two tablespoons of a high-antioxidant culinary spice blend to every serving.

The spice blend consisted of rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder, and paprika, selected due to their high-antioxidant activity in previous laboratory studies. (The antioxidant dose was equivalent to that found in 5 ounces of red wine or 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate.) Each participant tried both meals over the course of two separate days; blood samples were drawn from the participants every 30 minutes over three hours on the test days.

At the conclusion of the study, the data showed that insulin response was decreased by roughly 20%, triglyceride (a type of blood fat) response was reduced by about 30%, and antioxidant activity increased by 13% in the participants’ blood after a meal containing the spice blend compared to the meals that had no spices added. Many researchers believe that oxidative stress contributes to conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. “Antioxidants, like spices, may be important in reducing oxidative stress and thus reducing the risk of chronic disease,” West says.

The researchers added that although the meals contained a rather large amount of spices, they did not cause gastrointestinal upset in the participants. In the future, the scientists hope to investigate whether the same health benefits can be achieved by adding a smaller amount of spices to meals.

For more information about the research, see the article “Antioxidant Spices, Like Turmeric and Cinnamon, Reduce Negative Effects of High-Fat Meal” or the study’s abstract in The Journal of Nutrition.

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