Dear Friend, this month you can get a free eating plan to help lower your blood pressure and improve your heart health, learn how a plant compound could prevent weight gain, how waist circumference can help determine whether your child has excess body fat, and how to make a healthier king cake.  It's all in the January 2019 edition of Inside Pennington.
Chemical in Citrus Plants Could Help Prevent Weight Gain

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:  Naringenin, a chemical found in fruits, may prevent people who overeat from gaining weight.  Naringenin may also improve the way a person burns glucose, a sugar that is the body's main source of fuel. 

WHY THIS MATTERS:   Naringenin has the potential to cause weight loss and improve diabetes.

Your body contains three types of fat: white, beige and brown.  A 150-pound person might have 30 pounds of fat, with only 3 ounces of that brown fat.  In small animals, brown fat is present in larger amounts, burns calories and keeps the animal warm.  Beige fat acts like brown fat, but comes from the conversion of white fat when white fat is exposed to cold or to naringenin, which comes from oranges and other citrus fruit.  Since people with obesity have lots of white fat and very little brown fat, converting white fat to beige fat can increase the burning of calories and reducing blood sugar.   

A number of studies have shown naringenin can "beige" white fat in rodents.  A recent study by Pennington Biomedical's Drs. Candida Rebello, Frank Greenway, Jacqueline Stephens, William Johnson and Ann Coulter examined the effects of naringenin on fatty tissue taken from humans at surgery.  The study found that naringenin may have some of the same beiging effects on white fat in people.
Wellness Day for Women: Fitness, Nutrition, Health Screenings

The 19th annual Irene W. Pennington Wellness Day for Women offers participants free health screenings; sessions on fitness, diet and nutrition; presentations on cholesterol and metabolic health; and advice on navigating menopause.

The event is free and open to the public.  Wellness Day for Women is set for 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at Pennington Biomedical.  The health screenings include blood pressure, blood glucose, body fat, BMI, colorectal cancer kits, EKGs, skin cancer, stroke risk, total lipid panel, and vision.

For more information, go to
Waist Size Can Help Determine if Children Have Excess Body Fat

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:  Combining waist circumference and Body Mass Index (BMI) can do a better job of determining whether children have excess body fat than either measure by itself.

WHY THIS MATTERS:  Close to 20 percent of children in the United States have obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Accurately assessing adiposity early in life is important to prevent or treat the diseases related to having obesity. 

For many years, physicians have used BMI as a marker for obesity.  However, BMI is often criticized because it doesn't distinguish between lean and fat tissue, according to a study co-authored by Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk

Measuring waist circumference helps account for fat tissue accumulation.  In particular, high levels of abdominal fat have been associated with increased risk for a number of health problems, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Want a Diet That Helps Control Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Weight? 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:   It's possible to lower your blood pressure and improve your heart health without medication by following an eating plan that Pennington Biomedical helped develop.

WHY YOU NEED THIS INFO:  Many people start the new year with a trendy diet that proves impossible to follow.  They end up abandoning the diet, feeling bad about themselves, and facing the same issues that led to the new eating plan.

The DASH Diet lowers blood pressure naturally, is heart-healthy, and one of the best eating plans for diabetes, said Dr. Catherine Champagne, who helped develop DASH.  It's also fairly easy to follow -- everyone in the family can eat the same thing -- and requires no special supplements.

Those benefits helped land the DASH Diet among U.S. News & World Report's best diets for 2019.

Click here for your free Dash Diet Eating Plan.
Gestational Diabetes Prevention Is More Complicated Than Diet, Exercise

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:   Limiting weight gain and more physical activity may not stave off gestational diabetes, or diabetes that develops during pregnancy. 

WHY YOU NEED THIS INFO:  Gestational diabetes leads to health issues for mothers and children, and these issues may last well beyond pregnancy.  For example, exposure to gestational diabetes means mothers and their children are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

"We and others now believe that different types of gestational diabetes warrant different approaches to treatment and prevention," said Dr. Leanne Redman.  

The results of the study were published in the journal Cell Metabolism.  Drs. Redman, Jasper Most and Nick Broskey were the authors.
Hot Links

USA Today interviewed Dr.  Robert Newton about Alzheimer's disease research in African Americans.

Dr. Eric Ravussin co-authored "Secretin: An Old Hormone with a Burning Secret," published in the journal Cell.  

Dr. Annadora Bruce-Keller was one of the co-authors of "Defining Dysbiosis in Disorders of Movement and Motivation," published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

EndocrineWeb featured a food cravings research review by Drs. Candice Myers, John Apolzan and Corby Martin.

Dr. Timothy Allerton discussed the health benefits of L-citrulline -- it can lower blood pressure and the levels of fat in the blood -- in
A Healthier Mardi Gras Starts
in the Kitchen

Worried that Fat Tuesday will derail your New Year's resolution to be more healthy? 
Keep the focus on "more" – more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, and more eating awareness.  Avoid emphasizing "less," whether that's eating less sugar, fat or alcohol.

To help with this strategy, the Metabolic Kitchen suggests this recipe, which makes 12 servings.

Honey Whole Wheat King Cake with Pecan Cream Cheese Filling

1/2 cup low-fat milk, warmed slightly
1 envelope (3/4 ounce) instant yeast 
3 tablespoons honey
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons salted butter, softened

8 ounces Neufchatel cheese (or reduced fat cream cheese)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½  teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 up pecan halves, toasted & chopped

2 ½ cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup low-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
Purple (or red and blue), green, and yellow food dye.


Combine the warmed milk and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and let sit for five minutes. Add the honey and eggs, and stir until combined.  Add the flours and salt.  Mix the dough until combined, and then knead with a dough hook for about two minutes at a low speed, or until it looks smooth.  Increase the speed to medium and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time.  Once the butter is added, continue kneading the dough for about five minutes.   The dough will be soft and stick to the sides of the bowl.  If the dough looks too soft or sticky (for example, if it sticks to your fingers), add a couple of additional tablespoons of flour and knead the dough for a few more minutes.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until at least doubled in size.
Prepare the filling by beating together the Neufchatel, sugar, egg, vanilla, and cinnamon until mostly smooth.  Refrigerate the mixture while the dough rises (or for at least an hour).  

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Turn the dough out onto the parchment and shape it into a rectangle.  Spread the filling on top of the dough in an even layer, and sprinkle the toasted and chopped pecans on top.  Roll up the dough into a log, and situate it so that the seam is facing down.  Shape the log into a circle and pinch the ends together.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise once more for 30 minutes. 

Bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Once the cake has cooled, create the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth. For a thicker glaze, add additional powdered sugar in 2-tablespoon increments until the desired consistency is achieved. Separate the glaze into three bowls, and use the food dye to color one bowl purple (two drops of blue, one drop of red), one green, and one yellow.  Drizzle the glaze onto the king cake, alternating the three colors. The glaze should harden within an hour, and then the cake will be ready to enjoy!

Nutrition info
Per slice:
300 Calories
14 grams Fat
38 grams Carbohydrate
2 grams Fiber
7 grams Protein

Questions about the recipe?  Email a dietitian at!  For more recipes, check out the Metabolic Kitchen's recipe page.
Well, that's it for now from Inside Pennington Biomedical. Stay tuned for your next update that will include healthy news you can use as well as profiles of the people who are fulfilling our mission of finding the triggers of and new treatments for chronic diseases.

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