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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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The Dangers Of Dairy

BY DR. AMY MYERS      APRIL 10, 2013 
All those “Got Milk?” ads from the last decade or so would have us believe that dairy is a cornerstone of a healthy diet, providing essential nutrients, fortifying our bones, and knocking out osteoporosis left and right. But… is this true? Is consuming dairy necessary or even healthy for most people?

The truth is, dairy can lead to countless health issues and, for many, can cause more harm than good, here’s why. 
It’s highly inflammatory. 
Dairy is one of the most inflammatory foods in our modern diet, second only to gluten. It causes inflammation in a large percentage of the population, resulting in digestive issues such as bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea, as well as other symptoms including acne, and a stronger presentation of autistic behaviors. 
What is it about dairy that causes an inflammatory response? Is everyone with a dairy sensitivity lactose intolerant? There are two components of dairy that tend to cause issues for people: (1) the sugar and (2) the proteins. 
People who are lactose intolerant don’t produce the lactase enzyme, which is required to break down lactose, a sugar found in milk, causing digestive issues whenever they consume dairy products. People who do produce the lactase enzyme but still react poorly to milk are responding to the two proteins found in milk, casein and whey. Casein is a protein with a very similar molecular structure to gluten and 50% of people who are gluten intolerant are casein intolerant as well.
It’s acid-forming. 
Our bodies like to maintain a neutral pH balance: not too much acidity, not too much alkalinity. Milk, like most animal products, is an acid forming food, meaning whenever you consume dairy, your body must compensate for the increased acidity in order to restore a neutral pH balance.
It does this by pulling from the alkaline “reserves” it keeps on hand in the form of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, that are stored in your bones. Pulling from these reserves weakens your bones, leaving them more susceptible to fractures and breaks, meaning milk might not be such a great preventative tool against osteoporosis as we’re told. In fact, research has shown that countries with the highest rate of dairy consumption also have the highest rate of osteoporosis.


It’s often full of hormones and antibiotics
Many times when people drink milk they’re consuming far more than just milk. American dairy farmers have long been injecting cows with a genetically engineered bovine growth hormone called rBGH to increase milk production. This forced increase in milk production often leads to an udder infection in cows called mastitis, which is then treated with courses of antibiotics, which can make their way into your dairy products.
All of these concerns about the health benefits and safety of dairy can lead to even more questions. Is all dairy bad, are alternative sources of dairy any better? Where will I get my calcium if not from dairy? Let’s take a look at these: 
What about goat’s milk and sheep’s milk?
Some people who choose to eliminate cow’s milk from their diet still enjoy goat’s or sheep’s milk, as they find it much easier to tolerate. Although these have a similar lactose content to cow’s milk (meaning if you are lactose intolerant, they will not be any easier to digest) they do have a different type of casein protein, which makes them easier for casein-sensitive people to handle.
Casein exists in two variants, A1 beta-casein and A2 beta-casein, which are differentiated only by a single amino acid in their protein chains. A2 is considered the original beta-casein because A1 only appeared a few thousand years ago after a mutation occurred in European cow herds, and people react poorly to the A1 beta-casein. Goat’s milk and sheep’s milk lack the A1 beta-casein, which is what makes them more tolerable, but because the A1 and A2 proteins are so similar, these milks can still cause problems for some.
What about organic or raw milk?
If you aren’t casein sensitive, and still want to consume cow’s milk, a healthier and less-chemical laden route to go can be organic or raw milk. These kinds of milk typically come from cows that have not been injected with rGBH and have not been treated with antibiotics, which eliminates the concern that these chemicals will find their way into your milk.
Raw milk, although contentiously debated, does have many health benefits that pasteurized milk lacks. The pasteurizing process, which is intended to kill harmful bacteria, kills many of the helpful enzymes that occur naturally in milk as well. In fact, one of the enzymes present in raw milk that is missing in pasteurized milk is the lactase enzyme, meaning people who are lactose intolerant are actually able to drink raw milk because it contains the enzyme needed to break down lactose their body is unable to produce.
What should you do if you think you’re sensitive to dairy? 
Ultimately the decision of whether or not to consume dairy rests with you. Try eliminating 100% of dairy from your diet for 30 days and pay attention to how your body reacts. Then try reintroducing dairy in its different forms and sources and notice how you respond.
If you do decide to eliminate dairy, fear not, there are plenty of other natural sources of calcium you can incorporate into your diet!
10 Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium
  1. Almonds
  2. Kale
  3. Oranges
  4. Collard Greens
  5. Broccoli
  6. Figs
  7. Spinach
  8. Enriched rice, almond, hemp and coconut milks
  9. Sesame seeds
  10. Tofu


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How to Store Vegetables & Fruit Without Plastic

So you’ve got all these great fruits and vegetables and now we’re going to help you keep them at their freshest with these tips. These tips are from the Berkley Farmer’s Market which is a Zero Waste market! Here is a printable PDF of their original tip sheet. In the works here at Washington’s Green Grocer is a switch from plastic bags (although we use as few as we can get away with, while still keeping your produce from getting battered on it’s way to you) to only recyclable paper and reuseable cloth bags! 

How to Store Vegetables without Plastic

Artichokes‐ place in an airtight container sealed, with light moisture.

Asparagus‐ place them loosely in a glass or bowl upright with water at room temperature. (Will keep for a week outside the fridge)

Avocados‐ place in a paper bag at room temp. To speed up their ripening‐ place an apple in the bag with them.

Arugula‐ arugula, like lettuce, should not stay wet! Dunk in cold water and spin or lay flat to dry. Place dry arugula in an open container, wrapped with a dry towel to absorb any extra moisture.

Basil‐ is difficult to store well. Basil does not like the cold, or to be wet for that matter. The best method here is an airtight container/jar loosely packed with a small damp piece of paper inside‐left out on a cool counter.

Beans, shelling‐ open container in the fridge, eat ASAP. Some recommend freezing them if not going to eat right away

Beets‐ cut the tops off to keep beets firm, (be sure to keep the greens!)by leaving any top on root vegetables draws moisture from the root, making them loose flavor and firmness. Beets should be washed and kept in and open container with a wet towel on top.

Beet greens‐ place in an airtight container with a little moisture.

Broccoli‐ place in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge.

Broccoli Rabe‐ left in an open container in the crisper, but best used as soon as possible.

Brussels Sprouts‐ If bought on the stalk leave them on that stalk. Put the stalk in the fridge or leave it on a cold place. If they’re bought loose store them in an open container with a damp towel on top.

Cabbage‐ left out on a cool counter is fine up to a week, in the crisper otherwise. Peel off outer leaves if they start to wilt. Cabbage might begin to loose its moisture after a week , so, best used as soon as possible.

Carrots‐ cut the tops off to keep them fresh longer. Place them in closed container with plenty of moisture, either wrapped in a damp towel or dunk them in cold water every couple of days if they’re stored that long.

Cauliflower‐ will last a while in a closed container in the fridge, but they say cauliflower has the best flavor the day it’s bought.

Celery‐ does best when simply places in a cup or bowl of shallow water on the counter.

Celery root/Celeriac‐ wrap the root in a damp towel and place in the crisper.

Corn‐ leave unhusked in an open container if you must, but corn really is best eaten sooner then later for maximum flavor.

Cucumber‐ wrapped in a moist towel in the fridge. If you’re planning on eating them within a day or two after buying them they should be fine left out in a cool room.

Eggplant‐ does fine left out in a cool room. Don’t wash it, eggplant doesn’t like any extra moisture around its leaves. For longer storage‐ place loose, in the crisper.

Fava beans‐ place in an air tight container.

Fennel‐ if used within a couple days after it’s bought fennel can be left out on the counter, upright in a cup or bowl of water (like celery). If wanting to keep longer than a few days place in the fridge in a closed container with a little water.

Garlic‐ store in a cool, dark, place.

Green garlic‐an airtight container in the fridge or left out for a day or two is fine, best before dried out.

Greens‐ remove any bands, twist ties, etc. most greens must be kept in an air‐tight container with a damp cloth‐ to keep them from drying out. Kale, collards, and chard even do well in a cup of water on the counter or fridge.

Green beans‐ they like humidity, but not wetness. A damp cloth draped over an open or loosely closed container.

Green Tomatoes‐ store in a cool room away from the sun to keep them green and use quickly or they will begin to color.

Herbs- a closed container in the fridge to kept up to a week. Any longer might encourage mold.

Lettuce‐ keep damp in an airtight container in the fridge.

Leeks‐leave in an open container in the crisper wrapped in a damp cloth or in a shallow cup of water on the counter (just so the very bottom of the stem has water).

Okra‐ doesn’t like humidity. So a dry towel in an airtight container. Doesn’t store that well, best eaten quickly after purchase


Onion‐ store in a cool, dark and dry, place‐ good air circulation is best, so don’t stack them.

Parsnips‐an open container in the crisper, or, like a carrot, wrapped in a damp cloth in the fridge.

Potatoes‐ (like garlic and onions) store in cool, dark and dry place, such as, a box in a dark corner of the pantry; a paper bag also works well.

Radicchio‐ place in the fridge in an open container with a damp cloth on top.

Radishes‐ remove the greens (store separately) so they don’t draw out excess moisture from the roots and place them in a open container in the fridge with a wet towel placed on top.

Rhubarb‐wrap in a damp towel and place in an open container in the refrigerator.

Rutabagas‐ in an ideal situation a cool, dark, humid root cellar or a closed container in the crisper to keep their moisture in.

Snap peas‐ refrigerate in an open container

Spinach‐ store loose in an open container in the crisper, cool as soon as possible. Spinach loves to stay cold.

Spring onions‐ Remove any band or tie and place in the crisper.

Summer Squash‐ does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut.

Sweet peppers‐ Only wash them right before you plan on eating them as wetness decreases storage time. Store in a cool room to use in a couple a days, place in the crisper if longer storage needed.

Sweet Potatoes‐ Store in a cool, dark, well‐ventilated place. Never refrigerate‐‐sweet potatoes don’t like the cold.

Tomatoes‐ Never refrigerate. Depending on ripeness, tomatoes can stay for up to two weeks on the counter. To hasten ripeness place in a paper bag with an apple.

Turnips‐ remove the greens (store separately) same as radishes and beets, store them in an open container with a moist cloth.

Winter squash‐store in a cool, dark, well ventilated place. Many growers say winter squashes get sweeter if they’re stored for a week or so before eaten.

Zucchini‐ does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut. Wrap in a cloth and refrigerate for longer storage.

Apples‐ store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks. For longer storage in a cardboard box in the fridge.

Citrus‐ store in a cool place, with good airflow, never in an air‐tight container.

Apricots‐ on a cool counter to room temperature or fridge if fully ripe

Cherries‐store in an airtight container. Don’t wash cherries until ready to eat, any added moisture encourages mold.

Berries-Don’t forget, they’re fragile. When storing be careful not to stack too many high, a single layer if possible. A paper bag works well, only wash before you plan on eating them.

Dates‐dryer dates (like Deglet Noor) are fine stored out on the counter in a bowl or the paper bag they were bought in. Moist dates (like Medjool) need a bit of refrigeration if they’re going to be stored over a week, either in cloth or a paper bag‐ as long as it’s porous to keeping the moisture away from the skin of the dates.

Figs‐ Don’t like humidity, so, no closed containers. A paper bag works to absorb excess moisture, but a plate works best in the fridge up to a week un‐stacked.

Melons‐ uncut in a cool dry place, out of the sun up to a couple weeks. Cut melons should be in the fridge, an open container is fine.

Nectarines‐ (similar to apricots) store in the fridge is okay if ripe, but best taken out a day or two before you plan on eating them so they soften to room temperature.

Peaches (and most stone fruit)‐ refrigerate only when fully ripe. More firm fruit will ripen on the counter.

Pears‐ will keep for a few weeks on a cool counter, but fine in a paper bag. To hasten the ripening put an apple in with them.

Persimmon –Fuyu‐(shorter/pumpkin shaped): store at room temperature.–Hachiya‐ (longer/pointed end): room temperature until completely mushy. The astringentness of them only subsides when they are completely ripe. To hasten the ripening process place in a paper bag with a few apples for a week, check now and then, but don’t stack‐they get very fragile when really ripe.

Pomegranates‐ keep up to a month stored on a cool counter.

Strawberries‐ Don’t like to be wet. Do best in a paper bag in the fridge for up to a week. Check the bag for moisture every other day.


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13 Superfoods for a Long and Happy Life

23rd April 2013   By Iryna Ostapets   Guest Writer for Wake Up World

Healthy eating is a good path to longevity. Many of us take supplements to add phytonutrients and minerals into the body. But the more nutritional needs you meet with your food consumption, the better the effects for your body. Consuming a variety of super-foods can provide the body with all the elements and nutrients that may be missing in your diet.
It was known from an ancient times that the best path to longevity is to comprise a good variety of foods crammed with vitamins and minerals. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have showed that healthy eating can decrease the risk of health diseases, cancer, diabetes and other infirmity. The Professor of Geriatrics at the University of Hawaii, Bradley Willcox also noted that the most beneficial diets rely heavily on fresh vegetables, fruits, and legumes — foods that are naturally lower in calories and packed with nutrients.
The below super-foods have the potential to hamper the aging process, reinforce the immune system and maintain blood glucose levels. They prevent the build up of free radicals that are responsible for the development of age-related diseases.

Berries:

They are packed with antioxidants and natural compounds that assist to boost immunity. They contain anthocyanins which were confirmed by University of Georgia study to decrease the risk of colon cancer. Eating one or two servings of berries such blueberries, strawberries, cranberries or blackberries daily you can detain cognitive decline for older people.

 

Nuts:

These superfoods are versatile and a great source of healthy fats, protein vitamins and minerals. They can reduce the risk of cardiovascular and chronic diseases. Cashews, walnuts, almonds, peanuts and Brazil nuts are rich in antioxidants, vitamin E and Omega 3 fatty acids. CBS news informs that a handful of any nuts can benefit your health, enlarge brain power, manage stress, hamper inflammation and keep fit for a long time.

 

Fish:

It has the highest level of Omega-3 fats that protect against heart diseases and strokes. Omega-3 combat inflammatory conditions, aging in cells and assist pull down blood pressure. Consuming two serving of fish can provide you with enough of Omega-3 fats. Tuna, salmon and other oily fish are in the list of the fish packed with abundant amount of these fatty acids.

 

Broccoli:

Researches have pointed out these veggies have extra life-extending benefits such as sulphoraphane, indole and phytochemicals. These health-protecting compounds can fight free radicals and keep its anti-cancer features. Broccoli is low in calories and a good alternative for healthy salads and sandwiches.

 

Tomatoes:

They contain generous content of lycopene that is associated with a proven cancer fighter. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and A, fiber, potassium and folate. The National Institutes of Health reports tomatoes are a great source of antioxidants that can decrease the risk of cancers.

Olive Oil:

Great source of monounsaturated “good fat” and vitamin E. It has excellent anti-inflammatory features and is clearly associated with cancer prevention and brain power. Two tablespoons of olive oil per day can benefit your health. It is better not to consume it a lot as it is darn caloric.

 

Beans:

They have the highest level of carbohydrates, resistant starch and fiber. Beans are excellent tool for cancer prevention, anti-diabetes and weight loss. They regulate blood sugar level, fight food cravings and decrease cholesterol level. Researchers found that the more fiber intake in your foods the less you are subject to breast cancer.

 

Seeds:

They are true fat sources that include a good variety of minerals, antioxidants, lignans, phytochemicals. Some seeds (flaxseed and sesame) have anti-cancer properties and versatile for health and brain health. Daily consumption of flaxseed can reduce the risk of breast cancer and the growth of their tumor cells.

 

Soy:

The consumption of fermented organic soy can promote weight loss and relieve menopausal symptoms. They are rich in isoflavone that lowers the risk of prostate and breast cancer. Moderate soy intake can have a good impact on bones and heart.

 

Bananas:

A well-balanced diet rich in fruits promotes longevity. Most of fruits have a plenty of healing properties and benefits, but we should place a much emphasis on bananas. They are important sources of potassium, vitamin C and B6, magnesium, fiber and other nutrients. They are naturally free from cholesterol and fat and balance your digestive processes.

 

Avocado:

They are full of vitamin E, fiber and monounsaturated fat. Eating avocados assists pump enough magnesium and bolster your immune system. It lowers the level of “bad” cholesterol and increases your “good” cholesterol level. New York University Langone Medical Center reports avocados contain 13 mg of calcium that can help you make bones strong.

 

Dark Chocolate:

It has the antioxidant, flavonol, found in cocoa beans that can reduce the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Notice chocolate overeating can help you get extra calories. Dark chocolate ameliorates brain function as learning and memory ability.

 

Garlic:

It can be beneficial in boosting the immune system and includes a good amount of sulfur compounds that benefit heart health and lose weight. Garlic is crammed with antioxidants (vitamin C and selenium) that push out free radical from the body.
About the Author:
Iryna Ostapets is a health writer, blogger and health advocate who aims to help people achieve and maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle. Passionate about healthy living and sport, she writes about natural health, nutrition, fitness, health tips and beauty at http://www.raipharmacies.com. An experienced Medical Writer, she has a Master’s Degree in English and advanced training in the medical field. Iryna continues to earn education certificates from the Australasian Medical Writers Association (AMWA).


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Adding dip to veggies gets kids to eat more

By Kerry Grens     NEW YORK     Fri May 31, 2013

(Reuters Health) – Offering a dip alongside vegetables encourages kids to eat veggies they might normally push aside, according to a new study.

“It is a good idea to try to pair less preferred foods, like vegetables, particularly those that your child doesn’t like so much, with something to give it a little more flavor,” said Marlene Schwartz, of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, who was not involved in the study.

Jennifer Savage, at the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Pennsylvania State University, and colleagues asked 34 preschoolers to do a taste test of vegetables with and without a low-fat dip.

More kids said they liked the vegetable if it was paired with a flavored dip that they liked, compared to a vegetable without a dip or with a plain dip.

Only 31 percent of kids liked a vegetable alone, while 64 percent liked a vegetable when it was given with the flavored dip.

Also, only six percent of kids refused the vegetable and flavored dip, while 18 percent refused the vegetable without any dip.

In another experiment, the researchers gave 27 preschoolers celery or squash – two veggies that the kids typically didn’t like.

They found that kids ate about 15 grams of celery and six grams of squash. (For reference, a half cup of chopped celery or squash is a little more than 50 grams.)


When the vegetables were offered with dip, the kids ate more – about 25 grams of celery and about 15 grams of squash, the researchers report in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The research team points out that the dips were low in calories and given in small portions. Each serving was 3.5 tablespoons, which included 50 calories, four grams of fat and 90 milligrams of sodium.

“That’s what those extra calories are for, those discretionary calories we have each day, to try to make something healthy taste better to increase consumption,” said Yale’s Schwartz.

Although children are notorious for disliking vegetables, the problem has grown because kids’ diets have become less healthy, Schwartz said.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, moderately active preschoolers should be getting 1,400 to 1,600 calories a day, including 1.5 cups of vegetables.

The study was funded by the McCormick Science Institute, which is supported by the spice company of the same name.

“Food and nutrition practitioners can help the staff at childcare centers, kindergartens, and elementary schools enhance children’s acceptance and consumption of vegetables by pairing vegetables with small portions of reduced-fat, herb-flavored dips during snack and meal times,” the researchers write in their report.

Other research has tried giving kids a treat, such as a sticker, to get them to like vegetables.

Schwartz said the important thing at this age is not how much vegetables kids eat, but getting children to be willing to try vegetables and be open to liking them.

“If you can get preschoolers to see themselves as people who try a bunch of different vegetables and try them in different ways and like vegetables, then you can really reinforce that way of seeing themselves and that’s going to help you in the long run,” she said.

On the other hand, Schwartz said, if a child comes to identify himself as someone who doesn’t like vegetables, “then you’re really fighting an uphill battle.”

SOURCE: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, online May 22, 2013.      Reuters


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Fighting Cancer, A Forkful At A Time

By The Gazette (Montreal)     October 17, 2007

Richard Béliveau is a Montreal biochemist and cancer researcher, not a chef. So even though more than 20 of the 160 recipes in Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer are his, he wasn’t keen on demonstrating any of them – not the Cuban black bean soup or the Bengal beef, not even the dead-easy shepherd’s pie with lentils.

They’re all dishes he eats and enjoys though, along with other foods influenced by cuisines from around the world. The point of the recipes, Béliveau said the other day over green tea in his water’s edge condo, is to guide people and help them realize that it can be pleasant to incorporate into their diets foods intended to make them healthier. “Nothing will change if it doesn’t give you pleasure,” he said.

The animated scientist did permit a peek into his fridge, though, and the contents included several foods he writes about: a giant head of cabbage; a tub of seaweed salad; a dozen or more varieties of green tea in labelled plastic bags, mushrooms; yogourt; a few bottles of acai berry juice, a berry with origins in the Amazon rain forest. All are believed to play a role in thwarting the development of different kinds of cancer.

Béliveau, who holds the chair in cancer prevention and treatment at the Université du Québec à Montréal and heads the molecular medicine laboratory at Ste. Justine Hospital, is better known to Quebecers than many research scientists. For two years, he has written a weekly column for the Journal de Montréal; his first book, Foods that Fight Cancer, written, like this one, with colleague and fellow scientist Denis Gingras, has been translated into 18 languages from the original French.

He does a good deal of public speaking, addressing high school students, as he did on Monday, as well as crowds ranging from lawyers to metal workers, encouraging them to take responsibility for their health – and to choose healthful diets.

Béliveau, 54, worries that “we have lost respect for the food we eat – and for our bodies. We take more care in choosing the gas for our cars than the food for our bodies,” he said when we spoke.

About one-third of cancers are believed to be linked to poor diet, according to international organizations of experts cited by the authors. Poor diet, in this case, generally means a lack of fruits and vegetables.

The authors say that there are more than 200 epidemiological studies to show that people who eat abundant amounts of foods of plant origin – that means fruits and vegetables but also cereals, spices and green tea – are at considerably lower risk of developing cancer than do people who eat these foods only occasionally.

The phytochemical properties of these foods block many of the processes pre-cancerous cells use to grow, the authors explain, essentially creating an environment hostile to the growth of cancerous cells.

“It’s not magical or mystical: It’s biochemical,” Béliveau said. “We are what we eat. And when we eat healthy foods, we feel better.”

“When you are eating plant products, you are treating yourself to a daily doses of chemoprevention,” he said – a kind of non-toxic chemotherapy. More than 60 per cent of the drugs used in clinical chemotherapy to treat cancer are plant-derived, Béliveau said.

Clearly, though, diet is not the only factor at work in the development of cancer. It is known that populations with a higher intake of animal fat and protein have a higher incidence of colon cancer, but there are also vegetarians who get colon cancer.

Clinically detectable cancer, the authors say, does not appear overnight. Rather, “it is the result of a long process during which cells undergo a series of transformations,” as bit by bit, they become capable of “sidestepping our defence systems and invading their host tissues.”

Like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, cancer is related to lifestyle, said Béliveau. Just as smoking is associated with most lung cancer, for instance, obesity is a risk factor for the development of certain kinds of cancer, he said. “Cancer has a lot to do with lifestyle, much more than we used to think,” said Béliveau. “The message of the book is self-responsibility.”

A healthy lifestyle, which means eating right, exercising, maintaining a healthy body weight and not smoking, can help create a hostile environment for tumours.

The recipes, most of which come from top Quebec restaurant chefs, are straightforward and require few ingredients and little effort for excellent results. They occupy only half the book.

The rest of the volume is devoted largely to a scientific, but accessible, discussion of cancer and lifestyle and of how specific foods may play a role in preventing the development of certain types of cancer.

The book “Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer” is sprinkled liberally with descriptions of scientific studies that show a link between diet and cancer prevention. And for those who want to learn more, there’s a bibliography: Think of it as dessert.

source: Canada.com


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Pour on the olive oil: Big study finds Mediterranean-style diet cuts heart attack, stroke risk

MARILYNN MARCHIONE / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS    FEBRUARY 25, 2013

Pour on the olive oil, preferably over fish and vegetables: One of the longest and most scientific tests of a Mediterranean diet suggests this style of eating can cut the chance of suffering heart-related problems, especially strokes, in older people at high risk of them.

The study lasted five years and involved about 7,500 people in Spain. Those who ate Mediterranean-style with lots of olive oil or nuts had a 30 per cent lower risk of major cardiovascular problems compared to those who were told to follow a low-fat diet but who in reality, didn’t cut fat very much. Mediterranean meant lots of fruit, fish, chicken, beans, tomato sauce, salads, and wine and little baked goods and pastries.

Mediterranean diets have long been touted as heart-healthy, but that’s based on observational studies that can’t prove the point. The new research is much stronger because people were assigned diets to follow for a long time and carefully monitored. Doctors even did lab tests to verify that the Mediterranean diet folks were consuming more olive oil or nuts as recommended.

Most of these people were taking medicines for high cholesterol and blood pressure, and researchers did not alter those proven treatments, said one study leader, Dr. Ramon Estruch of Hospital Clinic in Barcelona.

But as a first step to prevent heart problems, “we think diet is better than a drug” because it has few if any side effects, Estruch said. “Diet works.”

Results were published online Monday by the New England Journal of Medicine and were discussed at a nutrition conference in Loma Linda, Calif.

People in the study were not given rigid menus or calorie goals because weight loss was not the aim. That could be why they found the “diets” easy to stick with — only about 7 per cent dropped out within two years. There were twice as many dropouts in the low-fat group than among those eating Mediterranean-style.

Researchers also provided the nuts and olive oil, so it didn’t cost participants anything to use these relatively pricey ingredients. The type of oil may have mattered — they used extra-virgin olive oil, which is minimally processed and richer than regular or light olive oil in the chemicals and nutrients that earlier studies have suggested are beneficial.

The study involved people ages 55 to 80, just over half of them women. All were free of heart disease at the start but were at high risk for it because of health problems — half had diabetes and most were overweight and had high cholesterol and blood pressure.

They were assigned to one of three groups: Two followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with either extra-virgin olive oil (4 tablespoons a day) or with walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds (a fistful a day). The third group was urged to eat a low-fat diet heavy on bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, fruits, vegetables and fish and light on baked goods, nuts, oils and red meat.


Independent monitors stopped the study after nearly five years when they saw fewer problems in the two groups on Mediterranean diets.

Doctors tracked a composite of heart attacks, strokes or heart-related deaths. There were 96 of these in the Mediterranean-olive oil group, 83 in the Mediterranean-nut group and 109 in the low-fat group.

Looked at individually, stroke was the only problem where type of diet made a big difference. Diet had no effect on death rates overall.

The Mediterranean diet proved better even though its followers ate about 200 calories more per day than the low-fat group did. The study leaders now are analyzing how each of the diets affected weight gain or loss and body mass index.

The Spanish government’s health research agency initiated and paid for the study, and foods were supplied by olive oil and nut producers in Spain and the California Walnut Commission. Many of the authors have extensive financial ties to food, wine and other industry groups but said the sponsors had no role in designing the study or analyzing and reporting its results.

Rachel Johnson, a University of Vermont professor who heads the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee, said the study is very strong because of the lab tests to verify oil and nut consumption and because researchers tracked actual heart attacks, strokes and deaths — not just changes in risk factors such as high cholesterol.

“At the end of the day, what we care about is whether or not disease develops,” she said. “It’s an important study.”

Rena Wing, a weight-loss expert at Brown University, noted that researchers provided the oil and nuts, and said “it’s not clear if people could get the same results from self-designed Mediterranean diets” — or if Americans would stick to them more than Europeans who are used to such foods.

Dr. George Bray of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., said he would give the study “a positive — even glowing — comment” and called it “the best and certainly one of the largest prospective dietary trials ever done.”

“The data are sufficiently strong to convince me to move my dietary pattern closer to the Mediterranean Diet that they outline,” he added.

Another independent expert also praised the study as evidence diet can lower heart risks.

“The risk reduction is close to that achieved with statins,” cholesterol-lowering drugs, said Dr. Robert Eckel, a diet and heart disease expert at the University of Colorado.

“But this study was not carried out or intended to compare diet to statins or blood pressure medicines,” he warned. “I don’t think people should think now they can quit taking their medicines.”

source:

 


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7 Food Habits that Can Strengthen your Liver

Shubhra Krishan   March 2, 2013


Your largest internal organ is also one of the most important. The liver metabolizes everything that enters your body, so if you keep it in good health, you can stay disease-free and happy.

Here are some gentle reminders on how to help your liver do its job better.

Sip a cup or two of green tea every day. The catechins in green tea cleanse and tone the liver.

Drink a tall glass of warm lemon water in the morning. It flushes out toxins from the liver and helps the digestive system work better.

Snack on fresh fruit instead of drinking fructose-laden fruit juice, which is known to cause fatty liver. Sweet, juicy berries and citrus fruits are beneficial in particular, thanks to their high antioxidant content.


A pinch of turmeric in your soups and stews can help heal liver infections—turmeric is a time-honored anti-inflammatory spice.

Eat Chinese stir-fried veggies more often. They are not only delicious, but help to detoxify your liver from the toxins in the environment.

Include some bitter foods in your daily diet—endives, rocket, dandelions, bitter gourd, fenugreek—these stimulate the production of bile and help the liver perform its job better.

Bring on the garlic! An amino acid called methionine in garlic helps the liver work more efficiently and protects it from damage. Add a few sesame seeds to the proceedings, and you have even more methionine, not to mention great flavor.

source: care2.com


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3 Things to Know About the New Mediterranean Diet Study

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you must have heard this week’s news about a new Spanish study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, that has shown that the Mediterranean Diet can drastically help decrease the chance of heart disease.

How drastic? A 30% reduction in the chance to have a heart attack or stroke! The scientists were so stoked that they cut the study short and rushed to publish its findings! But while the headlines were full of promise, delving a bit deeper into the details shows a more balanced picture.

1. The study was specifically conducted on older people (aged 55-80) who were at high risk for cardiovascular disease. If you are at a low risk, or are younger, results may be different.

2. The study was conducted on people who live in a Mediterranean country. Can we say that the same study conducted in the US would have had the same result?

3. The control group used in the study consumed a low fat diet, not a regular diet that most Spaniards ages 55-80 are used to. Maybe it’s the low fat diet that increased the chances of heart disease?


OK, now that we got this out of the way, let’s be clear: we most certainly advocate the dietary choices of the Mediterranean Diet. By way of reminder, this means:

  • less red meat, more fish
  • less saturated fats, more healthy fats from nuts and olive oil
  • more vegetables and fruits
  • red wine

Most of this advice has been around for a long time. If you are having trouble switching to this kind of diet, may we suggest an easy first step when it comes to snack time?

Start by swapping out some of your chocolate candy snacks with nuts. Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans – whatever tickles your fancy. Mixes too. You can buy them for cheap in bulk. Make sure to have a portion or two ziplocked in your bag for when you get the munchies.


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8 Health Benefits of Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a white, flowering, cruciferous vegetable (other cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, cabbage, and bok choy). Vegetables in this family have been found to have a multitude of medicinal benefits.

Here are 8 health benefits of cauliflower that may make you want to include it in your diet on a regular basis.

Cancer Prevention
A diet high in cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower has been been linked to a significant reduction in the risk of cancer, especially prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, and bladder cancer. One Canadian study found that eating a half cup of cauliflower per day reduced the risk of prostate cancer by 52%.

Better Digestion
Cauliflower is a great source of dietary fiber, which is essential for optimal digestion. When you get enough fiber in your diet, it helps to keep things moving smoothly through the intestines. Cauliflower also contains a compound called glucoraphin, which protects your stomach and intestines from certain health conditions such as cancer and ulcers.


Antioxidants
Cauliflower contains a high amount of antioxidants, which are essential for the body’s overall health and help to prevent heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Antioxidants are also essential in destroying free radicals that accelerate the signs of aging.

Anti-Inflammatory
Because of the omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K in cauliflower, it helps to prevent chronic inflammation that leads to conditions such as arthritis, chronic pain, and certain bowel conditions.

Pregnancy
Cauliflower provides a good amount of folate (B9), a B vitamin that is necessary for a healthy pregnancy. Folate deficiency in pregnant women can lead to problems such as birth defects and low birth weight.

B Vitamins
In addition to folate, cauliflower is also loaded with other important B vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and thiamine.

Heart Health
Cauliflower protects from heart disease in many ways. It contains allicin, which has been found to reduce the occurrence of stroke and heart disease. Additionally, cauliflower can help to lower cholesterol levels in the body.

Weight Loss
Cauliflower is a great food to include in your diet if you’re dieting because it’s low in calories and can be used in a variety of ways. Try grating the cauliflower into a “rice” and using it in stir-fries instead of regular rice. You can also boil cauliflower and mash it into a healthier version of mashed potatoes. 

Published on November 9, 2011                        source: Healthdiaries.com


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19 Healthy Snacks for Kids

Your kids are going to snack. Here’s how to make it healthier:

By Elizabeth M. Ward, MS, RD
WebMD Feature      Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

Kids are snacking more than ever, and as a parent, you’ve got the power to make those snacks helpful.

Yes, they’re getting extra calories from snacks. And yes, snacks are often too sugary.

Still, some snacking can be good for children — within limits.

“Kids, especially younger ones, have erratic eating habits, and healthy snacks can fill in nutrition gaps,” says Maryann Jacobsen, RD.

Snacking can help kids keep their energy up, make up for skimpy or skipped breakfasts, and provide fuel before after-school sports or other activities.

Think of snacks as mini meals

Most of the time, feed your child the same types of foods you would at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including low-fat dairy and other lean protein sources, such as eggs, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Good snacks provide carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and some healthy fat. Generally speaking, foods rich in protein or fiber help kids stay fuller for longer, and they’re packed with the nutrients kids need to thrive.  

There’s debate about how many calories a child’s snack should provide, but it makes sense to aim for about 100 calories for smaller children, to upwards of 300 calories for active teenagers. Let your child’s hunger rule what he or she eats.


19 Simple, Do-It-Yourself Snacks

Making your own snacks to have at home or take with you is usually your best, most budget-friendly choice. Try these:

  1. A small amount of guacamole or low-fat bean dip, and baked snack chips or toasted whole wheat pita bread, broken into chips
  2. Low-fat microwave popcorn tossed with Parmesan cheese
  3. Trail mix ingredients: 1/4 cup each: whole-grain cereal, raisins or dried cranberries, and 2 tablespoons each: sunflower seeds or chopped nuts
  4. Low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt topped with fresh fruit
  5. Snack size (8 ounce) box of low-fat plain or chocolate milk and whole wheat pretzels
  6. Whole-grain crackers, string cheese, and mango slices
  7. Cooked or raw vegetables with low-fat ranch dressing, and a hard-boiled egg
  8. Instant oatmeal made with milk in the microwave with 1 teaspoon cocoa powder stirred in and topped with sliced raspberries or strawberries
  9. Whole-wheat pretzels with peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter
  10. Cherry chocolate smoothie: Combine 1 cup low-fat milk, 1/2 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt, 1/2 cup frozen or fresh pitted cherries, and 2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth
  11. Bowl of whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk
  12. Edamame
  13. Small container of low-fat Greek yogurt
  14. Mini bagel spread with low-fat cream cheese and strawberry jam, and low-fat milk
  15. Hummus and whole wheat pita chips
  16. Half a sandwich and glass of orange juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D
  17. Slice of pizza
  18. Hard-boiled egg and whole-grain roll
  19. Pistachios in the shell and glass of chocolate milk


Be a Choosy Snacker

What if other people offer your child less-than-nutritious foods?

“Teach kids to honor their hunger, and that they don’t always have to eat what’s offered to them,” says Jacobsen, who’s a mother of two.

Also, be a snack role model. What do your kids see you snacking on? As kids get older, they generally follow your lead, so choose your own snacks wisely.

source: webmd.com