FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health


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The Nutrition of Tomatoes

Grape Tomatoes

Tomatoes have quite a history. Tomatoes are actually a fruit botanically, but in 1893, they were legally named a vegetable by the U.S. Supreme Court. That is because most people use them as vegetables. Until about the 16th century they were thought to be poisonous since they are members of the nightshade family that also contains toxic bittersweet and black henbane.  In the 1700’s, tomatoes were brought back to America after being taken to Spain from South and Central America where the Aztecs first cultivated it.

Cooked tomatoes provide more of the phytochemical, lycopene that has been studied for its effects on prostate cancer risks. The study found that when men ate more than 10 servings a week of tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato juice  and even pizza they had  47 percent fewer prostate cancers than men who only ate fewer than two servings a week. If tomatoes have anticancer properties, they are best consumed with a little fat because the lycopene is better absorbed. There is strong evidence that it may help prevent lung and stomach cancers.

There are other phytochemicals in tomatoes that act as antioxidants that may fight disease like lutein for healthy eyes and vision. it may prevent macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the elderly population.

Try to buy vine-ripened tomatoes whenever possible since they tend to taste better. Some are picked green and ripened artificially with ethylene gas that affects the taste. Due to its membership in the nightshade family, they contain a compound called solanine that may aggravate arthritis is some people. For those people, it is suggested that they avoid tomatoes for a while to see if the arthritis is affected. In addition, it you have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) commonly known as heartburn, you may be bothered by the acid content of tomatoes.

Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C as well as vitamin K and A, vitamin B6, folate, fiber, manganese, chromium, and potassium.

Although canned tomatoes  offer many nutrients, the appeal of the homegrown fresh tomato in the summertime cannot be challenged for the ultimate flavor of this popular fruit; I mean “vegetable”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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The Complications of A Stomach Bug

danger zone

Food-borne illness may sometimes can result in lifelong complications.  Some people think they cause a few days of misery and then it’s over. Fortunately, for most people, that can be true. However, for others, the effects can be devastating. Therefore, it provides all  the more reason to be aware of the risks and practice food safety practices at home. See a previous post HERE.

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Epigenetics and the Microbiome?

Methylation of DNA in Epigenetics

Methylation of DNA in Epigenetics

Epigenetics is a relatively new approach on how the our environment affects our DNA, mainly  the expression of our genes.  The way diet affects our health may be through the many species of bacteria that live in our intestines or microbiome. See a previous post on epigenetics HERE. and the microbiome HERE.

For new research on the association between the two:

CLICK HERE


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Say Cheese?

american cheese

Using the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) reports, “Since 1970, Americans have gone from 8 pounds per person per year to 23 pounds.” of cheese. Other estimates say that number was 35 pounds/person in 2015. If you think about it, we put cheese on and in almost anything – burgers, sandwiches, pizza (of course) as a topping and now part of the crust, pastas, chips, dips, etc. etc. Picture the cheese aisles in the supermarket. For a comprehensive article all about cheese:

CLICK HERE


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The Low Processed Food Diet?

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When one looks at the diets of the world, we find that some stand out as part of a healthy lifestyle more than others.  Although these are simply observations of populations or cultures with a history of longevity and low rates of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancers, there are lessons to be learned.  There is merit in looking at these traditional ways of eating that often get lost in the mire of diet advice.  However, they seem  to have one common characteristic – there is hardly any that includes the consumption of highly processed foods.  I know, all foods are processed to an extent, but what we’re talking about here is what they should be called- ultra-processed foods defined as: “Formulations of several ingredients which, besides salt, sugar, oils, and fats, include food substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular, flavors, colors, sweeteners, emulsifiers and other additives used to imitate sensorial qualities of unprocessed or minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations or to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product.” More than half of all the calories consumed in the Standard American Diet (SAD) is provided by these foods.

So the bottom line for heath:  To borrow  from Michael Pollan’s famous advice: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”, we can just simply say: “Eat real food, not too much, mostly unprocessed or minimally processed.

CLICK HERE.


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Obesity Bias?

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Obesity is probably the least understood “disease” of human physiology.The advice for its cure such “eat less and move more” apparently is over simplistic and does not work for all those afflicted. Even when weight loss is achieved, a great majority regain their loss and some even weigh more than before they lost the weight. It is proposed that repeated dieting lowers our metabolism with each attempt, making it even harder to lose the weight with the next attempt.  Fat shaming does occur at work, in schools, and even in the medical field.  Many people feel uncomfortable seeing their doctor or health practitioner because they too can imply that their weight problem is their own fault. The solution? Presently, I don’t think anyone knows exactly what to do about it. We may just need an attitude adjustment such as those who promote fat acceptance. However, that approach does not solve the problem. More awareness of the problem may help and prevention may be the key.  For a long read but very informative article on this topic, CLICK HERE. For a shorter discussion: CLICK HERE.