Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

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GMO Labeling?

Public relations of high-fructose corn syrup

GM foods have been in the news a lot lately due to the global protests against them and  Monsanto this past weekend.  No one can conclusively say whether they are safe or not and most articles are biased one way or the other – so it’s hard to know the real truth.

In my opinion, GMO ingredients should be labeled.  We have sugar-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, preservative-free, high-fructose corn syrup-free.   Why not GMO-free?  GMO labelling is also a means to avoid glyphosate – a herbicide used in GMO farming that in some studies has been reported to be carcinogenic but the overall conclusions are inconclusive. Concerned consumers have a right to know what is in their food as it looks like this debate will continue for some time.


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How to Add Vegetables and Fruits to Your Diet

Various fruits and vegetables for sale at Pike...

Various fruits and vegetables for sale at Pike Place Market, Seattle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are some sensible and easy ways to increase your fruit and vegetable intake.    I particularly like roasting them, but they do best with a light tossing of extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper or any dried herbl before roasting.



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Get Ready, Meat Industry – The DGs are Coming Soon

"Meat Market" sign, Kenner, Louisian...

“Meat Market” sign, Kenner, Louisiana, 1938 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The meat industry is not happy with the 2015 Dietary Guidelines planned to be released soon.  We shall see if the committee stands by their original recommendations after overwhelming interest via public comment and of course, influence from politics and the food industry.


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It’s Calories, Calories!

English: USA snack Nestlé Crunch美國原產雀巢公司巧克力 Ca...

English: USA snack Nestlé Crunch美國原產雀巢公司巧克力 Category:Nestlé Crunch Category:Plastic bags Category:Snack foods of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The myth of “Move More” for successful weight loss without calorie restriction is addressed in this excellent article. This simple explanation seems paltry compared to the complexities of weight loss from both internal and external factors like hormones and the food environment, respectively.

In my opinion, we seem to ignore our habit of snacking in this country (USA) and from the looks of the snack aisles in the supermarket, it becomes obvious. Do we include that bag of chips when we try to keep a food diary? – maybe no.  We have chips, cookies, snack bars, energy bars, crackers, etc., most with added sugar.  Some are made for portability (small packages) so we can take them wherever we go. Snacking leads to mindless eating habits and calories add up.

Again, we turn to the French population who traditionally did not snack or diet.  They have enjoyed one of the lower obesity rates in the world although that is changing due to infiltration of Western foods.   Isn’t there a message there?


Some of the traditions they practice include:

  • They do not formally diet – if they eat too much one day, they eat less or skip a meal the next day.
  • Meals are generally light and portions are small.
  • Although they are known for eating rich foods like pastries and cheeses, they enjoy these foods occasionally, maybe once in two weeks. Emphassis is placed on quality, not quantity.
  • They prefer the real stuff – butter and sugar in small amounts, of course.  Artificial sweeteners are not widely used.
  • They prefer walking to workouts for their exercise needs.


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What is So Great About Broccoli?

English: its broccoli

English: its broccoli (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is so great about broccoli? Many kids  cringe at the sight of these fabulous little “trees”; George H. W. Bush made national headlines with his declaration for his disdain of it.   However,  its reputation still remains as one of the healthiest vegetables on earth.

Why is this veggie so healthy? Let us take a look at what is in it and what the research shows.

Broccoli belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables that also includes kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, collard greens, rutabaga, and turnips.

Broccoli ranks among the top 20 foods when assessed by the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) score that measures vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient content in relation to caloric content.

So what does it provide in terms of nutrients? One cup of cooked broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse. It contains 2 cups of protein, 2 grams of fiber, 288 mg of potassium, 43 mg of calcium, 81 mg of vitamin C, 92 mcg of vitamin K plus folate, magnesium, phosphorus, beta-carotene, vitamin A, and 1,277 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin (members of the carotene family)

To make it even better, the Environmental Working Group, a consumer advocate and protection nonprofit research organization included broccoli on a list of twelve foods least contaminated with pesticides.

Broccoli has the potential of being a cancer fighter. It is rich in anticancer phytochemicals called isothiocyanates. They work against cancer by neutralizing carcinogens and reduce their toxic effects by stimulating the release of compounds that speed up carcinogen removal from the body. Studies have reported that these photochemicals help prevent lung, esophageal, gastrointestinal and breast cancers.

Broccoli  contains other cancer fighting substances, one of which is indoles, namely indole-3-carbonol. This particular one increases the ratio of the “good” benign estrogen metabolites to the potentially harmful ones that have carcinogenic properties. So broccoli can play a major role in breast cancer in women and men.

Another well studied phytochemical in broccoli is sulforaphane. This compound activates and induces phase-2 enzymes that fight carcinogens. Phase-2 enzymes may reduce the risk of prostate, melanoma and pancreatic cancers.

Sulphoraphane can also inhibit an enzyme (called histone deacetylase (HDAC) known to be involved in cancer cell progression. One study of 66,940 women found that those who had the highest inake of another cancer fighter, flavonoid quercetin (also in broccoli) had a 25% reduced risk of ovarian cancer when compared with those consuming the least.

The antioxidants (vitamin C, beta carotene), potassium and folate in broccoli also help protect against cardiovascular disease.

Since broccoli and its cousin, Brussels sprouts, are often named as people’s least favorite vegetables, try these ways to incorporate it into your diet.

  • Sauté chopped broccoli drizzled with olive oil, cracked black pepper and minced garlic. Steaming is not ideal since covering it in cooking causes retention of sulfurous-smelling compounds, which offends some tastes.
  • I sauté florets with butter and anchovy paste (you cannot taste the anchovies- promise).
  • Chop raw broccoli and add to your next wrap
  • Top your flatbread or pizza with chopped broccoli before roasting
  • Make your own pesto or pasta sauce and add broccoli.
  • Raw florets can be added to salads or dipped in plain yogurt or ranch dip.



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Health Food Imposters?

English: Veggie burger

These foods are promoted as being healthy, but really do not measure up to their claims.  Most of these foods are over-processed, loaded with sugar or salt and ingredients one cannot pronounce.  Please note the healthier alternatives, many of which are cheaper.  Click on “Launch Gallery” for details.



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