Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

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What’s Better Than Butter?

Butter Is Back? Again?

Butter has been in the controversial column of nutrition advice for decades. When saturated fat and cholesterol were claimed to not be as strong a factor in heart disease a few years ago,  butter activists celebrated the headlines  – “Butter is Back.”  However, there are still some cautions when it comes to butter. Let’s face it – butter still contains saturated fat that raises the “bad” LDL – cholesterol in the blood. Sorry, butter lovers. The following article gives you more choices when deciding to stick with butter or choosing another alternative.

Another thing to remember. Extra virgin olive oil does not raise blood LDL cholesterol and may contain some healthy polyphenols as well.  Yogurt is the best dairy choice (if it is not loaded with sugar).


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The recent gluten-free food fad has some nutritionists concerned. When people eat gluten-free foods, they may be missing some important nutrients. It is generally recommended that if you do not have celiac disease, you do not need to avoid gluten. However, some people have given up wheat and other grains due to a real or perceived benefit. Many report that their digestive symptoms improve or “they just feel better.” Non-celiac gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance has been suggested but as yet there is no definitive test for its diagnosis.

Research has shown that avoiding FODMAPS can help people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Wheat and other grains (rye, barley) (containing gluten) are sources of fructans that aggravate symptoms of IBS. So it is advised to eliminate these grains for a time from the diet to see if symptoms improve. See a previous post HERE.

If you choose gluten-free foods, you should definitely read the Nutrition Facts Panel as well as the ingredient lists.


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What is a Healthy Diet? An Update

The following post is an excellent source for links to the discussion of healthy diets.  It is a brief summary of what nutrition science “knows” at the present time.


For the complete discussion found in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (March, 2017), click HERE. It is a long article; however, it provides a lot of details on the latest recommendations about “healthy” diets and the research behind them. It can be read as a PDF.

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The Brain and Sweeteners?

The headlines screamed “diet soda” but the studies also included some disturbing results from sugary drinks, too. There is an inexpensive, widely available, low calorie alternative – it is called water. In other words, the advice often given is “don’t drink your calories”.

There is no doubt that these studies require further research to establish reproducible results  and to further elucidate on what is happening to the brain in the presence of natural and/or artificial sweeteners.


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Preventing Bacterial Contamination on Produce

A Bacterial Superbug

Food safety is a very important aspect of nutrition education that is often ignored Since most produce is not cooked and eaten raw, it has unfortunately  become a source for bacterial contamination. The article gives some practical advice on how to avoid food poisoning from produce sources.


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The Nordic Diet? Is it Healthy?

The traditional diets rich in butter, meat, potatoes and cream of the Nordic countries are changing and so is the health profiles of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. Fruit and vegetable intake was low due the lack of availability and short growing seasons.

  • In Finland, a national public health program resulted in heart disease mortality that plummeted 55 percent among men and nearly 70 percent among women.
  • In Norway, deaths from heart disease have declined sharply by 40 percent in the 40 to 49 years old age group  since the late 1970’s.
  • Life expectancy has increased in Sweden continues to rise. Cancer rates remain significantly less of a threat in this geographical area according to World Health Organization statistics.

Could their diet changes be one of the factors responsible? Take a look at the Nordic Diet.


Check out a previous post on this diet HERE.