FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health


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Pesticides and Fertility

 

Strawberries provide lots of good nutrition and can be cancer fighters.

Pesticide residues may not be that important for everyone; however, women who are trying to become pregnant may want to be careful when choosing fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, some recent reports have found that pesticides may also adversely  affect the brains of growing fetuses and young children.

You may want to choose organic versions of some of the most contaminated. Organic produce may still contain some pesticide residues but would certainly be better choices under  these circumstances. In these cases, you may want to consult the list of the “dirty dozen” put out by the Environmental Working Group.

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How to Have a Very, Very Happy Thanksgiving


I wish everyone a Happy Thankful Thanksgiving to enjoy the wonderful food we all know and have loved for decades. However, the holiday can be so much better  when we know the foods we are eating are as safe as possible. As a microbiology person, I can’t help but remind everyone to follow some simple rules for not only a Happy Holiday but also be aware of  food safety from purchase to leftovers. Providing a Thanksgiving dinner for family or friends can be hectic and it is easy to make mistakes, for  example, forgetting about cross-contamination of foods in the kitchen. And with more helpers and distractions in the kitchen,  the risks can become even  unintentionally more common. Nevertheless, if you practice common sense food safety rules from purchase to leftovers,  you will have a very, very Happy Holiday.

Bon appétit and enjoy.

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Pesticide Residue Free? About 50%

  1. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the FDA and the USDA share the responsibility for limiting exposure to pesticides in the food supply. The EPA sets tolerances while the FDA and USDA monitor pesticide residues in both domestic and imported foods. In general, the amounts of pesticides we are exposed to through foods are very small. The USDA’ s Pesticide Data Program has found no more than 1% of samples with residues above established EPA tolerances. Since the dose matters, repeated consumption of any one pesticide could be harmful; this is unlikely since most people consume a variety of foods produced using many different pesticides. Newer pesticides are less toxic and more effective in smaller doses than many of the older  ones. New methods of controlling pests involve the use more natural occurring substances like microorganisms that control pests.  Smoler and Grosvenor, Nutrition: Science and Applications, Third Edition.

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A Story of Listeriosis

The stories of foodborne illnesses are never “pretty.”  However, it is sometimes necessary to read the personal stories of how pathogens can affect our lives in perhaps more ways than just a couple of days of digestive upsets. Listeria bacteria can get into a food processing plant where they can live there for years, sometimes contaminating food products. This is why we see so many food recalls involving Listeria monocytogenes contamination in our food supply. The bacteria can also live at refrigerated temperatures.

L. monocytogenese affects mainly pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and adults with impaired immune systems. Babies can be born with listeriosis if their mothers eat contaminated food during pregnancy. There are about 1600 people affected each year and about 260 cases are fatal. Healthy people rarely get the infection.

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More Glyphosate News?

The news continues to warn about the extensive use of glyphosate. While its carcinogenicity still remains to be determined, there are other health concerns about its extensive use. There are so many questions and biases  about the production and use of the herbicide from both sides of the  issue. Have the research findings been suppressed by the industry? Have they have been altered by the corporations that produce it? That depends on which side one believes. It is extremely hard to find an unbiased opinion about an important topic regarding our food supply.

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For more news about Ben & Jerry ice cream, click HERE.


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Are Fish Oil Supplements Helpful?

 

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Since the 1980’s, the benefits of fish oil has been a hot nutrition topic. I was a graduate student at the time and my research involved the hypothesis that omega-3 fatty acids (as menhaden oil) would suppress breast cancer tumors when compared to omega-6 fatty acids (as corn oil) in rats. Previous research had suggested that there was enough evidence to warrant the study. Bottom Line: There were no significant differences in tumor formation even when rats were fed high or low menhaden or corn oil diets. This was a surprising finding at the time; therefore, the study was replicated the next year and results were the same. At the present time, further research has shown some promising results in breast cancer research, but some studies with omega-3 fats in humans have been inconclusive.

Since then fish oil (omega-3) fats have been extensively studied in a wide range of afflictions to see if any beneficial effects occurred. This interest was a boon for the supplement industry due to the sale of fish oil capsules that still continues to this day. How effective have fish oil supplements been in supporting some of the health claims that have been made?

First of all, it is important to know the article does not pertain to eating fatty fish high in omega-3 fats. The picture becomes very complicated when it come to fish oil capsules. The news is both good and bad; the research is both positive and negative. The best takeaway is to be careful of the quality of fish oil capsules you choose. The article suggests that fish oil be of pharmaceutical grade so read labels carefully. However, this term is not regulated or clearly defined so it may be meaningless according to ConsumerLab.com.  If you take fish oil capsules, this article is a must read. Then talk it over with your doctor as to whether fish oil supplementation is for you.

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