Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

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What Does America Think About Diet and Health?

The most current survey about what Americans think about diet, nutrition and health was conducted by the International Food Information Council and the results are in. Most surprising to me was that most surveyed trusted government advice; however, some of the this advice is thought by some “experts” to be partially to blame for our current obesity and diabetes dilemma. Nevertheless, Americans are interested in obtaining quality advice but the problem is that it is for the most part still contradicting and confusing.




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The Mediterranean Diet and Cancer Prevention


The Mediterranean Diet scores again – this  time with cancer prevention. In the 1980’s, cancer prevention and diet were hot topics. It was thought at the time that specific nutrients were the key to affecting cancer rates. Examples included omega-3 fatty acids  and individual nutrients, namely beta carotene, and vitamin E were the favorite “supernutrients” of the era. However, disappointing results occurred and the use of beta carotene and vitamin E supplements actually were found to promote certain cancers than protect against them.

More research has correctly centered around the use of diet scores that compare adherence to certain diet patterns like the Mediterranean diet or the DASH diet and cancer prevention as well as other chronic diseases. For the latest results, CLICK HERE.


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A Brief Guide to a Healthy Diet

Having trouble deciding how to improve your diet?  No wonder with all the conflicting and confusing information and misinformation in the media. Relax and begin with this simple advice from Harvard. BTW, no need to try another detox approach.  Bon appétit!!!!



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Another Reason for Increasing Vegetables in Your Diet?

Dementia and cognitive decline are becoming more of a public health issue as our population ages. Recent data show adults continue to consume too few fruits and vegetables; overall, 12.2% met fruit intake recommendations and 9.3% met vegetable intake recommendations during 2015. Consumption was lower among men, young adults, and adults with greater poverty. I may add that most of the favored choices of vegetables  in the U.S. are potatoes (starchy) followed by tomatoes (not exactly green or leafy). Scientifically speaking the tomato is a fruit. However, FYI, Nix v. Hedden, 149 U.S. 304 (1893), was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that, under U.S. customs regulations, the tomato should be classified as a vegetable rather than a fruit.

A recent study published in Neurology reported that consuming more non-starchy  leafy greens and cruciferous (broccoli and cauliflower) vegetables had a preventive effect on mental decline in an older population (average age was 81).  However, any increase in any vegetable intake appears to be one of the smartest thing you can do for your heart and/or brain. It also helps to tailor your diet to a more plant-based approach.


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Fabulous Fiber

The debate over the benefits of dietary fiber has lingered for many decades.  By itself, it doesn’t provide any vitamins and minerals and is not broken down or absorbed in the digestive tract as are  other nutrients.  However, fiber is found in foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans (legumes) and grains that do provide us with the essential nutrients we need. So it rides along with these nutrients.

Fiber is classified as soluble and insoluble  but most foods contain a mixture of both types.

Good sources of soluble fiber: legumes, prunes,  apricots, raisins, oranges, bananas, oats, apples, eggplant, flax seed

Good sources of insoluble fiber: wheat bran, whole-wheat bread, broccoli, corn, eggplant, apple skins, nuts and seeds

How much do we need?  For young men the recommendation is 38 grams/day and for young women, 25 grams a day. Consider this example:

“Eating a bowl of Raisin Bran with a 1/2 cup of strawberries for breakfast, a sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce and tomatoes and an apple for lunch, eggplant Parmesan for dinner, and popcorn for a snack will provide about 25 grams.” Smolin and Grosvenor, Nutrition, Science and Applications, Third Edition.

Based on diet analyses I have seen, the average daily intake is only about 9-11 grams a day.

So you can see that it is not easy to get enough fiber that is best explained in the linked article below.

What does it actually do for us?


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Here’s to Health?

Everyone wants to eat “healthier.”  The hype is often promoted by the food industry with heath claims on all their products they can possibly get away with. But what is the truth? No one knows for sure, but there are some foods that have gained this reputation with some degree of respect. Here they are.


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Cancer Prevention Diet: What We Think We Know


There is much discussion about the merits of plant-based diets. The basis of cancer prevention involves not only a diet full of vitamins and minerals but also loaded with phytochemicals (plant chemicals with chemoprevention properties).

For example, it has been hypothesized that a diet rich in flax seed, cruciferous vegetables, and fruits and vegetables in general could significantly reduce the risk of breast, colon, prostate, lung and other cancers. Nutrition and Cancer: A review of the evidence for an anti-cancer diet. Nutrition Journal 3:19-30, 2004.

A few easy ways to increase phytochemicals in your diet is to:

  • Double your typical serving of vegetables.
  • Sprinkle flax seed on your oatmeal or cereal.
  • Try a new fruit or vegetable each week.