Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

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Vegetables and Fruits. What are we eating?

How does your intake compare? Where is the broccoli?



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Good News About Fruits and Vegetables


You have heard this before, but this time it involves reducing cancer risks.  It may not be as hard as you think to get some benefit.


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Think Purple for the New Year?

fruitBy definition, anthocyanins are a group of compounds of the flavonoid family of polyphenols which produce purple and red pigments in fruits and vegetables. They are potent antioxidants and may protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other diseases and conditions in which oxidative damage is important. Foods high in anthocyanins include blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, black currants, red currants, cherries, and purple grapes. Here are a few new ones to watch for in 2017.


For more general information from a previous post on polyphenols, CLICK HERE 

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The Power of Phytochemicals

Colorful vegetables and fruits

By Sally J. Feltner, PhD, RDN

When we hear the familiar advice “eat more fruits and vegetables” one may think initially that the reason is that these foods are loaded with vitamins and minerals. This is true, but there may be more to the story. They also are filled with compounds called phytochemicals derived from the Greek word, “phyton” meaning plants. Phytochemicals are compounds that include at least hundreds of biologically active non-nutriitious chemicals that confer potential health benefits not only to the plant but also to humans. Phytochemicals can often act as natural pesticides that help plants protect themselves from insects pests.

Some of healthy benefits offered by eating an array of colorful fruits and vegetables can include:

  • Carotenoids – some provide vitamin A and others function as antioxidant protection against free radical damage. They are found in orange and red -colored fruits and vegetables and leafy greens.
  • Flavonoids make capillary blood vessels stronger, block carcinogens and slow the growth of cancer cells. They are found in berries, citrus fruits, purple grapes, green tea and chocolate.
  • Indoles and isothiocynates increase the activity of enzymes that deactivate carcinogens, alter estrogen metabolism and affect gene expression. They are found in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage
  • Sulfides and allium compounds deactivate carcinogens, kill bacteria, protect against heart disease and are found in onions, garlic, leeks and chives.
  • Phytoestrogens decrease cholesterol absorption, reduce the risk of colon cancer by slowing the growth of cancer cells. They are found in soy, tofu, soybeans, soy milk, flax seed and rye bread.
  • Sulforaphane detoxifies carcinogens, protect animals from breast cancer, and is found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.

Keep these compounds in mind whenever you are enjoying nutritious colorful fruits and vegetables. Bon appétit!!


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Washing Fresh Produce?

English: Romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. ...

English: Romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. longifolia). Français : Laitue romaine (Lactuca sativa var. longifolia). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fresh produce is one of the most common sources for food-borne illnesses.  Everyone usually washes lettuce but how about other fruits and vegetables?  By the way, it is not recommended to rewash bagged lettuce.  Check out this handy guide.  I buy romaine heads of lettuce instead of bagged lettuce, so you can wash each individual leaf effectively.