Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

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Dieting Fatigue?

It appears that interest in weight loss is waning. People want to embrace a more positive approach to food, diets and dieting instead of obsessing about weight loss. They are becoming more involved in food and healthy lifestyles instead. This a plus for the concept of Health At Every Size approach.  Good news.


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How About Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil is appearing on the supermarket shelves after a long hiatus.  Its health claims range from curing Alzheimer’s disease to weight loss and antibacterial properties. Until we know more for sure about these claims, here’s some good advice on how  to use it in your diet. It is best to use organic, virgin oil rather than the refined brands.


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Eggs: Yes or No?


Since the1960’s we have been advised to limit our egg consumption for the simple reason that one egg has over 200 mg. of cholesterol. However, the latest official advice on cholesterol states that the cholesterol coming from the diet does not play a major role in blood cholesterol. In other words, even if you don’t eat any cholesterol, your liver will make all you need. When some people eat cholesterol, their liver production slows and blood levels do not rise; for others that do not regulate cholesterol as well, dietary cholesterol may increase blood cholesterol. However, the increase is typically due to increases in both HDL (“healthy”) and “unhealthy” LDL cholesterol.

Bottom Line: Currently, the vast majority of epidemiological studies do not find a relationship between dietary cholesterol or egg consumption and cardiovascular disease. Many factors affect blood cholesterol more than dietary cholesterol, such as physical activity, body weight, intake of saturated and trans fat, heredity, age, and sex.

Eggs are part of the Mediterranean diet associated with good cardiovascular health. One large egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein and are low in cholesterol-raising saturated fat. They are a good source of zinc, B vitamins, vitamin A and iron.

The yolk is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals that help protect against macular degeneration and cataracts. There is research to suggest eggs may help to weight maintenance. A recent study reports that people who eat an egg-based breakfast ate less calories during the day than people eating a bagel-based breakfast.


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Blue Zones

blue-zonesA lecture (19 minutes) about The Blue Zones from the author, Dan Buettner  Forget the hype and headlines, the real truth lies somewhere in these cultures that exhibit health and the greatest longevity in the world. There is an excellent summary, so click on nine commonalities attributed to longevity at the end of the article.


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Taco Bell Gets It!


Let’s face it – fast food is here to stay. However, in order to change our food culture for the better, we need to include all of our food sources – the food industry and the restaurant industry.  That is a big order, but Taco Bell is seemingly leading the pack.  Kudos to them – you can still get your traditional Taco Bell food, but now there are more options if you’re looking for a more nutritious choice.  Give them a try? Hope the trend continues?


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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!!