February Nutrition Nuggets


In this months “Nutrition Nuggets” I will discuss recent studies for a longer, healthier life; brown apples; arsenic in your rice; France’s new law to fight obesity; another reason not to eat sugar; snacking & breakfast; & vitamin D3. Lots of good information! I am ending with a Nugget about healthy pasta that Alessandra sent me this morning.

This new study from England focused on the eating habits of 2 million people in various studies. Here are the results from pooling this information.  Fruit and veg: For a longer life eat 10-a-day Eating loads of fruit and vegetables – 10 portions a day – may give us longer lives, say researchers. The study, by Imperial College London, calculated such eating habits could prevent 7.8 million premature deaths each year. The team also identified specific fruit and veg that reduced the risk of cancer and heart disease.

The analysis showed even small amounts had a health boon, but more is even better. A portion counts as 80g (3oz) of fruit or veg – the equivalent of a small banana, a pear or three heaped tablespoons of spinach or peas. The conclusions were made by pooling data on 95 separate studies, involving two million people’s eating habits.

Lower risks of cancer were linked to eating: No surprise here 🙂

  • green veg (eg spinach)
  • yellow veg (eg peppers)
  • cruciferous vegetables (eg cauliflower).

Lower risks of heart disease and strokes were linked to eating: Or here.

  • apples
  • pears
  • citrus fruits
  • salads
  • green leafy vegetables (eg lettuce)
  • cruciferous veg

The article concludes that 5 portions a day, one portion being 3 ounces of fruit or veg, have health benefits, but more increases those benefits. The last thought is:Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “The five-a-day target is the foundation of a healthy balanced diet and is an achievable way to help prevent a number of diseases. “Whilst consuming more than five portions of fruit and vegetables a day may be desirable… adding pressure to consume more fruit and vegetables creates an unrealistic expectation.”  We don’t need more stress over our diets 🙂 Very good article.

This next article sort of irritated me. Consumers have come to expect the perfect, blemish free, piece of fruit or vegetable in their grocery stores. Because of this expectation…GMO apples that never brown could hit stores soon  For a select few apple lovers in the US, a Golden Delicious slice will no longer turn brown as the first genetically modified apples are expected to go on sale early next month.

A small amount of Arctic brand sliced and packaged Golden Delicious apples, produced by Okanagan Specialty Fruits in British Columbia, Canada, will hit the shelves of 10 stores in the Midwest in February and March, Neal Carter, the company’s founder and president, told the agricultural news website Capital Press. Arctic’s website lists the apples as being available early this year in some test markets. 🙁 🙁

As the article states, apples turning brown does not mean they are rotten. It is just an oxygenated process that is natural. I wasn’t aware that stores or producers spray apples with chemicals to delay the apple from becoming brown. That is just wrong. This company thinks that a GMO apple would be welcomed because it wouldn’t be sprayed with toxic chemicals. Read the article for more information.

I will stick with my organically grown apples. When sliced, I will either eat them right away; squirt lemon or lime juice on them; or sprinkle them with cinnamon to prevent browning. Tastes wonderful. My grandsons loved their apple slices that way in their lunch boxes. Have we become that lazy & picky that we need GMO fruits & vegetables to keep them looking fresh?

Arsenic in rice is in the news once more. I addressed this issue in a post on February 13th 2016, take a look at the information. I discussed the use of American grown rice as opposed to rice from Asia. The reason it is back in the news, one year later, is because of the rise in arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh. This is from contaminated drinking water. The concern is that rice is grown in flooded fields; exposing it to arsenic in the soil & in the contaminated water. Should I worry about arsenic in my rice?   This article is from the BBC News. It is about the need for stricter regulations regarding the acceptable levels of arsenic in rice imported into the UK. Very informative. 

from the Huffington Post:  Yes, There Is Arsenic In Your Rice. Here’s What You Need To Know  Yes, there is arsenic in your rice. Yes, arsenic is toxic. And it has been associated with lung, skin and bladder cancer, among other health concerns. And yes, even though it contains arsenic, you can still eat rice…..Consumer Reports suggests mixing up your grain consumption with other grains that are naturally lower in arsenic. Amaranth, buckwheat, millet and polenta have almost no levels of arsenic. Bulgur, barley, and farro have very low levels. And quinoa has less than rice…..You can also cook rice in a way that will remove some of the arsenic. While the modern technique of cooking rice in a limited amount water helps retain the most nutrition from the grain, it also retains the arsenic. Boiling the rice in a 6:1 water-to-rice ratio (sort of how you’d cook pasta), draining the excess water once cooked, has been shown to remove up to 60 percent of arsenic levels in rice. Rinsing before you cook can also reduce arsenic levels. In other words, flush the rice with lots of water.

Don’t freak out about eating rice. Your supposed to be eating a varied diet including different types of grains anyway. So your intake of rice would be in moderation. You can also do what I do, buy American grown rice; arsenic levels are much lower. It looks like this is going to make the headlines yearly!

We have seen a lot of attempts to fight obesity through legislation in the USA. So far none of them have worked. People protested against them because they don’t want to be told what & how much to eat. Reading the following article has made me think that France may have found reasonable solutions.

France Is Banning Unlimited Soda Refills to Fight Obesity  TIME: Tara John, Jan 30, 2017

France has banned restaurants from offering unlimited refills of soda and sugary drinks, the latest bid to decrease the rise in the nation’s obesity rate. This is good & notice it didn’t limit the size of the drink you order.

The new order, implemented on Jan. 27, will mean that hotels, restaurants and school cafeterias will no longer have soda fountains. The move is part of a spate of health initiatives implemented by the country, which includes a “soda tax” imposed on sweetened drinks, a ban on vending machines in schools and a limit on the servings of french fries to once a week in schools, the New York Times reports. Personally, I like all of these rules for the schools, hotels & restaurants. Especially for the schools. Sugar makes you sleepy & irritable when the “high” leads to a crash. 

Even though France’s overall obesity rate is relatively low—41% of women and 57% of men between 30 to 60 were obese or overweight—the laws are in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations. WHO presented statistics in 2016 on the good effects of imposing a sugar tax. If your interested in obesity rates in the USA, this link is very informative & up to date: Obesity Rates & Trends 

This is relatively new information from the University of Bath, UK, research study. Sugar’s “tipping point” link to Alzheimer’s disease revealed For the first time a “tipping point” molecular link between the blood sugar glucose and Alzheimer’s disease has been established by scientists, who have shown that excess glucose damages a vital enzyme involved with inflammation response to the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Abnormally high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycaemia, is well-known as a characteristic of diabetes and obesity, but its link to Alzheimer’s disease is less familiar.” This article is from the University of Bath & explains the study & it’s important findings. Another good reason to limit your added sugar intake.

What we eat is important. When and how often we eat is just as important. Here are 2 articles that explain what science has found.  What Science Says About Snacking and Breakfast  In a new Scientific Statement, experts from various committees of the American Heart Association say that paying attention to how often you eat, and at what time of the day you eat, can help to lower risk of heart attacks and stroke.

The panel reviewed all of the available studies on how often and when people eat. Based on what’s known so far, the panel, led by Marie-Pierre St-Onge, an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University, supports existing advice about the benefits of breakfast. That advice is based on studies that compare breakfast-eaters to non-eaters and their heart disease events. Breakfast-eaters tend to have lower rates of heart disease, and were also less likely to have high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. They also tended to have more normal blood sugar levels and sugar metabolism, meaning they were at lower risk of diabetes than those who didn’t eat breakfast. Still, the existing research isn’t strong enough yet to say that people who don’t normally eat breakfast should start—or that people who already do should expect to be heart-disease and diabetes-free for the rest of their lives. Eating breakfast does set the tone for the day. You begin with more energy that will last longer than if you had skipped the meal. 

Eating Breakfast — And Eating Mindfully — May Help The Heart  A new statement from the American Heart Association (AHA), looking back over past research, determines that the best advice is, in the end, probably to eat breakfast. But even larger than that, they suggest that we make sure to eat “mindfully,” rather than mindlessly. And this may be the first step in changing the bad eating habits that plague so many of us.

Included in this article is a list of what doctors should take into account. The AHA offers some more specific advice to doctors, which we can all take into account.

    • “Develop an intentional approach to eating,” the AHA suggests. Think about the timing and frequency of meals and snacks, and about how you define meals and snacks in the first place.
    • “Use planned meals and snacks,” spread out across the day. And, the authors add, “Link eating episodes to influence subsequent energy intake.” In other words, intentionally eat a healthy snack before a meal that could lead to an overeating episode, to reduce the odds that it does. Take a moment to think about this one. It is very good advice.
    • Try to distribute your calories over a certain portion of the day, for instance, between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. And the extension of this is to have consistent overnight fasting periods. Doing this counts as intermittent fasting.
    • Think about taking in a greater part of your total calories earlier in the day, which they say may reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
    • Think about including “intermittent fasting,” if you can, as a way to reduce calories and lose weight.
    • Use “added eating episodes to introduce a wider variety of healthful food options and to displace less healthful foods.” In other words, insert additional snacks or small meals—fruits and veggies and other healthy items—to leave less room for the other, unhealthier options we may be faced with. Portion control.

***If you have an interest…  Eight Must-Read Books on Mindful Eating  by Susan Albers Psy.D. My favorite is, Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung

This news from NPR/89.3KPCC is very welcome. More benefits for taking a Vitamin D3 supplement.  A bit more vitamin D might help prevent colds and flu  “It’s long been known that vitamin D helps protect our bones, but the question of whether taking vitamin D supplements or helps guard immunity has been more controversial. An analysis published Wednesday suggests the sunshine vitamin can help reduce the risk of respiratory infections, including colds and flu — especially among people who don’t get enough of the vitamin from diet or exposure to sunlight.Certain groups of people are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency,  including people with digestive disorders such as celiac disease and people who cover up most of their skin or get very little exposure to the sun. And pregnant and nursing women, as well as women with osteopenia or osteoporosis, often need more vitamin D to maintain bone health.

“People [at higher risk] should get tested,” Tello says. She says when a patient’s blood screening test shows levels of vitamin D, between 20 to 32 ng/ml, “I recommend that they take between 1,000 and 2,000 International Units of vitamin D daily, indefinitely.” The Institute of Medicine says that adults shouldn’t take more than 4,000 IU a day.” Cancer patients should be tested too. My recommendation has been that everyone should be taking vitamin D3, 2000 IU’s, daily. 

Our Dr. Zumba, Alessandra, sent me this post by Dr. Weil: Love Pasta? 5 Tips For Making It Healthier! Always good to end on a yummy, yet healthy note! “Quality carbohydrates are an essential part of a balanced, healthful diet. If pasta is your go-to carb, there are ways to take advantage of this low-cost food to make it even healthier:” Go to the link to see the entire list. My favorites are:

  • Cook pasta only until it is al dente (barely tender). When it is cooked this way, it achieves a lower glycemic index than fully cooked pasta because the pulverized grain comes apart slowly in the stomach. (Low-glycemic-load carbohydrates should be the bulk of your carbohydrate intake to help minimize rapid rises in blood glucose levels.)
  • Aim for two to three servings per week. One serving is equal to about 1/2 cup cooked pasta, which is far less than the amount Americans typically eat. Don’t you just love being told to eat pasta 🙂

Until next week….Mary 🙂