Vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber, and health-conscious consumers naturally want to know how to get the most nutritional impact from these powerful foods. “Nutritionally, there are pluses and minuses to cooking vegetables,” says Helen Rasmussen, PhD, RD, a senior research dietitian at Tufts’ Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. For example, cooking carrots reduces levels of vitamin C (which plays an important role in maintaining collagen, the glue that holds cells together) but increases availability of beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A (which plays an important role in vision, reproduction, bone growth, and regulating the immune system).
Reduced Concentration. Some nutrients will be lost in any cooking method. “Some vitamins are not very stable,” says Rasmussen. “The longer a food is exposed to heat, the more vitamin C levels are reduced, for example.” The concentration of some nutrients is particularly affected by cooking in water. “Vitamin C and B vitamins are water soluble, as are certain phytochemicals, like flavonoids,” says Jeffrey B. Blumberg, PhD, a research professor at Tufts’ Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. “They leach out into water when the vegetables are boiled.” Blumberg recommends eating produce high in these nutrients (like broccoli, kale, and bell peppers) raw. “When you do cook them, try methods like steaming, blanching, sauting, roasting, or microwaving, which use little water,” says Blumberg. If you do boil your vegetables in excess water, Rasmussen recommends using that water to make broths or sauces, rather than pouring nutrients down the drain.
Dietary guidelines are designed to suggest foods and food patterns that provide all the nutrients and bioactive compounds our bodies need, while avoiding those we don’t need (like too much sodium, starch, added sugars, and unwanted additives).
MyPlate, based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, recommends filling half our plates with fruits and vegetables, about a quarter with grains, and about a quarter with lean protein. “When following MyPlate, the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter recommends meeting the grain component with minimally processed whole grains, and eating plenty of nuts, seeds, fish, and poultry to maximize healthy fats, proteins, and other nutrients,” says Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, dean of the Friedman School and editor-in-chief of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.
I count myself among the lucky ones in that I rarely get headaches and have never experienced a migraine. Over the years, I have had friends who suffered from them and it was fearsome to behold. The following is from Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter.
The International Headache Society (IHS) defines migraine as a headache disorder with recurrent attacks (at least five) that last from 4 to 72 hours, are associated with nausea and/or sensitivity to light and sound, and also have at least two of four other characteristics including: pain that is of moderate or severe intensity; throbbing or pulsing; affects only one side of the head; or is worsened by routine activity such as walking.
According to the 2017 Global Burden of Disease Study, migraine is a major cause of disability worldwide. “Migraine headaches have been recognized as a specific condition for centuries,” says Stephanie W. Goldberg, MD, a neurologist with Tufts Medical Center board-certified in neurology and headache medicine. “The word ‘migraine’ comes from the Greek ‘hemicranium’ meaning ‘on one side of the head.’” Women are disproportionally affected, and they may be even more susceptible during menstruation. Continue reading →
Most people want to eat healthier, but efforts to encourage healthy eating by providing nutrition information have not changed habits much. A new study suggests that labels emphasizing taste and positive experience could help. In other words, changing the focus to form over substance.
Eating well isn’t always easy, and the reality is simply telling people which foods to avoid doesn’t do much to get them to eat better. What does work, Stanford psychologists now argue, is highlighting how tasty nutritious food can be. Evocative labels such as “twisted citrus glazed carrots” and “ultimate chargrilled asparagus” can get people to choose and consume more vegetables than they otherwise would – as long as the food is prepared flavorfully.
“This is radically different from our current cultural approach to healthy eating which, by focusing on health to the neglect of taste, inadvertently instills the mindset that healthy eating is tasteless and depriving,” said Alia Crum, an assistant professor of psychology and the senior author on the new paper. “And yet in retrospect it’s like, of course, why haven’t we been focusing on making healthy foods more delicious and indulgent all along?” Continue reading →
What’s the best way to prevent children from overloading on bad food choices? Flinders University in Adelaide South Australia researchers have found that promoting substitution is the answer to turn around children’s excessive consumption of nutrient-poor foods and beverages – resulting in nutritional benefits that are even better than reducing intake of these discretionary food and drink choices.
Flinders University researchers studied the impact on the energy and nutrient intakes of more than 2000 Australian 2- to 18-year-olds through simulations of three dietary strategies. Continue reading →
The science of whether some dietary choices can be considered brain food or not continues to unfold.
Given long time-frames of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, it’s challenging to prove any cause and effect relationship between specific foods and brain health. Most such associations are drawn from observational studies, in which people who eat more or less of a certain food are assessed over time for cognitive changes.
It’s obviously difficult to feed a group of study participants lots of, say, blueberries for several years in order to test their brain health at the end; that’s why clinical trials of so-called brain foods have largely depended on animal tests.
Nonetheless, some foods tend to stand out from the pages and pages of research results as most likely being protective for brain health. Continue reading →
Unlike the weather, as in Mark Twain’s famous quote, “Everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it” fiber is different. Everybody talks about it and there is plenty we can do about it. Following is what the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has to say about it.
Fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains all contain dietary fiber, a type of carbohydrate that provides minimal energy for the body. Although the body can’t use fiber efficiently for fuel, it’s an important part of a healthy eating plan and helps with a variety of health conditions.
Heart disease: Fiber may help prevent heart disease by helping reduce cholesterol.
Weight management: Fiber slows the speed at which food passes from the stomach to the rest of the digestive system – this can make us feel full longer. Foods that are higher in dietary fiber often are lower in calories as well.
Diabetes: Because fiber slows down how quickly food is broken down, it may help control blood sugar levels for people with diabetes by reducing blood sugar levels after meals.
Digestive issues: Fiber increases bulk in the intestinal tract and may help improve the frequency of bowel movements.
The recommended amount of dietary fiber is 14 grams for every 1,000 calories per day, or, about 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men each day. Your exact needs may vary depending on your energy needs.
Whole grains and beans tend to be higher in fiber than fruits and vegetables, but all are sources of dietary fiber and contribute other important nutrients. Make sure to include a variety of these foods regularly to meet your dietary fiber needs. These are a few tips to help increase your fiber intake from foods:
Mix in oats to meatloaf, bread or other baked goods.
Toss beans into your next salad or soup.
Chop up veggies to add to sandwiches or noodle dishes such as pasta or stir-fry.
Blend fruit into a smoothie or use it to top cereal, pancakes or desserts.
It also is important to drink plenty of water and to increase your fiber intake gradually in order to give your body time to adjust.
Among the dietary patterns specifically recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) is the Mediterranean-style diet, which has been linked to reduced risks of heart disease and cognitive decline.
A healthy Mediterranean-style diet includes many of the same key ingredients found in MyPlate for Older Adults. The chief difference between a Mediterranean-style diet and other healthy-eating plans is the emphasis on unsaturated fats found in plant foods, especially monounsaturated fat in the form of olive oil. All healthy diets recommend limiting foods high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats and full-fat dairy, minimizing added sugar, and avoiding processed foods.
Eating More Like a Mediterranean
To move your diet in a Mediterranean-style direction, try these suggestions:
1 Eat plenty of vegetables.
Try a simple plate of sliced fresh tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, or eat salads, garlicky greens, fragrant soups and stews, or oven-roasted medleys. 2 Change the way you think about meat.
If you eat meat, have smaller amounts – small strips of sirloin in a vegetable saute, for example – or substitute skinless chicken breast or fish for red meat in a few meals each week. Continue reading →
If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, perhaps we finally have a follow up for seniors worried about slippage in cognition.
Eating about one serving per day of green, leafy vegetables may be linked to a slower rate of brain aging, according to a study published in the December 20, 2017, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
The study found that people who ate at least one serving of green, leafy vegetables a day had a slower rate of decline on tests of memory and thinking skills than people who never or rarely ate these vegetables. The difference between the two groups was the equivalent of being 11 years younger in age, according to study author Martha Clare Morris, ScD, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. (my emphasis)
“Adding a daily serving of green, leafy vegetables to your diet may be a simple way to foster your brain health,” said Morris. “Projections show sharp increases in the percentage of people with dementia as the oldest age groups continue to grow in number, so effective strategies to prevent dementia are critical.” Continue reading →
I am a broccoli lover, so this item from Medical News Today was welcome news for me, but not a surprise. I have read that broccoli is one of the 10 most nutritious foods we eat. You can find a list of links to my posts on broccoli at the end of this item.
Broccoli is now known to improve gut health; new research has uncovered a potential molecular mechanism to explain this protection ” which is good news for broccoli lovers.
It is common knowledge that eating fresh fruit and vegetables on a regular basis can stave off a multitude of ills. However, as science delves deeper into the molecular details, certain vegetables are often found to impart specific benefits.
Recently, it has been broccoli’s turn in the grocery-related spotlight. Although this tree-like green is hated by children across the United States, its health benefits cannot be refuted. Continue reading →
The aim of this blog is not to simply lose weight. It is to live a healthy, happy and long life and to have all our mental faculties functional till the end. I am including this infographic because it has a lot of good information on those very things – as well as losing weight.
Exercise is excellent for keeping the body healthy, but what you put into that body is also critical. I saw a poster that said, ‘You can’t outrun your fork.’
Eating three or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day may lower your risk of developing peripheral artery disease (PAD), according to new research in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, an American Heart Association journal.
PAD narrows the arteries of the legs, limiting blood flow to the muscles and making it difficult or painful to walk or stand.
Previous studies linked lower consumption of fruits and vegetables with the increased occurrence of coronary heart disease and stroke. However, there has been little research into the association of eating fruits and vegetables and PAD. Continue reading →
Here is yet another reason to be sad about the SAD – Standard American Diet.
A new study by Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California researcher links increased dietary potassium with lower hypertension.
Consuming potassium-rich foods like sweet potatoes, avocados, spinach, beans, bananas — and even coffee — could be key to lowering blood pressure, according to a USC researcher.
“Decreasing sodium intake is a well-established way to lower blood pressure,” said Alicia McDonough, professor of cell and neurobiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, “but evidence suggests that increasing dietary potassium may have an equally important effect on hypertension.” Continue reading →
Although I am a big fan of eating beans, peas, nuts and seeds, I did not know that they actually created a greater feeling of fullness than meat.
Meals based on legumes such as beans and peas are more satiating than pork and veal-based meals according to a recent study by the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports. Results suggest that sustainable eating may also help with weight loss.
Numerous modern dietary recommendations encourage high protein consumption to help with weight loss or prevent the age-related loss of muscle mass. Furthermore, consuming more vegetable-based protein from beans and peas, and less protein from meats such as pork, veal and beef, is recommended because meat production is a far greater burden on our climate than vegetable cultivation. Until now, we haven’t known very much about how legumes like beans and peas stack up against meat in satiating hunger. As a result, little has been known about the impact of vegetables and the possibility of them catalyzing or maintaining weight loss. Continue reading →
Commenting on the results, Dr Murray, who worked on all three studies, said: “There have been a great many findings demonstrating a role for nitrate in reducing blood pressure and regulating the body’s metabolism. These studies represent three further ways in which simple changes in the diet can modify people’s risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity as well as potentially alleviating symptoms of existing cardiovascular conditions to achieve an overall healthier life.”
Green veg contains nitrate could improve heart’s efficiency, blood supply to organs and reduce risk of diabetes and obesity
In three independent studies, scientists from the Universities of Southampton and Cambridge have identified how a simple chemical called nitrate, found in leafy green vegetables, can help thin blood ensuring oxygen can be delivered to all corners of the body efficiently. Reducing the thickness of blood may also decrease instances of dangerous clots forming and reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
The same researchers, part-funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), also found nitrate can help the diseased heart to function more efficiently, help produce more of a compound that widens and opens blood vessels and help change bad white fat cells into good brown, fat-burning cells, which could combat obesity and reduce risk of type 2 diabetes.
In the first (1) study published this week in the Journal…
Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. In fact, an analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer, as well as a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
The heart-healthy Mediterranean is a healthy eating plan based on typical foods and recipes of Mediterranean-style cooking. Here’s how to adopt the Mediterranean diet.
If you’re looking for a heart-healthy eating plan, the Mediterranean diet might be right for you. The Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating — plus a splash of flavorful olive oil and perhaps even a glass of red wine — among other components characterizing the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
Most healthy diets include fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, and limit unhealthy fats. While these parts of a healthy diet remain tried-and-true, subtle variations or differences in proportions of certain foods may make a difference in your risk of heart disease.
Benefits of the Mediterranean diet
Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease. In fact, an analysis of more than 1.5 million…