I love giving food-related gifts during the holiday season. They are fun for everyone, from food connoisseurs to your friend whose idea of cooking is boiling water for pasta. I try to give gifts that are tasty, healthy and encourage the recipient to try something new. While everyone indulges a bit over the holidays, it’s great to help others prevent cancer through healthier food and fitness-related gifts.
One of my favorite ways to flavor and season vegetables is also turning into one of my favorite gifts to give. Working with individuals trying to lose weight, I often hear people talk about how much they dislike vegetables. Flavored balsamic vinegar and olive oil can change that.
Why olive oil? It’s rich in antioxidants and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and including it in your diet can help lower your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. However, since olive oil is also high in calories, highly flavorful oils – like lemon or walnut – can boost the taste of your food with small amounts. Continue reading
If you’re anything like the average American, you’re consuming way too much sodium. You may have tried to kick the habit, but found that you just don’t like the taste of low sodium foods as much.
A recent study published in the journal Appetite may help. Researchers split about 150 participants into three groups to test how much they liked three soups over repeated tastings: a standard tomato soup, a low sodium
tomato soup, and a low sodium tomato soup seasoned with herbs and spices.
On the first day of the study, everyone tasted samples — about two tablespoons each — of all three soups. For the next three days, participants ate larger portions of their one assigned soup. On the last day, all three groups again sampled small portions of the three soups. Participants rated how much they liked each soup every day.
Results from the study suggest three strategies that can help you cut back on sodium without sacrificing flavor:
- Find the blend that you like best. Before beginning the study, researchers tested three different herb and spice blends to add to the low sodium soup: blends were based around basil, cumin and coriander, or oregano. No one blend was a clear favorite among participants overall, but individual participants had definite preferences. The lesson is to find the herb and spice blend that you prefer.
There’s strong research now showing that being active can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, but how physical activity affects survivors of this cancer is not as clear. Now comes a study suggesting that being active — both before and after diagnosis —can lengthen survival for colorectal cancer survivors.
Not watching a lot of television — a common measure for sedentary living — was also found to improve survival. Survivors who were watching fewer than two hours a day of TV before diagnosis had a reduced risk of mortality compared to those watching five or more hours of TV a day.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology last week.
For pre-diagnosis, study authors used data from approximately 3,800 survivors who were part of the large NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study study. In the mid 1990s, the participants were 50 to 71 years old. They answered questionnaires about how much TV they watched, their activity and other lifestyle habits. Those who had developed colorectal cancer were identified in 2006. Continue reading