Those Cancer-Fighting Apples

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Chances are, you have some leftover apples from Thursday’s feast – whether they’re whole or in pie form. We all know apples are healthy, but recent cancer research will make you feel even better about biting into America’s second favorite fruit.

Apple with cinnamon
A study published this week in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention found that eating at least one apple a day significantly lowered the risk of colorectal cancer. The study participants ate relatively low amounts of fruits and vegetable, with apples the most frequent fruit consumed. Eating more than one apple a day reduced the risk by about 50 percent.

This week’s Cancer Research Update looks at the lab work of a Cornell University food scientist who has spent almost a decade exploring how apples may prevent cancer development.

Did you know there are so many apple varieties, you could eat a different type every day for 19 years without repeating, if you traveled the world that is. You can see how the most popular varieties compare to one another in Apples: A Healthy Temptation.

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    Corn DNA: Eat it Up

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    There’s a lot of corn news this week, some of it related to Thanksgiving but mainly because researchers have just decoded the DNA of corn. Apparently, corn has a pretty complex genome and it’s giving scientists a lot of new information.

    Credit: Iowa State
    Credit: Iowa State

    The basics: Corn has 32,000 genes packed into 10 chromosomes (humans have 20,000 genes spread among 23 chromosomes). About 85 percent of the corn DNA has these segments that are repeated; that compares to only about 45 percent of human’s DNA. Reports also said there’s a surprisingly huge difference between two corn varieties, (as much as the genetic difference between humans and chimpanzees!).

    Now that researchers know corn’s DNA sequence, they hope it will help develop better types of corn for consumers around the world.

    Corn has received a lot of bad press lately, with stories about high fructose corn syrup and the bulging calorie count of movie popcorn. But plain, simple sweet corn carries a lot of health benefits. It’s a good source of dietary fiber, and vitamins B and C.  Blue corn has more protein and it also contains anthocyanins, phytochemicals well studied for cancer prevention.

    In some shape or form, you’ll likely be eating corn tomorrow (and everyday). For tasty and healthy corn recipes, visit Recipes from the AICR Test Kitchen.
    You can read more about the corn’s genome in the journals Science and PLoS Genetics.

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      13 Years of Eating Out

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      With all the news of the growing obesity epidemic, a lot of stories have focused on fast food. Now, a new study suggests that eating a lot of fast food not only leads to weight gain, but it also may lead to a host of other health issues linked to heart disease and cancer development.

      This might be one of those ‘duh’ studies but for those of us who go out to eat frequently, it’s nice to see a study that differentiates between fast food and sit-down style restaurants, as this study did. (Most studies on this issue group all restaurants together.)
      In the study, the University of North Carolina researchers looked at data spanning 13 years from 3,643 young adults who were participants in a cardiovascular study. The cardiovascular study – called CARDIA – collected data on the participants every few years.

      The goal was to see how eating away from home related to a cluster of factors associated with the metabolicneon drive thru sign blue and yellow syndrome, including a high BMI, large waist, and high blood pressure. Metabolic syndrome puts people at higher risk for heart disease, but a lot of studies have shown it also puts them at risk for cancer development. This makes sense, given that AICR’s new report found obesity causes an estimated 100,000 cases of cancer a year.

      Overall, compared to the diners who ate the least fast food, those diners who ate at fast food places the most often weighed more, had larger waists, higher triglycerides, and showed many of the other signs of metabolic syndrome. Eating at sit-down style restaurants was unrelated to these risk factors. But whether it was at a fast food or sit-down restaurant, people who increased the amount of times they ate out per week over the course of the study experienced a slight increase in weight and waste size.

      Want some help choosing what to eat at restaurants? Many fast food places have their nutritional information online. You can also find a lot of the places on one site at Fatburgr.

      For those sit-down meals, visit Health Tips for Dining Out for some simple restaurant strategies.

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