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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      Would You Like Extra Calories With That?

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      Yesterday, Mya posted about a study that showed eating fast food was associated with an increase in these measures associated with metabolic syndrome (high BMI, large waist and high blood pressure).  As evidence mounts that eating fast food can contribute to overweight and obesity, many cities and states are considering legislation to require these establishments to include nutrition information on their menus.Nathans

      Last year, New York City began requiring some chain restaurants to post calories on menus. Health officials hoped it would curb the number of obese New Yorkers. But do these measures affect how people choose their foods?

      One year later, two studies show differing results from the calorie count experiment.

      The first study examined 1,156 fast-food purchases in low-income, minority neighborhoods. The authors found that although nearly 28% of people who saw calorie labels said it influenced their choices, they did not find any change in calories purchased.

      The second study, conducted by New York City health officials and presented at the 2009 Obesity Society conference, reported that customers who took the calorie information into account (about 15% of those surveyed) bought about 106 fewer calories than customers who didn’t use the information.

      While it’s probably too early to say whether or not these initiatives will make a difference in people’s food choices in the long run, experience has shown that knowledge alone doesn’t typically translate into behavior change.

      What do you think – will putting calorie counts on the menu help people make healthier choices and reduce their caloric intake? Are there policies that could nudge people toward healthy behavior?

      AICR offers tips, self-assessment tools, and ideas for small step dietary changes to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
      Read more about calories and fast food from AICR Nutrition Consultant, Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN.

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