In good news for veggies that get little of the limelight, watercress, chinese cabbage and chard tops the list of foods that will give you the most nutrients per bite, suggests a new study. And surprisingly, you’ll find some of the most talked about plant foods in health – such as blueberries – didn’t even make the list.
The study, published in Preventing Chronic Disease, sought to rank how 47 fruits and vegetables stack up as nutrient “powerhouses.” Eating more of these fruits and veggies, notes the study, is one approach linked to reduced risk of chronic diseases, which includes cancer.
“This is a great opportunity to learn about some fruits and vegetables we’re not as familiar with, but for cancer prevention and overall health — ALL fruits and vegetables are powerhouses,” says AICR Associate Director of Nutrition Programs Alice Bender, MS, RDN. “AICR research — and the government guidelines — say what’s most important when it comes to eating fruits and vegetables: eat more, eat a variety.”
AICR’s “It’s Never Too Late” campaign kicked off today, and it was launched in parallel with presentations at our Annual Research Conference on the latest findings in the field of lifestyle links with aging and cancer. The topic is the opening session of the conference and Trygve Tollefsbol, PhD, of the University of Alabama, just presented on how dietary intake – or restriction –influence genes related to both aging and cancer.
Dr. Tollefsbol’s lab is looking at how plant compounds influence cells and for over a decade he has focused on cell’s epigenetic changes, the turning “on” and “off” of genes. Epigenetic is not about what we inherit, but about how what a person eats and other life choices can affect our genes and thereby, affect aging and diseases such as cancer.
Here, Tollefsbol presented his research showing that sulforaphane, a compound in cruciferous vegetables, leads to epigenetic changes that lead to reductions in the amount of telomerase, a protein that produces telomeres. Most cancer cells need telomerase to multiply. Most healthy cells don’t have telomerase. (Telomerase produces telomeres, strips of DNA on the tips of our cells that shorten as we age.)
The amount of sulforaphane Dr. Tollefsbol used in the studies equaled about one cup of broccoli sprouts.
There will be more on his research and cruciferous vegetable research later in the conference. Stay tuned.
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