Potatoes: Bad Guys or Cancer-Fighters?

Read an article about foods you shouldn’t eat and white potatoes may well be on the list. The starchy staple is linked in some studies to overweight and obesity and we lag far behind in getting enough non-starchy veggies, like leafy greens, summer squash, broccoli and colorful peppers, all shown to lower risk for several kinds of cancer. But are potatoes so nutrition-poor we should never eat them?

Potatoes’ bad nutritional reputation probably stems more from how we are eating them, rather than the spud itself. share-of-potato-sources-for-us-consumersA recent report from the USDA Economic Research Service shows that, depending on where we eat them, one-third to two-thirds of our potatoes are chips or fries. Even at home, we eat potatoes as chips more than any other way.

Consider that a small serving of fries or chips is double the small potato’s calories, 10 times the fat and less than half the vitamin C. We just need to re-think the potato on our plate, not eliminate. Continue reading


Weight Loss, Cancer Prevention and Health: Why Vegetables and Fruits Matter

If you’ve been working hard to eat more broccoli or blueberries, headlines like “Fruits and vegetables don’t lead to weight loss, study says” can drive you crazy. You may wonder if it’s worth the effort. I certainly hear from people questioning whether they can trust any nutrition and weight loss messages when they see headlines like these.NAP-Plate-v02

Make no mistake about it, fruits and vegetables are a key part of a cancer-preventive diet. And they can play a role in getting to and staying a healthy weight – important for lowering risk for eight cancers and other chronic diseases. Even the authors of that recent study acknowledge that in their paper. So why the confusing messages?

Here’s what that study was about: The authors say that health organizations promote increasing veggies and fruit for weight loss without explaining the need to also decrease overall calories. So they looked for studies that tested the idea that simply adding vegetables and fruit to your diet will lead to weight loss. Continue reading


Calories or Carbs? Weight, Health and Cancer Prevention

A calorie is a calorie – eat too many and you’ll gain weight; eat less and you’ll lose weight. Sounds simple, but a New York Times article by two obesity researchers is making headlines, and they question whether focusing on calories alone is really the answer for weight loss. It’s an important issue because obesity links to eight different cancers.Healthy versus unhealthy.

Their hypothesis, published last Friday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, proposes that the driving force for obesity in America is because we eat too many refined carbohydrates – chips, cakes, soft drinks, sugary foods and refined grains – rather than just too many calories. They say eating these foods can lead to higher insulin levels and an environment in our body that promotes fat storage. Their proposal that type of food is more important than total calories for both becoming obese and for losing weight is interesting, but does need more research.

What research is clear on – we know that cutting back on sugary foods and drinks and other refined carbohydrate foods is one important strategy in a total program for health and weight loss. And substituting whole plant foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains can help lower cancer risk. Continue reading