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


Is Your Morning Glass of OJ as Unhealthy as a Soda?

People are talking a lot about sugar these days, especially one kind called high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – a sugar that seems to be added to just about all sweets in a box or package. HFCS usually contains more of one type of sugar – fructose – than table sugar or corn syrup.http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-oranges-table-man-drinking-orange-juice-image26777565

We know that too many sugary drinks – regardless of the type of sugar – can lead to obesity, which is a cause of eight different cancers. But some researchers believe that fructose is more harmful than other sugars, leading to a higher risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Others disagree, leaving the research to be inconclusive.

As the research continues on fructose, a new study published in the journal Nutrition, says that many sugary beverages Americans are drinking –  whether it’s HFCS soda or apple juice — actually contain similar amounts of fructose. Fructose is one of the two sugars that make up sucrose or table sugar; it is also a natural sugar found in fruit and fruit juice.

For their study, the researchers analyzed the sugar concentrations of the most popular sodas, 100% fruit juices, and juice drinks, including sports drinks. The researchers found that fructose levels among some HFCS drinks are often higher than a commonly used database researchers use. Continue reading


Powerhouse Fruit and Veggie Rankings: Eat Your Watercress (and Blueberries too!)

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.

Chard, ranking #3 on the "powerhouse" list

Chard, ranking #3 on the “powerhouse” 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.”

For the study, author Jennifer Di Noia, PhD, LCSW, Associate Professor of Sociology at William Paterson University, identified the powerhouses foods based on 17 nutrients, all vital for good health. The nutrients she looked at included vitamins, minerals, protein and Continue reading