Research news and views on preventing and surviving cancer
Author: Karen Collins
Karen Collins, MS, RDN, CDN, is AICR’s Nutrition Advisor. Karen is a speaker, writer and consultant who specializes in helping people make sense of nutrition news. You can follow her blog, Smart Bytes®, through her website and follow her on Twitter @KarenCollinsRD and Facebook @KarenCollinsNutrition.
Q: I’m suddenly seeing pea protein everywhere. What is it and is it healthy?
A:Pea protein is an extract from split peas, and food manufacturers are adding this protein to a variety of foods like energy bars, meal-replacement shakes, veggie burgers and even cereals. You can also find it as a powder to add when making smoothies.
With protein getting a lot of attention right now, pea protein offers a healthy option. Traditional approaches to boosting protein might have involved larger meat portions, yet evidence is strong that excess red and processed meats increase risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Read more… “HealthTalk: Pea protein is everywhere, is it healthy?”
Q: Do I need a certain type of dietary fiber or should I just aim for the recommended total?
A: Current research most strongly supports aiming to meet recommendations for total dietary fiber, yet different types of fiber offer unique benefits. So to get the most overall health protection, include a wide variety of foods that provide dietary fiber every day.
You probably are familiar with soluble and insoluble fiber. Research has now moved forward to identifying fiber that is more specifically based on the way it seems to work in the body. Here are three major types:
Viscous fibers form a gel in the intestinal tract. These fibers can lower LDL cholesterol – known as the ‘bad’ type – and reduce blood sugar surges after meals by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates. Some evidence suggests that these gel-forming fibers may support weight management by increasing satiety.
Q: Are potatoes bad for you? I read that eating too many is unhealthy.
A: It can be confusing to make sense of how potatoes fit in healthy eating habits. Some sources talk about potatoes as loaded with nutrients, yet others say potatoes don’t even count toward goals of eating more vegetables. Here’s the scoop….
Nutrients, Calories and Phytochemicals – A medium potato is rich in vitamin C and offers even more blood-pressure-friendly potassium than two medium bananas. Potatoes provide other protective nutrients, including the phytochemical quercetin and dietary fiber (particularly with the skin on).
Along with corn, peas and lima beans, potatoes are categorized as a starchy vegetable. Each serving has more carbohydrate and calories than non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, lettuce or tomatoes, making some people think potatoes are high-calorie.