Bits and Pieces in Health News

I decided when I looked at my growing pile of newspaper articles that the time has come for one of my periodic updates on topics I have addressed in the past. Reading through my stash, I was reminded that more than any other, there is one change I would like to see that I think would have far-reaching consequences.

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I would like to see an educational curriculum that started early and extended through high school that teaches children how their diet is connected to their health. Then all those other things we would like to see change would start happening, sooner rather than later because that newfound knowledge would be brought home and parents would be educated, too. I have said many times along with notable others that, given the knowledge, children would lead us to the truth and to actions and decisions based on the truth rather than what the food industry tells us.

Along those lines, did you know that the lycopene in tomatoes has multiple anticancer and antioxidant effects on human prostate cells? The journal Cancer Prevention Research reported that a study in Chicago demonstrated that lycopene actually improved the ability of benign cells to suppress tumor growth and reduce inflammation and cancer-cell proliferation. The researchers are not sure how this happens, but they know that it does. They also concluded that the lycopene in processed tomatoes was more effective than that in fresh tomatoes.

Earlier this year, there was a story in Runner’s World that detailed the superfood attributes of the lowly onion and its other family members. Members of the allium family have been shown to “protect the brain, keep the heart healthy, strengthen bones, reduce cancer risk and aid digestion.” That’s a major contribution to our health for an item that is noted mostly for the cause of bad breath. And it turns out you can alleviate that problem just by buying sweeter varieties and grilling, sautĂ©ing, or roasting them to bring out their natural sweetness.

A Wall Street Journal article and encouraged us to stretch our tongues to try new flavors, including more bitter ones. Bitter foods such as broccoli, kale, and cranberries are chock full of some of the most beneficial compounds. Barb Stuckey provided hints about how to try more things we may not like at first and how to get our children to do the same.

In recent weeks we have also had a few tastes of good news:

  • Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods, announced that the grocery chain will begin labeling GMO foods so that his customers can make informed decisions.

  • The Wall Street Journal reported that the addition of low-calorie options to menus at casual dining and fast-food restaurants has fueled their growth in recent years. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and conducted by the Hudson Institute, a study found that “restaurants that increased lower-calorie servings experienced an average 5.5% increase in same-store sales. That compared with a 5.5% decrease among chains selling fewer lower-calorie servings.”

  • And as if to validate our invitation to Olio2Go to attend our markets occasionally to introduce you to good olive oil, several recent studies have confirmed the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet and emphasized the importance of extra-virgin olive oil in the prevention of strokes. Other leading ingredients in this diet include tree nuts and peanuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, legumes and wine with meals. Sadly, we do not grow many tree nuts in this area, but we are working on bringing Chesapeake seafood to our markets next year. And we already have fruits, vegetables, legumes and wine. Maybe we should invite Olio2Go to come more often.