The Multi-Eyed, No Horn, Non Flying, Purple Cancer Eater

A new international study shows purple potatoes may help prevent colon cancer

Pigs eating colorful veggies
Pigs “Eating the Rainbow!” Pigs were used in this new study because their digestive systems are very similar to human’s. They were fed purple potatoes only but the researchers say it was the phytonutrients in the potatoes that did the work and those can be found in other colorful veggies.
Potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables in the world. They are the go-to side veggie for most meals in the western world, from fast food lunches to five-star exotic suppers at the world’s top restaurants. One billion people consume potatoes every day amounting to a total worldwide consumption of well over a half a trillion pounds per year. Not all of these potatoes are served up in the most healthy way, A good amount of them are deep fried, lathered with fatty sauces and cheese or in the form of a chip or crisp. As a result the potato has gotten a bad rap from health enthusiasts and fitness freaks.

But the utilitarian potato is, in its basic form, an incredibly healthy food. Baked or boiled, grilled or steamed with some light seasoning and you’ve got a side dish that is packed with a lot of nutrition. A serving of potato will give you half your daily allowance of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana. And if that potato is purple, you are going to get some added benefits that may help you fight off cancer.

A recent study of international researchers led by scholars at Penn State University found that the various micronutrients in purple potatoes go after and destroy stem cells associated with colon cancer. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States according to statistics from Center for Disease Control (CDC).

The researchers on the study fed pigs baked purple potatoes (they wanted to make sure the beneficial nutrients were not destroyed during cooking) in a relatively high fat diet and compared that to pigs with similar diets without the potatoes. The pigs that got the potatoes had six times lower level of an inflammatory protein that is associated with promoting the growth and spread of cancer cells. This protein is known as IL-6 and there are very expensive drugs being used to suppress it.

But the researchers in this latest study hope that thier work will add to growing mountain of evidence that fresh fruits and veggies are the best antidote to the diseases that plague our modern world.

“Instead of promoting a pill, we can promote fruits and vegetables that are very rich in anti-inflammatory compounds to counter the growing problem of chronic disease,” said Jairam K.P. Vanamala, associate professor of food sciences, Penn State and one of the authors of the report.

The researchers were also quick to point out that it’s not just purple potatoes that can have this effect, but rather those anti-oxidants and phytonutrients that make them purple. Jairam Vanamala suggests eating a wide-variety of colorful vegetables and fruits may help treat chronic diseases such as colon cancer and type-2 diabetes. These plants, including the purple potato, contain bioactive compounds, such as anthocyanins and phenolic acids, that have been linked to cancer prevention.

“When you eat from the rainbow…,” Vanamala says, “we are not providing just one compound, we are providing a wide variety of compounds, thousands of them, that work on multiple pathways and causes self destruction of cancer stem cells.”

The authors of the study feel their work is another piece of evidence that a diet that is rich in plant-based foods and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables is the critically important in preventing cancer.

So “Eat the Rainbow!” Fill you plate with ½ to ¾ vegetables at every meal and see how much better you feel while you extend your long healthy life.

Article on Penn State University Website about this study
Video about “Eating the Rainbow”
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The Multi-Eyed, No Horn, Non Flying, Purple Cancer Eater

How Many Veggies a Day to Keep the Grim Reaper Away?

Is it three, four, five or ten servings of fresh fruit and veggies a day to ensure a longer life? Researchers seem to conflict with their findings but when you actually add it up, it’s pretty much the same.

Grim-Reaper-With-VeggiesIf you thought Dracula was haunting your village you’d make sure you had plenty of cloves of garlic on hand to ward him off at night. Well, you may think the famous vampire is but a myth and most certainly he is. But researchers are showing that another myth and symbol of death, the Grim Reaper, can be kept at bay with that same garlic—And you don’t have to wear it around your neck. Just use it to season your three to four servings of veggies a day. Yes, you heard us right. Just three to four servings.

For decades we have been told that five servings a day of fruits and vegetables is needed to make sure we are in optimal health and staving off all those terrible diseases that are plaguing our modern society, e.g., diabetes, heart attacks, cancer and strokes. Then earlier this year a report from the Imperial College of London said we needed to double that amount (ten servings) if we were really going to be sure of preventing an early death. That study indicated that these amounts of fresh produce would make you 33% less likely to die prematurely.

But less than seven months later, a new, and perhaps much more exhaustive study, has concluded that eating just three to four servings a day is sufficient for keeping the grim reaper at bay. The findings of this latest research was conducted at McMaster University in Canada and published last week in the Lancet, one of the oldest and respected medical journals

That will no doubt provide relief to many who think of eating their veggies as a an unpleasant chore forced upon them by over protective parents. And for families with lower incomes, it will take some pressure off of their budgets when they go shopping.

But what did the study actually say and what does it mean for your meal planning and health goals?

First of all it is important to identify how a “serving” was defined. For this most recent study, a serving was 125 grams of fruit or vegetables. So a daily intake of three servings would be 375g. The serving size used in the February study was only 80g which corresponds with the World Health Organization’s serving size in their recommended five a day. So prior to this year’s study the prevailing wisdom suggested getting 400g of veggies every day. Even the most math-challenged of us can see that the amount is pretty similar from both recommendations. And if you take the four servings a day from the latest research as the best, then you are well over the five a day amounts previously advised (500g vs. 400g).

The latest study was an isolated study and focused on 135,000 people across Europe, North America, Japan and China for a ten-year period (2003-2013). That’s pretty exhaustive but was it more exhaustive than the Imperial College survey? The British study was not original research but analyzed the results of 95 other previous studies on fresh produce intake. The numbers of people involved in those studies added up to over 2 million people. But did the research methods differ substantially to skew the results of their analysis?

These are all questions that are difficult to quantify. But the authors of the new study are quick to point out that they feel their research aligns with the Imperial College research. In the Canadian effort, they did not see a large additional advantage for consuming more than the three to four servings, but their was some so they are hopeful that their work will not discourage people from eating more fruits and veggies if they already are.

Victoria Miller, the lead author of the report said in an interview with The Guardian newspaper in England, “In western countries like North America and Europe we don’t want to suggest that [people] should start eating less fruit and vegetables – we think that it is part of an overall healthy diet and there is benefit from eating more.”

The new study doesn’t really change the opinion of nutritionists. The lesson is we need to be getting as many fruits and veggies in our diet as possible and even if it’s only 3-4 servings per day the evidence shows that is of great benefit. And if we can get more than that it will have added benefits toward extending our lives. But the dieticians also warn that only getting 3-4 a day and filling up on other non healthy foods may cancel out your efforts. Nutrition packed veggies need to be replacing our intake of highly processed foods and those with high amounts of fats and sugar.

Keep fruits and veggies on your mind and close at hand throughout the day, especially when you feel the urge to snack. Before you open that bag of chips or a candy bar, eat a fresh apple or pear. If you’re still hungry after that then maybe you can indulge, but we think chances are you won’t. This way you will easily increase your servings per day and increase your chance of a long healthy life.

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How Many Veggies a Day to Keep the Grim Reaper Away?

Want to Lose Weight and Feel Better? Then Ditch the Fad Diets

The secret to weight loss and healthy diet is that there is no secret. Your mother’s advice, “Eat Your Vegetables!” is still the predominant wisdom when it comes to eating right. There’s no magic weight-loss pill or new undiscovered combination of superfoods that will replace her emotional plea. The latest research continues to point out that the way to good health and long life is eating lots of fresh foods, that is, fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains and leafy greens.

PB-Postcard-Jan-2017-v2-front

In a new study by the American College of Cardiology, in which they surveyed some of the latest and most popular nutrition fads, including juicing, gluten-free diets and antioxidant pills, the scholars determined that most of the claims of the promoters of these ideas for nutrition are unsubstantiated.

Here are some of the key myths they addressed in their report:

  • Eggs and cholesterol: Although a U.S. government report issued in 2015 dropped specific recommendations about upper limits for cholesterol consumption, the review concludes, “it remains prudent to advise patients to significantly limit intake of dietary cholesterol in the form of eggs or any high cholesterol foods to as little as possible.”
  • Vegetable oils: According to the authors, coconut oil and palm oil should be discouraged due to limited data supporting routine use. The most heart-healthy oil is olive oil, though perhaps in moderation as it is still higher calorie, research suggests.
  • Berries and antioxidant supplementation: Fruits and vegetables are the healthiest and most beneficial source of antioxidants to reduce heart disease risk, the review explains. There is no compelling evidence adding high-dose antioxidant dietary supplements benefits heart health.
  • Nuts: Nuts can be part of a heart-healthy diet. But beware of consuming too many, because nuts are high in calories, said the authors.
  • Juicing:The authors explain that while the fruits and vegetables contained in juices are heart-healthy, the process of juicing concentrates calories, which makes it is much easier to ingest too many. Eating whole fruits and vegetables is preferred, with juicing primarily reserved for situations when daily intake of vegetables and fruits is inadequate. If you do juice, avoid adding extra sugar by putting in honey, to minimize calories.
  • Gluten: People who have celiac disease or other gluten sensitivity must avoid gluten – wheat, barley and rye. For patients who don’t have any gluten sensitivities, many of the claims for health benefits of a gluten-free diet are unsubstantiated, the authors conclude.

Food is the most important factor in ensuring good health and our best medicine. And fresh foods are the key part of that medicine cabinet. Produce Buzz was created to help spread this message far and wide. We are joining the crusade that has been going on in the nutritional and medical communities for a long time.

But still research shows that only a small percentage of people around the world get the recommended amount of fresh fruit and vegetables on a daily basis. Please join us and bookmark the Produce Buzz Website and follow us in all of our social media channels.

And join in the conversation by sharing your favorite recipes, farmer’s markets finds and gardening triumphs. Welcome to the community!

 

 

Want to Lose Weight and Feel Better? Then Ditch the Fad Diets

The New York Times is Making You Fat!

reading newspaper
Are newspapers subtly suggesting to us what to eat? The research says…well..maybe!

The old expression, “You are what you eat” can be given a new twist after the conclusions of a new study were released this month. We can now say, “You are what you read” or at the very least, “You eat what you read.”

According to a study published in BMC Public Health by a research team from Cornell University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the obesity rate for the United States and Britain over the last 50 years has directly correlated to what types of food were most often mentioned in the New York Times and the London Times. The studies authors, Brian Wansink and Brennan Davis, concluded that, “United States obesity prevalence is positively associated with New York Times mentions of sweet snacks… and negatively associated with mentions of fruits… and vegetables. Similar results are found for the United Kingdom and The London Times.”

The researchers looked at articles from the past 50 years of the New York Times and for the past 17 years in London Times and set values based upon mentions of unhealthy salty and sweet snacks on one side and mentions of fruit and vegetables on the healthy side. That was then correlated to the obesity rates (Body Mass Index or BMI) of each nation. They concluded that the predominance of one or the other, unhealthy versus healthy food references, in the papers could generally predict the rise or fall of obesity rates three years ahead of time.

The study stated that obesity rates in U.S. has risen from 13.4% to 33.8% since 1960 while the U.K. obesity rate has risen from 15% to 25.4% since 1993. The researchers analysis showed that articles mentioning vegetables declined by 46 %, and articles mentioning fruits, salty snacks, and sweet snacks increased (92 %, 417 %, and 310 %) over the last 50 years in the New York Times.

No doubt many of you are already scratching your head at the potential flaws in this correlation. Even the authors Wansink and Davis admit that their study has “limitations worth discussing.” They rightly acknowledge that their research is not exhaustive and does not show any real evidence that the Times newspapers are the cause of the obesity. They certainly did not have time nor desire to study the context of the mentions of those unhealthy or healthy food words. In some cases the articles might not even be talking about food. One example they give in the caveats is that the term popcorn might have been used in an article describing Styrofoam packing materials for shipping.

So we take this study with a few grains of salt (Oh No! Has that phrase sent you to the kitchen looking for potato chips?). But at Produce Buzz, we think there could be something to this “power of suggestion.” Who among hasn’t experienced the sudden craving for ice cream or chocolate or a buttery box of popcorn after an ever so slight suggestion from a faint familiar smell or a ever so subtle mention of one of our favorite snacks? Did we succumb to the urge or did we bury it in our subconscious only to have it revive soon after? Similarly, suggestions of our favorite fruits and vegetables can send us in the opposite direction. So how we eat can depend greatly on what our minds are ingesting. That’s a big part of our mission at Produce Buzz—to keep the good food in the front of our readers’ minds as much as possible so we can help turn the tide on obesity.

Fifty years of fat: news coverage of trends that predate obesity prevalence

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The New York Times is Making You Fat!

Who Can Eat Five A Day?

5 a dayFor almost a quarter of a century fresh produce advocates, foundations for disease prevention and government health agencies in the U.S. have pushed the message that eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day is optimal for maintaining and improving one’s health. But a new survey released at the very end of 2014 shows that only about 15% of Americans eat at least five fruits and veggies a day. The poll was sponsored by the National Alliance for Hispanic Health and compared Hispanic health issues with those of Whites and “Non-Hispanic Blacks.” One of the health questions was, “On average, how many servings of fruits and vegetables do you eat each day?”

The sampling was pretty evenly split between the three ethnic groups, but showed that Hispanics were the least likely to attain the five-a-day goal (only 7%). Whites were the most successful at meeting the number but even among them only 18% said they did. After 20-plus years of promoting the idea, have the experts conceded the goal is unrealistic?

In 1991 the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) organized a national campaign in the United States to promote the Five-a-Day slogan. It gained a lot of exposure and press, and became a message with “household recognition.” If you were a fan of the very popular 1990s sitcom Seinfeld you may have noticed in several episodes the Five-a-Day logo posted on a window of the produce market where Jerry Seinfeld and his friends shopped for their veggies. How effective that very subliminal exposure was for the campaign can certainly be debated, but the fact that the PBH got the creators of the show to place it on screen was a big coup and showed how widespread the message became.

In the early 2000s, The World Health Organization (WHO) got on board and has since prompted several other major countries to adopt the Five-a-Day message. They continue to expand it around the world.

But In 2007 PBH re-launched its effort to promote more consumption of produce by rebranding the Five-a-Day campaign to “Fruits and Veggies—More Matters.” From then on the message has been “Half your plate” instead of “Five a Day.” Maybe half a plate is more attainable and easier for people to assess than five a day? If so, perhaps the next poll conducted will make that the question, and we will see the results.

We applaud the valiant efforts of PBH and the team at Fruits and Veggies More Matters. It’s important work and we are confident it has made a difference in the lives of many. Stay tuned to the Produce Buzz blog for more on this topic. We will be speaking with the experts to highlight their efforts to get more people eating more fresh produce.

Produce for Better Health Foundation
Fruit and Veggies – More Matters
World Health Organization’s Promotion of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

Who Can Eat Five A Day?