Thursday, March 31, 2016

What’s Keeping Americans from Living Healthy?

If you’re like most Americans you struggle to make cancer-protective lifestyle choices - like eating smart and moving more. Perhaps making changes seems too difficult or you just can’t seem to find time. That’s what Americans said when they were surveyed to find out what healthy behaviors they’re doing and if not, why they aren’t making these choices.

Research shows that eating smart, moving more and being a healthy weight are key to reducing cancer risk. It is estimated that about one-third of many of the most common cancers in the US could be prevented if everyone followed these guidelines.

Eat Smart
For lower cancer risk, choose mostly plant foods, like vegetables, whole grains and beans. These foods should take up two-thirds or more of your plate or bowl.

The barrier:  Many Americans said eating a healthier diet will cost too much.

Try this: Start with available and affordable foods to give your plate a health boost. No need to rely on the latest trendy “superfoods”.
  • Choose common, lower-cost fresh produce for your grocery cart: Carrots, cabbage, sweet potatoes, lettuce, bananas, apples, oranges and pears are among the most affordable items in the produce area. These make great snacks and require minimal prep.
  • Stock up on canned foods: Add canned beans like kidney, pinto, and garbanzo to soups, stews and salads. Canned fruits like pears, pineapple and mandarin are great on their own or in veggie or fruit salads. Canned is convenient and economical.
  • Keep frozen foods on hand: Frozen veggies like green beans, carrots, peas, corn and leafy greens mean no waste and easy steaming or cooking. Broaden your freezer stock to include whole grains like bags of cooked brown rice as a base for stir-fries, and whole-wheat pitas for quick sandwiches and pizzas.
Move More

For cancer prevention, research shows you should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day and avoid sedentary habits like too much sitting, TV watching or screen time.

The barrier: Americans said they just can’t find the time to be more physically active.
Try this: Start now to build up a few minutes here and there so it adds up to 30 minutes.
  • Take a 5-minute walking break: If you sit a lot during the day, every hour or so, get up and walk down the street, around the building or up and down the stairs for 3-5 minutes. Those few minutes add up quickly!
  • Make it a family affair: Create family activity challenges. See who can do lunges, jumping jacks or push-ups for one minute during commercial breaks; have a dance-off for the craziest moves or let the kids take turns leading a 2-minute exercise break.
  • Try a new activity or get back to that thing you used to do: Maybe you used to hike, or play tennis or you’ve always wanted to try martial arts or a dance class. Find a like-minded friend(s), join a class and make it a social occasion.
Get to - and Stay - a Healthy Weight

Next to not smoking, being at a healthy weight is the single most important thing people can do to lower their risk, as carrying excess body fat is a cause for ten different kinds of cancer.

The barrier: People’s common concerns are that losing weight is too difficult and they don’t know where to start.

Try this: Keep it simple and begin with one specific change that you can realistically do and that you can measure how you did after a few days or a week. For example:
  • Be Specific: I will eat one vegetable...
  • Measure it: …at least 5 days this week.
  • How to Achieve it:  I can do this because I like green salads, sweet potatoes and mixed vegetables.
  • It’s Realistic: I already have lettuce, a sweet potato and frozen vegetables on hand.
  • Track it: Make a note when you eat your vegetables. You can write it on your calendar or notebook or use an app. At the end of the week you can review and stick with it or revise it for the next week.
This is based on the SMART goal concept and is a research-based strategy to help you get started making healthy changes that put you on the path to feeling better, having more energy and lowering your cancer risk.

Click here to see the full article.
ACRI News Article

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Juice Vs. Fruit

Readers of this newsletter know that drinking fruit juice is no substitute for consuming whole fruits. Processing fruit into juice loses most of the fiber, often adds sugar, and damages some of the nutrients that make fruit such a healthy choice. But people who nonetheless like to start their day with a glass of orange juice can take some encouragement from a new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. It found that juicing may improve how readily certain nutrients can be absorbed by the body.

Nutritionist have usual warn us against drinking juice because processing fruit into juice loses most of the fiber, often adds sugar, and damages some of the nutrients that make fruit such a healthy choice. But a recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that juicing may improve how readily certain nutrients can be absorbed by the body.

The researchers compared the carotenoid, flavonoid and vitamin C concentrations in fresh orange segments, homogenized orange puree and orange juices that varied in processing (freshly squeezed, pasteurized and flash-pasteurized).  They reported that the content of some carotenoids and flavonoids decreased with juicing, while the vitamin C content was unaffected.  They also evaluated the bioaccessibility (the fraction of the compound that is released from the food matrix in the gastrointestinal tract that is available for intestinal absorption) of these bioactives. Compared to orange segments or puree, the bioaccessibility of carotenoids increased three- to four-fold in the orange juices. For flavonoids, there was a four- to five-fold increase and the increase for vitamin C was approximately 10%.

Consumers perceive orange juice as a healthy source of vitamins and other health-promoting nutrients, the researchers noted, and juice offers convenient packaging and long shelf life. Recent intervention studies have shown health benefits of long-term orange juice consumption, including increased total antioxidant status, lower total cholesterol levels, and the prevention of increases in toxic compounds after meals high in fat and carbohydrate. The researchers added, "However, greater consumption of orange juice has also been criticized because of its high intrinsic sugar level, being associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases."

What’s a confused consumer to do? The finding that juicing makes certain nutrients more available is certainly a plus, since dietary carotenoids, flavonoids and vitamin C have been associated with decreased risk of certain diseases.

For most consumers, the fiber and pectin lost in juicing still overrides any minor benefits in bioaccessibility. According to the USDA's Nutrient Database, one cup of orange juice contains less than a gram of dietary fiber (0.7 gram), while a cup of orange segments has 4.3 grams of fiber.

Beware, too, of orange juice beverages that contain added sugar (and often not much actual juice).
Those who have interest in their intakes of pectin and fiber may wish to consider oranges and orange puree. When considering sugar content, there is no difference between fresh oranges versus pure orange juice. All foods evaluated can be considered as a good-to-rich source of vitamin C.

This article was adapted from Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter: Oranges vs. Orange Juice: Which Is Better? January 25, 2016

7 Surprising Sources of Added Sugar

Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recently recommended limiting added sugars to no more than 10% of daily calories.   All sugars, whether naturally occurring or added, affect the body similarly. But nutrition experts focus on reducing added sugars because they don't come with additional nutrients. Fruits contain a lot of sugar, but also deliver fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals.

Americans average 475 calories a day from added sugars, or 123 grams - the equivalent of 30 teaspoons of sugar. In a 2,000-calorie daily diet, the recommended maximum 10% of calories from sugar would total just 51 grams of added sugar.

Cutting back on sugared soft drinks and other caloric sweetened beverages is an obvious way to start reducing your intake, followed by candy and sugar-sweetened baked goods.  But an estimated 75% of packaged foods purchased in the US also contain added sugar, including some surprising savory foods ranging from ketchup to baked beans. If you're looking to take control of what you consume and cut back on your added-sugar intake, keep in mind these less-obvious sources:

Tomato sauces: Tomato sauce and tomato-based pasta sauces may contain more sugar than they do any other ingredient besides tomatoes. The more "ready to serve" a product is, the more likely it is to be laden with sugar, with popular brands containing 10-15 grams per half-cup. (A regular 12-ounce soft drink, for comparison, contains about 40 grams of sugar.) Check the Nutrition Facts panel and ingredients list, and consider cooking your own. Even if you start with canned tomato sauce or paste, you'll be in charge of what else goes in - like healthy veggies such as onions, garlic and peppers.

Salad dressings: You often get sugar instead of healthy vegetable oils in "reduced-fat" dressings. Such bottled products contain up to 3 grams of sugar per tablespoon - about the same concentration, by weight, as a regular soft drink. Make your own vinaigrettes using heart-healthy unsaturated oils like soybean or canola, getting flavor from spices and vinegar instead of sugar.

Ketchup and barbecue sauces: Would you like some sugar with your burger and fries? A tablespoon of ketchup contains about 3.6 grams of sugar, something to be aware of as you squeeze that bottle. You probably don't want to make your own ketchup just to save a few grams of sugar, but cooking up your own barbecue sauce might be worth it: Brands vary widely, but many list sugar in some form (such as high-fructose corn syrup) as the second ingredient after tomato puree, totaling up to 8 grams per tablespoon. (And who uses only a tablespoon of barbecue sauce?)

Baked beans: As nutritious as beans are, you're better off buying them without the 20 grams of sugar per cup found in sweeter canned varieties of baked beans.

Cereals: We're not talking about the sugar-coated kids' cereals you're already steering clear of, but rather the healthy-sounding choices that nonetheless pack a surprising sugar kick. Oat brans, oat and wheat squares, granolas and other fiber-rich cereals typically contain 10-15 grams of sugar per serving. Check the label and make sure the nutrition benefit is worth the sugar.

Granola bars: Similarly, granola and "trail mix" bars seem healthy but can really be just crunchy delivery mechanisms for sugar. Chocolate and other coatings can easily bring the total to 20 grams per bar. Check the Nutrition Facts panel, or try making your own.

Frozen entrées: Desserts aren't the only thing in the freezer section with sugar. That chicken pot pie has 4 grams per serving, a typical serving of lasagna has 6 grams, and honey-roasted turkey breast might contain 9 grams of sugars.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Munch on some Carrots!

Researchers have found that carrot consumption not only helps insure an adequate intake of a variety of important nutrients and fiber, but may also reduce your risk of chronic disease.  Carrots are best known for their beta-carotene content (a form of vitamin A), but are also packed with a range of other phytochemicals and nutrients that contribute to optimal health.

It is believed that carrots were first cultivated as medicinal plants. Originating in the Middle East, the carrot is related to a family of plants, Umbelliferae, that produce umbrella-like flower clusters; these include celery, fennel, parsnips, dill and parsley. Early carrots were purple, red, yellow and white, with the familiar orange color not developed until the 16th and 17th centuries, by Dutch growers. The name "carrot" comes from the Greek "karoton," meaning horn-like and referring to the shape of the root that's the most commonly consumed part of the plant.  Carrot greens are also edible and are high in vitamin K.

With just 25 calories in one medium carrot, you get 1.7 grams of fiber (6.8% of the Daily Value), 195 milligrams of potassium (5.6% of the DV), 3.6 milligrams of vitamin C (6% of the DV) and smaller amounts of other nutrients. The fiber in carrots includes pectin, which may have cholesterol-lowering properties.

Carrots are best known as a source of vitamin A, mostly in the form of beta-carotene. A single medium carrot delivers almost twice the DV of vitamin A, which is associated with carrots' most celebrated health benefit - improving your vision. Except for people with vitamin A deficiency (rare in developed countries), however, eating more carrots is actually unlikely to help you see better. That popular association came from an advertising campaign by the British Royal Air Force in World War II, designed to throw off the Germans by crediting carrots - instead of the secret invention of radar - for pilots' keen eyesight.

One study did find that women who ate more carrots had lower rates of glaucoma. Animal studies have linked nutrients in carrots to reduced risk of cataracts.

 Like all healthy foods, carrots are much more than just the sum of their individual nutrients. A 10-year Dutch study published in 2011 in the British Journal of Nutrition, for example, linked consumption of deep-orange fruits and vegetables - especially carrots - to a lower risk of coronary heart disease. People who ate at least 25 grams (0.9 ounces, less than half a medium carrot) daily were at significantly lower risk. Carrots, the largest contributor to orange-produce intake, were specifically associated with a 32% lower risk compared to those eating almost none.

A group of phytonutrients found in carrots called polyacetylenes, including the compounds falcarinol and falcarindiol, have also attracted scientific interest for possible cardiovascular benefits. These compounds are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties and to keep blood cells from clumping together. Other studies are investigating these compounds' ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Different-colored carrots contain different potentially beneficial antioxidants. Red carrots are high in lycopene, while purple carrots get their color from anthocyanins, much like berries.

  Much debate has focused on the preparation methods most likely to obtain the most nutrients from carrots. It's not necessary to peel them, and some studies have found that the peel is richest in nutrients. A few tests have also suggested that cutting or chopping carrots after cooking, rather than before, preserves more nutrients.

Juicing, an increasingly popular way to consume carrots and other produce, is fine if it gets you to eat more vegetables and fruits - but keep in mind that you're leaving the beneficial fiber of carrots behind. (Using a blender instead of a juice extractor preserves the fiber.)

What about raw versus cooked? The science is mixed. While cooking destroys some heat-sensitive nutrients, such as vitamin C, it helps make others more readily absorbed by the body. Steaming or microwaving carrots, rather than boiling them, loses fewer nutrients to the cooking water. Roasting carrots brings out their natural sweetness. The bottom line? Eat your carrots however you think they taste best - just eat more of them.

Adapted from Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter:  Are You Seeing The Health Benefits of Carrots?  May 18, 2015