Category Archives: vegetables

Increase your intake of polyphenols and live a longer life

FoodFacts.com would love for all food consumers to answer this question: If someone told you that you could extend your life by increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables, would you do it? Pretty easy to answer, isn’t it? Today we read some new research that infers just that!

It is the first time that a scientific study associates high polyphenols intake with a 30% reduction in mortality in older adults. The research, published on Journal of Nutrition, is the first to evaluate the total dietary polyphenol intake by using a nutritional biomarker and not only a food frequency questionnaire. Research is signed by Cristina Andrés Lacueva, Montserrat Rabassa and Mireia Urpí Sardà, from the Department of Nutrition and Bromatology of the UB; Raúl Zamora Ros (ICO-IDIBELL), and experts Antonio Cherubini (Italian National Research Centre on Aging), Stefania Bandinelli (Azienda Sanitaria di Firenze, Italy) and Luigi Ferrucci (National Institute on Aging, United States).

Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds found largely in fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, nuts, legumes and cereals. More than 8,000 different phenolic compounds have been identified in plants. Polyphenols have antioxidant, antiinflammatory, anticarcinogenic, etc. effects.

The research published on Journal of Nutrition is based on a 12-year follow-up of a population sample composed by 807 men and women aged 65 or over from Greve and Bagno (Tuscany, Italy), within the InCHIANTI study. The group of the UB analysed the effect of polyphenol-rich diets by means of a nutritional biomarker — the total urinary polyphenol (TUP) concentration — as a proxy measure of intake. To be exact, UB researchers contributes to first literature references on TUP application to epidemiological or clinical studies.

Professor Cristina Andrés Lacueva, head of the Biomarkers and Nutritional & Food Metabolomics Research Group of the UB and coordinator of the study, explains that “the development and use of nutritional biomarkers enables to make a more precise and, particularly, more objective estimation of intake as it is not only based on participants’ memory when answering questionnaire. Nutritional biomarkers take into account bioavailabity and individual differences. According to the expert, “this methodology makes a more reliable and accurate evaluation of the association between food intake and mortality or disease risk.”

In conclusion, the research proves that overall mortality was reduced by 30% in participants who had rich-polyphenol diets (>650 mg/day) in comparison with the participants who had low-polyphenol intakes ( Raúl Zamora Ros, first author of the study, points out that “results corroborate scientific evidence suggesting that people consuming diets rich in fruit and vegetables are at lower risk of several chronic diseases and overall mortality.” Moreover, the research stresses the importance of evaluating — if possible — food intake by using nutritional biomarkers, not only food frequency questionnaires.

Here at FoodFacts.com, we try to get our five a day every day. We’re committed to a healthy diet based on fresh, whole foods and avoiding controversial ingredients. Our awareness of how nutrition affects our health and well being is paramount in our mission and in our lives. Today we just added to that awareness with this great news! Lets pass it on!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131009111025.htm

Eat more fruits and vegetables and live longer!

FoodFacts.com is a big believer in finding every possible way to consume your five a day! Fruits and vegetables are such an important source of nutrients for us. They really do help us to maintain our health, and have been associated with lowered risk and even prevention of various chronic health conditions and diseases. Today we found yet another reason to find even more healthful and delicious preparations for fruits and vegetables.

A new European study analyzes the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and the risk of mortality and concludes that fruit and vegetable consumption reduces all-cause mortality, and especially cardiovascular disease mortality.

The benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption are not a new discovery. However, new research confirms their role in reducing mortality. This reduction is more significant in the case of deaths from cardiovascular disease.

The analysis, recently published in the ‘American Journal of Epidemiology’, was directed by researchers from ten countries, including Spain, as part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).

The sample analyzed includes 25,682 deaths (10,438 due to cancer and 5,125 due to cardiovascular disease) among the 451,151 participants studied over more than 13 years.
“This study is the most significant epidemiological study that this association has examined to date,” María José Sánchez Pérez, director of the Andalusian School of Public Health’s (EASP) Granada Cancer Registry and one of the authors of the research, explains to SINC.

According to the results, a combined fruit and vegetable consumption of more than 569 grams per day reduces the risk of mortality by 10% and delays the risk of mortality by 1.12 years compared to a consumption of less than 249 grams per day.

Furthermore, for every 200 gram increase in daily fruit and vegetable consumption, the risk falls by 6%. The proportion of deaths that could be prevented if everyone eating too few fruit and vegetables increased their consumption by 100-200 grams per day — thus reaching the recommended 400-500 grams per day — is 2.9%.

Previous studies already noted that fruit and vegetable consumption, in accordance with the recommended daily allowance, prevents the development of chronic diseases, and reduces the risk of mortality by 10-25%.

“There is now sufficient evidence of the beneficial effect of fruit and vegetable consumption in the prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases,” Sánchez states, “for this reason, one of the most effective preventative measures is promoting their consumption in the population.”

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality by 15%. Furthermore, more than 4% of deaths due to cardiovascular disease could be prevented by consuming more than 400 grams of fruit and vegetables a day.

The mortality risk reduction due to fruit and vegetable consumption was greater in those participants who consumed alcohol (around 30-40% risk reduction), who were obese (20%), and “possibly” also in those who smoked.

The authors add that this positive effect is probably due to their high antioxidant content, which mitigates the oxidative stress caused by alcohol, tobacco and obesity.

“As such, these population groups in particular could benefit from the positive effects of fruit and vegetables in preventing chronic diseases and their associated mortality risk,” Sánchez concludes.

All these benefits just from increasing fruit and vegetable consumption! FoodFacts.com couldn’t be more pleased! And with so many flavorful, colorful choices to pick from, we can keep our diets tasty, interesting and healthy and enjoy a longer, healthier life!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130926102433.htm

A great new reason for women to make sure they get their five a day

FoodFacts.com is always talking about the health benefits of a balanced diet that emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables. There are so many nutrients derived from the colorful varieties we’re lucky enough to be able to choose from! We know that getting our five servings a day of fruits and vegetables helps to reduce our risk of heart attack and stroke, in addition to diabetes, obesity, and even some types of cancer. Today we read about a new study that points to a lowered risk of bladder cancer for women who increase their fruit and vegetable consumption!

Researchers from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center reported on this new study in The Journal of Nutrition. The authors explained that fruits and vegetables have been extensively studied for their possible effects on the risk of cancer, including bladder cancer. Fruits and vegetables contain several nutrients, phytochemicals, as well as antioxidants which potentially protect from cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute2, there are approximately 72,570 new cancer bladder cases and 15,210 deaths caused by bladder cancer annually in the United States.

Song-Yi Park, PhD., and colleagues set out to determine what effect high fruit and vegetable intake might have on invasive bladder cancer risk. The team carried out a prospective analysis involving 185,885 older adults who participated in the Multiethnic Cohort Study. The study was set up in 1993 to examine the relationship between dietary, lifestyle, genetic factors, and the risk of cancer.

The researchers gathered and analyzed data over a 12.5-year period. During that time 152 females and 429 males developed invasive bladder cancer.

After making adjustments for some variables which influence cancer risk, such as age, the scientists discovered that those with the lowest bladder cancer risk were women who ate the most fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Park and team found that:

• Women with the highest yellow-orange vegetable intake had a 52% lower risk of developing invasive bladder cancer compared to women with the lowest consumption.
• Women with the highest consumption of vitamins A, C, and E were the least likely to develop bladder cancer.
• Fruit and vegetable consumption appeared to have no effect on male bladder cancer risk.

FoodFacts.com certainly stands behind the idea that five servings of fruits and vegetables every day is a good idea for everyone. This new information, however, gives all women yet another reason to be vigilant about their fruit and vegetable consumption. Keeping your fruit and veggie choices interesting and colorful makes it easy to include them in your daily diet. And your optimal daily diet will help you enjoy good health for years to come!

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265231.php

A new strategy for nutritional awareness in children

FoodFacts.com knows that most of us find ourselves sounding just like our parents with our own children at the dinner table. “Eat your vegetables!” It’s the admonition most heard at dinner time, much to the chagrin of millions of children. We painstakingly prepare vegetables in manners we think will make them more palatable for kids, trying our hardest to get them used to the flavors we know are so important for their health and well-being.

So what’s the deal, anyway? Thinking back on it, we probably weren’t the best vegetable-eaters ourselves when we were children. Now we think they can be delicious components of meals, or even meals themselves! Perhaps our own nutritional awareness expanded (as well as our taste buds) as we grew older.

Now there’s new research that suggests that teaching children nutritional awareness may actually help them develop an appreciation for healthy foods earlier. Coming out of Stanford University and published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, the research began by hypothesizing that preschoolers would be capable of understanding a more conceptual idea of nutrition.

Based on the idea that young children have a natural curiosity and desire to understand why and how things work, the researchers developed five storybooks that simplified various nutrition-related themes. These included dietary variety, digestion, food categories, microscopic nutrients and nutrients as fuel for biological functions.

The researchers assigned some preschool classrooms to read nutrition books during snack time for about 3 months, while other classrooms were assigned to conduct snack time as usual. Later, the preschoolers were asked questions about nutrition.

The children who had been read the nutrition books were more likely to understand that food had nutrients, and that different kinds of nutrients were important for various bodily functions (even functions that weren’t mentioned in the books). They were also more knowledgeable about digestive processes, understanding, for example, that the stomach breaks down food and blood carries nutrients.

These children also more than doubled their voluntary intake of vegetables during snack time after the three-month intervention, whereas the amount that the control group ate stayed about the same.

When the conceptual program was pitted against a more conventional teaching strategy focused on the enjoyment of healthy eating and trying new foods, the results showed that both interventions led to increased vegetable consumption. Yet, the children in the conceptual program showed more knowledge about nutrition and a greater overall increase in vegetable consumption.

Subsequent research is needed to confirm whether nutritional interventions like these can encourage healthy eating habits in children over the long-term, but the researchers are confident that these results show promise.

FoodFacts.com knows that our children are smart, small humans. They grow increasingly smarter over the generations. We also believe strongly that nutritional awareness is the key to our population’s successful adaptation to healthier lifestyle habits. Teaching our young children the concepts of healthy eating at their own level may have more beneficial effects than simply telling them to eat their vegetables at every meal. And we’ll be empowering them for making a lifetime of healthy eating choices!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130701135600.htm

Eat your colors and reduce your risk of breast cancer

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. FoodFacts.com has always felt that Hippocrates had the right idea! We’re always thrilled to learn about how the foods we consume can have a positive influence on our health and well being. And we’re especially excited to discover that simple additions of fresh, healthy food to our diet can help us avoid chronic and often fatal illness.

A recent study from the researchers at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School has shown that women with high levels of carotenoids (naturally occurring plant chemicals) have a significantly lower risk of breast cancer.

While we know that diets high in fruits and vegetables have a positive influence on the risk of many different cancers, this particular link to those that are high in carotenoids offer specific benefits for women.

We’ve often heard the advice that “It’s best to eat in color”. This is certainly the case here. Carotenoids are pigements that give vegetables and fruits deep yellow, orange and red hues. Carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, winter squash, apricots, mangoes and papyas are all great examples of foods high in carotenoids.

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of data from 8 different studies that included 7,000 women. They discovered that the women whose blood levels were in the top 20 percent for carotenoids were 15 to 20 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those women whose carotenoid levels were in the bottom 20 percent. Most impressive, thought, was that the link between higher carotenoid levels in the blood was the strongest for the most aggressive, lethal forms of breast cancer.

Researchers noted that it seemed to be a linear relationship. The higher the levels of caretonoids in the blood, the lower the risk of breast cancer.

While more research is needed to discover the specific reason for the link, researchers hypothesize that the body may metabolize carotenoids into retinol, which may inhibit tumor growth.

It was noted in the study that the most effective way to boost carotenoid levels in the blood is through food consumption, not supplementation. They clearly felt that increasing fruit and vegetable intake is the best way to receive the health benefits of carotenoids and perhaps decrease the risk of breast cancer.

There are so many wonderful fruits and vegetables in beautiful colors. FoodFacts.com honestly has a difficult time deciding which ones to include in our diets first. Whichever you choose, enjoy them in good health, knowing that the rich bounty of colorful, carotenoid-containing produce may help us decrease our odds of developing a deadly disease.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/039018_breast_cancer_carotenoids_fruits_and_vegetables.html#ixzz2VUaOiltR

Increasing fiber intake may lower first-time stroke risk

FoodFacts.com evaluates every aspect of the food products in our database. Fiber is an aspect that we note on the Report Card for each one. It’s been well-known that fiber intake is an important part of a healthy diet for many reasons. Consumers are attracted to products that are higher in fiber for weight and appetite control But we’ve also known that dietary fiber can help reduce risk factors for stroke and can influence blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Today we found new research that indicates that eating more fiber can decrease the risk of an initial stroke. Dietary fiber is the part of the plant that the body doesn’t absorb during digestion. Fiber can be soluble, which means it dissolves in water, or insoluble.
This new study found that each seven-gram increase in total daily fiber intake was associated with a 7 percent decrease in first-time stroke risk. Researchers noted that this seven-gram increase could be satisfied easily with one serving of whole wheat pasta and two servings of fruits or vegetables. This is especially important for those with pre-existing stroke risk factors like being overweight, having high blood pressure or smoking.
The research analyzed eight previous studies conducted between 1990 and 2012. These studies focused on different types of stroke, with four of them specifically focused on ischemic stroke (occurring when a clot blocks a blood vessel to the brain). Three of them were focused on hemorrhagic stroke (occurring when a blood vessel bleeds into the brain or on its surface). Findings from all the studies were combined and other stroke risk factors were considered.

The American Heart Association recommends a daily fiber intake of at least 25 grams daily. That can be achieved through six to eight servings of grains and eight to ten servings of fruits and vegetables. Most Americans do not consume the recommended level.
Stoke is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. It accounts for over 137,000 deaths annually and is the leading cause of disability for stroke survivors.

FoodFacts.com wants to remind our community of the importance of our daily fiber intake. It’s not that difficult to achieve increased fiber consumption. This study indicates that by increasing our daily fiber we can decrease our risk of ever experiencing a stroke, prolonging our life and living healthier.

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130328161434.htm

Reduce your stroke risk … include more tomatoes in your diet

FoodFacts.com just found another great reason to include more tomatoes in your diet. You could lower your risk of having a stroke!

Recent research released from the University of Eastern Finland have found a link between lycopene in tomatoes and stroke prevention. This latest finding illustrates just one more benefit from tomato consumption. Last year, the National Center for Food Safety & Technology found that tomatoes may provide protection from cancer, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Seems like that juice, round, red globe packs a powerful health punch!

1,031 Finnish men participated in the study. They were between 46 and 65 years old and were followed for 12 years. They were all tested to determine their blood concentrations of lycopene when the study began. Significantly, the research showed that those men who had the highest levels of lycopene in their blood at the end of the 12 year period were at a 55% lower risk of stroke.

They compared the instance of stroke in the group of men with the lowest lycopene levels (258 in total) with the men with the highest concentrations of lycopene (259 in total). Of those with the lowest level, 25 experienced a stroke and of those with the highest concentrations, only 11 suffered from stroke.

When researchers isolated the instances of ischemic strokes which are caused by blood clots the connection to lycopene was even stronger. Those who had the highest levels of lycopene had a 59% lower risk.

FoodFacts.com recently posted a blog with information that recommended people increase their daily servings of fruits and vegetables and this research certainly seems to corroborate those thoughts. Lycopene isn’t just found in tomatoes. Fruits like watermelon, papaya and apricots are also sources of lycopene. We keep learning more about this powerful antioxidant and everything we learn points to tremendous benefits for the population.

So maybe you’re a fan of tomato based salads, or perhaps you enjoy homemade tomato sauce, or maybe roasted tomatoes are especially appealing to you – there are so many ways to include tomatoes in your diet. For FoodFacts.com, tomatoes get high points for versatility, flavor, texture and color. Experiment a little and you’ll find new and exciting ways, not only to get more lycopene in your diet, but also increase your daily fruit and vegetable servings in some flavorful new creations!

Read more: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/251246.php

7 a day is better than 5 to keep you healthy AND happy!

FoodFacts.com has reviewed research in the past that linked the consumption of junk food to a decline in the human ability to be optimistic and happy. It has been suggested that poor eating habits can actually add to depression and depressed moods. Today, however, we came across new research that links and increase in positive mental health and happiness to eating vegetables and fruits. We love the idea that our boosting our mental well being could be as simple as increasing our consumption of the foods that we already know are healthiest for our physical well being!

The University of Warwick in Great Britain conducted a study focusing on the diets of 80,000 people. They discovered that mental well being increased along with the number of servings of fruits and vegetables people consumed on a daily basis. Mental well being rose the most among those consuming seven servings each day.

While the current recommendations are to consume five servings of fruits and vegetables each day because we understand that this level of consumption protects our cardiovascular health and reduces our cancer risk, we’ve never looked at the effect of those servings – or an increase in those servings for our mental well-being.

The study focused on British citizens. It appears that currently 25% of the English population is eating one serving or no servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Only 10% are consuming seven or more. While the research doesn’t tell us that there are specific fruits and vegetables that are aiding in the mental health boost from those seven servings, they have, in fact, set a serving size that matters. One serving equals one cup. So, for instance one medium apple is one serving of fruit and two medium carrots will qualify as one serving of vegetables.

The authors of the study were somewhat surprised by their findings, mainly because mental health and well-being have not been related to diet in the past. For the most part treatment for mental health related difficulties has always been addressed medically, not nutritionally.

While we understand that nine servings per day can sound fairly daunting for many people, we know that there are some things you can do that can help increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Here are a few ideas from your friends at FoodFacts.com.

Fruit Salad for Dessert
If your family only indulges in desserts on the weekends, you might want to reconsider that schedule. On weeknights, prepare a fresh fruit salad and not only will you be treating your family to dessert, you’ll also be getting an extra serving of fruit into their diets.

Breakfast
Especially with the colder weather coming, hot cereal brings the opportunity to get more fruit into your diet. We know that prepared flavored oatmeal isn’t always made with the best ingredients. But if you add apple slices and cinnamon to a bowl of homemade oatmeal, it will be tastier than the box products and provide extra fruit for the day.

Extra Dinner Veggies
We’ve always liked the idea of getting some vegetables into an entree that may or may not be noticeable. For instance, sliced zucchini works well in lasagna and chopped spinach can easily be mixed inside a burger. A few others might include broccoli in a side of macaroni and cheese, or cabbage in mashed potatoes. You would, of course, be serving a vegetable alongside that entree, effectively adding to vegetable consumption.

Side Salads
So you have your protein, your vegetable and (perhaps) your starch picked out for your evening meal. Serve a salad with it. Salads can be prepared in interesting manners with fruit and vegetable additions that are very appealing and add new textures and flavors AND extra fruits and vegetables to your dinner!

FoodFacts.com encourages you to read more about this new research (and to try some of our ideas as well):
http://scienceblog.com/57078/fruits-and-veggies-7-a-day-for-happiness-and-mental-health/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+scienceblogrssfeed+%28ScienceBlog.com%29#S5q6kFDK0R80JVOc.99

Another great reason to go organic: pesticides in our produce

Earlier this summer, The Environmental Working Group released the eighth edition of its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. This is a great resource for consumers and FoodFacts.com wants to make our community aware of its findings.

Researchers different fruits and vegetables to determine pesticide contamination. This year’s study provides information on 45 different fruits and vegetables. All the samples of these fruits and vegetables were either washed or peeled prior to testing. In this manner the study actually reflects the amount of pesticides present when the food is actually being consumed. The results are pretty sad and kind of frightening.

An apple a day, for instance might actually end up sending you to the doctor, instead of keeping the doctor away. 98% of non-organic apples tested contained detectable levels of pesticides. Lettuce samples reflected the presence of 78 different pesticides. All the nectarines tested contained pesticide residue. Grapes “won” in the fruit category, with 64 different pesticides found in samples tested. Strawberries and blueberries were both on the list as well.

Most disturbing, however, was pesticide testing for fruit and vegetable baby food. This year’s study included green beans, pears and sweet potatoes. Sadly, after analyzing about 190 baby food samples, 92% of the pear samples tested positive for at least one pesticide. On the up side virtually none of the sweet potato baby food products contained any pesticide. On the down side, the pesticide iprodione which has been categorized as a probably carcinogen showed up in three baby food pear samples. The pesticide is not registered with the EPA for use on pears at all.

The EPW also publishes a list of produce that is least likely to test positive for pesticides. Those products include asparagus, cabbage, grapefruit, watermelon, eggplant, pineapple, frozen peas and sweet potatoes.

It’s important to note that this report is not designed to reflect the affects of pesticide exposure. It is specifically meant to measure the presence of pesticides in common fruits and vegetables in the produce aisle … and now the baby food aisle as well. Research is ongoing regarding the affects of those pesticides on consumers, which ones and in what amounts. But having an understanding of what pesticides are found and where, can help all consumers make better decisions at the grocery store. FoodFacts.com encourages you to read more about this fascinating report: http://www.ewg.org/release/ewg-releases-2012-shopper-s-guide-pesticides-produce. Information like this helps us all to understand what’s really in our food.

Another clue to the obesity problem

Food Facts is keeping a close eye out news that can help our community and the people they reach in their communities understand more about and combat the growing obesity problem in our country. Today we came across a fascinating new study that we wanted to make sure we shared with you.

A study conducted by Planet Money/National Public Radio outlines how Americans are spending money on the foods they eat. It uncovered that the country is spending more of their food budgets on sweets and processed foods than they were 30 years ago, in 1982. And while spending more on those items, we are spending the same percentage on fruits and vegetables. The scale is tipping, but in the wrong direction.

On average consumers spend 14.6% of their grocery money on fruits and vegetables. In 1982, that figure was 14.5%. Back in 1982, the grocery budget allowance for sweets and processed foods was 11.6% — considerably less than the amount allocated for fruits and vegetables. Today, in 2012, that figure has risen a whopping 11.6% to 22.9%! That’s a fairly dramatic increase.

There were other changes reflected in American spending habits as well. Meats, for instance, dropped by almost 10% of expenditures. Dairy product expenditures dropped to 11.1% from 13.3%. And spending on grains and baked goods increased from 13.2% to 14.4%.

So it appears that the data which was compiled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reflects increases in spending on foods that aren’t nutritionally important for us and decreases in foods that are actually good for us.

There are reasons to believe that cost plays a part in these statistical changes. There are some fruits and vegetables that are less expensive now than they were in 1982 (costs adjusted for inflation) and others that are markedly higher. But in today’s economic climate and consumers trying to do whatever they can to stretch their dollars and make them go further, the perception may, in fact, be different than the reality. It does appear that people look at processed foods as a less expensive alternative to fresh and are moved by their budgets as opposed to nutritional quality. The concept of convenience also rears its head here, as it’s acknowledged that the idea of packaged products is still very appealing in our busy day and age.

While finances are a concern for all Americans right now, Food Facts wonders if we’re not sacrificing our health in an effort to tighten our belts. And sadly, if we’re tightening our belts with our food budgets, maybe that’s making more of us need to loosen our belts – literally.

Read more here: http://www.factsfiguresfuture.com/issues/july-2012/where-consumers-put-their-food-money.html