March 5, 2012
By Amanda L. Chan
“Here is some good news for coffee lovers. Still though, you shouldn’t drink it all day long. A cup in the morning is probably best. Moderation is always key.” –KTRN
Finding it impossible to kick your java habit? It might be just fine to keep your morning cup around.
A new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that regularcoffee-drinkers don’t have an increased risk of diseases like heart disease and cancer, and they also have a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes compared to sporadic drinkers or non-drinkers, Reuters reported.
“Our results suggest that coffee consumption is not harmful for healthy adults in respect of risk of major chronic disease,” study researcher Anna Floegel, an epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke, told Reuters.
The study included 42,659 people who participated in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)–Germany study. The researchers had the study participants record how frequently they ate the different foods in their diets (including coffee), and they also collected information on whether the study participants had any chronic diseases.
After almost nine years, the researchers found that the people who drank four or more cups of coffee a day were at no higher risk for chronic disease, compared with those who drank less than a cup of coffee a day, according to the study.
Daily Glow pointed out that the coffee-drinkers actually had a 23 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes than the non-coffee drinkers.
The Mayo Clinic reported that past studies on coffee that showed a possible link with disease likely didn’t account for factors like smoking and being sedentary, which may have been popular lifestyle characteristics for coffee-drinkers when the research was conducted.
Are you a coffee-drinker? What do you love about the brew? And be sure to check out our round-up of seven healthy reasons to love coffee.
August 13th, 2010
By: Ethan A. Huff
A recent research study on vitamin D has shown that even low-dose vitamin D supplementation plays a big role in preventing breast cancer. According to the study, which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who take at least 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day lower their risk of developing breast cancer by 24 percent.
Over 6,500 patients participated in the study, which study authors believe points to vitamin D’s ability to regulate and control the growth and spread of malignant cancer cells. According to Laura Anderson, one of the study authors, breast cells have their own receptors for vitamin D, so it makes perfect sense that vitamin D exerts a positive influence on the body in terms of warding off cancer.
Several other recent studies have also shown a definitive link between vitamin D intake and decreased cancer risk, highlighting this nutrient’s powerful health-promoting and disease-preventing capabilities.
The research team also noted that vitamin D assimilates very well when coupled with calcium, and vice versa. The two vitamins work in tandem for maximum absorption of both in the body, so it is important to get plenty of both.
And although it was not specifically mentioned in the report, vitamin D is easily obtained through natural sunlight exposure. Your skin is fully capable of absorbing sunlight and processing it into vitamin D. In fact, just 15 to 30 minutes of exposure a day during the warmer months will ensure that you get the maximum amount of vitamin D for maintaining optimal health, without the need for a supplement.
During the winter months when sunlight exposure is limited, you can supplement with natural vitamin D3 as an alternative. It will effectively achieve the same results as if you were getting natural sunlight, however natural sunlight is preferable when available.
The governmental recommended daily intake of vitamin D is a mere 400 IU for adults, which many now consider to be far too low. To get a significant therapeutic effect from vitamin D, dosages upwards of 10,000 IU a day are far more appropriate. Because the body absorbs roughly 20,000 IU from the sun before shutting off for the day, it is safe to assume that supplementing with vitamin D3 in roughly this amount is safe as well.
March 26, 2010
By: E. Huff
A study conducted by the Catalan Institute for Oncology in Barcelona has concluded that eating a “Mediterranean” diet significantly reduces the risk of developing stomach cancer. Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study focused specifically on gastric cancer which is the second most common cause of cancer death in the world.
Dr. Carlos Gonzalez and his colleagues evaluated a European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study of over 485,000 people from ten European countries. In the study, participants were evaluated based on how closely their diets aligned with the traditional Mediterranean diet. Such a diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fish, as opposed to the Western diet which is rich in meat and dairy products.
What they found was that those whose diets most closely matched the traditional Mediterranean diet were 33 percent less likely to develop stomach cancer than those who fell on the opposite end of the diet spectrum. Developed on an 18-point scale, the study revealed that for each point gained on the Mediterranean diet spectrum, a person’s risk of developing stomach cancer drops by 5 percent.
Since stomach cancer is extremely deadly, claiming the lives of over 75 percent of people who have it in just five years, researchers are aiming to pinpoint the ideal dietary composition for preventing its onset. According to them, the Mediterranean diet is an excellent start in helping to stave off stomach cancer.
Similar studies have found other benefits that can be derived from eating a Mediterranean diet, including reducing inflammation, preventing heart disease, and preventing obesity and diabetes.
A 2009 study published in Cancer Prevention Research found that a compound in broccoli called isothiocyanate sulforaphane (SF) works to prevent gastritis, ulcers, and ultimately stomach cancer. Conducted using broccoli sprouts, the study revealed that SF increases the activity of certain enzymes that protect the stomach from oxidative damage, effectively guarding it from developing disease.
Broccoli, as well as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and Chinese “bok choy” also contains indole-3-carbinols (I3Cs) which is another powerful anti-cancer molecule. Not only do these compounds prevent precancerous cells from turning into malignant tumors, they effectively detoxify the body and help to maintain alkalinity. I3Cs are also capable of killing existing cancer cells and stopping tumors from growing.
Other anti-cancer foods include garlic, onions, turmeric, ginger, pomegranates, citrus fruits, berries, and cacao, just to name a few.
March 23, 2010
By: Marion Nestle
Recent publications have found no correlation between intake of saturated fat and coronary heart disease (CHD)—see, for example, the recent meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition—but the debate over the role of saturated fat continues.
In the same issue of the Journal, another study reports that reducing saturated fat only works if you replace it with something better. If you replace saturated fat with carbohydrates, the effects on heart disease will be even worse.
The fat story is not simple (in my chapter on fats and oils in What to Eat, I explain the biochemistry of food fats). The main reason for the complexity is that different kinds of fats do not occur separately in foods.
Without exception, food fats are mixtures of three kinds of fatty acids: saturated (no double bonds and solid at room temperature), monounsaturated (one double bond), and polyunsaturated (two or more double bonds and liquid at room temperature). Food fats just differ in proportions of the three kinds.
Meat, dairy, and egg fats are generally saturated. Plant fats and oils are generally unsaturated.
How to make sense of the saturated fat story? A joint panel of experts from the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization just produced a new review of the evidence (click here for a PDF). The panel evaluated CHD morbidity and mortality data from epidemiological studies and controlled clinical trials. It found:
• Convincing evidence that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated decreases the risk of CHD.
• Probable evidence that replacing saturated fat with largely refined carbohydrates (starch and sugar) has no benefit and even may increase the risk of CHD.
• Insufficient evidence on whether replacing saturated fat with monounsaturated fats or whole grain carbohydrates affects the risk of CHD, but a trend suggesting that these might decrease CHD risk.
• Possible positive relationship between saturated fat and increased risk of diabetes.
• Insufficient evidence for establishing any relationship of saturated fat with cancer.
The panel’s recommendations:
1 – Replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6) in the diet, and
2 – Limit saturated fat to 10 percent of daily calories or less.
Translation: Replace more of your animal fats with vegetable fats.
Historical note: These are precisely the same recommendations that have been standard in the U.S. for at least 50 years. This was good advice in the late 1950s, and it still is.