From the July 2015 Issue

Celebrate Cruciferous Vegetables

There’s a reason you feel that tingle on your tongue when you bite into a raw kale salad or a crisp fresh radish: Both kale and radishes are cruciferous vegetables, and sources of sulfur- containing compounds called glucosinolates, which are responsible for imparting a characteristic pungent, sometimes spicy, flavor—as well as health benefits.


Current Issue

Processed Foods Dominate Supermarket Shopping

Highly processed foods—soda, cookies, chips, white bread, prepared meals—make up more than 60 percent of the calories in the foods we buy, according to an analysis of grocery purchases in the U.S. From 2000 to 2012, researchers from the University of North Carolina asked 157,142 households to use barcode scanners to record all foods and beverages they purchased from supermarkets for at least one year. Their purchases were then linked to nutrition, product, and ingredient information. They found not only that highly processed foods were dominant among shopping patterns, but also that these foods were higher in fat, sugar, and salt compared to less processed foods. The study was presented at the American Society for Nutrition Annual Meeting in March 2015. \nSo, what does this study highlight? Many Americans really do prefer convenience and taste over health when it comes to making food choices. However, consider this: a bag of prewashed salad greens, dumped into a salad bowl and tossed with a vinaigrette is arguably delicious, and takes seconds to prepare. And what about the ease—and flavor—of a fresh, ripe tomato sliced into a sandwich made with whole grain bread, or a can of earthy garbanzo beans mixed into a salad, or a perfect summer peach for dessert. Easy, tasty, and healthy are not mutually exclusive descriptors.

You Can Learn to Like Less Salt

You already know that too much salt can raise the risk for cardiovascular disease through its effect of raising blood pressure. Unfortunately, many of our favorite foods—canned soups, rice mixes, pasta sauces—are loaded with salt, though low-sodium versions are available. But is it possible to change your taste preference to foods with less salt? Recent research indicates it’s possible, though it may take some patience.

Let Food Be Your Medicine

In the 4th Century BCE, the Greek physician Hippocrates authored the famous oath, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” We now know that foods like berries, green tea, and mushrooms are more than just a delicious source of energy—the nutrients inside can indeed be powerful medicine to help prevent and even manage disease.

Make it (Healthy) Iced Tea Time!

After water, tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world. Aside from pure enjoyment, drinking tea is linked with several health benefits. Here in America, 85 percent of that tea is iced; fortunately, the icy drink offers most of the same benefits as the steamy version. Drinking tea has been shown to possibly reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and gastrointestinal cancers, such as colon and rectal, as well as to lower cholesterol levels.

How to Eat Healthy on the Road

It’s challenging to eat well on the road. Routines are broken, food choices are limited and endless stretches of waiting lend themselves to mindless snacking. When you rely on airplanes, gas stations, and trains for food, it may feel as if your only options are highly processed junk food or an empty stomach. But there’s healthy food hiding in plain sight, if you know where to look. EN’s strategies can help you create a healthy meal or snack wherever you go.

Seeds of Change

Seeds are proof that Mother Nature works in remarkable ways. The bearers of life from the ground up, seeds contain all the makings for an entire plant. And in turn, these little powerhouses are packed with nutritional treasures. “As a group, seeds offer healthy doses of fiber, protein, beneficial fats, and minerals, and are extremely versatile in the kitchen, which makes it easy to enjoy them every day,” says Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, MA, RD, author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet. Here are six stand-outs to sprinkle into your diet more often.

Basil: King of Herbs

The folklore. Basil is the common name for the culinary herb Ocimum basilicum, which is a member of the mint family. Thought to originate from Africa, the herb was domesticated in India, and then introduced to America in the 17th century by way of the English. The name “basil” is derived from the Greek word “basileus,” which means “kingly” or “royal.” Indeed, the herb has been found buried with kings in Egyptian tombs. Throughout history, basil has been used to aid a number of ailments, such as digestion issues, epilepsy, gout, hiccups, impotency, fluid retention, sore throats, toothaches, and snake and insect bites.

Too Much Salt Harms Organs

Even if you are not “salt sensitive,” meaning that salt intake does not affect your blood pressure, eating too much salt may still damage your blood vessels, heart, kidneys, and brain, according to scientists at the University of Delaware. In this review of the evidence on salt and health, they found that high salt intake may impair the endothelium (inner lining of blood vessels involved in blood clotting and immune function), increase arterial stiffness (hardening of the arteries), weaken heart and kidney function, and interfere with the sympathetic nervous system (the “flight-or-fight” response). This study further emphasizes the importance of monitoring sodium intake. The USDA recommends that healthy adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day.

Too Much Salt Harms Organs

Even if you are not “salt sensitive,” meaning that salt intake does not affect your blood pressure, eating too much salt may still damage your blood vessels, heart, kidneys, and brain, according to scientists at the University of Delaware. In this review of the evidence on salt and health, they found that high salt intake may impair the endothelium (inner lining of blood vessels involved in blood clotting and immune function), increase arterial stiffness (hardening of the arteries), weaken heart and kidney function, and interfere with the sympathetic nervous system (the “flight-or-fight” response). This study further emphasizes the importance of monitoring sodium intake. The USDA recommends that healthy adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day.

Quick-Cooking Grains Make Healthful Choices; GABA Supplements for Anxiety

Is there a difference between whole grains and quick-cooking whole grains?

About EN

Environmental Nutrition is the award-winning, independent newsletter (no sponsors, no advertisers) that opens your eyes to what you put in your mouth. Are you floundering in the swamp of conflicting advice on low-carb diets, vitamin E, eating fish, genetically modified foods? EN offers authoritative, reliable, practical guidance on what works and what doesn't in balancing your diet to protect... More.

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