From the March 2015 Issue

Don’t Fear these Exotic Fruits

Fruits comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, flavors, and textures. While there are so many fruits you may be able to grow in your own backyard, such as apples, strawberries and grapes, more exotic varieties are becoming increasingly available. Let these three fruits—dragon fruit, cherimoya, and rambutan—offer a world of delicious, nutritious discovery.

Current Issue

Inflammatory Level of Foods Linked with Cancer

Inflammation contributes to the development of conditions, such as metabolic syndrome and cancer, and diet plays a role in inflammation. Thus, researchers at the University of South Carolina developed a dietary inflammatory index (DII) of 45 foods, nutrients and phytochemicals to help gauge a food’s ability to increase or decrease inflammation based on its impact on inflammatory biomarkers. The DII was developed in a review of 1,943 research studies that evaluated the effect of diet on inflammation.

Menu Labeling Coming to a Restaurant Near You

The FDA final ruling to implement a national menu labeling standard for chain restaurants made national headlines recently—and rightly so. This is big news! Part of the 2010 health care law, this new standard preempts state and local menu labeling laws, and applies to all chains with 20 or more locations operating under the same name. These restaurants will be required to provide consumers with clear, consistent nutrition information on menu items in a direct and accessible manner, including calorie information for standard items on menus and menu boards, and other nutrient information (i.e., fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugars) upon request. Examples of some of the foods covered in the rule include meals from sit-down restaurants, drive-thru foods, take-out food, deli sandwiches, salad or hot bar items, bakery and coffee shop baked goods, ice cream shop desserts, hot dogs at convenience stores, and certain alcoholic beverages.

Use Caution When Eating Raw Fish; No Clear Risks for Fluoride

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in six Americans suffers from a foodborne illness each year. Of those, only a small percentage is caused by the consumption of raw or undercooked fish, like sashimi (raw fish) or sushi (rice and raw fish) preparations. Fresh caught fish does have potential to cause illness because of parasites, bacteria, or viruses present in the fish when it comes out of the water. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that fish to be served raw should be flash frozen to destroy potentially deadly parasites.

Soy Myths Exposed

Plenty of myths surround soy, from causing breast cancer to feminizing men. But what does the science say? Since 1990, over 10,000 peer-reviewed studies have been conducted on soy, a food consumed worldwide in many forms over the centuries. The evidence indicates that moderate soy consumption is safe, and even healthful.

Plants As “Chill Pills”

Worry and fear can sap productivity and enjoyment of life, and make prescription anti-anxiety medications enticing. Unfortunately, such medicines can be addictive and carry unwanted side effects. A growing number of studies point to natural plant substances for anxiety relief. Here are some promising options.

How to Decipher Supermarket Shelf Nutrition Labels

Supermarkets across the country are offering shelf nutrition labeling programs, which can help shoppers more easily identify the best food choices. These nutrition shelf labeling programs vary by retailer: Some identify specific product nutrition attributes, such as “low sodium,” while others feature a rating depicted by stars or a score. These labels go beyond front-of-package nutrition labels implemented by food manufacturers—they’re placed directly at the point of purchase, on the store shelf adjacent to the price tag, for optimal assistance. Here, EN helps you navigate these shelf label systems for better understanding—and smarter food choices.

Don’t Get Burned on Frozen Meals

While they may not hold a candle to a comforting, homemade meal, frozen meals certainly have their place in today’s busy world. And the supermarket frozen food aisle is chock full of countless varieties of individual frozen meals, ranging from classic comfort food to Italian cuisine to Asian fare. And whether you like chicken, beef, seafood, or vegetarian meals, you’re sure to find something that fits your taste.

Say “Yes” to Canned Fruits, Vegetables, and Beans

Canned foods—fruits, vegetables, and beans—are the ultimate convenience foods—nutritious, available year-round, and economical. Yet surveys show they are misunderstood and not considered healthful choices. Historically, canning was developed to preserve summer’s bounty, and extend food availability all year long to prevent seasonal starvation. Canned foods contain the same important nutrients—sometimes even more—as fresh foods, and they can help you fit more fruits, vegetables, and seafood into your diet, at a lower cost.

Diving Into Farmed Fish

“Depending on where you live, there is no industrial hunting anymore,” says Aaron McNevin, Director of Aquaculture for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF,) a global nonprofit conservation organization. Large buffalo herds no longer roam the prairie, and wild fish populations, many of which are threatened, may be going the way of the buffalo.

Go Bananas!

The folklore. Bananas didn’t arrive in the Americas until the 16th century, by way of Portuguese sailors, but they’re one of our favorite fruits. Americans eat, on average, about 30 pounds annually. Bananas originate in Southeast Asia, but their name comes from the Arab word banan, meaning “finger.” The banana’s botanical name, Musa sapientum, translates to “fruit of the Wise Men,” from the legend that Indian gurus sat in the shade of the plant’s large leaves while they meditated. Bananas have long held folkloric health benefits; Chinese medicine practitioners recommend them for lowering blood pressure and relieving constipation and hemorrhoids. Even the peel is used by some cultures for polishing silverware and shoes, and soothing mosquito bites.

Research Roundup: March 2015

Trans Fats Linked with Memory. Consuming trans fats is associated with worsened memory in young and middle-aged males, according to a study of 1,000 healthy men. Researchers analyzed trans fat intake through questionnaires and assessed memory using 104 cards with words written on them. Participants consuming the most trans fats remembered 10 percent fewer words compared to those consuming the least amount.

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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