From the October 2016 Issue

Make Your Diet More Nutrient-Dense

There is only so much food you can eat in any given day. So in the interest of maximizing the nutritional value of your diet, it makes sense to fill your grocery cart with nutrient-dense foods so you can spend your calorie budget wisely. Science shows that when we eat more nutrition-dense foods, which provide the greatest amount of nutrients for their calorie loads, at the expense of foods rich in empty calories we receive greater protection against chronic diseases. Take heed of these strategies to optimize every bite.


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Make Your Diet More Nutrient-Dense

There is only so much food you can eat in any given day. So in the interest of maximizing the nutritional value of your diet, it makes sense to fill your grocery cart with nutrient-dense foods so you can spend your calorie budget wisely. Science shows that when we eat more nutrition-dense foods, which provide the greatest amount of nutrients for their calorie loads, at the expense of foods rich in empty calories we receive greater protection against chronic diseases. Take heed of these strategies to optimize every bite.

3 Reasons to Load Up on Lutein-Rich Foods

Lutein is a natural part of diets rich in fruits and vegetables, but dark green leafy vegetables are particularly rich sources of lutein, and yellow vegetables also contain lutein. Chopping, puréeing, and cooking lutein-rich vegetables in oil increases the bioavailability. Egg yolks also contain lutein, and many chickens are fed a lutein-enriched diet to deepen the yellow color. One study found that the bioavailability of lutein from lutein-enriched eggs was significantly higher than that of spinach or lutein supplements.

Greenhouse Produce; Raw Nuts Benefits

Increased fruit and vegetable consumption is recommended for optimal health, but during the winter finding an abundance of local produce can be a challenge. Greenhouses, which support the cultivation of produce during the off-season, can help meet year-round demand. Yet there are concerns that greenhouses aren’t so “green” on the energy-conservation front due to heating demands. Size, construction materials, lighting, and type of crops all affect the greenhouse’s carbon footprint.

Falling for Winter Squash

Many winter squashes, particularly orange-hued butternut and pumpkin, are a leading source of beta-carotene. Once consumed, beta-carotene is converted in the body into vitamin A to help bolster immune and eye health. What’s more, a 2014 study found that higher intakes of beta-carotene might benefit your heart health by helping lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and C-reactive protein, a sign of unhealthy inflammation.

Great Grains

You've planned your meal—a juicy chicken breast, a piece of delicate fish, or a thick, meaty Portobello burger. Now, what to have alongside? Fortunately the grocery store offers many simple grain side dish mixes that require little more than some water, perhaps a wee bit of oil, and a quick cook. But are these quick-to-create dishes a healthful choice?

Ethical Eating

You’ve likely seen fair trade seals on foods, such as bananas, chocolate, and coffee, and wondered what they mean. These labels can help you make purchases that protect the wellbeing of the planet and those who produce its food. Additionally, use of these labels typically forbids the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and restricts the use of pesticides, although not all of the products are organic. Here’s a glimpse into ethical issues encountered in the production of plant-based foods.

Getting to the Bottom of Food Sensitivities

Allergies cause an immediate measurable immune response, and intolerances are delayed, reproducible symptoms often caused by the lack of an enzyme or other factor necessary to digest a food. For example, some people don’t have the lactase enzyme necessary to digest dairy. Others may react to chemicals naturally found in foods, like caffeine (in coffee, tea, sodas, and energy drinks); salicylates (in many foods including dried fruits, berries, peppers, processed meats, almonds, and olive oil); or histamine (in alcohol, pickled foods, aged cheeses, and smoked meats). The term food sensitivity is often used interchangeably with food intolerance.

Incomparable Pears

A favorite fall and winter fruit, pears ring in the season, bell-shaped and stunning in hues of red, gold, green, and brown. Enjoyed and coveted for thousands of years, pears were one of the gifts to the gods in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. The most common varieties were developed in 17th and 18th century Europe, where the pear tree came to symbolize longevity and strength. It’s a European tradition to plant a pear tree for a baby girl (an apple for a boy).

Healthy Lifestyle Wards Off Cancer

Living healthfully by eating nutritiously and exercising regularly can lower the risk of developing cancer by 45 percent. A review of 12 studies showed that people who followed cancer prevention guidelines for diet and exercise were as much as 61 percent less likely to develop or die from cancer.

GMO Labeling Update

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the food stream continue to be a hot topic, and the issue of how to label them has been a source of debate. Vermont passed a law that required labels on all products containing GMO ingredients, which was set to go into effect on July 1, 2016. However, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a federal GMO labeling bill that would preempt state-led GMO labeling laws, essentially nullifying the Vermont law.

Brain Fog and Diet

There is no technical definition for brain fog, but the symptoms are often described as difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, fatigue, reduced mental acuity, and a feeling of ‘haziness’ around cognition. Though there is limited research on the relationship between brain fog and diet, we do know there are many nutrients involved with brain health and cognition, including B-vitamins, fatty acids, vitamin E, iron, and zinc, among others. These nutrition tips may help address symptoms.

Whole Grains, Soy Foods, and the Plant-Based Diet

Eating at least three servings of whole grains, such as bran, oatmeal, and quinoa, every day could lower your risk of cardiovascular disease-related death. Consuming soyfoods may lower the risk of colon cancer, the third most prevalent cancer in the world. In a meta-analysis, researchers examined 17 studies that analyzed the relationship between soy isoflavone eaten in soyfoods or taken in supplements and the risk of colon cancer. Eating a plant-based diet, especially one rich in healthy plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, is linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Download the Full October 2016 Issue PDF

Lutein and zeaxanthin (another eye-loving carotenoid found in the same foods as lutein) are the only carotenoids found in the retina and lens of the eye. Lutein is especially concentrated in the macula, the area of the retina responsible for central vision. Studies suggest that diets rich in lutein and zeaxanthin may help slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts by protecting the eyes from oxidative stress from environmental pollutants and exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), conducted by the National Institutes of Health, examined the effects of a “cocktail” of nutrients—including lutein—on the risk of cataracts and AMD. The nutrients reduced the risk of progressing to advanced AMD and helped to preserve vision longer.

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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