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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Don’t Bring Home the Bacon


A new Harvard study that found no increased risk of heart disease among meat eaters is generating a lot of buzz for red meat. “A Guilt-Free Hamburger,” reads one headline. “Order the Steak,” begins another

But the research, published this week in the journal Circulation, is not so much a celebration of red meat as it is an indictment of processed meats like bacon, sausage and deli meats. Eating one serving of those foods a day was associated with a 42 percent higher risk of heart disease and 19 percent increased risk of diabetes. But there was no increase in risk associated with eating unprocessed red meat.
The findings come from a broad analysis of several studies tracking meat consumption and cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Processed meats include bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs or processed deli or luncheon meats.

Notably, the culprit in processed meats wasn’t the saturated fat or cholesterol — both whole cuts of meat and processed meats contained the same amount per serving. The big differences were the levels of sodium and chemical preservatives. Processed meats had about four times more sodium and 50 percent more nitrate preservatives than unprocessed meats.

The study suggests meats like burgers and steaks have been wrongly implicated in heart disease. But that mistake likely occurred because the people who eat a lot of meat also tend to consume high amounts of bacon, hot dogs and other processed meats.

While it’s true that the study will make it easier to enjoy a burger, at least if we’re worried about our heart, it doesn’t address research that has linked an increased risk of colon cancer with high meat consumption. In addition, many people skip red meat not for personal health reasons but because they are concerned about the health of the planet.

Livestock account for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Compared with a burger, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich saves as much as 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide, 280 gallons of water and 50 square feet of land, according to the Web site
And for more on the nonhealth reasons to cut back on red meat, read this story by the Times food writer Mark Bittman, “Rethinking the Meat Guzzler.”

Almonds, the new power food

By Chloe Thompson

The symbol of hope and prosperity in Eastern cultures, the almond used to be known for its fat content but has now made its way to the top of power-food lists. This nutrient-dense tree nut -- from the same family as peaches and apricots -- has become best known for its many health benefits. Eating a handful of almonds a day may lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and diabetes. These tasty tidbits are also an excellent source of vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant) and manganese -- 1 ounce (that’s about 24 almonds) has 35% and 32% of the RDA respectively. And with only 1 gram of saturated fat, 13 grams of healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, 6 grams of protein, and 160 calories per ounce, it's clear that almonds are a friend of any true health nut.

An Apple a Day. . .

By Dr Syed K.Haque

A few weeks back I ate Washington apples. They were of the red delicious variety. My friends and I loved those crunchy, sweet, apples. They asked me why doesn’t, “A papaya, or mango, or any other fruit a day keep the doctor away? What is so unique about an apple that sets it apart from other fruits?”

It seems very true that we can pick up any fruit and then enumerate its several health benefits. Yet it’s interesting to explore what sets the apple apart.
General Health

Apples are low in Vitamin C compared to other fruits. However, they are very rich in other antioxidant compounds. Apples do not have cholesterol, and combined with fibers and low energy density, they’re a good potion for heart disease, weight loss, stroke, etc.

Cancer Prevention

1. Mayo Clinic (USA) study: Quercetin, a flavonoid abundant in apples, helped prevent the growth of prostate cancer cells.

2. Cornell University (USA) study: Phytochemicals in the skin of an apple inhibited the reproduction of colon cancer cells by 43%.

3. National Cancer Institute (USA) study: Flavonoid rich foods reduce the risk of lung cancer by 50%.

Brain Power

In a recent study comparing mice that drank apple juice to those that didn’t, the juice was found to increase mental equity and decrease oxidative stress. This study was conducted in the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and was published in a recent issue of Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The finding suggests that apple juice in conjunction with a balanced diet can protect from age related memory loss.
Interesting Facts

• Apples originated in Kazakhstan and were carried east by traders on Silk Road.

• Apple seeds are like people, you’ll never get the same type of apple from a planted seed.

• One apple has 5grams of fiber, supplying 20% of the recommended daily dose.

• If you took all the Washington apples picked in a year and placed them side by side, they would circle the earth 12 times.

By Dr Syed K.Haque