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Entries in Fruit (7)

Friday
Sep162011

Apple a Day May Keep Stroke Away

Dynamic Graphics/Thinkstock(AMSTERDAM) -- An apple a day could do more than just keep the doctor away. Dutch researches have found that eating many fruits and vegetables with white flesh, such as apples and pears, may protect against stroke.

While past studies have linked high consumption of fruits and vegetables with lower stroke risk, this Dutch Morgen study is the first to examine a color based correlation.

The color of the edible portion of fruits and vegetables indicate the presence of certain beneficial chemicals found in plants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids.

These findings seem to counter the popular belief that the most healthy fruits and vegetables are actually those that are rich in color inside and out.

The researchers tracked fruit and vegetable intake based on the color of the largest edible portion of food: green, orange/yellow, red/purple and white. After analyzing data collected from 20,069 individuals ages 20-65 during a 10 year period, the investigator documented 233 strokes among the participants.

They found that although there was no relationship between stroke risk and brightly colored fruits and veggies, people who consumed more white produce daily, had a 52 percent lower risk of stroke than those who ate less than the equivalent of an apple a day. On average, every 25 grams of white fruit eaten daily was directly associated with a 9 percent lower stroke risk.

One of the weaknesses of the study, however, is that the documented eating habits were based off of individuals' own recollections of consumption, so the data may be questionable.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug102011

Seven Superfoods With Juiced-Up Claims

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With everyone looking to get a little healthier these days, the "superfood" business thrives. Superfruits seem to be able to do it all -- combat heart disease, cure erectile dysfunction, remedy chronic fatigue syndrome, guide you to the Promised Land. OK, maybe that last one was made up. But there is often little research to back up what's on the labels.

Last week, researchers at ConsumerLab.com tested three major brands of coconut water -- Zico Natural, Vita Coco and O.N.E. -- for potassium, sodium, magnesium and sugar content. Only Zico Natural contained the stated amount of all four ingredients listed on its packaging.

In an interview with ABC News, Michael Kirban, CEO of Vita Coco, defended his product, noting that Vita Coco and O.N.E. are natural products, while Zico Natural is from concentrate, which allows researchers to include an exact amount of each ingredient.

"We see fluctuations, both positive and negative, by about 10 to 15 percent," said Kirban. "The FDA allows for up to a 20-percent variant from the stated amount. We're never going to be exact with a natural product."

Coconut water is only the most recent fad drink to hit the shelves. With its potassium and hydrating benefits, many people, especially those who value a good workout, have been drawn to it.

Many superfruits boast high amounts of antioxidants, which help fight free radicals that damage or kill cells. Studies found that people who eat a diet high in antioxidants have a lower risk of heart disease, cancer and several other diseases. No one is arguing that these foods don't bring health benefits, but many wonder if they have any more than the standard berries in your grocery store.

"Consumers are always searching for the quick fix -- the magic answer -- and I suspect, for something different," said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. "The problem is that magic answers to health don't exist. It is all about our overall approach to eating, activity and lifestyle."

So, here, without further ado, are seven of some of the most popular "superfoods" in stores today.

Coconut Water

While different brands of coconut water welcome consumers with their tropical packaging, experts say there is very little research to prove that there is anything particularly magical about the drink.

"It is high in protein, doesn't have a lot of taste and does not contain a huge amount of...plant nutrients," said Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

But there is one benefit that's hard to argue against. "Coconut water is low in calories," said Keith Ayoob, associate professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. "That's a real plus, because it's very easy to overconsume beverage calories."

Acai Berry

In 2009, this dark purple fruit blew up in popularity after Dr. Oz highlighted the lovable berry on Oprah Winfrey's talk show as one of the secrets on her "mac daddy" anti-aging checklist. Oz told the crowd that acai berries contain twice the antioxidant content as in blueberries. Several juice companies market the fruit as one that helps prevent heart disease, cancer, aging, and encourages weight loss, just for starters.

But in 2009, the Center for Science and Public Interest warned consumers that there is no evidence that the Brazilian berry helps anyone shed pounds, and discouraged people from enrolling in the online and supposedly free clinical trials for the product that were popping up on Internet ads and email listservs.

Mangosteen

While not as popular as the acai berry, mangosteens are enjoying popularity as a fruit-turned-juice, for which companies tout benefit claims of anti-fatigue, anti-obesity and anti-depression. The mangosteens come from tropical evergreen trees in the Pacific and contain a high concentration of antioxidants.

"Mangosteens are high in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, and so they have anti-inflammatory properties, but so do more common berries," said Ayoob.

Pomegranate

Similar to the acai's popularity, the pomegranate has gained ground as a superfood high in antioxidants. "Preliminary evidence indicated some health benefits from pomegranate juice, but as research has evolved, the evidence does not support it being any better than any other darkly colored, strongly flavored fruit or vegetable," said Diekman.

Goji Berries

This little red fruit, also known as a Chinese wolfberry, looks similar to a cherry tomato. Native to southeastern Europe and Asia, many marketers of goji berry supplements and juice claim the fruit can stave off diabetes, high blood pressure and age-related eye problems.

But the berries come with a hefty price tag. "They cost about $30 for an 18-ounce bag and, although they may have health benefits, the [cost] may outweigh the health value," said Bonci. "Also, some goji juices contain tiny amounts of goji berries and lots of sugar, so what you think you are getting, you may not be."

Noni

The noni fruit, not nearly as popular as its other superfood counterparts, is native to Southeast Asia and Australasia. It is marketed as a juice that supports the immune system and heart health and increases energy.

Bonci noted that the noni fruit contains high amounts of vitamin C and potassium, but so high "that it may be problematic for those with kidney disease." She even noted that a study published in the Canadian Journal of Herbalism suggested that noni may be a highly addictive narcotic painkiller.

Wheatgrass


Wheatgrass, often consumed as "shots" in smoothies and healthy shakes, comes from the common wheat plant known as Triticum aestivum. The food contains B vitamins, beta-carotene, vitamin C and potassium. Marketers claim that consistent consumption of the product cleanses the body and slows the aging process.

It's certainly a healthy food, "but you would need to consume a lot of wheat grass to equal what you might get in a spinach salad," said Bonci.

"These juices, and the many more that will flood the market in the future, can fit into a healthful eating plan as long as they are not over-consumed...and that they are a part of an eating plan that focuses on more fruits, vegetable, whole grains and lean meat and low-fat dairy," said Diekman.

With that said, Diekman encourages people to eat whole fruits instead of the juice and supplement alternative when experts do not fully understand their overall health benefits.

"It's hard to resist the lure of the silver bullet," said Katz. "We probably all really know that good health requires a real commitment of eating well [and] being active....Marketers know we want this kind of magic, and so they do a very good job of suggesting their product provides it."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr292011

Frozen Vegetables and Fruit Just as Nutritious as Fresh?

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With global food prices on the rise, consumers are searching to find less expensive alternatives to fresh produce.  Now one health expert says that frozen and canned vegetables might be just what grocery shoppers are looking for. 

American Diabetic Association spokeswoman Keri Gans told MyHealthNewsDaily that frozen and canned goods are just as nutritious and fresh as the vegetables found in the produce section of your local supermarket.

Gans suggests that because the foods are packaged when they're at their peak ripeness, the nutritional benefits are not lost.  Plus, Gans says, "you can stock up on them."

The Small Change Diet author gave suggestions on choosing frozen and canned foods:

1. Do not choose frozen vegetables that come with added sauce.  Many of these sauces contain extra calories.  Buy your own spices or cheeses, etc., to add to frozen vegetables after steaming or cooking.

2. Frozen fruits can be unthawed and added to cereals or yogurt.

3. Buy frozen or canned goods that have little or no salt added.  The same goes for added sugar.

4. Buy frozen or canned fruit that is packed with its own natural juices, rather than fruit packaged in sugary syrups.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Monday
Feb072011

Study: Chocolate Has Antioxidant Power Greater Than Fruit

(HERSHEY, Penn.) -- A new study released Monday shows that your favorite guilty snack, chocolate, has antioxidant powers equal to and, in some cases, greater than certain fruits. The research show that chocolate is a bountiful source of antioxidants, polyphenols and flavanols, containing more than most fruit juices.

The researchers who conducted the study compared cocoa powders to fruit powders. While using fruits like acai berries, blueberries, cranberries and pomegranates and comparing them to cocoa powder, the latter was found to have higher antioxidant activity.

Like many mothers warn, too much of anything can be a bad thing. The study noted that cocoa products like chocolate are still high in fat and must be consumed in moderation.

Researchers from the Hershey Center For Health And Nutrition had their findings published in the online publication Chemistry Central Journal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

Heart Disease Death Rate Drops with Fruits and Veggies 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(OXFORD, England) -- It's time to make friends with the produce aisle: pumping your diet with fruits and vegetables isn't just good for your waistline -- it could save your life, according to new research from the University of Oxford.

While "five a day" has traditionally been the mantra for fruit and veggie consumption, researchers found that those who consumed eight or more servings were 22 percent less likely to die from heart disease than those who consumed three or fewer servings a day.

Even among those who couldn't manage the eight servings, more fruits and veggies consistently meant a lower risk; for every additional serving above two per day, researchers observed a four percent decrease in the rate of heart disease deaths.

Though past studies have linked the consumption of fruit and vegetables to heart health, many remain skeptical as to whether these foods have a direct protective effect on the heart. Given the size of Tuesday's study -- over 300,000 participants from eight different European countries -- and the strength of its findings, some doctors feel that it may erase and remaining doubts concerning fruits and veggies, and cardiovascular health.

"This is probably the largest study of its type and should convince even the greatest skeptic of the value of fruits and veggies," said Dr. Randall Zusman, director of the division of hypertension at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"This compares 'enough' fruit and vegetable intake to 'more than enough' and suggests that 'more than enough' is better," said Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center. This could have big implications considering that the U.S. population "doesn't even approximate the 'enough' target" as it is.

The study, which was published Tuesday in the European Heart Journal, is part of the EPIC trial, a long-term study in Europe initially set up to track the effect of vegetable and fruit intake on cancer.

In the U.S., the recommended consumption of fruits and vegetables has often been promoted as "five a day". The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moved away from that recommendation in 2007, to a more flexible approach, dubbed Fruits & Veggies - More Matters.

Instead of a flat recommendation of five servings a day, the new program changes recommendations based on age, sex and activity level. For a 40-year-old sedentary man, recommendations are now two cups of fruits and three cups of vegetables a day; for a sedentary woman of that age, the recommendation is 1.5 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of veggies.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan182011

Eight Servings of Fruit and Veggies Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(OXFORD, U.K.) – People who eat eight or more servings of fruit and vegetables daily have a 22-percent lower risk of dying from heart disease compared to those who eat three or fewer portions per day, according to a new study.

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, followed over 300,000 participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Heart study for over eight years after completing an initial health evaluation and nutritional survey.
 
Researchers at the University of Oxford found that the average fruit and veggie daily intake was five portions per day, while only 18 percent of the study participants ate eight or more portions daily. The beneficial effect of the food was not influenced by blood pressure, lifestyle, or other dietary differences amongst the participants. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov232010

Study Brings New Reasons to Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- HealthDay News reports that consuming high amounts of alpha-carotene, a lesser-known "cousin" to the antioxidant beta-carotene, in fruits and vegetables can lower risks of dying from all causes.

These nutrients, typically found in the bright red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables are converted by the body into vitamin A.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that over a period of 14 years, most people -- regardless of lifestyle or habits -- had fewer life-limiting health issues as blood concentrations of alpha-carotene increased.  Researchers said the effect was dramatic, with risks declining from 39 to 23 percent as alpha-carotene levels climbed.

"This study does continue to prove the point there's a lot of things in food -- mainly in fruits and vegetables that are orange or kind of red in color -- that are good for us," said registered dietitian Lona Sandon, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio