Entries in Vegetables (13)


Where's the Beef? Putting a 'Less-Meat' Diet to the Test

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For generations, meat has been center stage on American dinner plates.  But now, for many, its seems to be moving to the side of the plate.

Today, 30 percent of Americans are eating less meat, not necessarily going vegetarian or vegan, but choosing to eat less.  Concerns over health, the so-called "pink slime" in burgers controversy, the impact on the environment and higher prices at the grocery store have led to meal-overhaul movements such as "Meatless Mondays" and a 12-percent drop in meat consumption over the last five years.

While finding new ways to change your diet can seem like a challenge, Mark Bittman, a New York Times food critic and an advocate for "less-meatarians," is out to prove that anyone can easily and affordably make tasty meals without having a chunk of meat take over the dinner plate.

"Combining vegetables with meat makes them much more interesting and this is historically how people ate," Bittman said. "Meat and fish were treasures.  They were treats.  They were things you couldn't count on.  It's only in the past 50 years that you could count on putting meat on the table every night and every day."

But eating less meat doesn't mean shopping at the premium organic stores, Bittman added.

"The difference isn't really between an organic cheese burger and a non-organic cheeseburger," he said.  "The difference is between...a cheeseburger and a head of broccoli.  That's the real choice."

At Haven's Kitchen in New York City, Bittman cooked up a cassoulet, basically pork and beans, but light on the pork.  He said it's a healthier meal because it is lower in fat and higher in micronutrients than its more traditional cousin.  Bittman said eating less meat has helped improve his health.

"I lost 35 pounds, my cholesterol levels went down below 200, which is where it's supposed to be, and blood sugar went down to where it's supposed to be," he said.

To put the "less-meatatarian" diet to the test, ABC's Nightline asked celebrity chef Angelo Sosa, a committed omnivore who specializes in Asian cuisine, to try it for three days, meaning he had to dial back the meat and amp up the vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

"What I eat is extremely important to me, more so now than ever -- I'm 37 and the weight goes right to my belly," Sosa said.  "I'm excited.  I feel like I don't need to be weighed down.  I don't like more fat in my system."

Did 72 hours on a less-meat diet make a difference for Sosa?  Did he feel different or still crave meat?  Watch the video below to find out.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


USDA: Farmers Markets Thrive on Higher Demand for Local Produce

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Growing demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables has resulted in a big jump in the number of farmers markets. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the number of farmers markets increased nearly 10 percent this year to more than 7800 across the country.

The increase is no surprise to farmer Jeff Bialas who has been selling his produce at a Manhattan farmers market for 20 years.

“People are understanding that it's better to eat local,” he said. “The quality of the food is better and you're supporting your neighbors.”

California and New York have the most markets, followed by Massachusetts. The USDA says it noticed significant increases over the last year in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pizza's Not a Vegetable, Congressman Argues

U.S. Congress(WASHINGTON) -- Congressman Jared Polis has introduced the SLICE ACT to counter a bill last fall that puts pizza in the category of a federally mandated vegetable serving in schools.

The Colorado Democrat disagrees with the notion that one-eighth cup of tomato paste, which is used in a slice of pizza, counts as one-half cup of vegetables, now considered an entire serving.

The School Lunch Improvements for Children’s Education (SLICE) Act promoted by Polis would force the U.S. Department of Agriculture to lower the standard of an eighth-cup of tomato paste, or about two tablespoons, to an eighth-cup of vegetables.

Polis doesn't believe the stuff is unhealthy.  Rather, he just wants to stop large food makers from hawking pizza to school under the guise of tomato paste being counted as a vegetable.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


You Are What Color You Eat?

Hemera/Thinkstock(ST. ANDREWS, Scotland) -- Physicians and parents have emphasized for years the importance of eating a healthy diet that included plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables.  After all, you are what you eat, right?

But what if you are what color you eat? Researchers at St. Andrews University found that increased portions of colorful fruits and vegetables can have an impact on one's appearance and, in fact, enhance their perceived attractiveness.

Fruits and veggies packed with antioxidant-rich carotenoids like carrots or apricots protect skin cells against damage from UV rays, environmental pollution and the elements.  A new study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, highlights the effects these foods can have on the skin's pigmentation.  Furthermore, the study found that people who consume more carotenoids can increase red and yellow pigments in the skin, giving off a perceived healthier glow.

In the following video, Julia Zumpano, R.D. of the Cleveland Clinic tells ABC News about the impact certain foods can have on our pigmentation.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Beef Up Immunity with Green Veggies?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CAMBRIDGE) -- Eager to fight colds and the flu this season? Try eating your veggies.

In a  study published today in the journal Cell, scientists found that green vegetables carry chemical signals that are essential to a fully-functioning immune system -- at least in mice.

These signals help control the body’s first line of defense -- a network of white blood cells called intra-epithelial lymphocytes -- against infections and wounds.

Researchers at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, England, fed mice different diets of vegetables and monitored the bacteria that accumulated in their guts. They found that mice that ate a diet low in green vegetables had more bacteria pile up than the mice that got plenty of veggies.

Marc Veldhoen, the lead author of the study, said the bacteria pile up because those mice are missing the crucial chemical found in green vegetables.

“If the mice do not eat their green, the immune cells in the intestine die,” he said. “That a dietary factor can so directly influence cells from the immune system did indeed come as a complete surprise to us.”

Mice that ate a vegetable-poor diet for two to three weeks had 70 to 80 percent of those cells disappear, leaving them more vulnerable to infections.

Although studies in mice don’t automatically apply to humans, Veldhoen said the mice he studied resemble patients who have  certain types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

“Epidemiological studies have indicated a link with developing IBD and a diet poor in fruit and vegetables,” Veldhoen said. “How strong this link will be in controlled human trials, we will have to see.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Fruits, Veggies Could Modify Gene Linked to Heart Disease

Jeffrey Hamilton/Thinkstock(HAMILTON, Ontario) -- Eating a healthy amount of greens could have an effect on genes linked to heart disease, according to a new study.

Researchers from Canada's McMaster and McGill universities found that eating fruits and vegetables may actually change a gene variant, called 9p21, that is one of the strongest predictors for heart disease.

"We found that in people with this high-risk gene who consumed a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, their risk came down to that of people who don't have that gene," said Dr. Sonia Anand, a lead author and professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University.

The researchers analyzed the diets of more than 27,000 people from different parts of the world who were already enrolled in two separate studies looking at heart disease.

"Despite having a high genetic risk for heart disease, a healthy lifestyle can actually turn off the gene," said Anand. She also said it's not yet clear exactly how diet affects the gene.

The study participants who lowered their risk through their diet ate at least two servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Raw fruits and vegetables played the biggest role in lowering risk, Anand said.

The role of genetics is an expanding area of medical research, and experts believe the next few years will bring new health recommendations based on people's genetic makeup.

"This points the way toward the future and where we're going in terms of understanding the genetics of heart disease," said Dr. William O'Neill, cardiology professor and executive dean of clinical affairs at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine. "Maybe in the next few years, we may be able to do specific gene scans on individual patients and if we find the patients who have genetic high risk, we really want to concentrate on modifying risk by targeting smoking, cholesterol and diet."

And that could be reassuring for many people with genetic susceptibility to certain conditions.

"We often think of genetic factors as being unmodifiable factors," said Anand. "But lifestyle factors can actually change the genes."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


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


Pesticides in Fruits and Vegetables: Are They Really Healthy?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- You know you should eat your fruits and vegetables, but with a "dirty dozen" list of pesticide-contaminated produce out Monday and the recent E. coli outbreak linked to supposedly safer organic produce, what's a would-be healthy eater to do?

The answer from health experts -- and even the people who did the study on pesticide residue in produce -- is still the same: Eat those fruits and vegetables, but get them as clean as you can.

The importance of washing produce before eating or cooking it was driven home Monday by the release of a "dirty dozen" list of fruits and vegetables that tested positive for the highest concentration of pesticides.

Apples, a staple in many refrigerators, topped the list with 98 percent testing positive for a pesticide and 92 percent testing positive for two or more pesticides. Coming in second was celery, with more than 95 percent testing positive for at least one pesticide.

Others on the list of shame include: strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce and kale or collard greens.

The benefits of fruits and vegetables are well known. However Environmental Working Group spokesman Alex Formuzis says the pesticides they're coated with have been linked to nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone system disruption and IQ deficits in children.

But even though some pesticides were still found on the produce after they were washed and peeled, Formuzis said the benefits of fruits and vegetables still outweigh the problems associated with some other snack foods.

Pesticides, which are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, are used to protect produce from bugs and also extend its supermarket shelf life.

The Alliance for Food and Farming, a trade group that opposes the new study, says consumers should keep eating the fruits and vegetables in the so-called "dirty dozen."

"Not only are farmers of fruits and vegetables meeting requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for pesticide residues, but their crops are shown to have either no residues at all or with residues 10 times to 100 times below already stringent safety limits," said Teresa Thorne of the AFF.

The Environmental Working Group agrees that eating from the "dirty dozen" is better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all, but suggested that when possible, these items should be bought organic.

The Food and Drug Administration offers several tips for cleaning both fresh and organic produce, including wash fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating or cooking, use a brush to scrub produce with hard surfaces such as melons and cucumbers, and cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fruits and vegetables before preparing or eating.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Apples Top List of Pesticide-Laden Produce

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but how good is that apple if it is laden with pesticides?

According to new report released Monday by the Environmental Working Group, apples are at the top of the advocacy group's list of most contaminated fruits and vegetables.

After testing 53 fruits and vegetables and the amount of chemicals left over after the produce was washed and peeled, the group found that 97.8 percent of all apples tested positive for pesticides and 92 percent of them had traces of two or more pesticides.

Coming in second on the list was celery, with 96 percent of all samples testing positive for pesticides, followed by strawberries in third.

Here is the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list:

1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Nectarines (imported)
7. Grapes (imported)
8. Sweet bell peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Blueberries (domestic)
11. Lettuce
12. Kale/collard greens

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


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 

ABC News Radio