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This Year’s 10 Top Health Stories

By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., December 23, 2009 - 12:34pm

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As a nutrition editor, I read the health headlines daily. After just a few weeks (forget 12 months!) the news all starts to blur together. But there are a handful of health news stories that stuck in my memory because the information is so useful. Here’s a look back at EatingWell’s 10 top health stories of 2009:

1. New study says organic food is not healthier—is that really true? In July researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine reported that there was no nutritional difference between organic and conventionally produced foods. End of story? We don’t think so. Some studies show organics are more nutritious. Consider these findings and find out which 12 foods you should be buying organic.

2. Could Your Drinking Be Hurting Your Health? In October, the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association came out with the news that the risks of drinking might outweigh its potential health boons. Is all that good news we’ve been hearing about how moderate drinking helps your heart, protects against Alzheimer’s and may even strengthen bones only half the story? The experts weigh in to help you decide whether to sip—or skip—that drink.

3. Your Diet May Be Draining Your Brainpower. Losing weight can have lots of benefits: you look better, feel better and slash your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and a host of other problems. But picking the wrong diet may muddle your memory, say researchers. Is your diet draining your brain? Find out what to eat to lose weight, but still preserve your memory.

4. Fight Fat with Breakfast. Eating certain breakfast foods may be the key to fighting fat. A recent study found that eating a breakfast made with “slow-release” carbohydrates three hours before exercising might help burn fat. Find out why—and get 10 breakfast recipes that will help you fight fat.

5. The One Thing Your Doctor Wants You to Quit. Now. The New York City Health Department launched a plan that could save 150,000 lives nationwide—every year. Find out what one thing we need to cut back on eating and get 5 more of the year’s top health news stories. We just need to cut back on eating this one thing.

6. Mercury in High-Fructose Corn Syrup. Two studies released in January revealed that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), an ingredient common in processed foods, may contain mercury. One of the studies found that almost half of 20 commercial HFCS samples tested contained mercury. The second report revealed that of 55 foods tested—including yogurts, salad dressings and condiments containing HFCS—about one-third had detectable mercury levels. EatingWell talked through the findings with an author of both studies, David Wallinga, M.D., food and health director of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Here’s what you should know to eat safely.

7. One More Reason to Break Your Sugar Habit. Sugar’s bad for your heart, according to the American Heart Association’s new position. Find out which kind of sugar to avoid, how much you can eat and get 3 ways to eat less.

8. When it Comes to Breast Cancer: Is Soy Safe? Soy is touted as a food that can prevent breast cancer—and also implicated as one that might promote it. Find out what some of the most recent science says about whether you should eat—or avoid—soy for better breast health.

9. The New Zero-Calorie Sweetener—Is It Safe? This year, a few natural, zero-calorie sweeteners made from an extract of the Stevia rebaudiana plant arrived on grocery-store shelves. The stevia plant has a long history of use as a sweetener in South America. But these new sweeteners are made from a highly purified extract of stevia. Is stevia safe? EatingWell investigates.

10. Tainted Beef, Peanuts and Chicken Raises Food Safety Concerns With major recalls of beef and peanuts this year and a Consumer Reports article that found that two-thirds of supermarket chickens tested contained salmonella and/or campylobacter (the leading bacterial causes of foodborne illness), we should be worried about the safety of our food. Keep your food safer with these 10 tips.

TAGS: Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., Health Blog

Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D.
Brierley holds a master’s degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

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