Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D. http://www.eatingwell.com/taxonomy/term/886/all en Does Grilling Cause Cancer? http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/does_grilling_cause_cancer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-standard"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_standard" width="310" height="310" alt="" src="http://bed56888308e93972c04-0dfc23b7b97881dee012a129d9518bae.r34.cf1.rackcdn.com/sites/default/files/grilling_cancer_risks_310.jpg?1274286755" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-question"> <div class="field-label">Question:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Does Grilling Cause Cancer?</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-answer"> <div class="field-label">Answer:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>There’s no evidence that grilling causes cancer. But cooking meat at the high temperatures you use to grill—as well as broil and fry—creates heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), compounds linked with some cancers.</p> <p>Animal and laboratory studies suggest that HCAs may damage DNA and spur the development of tumors in cells of the colon, breast, prostate and lymph system. At temperatures of 350°F and hotter, amino acids and creatine (a natural compound that helps supply energy to muscles and nerves) react to form HCAs. PAHs form when fat drips onto hot coals, creating smoke that settles on food; these compounds have been associated with increased risk of breast cancer.</p> <p>But &quot;within the big picture of cancer prevention, there are much greater risks than grilling,&quot; says Colleen Doyle, M.S., R.D., director of Nutrition and Physical Activity for the American Cancer Society. For example, &quot;if you’re 30 pounds overweight, that puts you at much greater risk for developing a number of cancers [than does eating grilled meats].&quot;</p> <p>When you do grill, there are several things you can do to reduce HCAs and PAHs.</p> <ul class="greenarrow-left"> <li> <strong>Grill fish.</strong> &quot;Beef, pork and poultry tend to form more HCAs than seafood because of their higher amino acid content and longer grilling times,&quot; says Doyle.</li> <li><strong>Prefer meat or poultry?</strong> Trim fat to reduce drips.</li> <li><strong>Flavor meats with marinades and rubs.</strong> Research in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry showed that marinating red meat in beer or wine for two hours significantly reduced HCAs. Scientists believe the antioxidants in these marinades block HCAs from forming. Similarly, a Kansas State University study found that rubbing rosemary, an herb known for its high level of antioxidants, onto meats before grilling cut HCA levels by up to 100 percent. Herbs including basil, mint, sage and oregano may have similar effects.</li> <li> <strong>Pair grilled meats with vegetables, particularly cruciferous ones.</strong> In one study, men who ate about 2½ cups of Brussels sprouts every day for three weeks reduced their DNA damage significantly. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage, contain sulforaphane, a compound that may help the body clear DNA-damaging compounds more quickly.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Bottom Line:</strong> Keep your grill. While some studies suggest that grilling produces compounds linked with cancer, the risks associated with eating grilled meats are relatively small when you look at the big picture. </p> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-related-group-1"><legend>Related Content Group 1</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-relatedtitle1"> <div class="field-label">Related Content Title 1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Healthy Grilling Tips and Recipes </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-relatedlinks1"> <div class="field-label">Related Links 1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101_basics_techniques/kitchen_tips_techniques/13_best_grilling_tips">13 Best Grilling Tips</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101_basics_techniques/kitchen_tips_techniques/8_tips_for_foolproof_roasting_on_the_grill">8 Tips for Foolproof Roasting on the Grill</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_recipes_for_bbq_sauce_marinades_rubs">Healthy Recipes for BBQ Sauce, Marinades &amp; Rubs</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_grilled_fish_recipes_grilled_seafood_recipes">Healthy Grilled Fish Recipes &amp; Grilled Seafood Recipes </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_grilled_salmon_recipes">Healthy Grilled Salmon Recipes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/recipes_menus/recipe_slideshows/healthy_picnic_coleslaws_and_salads">Healthy Coleslaws and Picnic Salads</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_grilled_shrimp_recipes">Healthy Grilled Shrimp Recipes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_grilling_recipes">Healthy Grilling Recipes</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-publication"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> May/June 2009 </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/does_grilling_cause_cancer#comments Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D. May/June 2009 Recipes & Menus - Cancer Diet, Nutrition & Health - Nutrition News & Information Fri, 21 Aug 2009 16:05:20 +0000 Nifer 10241 at http://www.eatingwell.com A Healthful Sugar: Is Agave Nectar Healthier Than Sugar or Other Sweeteners? http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/a_healthful_sugar_is_agave_nectar_healthier_than_sugar_o <div class="field field-type-text field-field-question"> <div class="field-label">Question:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Is agave nectar healthier than sugar or other sweeteners?</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-answer"> <div class="field-label">Answer:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Agave syrup, produced from sap of a plant that’s been used medicinally in Mexico for generations, is gaining popularity in the U.S. In 2008, 29 new products with agave, including chocolate, energy bars, granola and soda, hit supermarket shelves, according to Mintel, a leading market research company.</p> <p>The natural sweetener is valued as a vegan alternative to honey and touted for its low glycemic index. Foods with a higher glycemic index (GI) tend to trigger a greater surge in blood sugar and insulin—the hormone that helps the sugar get into cells—just after eating. (These spikes can be particularly problematic for those with diabetes. High-GI foods also tend to make you hungry again sooner because they’re digested quickly.) According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, agave’s GI value is about five times lower than table sugar’s. Currently no studies compare how, relative to other sugars, agave may affect blood-sugar control. But based on the buzz agave’s been generating, we’ll likely see research in the near future.</p> <p>Agave packs 20 calories per teaspoon, five more than granulated sugar, but, like honey, it’s sweeter than sugar, so you need less to achieve the same level of sweetness. A general substitution is to use one-third less agave nectar than you would white sugar and reduce other liquids by one-fourth. (This may require experimentation when making some recipes, such as baked goods.)</p> <p>One final caveat: look for USDA-certified organic products. Nearly all agave sold in the U.S. is imported from Mexico and the FDA has refused some shipments due to excessive pesticide residues. Check for the USDA-certified organic seal or Quality Assurance International (QAI) certified-organic stamp, an independent, global organic certifier accredited by the USDA.</p> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-related-group-1"><legend>Related Content Group 1</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-relatedtitle1"> <div class="field-label">Related Content Title 1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Related Links: </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-relatedlinks1"> <div class="field-label">Related Links 1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/is_stevia_safe">Is Stevia Safe?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/whats_so_bad_about_high_fructose_corn_syrup">What&#039;s So Bad About High Fructose Corn Syrup?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101/shopping_cooking_guides/a_buyers_guide_to_sugar_substitutes">A Buyer&#039;s Guide to Sugar Substitutes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/blogs/health_blog/3_ways_to_break_your_sugar_habit">3 ways to break your sugar habit</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/a_healthful_sugar_is_agave_nectar_healthier_than_sugar_o#comments Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D. March/April 2009 Diet, Nutrition & Health - Nutrition News & Information Fri, 21 Aug 2009 16:03:34 +0000 Nifer 10239 at http://www.eatingwell.com The Salt Shaker-Upper http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/blood_pressure/the_salt_shaker_upper <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Does restricting dietary sodium really help health? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For decades we’ve been told that limiting sodium would improve blood pressure and reduce risk for cardiovascular disease. But a new analysis, published in the American Journal of Medicine, revealed that Americans who said they followed dietary recommendations to limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams had a 37 percent higher cardiovascular mortality rate than those who said they consumed higher levels. Don’t pick up the salt shaker just yet.</p> <p>Hillel Cohen, Dr.PH., the study’s lead author and associate professor of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, acknowledges limitations of the study. First, the subjects’ sodium intakes were self-reported. (Do you have any idea how much sodium you consume each day?) The study’s design also didn’t ensure that people in the two comparison groups (restrictors versus nonrestrictors) had similar intakes of potassium and alcohol. Potassium blunts sodium’s effects on blood pressure; alcohol can boost blood pressure significantly. Finally, the findings don’t prove that sodium restriction caused mortality; low sodium intake simply could be a marker for a poor diet overall.</p> <p>But the findings are important, says Cohen. “There is evidence that substantial sodium restriction might help some people lower blood pressure modestly,” he says. “But there is little evidence of a general, long-term benefit of sodium restriction for longer life.”</p> <p>Most experts agree that there is no one-size-fits-all plan to achieve healthy blood pressure, but “we shouldn’t ignore the extensive body of research that links sodium to high blood pressure,” says Jeannie Moloo, Ph.D., R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “We have to be careful about making blanket recommendations based on one study.” With your doctor, discuss the sodium approach that’s right for you.</p> <h3>Bring Down the Blood Pressure</h3> <p>The following behaviors also may help control blood pressure:</p> <p>• Eating 8 to 10 daily servings of fruits and vegetables: they’re low in sodium, rich in potassium.<br /> • Consuming low-fat dairy; calcium is linked with blood pressure regulation.<br /> • Replacing some carbohydrates in your diet with healthy fats (think: a slice of toast with peanut butter vs. a big plain bagel)—a recent study suggests that this shift benefits blood pressure.</p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/blood_pressure/the_salt_shaker_upper#comments Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D. August/September 2006 High Blood Pressure Diet Diet, Nutrition & Health - Blood Pressure Tue, 18 Aug 2009 21:54:00 +0000 Penelope Wall 9744 at http://www.eatingwell.com Love That Produce! http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/heart_health/love_that_produce <p>If you could cut your risk for heart disease by almost 25 percent simply by adding a banana at breakfast, an apple at lunch and a salad at dinner, would you do it? Of course you would. Cardiovascular disease, after all, claims more than 800,000 American lives each year. Thus, last fall, when French researchers reported in the October 2006 issue of the Journal of Nutrition that each vegetable or fruit serving you add to your day may cut your risk of heart disease by as much as 7 percent, we took notice.</p> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> How fruits and vegetables may protect the heart. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-standard"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_standard" width="310" height="310" alt="" src="http://bed56888308e93972c04-0dfc23b7b97881dee012a129d9518bae.r34.cf1.rackcdn.com/sites/default/files/20681.jpg?1259852128" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If you could cut your risk for heart disease by almost 25 percent simply by adding a banana at breakfast, an apple at lunch and a salad at dinner, would you do it? Of course you would. Cardiovascular disease, after all, claims more than 800,000 American lives each year. Thus, last fall, when French researchers reported in the October 2006 issue of the Journal of Nutrition that each vegetable or fruit serving you add to your day may cut your risk of heart disease by as much as 7 percent, we took notice.</p> <p>Research has long linked eating plenty of produce with a reduced risk for heart disease. While most studies suggest only associations between high intakes of vegetables and fruits and lowered heart-disease risk (not proof of specific cause-and-effect relationships), scientists have many theories for how these foods may protect the heart. Potassium, a mineral abundant in vegetables and fruits, helps the kidneys excrete excess sodium, thereby contributing to healthy blood pressure. Dietary fiber has been linked with both improved glucose control (and thus reduced risk for diabetes, a condition that elevates risk for cardiovascular disease) and more favorable cholesterol levels. But even beyond those benefits, there seems to be something uniquely cardio-protective about fruit and vegetables. “Possibly, there are synergistic effects between vitamins and/or minerals and phytochemicals (such as lycopene) that protect the blood vessels leading to the heart from damage by free radicals,” says Tara Gidus, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.</p> <p>This recent report underscores the idea that loading up on vegetables and fruits can add up to big health gains. Still, its authors point out that benefits may not be quite as big as their calculations suggest, acknowledging that their analysis estimated the magnitude of the cardiovascular benefits from the collective data of just nine studies that had found an association between high intakes of fruits and vegetables and a reduced risk of heart disease. The studies did include nearly a quarter-million subjects, total. Each of these studies assessed subjects’ fruit and vegetable intakes differently, which may have skewed the results. The researchers also emphasized that the studies were observational in nature (i.e., they asked subjects about their eating habits, then looked for correlations with heart disease) and couldn’t entirely rule out the impact of other lifestyle factors, such as exercise, on disease risk.</p> <p>Bottom line: Even if recent research overestimates the cardiovascular benefits achieved by boosting intake of produce, “you can’t go wrong by eating more fruits and vegetables,” says Gidus. “Compared to other foods, they’re low in calories and rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting phytonutrients.”</p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/heart_health/love_that_produce#comments Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D. Heart Healthy Diet Diet, Nutrition & Health - Heart Health Tue, 18 Aug 2009 20:09:30 +0000 Penelope Wall 9721 at http://www.eatingwell.com Retrain Your Taste Buds http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/retrain_your_taste_buds <p>Even after decades of hiding uneaten peas, you can learn to prefer healthy foods. This writer’s husband did just that—and lost 55 pounds. Here’s how. (<a href="http://www.eatingwell.com/node/9677?page=8">Also see Taste Tips for some common healthy foods and our suggestions for how to learn to enjoy them!</a>)</p><div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Oh, to have been born loving broccoli instead of chocolate! Truth is, your DNA alone doesn’t dictate what you like (and don’t like). </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-standard"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_standard" width="310" height="310" alt="" src="http://bed56888308e93972c04-0dfc23b7b97881dee012a129d9518bae.r34.cf1.rackcdn.com/sites/default/files/broccoli_310.jpg?1261151889" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-publication"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> January/February 2007 </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-related1"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-relatedtitle1"> <div class="field-label">Related Content Title 1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Healthy Kids Recipes </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-relatedlinks1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/recipes/almond_crusted_chicken_fingers.html">Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/recipes/baked_mac_cheese.html">Baked Mac &amp; Cheese</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/recipes/chilaquiles_casserole.html">Chilaquiles Casserole</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/recipes/broccoli_cheese_chowder.html">Broccoli-Cheese Chowder</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/recipes/pizza_roll_up.html">Pizza Roll-Up</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_eating_kids">Healthy Eating for Kids Recipes and Menus</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_kids_lunch_recipes">Healthy Kids Lunch Recipes &amp; Tips</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-related2"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-relatedtitle2"> <div class="field-label">Related Content Title 2:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> More on Healthy Eating for Kids </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-relatedlinks2"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nutrition_health/healthy_kids/how_can_i_get_my_kids_to_try_new_foods">How can I get my kids to try new foods?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/blogs/health_blog/3_tricks_to_get_your_kids_to_eat_healthier">3 tricks to get your kids to eat healthier</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/blogs/healthy_cooking_blog/how_to_love_5_of_the_most_hated_vegetables">How to love 5 of the most hated vegetables</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/videos/how_to_sneak_veggies_into_family_meals_video">How to Sneak Veggies into Family Meals Video</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/blogs/food_news_blog/angry_mommy_responds_chocolate_milk_is_soda_in_drag_puh_lease">Chocolate milk is &quot;soda in drag&quot;? Puh-lease!</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nutrition_health/healthy_kids_diet_center">Healthy Kids Diet Center</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Even after decades of hiding uneaten peas, you can learn to prefer healthy foods. This writer’s husband did just that—and lost 55 pounds. Here’s how. (Also see Taste Tips for some common healthy foods and our suggestions for how to learn to enjoy them!)</p> <p>When I met my husband Jack nine years ago, he was three sizes larger (XXL) than he is now. On one of our first dates, I watched in silent horror as he inhaled a huge slice of pizza piled with pepperoni, sausage and extra cheese—washing it down with Dr. Pepper. I was (still am) a vegetarian and a registered dietitian who teaches people how to eat well. I soon discovered that, more than pizza, Jack loved deep-fried tacos. He rarely touched fruit. Most of the vegetables he ate were battered and fried.</p> <p>While Jack’s food preferences made sense to me—he was raised in Texas on beef, whole milk and bacon grease—I couldn’t imagine eating the foods he favored. I’d grown up in upstate New York with a family that planted a garden every year. But after the initial shock, I didn’t think much about our drastic eating differences. Jack was charming, smart and sensitive. It didn’t much matter that he chose chicken-fried steak over stir-fried tofu.</p> <p>Even after we eloped four months later and began eating most meals together, I had no motives to make over Jack’s diet. I kept eating the foods I preferred: whole grains, vegetables and fruits (and chocolate). For a time, Jack stuck to his familiar favorites. At home, we prepared separate meals and ate them together. When we dined out, we chose restaurants that met both our needs (i.e., enchiladas for Jack; black bean soup and a salad for me). I always offered Jack tastes of whatever I was eating. Little by little, he started exploring new foods. He tasted a bite of my veggie (soy) burger, said it wasn’t bad, and eventually, he tried a whole one. Later, when he learned that edamame was soy, too, he gave it a go—and liked it. Eventually, he moved on to tofu, which now, stir-fried with vegetables, is one of his staple lunches.</p> <p>Soon Jack was showing an interest in eating well and consciously starting to shift his diet in healthier directions. He replaced whole milk with 2 percent and then skim; eventually, we were sharing cartons of soymilk. Noticeable physical improvements—increased energy, improved digestion and a gradually shrinking belly—reinforced Jack’s efforts. Over two years, he shed 55 pounds—simply by retraining himself to like healthier foods. He’s kept the weight off for four years.</p> <p>I’ve been thrilled by my husband’s eating evolution, but I had never really stopped to consider how a man who had eaten one way for over 30 years successfully pulled off a dietary one-eighty. Then, a few months ago at a nutrition conference, I attended a lecture on taste preferences by Julie Mennella, Ph.D., a scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. “What we like to eat is shaped by both biology and experience,” Dr. Mennella explained. Jack’s diet transformation was starting to make sense.</p> <p><strong>Born to be wild about vegetables?</strong></p> <p>There are five distinct tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami, which means “savory” in Japanese and is associated with meats and cheeses. When we eat, chemicals in our food are sensed by the thousands of taste buds on the bumpy projections (fungiform papillae) of our tongues. The chemicals attach to receptors in the buds, sending signals to the brain, which registers taste perceptions. Receptors also respond to the temperature of foods and chemicals that create physical sensations (think of chili with fiery jalapeños). Smell plays into one’s flavor experiences, too: foods release chemicals that travel up the nose to olfactory receptors, triggering a chain reaction of signals that amplify taste perceptions. (Prove this to yourself by holding your nose and sampling a jelly bean: you’ll taste sweet, but won’t get a burst of “flavor”—the term used to refer to taste plus smell—until you unplug your nose.</p> <p>To a degree, taste preferences are hard-wired. Across cultures, people generally prefer foods that taste sweet and dislike bitter ones—which makes evolutionary sense. Sweetness is associated with foods that provide energy needed for survival (e.g., mother’s milk). Bitterness often signals the presence of a toxin. How much a person prefers sweet, and dislikes bitter, tastes depends partly upon the number of taste buds and the type of taste receptors he or she inherits. “We know that some people live in a more ‘pastel’ taste world and others, a more ‘neon’ one,” says Valerie B. Duffy, professor of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Connecticut.</p> <p>One of the most studied genetic factors affecting taste involves one’s ability to detect bitter compounds. Some people inherit genes for taste receptors that are acutely sensitive to bitterness. Other people, born with genes for receptors that make for less-intense taste experiences, often aren’t able to detect subtle bitter compounds. One can gauge a person’s bitterness sensitivity with a simple test: a slip of paper containing a small amount of a compound known to stimulate bitter-sensing receptors is placed on the tongue. The taster perceives bitterness only if his receptors are the sensitive kind.</p> <p>I had a chance to see this for myself during Dr. Mennella’s presentation. She asked each of us in attendance to “taste” a paper strip and raise a hand if we detected bitter. I slipped the paper into my mouth and shot my arm high into the air. It was as if someone had dumped a spoonful of dandelion root—one of the bitterest substances on earth—on my tongue. Scanning the room, I was amazed. Some of my colleagues were grimacing like me, but others looked as if they were waiting for something to happen. “What?” their faces said. “I don’t taste a thing.”</p> <p>If a built-in aversion to bitter might have helped our ancestors to survive and evolve, did this mean I’d gotten “good” taste genes? It’s a logical theory—but, in fact, there’s little evidence that a particularly acute sense of taste offers health protection. In fact, in a world where we “hunt” and “gather” at supermarkets, being easily turned off to bitter may be a liability. Many phytochemicals linked with health benefits—glucosinolates in Brussels sprouts and kale, flavonoids in grapefruit and isoflavones in soy—impart bitterness. And, in fact, research shows that people genetically programmed to detect subtle bitter tastes consume fewer cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens, tart citrus fruits, green tea and soy products—all foods associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s. “We have data that show that people who were more sensitive to bitter tastes consumed fewer vegetables and had a greater incidence of colon polyps, a marker of higher risk for colon cancer,” says Duffy. “This research is preliminary but it connects genetic variations that affect oral sensations with specific health outcomes.”</p> <p>Luckily, inheriting an ultra-sensitive bitter-detection system doesn’t mean that your diet is doomed. “You can temper the bitterness in foods by pairing them with other sweeter foods or cooking them in ways that bring out their natural sweetness,” says Duffy. “Salt and strong spices, such as garlic, chiles or ginger, also can make bitter foods more palatable.” Jack and I do a lot of this sort of thing at home: we sauté spinach with sweet red peppers and enhance asparagus with garlic and a sprinkle of sea salt. (See “Taste Tips")</p> <p>Even after bringing the bitterness of a food to a more acceptable level, it can take time to learn to enjoy the formerly off-putting flavors. Says Duffy: “Someone who has had unpleasant experiences in the past has to unlearn connections between unpalatable bitterness and particular food flavors.” One can do this by crowding out the bad memories with good experiences of eating deliciously prepared foods.</p> <p><strong>Like mother, like son</strong></p> <p>You can’t just blame your taste buds for not liking certain foods. DNA doesn’t define taste preferences; it’s just one piece of the puzzle that involves nurture at least as much as nature. Cultivating a “taste” for a specific something (be it expensive handbags or Brussels sprouts) requires exposure. Nutrition experts frequently counsel mothers about the importance of exposing young children to lots of different tastes: it conditions them to accept a variety of healthy foods. They advise parents to try and try again, as research shows that it can take as many as 10 to 15 tastes before a child will learn to appreciate a new flavor. But our first flavor experiences occur even before we’re able to eat solid foods.</p> <p>Infants are exposed to flavors through breast milk, which reflects the flavors of foods, spices and beverages in mothers’ diets. (Bottle-fed babies are limited to the standardized flavors of infant formulas, one of many reasons that nutrition experts recommend breastfeeding.) Food chemicals with distinct tastes and smells also are transmitted to the amniotic fluid that cushions a growing baby; the fetus swallows this fluid and can sense the flavors. “Taste and smell are fairly well developed in utero,” says Mennella.</p> <p>A few years back, Mennella and her colleagues conducted a study in which pregnant women planning to breastfeed were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Women in all groups consumed 1 1⁄4 cups of carrot juice or water four days a week for three consecutive weeks during the last trimester of pregnancy and again during the first two months of breastfeeding. One group consumed carrot juice during pregnancy and water during lactation. Another group, the reverse (water, then carrot juice). The third group drank water both times. Later, when it came time to introduce the infants to solid foods, the researchers observed the babies as they were fed cereal prepared with water on one occasion and cereal made with carrot juice on another. After each feeding session, the scientists also asked the mothers to rate their babies’ enjoyment of the cereal. When fed the carrot-flavored cereal, infants whose mothers had drunk the carrot juice while pregnant or breastfeeding displayed fewer negative facial expressions than the babies whose mothers had sipped water. These infants also appeared (according to their mothers, who were unaware of the scientists’ research question) to enjoy the carrot-flavored cereal more than the one made with water. “Prior exposure to the carrot juice made the taste familiar, and therefore more acceptable,” says Mennella.</p> <p>Of course, after I learned this, I was eager to relate this to my, and Jack’s, earliest flavor experiences. I knew that I’d been bottle-fed, as was common when I was born. But my mother loves all kinds of fruits and vegetables and, lucky for me, my birthday is in September, which means she ate loads of in-season produce for most of her pregnancy. To find out about Jack, I asked my sister-in-law, who was a teen when her brother was born. She told me that while their mother was pregnant with Jack and then breastfeeding she’d eaten the typical Texas fare she always served: beef brisket, meatloaf and fried chicken.</p> <p>Do these first flavor exposures explain my husband’s early love affair with meat and how I came to love vegetables despite my sensitive taste buds? It’s possible they played a part—but likely a small one. There’s yet another layer to this onion.</p> <p><strong>Watch and learn</strong></p> <p>As kids transition from infancy to the toddler years, “nurture” overtakes “nature” in respect to developing eating patterns. “Children learn the rules of eating from their caregivers,” says Mennella. Adult role models teach kids what constitutes food and how foods should be prepared. They set rules about when certain foods should or should not be eaten.</p> <p>One of the foremost experts on the development of eating behavior in children is Jennifer Orlet Fisher, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Fisher’s research, and that of her colleagues, shows that young children learn to prefer foods that are familiar and ones presented as “acceptable” in their homes.</p> <p>During early childhood one begins to associate both positive and negative experiences with particular foods. Offering a child a certain food as part of a fun celebration or ritual (e.g., birthday cake) enhances his preference for that food. On the other hand, insisting that a child eat something in order to get a reward—“finish your peas and then you can watch television”—usually creates a negative food association. “These ‘contingency’ strategies are effective in the short run: they do get a kid to eat peas,” says Fisher. “But over the long haul, they tend to backfire.” In other words, bribing a child to eat something tends to reinforce the negative associations with that food.</p> <p>The best way to teach someone that healthy foods are important (and delicious) is to eat them yourself. In a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Dr. Fisher and her colleagues showed that parents who ate lots of fruits and vegetables generally had daughters who consumed plenty of produce, too, whereas parents who pushed fruits and vegetables but ate few servings themselves tended to have daughters who had low intakes of fruits and vegetables. Moral of the study: If you’re trying to help someone to eat a healthier diet, show—don’t tell—them how to do it.</p> <p>After speaking with Dr. Fisher, I realized that my parents never had to force me to eat vegetables or fruits because I’d learned to associate them with fun experiences, such as selecting fresh cherries at the farmer’s market with my mother. These activities emphasized that a juicy peach or a watermelon was the prize. Seeing my mother enjoy salads and sweet potatoes reinforced that concept. Could watching me enjoy healthy foods have suggested to Jack that they were “good” and encouraged him to try them for himself? Perhaps. Says Fisher: “We see other people enjoying different foods, and so we try them too.”</p> <p><strong>A whole new world</strong></p> <p>If one’s taste preferences truly stopped evolving during childhood, people who immigrate to the U.S. would always continue eating their native diets. Yet, for better or worse, most change their diets significantly, says David Himmelgreen, Ph.D., a professor of anthropology at the University of South Florida and former president of the Council on Nutritional Anthropology. “Changes in immigrants’ eating preferences stem from a combination of many social and cultural factors,” says Himmelgreen. For many, necessity drives change. For example, moving to the U.S. may mean longer commutes and extended workdays, which can force a shift toward more convenience foods. Or, if one’s traditional foods are far more expensive in one’s new home, it may be impractical, or impossible, to continue eating them.</p> <p>Sometimes, education and social support motivate positive dietary changes. “When people discover the benefits of healthy foods and learn that it may not be so difficult to implement new ways of eating, they generally want to change,” says Himmelgreen.</p> <p>In retrospect, I realize that an increasing awareness of nutrition probably was part of Jack’s motivation to change. Anytime I wrote a nutrition article or prepared a presentation, I tried it out on him. He’d give me feedback on what sounded too technical and what was interesting. It wasn’t long after Jack became my professional sounding board that he started making intentional dietary shifts.</p> <p>And somewhat like the immigrants Dr. Himmelgreen studies, Jack’s eating preferences were shaped by a new environment: we’d moved from Texas to Florida, where we now live. Tampa isn’t exactly a health-food mecca, but you’d be hard pressed to find many restaurants that serve chicken-fried steak, dumplings and fried okra. Our home was stocked conveniently with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which I enjoyed regularly in Jack’s company, consistently offering tastes but not pressuring him to try anything. Basically, I’d created the very sort of positive eating environment that helps cultivate healthy taste preferences in kids, according to Dr. Fisher and other experts.</p> <p>People often tell me that they are wowed by Jack’s healthy transformation and weight loss. My response always has been, “He did all the work.” He did. But now I realize that I helped set the stage. What would Jack be eating today, if he’d never met me? I wondered. So I asked. “Crispy beef tacos with extra cheese,” he told me. “And wearing my size-40 pants,” he added, sitting comfortably in his 34s.</p> <p>—Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D., is a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and a lecturer at the University of South Florida.<br /> —Illustration by Serge Bloch</p> <p><strong>TASTE TIPS</strong><br /> Cultivating a taste for Brussels sprouts starts with palate-pleasing preparation methods. The EatingWell Test Kitchen cooks are always looking for ways to transform less-than-popular, nutrient-packed foods into unexpected crowd-pleasers. Here, a few of our favorite techniques.</p> <p><strong>Beans</strong><br /> Common Turn-Offs: Earthy flavors, mushy texture, G.I. issues.<br /> What’s to love: Super-lean protein, fiber, folate. Cheap too!<br /> Test Kitchen Wisdom: Pair with a flavorful dark meat like beef or chicken thighs. Combine with crisp ingredients for textural contrast (think celery in bean salad). Mash or puree beans to thicken sauces or creamy soups. Puree with herbs and olive oil for a creamy dip. For firmer texture, cook beans “from scratch” rather than using canned beans; change soaking water to reduce gaseousness.</p> <p><strong>Cabbage-Family Vegetables</strong><br /> Common Turn-Off: Pungent flavors<br /> What’s to love: Cancer-fighting phytochemicals, carotenoids, vitamin C, fiber.<br /> Test Kitchen Wisdom: Add assertive flavorings: bacon, toasted nuts, vinegar. Use creamy elements like cheese sauce (broccoli, Brussels sprouts). Don’t overcook (it makes flavors more pungent); vegetables should be tender-crisp, greens still bright.</p> <p><strong>Tofu</strong><br /> Common Turn-Offs: Soft texture, bland taste.<br /> What’s to love: Soy protein, isoflavones, calcium (in some types).<br /> Test Kitchen Wisdom: Dredge extra-firm tofu in flour, cornstarch or breadcrumbs, then sauté for a crisp outside, tender inside. Counteract blandness with extra-flavorful ingredients in a stir-fry.</p> <p><strong>Dark, Leafy Greens</strong><br /> Common Turn-Off: Bitter taste.<br /> What’s to love: Potassium, folate, vitamins A, E &amp; C, fiber.<br /> Test Kitchen Wisdom: Balance bitterness with sour flavors (lemon juice, vinegar), creaminess (sauce or dressing) or richness (flavorful cheese).</p> <p><strong>Fatty Fish</strong><br /> Common Turn-Off: “Fishy” flavor.<br /> What’s to love: Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, calcium (in canned fish with bones).<br /> Test Kitchen Wisdom: Soak fish in milk for an hour (in the refrigerator); discard milk and pat dry before cooking. Serve with lemon or other acidic elements (vinegar-based sauce, flavorful salad dressing, strong mustard or hot sauce). Make fishy fish an element in the meal rather than the star (think salads, spreads, sandwiches).</p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/retrain_your_taste_buds#comments Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D. January/February 2007 Healthy Eating for Kids Diet, Nutrition & Health - Nutrition News & Information Tue, 18 Aug 2009 14:59:44 +0000 Sarah Hoff 9677 at http://www.eatingwell.com Lactose Intolerance http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/digestive_health/lactose_intolerance <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> How can you be sure you are getting the nutrients you need? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Thirty to 50 million Americans produce insufficient amounts of the enzyme (lactase) needed to digest lactose, the naturally occurring sugar in milk. Rather than being broken down and absorbed, lactose gets trapped in the digestive tract. This can trigger nausea, gas and diarrhea—usually within 30 minutes to two hours of eating.</p> <p>Avoiding milk will spare you the unpleasant effects of undigested lactose; however, by doing so you’re also eliminating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. These nutrients are essential to good health (and maintaining strong bones), so it’s important to get enough of them from other foods.<br /> Good news: you have a lot of options. You can drink Lactaid, which is “regular” cow’s milk with lactase added. Or try “milks” made from soy, rice or almonds. Choose those fortified with 25 to 30 percent of the daily value for both calcium and vitamin D per cup.</p> <p>Many with lactose intolerance can enjoy cheeses (particularly aged ones) and yogurts—made from both cow’s and goat’s milk—symptom-free; much of the lactose is removed during processing. If even these foods cause trouble, you can try nondairy (e.g., soy) versions. They usually don’t mimic dairy-based products in taste or nutritional value; some come close on texture.</p> <p>Eating more of nondairy foods that supply good amounts of vitamin D (e.g., mackerel) and calcium (e.g., kale, almonds) also will help you meet your needs for these nutrients. Still suspect you may be falling short? Consult a dietitian (eatright.org), who can help you decide if you need supplements.</p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/digestive_health/lactose_intolerance#comments Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., R.D. May/June 2007 Digestive Health glutfree Diet, Nutrition & Health - Digestive Health Mon, 17 Aug 2009 20:30:53 +0000 Penelope Wall 9631 at http://www.eatingwell.com