Category Archives: Nutrition

Why can eating healthy food be a gassy proposition?

“So you’ve been on a new, healthy diet and you have a little gas, do ya? What would you rather have, a little gas (healthy human function) or colon cancer?” These are the words of our friend and colleague in Juice Plus+, Dr. Mitra Ray (research biochemist and expert of nutrition disease prevention). She doesn’t pull her punches!

Reading this NPR article will help answer her question.

Not long ago, we heard about a catchy name or a cookbook: “Fart-free food for everybody.”

In theory, these recipes would be helpful for some people — and those in their vicinity.

But being a bit gassy may actually be a small price to pay for a lot of benefits to our health.

We know that air often comes after eating nutrient-packed vegetables, such as cabbage, kale and broccoli. And researchers have found that fiber-rich foods, like beans and lentils, boost the levels of beneficial gut bacteria after only a few days.

So all this got us wondering: Could passing gas, in some instances, be a sign that our gut microbes are busy keeping us healthy?

Absolutely, says , a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

“Eating foods that cause gas is the only way for the microbes in the gut to get nutrients,” he says. “If we didn’t feed them carbohydrates, it would be harder for them to live in our gut.”

healthy-gutAnd we need to keep these colon-dwelling critters content, Kashyap says. When they gobble up food — and create gas — they also make molecules that boost the immune system, protect the lining of the intestine and prevent infections.

“A healthy individual can have up to 18 flatulences per day and be perfectly normal,” he adds.

Gas gets into the digestive tract primarily through : Swallowing air (which we all do when we eat and chew gum) and your microbiome. That’s the collection of organisms in the GI tract that scientists and doctors are currently all fired up about. (Check our colleague Rob Stein’s recent on it.)

That microbiome includes hundreds of different bacteria. But there are also organisms from another kingdom shacking up with them: the .

All these microbes are gas-making fools. They eat up unused food in your large intestine, like fiber and other carbohydrates we don’t digest, and churn out a bunch of gases as waste.

But that’s not all they make. They also produce a slew of molecules (called short chain fatty acids) that may promote the growth of other beneficial bacteria and archaea.

And the more fiber you feed these friendly inhabitants, the more types of species appear, studies have found. This bump in microbial diversity has been linked to a .

“Undigested carbohydrates allow the whole ecosystem to thrive and flourish,” Kashyap says.

Most gas made by the microbiome is odorless. It’s simply carbon dioxide, hydrogen or methane. But sometimes a little sulfur slips in there.

“That’s when it gets smelly,” Kashyap says.

But here’s the hitch: Many of the smelly sulfur compounds in vegetables have healthful properties.

Take for instance, the broccoli, mustard and cabbage family. These vegetables are packed with a sulfur compound, called sulforaphane, that is strongly associated with a reduced risk of cancer.

Another possible benefit of a little smelly gas? “It may reduce the total volume of air in the gut,” Kashyap says.

Why? Because bacteria and archaea make the sulfur gas from other gases in the gut, like hydrogen.

“Bacteria that make sulfide gas are really important,” Kashyap says. “They can cause smelliness, but they can reduce the total amount of gas flow.”

Of course, having too much of anything can be bad. If gas and bloating start interfering with your quality of life, Kashayps recommends seeing a doctor.

“But don’t immediately blame your diet,” Kashyap says.

In many cases, people who complain about too much gas actually don’t generate more than others, he says. Instead, they perceive the passing more intensely. Or they pass it .

“Yes, a more fiber-rich diet will produce more gas,” Kashyap adds. “But completely eliminating fiber from the diet should not be the first option. You don’t want to starve your microbes.”

So go ahead. Enjoy those lentils. Chow down on the cabbage. Then if you stink a little, think of it as a thank you gesture from your microbiome.


We might say: “It too shall pass!”

But seriously, gut health and the microbiome are becoming a very big deal in the corridors of advanced biology, and Juice Plus+ is a significant player.  After more than 30 clinical studies of Juice Plus+ have been published, still more are underway, including one relevant to our topic today.

The University of Memphis is studying Juice Plus+ over 16 weeks in 80 stressed nurses, with a BMI >25. This is a gold standard, randomized, placebo controlled study, which will answer these questions:

1. Can Juice Plus+ consumption alter the microbiome?

2. Can Juice Plus+ improve intestinal permeability?

3. Is there a correlation between gut health modulation via Juice Plus+ and low-grade inflammation and oxidative stress?

Exciting times!

Getting fruits and vegetables to those who need them most

USDA logo

We all know we should eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day. But for various reasons, the vast majority of Americans don’t. If eating right is hard for people across the board, imagine how difficult it is for those who are struggling to get food, any kind of food, on the table. That’s why I was heartened to hear the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded $31.5 million in grants to help people participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) increase their purchases of fresh produce.

The grants, awarded to 31 separate organizations in 26 states, were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. The programs will be administered by diverse organizations — city and state governments, networks of farmers’ markets, community foundations, and food banks — for periods of one to four years. At the end of the test period, the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program will compare the efficacy of different programs in order to determine the best methods of promoting fruit and vegetable consumption by low-income families.

What are some of the methods being tested?

· Many programs offer dollar-for-dollar or other matches to increase participants’ purchasing power at grocery stores, farmers’ markets, or CSAs. (Participants of CSA — or community-supported agriculture — buy a share of a farmers’ produce in advance and receive a weekly box of whatever’s in season.)

· Other programs support mobile markets that bring produce into food desserts, which are neighborhoods that lack convenient places to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

· Some programs will distribute nutritional information, organize cooking demonstrations, or hold forums to determine the barriers to fresh food access in specific communities.

· Most programs will serve all SNAP participants, but the San Antonio Food Bank plans to target pregnant women and new moms, and the International Rescue Committee will work to increase access to locally grown foods to refugee and immigrant populations in New York City. Organizations in Maine and Florida plan to create incentives for SNAP participants to buy produce grown in those states.

The sheer diversity of these programs, and the fact that they will be evaluated so we can learn what really works, makes me hopeful about tackling the problem of improving nutrition for the most vulnerable among us. Over 60 percent of people who receive SNAP benefits are either children, elderly, or disabled.

But of course, no matter what your age or income, everyone needs to eat a diet rich in health-giving fruits and vegetables. There’s no substitute for that. However, there is a solution for the times we fall short, and that’s Juice Plus+. Together, the Orchard and Garden blends contain 20 different fruits, vegetables, and grains, providing another kind of safety net for getting the nutrition we need.

What if we could get Tower Gardens in every community center?

What is most harmful to your nutritional health?

Here’s an interesting survey conducted recently by Civic Science. Over 4300 adults were asked the following question:

“Which of these do you feel is most harmful to your nutritional health?”
– Added sugar
– Total amount of sugar
– Saturated fats
– Sodium
– Carbs
– Preservatives / chemicals
– GMOs
– I don’t see any of these as harmful to my health

The results appear in the pie chart. The top 5 fears are preservatives & chemicals, saturated fat, sugar (total & added), sodium, and GMOs.

Demographically, women are 44% more likely to be concerned about preservatives and chemicals compared to men. Affluent respondents are more likely to be concerned about added sugars.

The group most concerned with GMOs had the highest variation in lifestyle preferences compared to the general population. These folks actively seek out smaller grocery retailers,  are more likely to buy organic food, cook more often for multiple people.

This survey was conducted to inform food manufacturers and restaurants as to consumer sentiments, not to provide any clear scientific advice. Obviously there is not one element that is most harmful to someone’s diet. However, you will find that most junk food and restaurant food includes multiple elements from the list above, whereas most food cooked at home does not.

Eat more home cooked meals from whole foods, and you’re already doing lots for your nutritional health!

You Can Train Your Brain to Hate Junk Food

Could your brain ever want broccoli over brownies? If you’re done dishing out all explicit synonyms of “hell, no”, hear me out.  Sadly, and much to the contentment of your taste buds, junk food companies have cracked the perilous code of flavour science. They’ve taken this science to extraordinary levels, magically mixing in the exact ratio of sugars, salts, fats and other chemicals that appeal to your psychological and physical reactions. In other words, these carefully orchestrated flavors make you go “How is this soooo good, what sorcery is this? Must. Buy. More.”

Maybe it’s time to update your brain’s biological software, and yes, it’s all possible! Side note – let it not be known that I’m dreaming of cinnamon buns whilst writing this. Recent study at Tufts University and Harvard Medical School has given an additional push to this thought and it’s pretty exciting to think that long-standing preferences can be re-engineered.

“Food cravings are basically a habit,” explains study co-author Susan Roberts, PhD, director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at Tufts. Like smokers who grow accustomed to getting their fix after meals or with their morning coffee, many people train their brains to expect junk foods at certain times of the day, Roberts explains.

The reason you crave high-calorie foods in the first place is because they do such a good job at satisfying hunger pangs. “If you eat M&M’s, you’re going to get this huge rush of sugar and fat that’s easily digested and soothes your hunger now,” says Roberts. “Your brain gets used to the idea that this chocolate taste is really good at fixing hunger, so that the next time you get ravenous, you’ll want to go find it again.”

In a small study, participants weren’t allowed to become hungry, since hunger is the driving force behind most of our unhealthy cravings. They achieved this by prescribing a satiating, low-calorie diet to them, a diet that included healthy proteins, high-fibre foods and low-glycemic fruits and vegetables.

After six months, MRI scans of their brains showed increased reward activity in response to nutritious, low-cal foods. More interestingly, their brains’ reward responses were muffled in the presence of unhealthy treats. The study says you can weaken brain associations by mixing treats with foods that have high protein or fiber so your treat is still absorbed but not as quickly digested.

But Can You Really Be Happy Eating Vegetables?

For most people, the thought of eating vegetables is depressing. This is especially true for those caught in cozy arms of junk food. But research conducted by the University of Warwick’s Medical School might put these gloomy feelings to rest. The study, which involved 14,000 participants in England aged 16 or over, found that those who ate five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day were the happiest.

Remarkably, the reverse was also true, the lower a person’s fruit and vegetable intake, the higher their chance of having low mental well-being. Dr. Saverio Stranges, the research paper’s lead author, who was positively surprised, said: “These novel findings suggest that fruit and vegetable intake may play a potential role as a driver, not just of physical, but also of mental well-being in the general population.”

So how exactly do you go on to beat your inner junk-demons and ensure your brain doesn’t rev up whenever someone as little as mentions the word ‘crunchy potato chips’ or ‘a crumbly pie’?

1. Practice the Five-Ingredient Rule

One simple rule that doesn’t require Sensei-like training. Whenever you’re about to purchase a product, flip it over to go over the ingredient list at the back. If there are more than five ingredients on the food label, don’t buy it. More than five ingredients should always sound the alarms and bring out the red flags in your brain, since it’s a sure-shot sign of food processing. If you do buy it, it’s best to consider it a treat and consume it occasionally.

2. It’s All About the Blood Sugar, Baby

Balancing your blood sugar is essential. Blood sugar highs and lows is what primitively drives you to reach out for that chocolate-laced muffin. When your blood sugar is low, you’ll eat anything, you’ll hear potato chips calling out your name and you’ll be too frenzied to think better. To better balance your blood sugar, eat a small snack every three to four hours. Needless to say, this snack should include a healthy protein, seeds or nuts.

3. Gross Yourself Out

An amateurish but effective trick is find out what’s going on in that amazing cupcake of yours. The red and pink dye used in foods are extracted from the Cochineal insects that come from the beetle family. Lanolin – an oily, sweaty secretion found on the outside of sheep’s wool, is used to soften your chewing gum. Find out enough about what you’re really eating and the cringe factor will keep you away from processed food for a long, long time.

4. The Dull Sheen of Satisfaction

When you regularly consume sugar, salt and fats, it not only hooks you, it dulls your taste buds as well – making you eat more to reach the same level of satisfaction. But thankfully, the opposite it true too. The less of a food you eat, the less of it you need to score a rush, says David Katz, M.D., a nutrition expert at the Yale School of Medicine and author of ‘Disease Proof: The Remarkable Truth About What Makes Us Well.’ The trick is to cut down in small steps. If you take three sugars in tea, add two sugars for a few weeks and then one for the next few. Over time, you’ll notice smaller amounts of these treats are enough to hit the spot.

5. Load Up on the Real Stuff

According to Mercola, when you load up on addictive junk foods, your metabolism is stimulated to burn carbs as its primary fuel. As long as you’re in the primary carb-burning mode, you’ll keep craving junk food. The solution? Replace carbs with healthy fats.  Easier said than done, yes – but once you replace processed junk with high-quality whole foods, the metabolic switchover will be well worth it.

Read full article… 

Diet can greatly affect cancer risk

“Chances are we all have cancer to some degree and don’t know it,” says Dr. Brian Lawenda from 21st Century Oncology.

So, how is the average American doing when it comes to staying away from foods that can cause cancers?

“We don’t do well,” Lawenda said. “Basically, if I could summarize what diets we think are best, they’re going to be plant-dominant diets with a little bit of fish and meats that are healthful versions, like organic, wild- or pasture-raised. And people are supposed to have five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and really, I think only about 15 percent of the American public gets that recommendation.”

Americans should strive to eat two cups of fruit daily and three cups of vegetables, he said.

The doctor suggested looking at one’s plate in fractions. About 50 percent should be non-starchy vegetables, a quarter can be whole grains and only one-quarter of one’s plate should be meat. It should be a lean meat and not one that has been charred, Lawenda said. For barbecue aficionados, he suggested half cooking the meat first in the microwave, then taking it to the grill to finish it. That would avoid the charred factor.

To help people get a handle on their diet, Lawenda suggested visiting the Environmental Working Group’s site, ewg.org, which rates more than 80,000 foods found on American supermarket shelves. Using its resources, one can scan the bar code of many grocery items to see how healthy they are. The group also has apps for food, beauty products and more.

“The science of nutrition is not all that strong and robust; not like, ‘If you eat this diet, you’re going to beat cancer,’ or, ‘If you take this vitamin, you’ll beat cancer.’ We just don’t have that,” Lawenda said. “But we have population-based studies that suggest that people who eat more omega-3 rich fish tend to have lower rates of a variety of cancers. People who tend to eat more anti-inflammatory foods also tend to do better in terms of less cancers. But we don’t do that. We have processed foods, foods high in trans fatty acids, things that cause inflammation in our diet.”

Organic is the way to go, Lawenda said, as big corporations flood the soil with insecticides and other chemicals that are then drawn up by the plant’s roots and become part of its makeup.

“Some of these documentaries — ‘Food, Inc’ and ‘Forks Over Knives’ — there are all sorts of decent ‘exposes’, if you will, that tell us that all these foods we’re eating are pro-inflammatory, too high in sugar, and addictive,” he said.

It used to be thought that heredity predicted one’s chances of getting cancer. Not so. Roughly 10 percent of one’s chances come from genes, Lawenda said, and the rest comes from lifestyle choices. About a third can be traced to diet.

“Chronic inflammation, the type that is smoldering for long periods of time, is at the heart of the problem,” the oncologist said, adding that the major causes of inflammation include poor diet made up of simple carbohydrates, alcohol consumption, tobacco use, being overweight and not getting enough exercise. A diet that is non-inflammatory, his presentation explained, is based on organic fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, legumes, with taste being added through herbs and spices. One spice being studied for its effects on cancer is turmeric.

“I don’t know of one cancer it doesn’t have an effect on,” Lawenda said.

Eating right may help prevent cancerous cells from duplicating, but does it help once one has been diagnosed?

Las Vegas resident Dave Hults has colon cancer and has been using the dietary protocol described by Lawenda since about the first of the year. He tried chemotherapy and ended with peripheral neuropathy in his hands, but it did nothing to stop his cancer. Now, he’s looking to dietary changes to affect the cancer and stop it. He and his wife, Pat, shop at farmers markets for organic or pesticide-free foods.

The hardest part is “giving up all the bad things,” he said, “because basically you have no meat, no chicken, no processed food. Like, for breakfast I have miso soup (a Japanese seaweed soup), or oatmeal, and I use some honey in the oatmeal with blueberries.”

Treatments for cancer are getting less invasive, less traumatic and more targeted. Some cancers can be treated with concentrated doses of radiation that spare other cells. Low-tech methods of treatments such as Reiki, acupuncture, vitamin supplements, herbal tonics and lifestyle counseling (aka exercising) are also being incorporated to complement medical science.

Though new to the program, has Hults seen any results?

“This is my third go-around with colon cancer, so I’m very strict on what I’m doing,” he said. “Like he talked about all these carbs; they’re all gone from my diet. I’ve dropped about 30 pounds in less than two months.”

He’s exercising regularly and has stopped consuming all dairy.

“I feel much better. No meat, all organic,” he said. “It’s tough to go out to eat or, when you’re out gambling, not to have a toddy, but I never was a heavy drinker. I was a heavy smoker at one time, but those (urges) have all subsided. What really blows my mind is that I’ve been to three of the top, I’d say 15, cancer centers in the world in the last four months, and none of them talked about diet.”

Read the full article… 

Get your family into gardening

Kids with Veggies-86493692
Studies show that children who are involved with growing their own food are likely to eat more fruits and vegetables, and a larger variety of each, than kids who do not garden at home.

“Whether a food is homegrown makes a difference,” according to Debra Haire-Joshu, director of Saint Louis University’s (SLU) Obesity Prevention Center. “Garden produce creates what we call a “positive food environment.”

In fact, Haire-Joshu’s SLU study found preschoolers were more than twice as likely to get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily than their non-gardening peers.

Good nutrition is only one of the many benefits of gardening as a family. Gardening offers many lessons.

There’s the science of working with plants, soil and water and seeing firsthand how the seasons, weather, pests and beneficial insects play a role in plant development.

Kids learn responsibility by caring for living plants, and patience waiting for seeds, flowers, and produce to develop.

A successful garden creates confidence, while unsatisfactory results can provide a lesson in coping with disappointment and then problem-solving to search for better gardening techniques.

Getting the family into the garden also provides a healthy dose of exercise by working the major muscle groups. For example, 30 minutes of raking leaves typically burns 162 calories, weeding or mowing with a power mower burns 182 calories, turning a compost pile burns 250 calories, and double-digging your garden soil burns 344 calories.

If you want to expend less energy – saving it for other activities – and use much less water, space and nutrients, try Tower Gardening!

Stephen Ritz – Global Teacher Prize Top 10 Finalist – knows ALL about this:

Antioxidant supplements or fruits and vegetables? 

Antioxidants have been touted as one of the central components of fruits and vegetables that make them healthy for humans and extend their life span. But it may not be that simple.

People who get a lot of antioxidants in their diets, or who take them in supplement form, don’t live any longer than those who just eat well overall, according to a long term study of retirees in California, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

While many studies have shown that eating lots of fruits and vegetables lengthens your life, it was never clear if antioxidants or some other compound was responsible. The authors looked at antioxidant vitamins A, C and E.

“There was no association between the amount of vitamins A or C in the diet or vitamin E supplements and the risk of death. Vitamin users may have different lifestyles or underlying disease states that are related to their risk of death.”

The researchers say their findings emphasize that the benefits of vitamin supplements are still unclear and that they should not be used to replace a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

“There is good scientific evidence that eating a diet with lots of vegetables and fruits is healthful and lowers risks of certain diseases. However, it is unclear whether this is because of the antioxidants, something else in these foods, other foods in people’s diet, or other lifestyle choices.” said lead author Annlia Paganini-Hill of the Clinic for Aging Research and Education at the University of California, Irvine.

The researchers used mailed surveys from the 1980’s in which almost 14,000 older residents of the Leisure World Laguna Hills retirement community detailed their intake of 56 foods or food groups rich in vitamins A and C as well as their vitamin supplement intake.

Two-thirds of the original group took vitamin supplements, most often vitamin C. The authors note, though, that the participants’ diets alone were generally more than adequate to meet minimum dietary requirements for vitamin intake.

With periodic check-ins and repeated surveys, the researchers followed the group for the next 32 years, during which time 13,104 residents died.

When Paganini-Hill’s team accounted for smoking, alcohol intake, caffeine consumption, exercise, body mass index, and histories of hypertension, angina, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer, there was no association between the amount of vitamins A or C in the diet or vitamin E supplements and the risk of death.

“In the general population, health-promoting habits often cluster; e.g. those who take vitamin supplements often exercise, do not smoke, and are not obese,” Paganini-Hill said. “Thus, these factors may explain the observed association between longevity and vitamin supplements.”

On the other hand, the authors note, people with unhealthy habits might be more likely to take supplements. For instance, they found that men who were current smokers were about twice as likely to take in high or medium amounts of vitamin C compared to men who had never smoked. A similar pattern held for men’s vitamin A intake and women’s intake of both A and C.

Some large studies have found a connection between vitamin intake and risk of death, but most have not, the study team points out.

“We know quite a lot about how antioxidants act and what they, theoretically, can prevent,” said Sabine Rohrmann of the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich.

“One of the critical issues is that we don’t know very much about how antioxidants act at different concentrations and how they act in humans who have, or who do not have, sufficient vitamin/antioxidant intake,” said Rohrmann

Participants in the new study were largely white, educated and well-nourished.

“We know that the most important factors that influence mortality are smoking and excess body weight,” Rohrmann said. Many studies support the notion that vitamin supplements are usually not necessary because our nutrient intake via a healthy diet is usually sufficient, she said.

Antioxidants can have risks as well. According to the National Institutes of Health, high doses of beta-carotene may increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers, high doses of vitamin E may increase risks of prostate cancer and one type of stroke, and antioxidant supplements may also interact with some medicines.

Since they can interact with medicines, you should discuss your supplement intake with your doctor, Paganini-Hill said.

“Antioxidant supplements should not be used to replace a nutritionally adequate diet,” she added.


We agree. However, it should be noted that Juice Plus+ clinical research (more than 30 published studies) has very effectively connected the dots between the increase in phytonutrients (including antioxidants) and results which clearly indicate a reduction in the risk of disease. These results include improvements in immune function, cardiovascular wellness and DNA protection. Ongoing research, once published during the next year or so, will conclusively document the disease prevention power of Juice Plus+.

Just one more reason we will ALWAYS take Juice Plus+ every day.

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Can Too Much Protein Be Harmful?

protein-sourcesThe average American consumes about 100 grams of protein a day, which is much higher than actually required by the body – 55-65 grams per day if you weigh 150 lbs. Could excess consumption of protein be deleterious to one’s health?

Proteins are the building blocks of our muscles. Having 10-15 grams of protein per meal or snack can help maintain satiety. In recent years, protein has emerged as the only nutrient people feel good about consuming. Fat has been vilified for decades, and is high in calories, while carbs are considered fattening as well.

The risks of excess protein intake can be divided into 2 areas: kidney disease and cancer.

Protein metabolism requires work by the kidneys. Excess protein means a strain on kidneys. For most people, this is not an issue; folks with kidney disease need to reduce their protein intake. Another problem with too much protein is calcium depletion which can lead to osteoporosis and kidney stones.

Some studies have shown that a very high protein diet is correlated with an increased risk of some types of cancer. However, a distinction needs to be made between the sources of protein. Apparently, plant based proteins are not harmful at all, while intake that is based mostly on meat and dairy protein may be harmful.

New research presented this week at the European Congress on Obesity points to a risk of weight gain and death when people with a potential for heart disease consume a high protein diet.

If you are dieting, you may be confused right now. On the one hand protein helps with satiety, yet on the other hand you should not eat too much. The answer is to distribute your protein consumption evenly throughout the day. Don’t wait till dinnertime for a huge steak with 50 grams of protein. Have some protein as a part of every meal and snack.

Read the full article… 

Avocados help lower levels of bad cholesterol

avIn spite of their strange appearance, avocados pack a serious health punch and are full of healthy fats, vitamins and other nutrients.

New research has found they may also help with your cholesterol. The study, conducted by researchers at Pennsylvania State University, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, analyzed the effect avocados had on cardiovascular risk factors by replacing saturated fatty acids from an average American diet with unsaturated fatty acids from avocados.

Researchers found that compared to the baseline average American diet, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) also known as ‘bad cholesterol’ was 13.5 mg/dL lower after consuming the moderate fat diet that included avocado – a significantly lower level than those consuming less fat without a daily avocado in their diet.

“Avocados are packed with vitamins, minerals, and potential health benefits. They are rich in monounsaturated fat, which helps reduce levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol within the blood,” says Cara Sloss, a spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association. “They contain more potassium than bananas and are rich in vitamins B, C, and K.”

“Research has suggested benefits including a reduced risk of stroke, cancer, and coronary artery disease, along with improved diabetes control. Although there are many benefits, they should be consumed as part of a balanced diet,” she says.

The results held regardless of the weight of the participant on the diet.

Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?

Because of soil depletion, crops grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today.

It would be overkill to say that the carrot you eat today has very little nutrition in it—especially compared to some of the other less healthy foods you likely also eat—but it is true that fruits and vegetables grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today.

The main culprit in this disturbing nutritional trend is soil depletion: modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows. Sadly, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before. A landmark study on the topic by Donald Davis and his team of researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century. Davis and his colleagues chalk up this declining nutritional content to the preponderance of agricultural practices designed to improve traits (size, growth rate, pest resistance) other than nutrition.

“Efforts to breed new varieties of crops that provide greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and more rapidly,” reported Davis, “but their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients has not kept pace with their rapid growth.” There have likely been declines in other nutrients, too, he said, such as magnesium, zinc and vitamins B-6 and E, but they were not studied in 1950 and more research is needed to find out how much less we are getting of these key vitamins and minerals. The Organic Consumers Association cites several other studies with similar findings:

A Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 found that average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables dropped 27 percent; iron levels 37 percent; vitamin A levels 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent. A similar study of British nutrient data from 1930 to 1980, published in the British Food Journal, found that in 20 vegetables the average calcium content had declined 19 percent; iron 22 percent; and potassium 14 percent.

Yet another study concluded that one would have to eat eight oranges today to derive the same amount of Vitamin A as our grandparents would have gotten from one.

What can be done? The key to healthier produce is healthier soil. Alternating fields between growing seasons to give land time to restore would be one important step. Also, foregoing pesticides and fertilizers in favor of organic growing methods is good for the soil, the produce and its consumers.

Those who want to get the most nutritious fruits and vegetables should buy regularly from local organic farmers.

UT’s Davis warns that just because fruits and vegetables aren’t as healthy as they used to be doesn’t mean we should avoid them. “Vegetables are extraordinarily rich in nutrients and beneficial phytochemicals,” he reported. “They are still there, and vegetables and fruits are our best sources for these.”

Read full article… 

In contrast we are proud of the nutritional quality of Juice Plus+ produce: