Cute Food: Character Cakes

10 Daily Servings of Fruits, Veggies a Recipe for Longevity

If you want to add years to your life, 10 daily servings of fruits and vegetables may be the best recipe you can follow, a new analysis suggests.

The benefits appear to come through lower rates of heart attack, stroke, cancer and early death. And if everyone found a way to get 10 daily servings of produce, 7.8 million premature deaths would be avoided each year worldwide, the British researchers estimated.

Exactly how much in the way of fruits and vegetables is that? Anywhere from 10 small bananas or apples to 30 tablespoons of cooked spinach, peas, broccoli or cauliflower — or roughly 800 grams of produce, the researchers said.

At least five servings (400 grams) of fruits and vegetables each day is what is currently recommended by many health agencies.

“Although five portions of fruit and vegetables is good, 10 a day is even better,” said study author Dagfinn Aune, of the School of Public Health at Imperial College London.

But even just over two portions a day made a difference in the review, the researchers added.

Eating 2.5 portions (200 grams) of produce on a daily basis was associated with reductions in: heart disease (by 16 percent); stroke (18 percent); cardiovascular disease (13 percent); cancer risk (4 percent); and premature death (15 percent).

The results for 10 daily servings were even stronger: a 24 percent reduced risk of heart disease; a 33 percent reduced risk of stroke; a 28 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease; a 13 percent reduced risk of cancer; and a 31 percent reduction in premature death risk.

“Fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system,” Aune said in a university news release.

“This may be due to the complex network of nutrients they hold. For instance, they contain many antioxidants, which may reduce DNA damage, and lead to a reduction in cancer risk,” Aune explained.

However, the study did not prove a cause-and-effect link between eating more fruits and vegetables and longer life.

“Most likely it is the whole package of beneficial nutrients you obtain by eating fruits and vegetables that is crucial in health,” Aune said.

“This is why it is important to eat whole plant foods to get the benefit, instead of taking antioxidant or vitamin supplements (which have not been shown to reduce disease risk),” Aune noted.

Together, the 95 studies the Imperial College London scientists analyzed included almost 2 million people.

In their review, the researchers also found signs that these types of produce seemed to confer the greatest benefits: apples, pears, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower), and green and yellow vegetables (such as green beans, spinach, carrots and peppers).

The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Source: HealthDay

Danish Pastries with Apricots


2 cups strong plain flour
1 oz lard
pinch salt
1 oz caster sugar
2 teaspoons easy blend dried yeast
1 egg, beaten
4 oz butter
10 apricot halves
1 egg beaten, to glaze
3 tablespoons icing sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. Sift flour into a bowl and rub in lard. Stir in salt, sugar, yeast, egg and 12 teaspoons water and mix to form a soft dough. Knead until smooth, then place in an oiled polythene bag in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  2. Place butter between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and flatten into a 5-inch square. Roll out dough on a floured surface to a 10- x 12-inch rectangle and place butter in centre. Bring 2 sides of dough over to overlap each other, then top and bottom ends.
  3. Turn over and gently roll into an oblong about 3 times as long as it is wide. Fold into 3 and repeat rolling and folding 3 more times. Return to bag and chill for at least 1 hour.
  4. Roll out dough to a 20- x 8-inch rectangle and cut into 4-inch squares. Make a cut at each corner diagonally towards middle and fold 1 point from each corner into middle. Top with half an apricot and brush with beaten egg. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 220ºC (425ºF).
  6. Bake in oven for 10 minutes until golden. Cool on a wire rack. Mix together icing sugar and lemon juice and brush over warm pastries.

Makes 10 servings.

Source: Breakfasts and Brunches

In Pictures: Home-cooked One-plate Breakfasts

Fructose Tied to Advanced Liver Disease in Children and Teens

Lisa Rapaport wrote . . . . . .

Obese youth who have some buildup of fats in their livers and a diet high in fructose may be more likely to develop serious chronic liver damage common in adult alcoholics, a recent study suggests.

Most people have a little bit of fat in their liver. Fatty liver disease can occur when more than 5 percent of the liver by weight is made up of fat. Excessive drinking can damage the liver and cause fat to accumulate, a condition known as alcoholic fatty liver. When people don’t drink much, they can still develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is associated with obesity and certain eating habits.

NAFLD is the most common liver disease in western children, the authors write in Journal of Hepatology. And it is now recognized as the liver’s “manifestation” of metabolic syndrome – a constellation of traits and symptoms that raise a person’s risk for diabetes and heart disease – they add.

For the current study, researchers examined data on 271 obese children and teens in Italy and the UK who underwent liver biopsies to assess fat accumulation. They used food questionnaires to assess fructose consumption and also examined blood levels of uric acid, which can be elevated in people with chronic liver disease.

Foods high in fructose include anything with high fructose corn syrup, like sweetened drinks, candy and many processed foods, but this type of sugar also occurs naturally in fruits, fruit juices and honey.

“Cells don’t use fructose for energy, so 100 percent of the fructose you eat is metabolized in your liver,” said study co-author Dr. Valerio Nobili of Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital in Rome.

Instead, the body turns fructose into fatty acids, the “bad” kind of cholesterol and triglycerides, which are stored as body fat, Nobili said by email. “That’s why excess fructose going into the liver is followed by the formation of fatty liver,” Nobili added.

All of the study participants had at least some degree of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, researchers report.

About 38 percent of them, or 102 participants, had more extensive liver damage known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) that happens when fat buildup leads to swelling in the liver and impairs liver function.

Roughly 47 patients with NASH had high uric acid, compared with 30 percent of participants without NASH, the study also found.

Overall, 53 percent of the children reported always skipping breakfast and another 26 percent said they had a morning meal infrequently.

However, 95 percent of the youth said they regularly had a morning snack and 89 percent routinely had an afternoon snack. Morning snacks most often included crackers, pizza and salty food, while afternoon snacks often consisted of biscuits or yogurt.

About 47 percent of the children ate cereal daily, while 43 percent had vegetables every day and 40 percent consumed fruit each day.

Roughly nine in 10 participants had soda at least once a week.

The youth with NASH had higher average consumption of fructose. Their median intake – meaning half of them consumed more – was about 70 grams of fructose daily. Median fructose consumption of children and teens without NASH was about 53 grams a day.

One limitation of the study is that it relied on children and teens to accurately recall and report what they ate, the authors note. The study also didn’t examine whether there was a difference in liver outcomes based on how much fructose participants got from whole fruits, fruit juices or sodas.

“Our understanding of the role of fructose in fatty liver is still evolving,” said Dr. Jeffrey Schwimmer, a researcher at the University of California, San Diego and director of the Fatty Liver Clinic at Rady Children’s Hospital.

“We don’t think that the impact of fructose from fruit is the same as fructose from drinks,” Schwimmer, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

The difference in fructose consumption between youth with and without NASH in the study would be in one glass of sweetened tea or soda, but also the amount a child might get from pears or grapes, Schwimmer added.

His advice to parents: “Limit added sugars while further research is done to better understand” how fructose impacts the liver.

Source: Reuters

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