New Data Confirm Health Benefits of Plant-based Diet

David Railton wrote . . . . . . . .

Plant-based diets are becoming more popular in the United States. A 2017 report found that 6 percent of people in the U.S. now identify as vegan, compared with just 1 percent in 2014.

Despite this steady growth, the U.S. still lags behind many other countries when it comes to swapping animal protein for plant protein. In Germany, for example, nearly half of consumers currently follow a low-meat diet.

The results of studies from the Netherlands, Brazil, and the U.S., presented at Nutrition 2018, all found benefits associated with vegetarian-type diets, but they also communicated the health importance of the quality of the food.

We present some top-line findings from these studies below. When reading these summaries, it is important to bear in mind that while the abstracts presented at Nutrition 2018 were evaluated and selected by a committee of experts, the papers have not undergone the same rigorous standard of peer review that is applied to scientific journals.

So, we should consider these findings as “preliminary results,” until they are properly assessed.

Vegetarians and heart-related illness

The study from the Netherlands looked at almost 6,000 people; the team found that those who ate a high ratio of plant-derived protein to animal-derived protein were at lower risk of developing coronary heart disease later in life.

The Brazilian study looked at around 4,500 people and concluded that people who had a diet rich in plant-based protein were 60 percent less likely than people who had a diet rich in animal-based protein to develop a buildup of plaque in the arteries of the heart.

And, a study looking at South Asian people living in the U.S. found that vegetarianism was associated with fewer risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.

Compared with their nonvegetarian peers, South Asian vegetarians exhibited:

  • smaller waist circumference
  • lower amounts of abdominal fat
  • lower cholesterol
  • lower blood sugar
  • lower body mass index (BMI)

They were also less likely to gain weight and had a lower mortality rate.

Food quality is still important

In another study, researchers from Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, examined whether there was an association between eating healthful plant-based foods and reduced weight gain.

Examining data from “more than 125,000 adults over 4-year periods,” the team found that people who ate a lot of high-quality plant-based foods, such as whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits, were less likely to gain weight than people who ate a lot of less healthful plant-based foods, such as fries, refined grains, and candy.

A team at Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Medford, MA, found in its study of nearly 30,000 people in the U.S. that the quality of plant-based foods is “more important than the quality” of animal-derived foods when it comes to dietary health.

Their data map an association between making strong dietary choices for healthful, high-quality plant-based foods and a 30 percent lower mortality rate. People with chronic health conditions who consumed a diet rich in high-quality plant-based foods were found to benefit even more than those in the general population.

Consuming high-quality animal-based foods, however, was not associated with any significant benefits for mortality.

Source: Medical News Today

Filipino-style Roasted Pork Belly


1 (4–5-pound) skin-on, boneless pork belly
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (12-ounce) bottle unseasoned rice vinegar
12 garlic cloves, chopped
6–12 green Thai chilies, lightly crushed but left whole
2 serrano chilies, torn into small pieces
4 (12-ounce) bottles hard apple cider
2 tablespoons honey


  1. Season pork generously with salt. Set, skin side up, on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Chill at least 12 hours and up to 2 days.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour 4 cups water into baking sheet with pork. Rub pork skin with oil; season with more salt. Roast, adding more water to pan as needed, until skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of pork registers 195–200°F, 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, pour out 1/2 cup vinegar from bottle (save for another use). Remove pouring spout from bottle and add garlic, chiles, and a large pinch of salt. Cover and shake to distribute; let sit until ready to serve. (Or, combine in a glass jar or bowl).
  4. Bring hard cider and honey to a boil in a large saucepan; cook until thickened and very syrupy, 30–45 minutes.
  5. Increase oven temperature to 450°F. Continue to roast pork until skin is browned and puffed, 15–20 minutes (add a few more splashes of water to baking sheet if juices are scorching). Transfer rack with pork to a cutting board; let rest 20 minutes.
  6. Pour off fat from baking sheet and add 1/2 cup water, scraping up browned bits. Return baking sheet to oven for a few minutes if needed to help loosen browned bits. Stir into reduced cider mixture.
  7. Remove skin from pork, using the tip of a knife to get it started (it should come off in 1 large piece with a little help). Slice pork lengthwise into 2″-wide strips, then crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with reduced cider mixture. Break skin into large pieces and arrange on top; place a few chilies from vinegar around. Serve with chili vinegar.

Makes 8 to 12 servings.

Source: Bon Appetit

New Breakfast Set from Krispy Kreme Donut Japan

Donut with bacon egg and cheese, fruit yogurt and coffee

The price of the set is 580 yen.

Choosing the Right Iced Tea

Sally Wadyka wrote . . . . . . .

Hot days and cool, crisp iced tea seem like a match made in heaven. And plenty of people agree.

According to the Tea Association of the USA, Americans guzzled an estimated 1.8 billion gallons of ready-to-drink iced tea in 2017, making it one of the most popular drinks purchased.

But what you buy in a bottle may not deliver all the benefits you’re hoping to get from drinking tea—such as its potential to improve heart health and lower risk of conditions such as cognitive decline and diabetes.

“In order to have these beneficial effects, the tea you’re drinking must be high in antioxidants,” says Joe Vinson, Ph.D., professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton. “And there’s no way of knowing what you’re actually getting when you buy iced tea a bottle.”

What’s more, many bottled iced teas are nutritionally on par with soda—complete with loads of sugars, and artificial colors and flavors.

That’s not to say iced tea is never a good choice. Some bottles are better than others and, as always, it pays to read the nutrition label to find the best options.

Here’s what to consider before choosing a bottle of iced tea:

Beware of Sugars

The biggest downfall of bottled iced tea is that many varieties are packed with added sugars.

“You may think you’re choosing a healthier option when you grab a bottle of iced tea instead of a soda, but in many cases, you’re getting about as much sugars,” says Amy Keating, R.D., a nutritionist at Consumer Reports.

The current dietary guidelines recommend that less than 10 percent of your daily calories come from added sugars—that’s less than 50 grams if you’re following a 2,000 calorie diet. The American Heart Association says that the maximum daily added sugars intake should be no more than 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men.

Drinking sweetened iced tea can get you close to or over the max. For example, a 23-ounce can of Arizona Peach Tea has 69 grams of sugars and 259 calories. An 18.5-ounce bottle of Pure Leaf Sweet Tea has 42 grams of sugars and 160 calories.

The same goes for some iced tea/lemonade brands. Snapple Half ‘n Half, for instance, has 51 grams of sugars and 210 calories in 16 ounces. Compare those numbers to the 240 calories and 65 grams of sugars in a 20-ounce bottle of Coke.

Some brands will tout that they contain real sugar, cane sugar, or honey. But such products aren’t better for you necessarily than those with high fructose corn syrup.

“It’s still all added sugars,” Keating says.

Diet iced teas will be low in sugars and calories, but they may contain artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame or sucralose. Recent research suggests that consumption of artificially sweetened beverages may be linked to increased risk of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Terms such as “less sweet” or “a tad sweet” often mean that the tea has less sugars than a similar product from the same brand. But the amount can vary from brand to brand.

For example, Gold Peak “Slightly Sweet” Iced Tea has 24 grams of sugars and 90 calories in 18.5 ounces compared to 48 grams of sugars and 190 calories in the brand’s “Sweet” version. And Honest Tea’s Organic Lori’s Lemon Tea, which is labeled “a tad sweet” has 15 grams of sugars and 60 calories in a 16-ounce bottle. But in both cases, the less sweet versions still pack a lot of added sugars.

Your best bet is to look for iced teas labeled unsweetened. These may have flavors (like lemon) added, but they’ll be calorie free and won’t contain any type of sweetener.

“If you like, mix in a teaspoon of sugar or agave syrup,” says Keating. “You’ll get some sweetness but with a lot less sugar than in a presweetened version.”

Don’t Count On Getting Antioxidants

If part of the reason you’re choosing iced tea is because you want to drink a dose of antioxidants, be warned that there may not be many in a bottle.

“Bottled teas are very low in antioxidants compared to freshly brewed tea,” says Vinson, whose lab has analyzed a variety of teas.

In his testing, black tea bags steeped for five minutes in hot water contained the highest amount of polyphenols—a type of antioxidant found in black tea— (over 600 milligrams per cup) while bottled black tea contained the least (68 milligrams per cup).

Vinson theorizes that the ratio of water to tea is higher in bottled teas than in tea you make at home, so the resulting beverage has a lower antioxidant level. Flavorings and sugars eliminate tea’s naturally bitter taste, but may also dilute antioxidants.

Don’t Think Green Is Better

There are a lot of good things about green tea. Some research suggests that the type of antioxidant in green tea, called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), may help lower risk of certain cancers and reduce the risk of heart disease.

But don’t be blinded by green tea’s health halo. Many bottled green teas—just like bottled black teas—are loaded with added sugars and other not-so-healthy ingredients. For example, a 13.8-ounce bottle of Tazo Organic Iced Green Tea has 30 grams of sugars and 120 calories.

Consider Brewing Your Own

A simple, and inexpensive, solution to bottled teas with too much sugar or other not-so-healthy attributes is to simply brew your own iced tea.

You can pour boiling water over the bags or loose-leaf tea (black or green), let it steep for about 5 minutes, and let it cool. You can also add tea to cold water and let it steep for about 2 hours. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Food Science found little difference in the polyphenol content of black or green tea steeped in hot water for 5 minutes versus cold water for 2 hours.

“I prefer to use hot water even when making iced tea because I feel that it makes a stronger brew,” says Chad Luethje, executive chef at Red Mountain Resort, St. George, UT. “Then I let it cool down in the refrigerator rather than adding ice—which dilutes the taste.” To make a pitcher of iced tea, he recommends steeping eight to 10 tea bags in 2 quarts of water.

He also has some healthy tricks for counteracting tea’s bitter taste without adding sugar. For green tea, he suggests mixing in some freshly brewed mint tea, then adding lemon slices and fresh mint. For black tea, try orange slices for a natural dose of sweetness.

It’s worth noting, though, that the antioxidants in tea will dissipate over time. “We found that once brewed, the antioxidant content went down about 10 percent a day,” says Vinson. So don’t brew up a bigger batch than you can drink in a day or two.

Source: Consumer Reports

New DNA Test May Predict Prostate Cancer Risk

A new genetic test can identify men most likely to develop prostate cancer, a new report contends.

According to the new study, the scientists identified 63 new genetic variants associated with increased risk of prostate cancer, and combined them with more than 100 previously identified variants to create the new test.

The test identifies the 1 percent of men who are at highest risk for prostate cancer. These men have a six times higher-than-average chance of developing the disease, the study authors said.

The investigators used a new DNA analysis — called the Oncoarray — to compare more than half a million single-letter changes in the DNA code of almost 80,000 men with prostate cancer, and more than 61,000 men without the disease.

“By looking at the DNA code of tens of thousands of men in more depth than ever before, we have uncovered vital new information about the genetic factors that can predispose someone to prostate cancer, and, crucially, we have shown that information from more than 150 genetic variants can now be combined to provide a readout of a man’s inherited risk of prostate cancer,” said study author Rosalind Eeles. She is a professor of oncogenetics at the Institute of Cancer Research in London.

“If we can tell from testing DNA how likely it is that a man will develop prostate cancer, the next step is to see if we can use that information to help prevent the disease,” Eeles explained in an institute news release.

“We now hope to begin a small study in [doctors’] practices to establish whether genetic testing using a simple spit test could select high-risk men who might benefit from interventions to identify the disease earlier or even reduce their risk,” Eeles said.

The study was published in the journal Nature Genetics.

Source: HealthDay

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