To Rinse Or Not To Rinse: How Washing Some Foods Can Help You Avoid Illness

Jill Neimark wrote . . . . . . .

This spring, millions of Americans worried that salad was no longer safe to eat: The U.S. was hit by the largest E. coli outbreak in a decade, with 172 people in 32 states sickened by contaminated romaine lettuce. Eighty-nine of those individuals were hospitalized, and at least five died.

Would rinsing lettuce have prevented the outbreak? Likely not, because the E. coli organism that caused the outbreak is so hardy that only a few bacteria are necessary to cause illness. And E. coli can survive in frozen or refrigerated temperatures. It is only destroyed through cooking or pasteurization, according to Colorado State University.

Rinsing does help prevent other illnesses associated with food. But it can sometimes cause more problems by splashing bacteria onto sinks and countertops. As summer and outdoor eating events beckon, here are some tips on what foods to rinse, how to rinse, and why.

Rinse your rice.

Rice is grown in flooded paddy fields, and naturally takes up arsenic in the water and soil. According to plant and soil scientist Andrew Meharg, author of the book Arsenic & Rice, soaking rice overnight, then rinsing thoroughly, reduces arsenic by up to half. If you wish to flush out another 30 percent of the remaining arsenic, cook the rice in five parts water to one part rice. In addition, rinsing rice helps remove some of the starch that can cause it to get gummy when cooking. Keep in mind that rinsing rice may reduce the levels of folate, iron, niacin and thiamin, by 50 to 70 percent, according to the Food and Drug Administration, and that the largest risk for arsenic exposure from rice is for those who eat it several times a day.

Rinse beans and grains, especially if you suffer from celiac disease.

Rinsing grains removes debris and dirt. Rinsing is especially important for those suffering from celiac disease. Recent studies, which NPR reported on last April, suggest that accidental gluten exposure, even among celiacs following a gluten-free diet, is more common than thought. One way to be “glutened” is through inadvertent cross contamination of a gluten-free food. Grains and beans may be grown near wheat, barley, or rye; they may also be rotated with those gluten-containing crops; or they may become contaminated during processing, transport and packaging. In fact, it’s even legal for some beans to contain stray grains: The Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration allows lentils to contain a percentage of foreign grains.

Wash your produce thoroughly.

Back in 2005, dietitian Sandria Goodwin and her colleagues at Tennessee State University examined different home washing methods for produce. They found that soaking apples, tomatoes and lettuce in water and then rinsing thoroughly under running water significantly reduced the amount of microorganisms present. However, Goodwin tells NPR that, “Nothing makes produce completely harmless except sterilization (which changes quality characteristics), so if people want to consume raw foods, there is always a risk.” Case in point: the E. coli outbreak we mentioned above.

Don’t rinse your chicken.

As NPR reported five years ago, rinsing raw chicken before cooking it is a “bad idea, because it raises the risk of spreading dangerous bacteria found on raw poultry all over your kitchen” Back then, the advice provoked a “small #chickensh*tstorm,” since chicken washing was so common — even Julia Child recommended it, saying she thought it was safer. The advice not to rinse your chicken still holds today, according to Cleveland Clinic dietitian Laura Jeffers, who writes in a list of food prep do’s and don’t’s: “Any bacteria will be killed during the cooking process.” Cooking the bird to an internal temperature of 165 degrees is sufficient. Similar rules apply for all raw meat and for eggs: Don’t wash, but do cook to the appropriate temperature.

Other useful advice:

Clean your counter tops, cutting boards and utensils with hot soapy water before peeling or cutting produce. Wash your own hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before preparing food. Use a vegetable brush to scrub produce with a hard rind or firm skin, such as potatoes, carrots, melons and apples. Make sure your washing water is at least 10 degrees colder than your produce, to inhibit bacteria further. Patting dry with paper towels helps reduce bacterial load. Chemical washes, bleaches or detergents are not recommended by the FDA, as produce may absorb them.

While our food supply is among the safest in the world, bad things sometimes happen. Most healthy people will completely recover from a foodborne illness within a short period of time.

Source: npr

Baked Crispy Tortilla with Apple, Cinnamon and Nutmeg


1 cup caster or granulated sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
4 medium cooking apples (such as Granny Smiths)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 stick unsalted butter
12 flour tortillas
1/3 cup agave syrup
6 scoops of vanilla ice cream, to serve
6 fresh mint leaves, to decorate


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
  2. Mix 3 tbsp of the sugar and 2 tsp of the cinnamon together in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Peel, core and cut the apples into small chunks. Place the apples, nutmeg and the remaining cinnamon and sugar in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of water. Mix well until the apples are coated. Cover, place over a medium heat and cook for 10-12 minutes until the apples are soft, stirring regularly.
  4. Melt the butter and use a little to brush a thin layer over a shallow baking dish. Lay a tortilla flat and put 2-3 tbsp of the apple pie mixture in the centre. Tightly roll it up and secure the tortilla with a cocktail stick/ toothpick.
  5. Brush the taquito (the rolled and tooth-picked bundle) with a little melted butter, then sprinkle over some of the reserved sugar-cinnamon mixture.
  6. Place the taquito in the prepared baking dish and then repeat the process with the rest of the tortillas and apple mixture, reserving about a quarter of the sugar-cinnamon mix for later.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the taquitos start to turn golden on top.
  8. To serve, remove the cocktail sticks/toothpicks and place two taquitos on each plate. Drizzle a zig-zag of agave syrup over the top and then sprinkle over the remaining sugar-cinnamon mix. Finally, add a scoop of ice cream to each plate and decorate with a mint leaf.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

In Pictures: Artwork-like Sweets of Patisserie Asako Iwayanagi in Tokyo, Japan

Study Revealed Lentils Significantly Reduce Blood Glucose Levels

Replacing potatoes or rice with pulses can lower your blood glucose levels by more than 20 per cent, according to a first-ever University of Guelph study.

Prof. Alison Duncan, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, and Dan Ramdath of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, found that swapping out half of a portion of these starchy side dishes for lentils can significantly improve your body’s response to the carbohydrates.

Replacing half a serving of rice with lentils caused blood glucose to drop by up to 20 per cent. Replacing potatoes with lentils led to a 35-per-cent drop.

“Pulses are extremely nutrient-dense food that have the potential to reduce chronic diseases associated with mismanaged glucose levels,” said Duncan, who worked on the study with PhD student Dita Moravek and M.Sc. students Erica Rogers, Sarah Turkstra and Jessica Wilson.

Yet very few Canadians eat lentils, she added.

“Canada has a huge production of lentils, but we export most of it and only 13 per cent of Canadians eat them on any given day,” said Duncan. “We are hoping this research will make people more aware of the health benefits of eating pulses.”

Published and specially featured in the Journal of Nutrition, the study involved 24 healthy adults fed four dishes – white rice only, half white rice and half large green lentils, half white rice and half small green lentils, and half white rice and half split red lentils.

Researchers measured glucose levels in the participants’ blood before they ate and during two hours afterward. They repeated the process for white potatoes alone and the same combinations of potatoes and lentils.

“We mixed the lentils in with the potatoes and rice because people don’t typically eat pulses on their own, but rather consume them in combination with other starches as part of a larger meal, so we wanted the results to reflect that.”

Blood glucose fell by similar amounts when half of the starch was replaced with each of the three types of lentils.

Blood glucose comprises sugar found in the blood during digestion in the upper digestive tract and depends on the starch content of foods consumed.

Pulses, such as lentils, can slow digestion and the release of sugars found in starch into the bloodstream, ultimately reducing blood glucose levels, said Duncan.

“This slower absorption means you don’t experience a spike in glucose. Having high levels over a period of time can lead to mismanagement of blood glucose, which is the hallmark of Type 2 diabetes. Essentially, eating lentils can lower that risk.”

Pulses contain components that inhibit enzymes involved in absorption of glucose, and fibre contained in these foods can encourage the production of short-chain fatty acids, which can also help to reduce blood glucose levels, added Duncan.

Health Canada requires a 20-per-cent reduction in blood glucose levels before a health claim about blood glucose lowering can be approved, she said.

“We are hoping that building evidence for approval of a health claim for pulses will further encourage people to add pulses to their side dishes.”

Source: University of Guelph

Drug Therapy Fails to Control Blood Pressure During Exercise

People with high but under control blood pressure saw a jump in their levels during exercise, an increase that mirrored the spikes seen under similar conditions among people with untreated hypertension, according to a new British study.

The findings open up the possibility of tailoring blood pressure treatment to a patient’s activity level.

But the study’s senior author emphasized that routine exercise continues to be one of the best ways to help lower blood pressure in the long run, since regular physical activity strengthens the heart and allows it to pump more blood with less effort.

“We don’t want to put people off exercising because it’s been proven that training to be fitter does help control blood pressure, which in return reduces your risk of having a heart attack and stroke,” said Emma Hart, an associate professor at the University of Bristol’s School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience.

She’s the senior author of the study published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.

Researchers measured the impact of sudden exercise on four small groups of people, 59 in all. Three of those groups had high blood pressure: one had the condition under control through treatment, primarily medication; another group received treatment but did not have it controlled; and the third group did not treat their high blood pressure at all. The fourth group had normal blood pressure.

In the study led by Benjamin Chant, a doctoral student at the University of Bristol, participants in all four groups took exercise tests on stationary bicycles. They had their blood pressure measured every 90 seconds until they reached a point where they couldn’t exercise any further.

Blood pressure generally rises for everyone during exercise, but only to reasonable levels in people who are healthy.

But blood pressure rose excessively among the study group who had their blood pressure under control. Similar rises occurred among patients whose condition was either uncontrolled or untreated.

The exaggerated increase started when participants had only reached a moderate level of exercise — around 50 percent of their peak point.

“We’re now starting to think that it may be more important to aim for controlling blood pressure during physical activity, even just day-to-day physical activity, rather just at rest,” Hart said. “Because if you’re getting these repeated rises in excessive blood pressure, then that’s probably not good for your cardiovascular system.”

Researchers believe part of the reason for that increase is a chemical byproduct released by muscles during exercise that tells the brain to increase blood pressure. This process, called the metaboreflex, is hyperactive in people who have high blood pressure. The new findings suggest the reflex also is fairly immune to medications that are normally prescribed to treat high blood pressure.

Peter Raven, a retired physiology and anatomy professor with the University of North Texas Health Science Center who was not involved in the study, said the report’s findings suggest that doctors shouldn’t base their efforts to control blood pressure on measurements taken when people are at rest.

“They really should be tested, within a clinical setting, during exercise. It could be at the moderate level, but I would suggest they be taken at the max, so that you could identify whether the drug therapy they’re using is the one that will maintain their blood pressure even while they’re exercising,” said Raven, who wrote an editorial that accompanied the study.

Hart again appealed to people to continue exercising — but after consulting with their doctor first. She noted that her study was conducted on generally inactive people given a “one-off bout of exercise.”

“I live in Bristol, which is very hilly. If someone who is very sedentary suddenly needs to walk up a hill, that might not be good,” she said. “But if you are more trained — say you’re repeatedly climbing up that hill every week — then that probably will help reduce your risk of having a cardiovascular event.”

Hart said next steps will involve taking a look at more fit people and the impact that fitness level has on blood pressure during exercise.

Source: HealthDay

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