Eat Your Veggies to Cut Breast-cancer Risk

Leslie Beck wrote . . . . .

You’ve heard it over and over: Eat your vegetables and plenty of them. A vegetable-packed diet has been linked to a lower risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, cataract, macular degeneration and cognitive decline.

Now, a study published online last month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests the benefits of eating more vegetables extend to breast-cancer prevention.

The research, part of a larger research project called EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition), explored the association between vegetable and fruit intake and breast-cancer subtypes, hormone receptor-positive and hormone receptor-negative cancers.

Doctors test breast-cancer cells to see if they have hormone receptors. If breast-cancer cells have hormone receptors, the cancer is said to be hormone receptor-positive. If cancer cells do not have hormone receptors, it is called hormone receptor-negative breast cancer.

For the study, European researchers followed 335,054 healthy women, average age 51, to determine the association between vegetable and fruit intake and breast-cancer risk. Upon entering the study, participants were asked about their usual diet over the previous 12 months.

After 11.5 years of follow-up, 10,197 women developed breast cancer.

Compared to women with the lowest intake of vegetables (one serving per day), those who ate the most (at least 5.5 servings daily) were 13-per-cent less likely to develop overall breast cancer.

The protective effect of vegetables, though, was most apparent for hormone receptor-negative breast cancer. High vegetable consumers had a 26-per-cent reduced risk of this type of cancer compared to women who ate few vegetables. Fruit intake was not associated with breast-cancer risk.

Hormone receptor-negative breast cancers don’t respond to hormonal treatment and are typically more aggressive than hormone receptor-positive tumours.

It’s thought that phytochemicals in vegetables, many of which differ from those in fruit, may reduce the level of proteins involved in the development of hormone receptor-negative breast cancer. Fibre in vegetables may also play a role.

These new findings are consistent with a large study called the Pooling Project, published in 2013. Among nearly one million women followed for 11 to 20 years in 20 observational studies, high vegetable consumption was tied to a 20- to 25-per-cent lower risk of hormone receptor-negative breast cancer.

Both studies, observational in nature, don’t prove that a high vegetable diet guards against breast cancer. Their findings do, however, strongly suggest there’s a connection and provide yet another reason to boost your vegetable intake.

Aim to eat at least five vegetable servings each day. One serving is equivalent to one-half cup of cooked or raw vegetables or one cup of salad greens. The key to meeting your daily quota: fitting vegetables into every meal – including breakfast – and snacks.

Seven easy ways (beyond salad) to eat more vegetables

Try the following to eat a minimum of five daily vegetable servings (i.e., at least 2.5 cups of cooked or raw vegetables).

1. Include them in breakfast. Add chopped bell pepper, mushrooms and green onion to scrambled eggs and omelettes. Stir shredded carrot and zucchini into muffin, pancake and waffle batters.

2. Blend them into smoothies. Make a green smoothie by adding raw or cooked spinach or kale. (Compared to raw, cooked greens offer more antioxidants and minerals.)

3. Fortify meals. Add chopped carrot and celery to chili and soups (homemade and store-bought). Top pizza with roasted vegetables or garnish with baby arugula.

4. Jazz them up. Splash raspberry or champagne vinegar over steamed spinach. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over steamed or roasted broccoli and cauliflower.

5. Add spinach to (just about) everything. Throw an entire container of baby spinach into soups, stews, casseroles, chili and pasta sauces. For a change, try chopped kale.

6. Use leafy greens for bread. Wrap lettuce leaves around tuna, salmon and chicken salad for a low-carb sandwich.

7. Replace white carbs with vegetables. Top shepherd’s pie with mashed cooked cauliflower instead of potatoes.

Source: The Globe and Mail


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Formerly Meat-obsessed Chefs Are Now Putting Veggies Centre Stage

Chris Johns wrote . . . . . .

The pig’s foot lay on the table like a threat. It was billed on The Breslin’s menu as serving two, but looked like it could feed a battalion. Stuffed to bursting with pork meat and skin, braised, rolled in breadcrumbs and, for good measure, fried in butter and olive oil, the massive trotter was all sticky, viscous goodness and fat. It represented excess and guaranteed a sleepless night. It was delicious and I would never eat it again.

The chef responsible for that fantastic monstrosity of a dish is April Bloomfield, a British import to the U.S. and the co-owner of several renowned New York City restaurants including the Spotted Pig and Salvation Taco. She made her reputation with a kind of exuberant, meat-centric cooking that includes an infamous half-pound, Roquefort-topped burger, wild boar Scotch eggs and a crispy pig’s ear salad.

Consequently, it might come as something of a surprise that her latest book, A Girl and Her Greens, is filled with recipes for things like braised peas and little gem lettuce, spiced carrots with yogurt and steamed and raw radish salad. Bloomfield, an early proponent of the nose-to-tail movement, has not embraced veganism and, as her recipe for sweet potatoes with bone marrow and chili attests, she’s not removing animal protein entirely from the equation. She is simply tapping into a way of eating that moves the emphasis on the plate from meat to vegetables and she’s far from alone.

All around the world, chefs who made their names slinging ungodly amounts of fat-streaked meat are getting in touch with their inner vegetarian and, while not eschewing meat completely, celebrating vegetables as the stars of the plate. Last year, multi-Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse shook the food world when he announced that his flagship restaurant in the Plaza Athénée hotel in Paris would remove nearly all of the meat from the menu in favour of organic vegetables and seafood.

In Los Angeles, Roy Choi, the man who gave us Korean barbecue short-rib tacos and double-meat spicy pork burritos at Kogi, opened Commissary,a garden-themed restaurant that he describes as “vegetable-driven, but not vegetarian.” Even Montreal’s Joe Beef duo, David McMillan and Fred Morin, the chefs responsible for inflicting the Foie Gras Double Down on an unsuspecting public, opened Le Vin Papillon, a wine bar with a vegetable-focused menu.

For chef Hugh Acheson, whose own new book, The Broad Fork: Recipes for the wide world of vegetables and fruit, emphasizes a vegetable-centric style of cooking, the trend has both economic and social benefits.

“I live in the American South, and we’ve got a very big issue with poverty,” says the Canadian-born chef who operates four restaurants (Five & Ten, The National, Cinco y Diez and Empire State South) out of Georgia. “We’ve got a big issue with food security, and the health of our citizenry is really dependent on them eating more vegetables and smaller amounts of meat.”

“It’s an economic thing, too,” he continues. “We’ve seen these luxurious, beautiful proteins climb in price to a point where we just can’t afford to do what we did before. We can’t just walk into a fine dining restaurant and there’s a 7- or 8-ounce portion of meat. We had to adjust years ago to portion size being an economy of scale and being a correct economic assumption on the plate.”

Beyond any social value, Acheson admits that this new style of cooking more closely reflects his own diet. “If I have fried chicken, it’s a thigh of fried chicken beautifully done, but then running down the table is succotash and sliced tomato and sautéed greens and perloo and favas and spring green beans and that spread and that multitude of choice is what people want more.” Acheson believes the evolution of lifestyles and work patterns is to blame for the quest to feel healthier via a more balanced meal.

Fellow Southerner Steven Satterfield, whose book Root to Leaf also emphasizes vegetables, notes that “there’s this misconception that everything in the South is cooked in pork fat or cream or butter; that Southern food is really unhealthy. But we were an agrarian society long before anybody coined the term farm-to-table. There’s always been lots of farming and agriculture here. I think that’s part of the history around here, but it’s also a part of the trend to eat fresh food that’s real food.”

Satterfield’s book, while drawing inspiration from the South isn’t exclusively a Southern cookbook. “The focus of the book is really looking at seasonal cooking through what’s being harvested at any given time,’ he explains. ”Fruits and vegetables, in particular, and some nuts and grains.” In compiling the book, he took almost the complete opposite approach to how most chef-driven cookbooks are structured. “I thought it was important to have a little bit of meat throughout the book,” he says. “But the meats are sub-recipes. I came at it the same way we build our menus at the restaurant.” Satterfield, the chef at Miller Union in Atlanta, starts with the farmer’s list and decides which vegetables are going to be on the plate, how they’re going to work flavour-wise and texture-wise, and then pairs them with a protein.

“I have customers who tell me they decide what protein they’re going to order based on the side dish that comes with it,” he says. That seems like a smart strategy, especially when some of the world’s best chefs are developing such a satisfyingly savoury approach to eating your veggies.

Source: The Globe and Mail

If You’re Going to Eat Your Veggies, Make It These Five

Leslie Beck wrote . . . . .

There is no better time to increase you vegetable intake than now. And it’s not a hard task, as this is the time of year when seasonal fresh produce abounds. A produce-rich diet is associated with a lower risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, cataract, macular degeneration, cognitive decline and digestive-tract cancers.

Eating local produce has nutritional advantages. Locally grown vegetables (and fruit) have a higher nutritional quality than out-of-season vegetables shipped to supermarkets over far distances. They’re usually sold 24 hours after harvest, at their peak ripeness and nutrient content. Studies have shown the vitamin C content of red peppers and tomatoes, for example, is higher when they’re picked ripe.

Vegetables and fruit grown for far-away markets are often harvested as early as possible (before reaching full nutritional quality) to withstand damage from mechanical harvesting and transport. Produce that spends considerable time on the road also has more time to lose nutrients before reaching the grocery store. As well, farmers growing for a local market choose plant varieties that favour taste and nutrition over shipability.

I advise my clients to eat at least four cups of vegetables a day – and a variety of them – to increase their intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. That said, there are some summer vegetables that deserve a special mention when it comes to their unique nutrient content. Here are my top five summer picks, for June through September.

Asparagus

Available until the end of June in most parts of the country, asparagus is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s high in fibre, vitamin A, vitamin B6, thiamine (B1), vitamin K and potassium and contains a unique combination of anti-inflammatory phytochemicals.

Its claim to fame, though, is folate, a B vitamin that helps in the formation of red blood cells and keeps the DNA of our cells in good repair. One serving of asparagus (1/2 cup or six spears) delivers one-third of a day’s worth of folate (adults need 400 micrograms daily). Not bad for only 20 calories.

Enjoy asparagus grilled on the barbecue; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Save leftover grilled asparagus for sandwiches and salads.

Cauliflower

In season for most of the summer, this cruciferous vegetable has far more nutrition to offer than its pale white colour suggests. One cup of chopped cauliflower provides 2 grams protein, 2 grams fibre, 60 micrograms of folate and more than half a day’s worth of vitamin C (51 milligrams) – all for a mere 27 calories. It’s also a good source of potassium and vitamin K.

But there’s more: Cauliflower, like broccoli, is an outstanding source of glucosinolates, phytochemicals that, once consumed, are transformed into compounds called isothiocyanates that help the liver detoxify and eliminate cancer-causing substances.

To increase the availability of cauliflower’s glucosinolates, eat it raw or lightly cooked. Toss chopped cauliflower in salads and coleslaw. Serve raw cauliflower florets as crudités. Add cauliflower to an omelette with feta cheese, baby spinach and halved cherry tomatoes.

Swiss chard

Like its popular green cousin kale, Swiss chard is hard to beat on the nutrition front. Chard delivers plenty of vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium and potassium. And it’s packed with nitrates, natural compounds shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the amount of oxygen needed during athletic performance.

Swiss chard is also an outstanding source of lutein and zeaxanthin, phytochemicals that protect your retinas against cataract and macular degeneration. One cup of cooked chard serves up 20 milligrams of lutein and zeaxanthin. While there’s no official recommended intake for lutein or zeaxanthin, experts believe that consuming 6 mg to 15 mg a day is optimal for eye health.

Throw a handful of Swiss chard, raw or cooked, into a smoothie or protein shake. Add chard leaves, instead of lettuce, to sandwiches and wraps. Top a barbecued pizza with sautéed Swiss chard.

Sweet red peppers

Red bell peppers are actually green bell peppers that have ripened and matured on the vine, taking on a red colour and milder, sweeter taste. As they mature, red peppers also take on more antioxidants: per serving, red peppers have eight times more beta-carotene and one-third more vitamin C.

In fact, red peppers offer more immune-boosting vitamin C than most citrus fruit. One medium red pepper delivers two day’s worth (152 mg); one medium orange, while still an excellent source, has 70 mg of vitamin C. Red peppers also add B vitamins (including folate), vitamins A and E and potassium to your diet.

Eat red pepper strips with hummus, add it raw or roasted to spinach salad (its vitamin C helps your body absorb more iron from greens), or serve it grilled and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Eggplant

Its dominant nutrients include folate, B vitamins, vitamin A and potassium. Eggplant is also a decent source of soluble fibre, the type that helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol in the bloodstream.

You need to eat its skin, though, to get many of eggplant’s beneficial phytochemicals. Eggplant owes its dark-purple hue to anthocyanins, antioxidants thought to play a role in preventing cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and cancer. One particular anthocyanin in eggplant skin, called nasunin, has been shown to prevent cancer tumours from growing.

Grill thick slices of eggplant and serve them on their own or in a burger. Turn eggplant into a low-calorie, crustless pizza: Top sliced eggplant with tomato sauce, shredded cheese and your favourite toppings.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Semi-veggie Diet Effectively Lowers Heart Disease, Stroke Risk

A pro-vegetarian diet – one that has a higher proportion of plant-based foods compared to animal-based foods is linked to lower risks of dying from heart disease and stroke, according to new research presented at the American Heart Association EPI/Lifestyle 2015 meeting.

In an observational study, researchers analyzed the eating and lifestyle habits of 451,256 Europeans. People who ate the most pro-vegetarian style diets (≥70 percent of food coming from plant sources) had a 20 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, compared to those who were the least pro-vegetarian (<45 percent).

“A pro-vegetarian diet doesn’t make absolute recommendations about specific nutrients. It focuses on increasing the proportion of plant based foods relative to animal-based foods, which results in an improved nutritionally balance diet,” said Camille Lassale, Ph.D., lead author and an epidemiologist at Imperial College London’s School of Public Health.

Participants were part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, started in 1992. The study included nearly half a million people from 10 countries who were free of chronic diseases at the start of the study, 35 to 70 years and followed for 12 years on average. Information was collected on their height, weight, food consumption by self-reported food frequency questionnaires, lifestyle and physical activity habits. Causes, and dates of death were obtained from record linkages with boards of health, and active follow-up of participants.

Researchers scored participants based on the types of foods they ate. Points were given for eating foods from seven plant food groups: vegetables, fruit, beans, cereals, potatoes, nuts, and olive oil. Points were subtracted for five animal food groups: meats, animal fats, eggs, fish, and other seafood or dairy products.

Based on their scores, participants were categorized from the least pro-vegetarian to the most. The results were adjusted for age at the start of the study, gender, daily calories, body mass index, smoking status, physical activity, education, alcohol intake and study center.

Researchers analyzed the relationship between eating habits and death risks from heart disease and stroke.

“Instead of drastic avoidance of animal-based foods, substituting some of the meat in your diet with plant-based sources may be a very simple, useful way to lower cardiovascular mortality,” said Lassale. These findings are in line with the wealth of evidence on benefits of eating plant foods to prevent CVD.

Source: American Heart Association


Today’s Comic

Children Who Cook with Parents May Consume More Veggies

A study published in the journal Appetite shows that children who help to prepare their own meals may eat more vegetables than those who are not involved in cooking. The research, carried out by the Nestlé Research Center, compared what children chose to eat when they helped cook their own meal with what they consumed when they did not.

Forty-seven parents, accompanied by a son or daughter ages 6–10, were asked to prepare a meal made of various elements, including breaded chicken, salad, cauliflower, and pasta. Half the children in the experiment got involved in making the meal—putting together the salad and helping their parents coat the chicken pieces—while the other children played as their mother or father prepared the meal alone.

The researchers found that the children who cooked alongside a parent ate almost 76% more salad and 27% more chicken as well as consuming 25% more calories overall. The study also showed that helping to prepare a meal improved how children felt about themselves, with those who cooked feeling more positive emotions and pride.

The research showed that in particular the amount of salad consumed increased, perhaps, the scientists suggest, because it was easier for children to independently choose its different elements.

Source: Institute of Food Technologists