The Cost Savings of Eating Well

I’m not talking about the cost of your Cheez Whiz Corn Dog fix, your soda splurge, or Five For Five Meal Deal.

This meta analysis of 330 studies correlated diet with it’s related economic consequences. The variables were CVD costs as a function of the consumption of salt/sodium, fruit and vegetables, meat, and saturated fat.

In the United States, reducing individual sodium intake to 2,300 mg/day from the current level could potentially save $1,990.9/person per year for hypertension treatment, …. Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables from <0.5 cup/day to >1.5 cups/day could save $1,568.0/person per year in treatment costs for CVD, based on a cohort study.

This makes it really hard to argue that eating healthy is more expensive!

If You Love Nuts Be Happy, Because Nuts Love Your Heart Right Back

This study points out that regular nut consumption reduces cardiovascular disease risk, partly from improvements to dietary quality.  And the nutrients that are increased when you eat them (particularly, in this case, hazelnuts) include fiber, protein, total fat, MUFA, PUFA, potassium, folate, and vitamin E.

This may be because nuts (in this study it was almonds) can lower total and LDL cholesterol, effectively cleaning up your blood from the harmful effects of the bad cholesterol. Pistachios too also lower the bad stuff, and increase the good stuff.

The point is that, if you need a snack, reach for the nuts because they’re super heart healthy — as well as being delicious!!


New Wine In Old Bottles

I read the title of this study“Anti-inflammatory activity of natural stilbenoids”. 

Oooh, neat. Natural Stilbenoids!! A new term!!  I don’t know what a stilbenoid even is, much less a “natural” one.

Does that mean there are UNnatural stilbenoids? SUPERnatural stilbenoids?

And, these natural guys are apparently anti-inflammatory, which means that they could be good for a billion reasons inside your body. So what are they?


It’s a little ordinary actually. Stilbenoids are just the class of molecules found in wine, berries, etc. So when you hear people go on about them in the news, you might want to have a nice glass of wine, some blackberries, and read something else.

Want to Live Longer? Go Fish!

In a massive Meta-analysis — a study of studies — involving over 1 Million people, researchers concluded. “Current meta-analysis indicates that both fish and … PUFA consumption are inversely associated with risk of all-cause mortality.”

In other words, when fish consumption goes up, risk of death goes down. Wow.

What are PUFAs?? There are two main types of them — omega-3 and omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are found in fatty fish, shellfish, liver, and in some seeds like flax.

And, obviously, there’s nothing you can’t OVER-CONSUME and make it bad for you. So if you eat meat, make the primary source of that meat be fish!

Cold versus Hot? It Matters Not.


Cold brew coffee—made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for typically an entire day—is just as healthy as regular coffee, according to nutrition expert Frank Hu of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The health benefits associated with coffee drinking—decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetesheart disease, neurodegenerative disease, and dying prematurely—are the same for both cold brew coffee and regular coffee, said Hu, Fredrick John Stare Professor of Nutrition and chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School, in a July 28, 2017 article.

Cold brew may even be healthier than regular coffee, Hu said. Because it’s less acidic than regular, many people may find it tastier and thus have less need to mask the acidic taste with calorie-laden cream, milk, and sugar.

(original article Harvard SPH News)


Be a Grill Master Not a Grill Disaster

This Independence Day, Do NOT Feel The Burn

Independence Day is iconic and ironic. When we’re not doing healthy things like playing softball, having a family picnic, or watching fireworks with family, we’re probably overdoing the inevitable afternoon grillapolooza. ‘Tis the season to fire up the Barbie, throw on some dogs and burgers and shrimps and ribs and veg kabobs and … you get the picture.

Normally we just write off this time as a once per year gorge fest, turning a blind eye to any health concerns as well. I’m not saying that your burger and braut bonanza can’t pack on pounds and clog your arteries, but the good news is that Fourth of July cookouts don’t have to be bad for you in other aspects, such as cancer.

In this regard, most people think that the health of the grill is all about what you choose to cook. But your cooking technique is just as important, and can either decrease or increase the carcinogens you’re downing by the spork-full. Even better, this solution actually makes your food taste even better!

All About The Burn

All meats have amino acids (such as creatine) and sugars. Fine. But if you grill them at very high temperatures, they naturally produce molecules called heterocyclic amines (HCAs, also found in cigarette smoke). We’ve known about these cancer-causing agents for 15 years now, and since then three more HCAs caused by grilling meat have been added to the list.

Given this, you’re just going to have to be at peace with a couple of things. First, you can’t change the fact that meat on planet Earth is composed of amino acids and sugars. It is what it is. And you also can’t change the fact that they can form chemicals that are really really bad for you.

But what you can control is the total amount of HCA you’re eating. The easiest way to do this is to control how well-done you take your meat and what kind of meat you’re eating.

· Well-done meat has 3.5 times more HCA than medium-rare meat.

· When you compare different types of meats, sadly and tragically the highest concentration comes from bacon. The second highest is from fried pork, followed by beef, and then chicken. (This particular study didn’t look at fish.)

Where The Burn Is Best

This is great news for people who veg out at the grill. Feel free to singe away, knock yourself out and flame it up. Plants don’t have the combination of creatine and sugar found in meats, nor do they have the fat drippings that smoke up into the other grilling-induced carcinogens called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Burn baby, you got this. Grilled pineapple is fabulous with a bit of sesame oil over it. We grill apricots and peaches in exactly the same way and they are luscious. When it comes to your plate still smokin’ hot from the grill, the sweetness of the fruit deepens … it’ll make you weep.

But What If You’re A Meat-o-phile?

Sure you want to be healthy, but … bacon. Yes, you want to consume fewer carcinogens, but … ribs. And you’d love to go all lean and green, but … salmon.

The good news is cutting back on your carcinogens doesn’t mean you have to cut back on flavor, meat, or even grilled meat. Below are some simple and tasty suggestions to help you minimize your exposure before, during, and after you grill.


The Cancer Research Center of Hawaii found that a teriyaki marinade reduced HCAs by 67%. A turmeric-garlic sauce reduced them by 50% (recipe below)! The key here is to use a thin, vinegar based sauce, sans sugar.

Compare that to a thick concentrated commercial barbecue sauce with additive sugars, which can actually triple the number of HCAs. So, if you’re sitting around the house thinking that you just haven’t had enough carcinogens in your food, well now you know how to fix that problem – slather on a thick BBQ sauce with added sugar.

While these researchers were a) in Hawaii and b) grilling food on some beach somewhere, they somehow found time to do the experiments showing an HCA reduction in meats with marinades containing herbs and spices: notably those related from the mint family such as basil, mint, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, and thyme. Most of these herbs are rich in three compounds – carnosic acid, carnosol and rosmarinic acid – all of which are potent antioxidants.

So be sure to include these tasty herbs in your marinade!


You have many settings on your barbecue, but for meat don’t opt for “blow torch”. To avoid creating carcinogens, start on a medium high temp and flip the meat often. This will avoid charring, and that will avoid HCAs.

Another great technique, in case you have multiple burners within your grill, is to grill up each side quickly, and then turn off the burner that lies directly under the meat while keeping the other burners on. That basically transitions your grill into an oven.


Once you’ve cooked the food, there is one very commonsense thing you can do to maximize flavor and minimize carcinogens.

First of all, don’t eat char. Think about it. Char. It’s just burnt meat. It’s carbon. I know you like the idea of going all caveman with you singed side of mammoth, but char doesn’t even have any flavor. Don’t eat it … cut it off! If you do this one simple thing, you’ll eliminate many of the HCAs that do happen to get through your marinade net.

Bottom line?

Even briefly marinating foods is effective in reducing the amount of carcinogens — in some cases by as much as 92 to 99%. As a rule, use about one-half cup of marinade for every pound of food, although large pieces may need more to cover the food’s surface adequately.

The amount of marinating time is up to you, because it only takes a few minutes to get the full cancer-preventing effect. Longer times will just add more flavor – good health has never been so tasty!

By going low and slow, and refusing to eat char, you’ll be able to get outside, grill, and add flavor to your barbeque without compromising your health at the same time!

All About Sun, Vitamin D, and Protection

(from Deborah Kotz, US News and World Report)

Coinciding with the first week of summer, a study published today underscores the importance of getting adequate amounts of sunlight for its vitamin D-boosting benefits. The research, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, shows that those with the lowest vitamin D levels have more than double the risk of dying from heart disease and other causes over an eight-year period compared with those with the highest vitamin D levels. The researchers cite “decreased outdoor activity” as one reason that people may become deficient in vitamin D. Another recent study found an increased risk of heart attacks in those with low vitamin D levels.

In the winter, it’s impossible to produce vitamin D from the sun if you live north of Atlanta because the sun never gets high enough in the sky for its ultraviolet B rays to penetrate the atmosphere. But summer is a great time to stock up on the nutrient. When the sun’s UV-B rays hit the skin, a reaction takes place that enables skin cells to manufacture vitamin D. If you’re fair skinned, experts say going outside for 10 minutes in the midday sun—in shorts and a tank top with no sunscreen—will give you enough radiation to produce about 10,000 international units of the vitamin. Dark-skinned individuals and the elderly also produce less vitamin D, and many folks don’t get enough of the nutrient from dietary sources like fatty fish and fortified milk.

The government’s dietary recommendations are 200 IUs a day up to age 50, 400 IUs to age 70, and 600 IUs over 70. But many experts believe that these recommendations are far too low to maintain healthful vitamin D levels. They advocate for supplementation in the winter of about 2,000 IUs per day and a dose of daily sunshine in the summer.

The sunshine vitamin may protect against a host of diseases, including osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancers of the breast, prostate, and colon. What’s more, sunlight has other hidden benefits—like protecting against depression, insomnia, and an overactive immune system.

Given all the upsides of basking at least briefly in the summer sun, many experts now worry that public-health messages warning about skin cancer have gone overboard in getting people to cover up and seek the shade. U.S.News got in touch with Robyn Lucas, an epidemiologist at Australian National University who led a study published in the February issue of the International Journal of Epidemiology. Her finding: Far more lives are lost to diseases caused by a lack of sunlight than to those caused by too much.


Have we gone too far in promoting protection from the sun?

Possibly. Sun protection messages arose in response to rapidly increasing rates of skin cancers, and they were an essential public-health message. But we now recognize that some sun exposure is important for health, at the very least, to maintain healthful vitamin D levels. (Sunscreen blocks out nearly all UV radiation.) Taking this into account, the Cancer Council of Australia has eased its sun protection message a little over the last few years and now recommends that if you’re out in the sun for relatively short periods, with a UV index less than 3, which indicates a moderate amount of UV rays hitting your area on a given day, then sunscreen and other sun protection (like hats and protective clothing) are not required. Beyond this, I believe we all need a little unprotected time in the sun during the middle hours of the day when the sun is at its highest and UV-B rays can penetrate the atmosphere.


How much sun is it safe to get without sunscreen?

It’s difficult to quantify how much since skin pigmentation affects how much radiation your skin absorbs: The darker the skin, the more it’s protected against skin cancer but the less able it is to absorb UV-B rays. It also depends on how much skin is exposed and the time of day. If you’re fair skinned and sunning yourself outside in a bathing suit at noon, you only need a few minutes without sunscreen. If you’re already tan or of Hispanic origin, you need maybe 15 to 20 minutes. Black skin may require six times the sun exposure to make the same vitamin D levels as a very fair-skinned person, but we need more research on this because the studies that have suggested this have been small. We’re starting a study later this year to establish how much skin pigmentation, clothing, sunscreen, and seasonal change affect vitamin D levels, so we should know more about all of this in the near future.

Can I make vitamin D driving in my car on a bright, sunny day on my way to work?

No. For one thing, UV radiation doesn’t penetrate glass; that’s why you can’t get a burn or tan if you’re driving with your windows closed. (The heat you feel is infrared radiation from the sun, which doesn’t have any health impact beyond making you overheated or causing sunstroke if you get an excessive amount.) Even if you’re driving in a convertible, though, you probably won’t get a good dose of UV-B rays if you’re driving in the early morning when the sun is still low in the sky. Taking a stroll during lunchtime is your best bet.