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Bonnie Liebman

Bonnie Liebman

Bonnie Liebman, director of nutrition, has been with the organization since 1977. She holds an M.S. in nutritional sciences from Cornell University. Liebman has been the key link in formulating our policies on diet and health. She provides the scientific input on many of the organization's administrative petitions and legislative proposals. Liebman is the author of numerous articles on diet and cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other illnesses for Nutrition Action Healthletter and a co-author of Salt: The Brand Name Guide to Sodium. She also served on the advisory committees that issued the American Cancer Society's 2001 and 1996 Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention.

Article Index

What’s the healthiest diet to follow if you’re not a vegetarian?

What does a healthy diet look like? Despite (or maybe because of) all the diet books, food pyramids, and expert advice, most people are still confused.
Yet we know which diets can lower the risk of heart disease, the major cause of death in the United States. Odds are, those same foods can also promote weight loss and help prevent diabetes and cancer. The Omniheart diet shows a lot of promise as a healthful diet.
The OmniHeart Trial tested three variations of a vegetable-and-fruit-rich diet in people who had pre-hypertension or hypertension—that is, anyone with blood pressure above 120 over 80.   Read More

Is a Low Salt Diet Plan Healthy?

High blood pressure is the leading cause of preventable deaths around the world. But did the Institute of Medicine (IOM) really say that lowering salt consumption is not the answer?

“Lowering daily sodium intake below 2,300 milligrams may do more harm than good,” reported CBS News in May 2013. “No benefit in sharply restricting salt, panel finds,” said The New York Times. “Is eating too little salt risky?” asked National Public Radio. “New report raises questions.”   Read More

Are you addicted to sugar?

The New U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans limit their sugar intake to no more than 10 percent of their calories. For a lot of people, this won’t be easy,   Read More

Is it True that Overweight People Live Longer?

Diabetes. Cancer. Heart disease. Stroke. Extra pounds raise the risk of nearly every health threat facing Americans. Yet, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published—and publicized—a study suggesting that overweight people live longer.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” says Michael Thun, vice president emeritus for surveillance and epidemiology research at the American Cancer Society. “It perpetuates a myth.” Here’s how.

At first glance, the new JAMA study seems impressive.   Read More

Are Foods with High Fiber Really That Good for You?

Most people know they should eat more foods with high fiber. But they don’t know why. (Hint: It’s not to lower the risk of colon cancer.)

And many people assume that all foods with high fiber are the same. In fact, some fibers lower cholesterol, some lower blood sugar, and some help with regularity.

Those differences didn’t matter so much when all of our fiber came—intact and unprocessed— from foods with high fiber like whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables, since each usually has a mix of fibers.   Read More

A Quick History of The Omniheart Diet

What foods belong in your fridge if you want to protect your heart and cut your risk of diabetes and cancer at the same time?

As long as you start with a healthy core diet—heavy on the fruits and vegetables and light on the bad fats, salt, and sweets—it’s up to you.

That’s what is so great about the Omniheart diet; you can round out your core diet with good fats, good protein, or good carbs. Or you can switch from one to the other, depending on your mood.
  Read More

Sugar in Drinks May Be Good for Stress, But Bad For Everything Else

In just two weeks, even modest doses of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) raise LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease and gout. The results are similar for HFCS and for added regular sugar in drinks.

Researchers fed 85 adults aged 18 to 40 beverages sweetened with enough high-fructose corn syrup to supply 0, 10, 17.5, or 25 percent of their calories for two weeks. Beverages with 0 percent HFCS were sweetened with aspartame. (On average, adults aged 20 to 60 get about 13 percent of their calories from HFCS, table sugar, and other added sugars, but some get far more.)

The results of testing sugar in drinks is not surprising. The higher the dose, the higher their LDL cholesterol, after-meal triglycerides, and average uric acid levels. (High uric acid is linked to a higher risk of gout.) The differences held up after the researchers accounted for the slight weight gain in the group that got the highest dose of HFCS.   Read More

Is Fiber Good For You?

Why is fiber good for your body? Let’s go back a few years. Fiber was big in the mid-1980s, when President Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with colon cancer and Kellogg ran TV commercials saying that high-fiber foods like All-Bran could “reduce the risk of some cancers.”

But the fiber boomlet was soon eclipsed by the (much bigger) oat bran craze, followed by the low-carb bubble, and the whole-grain movement (with scattered mini- fads in between).

Now things have come full circle. Fiber is back. Fiber is showing up in foods because, well, companies have figured out how to put it there, and they know that if they pump up the fiber, people will pull out their pocketbooks.   Read More

The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet Suggests How to Cut Calories in Every Bite

A small piece of fried chicken, a few fries, and about a cup of cola have 500 calories. So do a bowl of mixed melons, chicken and seasonal tomatoes, rice pilaf, baby arugula salad, and two cups of unsweetened iced tea.

Which dinner is likely to leave you feeling less hungry?

Studies show that, day after day, people eat about the same weight (or volume) of food. So choose low-calorie foods that make you full. That’s the idea behind The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet, a recent book by Pennsylvania State University’s Barbara Rolls.   Read More

What’s the Best Diet for Weight Loss?

What’s the best diet for weight loss? So far, no one has found a magic bullet.

“We had three decades of low-fat, and we had a decade of ‘Oh, wait, no, maybe low- carb,’ and then at the end of that we said ‘Oh, never mind, neither of them works,’” says Christopher Gardner, director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center.

But several glimpses of new evidence are giving researchers renewed hope. They’re looking not just at how many calories people eat and burn, but at their genes, the microbes in their gut, how much they sleep, and more.
  Read More

How Much is Too Much Sugar?

Soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks, coffee drinks, cupcakes, cookies, muffins, doughnuts, granola bars, chocolate, ice cream, sweetened yogurt, cereal, candy. The list of sweet temptations is endless.

The average American now consumes 22 to 28 teaspoons of added sugars a day—mostly high-fructose corn syrup and ordinary table sugar (sucrose). That’s 350 to 440 empty calories that few of us can afford.

How much is too much sugar? Cutting back to 100 calories (61⁄2 teaspoons) a day for women and 150 calories (91⁄2 teaspoons) a day for men might mean slimmer waistlines and a lower risk of disease.   Read More

Pad Thai or Pad Pak: Which of These Easy Asian Dishes Is Healthier?

Pad Thai is wildly popular. Most people have never heard of Pad Pak. Which of these easy Asian dishes is better?

Pad Pak—stir-fried vegetables with chicken, shrimp, or tofu and a small side of rice—wins, hands down. That’s because Pad Thai— rice noodles, shrimp, bean sprouts, egg, tofu, and crushed peanuts—is such bad news.

At Pick Up Stix, for example, the Chicken Pad Thai has 670 calories and 2,110 milligrams of sodium. At Pei Wei, the calories for this most well known of Asian dish (even for the Vegetable & Tofu Pad Thai) hover around 1,500, and the sodium rounds to a hard-to-believe 5,000 mg—enough for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.   Read More

10 Big Fat Exercise Myths Causing You to Stall

Getting Americans off the couch and onto their feet could save an estimated 200,000 lives a year. Yet most of us are either sedentary or only minimally active.

Exercise myths may keep many couch potatoes from getting into shape.

People still ask questions like: How often should I exercise? (The more, the better, but at least 30 minutes nearly every day.) Does it have to be 30 minutes straight? (No, shorter bouts are fine.)   Read More

5 Reasons to Start Reducing Salt Intake Today

In 2005, high blood pressure was responsible for one in six deaths in the United States. That’s because hypertension boosts your risk of dying of a heart attack or stroke more than smoking, high cholesterol, obesity, or any other risk factor does. And excess salt is a major cause of high blood pressure.

What’s more, salt may damage the heart, kidneys, and other organs above and beyond its effect on blood pressure. “Salt is costing us too many lives and too many dollars,” says physician Stephen Havas.

Here are five reasons why reducing salt intake is important for you—and, more importantly, the food industry.   Read More

Would You Like to Know How to Detect Cancer Early?

Who gets cancer? One out of two men and one out of three women. They include the rich and famous—Steve Jobs, Anne Bancroft, Paul Newman, Audrey Hepburn, and many others—as well as the other 99 percent of us.

But cancer isn’t as random as it may appear. Of the 571,950 cancer deaths that occurred in 2011, the American Cancer Society estimates that a third would never have happened if no one smoked. And another third could have been prevented with weight loss, exercise, and healthier eating. Here’s how to detect cancer early with some warning signs, and how to reduce your risk.

All cancers are not equal. Some (like lung and pancreatic) are more likely to kill you than others (like prostate and breast). Some (like colon and cervical) are easier to detect at early stages than others (like ovarian and esophageal). And some are more closely linked to what—and how much—you eat and how much you move than others.   Read More

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