Folic acid is a B vitamin that lowers the risk of spina bifida and other neural tube birth defects. But some scientists have worried that it might cause cancer at high doses.
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So researchers examined data from 13 trials on nearly 50,000 people who took, on average, 2,000 micrograms of folic acid a day or a placebo for five years. The results: folic-acid takers had no higher risk of cancers of the large intestine, breast, prostate, lung, or any other site. Nor did the investigators find a trend toward greater risk in participants who took folic acid for more than five years.
What to do: You can get the Recommended Dietary Allowance (400 micrograms a day) by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. However, women who could become pregnant should play it safe by getting 400 micrograms of folic acid from a daily multivitamin.
Source: Lancet 381: 1029, 2013.
“Refresh & Invigorate,” say the boxes of Edy’s new Outshine Fruit Bars. “Smart snack choices containing fruit and juice help you stay energized and vibrant.”
Yes and no.
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Like most fruit bars, Outshines are “made with real fruit” and/or juice, but they’re also made with added sugars. And who knows how much? Fruitfull says that its bars are 40 to 60 percent fruit, and Jolly Llama says that its are 40. But the remaining 40 to 60 percent could be sugar.
So try a smaller (1.5 oz.) bar like Edy’s Outshine. (Edy’s is marketed as Dreyer’s west of the Rockies and in Texas.) Each delicious pop has just 40 calories.
What if you get high blood pressure? Can’t you just take a drug to lower it?
“You don’t want to wait until your blood pressure crosses that magic threshold of 140 over 90 because by that point you’ve already done a fair amount of damage to your heart, vascular system, kidneys, and brain,” says physician Stephen Havas, former Vice President of Science, Quality, and Public Health at the American Medical Association.
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What’s more, 42 million Americans have uncontrolled hypertension. That’s because 28 percent of those who have hypertension don’t know it, 11 percent know they have it but aren’t being treated, and 26 percent are being treated but not enough to get their blood pressure below 140 over 90. That means 65 percent of Americans with hypertension don’t have their blood pressure under control.
Why? “Hypertension is a chronic condition that doesn’t make the patient feel anything,” explains hypertension authority Norman Kaplan of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “If people with, say, rheumatoid arthritis don’t take their medication, they hurt. So they’ll take that medication. But people with hypertension don’t experience anything obvious.” So they stop.
“A number of surveys have shown that if you put 100 people on treatment, in a year’s time only half will still be taking their medication,” Kaplan notes.
Doctors may also share some of the blame. “Some physicians will put patients on anti-hypertensive medication, and then say ‘Okay, I’m done,’ without monitoring to see if the patients’ blood pres¬sure is still elevated,” says Kaplan.
But eating less salt would make blood pressure drugs more effective in those who need them. “With lower sodium intakes, you see a greater fall in blood pressure,” says Kaplan. “That’s particularly true for diuretics, but it’s been shown with other drugs as well.”
In fact, researchers tested the impact of a lower-salt diet on 12 people who had resistant hypertension—that is, their blood pressures were still high even though they were taking an average of 3½ different drugs every day.
When doctors told them to not just take the drugs but to also eat a lower-salt diet (1,050 milligrams a day), their blood pressures were dramatically lower (by an average of 22 over 9 points) than when they were on a high-salt diet (5,750 mg a day).
The authors’ conclusion: “High dietary salt ingestion is an important cause of resistant hypertension.”
Sources: N. Engl. J. Med. 361: 878, 2009; Hypertension 54: 475, 2009.
In 2012, scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health published data on more than 120,000 participants in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and the Nurses’ Health Study. After 28 years, those who ate the most red meat (roughly two servings a day) had a 30 percent higher risk of dying than those who ate the least (about half a serving a day).
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“Eating red meat increases the risk of dying early,” says co-author Adam Bernstein, now research director at the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute.
“We estimated that 8 percent of deaths in women and almost 10 percent in men could be prevented if people consumed less than half a serving per day of red meat,” adds Bernstein. “That’s remarkable.”
(In this study, a serving was three ounces of cooked steak, hamburger, pork chop, or other unprocessed meat, but only one ounce of sausage, ham, or other processed meat and half an ounce of bacon.)
It wasn’t the first time a major study had linked red meat to shorter lives.
In 2009, the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study reported results on half a million people. After 10 years, those who ate the most red meat (about five ounces a day) were 30 percent more likely to die than those who ate the least (about two-thirds of an ounce a day). That’s not much compared to what you get in a typical restaurant steak, sandwich, or burger.
“You don’t have to stop eating meat entirely,” says Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, who co-authored the Harvard study with Bernstein. “Eating meat only once a week can eliminate most of the risk.”
Sources: Arch. Intern. Med. 172: 555, 2012; Arch. Intern. Med. 169: 562, 2009
People who consume caffeine regularly develop a dependence on it, so if they haven’t had some for a day or two, they may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, like headaches, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating.
While the largest amounts of caffeine are found in coffees, teas, and energy drinks, Caffeine is found in other foods and drinks as well, chocolate beverages and candies can contain a significant amount if you are trying to keep track of your intake.
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Here is the caffeine level in some chocolate candies and drinks:
Starbucks Hot Chocolate (grande, 16 fl. oz.)—25 mg
Hershey’s Special Dark (1 bar, 1.5 oz.)—20 mg
Hershey’s—Milk Chocolate (1 bar, 1.6 oz.) or Kisses (9 pieces, 1.4 oz.)—9 mg
Hershey’s Cocoa (1 Tbs.)—8 mg
Dove Dark Chocolate Silky Smooth Promises (5 pieces, 1.4 oz.)—4 mg
Silk Chocolate Soymilk (8 fl. oz.)—4 mg
Hershey’s Chocolate Lowfat Milk, bottle (12 fl. oz.)—2 mg
Tony’s Macaroni & Cheese Original Crust PizzaNovember 8, 2012
Author: Jayne Hurley in: What Not to Eat