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.

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.

Healthy Food Quiz: Questions and Answers to Help You Fight Disease

Most people know that calcium is good for bones, fiber is good for constipation, and iron is good for blood, to name a few. But once you go beyond the basics, the picture gets murky.

Here’s a healthy food quiz (questions and answers included) to see how well you know which foods or nutrients can prevent or promote which diseases.

Feel free to cheat. The questions aren’t really a test of how well you read (and remember) every issue of Nutrition Action. They’re just a sneaky way to get you to look at the answers, which contain a wealth of information on how your diet affects your health.

The Benefits of Polyunsaturated Fats in Your Diet

The benefits of polyunsaturated fats in your diet may include lower levels of inflammation and less buildup of plaque in arteries. This is important, because “Inflammation plays two key roles in coronary heart disease,” explains Penny Kris-Etherton of Pennsylvania State University.

First, it helps build the plaque that narrows arteries. The process starts when the immune system mobilizes to heal an “injury” in the artery wall, often caused by oxidized LDL cholesterol. Smoking, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar can also damage the arteries and lead to plaque buildup.“

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And every single step of the way, inflammatory signals produced in the plaque fuel the process,” says Kris-Etherton. After decades, the plaque—now filled with cholesterol, calcium, and cell debris—gets covered with a fibrous cap of smooth muscle cells. Then, once again, inflammation wreaks havoc.

Magnesium-Rich Foods to Prevent a Stroke

More magnesium may mean a lower risk of stroke.

Researchers looked at seven studies that followed a total of roughly 240,000 people for eight to 15 years. The risk of an ischemic stroke was 9 percent lower for each 100 milligrams of magnesium the participants reported eating per day. This may seem like a low number, but simple changes or additions in diet may offer complementary benefits. Preparing foods to prevent a stroke will often coincide with eating foods that are good for your overall health.