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Sweet Potatoes vs White Potatoes

Should you avoid white potatoes and eat sweet potatoes instead? Both white potatoes and sweet potatoes contain a variety of nutrients. Here’s the comparison:

Can You Eat Too Much Fruit?

Many scientific studies show that eating whole fruit is healthful, even for people who are diabetic. However, this month I learned that some people, especially those who are overweight, prediabetic or diabetic, may be harmed by eating very large amounts of fruit.

Do You Need Vitamin D Pills?

North Americans spent more than $936 million on vitamin D pills in 2017, doctors ordered more than 10 million laboratory tests for vitamin D for Medicare patients at a cost of $365 million in 2016, and 25 percent of older adults take vitamin D supplements. A Kaiser Health News investigation recently reported that the man most responsible for the obsession with vitamin D pills, Boston endocrinologist Michael Holick, has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by supplement and drug manufacturers, the indoor-tanning industry and commercial laboratories that run blood tests for vitamin D.

Egg Yolks, Cholesterol and TMAO

The NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study followed 521,120 U.S. adults, average age 62.2 years, for an average of 16 years and found that eating half an egg per day was associated with increased risk for death from heart attacks, cancer, and all causes.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

When you eat a food, your blood sugar level rises. The food that raises blood sugar the highest is pure table sugar. Glycemic index is a ratio of how high a particular food raises blood sugar in comparison to how high table sugar raises blood sugar levels.

Snack on High Fiber Foods

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that daily consumption of starchy snacks made from flour was associated with a 50 percent increased risk of death from all causes and a 44-57 percent increased risk of death from a heart attack. This study of 21,503 North Americans, with 149,875 person-years of follow-up, also found that lunches based on refined grains were associated with a 44 percent increased risk of cardiovascular death.

Eat Whole Foods, Not Processed Foods, to Lose Weight

Overweight people who eat mostly whole foods rather than processed foods can lose weight without counting calories or restricting portion sizes. A new study from Stanford showed that restricting processed foods, particularly added sugars and other refined carbohydrates, is more important for weight loss than going low-carb or low-fat.

Meat IS Associated with Heart Attacks and Some Types of Cancer

Don't believe the recent headlines suggesting that people can continue to eat their usual amounts of meat without suffering any increase in risk for illness or premature death.

Coconut Oil is Not a Special Health Food

Coconut oil does not help a person lose weight, lower blood sugar levels, or dampen down harmful inflammation (Circulation, Jan 13, 2020). The authors reviewed 17 studies and found that coconut oil increased blood levels of the harmful LDL cholesterol much more than the increase from soybean, olive, safflower, canola or palm oils.

How to Pick a Breakfast Cereal

The most healthful cereals are made with whole grains and not much else. If you're trying to lose weight, control cholesterol or diabetes, or just need a lot of energy, your best bet is a hot cooked cereal of whole grains, such as oatmeal; or barley, brown rice or wheat berries cooked and served like oatmeal

Why Nuts Won’t Make You Fat

Nuts are a rich source of fat, but many studies have shown that the fat in nuts is absorbed very poorly. This month a study explains why nuts are not fattening.

Soluble Fiber Added to Processed Foods May Harm You

A recent study showed that processed soluble fiber added to low-fiber foods led to liver cancers in mice, probably by preventing the liver from clearing bile from the body .

More Research on TMAO

A brilliant and very important breakthrough study shows that restricting mammal meat and eggs markedly lowers blood levels of TMAO. Mammal meat and eggs are rich sources of choline, carnitine and lecithin that are converted in your body to a chemical called TMAO that can damage arteries, which can cause plaques to form and later to break off to cause heart attacks and strokes.

Eating at Night Increases Risk for Obesity and Diabetes

A study of 20 healthy, normal-weight people found that changing their evening meal from 6PM to 10PM significantly increased their markers for becoming obese and developing diabetes.

Good News About Nuts and Peanuts

Several recent articles show that eating tree nuts or peanuts with a high-fat or high-sugar meal prevents the expected high rise in blood factors that increase risk for the inflammation that can lead to diabetes, heart attacks or strokes.

Why a High Protein Diet May Increase Risk for Heart Attacks

A recent study in mice showed that increasing dietary protein from 15 percent to 46 percent of calories caused the mice to develop 30 percent more arterial plaques than mice on their normal-protein diet, even though they did not gain more weight.

How Much Alcohol is Safe?

A review of 83 scientific studies covering almost 600,000 current alcohol drinkers in 19 higher-income countries shows that men and women who take in as few as six drinks a week (100 grams of alcohol) are at increased risk for death from strokes, heart failure, heart disease and aortic aneurysms, but not heart attacks.

Lectin-Containing Foods are Good For You

The latest fad diet tells you to try to avoid lectin-rich foods and to buy their products that are supposed to block lectins in the foods that you eat. However, scientific studies show that eating the common foods with high-lectin content is associated with living a long life and avoiding diseases such as heart attacks, certain cancers, and diabetes.

How Soluble Fiber Promotes Good Gut Bacteria

New research from the University of California-Davis shows how soluble fiber promotes the growth of healthful bacteria in your colon and discourages the growth of harmful bacteria, to improve your immunity and reduce your chances of suffering heart attacks, infections and some cancers.

Hidden Sugars

The average North American takes in 150 to 200 pounds of sugar a year. Most of your sugar intake comes from added sugars in drinks and packaged, frozen and canned foods that you buy in grocery stores or eat in restaurants. More than 75 percent of the packaged foods in your grocery store have added sugar in them. Many of these foods do not taste particularly sweet, so you don't even realize that you are eating sugars.

Another Reason Not to Take Calcium Pills

A well-planned study shows that taking calcium pills, both with and without vitamin D, is associated with increased risk for pre-malignant serrated colon polyps.

Spirulina, Chlorella and Seaweed

You have probably seen ads telling you that spirulina, chlorella or blue-green algae are wonder foods that "may help increase energy, decrease fatigue, enhance brain function, oxygenate the blood, nourish the nervous system, improve memory and concentration, increase muscle mass, speed healing, protect against pollutants and radiation, purify the blood, relieve kidney stones, and improve over-all health." Should you believe these claims?

Metformin (Glucophage) for Weight Loss

Metformin, sold under the trade name Glucophage, is used to treat diabetes, but several studies show that it also helps non-diabetics to lose weight by reducing hunger.

Ultra-Processed Foods

In our North American diet, more than 90 percent of the sugar and almost 60 percent of the calories from sugar are consumed in "ultra-processed foods" (BMJ Open, March 9, 2016;6(3)). The U.S. government recommends that you get no more than 10 percent of your calories from added sugars. Yet 71 percent of North American adults take in more than 15 percent of their calories from added sugars. Excess sugar intake leads to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, certain cancers and tooth decay.

More Fiber from Whole Foods is Better

Our food industry works to bring you more and more ultra-processed foods that have little or no fiber, but there is no debate in the scientific community: you should eat lots of plants that have not had their fiber removed. A review commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) of 185 prospective studies and 58 clinical trials, covering 4600 adults, shows that for every 8-gram/day increase in dietary fiber, there was up to a 31 percent decrease in deaths from all causes, a 30 percent decrease in deaths from heart attacks, 22 percent reduced risk of stroke, and a 16 percent reduced risk of diabetes, colorectal cancer and breast cancer.

Emulsifiers May Disrupt Gut Bacteria

A study in mice showed that emulsifiers can disrupt intestinal bacteria to cause inflammation and weight gain (Nature, Feb 25, 2015). Emulsifiers are added to many foods, such as ice cream, salad dressing, pastas, bread and cookies, to prolong shelf life and keep ingredients from separating.

Organic Foods May Not Be Worth the Extra Cost

Organic fresh produce sales in 2020 were $8.54 billion, an increase of over $1 billion from 2019. A very sobering study of 55 rice types found that organic rice contained significantly more arsenic than non-organic rice. More than half of the rice samples were "unfit to feed to infants."

Which Vegetable Oils Are Best?

Fats are classified by their chemical structures into saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated types. The chemical stability of a fat is determined by its structure. All fats are made of carbon atoms held together by electrical bonds. These bonds can be single bonds that are stable and double bonds that are far less stable. The stability of a fat or oil depends on the number of double bonds between the carbon atoms. The more double bonds, the less stable the fat.

Get Calcium from Foods, Not Pills

Osteoporosis or low bone mass affects 55 percent of people over age 50 in the United States, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation. A study of 1,064 women followed for 15 years shows that not getting enough calcium is associated with smaller spinal bones and weaker spines. You need an adequate amount of calcium to keep your bones strong, but many people take calcium pills when they should be getting their calcium from foods. Calcium pills have not been shown to strengthen bones and they can have many serious side effects.

The More Vegetables, The Better

Researchers followed 38,981 adults for 16 years (1999-2014) and found that those who ate the most vegetables and the widest variety of vegetables, particularly dark green vegetables, had the lowest rate of heart attacks and heart disease. Studies show that many of the impressive health benefits from eating vegetables, beans, whole grains and fruits come from the short chain fatty acids produced when bacteria in your colon ferment soluble fiber from plants.