Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Now 'Fat-free' is not always best, nor is spinach: "Reduced fat does not necessarily mean low fat, raspberry flavoured yoghurt may not contain raspberries at all, and Popeye was wrong - spinach is not a good source of iron. These are some of the food myths busted by the Australian Consumers' Association in a Choice Online publication. The internet booklet focuses on food, diet and food labelling. Choice Online spokeswoman Clare Hughes said just because a food was described as fresh or natural it did not mean it was healthier than some other foods. "A claim that a product is baked not fried does not mean the product is lower in fat," she said. "Baked products may contain just as much fat as food cooked in fat if they contained lots of fat to start with. "Also fat-free foods are not necessarily the best choice if you are trying to lose weight because fat free does not necessarily mean kilojoule free." Other myths exposed in the booklet include: * Organic foods are better for you. Choice Online says nutritionally there is little evidence to support this, nor is there evidence that organic foods taste better... * Soy crisps are healthier than potato chips. Choice Online says they may sound healthier but, cooked in vegetable oil, they contain just as much fat... * Reduced fat does not mean low fat. Choice Online says a product needs only to have 25 per cent less fat than a regular brand to meet reduced fat requirement... When it comes to spinach, it is an excellent source of fibre, folate and vitamin C but its high levels of iron are not much use to the body because it also contains oxalic acid that prevents much of the iron from being absorbed.

Now even the dreaded radiation is good for you: "The good news came in the form of a study published in the journal Cancer which found that low doses of radiation, given every weekday for one or two weeks, could improve outcomes for non-small-cell lung cancer. The cancer was one of the deadliest and most common forms of lung cancer, according to radiation oncologist Michael Mac Manus from Melbourne's Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. Associate Prof Mac Manus and his colleagues were amazed to find that some patients with advanced tumours lived for as long as five years with the new treatment. Usually they would have been expected to live less than six months. "All experienced doctors will have come across an occasional case where a patient has survived for a long time when they shouldn't have, so we thought we would look at a very large database of patients with incurable lung cancer to see how many of them survived," Prof Mac Manus said. "We were surprised to find that 1.1 per cent survived for five years. Some of them survived for 10 years and (one of) the patients appears to have been cured. "The long-term survival was an unexpected effect of the radiotherapy"

Alzheimers? No problem! "Research news in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture Compounds in blackcurrants could prevent Alzheimer's disease and the characteristics of British berries suggest they do it best, writes Jennifer Rohn in Chemistry & Industry magazine. New research led by Dilip Ghosh of the Horticulture and Food Research Institute in New Zealand, shows that compounds in blackcurrants have a potent protective effect in cultured neuronal cells against the types of stress caused by dopamine and amyloid-b, a peptide associated with Alzheimer's disease... Blackcurrants and boysenberries, more common in the US, both contain anthocyanins and polyphenolics. British blackcurrants are bred to be darker, which means they have more anthocyanins and are likely to be more potent. Compounds from these berries are already known to act as antioxidants, but a role in neuroprotection has not been demonstrated previously, according to the researchers. The mechanism of action is unclear".

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