NUTRITION
June 25, 2018

Six Foods to Fight Disease

Presentations at a nutrition meeting highlight foods you want to have as a regular part of your diet.

The role of food in fighting disease is becoming more interesting all the time as science learns more about the properties in food that affect your health. Several studies presented at the American Society of Nutrition’s Nutrition 2018 meeting shed light on foods you might want to include regularly in your diet to improve your health and reduce your risk of chronic disease. Here are the highlights of this year's presentations.

  • Eggs An egg a day is okay. People with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes who ate an egg every day showed better improvement in fasting blood sugar levels and insulin resistance than people who ate an egg substitute every day in a 12-week study. A daily egg did not change their cholesterol levels either, according to researchers at Florida State University.
  • Pecans Nuts are good for you, and pecans are no exception. Middle-aged, overweight people who were otherwise healthy had better blood sugar levels, insulin resistance and insulin-producing cell function when they ate a small handful — or about 21 halves — of pecans every day, compared to people who ate a diet with similar amounts of fat and fiber but no pecans. Could this translate into a lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes in middle-aged and older adults? Researchers at Tufts University will study that in the future.
  • Dairy foods Dairy foods are known for their connection to bone health, but they also appear to have a protective effect when it comes to colorectal cancer. However, according to a new study that looked at the eating habits of over 101,000 people between the ages of 54 and 83, not all dairy foods have the same benefit. Low-fat or fermented dairy products, like yogurt, showed the best results among dairy foods at reducing the risk of colorectal cancer, according to researchers at Oregon State University.
  • Two sugars found in this mushroom may have the potential for use in functional foods and/or dietary supplements to fight inflammatory diseases.

  • Vegetables and berries How many more times can it be said? Eat more veggies. Eating more vegetables, especially green leafy ones and berries could reduce the risk of a group of movement disorders referred to as Parkinsonism. After following over 700 people for 4½ years, researchers from Rush University Medical Center found that vegetables and berries, but no other fruits, reduced the risk and slowed the progression of the disorder.
  • Edible mushrooms Adding some mushrooms to your diet could reduce inflammation. Two components of the edible mushroom Pleurotus eryngii, a variety of oyster mushroom, may have anti-inflammatory properties, according to research from Nanjing Agricultural University and the University of Massachusetts. Two sugars found in this mushroom may have the potential for use in functional foods and/or dietary supplements to fight inflammatory diseases.
  • Coffee If you love your coffee, you’ll love this: People who drink at least three cups of coffee a day appear to have a lower risk of being hospitalized for liver disease than people who never drink coffee, according to a study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
  • There is no one food or beverage that has the magic to fix all of your health woes. Focus on your diet as a whole. Your food and beverage choices over the course of your life are a much more important contributor to your health than any one food or beverage choice you make. The findings from all these studies have not yet been peer-reviewed and should therefore be viewed as preliminary; but it seems likely that making sure you include these foods in your diet consistently will do no harm and could yield big health dividends.
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