October 15, 2013

Health Roundup: Food edition: Licorice, pomegranates, cabbage, frozen food, food good for your gut and mental health

Licorice slows skins cancer cells: Compound found in root could hold key to beating most lethal form of the disease

Breakthrough could lead to new drug to combat malignant melanoma

Pomegranates can protect the heart from a high cholesterol diet by 'strengthening the arteries'

A supplement made from the fruit helps keep blood vessels healthy. In doing so, it reduces the chance of heart attacks and strokes.
Pomegranate plant chemicals, called polyphenols, cancelled out the damage done by junk food in the cardiovascular systems of pigs.

Cabbage may protect against the effects of radiation during cancer therapy.

Researchers claim a compound derived from cruciferous vegetable - such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli - protected rats and mice from lethal doses of radiation.  Their study suggests the compound, already shown to be safe for humans, may protect normal tissues during radiation therapy for cancer treatment and prevent or mitigate sickness caused by radiation exposure.  The compound - known as DIM (or ,3'-diindolylmethane) - previously has been found to have cancer preventative properties.

Bacteria in your gut affects your mental health

CBC Radio science columnist Torah Kachur spoke to researchers such as Karen Madsen at the University of Alberta who are studying the types of bacteria that live in your gut and how they affect your behavior, via a nerve that travels between the gut and the brain.

"You know the whole term, 'listen to your gut'? It’s kind of taking on a whole new meaning.

Kachur explained that there are "good" bacteria, like Bifidiobacterium and Lactobacillus, that are present in yogurt. They produce a happy signal called GABA, which acts on the nervous system to curb depressive symptoms and anxiety.

Meanwhile, "bad" bacteria like the Clostridium family, of botulism fame, live in our guts and dine on our Western diets of high fat, high sugar and processed foods, Kachur said. She added that these bacteria can produce toxins that are released into the bloodstream and could affect the  brain.

Kachur recommends eating food high in probiotics, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and miso soup; and avoiding high fat and high sugar diets, in order to promote the growth of bacteria that are good for your mental health.

"We've got to nurture and take care of our microbes."

Frozen food IS better than fresh: Higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants in frozen fruit and vegetables say scientists

Study finds two out of three foods found to have more nutrients if frozen.
Dr Rachel Burch, said: ‘We must disregard the mistaken opinion that ‘fresh’ food is always better for us than frozen food.  ‘These results demonstrate that frozen can be nutritionally comparable to ‘fresh’ produce.’

Direct comparison: In two out of three cases frozen fruit and vegetables scored better on antioxidant-type compounds – including Vitamin C, polyphenols, anthocyanins, lutein and beta-carotene, a study found

Her team found frozen broccoli had higher levels of Vitamin C, lutein and four times more beta-carotene. However, fresh scored better on polyphenols, which are thought to help prevent cancer.
Frozen carrots had three times the lutein and double the beta-carotene, while they were also higher in Vitamin C and polyphenols.
Frozen sprouts scored higher on all nutrient measurements, however fresh spinach did better than frozen in some tests.
The Chester study found levels of Vitamin C and polyphenols were much higher in frozen blueberries and green beans. The frozen blueberries also had more polyphenols and anthocyanins.
The figures in raspberries and peas were around the same, while there was no clear winner for cauliflower and baby sweetcorn.
Posted by Jill Fallon at October 15, 2013 11:26 AM | Permalink