Posts Tagged ‘Diet’

Cherries are unusually rich in health-promoting compounds, say studies Each serving only contains 100 calories and half a gram of fat They contain anti-inflammatory chemicals that cut the risk of heart disease

George Washington would surely have left his father’s cherry tree undamaged if he knew what scientists are learning today. For studies reveal that cherries are unusually rich in health-promoting compounds which can trim our tummies, help to prevent heart disease, make exercise easier and even improve our sleep.

So at just less than 100 calories and half a gram of fat per serving, you have every reason to take more than two bites of the cherry.



The humble cherry can take the ouch out of working out thanks to its pain-fighting capabilities.

Dr Kerry Kuehl, a sports medicine specialist at the Oregon Health & Science University, studied 55 runners and found those who drank tart cherry juice while training for a long-distance run experienced considerably less pain after exercise.

Many long-distance runners take painkillers before training in the hope of reducing muscle pain. But Dr Kuehl warns that these drugs can damage their stomachs in the long term.

He says that tart cherries are high in antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins. These give the fruit their bright colour.

But they also have the power to prevent inflammation and subsequent tissue damage in exhausted muscles, reported Dr Kuehl in the Journal of the International Society Of Sports Nutrition in 2010.

Sue Baic, spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, says: ‘You need to drink tart cherry juice to get the best effect, but eating cherries will surely give you similar benefits.’




Eating cherries lowers the levels of nitric oxide in your blood. This compound is linked with the development of arthritis.

A study by the Oregon Health & Science University in 2012 found that women with osteoarthritis who drank tart cherry juice twice daily for three weeks had significantly fewer signs of harmful inflammation in their blood. They also suffered 20 per cent less pain.

The researchers said that tart cherries have the ‘highest anti-inflammatory content of any food’.

Sweet cherries have a similar effect because they contain quercetin, a potent antioxidant.

Cherries can also reduce attacks of gout, which is a similar auto-immune condition to arthritis.

A study in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism in 2012 followed 633 gout patients for a year. It found that those who regularly ate 30 cherries a day cut their risk of attacks by more than a third.



In 2013, Chinese researchers fed lab mice anthocyanins purified from sweet cherries, after having previously put the rodents on a high-fat diet. Instead of becoming obese, the mice actually lost around 5 per cent of their body weight, found a report in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. The cherry’s anthocyanins particularly prevented the mice from putting on weight around their bellies.

Similar effects have been found by investigators who fed tart cherry powder to rats on high-fat diets.





Tart cherries have been found to contain high levels of melatonin, a hormone that plays a crucial role in making us feel sleepy and stay asleep.

Studies show up to half of Britons find it hard to nod off. But insomnia is not just a nuisance, it is linked to a higher risk of chronic pain, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and a decline in cognitive function.

In 2012, Dr Glyn Howatson the lab director of Northumbria University’s department of sport, gave 20 volunteers either tart cherry juice concentrate to drink for a week, or a placebo drink.

The cherry juice drinkers saw their total sleep time increase by 25 minutes and quality of sleep improve by around 6 per cent.

Urine samples showed that their melatonin levels had also increased significantly.

Dr Howatson says: ‘We were initially interested in the application of tart cherries in recovery from strenuous exercise. Sleep forms a critical component in that recovery process.

‘Drinking tart cherry juice concentrate provides an increase in melatonin that is beneficial in improving sleep duration and qualit




The anthocyanin found abundantly in cherries may also cut the risk of heart disease.

These anti-inflammatory chemicals have been found in lab studies to reduce heart-damaging inflammation in the body, as well as reducing harmful fats in the bloodstream.

One reason, according to American investigators who reported their findings in the journal Phytomedicine in 2012, is that tart cherry extract appears to work in the stomach in the same way as common statin drugs, such as Lipitor.

Their tests show that the cherry extract reduces an inflammatory chemical called interleukin-6 that is produced by belly fat. This chemical is believed to explain why having a podgy tum puts you at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Moreover, research in 2013 by the University of Michigan suggests that sour cherries can even reduce the risk of stroke when they are taken with prescribed medications.

The scientists gave cherry extract to rats who were bred to be obese and prone to circulatory disease. The rats had reduced markers of metabolic syndrome — a cluster of traits that can greatly increase your risk of heart disease.


Should I eat differently now I’m pregnant?

Now that you’re a mum-to-be, it is important to eat well. This will make sure you get all the nutrients you and your developing baby need.

If you know you haven’t been eating as well as you could, it is even more important to start having nutritious, well-balanced meals. Your daily meals should include a variety of foods from the four main food groups shown in the Food Standards Agency’s eatwell plate:

Fruits and vegetables. You can buy these fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juiced. Aim for at least five portions each day.

Starchy food. These include bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. Try to choose wholegrain options.

Foods rich in protein. These include lean meat and chicken, fish, eggs and pulses (such as beans and lentils). Try to aim for at least two portions of fish a week, including of oily fish.

Dairy foods. These include milk, cheese and yoghurt, which contain calcium.


Dairy products, along with sea fish and sea salt are all good sources of iodine. You need plenty of iodine in your diet to help your baby’s development.

Do I need to eat more now I’m pregnant?


Your body becomes more efficient when you’re pregnant, and makes even better use of the energy you get from your food. This means you don’t actually need any extra calories for the first six months of pregnancy. Then you only need about 200 extra calories per day for the last three months. Two hundred calories is equivalent to:

a slice of wholemeal toast with a small can of baked beans a toasted pitta bread with two tablespoons of reduced-fat hummus a slice of malt loaf or fruit scone with butter or spread one slice of cheese on toast

Your appetite is your best guide of how much food you need to eat. You may find your appetite fluctuates throughout your pregnancy:

In the first few weeks your appetite may fall away dramatically and you may not feel like eating proper meals, especially if you have nausea or sickness.

During the middle part of your pregnancy your appetite may be the same as before you were pregnant or slightly increased.

Towards the end of your pregnancy your appetite will probably increase. If you suffer from heartburn or a full feeling after eating you may find it helpful to have small, frequent meals.

The best rule to remember is to eat when you are hungry. Have a good balance of foods every day and you will gain weight steadily as your baby grows.


Should I take any vitamin supplements?

In an ideal world, free of morning sickness or food aversions, a balanced diet would be all you’d ever need. But an antenatal vitamin-mineral supplement may be good insurance to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients.


It’s recommended that you take two important supplements during your pregnancy:

400 micrograms (mcg) folic acid a day for the first 12 weeks 10mcg of vitamin D a day throughout your pregnancy

Later on in your pregnancy you may need to take an iron supplement. Your iron levels will be checked during your pregnancy, and your doctor or midwife will advise you about your needs. Calcium is also important while you’re pregnant, as you’ll now need twice as much each day.


You could take a special pregnancy multivitamin that contains folic acid, vitamin D, iron and calcium. Look for one that also contains vitamin C, vitamin D, B vitamins such as B6 and B12, potassium, zinc, iodine and vitamin E.


Don’t take any supplements which contain retinol, the animal form of vitamin A. In large quantities, this can be toxic to unborn babies. However, the plant-based carotene type of vitamin A is safe in pregnancy. Also don’t take megadoses of vitamins and minerals, as this could be harmful to your baby.


Talk to your doctor or midwife about special supplements you might need if you:

are a strict vegetarian or vegan have diabetes or gestational diabetes have pre-eclampsia have anaemia have had a baby with a low birth weight before Are there any foods I shouldn’t eat during pregnancy?

There are some foods that you’ll have to steer clear of during pregnancy, because they could be unsafe for your baby:

Cheeses with a white, mouldy rind, such as brie and camembert, and blue-veined cheeses such as roquefort. All these cheeses could contain listeria, a bacteria that could harm your baby.

Pate, and raw or undercooked meat and eggs. All are possible sources of bacteria that can harm your unborn baby. When cooking meat and eggs, make sure they are cooked properly.

Raw seafood, such as oysters, or sushi that has not been frozen before making.

Shark, swordfish or marlin. These fish contain unsafe levels of naturally occurring mercury. Tuna contains some mercury too, so it’s best you don’t eat more than four medium-sized cans, or two fresh tuna steaks per week.

Don’t eat liver and liver products (such as pate or liver sausage), because they may contain large amounts of the retinol form of vitamin A. Too much of this could be harmful to your developing baby.

You should stop or cut down on drinking alcohol during pregnancy, too. If you want to drink during your pregnancy, some experts recommend that you leave it until after your first trimester. Even then, don’t drink more than one or two units of alcohol, once or twice a week, and don’t get drunk.

It’s best not to have more than 200mg of caffeine a day. That’s two mugs of instant coffee or four cups of tea or five cans of cola a day. You could switch to decaffeinated hot drinks and colas, instead.


Starchy foods, such as potatoes and bread, are an important part of your diet, but try not to over-cook or over-bake them. When starchy food is fried, baked, roasted or grilled at high temperatures a natural chemical, called acrylamide, forms.


Some research has suggested that eating a lot of acrylamide-rich food in pregnancy may be associated with low birth weight. Experts say more research is needed to be sure. But it’s easy to reduce levels of acrylamide in your diet, so you may think it’s worth doing anyway:

Fry potatoes and chips so they take on only a light colour.

Toast bread so it’s pale brown.

Cook pre-prepared foods that need frying or oven-heating according to the packet instructions.

Try not to eat too many packet biscuits or ready meals, as acrylamides have been found in processed foods.


Store potatoes somewhere dark, cool and dry, but not in the fridge. Putting them in the fridge can increase the amount of sugar they hold, which could lead to higher levels of acrylamide when you bake, roast or fry them.


Can I go on a diet?

Dieting during pregnancy could harm you and your developing baby. Some diets can leave you low on iron, folic acid, and other important vitamins and minerals. Remember, weight gain is one of the most positive signs that you’re having a healthy pregnancy.


So if you’re eating fresh, wholesome foods and gaining weight, just relax. You’re supposed to be getting bigger!


If you are overweight, you can improve your diet by cutting out foods high in fat and sugar and taking some exercise. However, see your doctor first for advice before changing how much you eat or doing more exercise.


What’s a healthy way to put on weight?

It’s best to gain weight gradually. You’ll probably gain between 10kg and 12.5kg during your pregnancy.

Bear in mind that weight gain varies among women, and how much weight you put on during your pregnancy depends on many factors. So concentrate on eating a healthy diet of plenty of starchy carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, protein, and milk and dairy foods, and just a little in the way of fats and sugars.


When you put on weight may be as important as the amount you put on. You may gain the least weight during the first trimester. Your weight should then steadily increase throughout the second trimester, and you may put on the most weight over the third trimester, when your baby is growing the most.

How many meals should I eat?


Even if you’re not hungry, chances are your baby is, so try to eat regularly. Aim for three meals and two to three healthy snacks in between. And if morning (or all-day) sickness, food aversions, heartburn, or indigestion make eating a chore, eat less, more often. You may find that eating five or six small meals is easier on your body.

Eating high-fibre and wholegrain foods will help to keep you feeling full, and will be more nutritious, too.


Can I still have occasional treats?

You don’t have to give up all your favourite foods just because you’re pregnant. But foods and snacks high in fat, salt and sugar shouldn’t be the main part of your diet, either.


So as far as snacks are concerned, try a banana rather than a packet of crisps or tinned fruit in juice rather than ice cream. But don’t feel guilty if you fancy the occasional biscuit. Enjoy every bite!

If you’re trying to lose weight, you may want to let your doctor choose your diet plan, rather than choosing your own: In a new study, people who chose the type of diet they wanted to follow lost less weight than the people who followed a specific diet assigned by their doctor.

In the study, 105 people who were trying to lose weight were allowed to choose between a low-carbohydrate diet and a low-fat diet. Among these participants, 58 percent chose a low-carb diet, and 42 percent chose a low-fat diet. For a separate group of 102 people, the researchers assigned a low-fat diet to 52 percent of the people and a low-carb diet to the other 48 percent.

After following their diet plans for almost a year, the people who were allowed to choose their own diet plan lost 12.6 lbs. (5.7 kilograms) on average, whereas the people in the group whose doctors assigned their diets lost 14.7 lbs. (6.7 kg) on average.

Previous research comparing the effectiveness of low-carb diets and low-fat diets has shown that both diets can work, as long as people adhere to them, said study author Dr. William Yancy, of Durham VA Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. The researchers wanted to conduct the study because “it felt intuitively that if you let people choose their diet based on their food preferences (…) that they would stick to the diet better,” he said.

The researchers figured that the people who stuck to their diets better would lose more weight, so they were surprised to find that the people who chose their diets actually lost less weight than the people whose diets were picked for them. [7 Biggest Diet Myths]

The researchers think the reason people may lose less weight when they choose their own diet plan is that they may choose a plan that includes more of the foods they like to eat, which, in turn, makes it difficult for them to scale back on these foods, Yancy said.

“People might adhere to a diet better if it has foods that they prefer, but they actually might overeat those foods, and that might be to their detriment,” Yancy told Live Science.

Conversely, “if the diet that they are following eliminates some of the foods that they prefer, then they might actually lose more weight,” he said.

However, he noted that, although the people in the study who chose their diet plan did not lose as much weight as those who had the decision made for them, this does not mean that doctors should not present their patients with different diet options.”It is just that [patients] might not be the right people to choose among those options,” Yancy said.

Future research should examine how to match people with the diets that would work best for them, by considering such factors as their metabolic profiles or genetics, instead of their food preferences, the researchers said.

“I think we do have enough information to know that different diets work differently in different people; we just need to get better at pairing the diet with the person,” Yancy said.

The new study was published today (June 15) in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.