The Slow Food movement — slow from plate to mouth, that is
Slow Food is an international organization dedicated to locally grown foods and traditional cooking that was founded in 1986 in Italy and now has 100,000 members in 160 countries. While we applaud the push to offer alternatives to obesity-inducing fast and processed foods, we’d like to advocate another kind of slow food — slow from plate to mouth.
According to several studies, if you bolt down your food, you’re at a big risk for obesity and metabolic syndrome, a precursor to Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Japanese researchers followed more than 1,000 men and women, average age 51, for five years and found that 12 percent of fast eaters developed metabolic syndrome. In contrast, only 2.3 percent of slow eaters did. A study in the journal Appetite found that guys who were fast eaters gained twice as much weight over eight years as average or slow eaters did. Another study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics demonstrated that normal-weight, slow eaters consumed significantly fewer calories, while feeling well-fed.
If you’re a fast eater, use these techniques to give your body’s “I’m full” hormone, leptin, time to signal you to stop eating: Drink a sip of water between bites. Count how many times you chew each bite — aiming for 20 to 35 chews. Put down your utensil between bites. Then think mindfully about the flavors, smells and textures you are eating, allowing yourself to savor them. That’ll slow down your risk of overeating, weight gain and serious health problems.
More proof that cooked tomatoes help prevent prostate cancer
In “The Godfather,” capo Peter Clemenza teaches Don Vito Corleone’s youngest son Michael how to make Sunday gravy. “Come here … You never know, you might have to cook for 20 guys someday,” he says. “Start out with a little bit of oil. Then you fry some garlic, then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it and make sure it doesn’t stick.”
These red-sauce-loving mobsters probably had no idea their concoction could do more than coat linguini — turns out it also protects the family jewels.
New research confirms that eating cooked tomatoes may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. A study published in Cancer Causes & Control followed more than 27,000 men without cancer for almost eight years. The researchers found that men who consumed canned or cooked tomatoes four or more times a week had a lower risk for prostate cancer than those who never consumed tomatoes. The most dramatic benefits were seen in guys who consumed about a third of a cup daily, compared with no tomato intake.
Tomatoes contain high levels of a polyphenolic compound known as lycopene that’s made more bioavailable when heated. Other foods high in this nutrient include red bell peppers, watermelon, papaya and guava.
Lucky for you, tomato season is right around the corner. For fabulous recipes using cooked and canned tomatoes, preorder Dr. Mike’s “What to Cook When Cookbook” — in August you can discover dishes such as Chunky Roasted Tomato Salsa, Eggplant Sliders El-Roma and Pasta with Harissa-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Spinach.
Dealing with picky eaters — as kids and as adults
In the current remake of the classic Life cereal commercial, Dad brings a box of Life cereal to his daughter Mikey, who’s a notoriously picky eater. He’s delighted when she likes something that’s good for her.
The commercial portrays a scene that is familiar to many parents. In one study of kids 3-11, 13 percent to 22 percent of the kids were picky eaters. And according to a new study published in Pediatrics, the behavior can get ingrained by age 4 and persist throughout adulthood.
Research shows that picky eating can stem from everything from parental pressure, inherent personality traits and specific biological responses to tastes and smells, to the introduction of solid foods before 6 months of age and the late introduction of chewy foods. Fortunately, you can help your child overcome it — and adults can overcome it too. Here are some strategies:
■ Kids respond to positive messages about food (that’s why fast food ads get their attention — “Happy Meals!”). Instead of “Don’t eat that,” say, “Let’s try this.”
■ Repeated mini tastes may make a food acceptable.
■ Be enthusiastic about the choices you present.
■ Kids want to make their own decisions, even when very young, so give them options.
■ Also, involve your child in cooking. Kids like to eat what they cook!
For adults who are food adverse, cooking also can help make foods more appealing. Talk therapy to ease anxiety may also be effective. A study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that anxiety and disgust at food tastes and smells often go together.
Eat more fruits and veggies for better heart health in 8 weeks
When it comes to the 100-meter dash, the undisputed champs are Usain Bolt (he did it is 9.58 seconds in 2009) and Florence Griffith-Joyner (10.49 second in 1988). But if you want better heart health, a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine says you should set out on an eight-week-long DASH diet.
Researchers wanted to see what two diets rich in fruit and veggies — they delivered 8.5 and 9.5 servings of produce daily — would do for middle-age Americans’ heart health. The diet with the most servings of produce (9.5) was the DASH diet, which also includes beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, low-fat dairy, very little saturated fat or cholesterol, and reduced salt.
Their conclusion? In just eight weeks, folks on both those plant-loving diets saw a significant reduction in heart strain and heart muscle injury, like what might happen from high blood pressure, heart failure or severe calcification of heart arteries. But the DASH diet is more effective.
Previous analyses show that for folks with high blood pressure, the DASH diet lowers systolic blood pressure (top number) by 11.4 points and diastolic blood pressure (lower number) by 5.5 points, and it reduces LDL cholesterol levels. For diet guidelines, go to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute at www.nhlbi.nih.gov. Search for “DASH eating plan.”
Other powerful approaches to reversing heart disease include the Ornish, Pritikin and Esselstyn diets: www.ornish.com; www.pritikin.com; www.dresselstyn.com.
So, dash out to the store for some veggies and fruit, and try a plant-centered diet for two months. You’ll end up the big winner.
Vitamin K kick-starts a younger, healthier old age
Kevin “Special K” Daley played with the Harlem Globetrotters, and was the body double for a young Michael Jordan in a 2002 Gatorade commercial; Alan “Special K” Kulwicki was the NASCAR 1986 Rookie of the Year; and pro tennis player Athanasios “Special K” Kokkinakis defeated No. 1-ranked Roger Federer in the second round of the 2018 Miami Open.
All special for sure, but they’ve got nothing on how special vitamin K is when it comes to protecting your longevity. New research out of Tufts University’s USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging found that older adults with low vitamin K levels (below 0.5 nanomoles per liter) had a 19 percent higher risk of all-cause death over 13 years when compared with those who had adequate blood levels (more than 1.0 nmol/L).
What’s so special about vitamin K? It is essential for bone and blood vessel health and blood clotting. To make sure you have enough K-power, women 19 and older should consume 90 micrograms daily, men 120. Food sources supply plenty: Half a cup of blueberries delivers 14 mcg; half a cup of edamame, 21 mcg; half a cup of broccoli, 110 mcg; a cup of raw spinach, 145 mcg; and a half a cup of frozen/boiled collards, 530 mcg!
You do make another form of K called K2 (aka menaquinone) in your gut, but little is known about how much is absorbed or what stimulates the production. K2 is also found in fermented foods like nato (fermented soybeans) and sauerkraut. As Dana Carvey’s Church Lady used to say, “Now, isn’t that special?”
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.