Healthy foods choices highlighted during National Chemistry Week, Oct. 17-23


As the holiday season approaches, you might want to consider adding more cranberries, beans and canned corn to your menu, perhaps even tea. These are just a few of the many foods that researchers have found contribute to a healthy diet by fighting stroke, heart disease and cancer, among other diseases.

Making proper nutrition choices will be part of the overall theme of "Health and Wellness," the focus of this year's National Chemistry Week (NCW) celebration, Oct. 17-23. Sponsored by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, NCW will include events around the country.

In recent years, scientists have advanced our knowledge and understanding of good nutrition. Much of this research has been presented in ACS journals or at ACS meetings.
Food highlights include the following:

Cranberries: High in antioxidants -- Cranberry lovers can give heartfelt thanks to their favorite fruit. An antioxidant comparison of some of the most common fruits found that the red berry in its pure form contained the highest quantity of disease-fighting phenols, an antioxidant that is thought to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke and heart disease. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania and reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Black beans to the body's rescue -- Researchers in Canada have found that beans, particularly black ones, are a rich but overlooked source of antioxidants and may provide health benefits similar to some common fruits, including grapes, apples and cranberries. Of 12 common varieties of dry beans tested for antioxidant activity, black beans came out on top, having more antioxidant activity, gram for gram, than red, brown, yellow and white beans. The research was described in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Bread crust and stuffing contain cancer-fighting compounds -- Bread crust is a rich source of cancer-fighting antioxidants and may provide a much stronger health benefit than the rest of the bread. This is good news for those who like to complement their holiday meals with bread stuffing, which is rich in crust. The study was reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry by a team of German researchers.

Canned corn may be better than fresh -- Canned corn may be healthier for you than corn on the cob, according to a study by Cornell University scientists. The researchers say that heat processing of corn significantly raises the level of naturally occurring compounds that help fight disease, including cancer and heart disease. The study was reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Honey may fight heart disease -- That honey in your honey-baked ham and turkey does more than offer sweet taste: It may be good for your heart. In a recent study presented at a recent ACS national meeting, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reported that honey contains antioxidants that help protect against heart disease. Honey also helps prolong the freshness of meat, protects against off flavors, and guards against harmful byproducts of meat oxidation that may increase the risk of heart disease, according to the researcher.

Heavy on the herbs, please -- Herbs can do more for your holiday meal than simply provide flavor. Researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture have found that herbs, in addition to making food tastier, are an abundant source of antioxidants and could provide potential cancer-fighting benefits when incorporated into a balanced diet. Of 39 herbs tested, oregano had the highest antioxidant activity. Dill, thyme and rosemary also had significant activity. The study was reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Tea: Good for many ailments -- Evidence that tea contributes to better health continues to grow. Researcher shows that the popular brew, particularly green tea, contains compounds that fight fat, cancer, heart disease, infection and other conditions. Research on this topic was highlighted at a recent ACS national meeting in New York.

To learn more about National Chemistry Week, please visit

For more details on the research cited above, visit

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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