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Various Nutrition Posts

Part One

by Gary F. Zeolla
(a.k.a. Reepicheep)

Below is a compilation of posts I have made in the "" Newsgroup. In posts where I am responding to another's comments, their comments are summarized in brackets.

Is it better to have 5 little meals daily?

I didn't see the original post, so I am sure of the exact context of the question. But to respond to the subject line, yes IMO, it is better to have 4-6 smaller meals a day than two or three larger meals. And I would say such a routine would be better if one is trying to gain, lose, or maintain weight.

If one is trying to lose weight, eating several times a day, every few hours, will help prevent the feelings of hunger that often accompany diets. Of course, the meals must be small to keep total calories down. Also, a small amount of fat should be included in each meal for the satiety value.

If one is trying to gain weight, then eating several times a day would enable more calories to be consumed without having to "pig-out" at each meal, and ending up with that "stuffed" feeling.

And even if one is trying to maintain weight, personally, I have found I simply feel better eating several smaller meals a day than a couple of larger ones. I usually eat breakfast, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, supper, and a bedtime snack.

And a small hint, since increased consumption of fruits and vegetables is probably the most important thing some can do to improve their health, make it a "rule" to always eat at least one serving of these at eat meal. that way, if you're eating five meals a day, you'll consume at least the minimum number of servings the USDA recommends for fruits and vegetables.

Whole grains, heart disease, and food poisoning

"Women who consumed more fiber from breads, cereals, and other grains (an average of eight grams a day) had a 37 percent lower risk of heart disease compared to women who consumed a third as much, mirroring earlier results in men" (Journal of the American Medical Association," 281, pp.1998,1999; reported in Nutrition Action Healthletter October, 1999, p.10).

This issue of Nutrition Action was mostly devoted to food poisoning. It stated, "Keep in mind that animal foods account for the lion's share of food poisoning. That means you have to handle raw meat, seafood, poultry, and eggs as though they were contaminated" (p.3).

Now the issue does report the occasional case of food poisoning coming from unpasteurized fruit juices or raw fruits and vegies, especially sprouts. But there is no mention of any food poisoning coming from grains. The only exception would be eating raw dough (as in licking the spoon while making batter), but that is from the raw eggs.

The point being, while some in this group are avoiding grains because of supposed natural toxins, you're increasing your consumption of foods that could be contaminated with dangerous forms of E. Coli, salmonella, and other food borne bacteria. Meanwhile, you're not eating whole grains, which not only don't have the food poisoning risk, but could also reduce your risk of heart disease.

Negatives in Foods, and Supplements

[All foods contain negatives, such as natural toxins in plant foods. But the positives in grains outweigh the negatives.]

I would agree that the benefits of whole grains would far outweigh any "negatives" for most people. I would only stipulate that they in fact be WHOLE grains. In the case of refined grains, the negatives could very well outweigh the positives. And this distinction needs to be kept in mind. I wonder how many people who say they "thrive" better without grains were eating refined not whole grains previously.

[This is one reason I take supplements; to offset the negatives in my diet.]

This conclusion I cannot agree with. It would seem to me that our bodies would have adapted to utilize the positives in whole foods to offset any negatives naturally present in them.

Now an argument for taking vitamins that makes some sense to me is that we need "extra" antioxidants to protect us from pollution and other human-made carcinogens in our environment. Our bodies have not had time to adapt to such environmental changes.

This is one of the arguments Dr. Kenneth Cooper puts forth in his book The Antioxidant Revolution. However, he spends most of the book talking about the benefits of moderately high does of antioxidants (1,500 mg V-C and 400 I.U.s of V-E). But he waits until near the end of the book to list the possible side effects. And even at levels below these amounts (i.e. 500 mg of V-C and 200 I.U.s of V-E), I experienced some of these side effects.

So I will stick with taking my iron free, multi-vitamin/ mineral supplement that only contains 90 mg and 45 I.U.s of these vitamins respectively. At these amounts I do not experience any side effects.

Value of Nuts and Seeds

[Dietary intake of nuts reduces cardiovascular mortality by up to 50%, with no compensatory increase in cancer or other modes of death. This effect has been found in a number of epidemiological studies, but the mechanism(s) for this benefit are still unknown.]

Possible mechanisms would be the monounsaturated fats, various vitamin, minerals, antioxidants, and the fiber in nuts. There is also the possibility that some unknown factor in nuts in the cause. The point is, such uncertainties is why supplements cannot replace a good diet.

That said, I would agree with your basic point, nuts (and seeds which have similar nutritional qualities) should be a part of a healthy diet. Along with long-term benefits, I personally simply feel better when I consume a few servings of nuts and seeds a day, usually about two or three, one ounce servings.

Value of Whole Grains, and Nuts and Seeds

"If you have high blood pressure, eating potassium, magnesium, and fiber from breads, cereals, and other grains may cut the risk of stroke, say researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health... Only fiber from breads, cereals, and other grains--not from fruits and vegetables--was linked to a lower risk" (Nutrition Action HealthLetter, November 1999, p. 10).

So it would seem there are benefits from the kind of fiber in whole grains that cannot be derived from the fiber in fruits and vegetables.

In addition, my local newspaper ran a story recently about a study done on the consumption of whole grains and nuts and seed in smokers. It was found that smokers who ate the most of these foods had the lowest rates of cancer. It was believed the cancer protection was from the vitamin E in these foods as those with the lowest rates of cancer had the highest blood levels of vitamin E, and vice-a-versa. However, the researchers cautioned that they were only looking at vitamin E attained from foods, not supplements.

What intrigues me about these studies is the "complaints" I see about whole grains and nuts and seeds in this Newsgroup. Some claim that grains contain natural toxins and that nuts and seeds have carcinogenic molds on them. But it would seem that in real life, the positives in these foods far outweigh any negatives.

nuts AND diet; nuts AND cancer

I did a search for "nuts AND diet" in the abstracts indexed in PubMed (which indexes Medline and other sources). I found numerous studies indicating the health benefits of eating nuts, and none showing nuts have any detrimental value. Most specifically, the studies showed a reduced risk of heart disease among persons with a high consumption of nuts ("high" generally being defined as five ounces or more a week).

Then, since I've seem so many claims about supposed carcinogenic molds on nuts in this Newsgroup, I then did a search on "nuts AND cancer." I found NO studies indicating an increased risk of cancer from nut consumption. However, I find several studies indicating a reduced risk of cancer from a high consumption of nuts. One of particular interest for me, as a male, was a study showing a decreased risk of prostrate cancer for nut eaters.

A few points to note: although none of the studies specifically said so, I am assuming peanuts were not included in these studies as they are a legume, not a nut. Also, I saw no distinction between kinds of nuts in the numerous abstracts I read. They simply said "nuts." But since nuts tend to have similar nutritive profiles, I would assume any would be good.

However, one study specifically mentioned Brazil nuts. They are by far the best dietary source of selenium. They have about 150 mcg of selenium per nut, which is about twice the RDA. So instead of taking selenium supplements, one could just eat one Brazil nut a day. However, since selenium can be toxic in large amounts (greater than 750 mcg over an extended period of time), it would be prudent not to eat more than one an average of one Brazil nut a day .

No distinction was made in the abstracts between raw vs. roasted nuts. Some people believe raw nuts are more beneficial than roasted nuts. However, using roasted and vacuumed packed nuts would eliminate any potential rancidity, especially if they're refrigerated after opening. So maybe there's a trade-off: raw might be "better" in that some nutrients are destroyed or lessened by roasting, but roasting and vacuum packing prevents rancidity.

However, several of the studies also included seeds in the studies, with similar results. And one study said soybean consumption was even more beneficial than that of nuts.

Moreover, some of the studies specifically said there was no indicated detriments to eating nuts. One even stated that nut-eaters did not tend to weigh more than non-nut eaters.

So the bottom line, the consumption of at least five ounce of nuts a week has numerous benefits, and no known risk in actual practice. This point is brought out well in the following, particularly interesting abstract (which is representative of others I found):


Am J Clin Nutr 1999 Sep;70(3 Suppl):500S-503S

Nut consumption, vegetarian diets, ischemic heart disease risk, and all-cause mortality: evidence from epidemiologic studies.

Sabate J.

Perhaps one of the most unexpected and novel findings in nutritional epidemiology in the past 5 y has been that nut consumption seems to protect against ischemic heart disease (IHD). Frequency and quantity of nut consumption have been documented to be higher in vegetarian than in nonvegetarian populations. Nuts also constitute an important part of other plant-based diets, such as Mediterranean and Asian diets.

In a large, prospective epidemiologic study of Seventh-day Adventists in California, we found that frequency of nut consumption had a substantial and highly significant inverse association with risk of myocardial infarction and death from IHD. The Iowa Women's Health Study also documented an association between nut consumption and decreased risk of IHD. The protective effect of nuts on IHD has been found in men and women and in the elderly. Importantly, nuts have similar associations in both vegetarians and nonvegetarians.

The protective effect of nut consumption on IHD is not offset by increased mortality from other causes. Moreover, frequency of nut consumption has been found to be inversely related to all-cause mortality in several population groups such as whites, blacks, and the elderly. Thus, nut consumption may not only offer protection against IHD, but also increase longevity.

Publication Types:
Review, tutorial
PMID: 10479222, UI: 99408687

This compilation of posts is continued at Various Nutrition Posts - Part Two.

Creationist Diet: Nutrition and God-given Foods According to the Bible. This book is available from the publisher AuthorHouse and from conventional and online bookstores. ISBN: 1587218526

Various Nutrition Posts - Part One. Copyright 1999 by Gary F. Zeolla.

Disclaimer: The material presented in this article is intended for educational purposes only. The author is not offering medical or legal advice. Accuracy of information is attempted but not guaranteed. Before undertaking any diet or exercise program, one should consult your doctor. The author is in no way responsible or liable for any bodily harm, physical, mental, or emotional, that results from following any of the advice in this article.

The above items were posted on this Web site November 7, 1999.

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