Using Hot Sauce Is a Really Easy Way to Improve Your Diet, Say Experts

If you’re the type of person who breaks out the hot sauce at the start of every single meal, congratulations – you’re really onto something there.

A slew of studies over the past few years have been piecing together evidence that capsaicin – an active component of chili peppers – promotes a higher turnover of cells in the body, which could explain why eating spicy foods has been linked to a reduced risk of mortality and slowed cancer development.

“The bottom line is that any kind of vegetable material you consume will improve your health,” nutrition expert David Popovich from Massey University in New Zealand told TIME magazine back in 2015.

“But hot peppers are really beneficial for you, if you can take the spice.”

Popovich has been investigating the mechanism by which capsaicin appears to slow the growth of cancer cells in the lab.

Back in 2006, researchers discovered that high doses of capsaicin could slow the growth of prostate cancer cells in mice by up to 80 percent, while leaving the healthy cells alone, and in 2015, a separate team demonstrated for the first time how this spicy compound binds to cancer cells and triggers changes in their internal structure.

It’s not yet known exactly how capsaicin is interacting with cancer cells to slow their growth, but scientists have observed it binding to the outer membrane and lodging itself in, which appears to trigger chemical changes in the surface of the cell.

“If you add enough of it, it actually causes the membranes to come apart,” Fiona MacDonald reported for us at the time.

Popovich has observed the slowed growth of cancer cells in his own lab, and told Mandy Oaklander from TIME that the most popular hypothesis to explain what’s going on here is that the capsaicin is promoting a process known as apoptosis – programmed cell death that leads to a higher turnover of cells.

It’s basically regulated cell suicide in the interest of cleaning up cells that are no longer needed.

“That’s one of the ways scientists think capsaicin and other active compounds in vegetables can prevent cancer development: by stimulating apoptotic cell death,” says Popovich.

While some researchers are investigating the potential of incorporating a concentrated form of capsaicin into a new anti-cancer drug, José de Jesús Ornelas-Paz from the Research Centre for Food and Development in Mexico told Oaklander the real benefits appear to come from the whole chili pepper – not just that one active ingredient. 

“Pungent peppers are a cocktail of bioactive compounds,” he said.

“Blending, cutting and cooking improve the release of [these compounds] from pepper tissue, increasing the amount available for absorption.” 

According to Ornelas-Paz, because capsaicin is a fat-soluable compound, you should definitely try pairing it with a bit of fat or oil to help your body absorb it (which isn’t exactly difficult, unless you only like eating raw vegetables with your hot sauce).

As with many things to do with our diet, scientists still have to figure out the exact mechanism by which capsaicin could be altering our cells, but there’s enough evidence out there to suggest that it’s doing something beneficial.

In another 2015 study, a team from Harvard University assessed the health of almost half a million Chinese adults, and found that those who ate spicy food six or seven times a week had a 14 percent lower mortality risk than those who seldom ate it.

So apply that spicy condiment with abandon until you’re blinded by the salty tears of too much hot sauce sweet, sweet vindication. You might look ridiculous, but at least you know you’ve got science on your side.


Taking a look at the year in nutrition

As always, it was a good-news, bad-news year in nutrition, this one marked by controversial study findings, sombre obesity statistics, updated food regulations and encouraging news stories.

Many of the stories that made headlines (and the ones that didn’t) offered takeaways that can help us improve our diets in 2018 and beyond. Here are five big issues that I paid attention to, and why you should, too.

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This fall, Health Canada announced that as of Sept. 15, 2018, it will be illegal for manufacturers to add partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fats, to food products. This is probably the most important change to our food supply in decades.

There is no safe level of trans fat in the diet; any amount of intake is believed to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. A steady intake of trans fat is also associated with a greater risk of Type 2 diabetes.

To avoid trans fats January through August, 2018, read labels. Choose foods with zero grams of trans fat. Avoid products that list partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, hydrogenated oil or shortening as an ingredient. (Partially hydrogenated oils are often listed as hydrogenated oils.)

Saturated fat controversy continues

It was a back and forth year for saturated fat, the type found in fatty meats and dairy products. In April, three cardiologists published a headline-grabbing editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine debunking the idea that saturated fat clogs arteries.

Then, in June, the American Heart Association (AHA) released an advisory report to clear up the confusion surrounding the link between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. After an analysis of the scientific evidence, the AHA’s review refuted the notion that saturated fats are not tied to heart risk.

Reducing saturated fat and replacing it with unsaturated fats (found in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, olives, avocado) was shown to benefit heart health. So was replacing saturated fats in the diet with whole grains.

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My advice for 2018? Watch your saturated fat intake, but don’t forget about the rest of your diet. The best-studied diets for cardiovascular health emphasize fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils, nuts and unsaturated oils and limit refined carbohydrates and red meat.

Childhood obesity at all-time high

In October, a comprehensive study published in the Lancet revealed that the number of obese kids, between the ages of 5 to 19, worldwide has skyrocketed tenfold over the past 40 years.

A contributing factor to childhood obesity: a sedentary lifestyle. A fact that, last month, prompted Canadian experts in exercise physiology and obesity and the non-profit group ParticipAction to release 24-hour movement guidelines for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

Recommendations for stronger, fitter, healthier kids include tummy time for babies and at least one hour of “energetic” play spread throughout the day for one-to-four-year-olds.

To help foster lifelong healthy eating, get your kids in the kitchen more often. Have them help you plan and prepare nutritious meals.

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Kids who cook are more likely to eat a wider variety foods. Plus, cooking with your child provides an opportunity to talk about health and healthy ingredients.

Gluten-free diet’s nutrition questioned

This year, scientists warned against following a gluten-free diet if you don’t have a medical reason to do so.

In March, findings from a large observational study suggested that eating a low-gluten diet increased the odds of developing Type 2 diabetes, presumably because it’s lacking in fibre.

Two months later, European research showed that, compared to gluten-containing products (e.g., breakfast cereals, breads, pasta, cookies), gluten-free alternatives were usually more calorie-dense, higher in fat and lower in protein.

Whether you avoid gluten for health reasons or simply because you prefer to do so, replace gluten-containing foods with alternatives that deliver fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Include gluten-free whole grains such brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, sorghum, millet and teff in your daily diet. Sweet potato, beans and lentils also deliver fibre-rich, gluten-free carbohydrates.

Plant protein popularity soars

It was a good year for protein, especially plant protein. A growing number of consumers decided to eat less animal protein for health reasons combined with environmental concerns, which fuelled the growth of plant protein in 2017.

This translated to more protein-rich plant foods on grocery store shelves, from Ripple’s plant-based milks (made from yellow peas) to Catelli Protein pasta (made from fava beans). Expect to see a continued rise in plant-based offerings next year.

Diets that include more plants are tied to protection from heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and certain cancers. Plant foods such as beans and lentils, edamame, tofu, nuts and seeds deliver protein along with fibre, vitamins, minerals and countless phytochemicals.

In 2018, aim to include at least five plant-based meals (breakfast, lunch and/or dinner) in your diet each week.

Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private-practice dietitian, is director of Food and Nutrition at Medcan.


56 Different Names for Sugar

It can seem like nutrition experts are constantly disagreeing with each other—or coming out with new information that contradicts what they’ve said previously. But recently, several top names in the food industry came together at the James Beard Foundation Food Conference to make one thing clear: They all agree we should be eating a whole lot less sugar.   Click the link to the source story and
take a look at all the NAMES for Sugar…It’s Everywhere!

Source: 56 Different Names for Sugar