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The public and science go ‘nuts’ over the Mediterranean diet

Last month, Health Talk highlighted the best and worst diets for 2014 as determined by U.S. News & World Report. Once again, the Mediterranean diet was among the top overall diets, coming in tied at #3. Now, a new study by the Harvard School of Public Health has added some additional fuel to the Mediterranean diet fire.

The study tracked 780 male Midwestern firefighters over the age of 18 and concluded that firefighters who closely followed the Mediterranean diet had fewer risk factors for heart disease than those who did not eat this diet.

The good news for the public is you don’t have to be a firefighter to reap the benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

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In the News: Best and worst diets for 2014

Like clockwork, many Americans are flocking to their local gyms, loading up on dietary supplements and immersing themselves with the latest diet trends in a quest to adhere to 2014 New Year’s resolutions. But which diets are the best?

According to an annual analysis by U.S. News & World Report, the DASH Diet Eating Plan or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, was named the best overall diet for the fourth year in a row. DASH was developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for people with high blood pressure and has been shown to be effective in lowering cholesterol and heart disease risk.

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Family breakfast is important, too.

It’s been said that a family dinner is important, but what about a family breakfast?

New research from the University of Minnesota has found that families who eat breakfast together may be positively influencing their teen’s food choices and weight-related health.

The latest study examined a diverse group of teens to learn about the practice of eating breakfast together as a family and connections with diet and weight status.

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Health Talk Recommends: Sugar Love (A not so sweet story)

In a fascinating National Geographic feature appearing this month, writer Rich Cohen provides a look at just how sugar grew from crop to luxury spice to dietary staple. It’s an interesting read.

Cohen profiles how, in our early history, sugar’s popularity rose as empires expanded. As our exposure to sugar increased, the demand for access fueled European expansion as national leaders sought new territories possessing cane-friendly climates. In a sense, as humanity’s exposure to sugar grew, so did our appetite for the sweet stuff.

Cohen writes:

“Sugar was the oil of its day. The more you tasted, the more you wanted. In 1700 the average Englishman consumed 4 pounds a year. In 1800 the common man ate 18 pounds of sugar. In 1870 that same sweet-toothed bloke was eating 47 pounds annually. Was he satisfied? Of course not! By 1900 he was up to 100 pounds a year. In that span of 30 years, world production of cane and beet sugar exploded from 2.8 million tons a year to 13 million plus. Today the average American consumes 77 pounds of added sugar annually, or more than 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day.”

From there, Cohen outlines how the body perceives sugar and why as our intake creeps upward, so does the danger to our body. He points out what many simply might not know: your body metabolizes glucose and fructose differently. And sadly, fructose is what gives table sugar (and most of your favorite snacks) their sweetness.

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