by Dawn B. Olcott
Information on nutrition and health
selected from a variety of publications for your enjoyment and edification.
Hit the Media
You may have read about a widely publicized
study released by Harvard Medical School last December that linked
a diet high in tomatoes with reduced risk of prostate cancer in
men. Reports on the study can be found in the April 1996 Berkeley
Wellness Letter and in a special report on prostate cancer in
the March 1996 issue of Nutrition Action by the Center for
Science in the Public Interest. The Harvard study examined whether
any of five major carotenoids (substances found in plants) were
linked to lower cancer risk as previous studies have implicated.
The study looked at alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-crytoxanthin,
lutein, and lycopene. Lycopene, the carotenoid that gives tomatoes
their color, was found to make a difference. In a survey of 48,000
men in the health care field, those who ate 10 or more servings
a week of tomato-based foods were found to have a 35% reduction
in prostate cancer. Men who ate tomatoes four to seven times a week
had a 22% reduction in prostate cancer, according to the Berkeley
Wellness Letter. Nutrition Action reported that a lower
risk for prostate cancer was found in men who ate tomato sauce even
once a week as compared to those who never ate it.
Nutrition Action specifically reported
that tomato juice was not linked to a lower risk. The lowest risk
was realized by men who ate cooked tomato sauce in some form, although
lower risk was also seen in men who ate raw tomatoes. It was speculated
that the increased benefits of cooked sauce may be because tomato
sauce is usually cooked with an oil, and a little oil is needed
to release the lycopene in tomatoes.
This subject also brings up another concern
about the "fake fat" olestra, recently approved by the
FDA for snack foods (see Harvest
Times, March 1996). Olestra reduces the absorption
of carotenoids by the body, and it has the most dramatic effect
on lycopene out of all the carotenoids. Eating olestra and tomato
sauce would cancel out the benefits of the lycopene in the tomatoes.
This is not a prescription for eating lots
of sausage pizza or other fatty tomato dishes, the scientists warn.
Low fat diets, particularly those low in saturated fats (i.e., low
in meat and full-fat dairy products like cheese) are also implicated
in lowered prostate cancer risk. One study is not proof, the health
professionals caution, but they also stress that there are many
healthful reasons to eat at least five servings a day of a variety
of fruits and vegetables, including tomato sauce.
Quinoa, used like a grain, is actually a small,
round seed that was cultivated in ancient Peru and Bolivia. It is
nutritious, quick cooking, and available in the bulk section at
Harvest. Quinoa has twice the protein of rice, barley, and corn,
and is a good source of calcium, vitamin E, phosphorus, and some
B vitamins. Rinse before cooking to remove the saponin, which gives
it a bitter taste. Combine two parts water to one part quinoa, bring
to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Use
is Publications Coordinator at Harvest.