Good Nutrition Advice

For a healthy body and mind

Month: August 2013

Benefits of vitamin E for ex-smokers

Pistachios are a good source of vitamin E

Pistachios are a good source of vitamin E

TAKING vitamin E in the form of gamma-tocopherol as a supplement may accelerate the health benefits in people who give up smoking, new research suggests. In the study, improvement in blood vessel function associated with the added vitamin E potentially translated into an estimated 19 percent greater drop in future risk of cardiovascular disease.

The research was presented at the annual Experimental Biology meeting in Boston. The study’s author, Richard Bruno, associate professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University said: “This is a very short-term study that shows very promising effects and the underlying rationale is that we know it takes many years before the risk for cardiovascular disease of a former smoker matches that of a non-smoker. We hope to develop a therapy to combine with smoking cessation that could accelerate the restoration of vascular function and reduce cardiovascular risk.”

Found in nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils, gamma tocopherol accounts for about 70% of the vitamin E in the North American diet. Unlike alpha tocopherol, gamma tocopherol is a potent defender against disease-provoking compounds in the body known as reactive nitrogen oxides. Furthermore, gamma tocopherol has been found to reduce inflammation, regulate factors that guard against certain cancers and activate genes involved in protecting against Alzheimer’s disease.


  • Wagner KH, Kamal-Eldin A, Elmadfa I. Gamma-tocopherol—an underestimated vitamin? Ann Nutr Metab. 2004;48(3):169-88.
  • Morris MC, Evans DA, Tangney CC, et al. Relation of the tocopherol forms to incident Alzheimer disease and to cognitive change. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Feb;81(2):508-14.
  • Rota C, Rimbach G, Minihane AM, Stoecklin E, Barella L. Dietary vitamin E modulates differential gene expression in the rat hippocampus: potential implications for its neuroprotective properties. Nutr Neurosci. 2005 Feb;8(1):21-9.

Magnesium deficiency

magnesium deficiency

Nuts contain good levels of magnesium

ACCORDING to the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey eleven percent of women and 16 percent of men are magnesium deficient. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include muscle weakness, cramps, depression and fatigue. 

Magnesium is very important as it keeps your heart rhythm steady, is vital for healthy bones and teeth, muscle function, the nervous system and the production of ATP. It also has a profound impact on our psychological health.

The figures were even worse for young people, particularly young women, with 51 per cent of girls aged between 11 and 18 thought to have an inadequate intake, compared with 28 per cent of boys.

Our modern eating habits, with their excess salt, coffee and alcohol can also lower our magnesium levels, according to a review of international research by the University of Maryland Medical Centre, as they encourage urination which in turn washes away the mineral. Consumption of low magnesium foods such as commercially prepared baked goods also contribute to deficiencies.

Make sure you include magnesium-rich foods in your diet such as dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish and beans. If you are taking magnesium supplements it is important to take it in an absorbable form and to make sure you are also getting the correct ratio of calcium.

Walnuts: omega 3 and heart disease


Walnuts contain good levels of omega 3

YES, I’m going nuts again …! This time it’s walnuts and they’re getting more good press. A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition shows that eating whole walnuts and using walnut oil as a salad dressing reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Senior author Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at Penn State, stated that although we already know that eating walnuts as part of a heart-healthy diet can lower blood cholesterol levels, we didn’t know which component of the walnut was providing this benefit. The research pointed to the alpha-linolenic acid, gamma-tocopherol and phytosterols in walnuts.

Alpha-linolenic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid found in plants. Gamma-tocopherol is a major form of vitamin E found in many plant seeds, and phytosterols are compounds found in plants that can lower cholesterol levels.

Walnuts, depression and omega 3

Walnuts contain more omega 3 than any other nut. Apart from lowering triglyceride levels, omega 3 is particularly important for the brain to function properly. Other studies have shown that eating more omega 3, either from walnuts or fish, can significantly lower depression. Many people who suffer from depression have low levels of omega 3 in their bodies. Several other studies have also linked omega 3 deficiency in children with ADHD.

The FDA has also recognised the benefits of eating nuts to control heart disease. Nuts that contain less than 4g of saturated fat per 50g include walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts and some pine nuts. A study in 2009 published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed those who ate walnuts had a significantly higher decrease in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. The study also showed that walnuts provided good levels of antioxidant protection with no adverse effects on body weight.

A handful of walnuts provide 2.5g of ALA, the plant-based source of omega 3, 4g protein, 2g fiber and 10% of the daily recommended allowance of magnesium and phosphorus.


Prostate cancer and omega-3 study

prostate cancer and omega-3 study

It’s doubtful that omega-3 causes prostate cancer

IT’S the weekend and I just wanted to clear up a few misconceptions that seem to floating around on the internet. Quite a few people have asked me about recent newspaper and online articles that have been reporting on the prostate cancer and omega-3 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggesting omega-3 fatty acids from fish and supplements increase risk of prostate cancer.

The problem with much of the research done on vitamins these days is that many of the trials are not randomized and controlled, which is exactly what happened with the prostate cancer and omega-3 study. These ‘results’ were not taken from a randomized controlled trial, but a trial that compared omega-3 levels in men with prostate cancer against healthy men. Although the men with prostate cancer had higher levels of omega-3, that is rather like comparing men with prostate cancer who play golf with healthy men who are not golf players, and then suggesting playing golf triggers prostate cancer.

It is also unclear whether those diagnosed with prostate cancer were taking supplements, or eating more fish, because previous studies showed positive effects of omega-3 on prostate cancer. In 2010, a large-scale meta-analysis of 31 studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that there was a 63 percent decrease in the risk of death from prostate cancer with high fish consumption.

In fact, numerous others studies conducted on omega-3 fatty acids by the Harvard School of Public Health classed omega-3 deficiency as a bigger killer than a high intake of trans fats. The study found that omega-3 deficient diets cause up to 96,000 preventable deaths a year in the US.   The researchers estimated the number of deaths resulting from 12 preventable causes and omega-3 deficiency ranked as the sixth highest killer of Americans.

There are also many cultures, such as the Japanese, who eat high amounts of oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids and have the lowest prostate cancer death rates in the world.

But don’t forget – the quality of your omega-3 fish oil supplements is important. With fish oils, it’s important not to just look at the amount of fish oil, which might say 1,000mg. The most important piece of information is the amount of EPA and DHA that the supplement contains should may be on the back of the label.

You’re aiming for 770mg EPA and 510mg DHA each day. The fish oil should be from natural deep-sea fish, not farmed fish and each batch screened for contaminants such as dioxins, PCBs and heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium. Nordic Naturals is one of the best, cleanest brands you can take. If you want to know where to get it, drop me an email.

Szymanski KM, Wheeler DC, Mucci LA: Fish consumption and prostate cancer risk: a review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr2010;92:1223-1233.

The Preventable Causes of Death in the United States: Comparative Risk Assessment of Dietary, Lifestyle, and Metabolic Risk Factors” stud, April 2009, PLoS Medicine.

Inflammation: five foods to beat it

Tart cherries are great anti-inflammatory foods

Tart cherries are great anti-inflammatory foods

INFLAMMATION. While the word itself sounds daunting, inflammation is actually a natural response by your body to a stressful situation. Inflammation is the first response as your immune system protects your body from infections, irritation and allergies. Even good sources of stress — such as exercise — can increase inflammation in your body.

Unfortunately the swelling, redness and pain that inflammation can cause is not always wanted and chronic inflammation can cause more serious illnesses. Help your body protect itself by adding foods that promote health, while reducing unnecessary inflammation. Here are five anti-inflammatory foods to add to your shopping list:


Want to reduce inflammation after exercise? Popeye knew what he was doing with his spinach consumption! Spinach contains antioxidants vitamin C, and E, as well as carotenoids and flavonoids — all which fight against inflammation.

Tart cherries or tart cherry juice

Tart cherries contain compounds called anthocyanins, which can block inflammation while helping to prevent muscle damage. Add tart cherry juice to your post-workout drink to gain benefits, or eat a couple as an after-dinner treat.


It’s no wonder that garlic is loved by many countries around the world — it’s rich in anti-inflammatory compounds diallyl sulfide (DAS) and thiacremonone. Just one clove of garlic offers many compounds that are known to help lower inflammation and increase circulation, such as phosphorus, selenium, zinc, polyphenols, arginine and vitamins B6 and C.

Omega-3 fatty acids

When you consume omega-3s, your body makes resolvins. Resolvins help fight inflammation by inhibiting the production and regulating the movement of inflammatory chemicals. The best source is fish. Other plant-based sources of omega-3s include flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds.

Kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha

Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha contain probiotics that help to support your immune system and fight inflammation. Probiotics help to support immune system by nourishing your good gut bacteria while crowding out of bad bacteria.

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