Reading List: Organic Debate Continues, Heart-Healthy Chocolate and Tap Water Safety

by in Food News, September 18, 2009

In this week’s nutrition headlines: a study finds that organic foods are the healthier choice, new fiber-fortified products are on the market and some heart-healthy news for chocoholics.

New Study: Organic Food Healthier
The hot debate lately has been whether organic food is really any better for you than conventional. Last month, a U.K. study concluded that there’s no health difference between the two. A new French study says the opposite — that organic foods contain more minerals like iron and magnesium and have higher levels of various antioxidants. Certainly, organic farming practices are better for Mother Nature, but what do you think? Is organic food really any healthier for you personally?

Need More Fiber? Drink Water
Your morning OJ has added calcium, your milk has added vitamin D, and now you’ll find extra fiber in bottled water, juices, and those little Splenda packets. Whenever a nutrient or food becomes a hot trend, it seems like manufacturers start pumping it into packaged foods. Whatever happened to old-fashioned healthy, wholesome eating? I’d rather get my fiber from munching on a sandwich on 100% whole-wheat bread or having some oatmeal for breakfast or just snacking on fruits and veggies.

Drinking from the Tap
Speaking of bottled waters, with so many at the market these days, you can’t help but wonder if tap water is bad for you. I’ve read that New York City water is one of the best in the world (and, as a Brooklyn girl, I stand by it), but I’d like to see it in writing. Several governmental agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control, claim U.S. drinking water is safe, and folks rarely get sick drinking it. Now, you can check out the latest drinking water safety report on this EPA site. I looked up my municipality and found no safety violations for the past 10 years (yay!).

Chocoholics and Heart Health
I admit it — I’m a chocoholic. But after reading a study in this month’s The Journal of Internal Medicine, I popped another ounce of my favorite dark chocolate in my mouth. The study found that people who ate chocolate two or more times a week had a 66% less chance of dying from a heart attack. Don’t go packing yourself a plate of chocolate for lunch just yet; the study did have some weaknesses. For one, it didn’t specify which type of chocolate subjects ate (could be dark or milk chocolate). Looks like we still need more research. Bottom line: you can enjoy chocolate in a healthy, balanced diet; just don’t use it to replace your usual healthy meals and snacks.

No, Nitrites Still Aren’t Safe
Nitrites, food additives found in lunch meats, bacon and more, get linked to many bad things, but new research has knocked brain cancer off the list. That doesn’t mean nitrites are completely safe, though. In 2003, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationwide survey conducted every 10 years, zeroed in on middle-aged respondents and found that eating 14 or more servings of cured meat products a month ups one’s lung disease risk 93%! For our take on this preservative (a.k.a. sodium nitrites and sodium nitrates), check out this past post.

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