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Monday, October 17, 2011

"A" is For Antioxidant, Apples and Alcohol Part I of 2

Welcome to my latest series called Alphabetical Cancer Prevention Tips. Each week, I will be researching my topics before handing over what I find, saving you a lot of time and effort on your road to a healthier, hopefully more cancer-free you.

Over the next two weeks, we will be looking at Antioxidants, Apples and Alcohol.


We've all heard the buzz word "antioxidant." Until a year ago, I figured antioxidants had something to do with cancer prevention, but I didn't know much else.

Let me shock you right off the bat. Question: Do antioxidants prevent cancers?
Answer: According to recent studies, no they do not!

Read on:

According to Wikipedia, "An antioxidant is a molecule capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons or hydrogen from a substance to an oxidizing agent. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals. In turn, these radicals can start chain reactions. When the chain reaction occurs in a cell, it can cause damage or death to the cell.  Antioxidants terminate these chain reactions by removing free radical intermediates, and inhibit other oxidation reactions. They do this by being oxidized themselves, so antioxidants are often reducing agents such as thiolsascorbic acid, or polyphenols.[1]

But then it goes on to say, "People who eat fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of heart disease and some neurological diseases,[165] and there is evidence that some types of vegetables, and fruits in general, protect against some cancers.[166] Since fruits and vegetables happen to be good sources of antioxidants, this suggested that antioxidants might prevent some types of diseases. This idea has been tested in clinical trials and does not seem to be true, as antioxidant supplements have no clear effect on the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.[165][167] This suggests that these health benefits come from other substances in fruits and vegetables (possibly flavonoids), or come from a complex mix of substances.[168][169]

This really sent me for a loop. I kept Googling and researching and found the same conclusion on other sites.
Okay, so there is no proof that antioxidants prevent cancer, BUT at the same time antioxidants reduce the chances of a cancer starting. It's also saying there is something in fresh fruits and vegetables that can hold cancers at bay. Funny that most of the fruits and vegetables they recommend for this happen to be high in antioxidant properties? So it's a circle.

At the least, it would be safe to say that anti-oxidants are responsible for curbing or correcting a chance of getting cancer.  I'm going to keep putting the fresh fruits and vegis high on my list. I really think the reason my cancers were so small is from the ground flax seeds and fresh blueberries and healthy foods I was already eating. So, maybe taking the Green tea extract supplement won't stop a recurrence, but it can slow it down and put up a good fight against any cancers trying to grow. Maybe that alone will be enough to save my life when I need it most.

From now on, I'll  concentrate on eating the actual top five list of natural antioxidant rich substances like berries, broccoli, garlic,natural  green tea and tomatoes.

The way I see it, you can't go wrong.
 I don't think there really is such a thing as a BAD fresh fruit or vegetable. Just some are better than others if we're talking optimal health benefits. Think colourful- bright greens (Kale and spinach) and oranges (sweet potatoes and carrots), reds(strawberries and red peppers) and bright purples (blueberries and red grapes)

 So, antioxidants are an important part of over-all health and who knows. Wait long enough and there will be more evidence to "dispute the dispute" putting antioxidants  back on the cancer prevention list.

Which takes us to "A" for Apple.

It was while in a doctor's waiting room that I first read about the 4 Fruit A Day Diet.
Most of us will always have at least a few pounds to lose. The easiest way to do that is to eat less calories and get more exercise. Yeah, yeah, you say. Easier said than done.
What gets in our way is the craving for more food or for a certain food, usually something we shouldn't have too much of like ice cream, cookies,chocolates,  fill-in-the-blank!
Our vices, they are called.

 The best way I find to combat a craving is to keep full with things I can have.

Try eating four fruits a day. It's not as easy as it sounds. Canada's Food Guide recommends adult women aged 19-50 should eat a mix of 7-8 fruits and vegetables a day  (females over 51 only  need 7).

Add to that your recommended 8 x 8ounce glasses of water a day and you're getting full. Figure in your breakfast oatmeal and your sandwich at lunch, your  10 almonds  for a snack at 3 pm, the salad, vegis and protein dinner and you won't have any room left for the bad stuff. Okay, maybe a little non-fat Source dessert that has been sweetened with Sucralose or a few sugar-free, no-fat cookies (try my No NO NO Brownie or Cookie recipes at

Everyone deserves a treat day after dropping a few pounds. The key is to only have one cheat "meal" or at the most one "cheat day." Depends on how fast you want to lose weight.

You've heard the phrase "an apple a day keeps the doctor away..."
Well, it could also keep the weight away! Try the 3-Apple-A-Day diet where you eat an apple before every meal. Apples, especially Red Delicious are handy antioxidants, especially if you eat the skin. Munching on one right before a meal will help curb your appetite, making you less likely to over-eat. I always feel like I already had dessert when I eat an apple before a meal.
It's a winning strategy. See below for more on this easy-to-follow diet.

So, happy fruit and vegi eating to you all! Don't forget to wash these well with vinegar and rinse with water first. (More about that when we get to "T" for Toxins.)
We'll see you next Monday with "A" is for Alcohol.

3-Apple-a-Day diet gets thumbs-up

Last updated: Thursday, January 29, 2009Print

I'm usually sceptical when I hear about a new 'magic' diet plan. Most instant fat-loss diets involve some or other instruction to either cut down on kilojoules so drastically that you starve in the process, or to cut out one or more food groups, which makes the diet unbalanced.
However, I recently came across the 3-Apple-a-Day diet. For once, the approach seems sensible, balanced and effective.
This diet was conceived by Tammi Flynn, an American dietician. Tammi has a master's degree in Nutrition Science from the prestigious Texas A&M University. Her credentials are, therefore, excellent and imbued me with confidence that her diet and advice would be balanced. I wasn't disappointed.
How does the diet work?
Tammi discovered that when dieters eat an apple before every meal, they start losing weight effectively. She has written a book, 'The 3-Apple-a-Day Plan' (click on link at bottom of story to order from delivery takes around 10 working days).
The basic principles of Tammi's 3-Apple-a-Day diet are as follows:
  • Eat an apple before every main meal (apples are rich in dietary fibre and will make you feel fuller so that you eat less at each meal).
  • Eat four to five times a day (research has shown that using a 'nibbler' eating pattern encourages weight loss to a greater extent than 'gorging' on three large meals a day, provided that you only nibble on healthy, low-fat foods).
  • Eat low-fat protein at each meal or snack (protein has a high satiation value and a low GI which makes you feel fuller for longer. Eating low-fat proteins will prevent the high energy intake associated with eating high-fat proteins).
  • Eat nine fruits and vegetables a day (these are low in energy, high in fibre and bursting with protective nutrients). If you eat three apples a day plus six other servings of fruit and vegetables, you will automatically cut down on energy intake and not get hungry.
  • Drink water with every meal (it's a good idea to increase your water intake, but don't have more than four glasses of water a day in addition to your other liquid intake, or it may lead to electrolyte imbalances).
  • Eat only high-fibre, unprocessed, unsifted carbohydrates (these carbs push up your fibre intake, thus 'diluting' the energy content of the diet).
  • Have low-fat dairy products every day. Foods such as low-fat or fat-free milk, yoghurt and cottage cheese are excellent for dieters because they have a low energy content, a low GI, a high calcium content (which is associated with weight loss) and a high protein content (which promotes satiation).
  • Cut down on alcohol intake. Alcohol is high in 'empty kilojoules'. Each gram of alcohol adds 29kJ to your daily energy intake and is a fuel that is not used by the muscles. In addition, alcohol can reduce your metabolism and boost your appetite for fatty foods.
  • Do regular, daily aerobic exercise to promote weight loss and improve your general well-being.
Why apples?
Why should apples be eaten before every meal? Tammi provides the following rationale:
  • A medium-sized apple only contains 250 to 420kJ, just a trace of fat and no sodium.
  • In Tammi's experience, eating an apple before each main meal promoted weight loss – even in recalcitrant ('stubborn') cases.
  • Apples contain up to 5g of dietary fibre, which fills you up and reduces how much you will eat at the subsequent meal.
  • Apples contain protective nutrients (antioxidants, vitamins and minerals) which improve health and may even protect against age-related brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
  • The dietary fibre found in apples, namely pectin, has been shown to lower 'bad' LDL cholesterol and increase 'good' HDL cholesterol.
  • The flavonoids and other phytochemicals in apples may protect against cancer of the liver and colon.
  • The tannins in apples exert a protective effect on tooth decay, gum disease and urinary infections.
  • Apples are a good source of folic acid, which research has shown can prevent neural tube defects and protect against cancer. Eating three apples a day when pregnant will not only help you to control your weight gain, but also contribute to preventing birth defects in your unborn child.
As a fellow dietician, I must say that I find Tammi Flynn's 3-Apple-a-Day diet and nutritional advice both sensible and encouraging.
Combine it with daily aerobic exercise (skipping, jogging, running, cycling, spinning, dancing or swimming) for 30 minutes or more a day. With minimum effort, you should start losing weight.
So, eating not one, but three apples a day, not only keeps the doctor away, but also improves weight loss.
(Dr I.V. van Heerden, Health24, updated January 2009)