The Good, the Bad, and the Iffy

The Good, the Bad, and the Iffy


WHAT: Lean beef 
WHY: It can lower your blood pressure 

The heart-healthy DASH diet has always frowned upon beef intake. But a Penn State study on four DASH variations, each recommending from 0.7 to 5.4 oz lean beef daily, found that the one with the most lean-beef protein was best at lowering blood pressure. 

So, if you’re still doing cow, 90% lean (best cuts: top sirloin, T-bone, London broil, flank steak, ground sirloin) is the way to go. 

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WHAT: Perdue poultry 
WHY: It’s newly (well, nearly) antibiotic-free 

Certified organic always wins in our book, but the poultry giant is at least making an effort. This year Perdue stopped injecting unhatched eggs with antibiotics (which foster the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans). 

Some of the company’s birds still get antibiotics in feed (c’mon, Perdue!), but it’s a step in the right direction. 

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WHAT: Spinach
WHY: It combats the desire for junk food 

Compounds in spinach called thylakoids reduced the hankering for unhealthy food in 95% of participants in a study at Lund University in Sweden. 

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WHAT: Unwashed fruit 
WHY: It can trigger allergic reactions 

If you have food allergies, add antibiotic pesticides to the list of things to worry about. Chemicals used on fruits and vegetables to combat the growth of bacteria, fungi, and algae can trigger life-threatening anaphylactic reactions in those with allergies, according to a study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. 

Though reactions to antibiotic pesticides are rare, be cautious (and carry an EpiPen) if your body tends to freak out over certain foods. 

WHAT: Packaged foods listing “partially hydrogenated” anything 
WHY: Labels can legally “lie” about trans fat 

When NYC health officials analyzed labels on 4,340 packaged foods, they found that one in 10 of the products that claimed to contain “0g trans fat” actually did have trans fat (in the form of “partially hydrogenated” oils), which ups your risk for heart disease and type-2 diabetes. 

The FDA allows any food with less than 0.5g of trans fat per serving— even if it’s 0.499g—to list “0g trans fat” on the label. This means that, over time, you’re getting loads of the bad stuff. 

Next time you’ve got your paws on a package of cookies or crackers, go straight to the ingredients list—if you see the words “partially hydrogenated,” walk away from it. 

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WHY: It doesn’t cause headaches but may cause sensitivities 

Weakness, numbness, and headaches—what one 1960s scientist dubbed “Chinese restaurant syndrome”—are not linked to normal consumption of monosodium glutamate, says the American Chemical Society. 

But MSG is a sodium-added relative of L-glutamate, a natural amino, and some people are sensitive to it. If that’s you, avoid foods like soy sauce and aged cheese, says nutritional neuroscientist Kathleen Holton, Ph.D. 

WHAT: “Unearned” wine 
WHY: It doesn’t do much for your heart unless you exercise 

After two groups in a European study drank wine in moderation up to five times a week for a year, only the group that had also exercised regularly showed a significant decrease in harmful cholesterol (red and white wine were equally effective). 

No word, though, on who actually enjoyed the year most. 

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