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Fat-free, high in sugar...
Vitamin & Minerals
Pesticides in fruits and vegetables
Drug Interaction
Soy and soy supplements: cautionary note

Fat-free, high in sugar...

Some of us think we've found salvation in "fat-free" - it's everywhere in the supermarket now. But beware of foods high in sugar, which is often the case in fat-free baked products as well as frozen desserts. According to the American Heart Association, they diminish appetite and opportunity to eat more healthful foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In addition, a diet high in simple carbohydrates may have deleterious effects on blood fat levels.

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Vitamin & Minerals

Recent medical reports suggest that proper vitamin E intake makes an important contribution to your health. We’ve reviewed a number of health reports and here is a summary of their findings.
One study at TUFTS University suggested that people 65 and older fare better healthwise with an intake of 200 units of vitamin E daily. A second study, at Columbia University, indicated that people with moderately advanced Alzheimer's might experience delay in progression of the disease with substantial doses of vitamin E. If a member of your family is in this situation, consult your doctor for advice and suggested dosage.
The Harvard Health Letter quotes two studies suggesting that people who take vitamin E supplements have a reduced risk of hearth disease. Another suggested that foods containing vitamin E, rather than supplements, lowered the risk of death from hearth disease.
They conclude that the case is growing stronger for vitamin E supplements but urge that you consult your physician before embarking on such a course. There are some conditions, such as retinis pigmentosa which may worsen with vitamin E - or some medications you may be taking such as blood-thinners which could be altered in their effect.

Beta carotene, hailed not so long ago as a preventive nutrient, has been shown in several recent studies to offer no protection against cardiovascular disease. in fact, two studies found an increased risk of lung cancer in smokers who took beta carotene.

Niacin may be helpful in reducing cholesterol but doses needed are at level of medication, not vitamin - with potentially serious side effects. Definitely consult your doctor before using supplements.

National Institute of Health is considering increasing required daily allowance of vitamin C from 60 mg to 200 mg. Most Americans consume much less than 200 mg. Five servings of fruits and veggies will provide it.

Be wary of taking more than the daily recommended value of zinc. Studies are contradictory regarding its effects on immune system in older people - and large doses can interfere with the metabolism of other essential minerals. Excess zinc can lower "good cholesterol" levels.

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Pesticides in fruits and vegetables

The Environmental Working Group in Washington has published a list of 12 fruits and vegetables containing the highest levels of pesticides, according to its calculations. Unfortunately, some of the most nutritious ranked as those containing the most pesticides. Strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, peaches, Mexican cantaloupe, celery, apples, apricots, green beans, Chilean grapes and cucumbers - in that order. Suggested substitutes include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, oranges, grapefruits, U.S. cantaloupe, kiwi and watermelon; green peas, broccoli, romaine lettuce; brussel sprouts, asparagus; nectarines, tangerines, carrots, radishes, pears, bananas, cauliflower, potatoes, United States grapes (May to December). Of course, though the cost is considerably higher, you can look for organically grown fruits and vegetables, free of pesticide, and eat what you will.

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Drug Interaction

We find Worst Pills Best Pills, published by the Public Citizen, an important contribution to raising health-consciousness. It evaluates interactions associated with frequently prescribed drugs and alerts you to potentially dangerous ones. To mention pairs of drugs (used at the same time)that they report "can injure or kill you" - Seldane & Erythromycin; Mevacor& Lopid; Coumadin & Tagamet; Prozac & Dilantin; Calan & Duraquin; Theo-dur & Tagamet; Halcion & Erythromycin; Lanoxin (Digoxin) &Calan; Eldepryl & Norpramin; Tagamet & Dilantin. They go on to point out that "All of these pairs of drugs have clinically important and dangerous adverse interactions. If you are using any pair, contact your physician to find out what you should do. Any decision to stop using any of these drugs should be made in conjunction with a physician."
The newsletter reports findings on new drugs which might help you to decide whether they are worth switching from those which you now use- in terms of effects and cost. They point out that sometimes it takes years for drug interactions to be recognized and add- "always remain vigilant and ask your doctor and pharmacist about drug interactions when you are given a new prescription." For subscriptions, write to:
Public Citizen; 1600 20th Street, N.W. Washington, D.C.20009

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