Reading List: Fighting the Flu, Defining Orthorexia & High Blood Pressure News

In this week’s nutrition news: Lawsuits against Cheerios claim to lower cholesterol, living in a healthier neighborhood can lower your risk of diabetes, and a new study shows eating whole grains keeps blood pressure in check.

In this week’s nutrition news: An update on Cheerios' cholesterol claims, battle the flu with healthy habits and a new study shows eating whole grains keeps blood pressure in check.

Fight the Flu with Healthy Foods

A flu shot is one way to hold off H1N1 (a.k.a. "swine flu"), but the shots haven’t reached pediatricians in my area yet. To reduce your risks and help stop the spread, experts encourage everyone to wash their hands and eat healthy. This means getting enough fruits, veggies and whole grains that contain plenty of the antioxidants vitamin A, E and C. And don’t forget exercise. Regular physical activity helps us all maintain a healthy immune system.

Orthorexia: The Overly Healthy Obsession

Orthorexia is the medical term for “health food junkies.” It refers to those who are obsessed with healthy eating and the quality of food they eat. Many will avoid eating foods such as wheat, corn, dairy, sugar, salt and gluten -- even if they have no medical need to. Orthorexics spend more than three hours a day thinking about healthy food and base their self-esteem on eating “healthy.” This, of course, can become unhealthy. Avoiding certain food groups leads to an unbalanced diet; hyper fixation can interfere with social activities and relationships and cause physical complications similar what happens with anorexia. If you think you are at risk, talk with a registered dietitian or doctor.

The Cheerios Saga Continues

A while back we told you how the FDA warned Cheerios about the cholesterol claim on their cereal boxes. Cheerios' manufacturer, General Mills is now facing five nationwide lawsuits, which a NJ court has combined into one complaint. Although the company is allowed to claim that the cereal helps lower cholesterol (it fits the FDA guidelines for that), General Mills shouldn't say how much Cheerios might lower cholesterol (their boxes claim to drop cholesterol 4% in six weeks).

Is Your Neighborhood Upping Your Diabetes Risk?
A recent study examined the benefits of living in a “healthier” neighborhood. Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 folks about how easy it is to walk in their community and if local markets carry a large selection of fruits, veggies and other low-fat foods. The results showed that neighborhoods with more opportunities for physical activity and a greater food selection had a 38% lower chance of type 2 diabetes. With the incidence of diabetes rising in the U.S., don’t you think we should make an extra effort to build sidewalks, preserve parks, support local farmers’ and urge markets carry a healthier selection? Could your neighborhood use improvement?
Whole Grains and High Blood Pressure

Eat more whole grains and you can keep your blood pressure in check, according to a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study followed more than 30,000 men between the ages of 40 and 75 for the past 18 years (the study began in 1986). The men who reportedly ate the most whole grains (about 52 grams per day) were 19% less likely than those who ate the least (about 3 grams per day) to develop high blood pressure. So when the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend half of the daily grains we eat should be whole grains, there’s a good reason behind it!

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