Good for You? Bad for You?
By Kelly Dinardo
These foods are healthy one day, unhealthy the next. Here's the bottom
- Old news: Eating fish a few times a week can help lower heart disease risk
— by more than 30 percent, according to one large study.
- Latest news: It was widely reported that it's not the fish itself but
rather the overall healthier eating habits of fish eaters that boost heart
health, based on a new study published in the American Journal of
The real deal: This one new study doesn't disprove the
countless other studies showing that it is the omega-3 fatty acids in fish that
can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease, says Nieca Goldberg, M.D.,
author of The Women's Healthy Heart Program. Omega-3s may also boost
your mood and improve infant brain development. Goldberg recommends eating two
to three servings of fish a week (but no more than two weekly servings if
you're pregnant) to reap the benefits.
- Old news: Consuming dairy products can help you slim down. The difference
dairy makes is small, but significant — you lose about 5 percent more body fat
on a high-dairy diet, according to a University of Tennessee study.
- Latest news: Dairy has no effect on weight loss at all, according to more
recent research. These findings led the Physicians Committee for Responsible
Medicine (PCRM) — a nonprofit group that promotes ethical and effective
research — to convince the Federal Trade Commission to halt two dairy ad
campaigns touting milk's weight-loss benefits.
The real deal: This debate is mired in politics and spin:
The University of Tennessee study was funded by the dairy industry, and the
PCRM has fairly extreme views on nutrition and advocates a vegan diet (which
excludes milk, of course). But scientists do know that calcium raises levels of
calcitrol, a hormone that causes your body to store less fat, and the effect
appears greater when calcium comes from food rather than supplements. "You
still have to watch calories," says Jill Fullerton-Smith, author of The
Truth About Food. "But I need calcium, and if dairy might also help
get rid of a little extra fat, I'll keep eating low-fat yogurt while we sort
through the science."
- Old news: Keep the red wine flowing — it helps fight heart disease, cancer,
and Alzheimer's disease. The magic ingredient: anthocyanins — antioxidants
found in the grape skins used to make red wine — which prevent disease-causing
- Latest news: White wine may be as heart-healthy as red. Grape flesh — used
to make both red and white wine — contains antioxidants that are just as
powerful as those in grape skins, according to a new study.
The real deal: More research is needed, but the study does
seem sound, says Goldberg. Interestingly, other studies have shown that beer
and hard liquor have similar health benefits, indicating that it may be the
alcohol itself that's doing our bodies good. But don't use that as an excuse to
booze it up: One or two drinks a day is fine; any more than that can actually
negate the health benefits.