What is the color of your food telling you?

Written by guest blogger Anna Roe, a dietetic intern at the UK Markey Cancer Center.

Did you know the outside appearance of your food can tell you a whole lot about the nutritional benefits inside?

Specifically, a food’s color can indicate what kinds of antioxidants the food has. Antioxidants are found in produce and whole grains and can help protect the cells in your body from damage. They do this by neutralizing free radicals – chemicals that can hurt cells, damage their DNA, and play a role in the development of cancer and other health conditions.

Eating foods rich in antioxidants is a great way to improve your health. Next time you go grocery shopping, think “red, white and blue” to load up on foods packed with antioxidants.

  • Red fruits and vegetables have a compound called lycopene. Lycopene can help prevent prostate cancer and heart disease. Foods with lycopene include tomatoes, watermelon, sweet red peppers and pink grapefruit
  • White fruits and vegetables have flavonols and isothiocyanates. Both have been found to protect against prostate, colorectal, lung and breast cancer. Isothiocyanates also protect against inflammation. Foods with flavonols include grapes, onions and apples. Isothiocyanates can be found in cauliflower.
  • Blue (or purple) fruits have flavonoids, and more specifically anthocyanins (also found in red foods). Flavonoids may protect against stomach and smoking-related cancers and help prevent inflammation. Anthocyanins can also help improve eyesight. Foods with flavonoids include blueberries and blackberries. Foods with anthocyanins include eggplant and grapes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that adults eat 2-3 cups of raw or cooked vegetables and 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fresh, frozen or canned fruits each day. Remember that fruits and vegetables of all colors – including green, orange and yellow ones – are an essential part of a healthy diet.

References: National Cancer Institute


Next steps:

Join us for a free cooking demonstration on July 17

Patients, families and the public are invited to a free cooking demonstration on July 17 presented by Anna Roe, a dietetic intern at the UK Markey Cancer Center.

Make delicious snacks to take on the go!

Join us in creating delicious, portable and energy-filled snacks using ingredients ranging from peanut butter to lemon!

When: July 17, 3-5 p.m.

Where: UK Markey Cancer Center, Psych-Oncology Services, located on the third floor of the Whitney-Hendrickson Building, Room 306.

Parking is available in the Markey visitor lot next to the Whitney-Hendrickson Building, accessible via Hospital Drive.

This event is free, but please RSVP to Siddhi Shroff by calling 859-323-4769 or via email at siddhi.shroff@uky.edu.


Next steps:

  • Learn more about the UK Markey Cancer Center, Kentucky’s only NCI-designated cancer center.
  • Check out the rest of the Markey Menu blog for more cancer-related nutritional tips, recipes, and health and wellness information.

Kentucky’s summertime greens have nutritional benefits

Siddhi Shroff

Siddhi Shroff

Written by Siddhi Shroff, a registered dietitian at the UK Markey Cancer Center.

While summer may not have officially started yet, the season has begun in many ways.

Many greens are in season by the start of June. Think spinach, mustard, collard, turnip, beet greens, along with Swiss chard. But greens are more than a tasty benefit of the season. They are also rich in Vitamin A, iron, folic acid, potassium and calcium, which are all great for your overall health.

  • Vitamin A is great for vision, aids in growth and health of skin, and also helps maintain healthy teeth and tissue (soft and skeletal). It is also known as retinol for its role in pigmenting the retina in eyes.
  • Iron is needed for many reasons in our bodies. Iron is a part of hemoglobin and is needed to help make it. It also helps to carry oxygen to our lungs and the rest of our bodies, helps muscles to use oxygen, and is needed to make some hormones and connective tissue. If your body has too little iron, it can cause anemia, which is when your blood does not carry enough oxygen to the rest of the body.
  • Folic acid is one of the B vitamins required by your body. While it is especially important for pregnant women to prevent major birth defects, it is still essential to help the body make new healthy cells.
  • Potassium is an essential mineral that serves to regulate blood pressure, and it also helps nerve and muscle cells function.
  • Calcium not only helps to build strong bones and teeth, but it helps with blood clotting, muscle function, releasing hormones and regulating your heart rate.

Try this recipe to incorporate more leafy greens into your diet!

Mixed Greens, from National Cancer Institutes’s Down Home Healthy Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches mustard greens or kale.
  • 2 bunches turnip greens.
  • Pepper to taste (optional).
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste.

Directions:

  1. Rinse greens well, removing stems.
  2. In a large pot of boiling water, cook greens rapidly, covered, over medium heat for about 25 minutes or until tender.
  3. Serve with some of the pot liquor (liquid from the cooked greens).
  4. If desired, cut greens in pan with a sharp knife and kitchen fork before serving.

Nutrition Content:

Makes 8 servings. Calories: 18, Total fat: 0.1g, Saturated fat: 0g, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 1g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 153mg, Dietary fiber: 2g.


Next Steps:

4 food safety rules for cancer patients

Siddhi Shroff

Siddhi Shroff

Written by Siddhi Shroff, a registered dietitian at the UK Markey Cancer Center.

During the cancer treatment process, treatments like radiation or chemotherapy can weaken the body’s immune system by affecting the blood cells that protect against disease and germs, a condition known as neutropenia. This means that your body will not be able to fight infections as well as a healthy individual’s body would.

Because of this weakened immune system, cancer patients are at a higher risk to develop foodborne illnesses, which can caused by foods that contain harmful bacteria, parasites or viruses, also known as pathogens.

Your doctor may recommend specific food-handling practices to avoid foodborne illnesses, but you should always remember to clean, separate, cook and chill. Read more below about the four steps to follow for food safety.

1. Clean

Wash hands and surfaces often. Cleanliness is an important step toward food safety. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds after handling food, using the bathroom, changing diapers and handling pets. Cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counters should be washed with hot, soapy water after each use. We recommend using paper towels to clean these surfaces. If you do use cloth towels to clean, wash them frequently in the hot cycle. Wash your fruits and vegetables under running water, even those with skins that are not eaten. Don’t use soap, but consider using a clean produce brush for foods with firm skins. Do not wash meat, poultry or eggs, as doing so can spread bacteria and increase risk for cross-contamination of foods.

2. Separate

Separate raw meats from other foods. Use separate cutting boards and plates for produce and for meat, poultry and eggs. Whether they’re in the grocery or your fridge, be sure to keep meat, poultry and eggs separate from all other foods.

3. Cook

Cook foods to safe temperatures. Use a food thermometer to determine if your food has been cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria (This table indicates minimum cooking temperatures for a variety of food). Eggs must be cooked until the yolk and white are both firm. Foods can be microwaved, but they must be stirred in the middle of heating, then microwaved thoroughly to reach a minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Before you check the internal temperature, allow food to finish cooking by letting it sit for a few minutes after microwaving is complete. You can reheat sauces, soups and gravies by bringing them to a boil.

4. Chill

Refrigerate foods promptly. Keep your refrigerator temperature at or below 40°F and your freezer temperature at or below 0°F. Perishable foods should be refrigerated or frozen within two hours of cooking or buying. Never thaw food on the counter; instead do so in the fridge or microwave or in cold water. If your food is not thawed in a fridge, it must be cooked immediately. And be aware of when food should be thrown out this table lists safe refrigerator and freezer times for many common foods.

Make sure to ask your physician or healthcare provider to determine if you should be following these guidelines, if there are any other foods or products that you should avoid, and any other questions related to diet restrictions.

References: U.S. Department of Human Health Services, Food Safety For Cancer Patients; U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Safe Food Handling: What You Need to Know.


Next Steps:

Don’t miss our free cooking demonstration on Oct. 31

Join us for a free cooking demonstration on Oct. 31!

Patients, families and the public are all welcome to attend. Please RSVP to Siddhi Shroff by calling 859-323-4769 or via email at siddhi.shroff@uky.edu.

Italian-style risotto with Dr. John D’Orazio

Learn how to create an authentic Italian-style risotto with all-natural ingredients.

Who: Hosted by Markey Cancer Center’s Dr. John D’Orazio, a food-lover and avid cook of Italian cuisine.

When: Oct. 31, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Food Connection Kitchen located on the second floor of The 90 on the UK campus. 440 Hilltop Ave.

Parking is available in the visitor pay lot off of Hilltop Avenue. Vouchers for exit will be distributed at the event.

What you should know about the new nutrition label

Earlier this year, the USDA announced that there will be major changes to the nutrition facts label that you see on your food and groceries. The label’s new design will make it easier for consumers to read, and you will see these changes go into effect by July 2018.

So, what’s new with the label and how will it help you? Find out below.

The ‘can’t miss’ changes:

Format of label: The new label format is going to be more user-friendly and readable. In the graphic below, you can see that calories, servings per container and serving size will now be listed prominently on the label.
Updated serving sizes: In an attempt to help buyers understand how much they are consuming and maintain a balanced diet, serving sizes will now reflect how much people often eat in one sitting.
Added sugar label: For the new package, there will be a space that lists the amount of sugar that’s been added to each food. Added sugars are those that are added during food processing. While added sugars can be part of a healthy, balanced diet, consuming them in excess will make it more difficult to get enough dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals in the diet, in addition to staying within calorie limits.

nutrition label

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Other changes to consider:

Vitamin A and C: The last update to the nutrition label was in the 1990s. Back then, Americans lacked these essential nutrients. Now, vitamin A and C deficiencies have become generally rare, so manufacturers will not be required to include them on the new label. Still, they may do it voluntarily.
Vitamin D and potassium: These nutrients are being included because food consumption surveys show that Americans nationwide are not getting enough of them. Adding these to the label will help you include them in your diet! Vitamin D promotes bone health, and potassium will help to regulate blood pressure.

By 2018, you’ll see this new label on all of your foods. We hope you find it easier to use in maintaining a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle!

(Source: FDA.gov and NPR)