Tag Archives: Cancer

Is that Ham Sandwich Giving You Bowel Cancer?

Chances are you know someone who doesn’t eat meat right? Whether they are vegetarian, vegan or pescetarian, they have made the decision to cut meat out of their diet.

Lots of the world looks on these people as ‘greenies’, who are missing out on man’s greatest invention: bacon. The warnings about red meat in particular usually fall on deaf ears, because we just don’t want to give up meat.

It might finally be time to listen up though, and reconsider the amount of meat we are eating every day.

How much meat should you eat --- Science With That

What’s so bad about red meat?

First of all, red meat is all beef, pork, lamb and veal. 

A pigment found in these meats seems to damage the DNA of the cells in your digestive system. This is bad because DNA damage is one of the first signs of cancer. As well as that nasty pigment, it is also thought that burning meat and some of the preservatives used in processed meats increase risks too. 

So what are processed meats then? You ask. These are bacon, sausages, ham, pate and tinned meat, as well as preserved, salted, smoked and marinated stuff too. You might be thinking that those are the most delicious ways to eat meat, but they happen to be the most dangerous too.

The World Cancer Research Fund actually recommends you cut processed meat out of your diet completely. They say that if you have to have it, you should limit it to 70g of processed meat a week. That’s the equivalent to 3 rashers of bacon! As far as cancer research goes, processed meat is pretty bad.

Four big meta-analysis studies have found some pretty sobering facts when it comes to red and processed meat too. They found that eating 100-120g of red meat a day increased your risk of getting bowel cancer by 17-30%, that’s a fairly scary statistic! But how much meat really is that? 120g is about four slices of meat from your Sunday roast or the amount of meat you get in a doner kebab. One of those a day could increase your risk of getting bowel cancer by a third!

How much meat should you eat  Science With That

So how much red meat should I eat?

Luckily there are a bundle of scientists in America called the Scientific Advisory Commission on Nutrition who work tirelessly to figure out how much we should be eating to stay healthy and avoid the scary bad things.

They say that we should eat no more than 70g of red and processed meat a day to avoid the higher risk of getting bowel cancer. But how much is that really? That’s a piece of meat roughly the size of a deck of cards, so it isn’t huge. It’s about the same as two sausages or half of the mince on your spaghetti bolognese.

Should you ea meatt -- Science With That

Should I just cut meat out of my diet altogether?

Not necessarily, no. Being an animal lover myself I would love to tell you that eating meat is terrible and that we should all become vegetarian, but it’s just not true. We humans are omnivorous for a reason.

Meat is a great source of some pretty vital stuff like iron, zinc, B vitamins and omega-3. Meat is a good way to get these essential vitamins and minerals because they are more easily absorbed by your body this way as opposed to getting them through veges or legumes. However the thing is, it all needs to be in moderation.

You don’t need to eat much meat at all to reap these benefits. We in the Western world have become accustomed to super huge portions of meat compared to Asia and the Mediterranean, and our portions just aren’t healthy. Most government issued recommendations say that you should eat 70-100g of meat, which is a piece the size of a deck of cards, 6-7 times a week.

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Okay, so what should I aim to be eating

The American Scientific Advisory Commission on Nutrition recommends that your weekly diet consists of 2-3 servings of lean red meat, 2 servings of fish and 1-2 servings of chicken or pork. Remembering that a serving is the size of a deck of cards. It might seem like a pretty small serving, but it’s all you need to reap the health benefits of the stuff and avoid the scary bowel affecting stuff.

Should you eat meat ... Science With That

One last thing before you go!

Chances are you have been eating a little more meat than you really need. This is super good news! It means that you can save money by not having to buy as much of the stuff. There’s another option though that I think is worth considering. Now that you don’t need to buy as much meat, you can afford to get the good stuff. Choose free range meat! It tastes better, is better for you and you know that the animals were treated more humanely as they made their way to your plate.

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The Health Benefits of Pizza

 

Healthy margarita pizza

You could cook a decent sized pizza in 9 seconds if you were standing on Venus. True story. Well according to Neil deGrasse Tyson anyway.

As far as I’m concerned, pizza is deliciously angelic food from the gods. There’s something about the hot, cheesy, interactive finger food that gets my mouth watering worse than a basset hound at dinner time.

And as much as I wish we could get giant American style floppy pizzas in New Zealand, I’m really a sucker for the home made version.

Poor pizza tends to have a bit of a bad rep these days though, so I felt that it was high time someone batted on pizza’s side for once.

So today I would like to tell you about some of the good deeds pizza does for you. It really is a kind food, and although it is a little on the fatty side, it means well.

The secret is in the sauce

When you’re making a pizza, you always start with a deliciously tomatoey base paste. The thing you might not have known though is that this tomato paste is doing wonders for your health.

Tomatoes and paste

Tomatoes are high in an antioxidant compound called lycopene. Lycopene is the stuff in tomatoes that makes them red, and some studies have found it to be pretty darned fantastic. A number of studies, like this one, have found that lycopene can reduce the risk of us getting prostate cancer, yay! The racy red caroteniod has also been found to protect our skin from getting burnt! BBC even conducted their own study to test the effectiveness of this wonder compound and found that people who ate 55g of tomato paste a day were a third more protected from sunburn! That’s pretty convincing stuff.

But we eat lots of things with tomatoes right? And often the tomatoes on pizza are in paste and cooked form and not as fresh as the ones, say, in a salad, so why they hype? Well, that’s just the thing! It turns out that the more processed and cooked the tomatoes, the more of their lycopene becomes available to us. So cooked, canned, mushed up tomatoes are ideal, and that’s just what we spread all over the bases of our pizzas because it’s just so darned delicious.

Tomatoes and cheese

And there are more pros for pizza! Lycopene is fat soluble, which means that if you eat it with fatty, oily foods it is absorbed better. So the oily, stringy, outrageously scrumptious cheese that we cover our pizzas with is halping us really get the most out of this magical pigment. Who’d have thought?

But what about the base?

A group of heroic food chemists from the University of Maryland have been looking into pizza doughs. They want to use chemistry to give this popular and magnificent food a few more health benefits, such good guys right? They found that if you cook your pizza base for longer and at a higher temperature it actually increases the antioxidant content of the dough.

So, for the best possible base, go for one which is wholewheat and deep dish, because the thicker the base, the longer it will have had to have been cooked for.

Plus, pizza is helping out brain surgeons!

A bundle of scientists from Monash University in Australia are studying the art of pizza tossing to make tiny tiny brain surgery tools. They are using the forces applied in pizza tossing to design very small motors which can be used in minimally invasive neuro-microsurgery. So the humble pizza is even influencing the medical world, horay for pizza!

Admittedly, pizza isn’t the healthiest choice for your hips, but it clearly isn’t as much of a bad guy as you might think. And on that note I would like to share with you a delicious pizza recipe, because nothing beats a home made pizza. Aand thins little beauty is specially formulated for maximum health benefits, wohoo!

 

Magnificent Margarita Pizza

For the base

  • 1 1/4 cups of very warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp mixed herbs (optional)

Toppings

  • Tomato paste
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh basil

Dissolve the sugar in the water and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let this sit for about 1o minutes, until it gets all foamy and funny looking.

Stir in the olive oil and salt, and then add most of the flour gradually as you stir. When you just have a little bit of flour left, sprinkle it on the bench and knead your dough into it. Keep kneading until the flour has been absorbed and the dough is smooth. This usually takes 10-15 minutes.

Put the dough into an oiled bowl, cover it with a tea towel and let the mixture sit for about an hour. It will get way bigger, about doubling in size.

Roll your dough out into one or two bases, keeping them nice and thick so you can cook them for longer.

Add all of your toppings and bake at 220°C for about 20 minutes, or however long it takes for your base to be crisp and deliciously brown.

Enjoy!

Margarita pizza

 

Mmmmm…

 

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