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HEALTH REPORT - April 3, 2002: Foods and Health - 2002-04-02

Two new programs are replacing Science Report:

-- On Wednesdays, Health Report will describe new research and information about staying healthy and treating disease.

-- On Thursdays, Education Report will explore educational issues and news about teaching and learning in the United States and other countries.


This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

Experts say the food people eat greatly affects their health. They say that some foods are especially good for preventing disease.

Many foods contain substances that protect against tissue damage. One of these is tomatoes. The substance lycopene is released when tomatoes are cooked. Lycopene helps reduce the risk of developing cancer in the digestive system, which processes food.

The dark green vegetable spinach contains folic acid that prevents problems in developing fetuses. It also lowers blood levels of homocysteine. High homocysteine levels have been linked to heart attacks and strokes. Another vegetable, broccoli, can help protect against cancers of the breast, colon and stomach.

Oats help lower blood pressure and protect against heart disease. They also may improve the levels of sugar in the blood. This reduces the chance of developing the disease, diabetes.

Fish that contain omega three fatty acids help prevent blockages in the arteries. Omega three also lowers bad cholesterol and may protect brain cells from diseases like Alzheimer's. Fish that provide a lot of omega three acids are salmon, herring, mackerel and bluefish.

Garlic may help protect the heart by reducing cholesterol and making the blood less sticky. Health experts also suggest cooking with olive oil because it also has been shown to help prevent cancer and heart disease.

Studies show that drinking green tea may help prevent cancer of the liver and stomach. Green tea also slows the growth of bacteria in the mouth. Blueberries have been shown to help protect against heart disease and cancer. They can also help prevent some infections by preventing the bacteria from attacking the bladder.

Experts say the skins of red grapes contain substances that increase the good kind of cholesterol in the blood. To get this protection, you can drink red wine... but not more than a few glasses a week. Drinking too much alcohol can be dangerous!

Eating too much chocolate can increase weight. But recent studies have shown that substances in chocolate can help prevent heart attacks and cancer. They have also shown that chocolate is not as bad for the teeth as had been thought. The experts say the best chocolate to eat is the dark kind because it contains the most healthful substances.

This VOA Special English Health Report was written by Nancy Steinbach.