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Five healthy foods to add to your diet in 2017

Most of us already know we should eat more broccoli, kale and apples, and drink green tea, even if we don’t.
And each year, different natural foods take center stage as researchers find them to be plumb full of antioxidants and biochemical soldiers that can battle chronic disease.
With that as motivation, the Post-Gazette asked several noted nutritionists to choose one food they’d recommend people to eat more of in 2017.Blueberry Bailout Blueberries are one of the foods that nutrition experts say we need to eat more of in the coming year.

Choices were surprising, with three of the five having stirred debate and controversy most of this century.

So get a fork and embrace recommendations offered by Walter C. Willett of Harvard University, James L. Katz of Yale University, Neal D. Barnard of George Washington University and Sara Baer-Sinnott of Oldways in Boston.

It’s hard to believe the list doesn’t include a leafy green or even a vegetable:

1. Nuts

Dr. Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, responded quickly.

“Nuts [except doughnuts],” he said. “They are chock-full of healthy fats, minerals, vitamins and fiber. They are also satisfying, so we have less urge to search out other sources of calories, which are likely to be less healthy.”

PG graphic: Comparing foods
(Click image for larger version)

Tree nuts long have been shelled with criticism for their high fat content and resulting high calories, along with concern about the potential for life-threatening allergies. But a “meta-analysis” study published online Dec. 5 in BMC Medicine that reviewed major studies on nut nutrition concluded that nuts are overwhelmingly beneficial to human health. In fact, those who don’t eat them face a higher risk of death.

The study, involving several Harvard researchers in Dr. Willett’s department, focused on almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts, all of them tree nuts consisting of dry fruit containing a tree seed. Brazil nuts and peanuts are legumes but were included because of nutritional qualities similar to tree nuts.

Each nut is a power pill of antioxidants and nutritious compounds that protect and nourish the seed so it can grow into a healthy tree. As it turns out, what’s good for the tree trunk is good for the human one, and it takes only a handful of nuts — 28 grams a day — to experience the benefits.

Good things in nuts include high-quality vegetable protein, minerals, dietary fiber, magnesium, polyunsaturated fats, vitamin E, antioxidants and bio-active compounds, the National Center for Biotechnical Information reports.

With those nutrients in the arsenal, higher nut intake “is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality, and mortality from respiratory disease, diabetes, and infections,” the study found.

In 2013 alone, it said, “an estimated 4.4 million deaths may be attributable to a nut intake below 20 grams per day in North and South America, Europe, Asia and the Western Pacific. These findings support dietary recommendations to increase nut consumption to reduce chronic disease risk and mortality.”

2. Soybeans

Talk about controversial.

The king of beans includes 38 percent protein — a complete protein — along with a bean-load of nutrition.

Dr. Barnard, the founding president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine — a nonprofit that promotes preventive medicine — recommended consumption of more soybeans in 2017, including soy milk and tofu as “a good replacement for meat, cheese and other foods.”

“They are healthful and reduce cancer risk,” he said.

Debate has centered on soybeans’ estrogen-like compounds known as isoflavones and their impact on health. But research shows soy compounds to be beneficial for men and women alike without risking the effects of excessive estrogen in postmenopausal women, which can cause endometrial cancer, fatigue, weight gain and uterine fibroid masses.

“You know the myth that ‘soybeans have hormones that cause cancer?’” Dr. Barnard said. “The truth is just the opposite. A huge 2014 study showed that women consuming the most soy had 41 percent less risk of developing breast cancer, compared with women who neglected soy. A similar cancer-fighting benefit was seen for women previously treated for breast cancer. Tofu, soy milk, etc., cut their risk of recurrence by about 30 percent.”

Besides, soy foods have served as a staple of the Asian diet, with Asian populations historically showing longer lifespans and lower levels of chronic disease.

If you can’t bring yourself to eat tofu, you can get soybeans in other ways, including whole-bean edamame; soy-based meat, cheese, ice cream and yogurt alternatives; the high-protein fermented soy cake known as tempeh, various soy nuts and snacks; and Asian soy sauces.

3. Pasta

This may be the big surprise.

Many people don’t let a day pass without pasta, despite attendant guilt and concern about weight gain and blood-sugar spikes.

But here comes Ms. Baer-Sinnott, a Mt. Lebanon native, who says pasta is low in calories while providing complex carbohydrates that benefit health. She’s executive director of Oldways, a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization in Boston that promotes healthy eating through cultural food traditions and lifestyles.

Submitting numerous studies supporting her selection, she says wheat pasta is healthy even if not whole grain, which provides additional benefits.

“We love whole grains, of course,” she said. “It’s a great choice if you want more fiber. Pasta is a great food — whether durum wheat or whole wheat.”

Durum wheat semolina is flour that doesn’t include the wheat germ or bran. Pasta consists of the flour and water.

“Because of the way it is made (extruded through a die or rolled out), it is dense and, therefore, is digested slowly without a ‘sugar spike,’ ” common in such foods as bagels and waffles, she said. Pasta is relatively low on the Glycemic Index and “keeps you fuller for longer.” (See chart above.)

There’s an important caveat with her choice, however. What makes pasta unhealthy, she said, are high-calorie, unhealthful ingredients that people often add to it.

“Pasta isn’t eaten by itself” but rather is “a healthy partner for other healthy foods — like vegetables, olive oil, beans, tomatoes, fish, small amounts of meat and cheese,” Ms. Baer-Sinnott said. “Pasta is a great way to get kids to eat more vegetables and beans — two things all Americans need to consume more.”

4. Lentils

Lentils long have made healthful food lists, so there’s nothing new here. But, the bean with the highest nutritional credentials still isn’t a mainstay in the American diet.

Its selector, Dr. Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, said brown-bean benefits of lentils include low environmental impact, a phenomenal nutritional profile and specific protection against insulin resistance, which causes Type 2 diabetes, all due to “very high content of soluble fiber.”

“They are extremely versatile in cuisine and a good, high-protein alternative to meat,” Dr. Katz said.

His wife, Catherine Katz, who holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience, operates Cuisinicity, a website that helps people “love the food that loves them back.” She said lentils can replace flour in healthy desserts with recipes at​the-goodness-of-lentils.

5. Blueberries

Here’s another food with long-promoted nutritional benefits, which explains why the National Institutes of Health continues funding research on blueberries. Dr. Willett recommended it as a second choice of foods people should eat more of in 2017.

NIH studies say blueberries have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, with positive impacts on the aging brain and memory, and cardiovascular benefits that include lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It’s recommended that people eat a quarter cup of blueberries per day, with their taste and flavor making it a joy rather than chore.

“These blue jewels have been related to lower risks of diabetes, heart disease and failing memory, possibly due to their unique combination of phytochemicals,” Dr. Willett said.

David Templeton: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 412-263-1578.

The Besana Group is glad to present the now logo of its chocolate factory.


Vittoria Chocolatery, already since the 80’s, has been specializing in high quality chocolate creations, enriched with nuts, dried fruit, berries, raisins, etc.

The production plant in Ogliastro Cilento (in the South of the Campania region) represents a marriage between tradition and innovation. The site is managed by Vittoria Calcagni and processes over 1,000 tonnes annually, creating dragees, Easter eggs, tablets, bars and much more. The factory is accredited by the most important international certifications (BRC, IFS, UTZ) and for organic productions (ICEA).


This new logo is the result of a deep evaluation and takes inspirations from the cacao pod where one of the beans is replaced by a heart, symbolizing the love and passion in Vittoria’s and here staff’s engagement in their daily activity. (98% of employees are women.)


And it is Vittoria Calcagni herself explaining that the red heart is a caress representing the love of women at work. And going back to her childhood she identifies in that small piece of chocolate had from time to time from mum or nun, the beginning of that positive energy which lead her to a strong marketing plan and now allows the imminent enlargement of the range in all sections, including the launch of a new ‘Vittoria Choc’ line.






Milan, 7th November 2016
V.Besana S.p.A. and Noberasco S.p.A. are pleased to announce that they have entered into a new Strategic Alliance.....

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Smart Snacking: 6 of the Healthiest Nuts You Can Eat


From Health & Fitness CheatSheet…


Evie Carrick


They may come in small, unassuming packages, but nuts are nutritional powerhouses. Every bite-size morsel is packed with heart-healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. And then there’s the protein. When you’re trying to build muscle, boost your energy, and curb unhealthy cravings, you’ve been programmed to increase your protein intake. When you want something packed with protein you may initially think of a juicy, cheese-laden burger or an extra serving of bacon with your eggs, but there are cleaner, healthier ways to get your fill of protein. A handful of nuts not only curbs hunger and may help you beat cravings for complex carbs and sugar, but it’s portable and requires no cooking time. What’s not to love?

Each nut provides the body with a little something different. To keep it easy, we’ve compiled a list of the healthiest nuts available so you can pick and choose your favorites.

1. Almonds

Almonds are one of the healthiest snacks you can choose | Source: iStock

If you’re looking for a low-calorie option, almonds are where it’s at. These popular nuts contain 160 calories per ounce and provide you with 6 grams of protein. Unlike getting protein from animal products, almonds help lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. They’re packed with biotin, vitamin E, fiber, and vitamin B2. Other lower calorie nuts include cashews, and pistachios. If you want to keep the calories minimal avoid any roasted nuts and opt for the raw or dry options instead.



2. Walnuts

Walnuts are the nuts to choose if you want to decrease your chances of getting life threatening conditions like heart disease and cancer. On top of that, walnuts ward against premature aging. How, you may ask? These wonder nuts contain the most antioxidants of all nuts, which help protect your body from cellular damage. In addition, the mighty walnut is the richest in omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation. Grab a small handful or 14 halves for an easy 185-calorie boost of energy.

3. Peanuts

Container of roasted peanuts | Source: iStock

This go-to snack is one of the most affordable and easy to find nuts out there. They can be found in gas stations, at the ballpark, and in bulk at your grocery store. There’s no question that they beat other grab-and-go snacks when it comes to nutrition, especially in their natural, unsalted form. Regardless of how you enjoy them, peanuts are a great energy food as they’re high in protein and dietary fiber. About 35 dry roasted peanuts without salt provide you with 166 calories, 6.7 grams of protein, and 2.3 grams of fiber. Peanuts are full of antioxidants and can actually reduce your chances of stroke as they increase your natural production of nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels.


4. Pecans

When you think of this nuts, you may automatically think of those gooey pecan pies you know you should avoid over the holidays, but this nut in its natural state may be your heart’s best friend. Pecans are full of plant sterols, which are valuable compounds that effectively lower cholesterol levels. The antioxidants they contain prevent plaque buildup in your arteries and they’re rich in oleic acid, a healthy fat. When you need a mid-afternoon energy boost pecans are the nut you should reach for. They fight fatigue with vitamin B3.

5. Pistachios

Pistachios in the shell | Source: iStock

In addition to being one of the nuts that contains low levels of calories and fat, pistachios are an excellent source of vitamin B6 (the ultimate mood booster), copper, and manganese. Some studies show that pistachios may play a vital role in heart health, weight management, and longevity. Eat these nuts in their shell to slow down your snacking pace and keep track of how many you’ve consumed.


6. Brazil nuts

While this nut may not be as common as others, Brazil nuts are the perfect choice for men as they’re packed with selenium, a mineral that may protect against prostate cancer among other diseases. Just one powerful nut contains more than a day’s worth of selenium, so don’t go crazy and eat and entire bag. Once ounce of Brazil nuts (approximately 6 nuts) contains 190 calories and 4 grams of fat.


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