Sound Bites: A Longevity-Boosting Herb & Superpowered Produce

Our weekly column on the latest nutrition and healthy eating news

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Mixed tomatoes
By Megan O. Steintrager

An Herb That Might Boost Longevity

A strong-smelling variety of rosemary, part of a “hyperlocal twist on the Mediterranean diet,” may be one of the secrets to longevity for people in Acciaroli, Italy, The New York Times reports: “Some studies have shown that rosemary can aid brain function, and researchers think the variety grown in Acciaroli might have especially high concentrations of beneficial substances.” Not only do the people of Acciaroli live longer than average, they live better, with fewer ailments and better sex lives, the article reports. Not in a position to hop a plane to Italy right now? Try working more rosemary into your diet by adding it to chicken, beans (it’s particularly nice with white beans), and pork.

Fresh rosemary

Say (Real) Cheese

If you are a cheese lover, a new study suggests you should consider going for the tasty full-fat stuff rather than rubbery reduced fat cheeses. The 12-week study compared the LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind of cholesterol) of participants who ate full-fat cheese with those who consumed low-fat cheese. At the end of the twelve weeks, researchers found no significant differences in LDL cholesterol between the two groups. The study, which was published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was relatively small and shouldn’t be interpreted as license to go crazy with cheese, but for those of us who enjoy a sprinkling of parmigiano or a cube of cheddar—while steering clear of additives and fillers—it’s good news.

Assorted cheeses

Step Away From the Fridge With Those Tomatoes!

If you’re lucky enough to still be getting local tomatoes (here in New York, two months after summer’s end they’re still available at farmers’ markets), you should know how best to treat them when you get home. Rule number one: Don’t stick them in the fridge! New research backs up what your tastebuds probably already know: Storing tomatoes at cold temperatures “stresses the tropical fruit out, causing molecular changes that rob the tomato of its flavor,” Today.com reports, summarizing the findings of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. “When the tomatoes were stored in the fridge, at 41˚F for this study, the cold temperatures slowed the activities of genes — many of which produce the enzymes responsible for that sweet taste and grassy aroma of a just-picked tomato, which we all know and love,” the article continues. Worse: When tomatoes were brought back up to room temp, they did not recover. Read about the health benefits of tomatoes and get a recipe for pasta with fresh tomato sauce.

What’s a “Grocery Tax”?

You Might Be Surprised. “Don’t Tax Our Groceries” is the tagline of a new campaign aimed to get San Francisco, Oakland, and Albany, CA, voters to choose “no” on a ballot initiative in the upcoming elections. “But here’s the thing,” NPR reports. “There’s no grocery tax on the ballot.” What is on the ballot is a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (Proposition V). The “grocery tax” campaign is funded by the American Beverage Association, which represents soda companies, including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Critics say the “grocery tax” terminology is misleading, and it has come under fire at the San Francisco Ethics Commision, the San Francisco Examiner reports.

Produce with Superpowers

We never get tired of reporting good news about fruits and vegetables, and we have three new tasty tidbits to share, all courtesy of the Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter. First comes the news that eating colorful, high-flavonoid produce, such as berries, oranges, and peppers, can help ward off “middle age spread,” the gradual weight gain that many believe is inevitable as we get older. Second, eating plenty of produce may help prevent age-related frailty. And finally, eating more produce is one of the key steps you can take to fight off colds and the flu. Start eating more produce for dinner tonight: Roast or steam some colorful vegetables to add to Rosemary Pesto Pasta, made with full-fat cheese, of course!

Berries to prevent weight gain