Encouraging Nutrition and Managing Patient Expectations

BasilFood allergies can be life-threatening, but can a diet that’s rich in certain foods increase longevity and reduce the risk of disease and inflammation? The search for “super foods” isn’t new, but recently published research in Environmental Nutrition indicates that nuts and peanuts, blueberries, and basil may have important health benefits.

According to a study by researchers from Vanderbilt University and Shanghai Cancer Institute, nut and peanut intake reduced the risk of total mortality among subjects in the U.S. by 21% and in China by 17%.  High nut and peanut consumption was also associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, regardless of race, gender, or income.

What About “Super Foods”?

Blueberries have soft skins instead of hard shells, but these edible berries are also heart-healthy. According to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, postmenopausal women who consumed a cup of blueberries a day for eight weeks experienced significant decreases (5% and 6%, respectively) in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Basil, a leafy green herb that’s usually associated with pesto instead of pain relief, also offers important health benefits. According to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, basil extract reduced swelling among arthritis patients by 73%. Research also reveals that a diet rich in basil may reduce the risk of blood clots and slow the progression of cancer.

Sometimes, patients who learn about “super foods” ask their healthcare providers for more information. As a provider, it’s important to recognize recent research – and to help patients manage their expectations. Alone, foods like nuts and peanuts, blueberries, and basil won’t prevent disease or solve health problems. But they can support lifestyles that include a variety of healthy foods along with regular exercise.

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