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Ask the Experts

Q. I’m concerned about the recent outbreaks of foodborne illness related to greens. Should...

A. Judith C. Thalheimer, RD, LDN, managing editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, answers: “Although raw produce is responsible for a large percentage of foodborne illness (food poisoning) in the U.S., millions of servings of leafy greens are eaten every day without incident. “Greens can come in contact with germs like E. coli in the […]

Q. I had an attack of diverticulitis. How should I eat to prevent another?

A. Grace Phelan, MS, RD, nutrition support coordinator at the Frances Stern Nutrition Center and clinical instructor at the Friedman School, answers: “Sometimes little pockets or pouches (called diverticula) form in the intestinal wall. This is called diverticulosis. Diverticulitis is when the pockets get inflamed or infected, which can occur when intestinal contents get stuck […]

Q. Why can’t I find vitamin C on most Nutrition Facts labels? Who decides...

A.  Judith C. Thalheimer, RD, LDN, managing editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, answers: “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods and drinks. This label is required on all packaged foods, whether they are made in the U.S. or imported from other countries. It is based […]
Omega-6 fatty acids are a healthy choice.

Q. Do omega-6 fatty acids cause inflammation?

A. Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, dean of the Friedman School and editor-in-chief of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, answers. “It has been clear for more than a decade now that intake of omega-6 fatty acids does not cause inflammation. In fact, these essential polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) are anti-inflammatory. “The primary dietary omega-6 PUFA—found in nuts, […]
This newsletter is careful to indicate when studies show cause and effect—and when they don’t.

Q. Is it possible to get the recommended number of fruit and vegetable servings...

A. Judith C. Thalheimer, RD, LDN, managing editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, answers: “Absolutely! A good rule of thumb is to go for a minimum of five servings a day. So, let’s break that down: Serving 1—Breakfast: Breakfast is a great time to slip in some fruit. Quick, easy, and delicious, fruit has […]
Unlike many sources, this newsletter is careful to indicate when studies show cause and effect—and when they don’t.

Q. This publication sometimes writes that there is “no clear evidence” about something when...

A. Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, dean of the Friedman School and editor-in-chief of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter answers: “While I cannot address your question directly unless I know the specific topics you are referring to, I can offer some general information. Often the situation you describe arises because of the nature of research and […]
Consuming nutrients from foods and beverages (including those that have been fortified or enriched) instead of supplements greatly reduces the risk of getting potentially harmful excessive amounts.

Q. How are nutrients in fortified or enriched foods different from nutrients in dietary...

A. Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSC, Gershoff professor of nutrition science and policy at the Friedman School and executive editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, answers: “Some foods are enriched to replace nutrients lost during processing (an example would be thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin added back to refined grain products). In other cases, foods are […]
Good nutrition can help prevent and treat some conditions associated with the worst COVID-19 outcomes.

Q. I know a healthy diet can help prevent some chronic diseases. Can good...

A. Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, Stanley N. Gershoff Professor of Nutrition Science and Policy at the Friedman School and executive editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, answers: “As of this writing, COVID-19 has already killed one in 500 Americans. The best way to protect yourself and everyone you come in contact with from this […]

Q. I do my best to keep up with the latest nutrition advice, but...

A. Judith C. Thalheimer, RD, LDN, managing editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, answers: “There are several factors that lead to confusion around nutrition advice. One is that nutrition science, like any other scientific disciplines, is always evolving. A more significant cause of confusion is the way this evolving research is conveyed to the […]
The health-promoting compounds in cherries are not unique, but it can’t hurt to include them in a healthy dietary pattern.

Q. I have heard that cherries are good for arthritis. Can drinking cherry juice...

A. Judith C. Thalheimer, RD, LDN, managing editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, answers: “Anecdotal evidence suggests eating cherries or drinking cherry juice may help with inflammatory conditions like gout and osteoarthritis. [For more on gout, see page 3.] So far, results of research have been mixed. “Like other dark red fruits and vegetables, […]