Red is the color of love on Valentine’s Day.
In Psychology, red is vibrant, exciting, and stimulating. It is associated with strong emotions and stamina and signifies power, creativity, warmth, strength, and courage.
Red is one of the festive colors of the Christmas season that we have just celebrated as we slowly emerged from the pandemic. It is the dominant color in our decorations, the clothes we wore to gatherings, family feasts, and annual pictorials.
Red is also dominant in popular and favorite food items. It is the color that we see in ham, sausages, bacon, hot dogs, and other processed meat. It is the color – aside from reddish pink or pinkish red – that nitrates and nitrites impart to processed or “cured” meat.
These chemical compounds are used to prevent the growth of bacteria like enterobacteriaceae and clostridium in pork, beef, chicken, and other meat and to prolong its shelf-life. Nitrates and nitrites also add flavor and saltiness to these foods, making us crave for more.
In the stomach, nitrates are turned into nitrites which interact with compounds in meat, leading to the formation of nitrosamines. These nitrosamines are considered as potential carcinogens and have been linked to increased risk for cancer of body organs, especially the large intestines (colon).
It is said that the link or connection still needs to be established, but medical experts say that it is prudent to minimize intake of cured or processed foods. Studies have shown that free radical damage and alterations in our DNA are involved in carcinogenesis brought about by nitrosamines.
Ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol, on the other hand, are considered as anti-oxidants that retard the formation of nitrosamines. We can get them from fresh fruits and vegetables.
There is an increasing number of overweight and obese children. A study by Nguyen et. al published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics and discussed in Medscape has shown that while consumption of 100 percent fruit juice can help meet the daily recommended requirements of essential vitamins, antioxidants, and polyphenols that can contribute to a healthy dietary pattern, there is concern that intake of 100 percent fruit juice may contribute to weight gain due to the high amount of free sugars and energy.
It was shown that a daily serving of a glass or 230 ml of 100 percent fruit juice was associated with a 0.03 to 0.15 increase in body mass index in children.
The authors stated their findings in the study are in line with the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines that children younger than six years old should consume less than a glass of fruit juice per day.
While further studies are needed to “evaluate the effect of fruit juice consumption on body weight at different intake levels and with different types of juice, the authors state that their findings “are in support of public health guidance to limit consumption of 100 percent fruit juice to prevent overweight and obesity”.