Winter 2001/2002 Nutrition Nuggets Newsletter

This article has been archived.
Please use for reference only.

The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: December 30, 2001

The Nutrition Nuggets Newsletter is brought to you quarterly by The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania Registered Dietitians, Katrina Claghorn and Ellen Sweeney. Katrina and Ellen provide nutrition counseling to The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania outpatients.

Nutrition Facts To Motivate You!!

Thinking of making some New Year resolutions about your diet and exercise habits? Keep these helpful stats in mind to inspire you:

  • Average number of times a day Americans snack: 2
  • Times out of ten that Americans snack on fruits or vegetables: 1
  • Number of times Americans are more likely to select a soda over juice: 100
  • Percent of Americans who believe eating nutritious foods is the key to staying healthy: 87
  • Percent of Americans overweight or obese: 61
  • Amount spent each year on health care due to diet-related diseases: $250 billion
  • Stats from Health magazine, November 2001

For more help and guidance with your nutrition concerns contact Cancer Center Dietitians, Katrina Claghorn and Ellen Sweeney at 215-614-0651.

Organic Fruits and Vegetables: Are they really better for you?

Many concerned consumers today are switching from conventional produce to organically grown produce in hopes of avoiding added pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals added to foods. But is it worth the extra money?

Until the new federal organic standards were released in December of 2000 (part of the USDA Organic Foods Production Act) the term 'organic' did not have a standard definition. The new regulations will ensure that foods with an 'organic' label (starting in June 2002) are grown without synthetic pesticides, genetic engineering, irradiation, sewage-sludge fertilizer, or added chemicals like sulfites, nitrates and nitrites. The standards also prohibit antibiotics in livestock and require that they eat 100% organic feed.

Despite the organic advantages, organic foods are not any more nutritious or better tasting. So the decision to buy organic foods may depend mostly on your budget. Research still tells us that the nutrition benefit of eating any type of produce outweighs any risks. Aim for 7-9 servings a day for maximum benefits!

Organic Shopping Tips

If you choose to buy organic but want to control your grocery bill costs, here is some help. The list below shows conventionally grown fruits and veggies that are most and least likely to contain pesticide residues, according to government data. If you like a food that is on the Ten Worst list, you might want to buy organic; for the 'cleanest' foods, it's probably not worth the extra cost. Also remember to wash all produce under running, warm water to remove dirt, bacteria, and residues.

Grapes (from Chile)Broccoli
Green beansCauliflower
PeachesCherries (from Chile)
Red raspberriesPineapple
SpinachSweet Peas

Source: Environmental Working Group, compiled from FDA and EPA data

Coping With Cancer Treatment:

What is Neutropenia?

Neutropenia is a common side effect of chemotherapy and immunosuppressive medications. A person can become 'neutropenic' when their white blood cells are temporarily reduced to very low levels. This low white blood cell count reduces a person's immune response and makes them more susceptible to infection. It becomes very important for neutropenic patients to practice good hygiene and food safety and sanitation practices, such as frequent hand washing and following a neutropenic or low bacteria diet. Foods that are not cooked and sanitized, such as lettuce and fresh fruits, can carry pathogens, leading to an infection. Therefore, salads and fresh fruit and other raw foods should be eliminated. A dietitian can instruct you on a low bacteria diet if it is needed, as determined by your physician.

Cancer Prevention Pantry:

Cranberries: relish the thought!

Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber, as well as a nutrient called anthocyanin. Anthocyanins are compounds that give the berry its red color. The compounds may also prevent heart disease by improving blood flow, and may reduce the risk of cancer through their antioxidant activity. Another compound in cranberries, proanthocyanidin, has been found to reduce urinary tract infections by preventing bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall.

Besides juice and sauce, dried cranberries are an easy way to sneak this fruit into your diet. They can be used instead of raisins in baking (such as in oatmeal cookies and quick breads), added to both hot and cold cereals, or tossed into salads. Of course, there is always the holiday standard: cranberry sauce.

Cranberry-Orange Relish

  • 1 medium navel orange, unpeeled, washed
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 (12 oz.) package fresh or frozen cranberries (do not thaw if frozen)
  • 2/3 cup sugar

Cut orange into eight wedges (with peel) and combine with the dried cranberries in a food processor or blender. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the fresh or frozen cranberries and sugar. Pulse until chopped evenly. Makes 3 cups.

1/2 cup serving: 155 calories, 0 gm fat, 4 gm fiber, 22 mg vitamin C

Recipe from Stealth Health: Eating Right in Spite of Yourself by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD (Penguin, 1998).

Ask The Dietitian:

What web sites do you recommend for sound nutrition information?

With an abundance of information on the Internet it is often difficult to discern good, reputable information from bad information. Here are some web sites that may help you:

  1. OncoLink: The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania web site. Nutritional and medical information related to cancer as well as supportive care strategies for cancer patients and health professionals.
  2. CancerNet: National Cancer Institute site with information on nutrition, cancer therapies, treatment effects, and much more.
  3. National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health: information on alternative and complimentary therapies and current research.
  4. Supplement Watch: comprehensive, accurate, up-to-date information and research summaries on dietary and herbal supplements.

Meet Your Dietitians

Katrina Claghorn, MS, RD
Katrina Claghorn, MS, RD is a registered dietitian at the The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania Before specializing in oncology Katrina worked in medical nutrition and with patients with eating disorders. Since 1995 she has specialized in oncology nutrition. She now works as an outpatient dietitian in her role as the nutritionist for the The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a section editor on nutrition and diet for OncoLink.
Ellen Sweeney, RD
Ellen Sweeney, RD is a registered dietitian at the The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Ellen has worked in several nutrition position, including in-patient acute care, cardiac nutrition, elderly nutrition, and clinical research. She has specialized in oncology nutrition for the past four years and currently works with outpatients at the The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania.