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Quinn on Nutrition: Readers want to know…

March 14, 2016

"Grammy! Logan’s eating the cat food!"

I don’t know how my almost two-year old grandson manages to get into things so quickly when my back is turned. I do know however, that feline food is not recommended for children. And I know that this is National Nutrition Month — the time to answer questions from readers. 

Charles from Philadelphia writes, "I work for someone who cannot touch or eat anything with garlic or he will have a terrible reaction to it. Have you heard anything regarding this?"

Dear Charles,

Although reports of severe allergic reactions to garlic are rare, it does occur. And many people who are sensitive to garlic will experience skin irritation just by touching it, say experts.

Allergic reactions have been reported for cooked as well as raw garlic. However, one study found that heat can degrade some of garlic’s offending proteins. Therefore in some people, cooked garlic may be a less potent allergen than raw garlic.

By the way, garlic is related botanically to onions, leeks, and shallots. These foods might also pose a problem for people who are sensitive to garlic.

An anonymous reader writes: I heard something about drinking water to help you lose weight. Is this true? 

It certainly can help. Besides the fact that plain water contains no calories to contribute to weight gain, a recent analysis of data from more than 18000 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that when a person increased their intake of plain water by 1 percent a day they had an associated decrease in the calories they consumed. And the saved calories results mostly from eating less sugar and saturated fat. What a deal. 

Another reader writes: "I find that my daily cup or two of tea soothes my soul. Does drinking tea give me any other health benefits?"

Indeed it may, according to new research out of John’s Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. In this observational study — one where people’s habits are compared to certain health parameters — researchers found that adults who drank a cup of tea a day were 35 percent less likely to have a heart attack. 

Tea drinkers were also less likely to have dangerous buildup of calcium in their arteries. Calcium deposits — known as the coronary calcium score — have been linked to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. 

Whether drinking tea is actually responsible for all these health benefits is still unknown, say these scientists. Other healthful habits associated with tea drinkers might also be involved. And we already know from other studies that tea contains antioxidant substances and flavonoids that are protective of our hearts. 

At any rate, there certainly is an association between drinking tea and a decreased risk for heart problems, concludes this recent study. And by the way, the type of tea associated with health benefits in this study varied from green to black.

"Grammy! Logan’s eating the crayons!"

Keep those cards and emails coming in.

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