NZ Woman's Weekly

Why we should avoid or indulge in certain snacks and beverages

Researchers are constantly coming up with new insights into how the food and drink we consume affect our health. Here are some of their latest findings, and reasons why we should avoid or indulge in certain snacks and beverages.


Put the kettle on! Drinking four cups of tea a day can reduce the risk of a stroke by more than a fifth, according to new findings. Research into links between black tea and strokes found that having at least four cuppas a day lowered the chances of a blood clot in the brain by around 21%. But drinking any less tea didn’t seem to have any benefits. It’s thought that the protective effect is due to chemicals in tea called flavonoids.

Often shunned because it has a high saturated fat content, coconut oil appears to improve the symptoms of dementia. Researchers believe the oil works by helping the brain use glucose for energy needed to lay down new memories and think clearly. So far most of the results have been anecdotal and there have been reports of people regaining some short-term memory and being able to do tasks that had previously confounded them. Coconut oil, which is commonly used in tropical countries, was added to food and used in cooking in similar ways to other oils.

Get the man in your life to eat plenty of porridge. A study shows that oats and other high-fibre foods may prevent the progression of prostate cancer by stopping tumours from growing. US researchers looked into the part diet plays in prostate cancer and found foods high in  bre contain a compound that appears to stop blood vessels being formed in prostate cancer tumours. Without these vessels, the tumours can’t get the blood they need for energy so they don’t grow. Other good sources of fibre include grainy bread, baked potatoes in their skins, wholegrain breakfast cereals, brown rice, lentils, beans, vegetables with the skin on and fresh and dried fruits (again, eat the skin).


Some nuts are high in omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and recent research suggests pregnant women who eat too much of this type of fat are likely to have children with weight problems. Scientists found that women who consumed high levels of omega 6 – also found safflower and sunflower oil – can affect the weight of their child later in life. Walnuts, pine nuts and Brazil nuts have the highest concentrations of omega 6, while macadamias, cashews and hazelnuts have the lowest. The British researchers also found that mums-to-be who have diets high in omega 3 fatty acids were more likely to have children with less fat and more muscle mass. Oily fish such as salmon is the best source of omega 3 (but if you’re pregnant, remember to avoid smoked salmon).

Research has linked soft drinks with depression and found diet versions may make you prone to feeling down. US researchers studying the drinking habits of 265,000 people over 10 years found that those who drank more than four cans of soft drink a day were 30% more likely to have had depression than those who drank none.

Issue 1541

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