Column: From the Dietitian's Notebook: Taking on arthritis and tea, pomegranates, and clutter

Q. My husband and I enjoyed your “Tired of Being Tired?” presentation. I also mentioned to you that my husband has rheumatoid arthritis, but still wants to keep drinking his coffee because he says it helps with his pain. Would drinking tea also help him?

A. I’m pleased you enjoyed my presentation. While more than 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day is hard on the adrenal glands, I understand your husband’s desire to keep his coffee. In answer to your question about tea, I recently read a feature article published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology, which evaluated an anti-inflammatory compound found in green tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), and its effects on rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Researchers concluded that EGCG is a potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. This potent molecule can effectively block the negative effects of RA, including providing reduced levels of discomfort and less ankle swelling. While both green and white forms of tea offer the highest levels of EGCG, trace amounts can also be found in apple skin, plums, onions, pecans and hazelnuts. You might suggest to your husband that he include a cup of green tea daily, along with his other beverages.

Q. Are pomegranates good for you?

A. Yes. Pomegranates are rich in natural plant chemicals known as polyphenols, which help to mitigate inflammation inside the body. They also contain anthocyanins, which are plant pigments that produce the reddish color in pomegranates, and also exert beneficial antioxidant actions. Diets high in these compounds have been linked to reduced rates of heart disease and some cancers. One study showed that pomegranate juice contains greater antioxidant activity and polyphenol content than any of the following: red wine, Concord grape juice, blueberry juice, cranberry juice, acai juice, apple juice or orange juice. Furthermore, a limited human study found that drinking pomegranate juice daily showed improvements in blood vessel health, blood pressure, and enhanced levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.

Q. My girlfriend says that keeping her kitchen clean helps her to control her eating. What do you think?

A. I fact-checked this question and found that, according to research published in the journal of Environment and Behavior, “It’s easier to spend five minutes cleaning up your kitchen than 24 hours trying to resist snacks.” Study researchers pointed out that eating healthy can be challenging; therefore, a less cluttered and less chaotic eating environment may help people to snack less and eat fewer calories. Personally, I favor the organized kitchen approach for a much simpler reason: whenever leftover foods are easily available for munching, it’s hard to resist a few bites.

Q. What is the difference between foods labeled “biodynamic” and those foods bearing an organic label?

A. These two forms of agriculture take similar approaches. For example, both make use of animal manures, composts, and avoid using chemicals. The first distinct difference is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates the term “organic,” but has no legal definition for the term “biodynamic.” Biodynamic farming – unlike organic farming - incorporates animals, crops and soil fertility as an entire ecosystem. In addition, it uses astrological planting calendars and the moon’s lunar cycles to determine when to sow seeds for potentially better harvests.

Learn more about Registered Dietitian Nutritionist/author Deralee Scanlon on her website, www.beverlyglennutrition.com, watch her monthly segments on “The Morning Scramble” and check out her new “Memory Health Class.”