Category Archives: heart health

Watching your waistline takes on new meaning

heart-diseaseWhile we know that obesity elevates the risk of cardiovascular disease, we may not be aware of how a growing waistline effects health. Abdominal obesity — sometimes benignly referred to as belly fat or midriff bulge — might not appear to be a tremendous concern. Being overweight isn’t necessarily associated with obesity. But extra weight gathering in your midsection may not actually be harmless as some might think.

Sudden cardiac death, or SCD for short, occurs without warning, and is caused by a sudden unexpected loss of heart function, which rapidly reduces blood flow around the body, including to the brain. It is distinct from a heart attack, and kills around 300,000 people in the USA every year.

Obesity has long been associated with various unfavourable changes in cardiovascular health, including SCD. But researchers wanted to find out if a persistent midriff bulge may carry a greater risk of SCD than general obesity as the evidence suggests this body fat distribution may be more dangerous.

They therefore studied almost 15,000 middle aged men and women (45-64 years of age), all of whom were taking part in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study.

ARIC has been tracking the causes of artery narrowing in middle aged Americans since 1987.
All the participants (55% women; 26% African American) underwent a detailed health assessment in 1987-9, and then again in 1990-92, 1993-5, 1996-8, and 2011-13. This included measurements of weight, height, waist circumference, and the waist to hip ratio.

During the monitoring period, which averaged 12.5 years, 253 SCDs occurred. Those affected were in their mid-fifties, on average; one in three was female; and four out of 10 were of African American heritage.
Unsurprisingly, those who died suddenly tended to have a higher prevalence of known risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

They also had a higher BMI (body mass index), larger waist circumference, and a larger waist to hip ratio–an indicator of central obesity–than those who did not sustain an SCD.

The risk of SCD was associated with general obesity, but only in non-smokers. And of the measures of obesity–BMI, waist circumference, and waist to hip ratio–waist to hip ratio was the most strongly associated with SCD risk after taking account of other influential factors.
Those with the highest waist to hip ratio had double the risk of SCD of those with a normal ratio.

And unlike BMI and waist circumference, the association between waist to hip ratio was independent of existing coronary heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure and other known risk factors.

This is an observational study so no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, added to which the precise mechanisms for the association between SCD and central obesity are not known, say the researchers.

But fat around the midriff is thought to be more critical than fat stored elsewhere in the body, because of its influence on inflammation.

Even though this study is observational in nature, it certainly points to links between excess abdominal weight and heart health. FoodFacts.com wants us all to remain aware that even without the presence of technical obesity, carrying too much weight in your midsection may have detrimental health effects. Watch your waistline … not because a smaller waist measurement helps you look better, but because you’ll stay healthier longer without belly fat.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141210204626.htm

Going green can reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes (we mean your leafy greens!)

greensWe’re all trying to be green! We’re making efforts to reduce our carbon footprint, choosing brown bags over plastic, using recycled everything as much as we can. New research we found today though is encouraging us to go green with our vegetables too — to reduce risks to the environment, but to reduce risks to our health!

Three new studies reveal that a chemical called nitrate – found in green vegetables including spinach, lettuce and celery – may aid heart health and reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes.

The three studies were conducted by researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Southampton – both in the UK.

In the first study, co-led by Dr. Andrew Murray from the University of Cambridge and published in The FASEB Journal, researchers found that eating more vegetables rich in nitrate may reduce production of a hormone made by the liver and kidneys, called erythropoietin. This hormone regulates the number of red blood cells in the body.

The team explains that at high altitudes or in cardiovascular diseases, the body is subject to a shortage of oxygen. In order to get more oxygen around the body, erythropoietin increases its production of blood cells.

However, high numbers of blood cells can cause the blood to become too thick. This means that the body’s organs and tissues may be starved of oxygen because the blood is unable to flow through small blood vessels to get to them.

But the findings from the team indicate that eating more nitrate-rich vegetables could thin the blood by lowering the number of red blood cells produced, which could have important implications for health. Dr. Murray says:

“Here we show that nitrate from the diet can help regulate the delivery of oxygen to cells and tissues and its use, matching oxygen supply and demand. This ensures cells and tissues in the body have enough oxygen to function without needing to overproduce red blood cells, which can make the blood too thick and compromise health.

Lowering the blood’s thickness without compromising oxygen delivery may also help prevent blood clots, reducing the risk of a stroke or heart attack.”

In addition, the researchers note that their findings could lead to the discovery of better ways to deliver oxygen to cells, which may help the recovery of patients in intensive care units.

Dr. Murray led the second study, which was recently published in The Journal of Physiology.
In this research, the team exposed rats to high altitudes in order to trigger increased production of red blood cells.

They found that rats fed a diet with nitrate – the equivalent to humans adding slightly more green vegetables to their diets – were better protected against an array of heart and circulatory conditions than rats fed a nitrate-free diet.

This is because nitrate increases production of a compound that widens the blood vessels, according to the researchers, improving blood flow. What is more, the researchers found that nitrate protects proteins in heart cells that are crucial for heart health.

“Nitrate supplementation may thus be of benefit to individuals exposed to hypobaric hypoxia at altitude or in patients with diseases characterized by tissue hypoxia and energetic impairment, such as heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or in the critically ill,” the team says.

In the third study – published in the journal Diabetes and led by Lee Roberts from the University of Cambridge – the team found that nitrate subjects “bad” white fat cells to a process called “browning,” which converts them into beige cells.

The researchers explain that beige cells are similar to “good” brown fat cells, which burn fat in order to generate heat. Increased levels of brown fat have been associated with reduced risk of obesity and diabetes, therefore the team hypothesizes that incorporating nitrate into the diet could protect against these conditions.

Commenting on the findings of all three studies, Dr. Murray says:

“There have been a great many findings demonstrating a role for nitrate in reducing blood pressure and regulating the body’s metabolism.

These studies represent three further ways in which simple changes in the diet can modify people’s risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity as well as potentially alleviating symptoms of existing cardiovascular conditions to achieve an overall healthier life.”

FoodFacts.com wants to emphasize the idea of simple dietary changes improving health and quality of life. This particular change is especially simple. There are so many green vegetables to choose from, we can easily enjoy a few different options every day. Salads, broccoli, spinach, kale, chard, mustard greens, collard greens, cabbage … the list goes on. Greens offer variety and texture to our meals, not to mention great flavor.

So the next time you’re thinking about the benefits of going green — don’t forget the health benefits of eating green as well!

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/286515.php

Fresh fruit lovers may be reducing their risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 40%!

200472_10150133383738407_5646118_nIf you eat fresh fruit every day because you enjoy it, you may be doing something really important for your health without knowing it!

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US. Each year, 600,000 people die from heart disease and 130,000 die from stroke. But a new study finds that the risk of developing cardiovascular disease could be reduced by up to 40%, simply by eating fresh fruit every day.

The research team, led by Dr. Huaidong Du from the University of Oxford in the UK, recently presented their findings at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2014.

The results of their study came from an analysis of 451,681 individuals from five rural and five urban areas of China who were a part of the China Kadoorie Biobank – a study set up to investigate genetic and environmental causes of chronic diseases.

Dr. Du notes that numerous studies have indicated that improvements in diet and lifestyle are critical to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). But she points out that the majority of these studies have come from Western countries, with very few from China.

“China has a different pattern of CVD,” explains Dr. Du, “with stroke as the main cause compared to Western countries where ischemic heart disease is more prevalent. Previous studies have combined ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, probably due to the limited number of stroke cases in their datasets.”

She adds that given the difference in risk factors and physiology between ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, the team was particularly interested in how fruit consumption influenced the risk of these stroke subtypes.

The more fruit consumed each day, the lower the risk of CVD
Study participants had no history of CVD and were receiving no treatment for high blood pressure at baseline.

At the beginning of the study, the researchers asked the participants how much fresh fruit they ate. Fruit consumption was divided into five categories: never, monthly, 1-3 days a week, 4-6 days a week and daily.

During 7 years of follow-up, 19,300 participants developed heart disease and 19,689 had stroke, of which 14,688 were ischemic and 3,562 were hemorrhagic.

Dr. Du and her team found that participants who ate fruit every day had a 25-40% lower risk of CVD, compared with those who never ate fruit. In detail, those who ate fruit daily had a 15% lower risk of ischemic heart disease, a 25% lower risk of ischemic stroke and a 40% reduced risk of hemorrhagic stroke. Furthermore, the more fruit a person ate, the lower their risk of CVD. The average daily fruit intake was 1.5 portions (approximately 150 g).

In addition, the researchers found that participants who reported eating fruit daily had lower blood pressure at baseline, compared with those who reported never eating fruit. “We also found that the beneficial effect of fruit on the risk of CVD was independent of its impact on baseline blood pressure,” adds Dr. Du.

The team then carried out a separate analysis to see how fruit consumption affected all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in 61,000 patients who had high blood pressure or CVD at study baseline.

Overall, the researchers found that participants who ate fruit daily had a 32% lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who never ate fruit, as well as a 40% lower risk of death from stroke and a 27% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease.

Commenting on their findings, the team says:
“Our results show the benefit of eating fruit in the healthy general population and in patients with CVD and hypertension. Fruit consumption is an effective way to cut CVD risk and should not only be regarded as ‘might be useful.’

Policies are needed to promote the availability, affordability and acceptability of fresh fruit through educational and regulatory measures.”

It does seem like no one really ever complains about eating fruit. Kids love fresh fruit — apples, bananas, pears, berries, melon — all are sweet and tasty. And for adults, seasonal varieties of fruit keep our diets interesting and flavorful. Remember the old adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Worthwhile advice. FoodFacts.com hopes we all take it!

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/281903.php

Too much salt may spell heart disease for diabetics

iStock_000030596950SmallDiabetes rates have soared in recent decades. For those who suffer with the disease, dietary vigilance becomes a way of life. It’s a condition that requires constant attention in order to maintain health and well-being. Diabetes can lead to any number of serious health problems, including heart disease.

Many have come to relate diabetes with sugar. Diabetics have to be careful of sugar and carbohydrate consumption. But it’s not only sugar that raises alarms for people with diabetes. Eating a high-salt diet may double the risk of developing heart disease in people with diabetes, according to a new study from Japan.

For any person, too much salt in the diet can raise blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for developing heart disease. To assess how people with diabetes fare in relation to the salt in their diet, the researchers surveyed nearly 1,600 diabetic patients, ages 40 and 70, from across Japan. The study participants answered questions about their diets, including their sodium intake, and were followed for eight years.

Participants with the highest sodium intake (about 6,000 milligrams per day, on average) were twice as likely to develop heart disease over the study period than those with the lowest sodium intake (about 2,800 milligrams per day, on average), the researchers found. Among the 359 people with the highest sodium intake, 41 developed heart disease, compared with 23 of the 354 people with lowest sodium intake. [4 Tips for Reducing Sodium]

“To reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, it is important for people who have Type 2 diabetes to improve their blood sugar control as well as watch their diet,” study researcher Chika Horikawa, of the University of Niigata Prefecture in Japan, said in a statement.

The researchers adjusted the results for other factors that may contribute to people’s heart disease risk, such as their alcohol consumption and total calorie intake, according to the study published today (July 22) in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The findings add to the evidence that consuming less salt could help prevent dangerous complications from diabetes, the researchers said.

The negative effects of salt on blood pressure and heart health has long been established. Even for healthy, young people, dietary guidelines recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day. A limit of 1,500 mg is recommended for groups at increased risk of heart disease, including African-Americans, people older than 51, and people with high blood pressure, kidney disease or diabetes.

The average American takes in about 3,300 mg of sodium per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Main sources of salt in people’s diet include salt used in cooking and sodium naturally found in meat, vegetables and dairy, as well as processed foods, which have high levels of sodium.

People with Type 2 diabetes have high blood sugar levels, which can lead to serious health problems if left untreated, and the condition is a risk factor for heart disease. More than 29 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes, and another 86 million have high blood sugar levels and could progress to having diabetes, according to the CDC.

In the study, the researchers also found the effects of a high-sodium diet were worsened by poor blood sugar control. But they didn’t find a link between high-salt diet and other complications of diabetes, such as kidney disease or vision problems, or dying.

Sugar and salt. Sugar and salt. It seems we hear disturbing news about either or both more and more consistently. FoodFacts.com wants to remind everyone in our community that Americans consume far too much of each of them on a daily basis. And most importantly, we want to remind everyone that the bulk of the sugar and salt we are consuming does not come from the sugar bowls and salt shakers in our kitchens. Rather, they come from the copious amounts of processed foods it becomes more and more difficult for average consumers to avoid on a daily basis. This research is one more reason to be as conscious as we possibly can be about the quality and content of the foods we consume.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/07/23/high-salt-diet-may-double-diabetics-heart-disease-risk/

More news on the health benefits of fasting — it may reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease

iStock_000025452335SmallJust last week, FoodFacts.com reported on recent research linking fasting to a renewed immune system and the rejuvenation of stem cells. We were excited by those possibilities. So many people are swearing by the benefits of a three-day fast — claiming everything from weight loss to renewed energy. It was intriguing to see research support those claims.

Today, we found new research findings from the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah linking fasting to lowered rates of heart disease and diabetes.

Lead author Benjamin Horne wrote in a news release: “There are a lot of books out there recommending that people fast for two or three days a week,” he added, “but there are risks with fasting and little evidence that these diets are safe.”

The researchers reported that 10-12 hours of hunger prompts the body to initiate the search for food and the body then starts utilizing the stored amounts of bad cholesterol, LDL, which is found in fat cells of the body.

The researchers claimed that this mechanism influences people suffering from diabetes directly. Horne noted that fasting can become an important diabetes intervention in the future.

“Though we’ve studied fasting and it’s health benefits for years, we didn’t know why fasting could provide the health benefits we observed related to the risk of diabetes,” Horne noted.

The study reported that after six week of fasting, the cholesterol level decreases by around 12 percent. Horne said that since we expect that the cholesterol was used for energy during the fasting episodes and likely came from fat cells, this shows that fasting can prove an effective diabetes intervention.

We’ve actually never heard of a six-week fast and don’t actually think we’ll ever find anyone condoning such a time frame. But we continue to be fascinated by the health claims connected with fasting that are coming to light. And we look forward to more research that may help substantiate the views of so many health-conscious individual who truly feel an improved sense of well-being because of the three-day fast.

http://www.delhidailynews.com/news/Fasting-reduces-risk-of–diabetes-and-heart-disease-1402861317/

Heart failure linked to process red meat in a new study

iStock_000041301708SmallWe know is that animal fats aren’t the good fats our bodies need. And we know that red meat is best consumed in moderation and then only the leanest cuts should be considered. We’ve also learned the enormous benefits of a plant-based diet, especially for those who have experienced heart problems. With all that in mind, this new research certainly makes a great deal of sense. It concerns processed red meats — things like sausage, hot dogs and lunch meats, and its results are fairly substantial.

According to a study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure, men who consume moderate amounts of processed red meat may have an increased risk of occurrence and death from heart failure.

“Processed red meat commonly contains sodium, nitrates, phosphates and other food additives, and smoked and grilled meats also contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, all of which may contribute to the increased heart failure risk,” said Alicja Wolk, D.M.Sc., senior author of the study and professor at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. “Unprocessed meat is free from food additives and usually has a lower amount of sodium.”

The Cohort of Swedish Men study is, in fact, the first to investigate the effects of processed red meat independently from unprocessed red meat. It included 37,035 men age 45 to 79 years of age with no history of heart failure, ischemic heart disease, or cancer. Study participants finished a questionnaire on food intake and other lifestyle factors. Researchers followed them from 1998 to the date of heart failure diagnosis, death, or the end of the study in 2010.

After almost 12 years of follow-up, researchers found that heart failure was diagnosed in 2,891 men and 266 died from heart failure. Also, men who ate the most processed red meat (75 grams per day or more) had a 28 percent higher risk of heart failure compared to men who ate the least (25 grams per day or less) after adjusting for multiple lifestyle variables. The risk of heart failure or death among those who ate unprocessed red meat didn’t increase.

Results of the study for total red meat consumption are in line with findings from the Physicians’ Health Study, which found that men who ate the highest amount of red meat had a 24 percent higher risk of heart failure incidence compared to those who ate the least.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 5.1 million people in the United States have heart failure, with about half of those who develop heart failure dying within five years of diagnosis.

Processed meats are notorious for containing some specific controversial ingredients, like nitrates. They’re also too high in sodium. For years, conflicting research has been presented on links between processed meats and cancer and elevated blood pressure. So while this new link may not be surprising, the extent of the findings may well be. FoodFacts.com thinks it makes sense for consumers to be more aware of the amount of processed meats they are eating. Some items are more recognizable as processed than others. Pepperoni, salami, sausage and bacon are easy to identify. Some consumers may not realize, however, that the roast beef purchased at the deli counter is actually a processed meat. Let’s stay aware of our consumption to help protect our health.

Read more: http://www.sciencerecorder.com/news/processed-red-meat-may-hurt-your-heart-researchers-say/#ixzz34r3Wcm1t

Celebrate Valentine’s Day and National Heart Health Month!

Tomorrow as we celebrate Valentine’s Day, let’s all do our best to celebrate National Heart Health Month as well! February is the time we think about romance and flowers and, of course, our hearts. But it’s also National Heart Health Month, the time we should be thinking of taking the very best possible care of our hearts as well. So while you’re planning a special meal for your sweetheart tomorrow evening, please take good care to include the foods that will be kind to both your hearts!

It’s pretty easy to do and it can be quite delicious too.

To start your evening off, you might want to enjoy a glass of red wine together. Containing the flavanoids Catechins and reservatrol, red wine may help improve your levels of “good cholesterol.

You’ll also want to prepare a spinach salad, instead of traditional lettuce. Thanks to high levels of of lutein, folate, potassium, and fiber, spinach is a heart-healthy choice. It also makes for a more interesting salad on a special evening.

Seafood is certainly thought of by many as a food of love. And salmon is the food of the heart. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can effectively reduce blood pressure and keep clotting at bay.

Have berries for dessert! Mix it up with blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. You’ll be sharing Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids), anthocyanin (a flavonoid), ellagic acid (a polyphenol), vitamin C, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, fiber with your soulmate. It’s a great way to say “I love you.”

Oh and don’t forget the dark chocolate for an extra boost of flavanoids and some added sweetness. It’s not just a flavorful indulgence, a little dark chocolate is really good for your heart.

Make this year’s holiday of the heart a special one, not only for romance, but for your health too. While FoodFacts.com adores the flowers and the food and the music and the expressions of love, we do think that taking care of our health is not only the best gift we can give ourselves, but our sweethearts as well!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Campbell’s Soup and the American Heart Association Accused of Misleading Consumers

Heart Check Certification is given to a variety of products by the American Heart Association as a consumer guide to “heart-healthy” foods. Products have to qualify to receive the certification, so the general assumption among consumers seeing that Heart Check certification is that the product bearing the symbol is better for you than one that doesn’t.

The AHA and Campbell’s soup are being sued for misleading consumers, stating that their “Healthy Request” line of soup products are not as healthy as the Heart Check symbol is leading people to believe. In order for these products to carry the Heart Check certification, Campbell’s had to pay a fee to the AHA and meet specific nutritional criteria. The products must contain 480 milligrams of sodium or less per serving (as well as other cut off levels for saturated and trans fat, cholesterol and other nutrient criteria deemed by the AHA).

Campbell’s “Healthy Request” soups meet these criteria. Those filing the lawsuit however, claim that the AHA’s sodium cut-off is not consistent with its recommendations to limit daily sodium intake.

A single serving of Campbell’s “Healthy Request” condensed chicken noodle soup for example has 410 milligrams of sodium. That’s obviously within the AHA criteria, so what’s the problem?

The serving size.

There are actually 2.5 servings of the soup in each can. One can contains over 1,000 mg. of sodium which is over two-thirds of the 1500 milligrams the AHA recommends for daily sodium intake.

The class action lawsuit is acknowledging the fact that the typical consumer isn’t going to eat a half can of soup for lunch. They’re more likely to consume the entire can. Campbell’s and the AHA can argue that the serving size doesn’t contain the maximum of 480 mg of sodium, but consumers are ingesting much more than that whenever they eat the entire product. And that’s what makes the certification misleading. The lawsuit seeks to change the soup-can labeling and compensate those who bought the soup under false pretenses.
“This is not a food-police kind of lawsuit,” Levitt said. “The issue here is about whether a major, major food company in the United States, as well as a leading heart health organization, can lie to the American public.”

In a videotaped response, the chief science officer for the American Heart Association said the organization will fight the lawsuit. “The claim in the lawsuit is inaccurate and false and it’s not even plausible,” said Dr. Rose Marie Robertson. “Our ‘Heart Check’ mark helps consumers make smarter choices about the foods they eat. It is not deceptive or misleading.”

The AHA’s Science Officer also said the “Heart Check” criteria and AHA’s general nutritional guidance are both available to the public. In a written statement, the organization emphasizes it recommends an average of 1500 mg of sodium or less per day. And not all foods must be low sodium to fit in a heart healthy diet.

FoodFacts.com weighs in on this subject from a very definite viewpoint. We certainly think that it’s possible that many manufacturers are aware that their products are not being consumed according to the serving sizes listed on the packaging. That’s how some nutrition labels can read 0 in the Trans Fat column, even though they contain partially hydrogenated oils. And how some soups can qualify as “lower sodium” or “heart healthy” when they really aren’t. Half a cup of soup for lunch can make for one hungry human by three o’clock in the afternoon. And we’re really doubtful someone is saving the rest of the can for the next day.

We’re not sure what will happen with this class action suit. The AHA clearly states its requirements and recommendations (and these products are within those guidelines.) Campbell’s clearly states on its label that one serving (which contains 410 mg. of sodium) is half a cup. Both AHA requirements and Campbell’s labeling may, in fact, be misleading – but they aren’t lying. They’re using some tried and true sales techniques that get consumers to think something about a product that isn’t exactly a lie – and isn’t exactly the truth either. You very well could consume only 410 mg. of sodium – but you may easily consume more.

Should that kind of labeling be legal? Is it misleading? Does it deserve Heart Check Certification? FoodFacts.com thinks that there are better questions to ask like “What do certifications like Heart Check actually mean for consumers and should we trust our health to symbols that may or may not mean what we perceive?”

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/11/01/suit-campbells-heart-organization-misled-consumers-over-soup-salt-content/

Walnuts reduce health risks for overweight adults

While FoodFacts.com understands that we are far from reversing the obesity crisis and reducing the number of those who are overweight or obese globally, we try to keep up with information that may make a difference for those affected. There are many health risks associated with being overweight, mainly diabetes and heart disease. Today we found positive research regarding a simple dietary addition that may help those who are overweight avoid these difficulties.

Medical researchers from the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Connecticut have found evidence suggestive that adding walnuts to one’s diet can protect against diabetes and heart disease in at-risk individuals.

For the study, a sample of 46 adults aged 30-75 were selected. Participants had a Body Mass Index larger than 25, and a waist circumference exceeding 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women. They were also required to be non-smokers, and all exhibited one or more additional risk factors for metabolic syndrome, a precursor of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The group was randomly assigned to two 8-week sequences of either a walnut-enriched diet or a diet without walnuts. Those chosen for the walnut diet were instructed to consume 56g of shelled, unroasted English walnuts per day as a snack or with a meal.

“We know that improving diets tends to be hard, but adding a single food is easy,” explained Dr. David Katz, Director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center and lead author of the research team. “Our theory is that if a highly nutritious, satiating food like walnuts is added to the diet, there are dual benefits: the benefits of that nutrient rich addition and removal of the less nutritious foods.”

The research found that daily intake of 56g of walnuts improves endothelial function in overweight adults. The addition of walnuts to the diet does not lead to weight gain. Further study on the topic is still suggested. “The primary outcome measure was the change in flow-mediated vasodilatation (FMD) of the brachial artery,” wrote the research group. “Secondary measures included serum lipid panel, fasting glucose and insulin, Homeostasis Model Assessment-Insulin Resistance values, blood pressure, and anthropometric measures. FMD improved significantly from baseline when subjects consumed a walnut-enriched diet as compared with the control diet. Beneficial trends in systolic blood pressure reduction were seen, and maintenance of the baseline anthropometric values was also observed. Other measures were unaltered.”

FoodFacts.com knows that there are so many ways to add walnuts to your daily diet. They can be added to hot cereal for added texture and flavor. They’re great in salads for a little crunch. And they’re a great snack. Walnuts bring many health benefits for everyone. But this new research illustrates additional advantages for those who are overweight. What a simple and interesting way to help prevent serious health difficulties!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130923101947.htm

Too much of a good thing? Antioxidants and the cardiovascular benefits of exercise.

FoodFacts.com has always included information in our blog posts about the benefits of the antioxidants found in natural, fresh fruits and vegetables. There have been so many good things to tell our community about the benefits of these compounds. The antioxidant resveratrol has made news in the last year for the possibility of its anti-aging properties. It’s found in red wine, red grapes, as well as peanuts, blueberries, cranberries, dark chocolate and cocoa powder. Resveratrol has been associated with the protection of the heart and circulatory system, lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels as well as reducing the risk of certain cancers. All great news!

But now, new research at The University of Copenhagen surprisingly suggests that eating a diet rich in antioxidants may actually counteract many of the health benefits of exercise, including reduced blood pressure and cholesterol.

In contrast to earlier studies in animals in which resveratrol improved the cardiovascular benefits of exercise, this study in humans has provided surprising and strong evidence that in older men, resveratrol has the opposite effect.

While antioxidants like resveratrol have plenty of positive effects on our health, this information seems to point to the idea that some degree of oxidant stress might be necessary for the body to work correctly. So too much of this good thing might actually be detrimental to our health.

The study comes out of the University of Copenhagen. Researchers studied 27 healthy, physically inactive men who were about 65 years of age for 8 weeks. During the study period, all of the men performed high-intensity exercise training. Half of the group received 250 mg of resveratrol daily, while the other half received a placebo. The study was double-blinded so that neither the subjects nor the scientists knew which participant received the antioxidant or the placebo.

Researchers found that the exercise training undertaken by all the participants was very effective at improving their cardiovascular health. They did discover, however that resveratrol detracted from the positive effects of the training in areas including blood pressure and oxygen uptake, among others. Scientists were surprised to find that resveratrol in older men appeared to lessen the benefits of exercise on heart health. The results contract the findings from previous animal studies. The need for larger, more extensive studies on varied age groups was noted in order to confirm the results obtained. In addition, it was noted that the resveratrol supplementation provided in this study was greater than the amounts obtained through natural food sources.

FoodFacts.com looks forward to further research regarding the effects of antioxidants on our health. This is important information regarding how these compounds work in our bodies to promote our well-being. Perhaps the “too much of a good thing” concept for resveratrol and other antioxidant compounds is related to supplementation, as opposed to obtaining these compounds through natural food sources. A balanced diet, rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables can provide us with the nutrition our bodies need to remain healthy and strong throughout our lifetimes.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130722071955.htm