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A Handful of Walnuts a Day May Help Lower Cholesterol: Study

Relaxnews    Published Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Results of a study published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care showed that adding walnuts to the daily diet of those at high risk of developing diabetes lowered cholesterol and improved blood vessel cell wall function while also boosting overall quality of diet.

Researchers followed 31 women and 81 men, all varying in age between 25 and 75, and all at a high risk of developing diabetes. Participants were in two groups, with one group following a calorie-controlled diet complete with dietary advice, while the other group followed a diet with no calorie control or advice. Randomly selected participants were chosen from both groups and instructed to include 56g (2 oz) of walnuts in their diet on a daily basis, with the rest of the particpants completely avoiding walnuts for a period of 6 months.

At the end of the study participants who had been eating walnuts showed a significant decrease in both ‘bad’ and total cholesterol, as well as an improvement in blood vessel cell wall function, key for allowing oxygen and carbon dioxide to pass between the blood and body tissues. However, improved cholesterol levels were also seen in the group avoiding nuts, possibly due to the placebo effect, according to the team.

While results across both groups showed no improvement in blood pressure, blood glucose, or ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, researchers did conclude that the quality of participants’ diets improved overall in the walnut-eating group, with a healthier diet associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

walnuts
Just a handful of walnuts a day
can lower cholesterol and improve the quality of your diet.

 

Too much of a good thing?

The health benefits from walnuts can be attributed to them being a rich source of essential fatty acids as well as a good source of important vitamins and minerals such as folate and vitamin E. However like other nuts, walnuts are high in calories and experts have cautioned against eating the snack to excess so as not to increase weight. Results of this study also cautioned against excessive walnut consumption, as those that consumed nuts without any calorie control showed a significant increase in body fat. However when consumed more moderately and with calorie restriction, waist circumferance decreased.

The team suggested that further studies in more diverse groups of people were in order.
Meanwhile a study published last week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, partly funded by The International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation, found that tree nuts such as walnuts may help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. After looking at the results from 61 controlled trials, with walnuts investigated in 21 of the 61 trials, researchers concluded that consuming walnuts and tree nuts in general lowers total cholesterol, a key factor when assessing a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.


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Trans fat ban proposal in U.S. may affect Canadians

Move could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 heart-related deaths in U.S. CBC News      Posted: Nov 07, 2013      Last Updated: Nov 08, 2013  Canadians could benefit under a U.S. proposal to require the food industry to gradually phase out trans fats, says a consumer advocate who wants Health Canada to follow the FDA’s lead. 

On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration proposed banning artificial trans fat in processed food, saying the elimination could prevent  20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 heart-related deaths each year in the U.S.

Manufacturers use trans fats to extend shelf life. Consuming trans fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease, the FDA says.

The U.S. regulator is proposing to make partially hydrogenated oils, the main dietary source of trans fats in processed foods, an additive that could not be used in food unless authorized.

“According to records we obtained, their [Health Canada’s] own scientists told them they could prevent 1,000 deaths a year and save between a quarter and almost half a billion dollars a year by making regulations to get trans fat out of the food supply,” Bill Jeffery, national co-ordinator for the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, said in an interview.

“We hope that this minister will now take the science seriously.”

Jeffery said it’s hard to say what the implications of the U.S. proposal will be for Canadians.

“It may be that U.S. food manufacturers [who] export to Canada will just export a safer product with less trans fat in it, or maybe they’ll see Canada as a market to dump their foods and maybe we’ll end up with more trans fat coming across the border.

The documents that Jeffery’s group obtained last year showed the federal government planned to limit the trans fat content of vegetable oils and soft, spreadable margarines to two per cent of the total fat content and all other foods to five per cent.

  The announcement was never made.

It seems like when Health Canada hears evidence from experts, including their own, “it helps them decide what not to do,” Jeffery said.

Food & Consumer Products  of Canada, which represents the food, beverage and consumer products industry, said it aware of the FDA proposal.

“Canada once had the highest levels of trans-fat consumption in the world,” Susan Abel, the group’s vice-president of safety and compliance, said in a statement to CBC News.

“Today, the majority of Canada’s food supply is trans-fat-free and Canadians have access to thousands of reformulated products. In fact, according to Health Canada’s own monitoring program, 80 per cent of the pre-packaged foods have reached the voluntary target reduction goals.”

“Health Canada is pleased with this progress and continues to encourage industry to reduce the trans fat levels in their foods as low as possible while not increasing saturated fats,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

After the 2015 Canadian Community Health Survey on nutrient intakes, Health Canada said it will assess contributing factors to determine what may need to change.

The FDA said trans fats can still be found in some processed foods, such as:

  • Crackers, cookies, cakes, frozen pies and other baked goods.
  • Microwave popcorn products.
  • Frozen pizza.
  • Vegetable shortenings and stick margarines.
  • Coffee creamers.
  • Refrigerated dough products (such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls).
  • Ready-to-use frostings.

Canada’s limited approach to regulating synthetic trans fats has led to confusion, said Laurie Pinhorn, a nutritionist in the St John’s area. 

Foods that contain small amounts of partially hydrogenated oils, such as in some peanut butters, are often labelled as trans-fat free. Psychologically, products labelled trans-fat free gain a “halo effect,” and people think they can consume more, Pinhorn said.

During a 60-day public comment period, the FDA is seeking comments, such as how the move would impact small businesses.

Natural trans fats are found in meat and milk from ruminant animals.

With files from The Associated Press, CBC’s Melanie Glanz and Vik Adhopia

source: www.cbc.ca


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Chia Seeds – The Miracle Food

Posted By admin On Sunday, September 29, 2013  

Salvia hispanica, commonly known as Chia, is a blooming plant that belongs to the family Lamiaceae ( mint ).

It is believed to have originated in southern Mexico and Central America, where the seed played an important role in the diet of the Mayans and Aztecs .

Chia Seeds Nutrition Facts

Nowadays, the popularity of chia seeds grows due to its high nutritional value. Chia seed is a balanced blend of protein, carbohydrates, fat and fiber.

Chia contains 5 times more calcium than milk, three times more iron than spinach, 3 times more antioxidants than blueberries  and 2 times more potassium than bananas.

In addition to that, chia seed is the richest source of essential fatty acids such as omega -3 and omega – 6.

By adding just two tablespoons of chia seeds into your daily diet you will provide about 7 grams of the recommended daily dose of fiber, 4 grams of proteins, 5 grams of omega -3 fatty acids, 18 % of the recommended daily dose of calcium, 35 % phosphorus, 24 % of magnesium, and 50 % of manganese.


Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

As partof the healthy diet regime, Chia seeds can help encouraging the immune and reproductive system, preventing cardiovascular disease by reducing cholesterol, triglycerides and high blood pressure.

A study done at the hospital St.Mihail in Toronto showed that participants who regularly ate chia seeds have a significant reduction of the blood pressure. Chia seeds can help patients with diabetes to utilize insulin more efficiently.

Eating Chia before meals reduces appetite, gives a feeling of satiety, increases the level of energy, which is the main reason why the seed is so popular for people who try to lose weight.

Incorporating chia seeds into your diet (on a regular basis), helps not only your physical health but your mental health as well. Studies show that chia seeds help patients with bipolar disorder and also in reducing depression and other negative feelings.

Chia seeds doesn’t have taste, but if you combine it with other food products you will get not only delicious, but also a visual delight.

It can be consumed raw or sprinkled on smoothie or juice, cereal, rice, yogurt or vegetables.

Here is one healthy and natural energy Chia drink that you must try!

Chia Fresca

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 fresh lemon (squeezed) or lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of chia seeds
  • healthy sweetener to taste

Mix well the lemonade and the stevia, add chia seeds and stir nicely. Then allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes. Chia seeds will absorb the water and become jelly-like.
Relax and enjoy ! 


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10 reasons to take spirulina every day

by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer    Sunday, October 27, 2013

(NaturalNews) We talk a lot about “superfoods” here at NaturalNews because there are literally thousands of nutrient-dense superfood options from which to choose, all of which contain a unique array of disease-fighting vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and other healing components. But the one superfood that stands out among the rest – and the one that you should be taking every single day for your health – is spirulina, a special type of blue-green algae that is loaded with chlorophyll and a host of other life-giving nutrients.

Spirulina is particularly rich in 1) infection-fighting proteins that have been scientifically shown to increase the production of disease-combating antibodies within the body. Since spirulina is composed of nearly 70 percent protein, the highest among all other foods, it is particularly effective at boosting the production of macrophages, a type of white blood cell that fights and prevents infection. (http://www.inspiredliving.com/greenfoods/a~spirulina-immunity.htm)

A 2005 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that spirulina helps 2) inhibit allergic reactions as well, particularly among those suffering from allergic rhinitis. It turns out that regularly taking high doses of spirulina can help allergy sufferers experience dramatic improvements in their allergy symptoms. (http://www.naturalnews.com)

As far as blood health is concerned, spirulina has been shown to be an effective 3) treatment for anemia. In his book Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, author Paul Pitchford explains how spirulina and numerous other forms of micro-algae effectively boost production of red blood cells, particularly when taken in combination with vitamin B12. (http://www.naturalnews.com/027213_spirulina_anemia.html)

Rich in both phycocyanin and chlorophyll, spirulina is also a powerful 4) blood purifier. Not only do these two important nutrients promote blood cell growth, but they also rejuvenate the existing blood supply. Chlorophyll in particular is nearly identical to hemoglobin, the molecule responsible for cleansing the blood and transporting oxygen to cells. (http://www.drmirkin.com/nutrition/N246.html)

Because it contains all eight essential amino acids and 10 other non-essential amino acids, the antioxidants beta carotene and zeaxanthin, B complex vitamins; dozens of trace minerals, the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid, pathogen-targeting proteins, and beneficial probiotic bacteria, spirulina is also unmatched in its ability to 5) boost the immune system. (http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/spirulina-000327.htm)

These same nutrients also help to 6) detoxify the cells and body of heavy metals and other toxins. A powerful chelating agent, spirulina tends to reach deep into bodily tissues and root out toxins like mercury, radiation, arsenic, cadmium, pesticides, synthetic food chemicals, and environmental carcinogens. Spirulina also assists in the transport of essential nutrients across the blood-brain barrier to replace the voids left by these toxins. (http://www.supremeorganicdetox.com/formula7.html)


A 1988 study out of Japan and several others have found that spirulina helps to 7) lower cholesterol levels and mitigate the underlying inflammation problems that cause cholesterol to accumulate in the bloodstream. Supplementing with spirulina daily effectively reduces blood serum levels of cholesterol, which means cholesterol is being deposited throughout the body where it needs to be rather than in arterial walls where it can cause cardiovascular problems.

Overweight or obese individuals trying to lose weight may also derive benefit from spirulina’s ability to 8) promote weight loss. Not only can supplementing with spirulina help you shed the extra pounds, but it may also assist in the growth and development of lean muscle mass, particularly because of its extremely high ratio of bioavailable protein.

Many people who supplement with spirulina tend to notice dramatic improvements in mental health and cognitive acuity. Because it contains exceptionally high levels of the L-tryptophan, an amino acid that produces the brain neurotransmitters melatonin and serotonin, spirulina is an unprecedented 9) brain chemistry balancer that can help improve mood, boost memory, and promote feelings of calm and happiness. (http://bodyecology.com/articles/boost-mood.php#.UEZDakRpyKw)

Spirulina’s diverse array of antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and cleansing nutrients also helps to 10) nurture healthy skin and hair. By targeting the detrimental factors that contribute to hair loss, saggy skin, and other side-effects of aging, spirulina can help rejuvenate your body’s largest organ from the inside out. Topical spirulina creams can also help tone and improve skin health.

To experience the maximum benefits of spirulina, it may be necessary for some people to consume as many as several grams or more per day of this nutrient-dense superfood. Just be sure to purchase only reputable brands of spirulina such as Cyanotech’s Nutrex-Hawaii Spirulina Pacifica, which is cultivated and harvested in such a way as to avoid contamination with toxic microcystins.

Sources for this article include:
http://www.naturalnews.com/023853_marine_phytoplankton_microalgae.html

www.naturalnews.com


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Surprising Facts About Cinnamon

Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati   September 8, 2013

Cinnamon has long been enjoyed both as a culinary spice and natural medicine.

Health benefits of Cinnamon:

Nutritional: 

Anti-Clotting: Cinnamaldehyde (a volatile/essential) oil in cinnamon may help stop blood from clotting unnecessarily. According to whfoods.com, cinnamon accomplishes this, “by inhibiting the release of an inflammatory fatty acid called arachidonic acid from platelet membranes and reducing the formation of an inflammatory messaging molecule called thromboxane A2.)”

This same property (inhibiting the release of arachidonic acid) makes cinnamon a natural anti-inflammatory.

Anti-Microbial: The essential oils in cinnamon are also “anti-microbial” and have been shown to stop many types of fungal and bacterial growth.

“Cinnamon’s antimicrobial properties are so effective that recent research demonstrates this spice can be used as an alternative to traditional food preservatives.” – whfoods.com

Blood Sugar Control: Cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant and also may help to control blood sugar on many levels, which helps

  • slow the rate at which the stomach empties after meals.
  • improve insulin response in people with Type 2 Diabetes.

As little as one gram of cinnamon a day has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol, in individuals with diabetes. According to whfoods.com, cinnamon will help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 disease.


Boosts Brain Function: Smelling the scent of cinnamon can boost brain activity.

In research reported by whfoods.com, cinnamon “enhanced study participants’ cognitive processing,” with the following activities:

  •      Tasks related to attentional processes
  •      Virtual recognition memory
  •      Working memory
  •      Visual-motor speed while working on a computer-based program

Improved colon health and protection against heart disease:

Cinnamon is an excellent source of fiber, calcium and certain minerals, such as manganese.

Calcium and fiber combine to help remove bile salts from the body, which helps to protect the colon and reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Through this process, cholesterol levels may be lowered, helping prevent atherosclerosis and heart disease.

The fiber in cinnamon may also provide relief from constipation or diarrhea.

Warming Effects:

Cinnamon has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, for its warming properties, such as during a cold or flu.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnamon
– Whfoods.com


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Pets a Boon for the Human Heart, Cardiologists Say

American Heart Association cites stress-busting, dog-walking benefits of companion animals
WebMD News from HealthDay   By Robert Preidt   HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) – That four-legged friend of yours may be more than a companion – he also may be boosting your heart health, experts say.

An official statement released Thursday by the American Heart Association says there is evidence that having a pet, particularly a dog, may lower your risk of heart disease.

Cardiology specialists weren’t all that surprised.

“Pets really might be man’s best friend,” said Barbara George, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Lifestyle Medicine at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.

“Studies have shown people who own pets, particularly dogs, have lower blood pressure, increased mood-related brain chemicals, better cholesterol numbers, lower weight and improved stress response,” George said.

Members of the American Heart Association (AHA) committee that wrote the statement reviewed data from an array of relevant studies. They found that pet ownership appears to be associated with a reduction in heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels and obesity – and improved survival among people with heart disease.


Dog ownership in particular may help reduce heart risk, the statement said. People with dogs may get more exercise because they take their dogs for walks. A study of more than 5,200 adults found that dog owners did more walking and physical activity than those who didn’t own dogs, and that dog owners were 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity.

“Walking your dog is a healthy chore; it is a great way to exercise without thinking about it,” said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, clinical associate professor in the department of medicine at the Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. “Pet owners increase their physical activity simply by walking their dogs.”

Pets can also have a positive effect on the body’s reactions to stress, according to the AHA. George agreed, saying pets can be “a tool for weight loss, socialization, calming our nerves and easing anxiety and depression.”

The AHA stressed, however, that the studies they reviewed cannot prove that owning a pet directly reduces heart disease risk.

“It may be simply that healthier people are the ones that have pets, not that having a pet actually leads to or causes reduction in cardiovascular risk,” statement committee chairman Dr. Glenn Levine, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said in an AHA news release.

“There probably is an association between pet ownership and decreased cardiovascular risk,” he said. “What’s less clear is whether the act of adopting or acquiring a pet could lead to a reduction in cardiovascular risk in those with pre-existing disease. Further research, including better quality studies, is needed to more definitively answer this question.”

In the meantime, George said, humans can benefit from the mental and physical rewards of furry companions. “Pets tug at our heartstrings,” she said. “But they also improve our health – both mental and physical – helping us to live longer and happier lives.”

The AHA statement was published online May 9 in the journal Circulation.

source: webmd.com   HealthDay


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Pour on the olive oil: Big study finds Mediterranean-style diet cuts heart attack, stroke risk

MARILYNN MARCHIONE / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS    FEBRUARY 25, 2013

Pour on the olive oil, preferably over fish and vegetables: One of the longest and most scientific tests of a Mediterranean diet suggests this style of eating can cut the chance of suffering heart-related problems, especially strokes, in older people at high risk of them.

The study lasted five years and involved about 7,500 people in Spain. Those who ate Mediterranean-style with lots of olive oil or nuts had a 30 per cent lower risk of major cardiovascular problems compared to those who were told to follow a low-fat diet but who in reality, didn’t cut fat very much. Mediterranean meant lots of fruit, fish, chicken, beans, tomato sauce, salads, and wine and little baked goods and pastries.

Mediterranean diets have long been touted as heart-healthy, but that’s based on observational studies that can’t prove the point. The new research is much stronger because people were assigned diets to follow for a long time and carefully monitored. Doctors even did lab tests to verify that the Mediterranean diet folks were consuming more olive oil or nuts as recommended.

Most of these people were taking medicines for high cholesterol and blood pressure, and researchers did not alter those proven treatments, said one study leader, Dr. Ramon Estruch of Hospital Clinic in Barcelona.

But as a first step to prevent heart problems, “we think diet is better than a drug” because it has few if any side effects, Estruch said. “Diet works.”

Results were published online Monday by the New England Journal of Medicine and were discussed at a nutrition conference in Loma Linda, Calif.

People in the study were not given rigid menus or calorie goals because weight loss was not the aim. That could be why they found the “diets” easy to stick with — only about 7 per cent dropped out within two years. There were twice as many dropouts in the low-fat group than among those eating Mediterranean-style.

Researchers also provided the nuts and olive oil, so it didn’t cost participants anything to use these relatively pricey ingredients. The type of oil may have mattered — they used extra-virgin olive oil, which is minimally processed and richer than regular or light olive oil in the chemicals and nutrients that earlier studies have suggested are beneficial.

The study involved people ages 55 to 80, just over half of them women. All were free of heart disease at the start but were at high risk for it because of health problems — half had diabetes and most were overweight and had high cholesterol and blood pressure.

They were assigned to one of three groups: Two followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with either extra-virgin olive oil (4 tablespoons a day) or with walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds (a fistful a day). The third group was urged to eat a low-fat diet heavy on bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, fruits, vegetables and fish and light on baked goods, nuts, oils and red meat.


Independent monitors stopped the study after nearly five years when they saw fewer problems in the two groups on Mediterranean diets.

Doctors tracked a composite of heart attacks, strokes or heart-related deaths. There were 96 of these in the Mediterranean-olive oil group, 83 in the Mediterranean-nut group and 109 in the low-fat group.

Looked at individually, stroke was the only problem where type of diet made a big difference. Diet had no effect on death rates overall.

The Mediterranean diet proved better even though its followers ate about 200 calories more per day than the low-fat group did. The study leaders now are analyzing how each of the diets affected weight gain or loss and body mass index.

The Spanish government’s health research agency initiated and paid for the study, and foods were supplied by olive oil and nut producers in Spain and the California Walnut Commission. Many of the authors have extensive financial ties to food, wine and other industry groups but said the sponsors had no role in designing the study or analyzing and reporting its results.

Rachel Johnson, a University of Vermont professor who heads the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee, said the study is very strong because of the lab tests to verify oil and nut consumption and because researchers tracked actual heart attacks, strokes and deaths — not just changes in risk factors such as high cholesterol.

“At the end of the day, what we care about is whether or not disease develops,” she said. “It’s an important study.”

Rena Wing, a weight-loss expert at Brown University, noted that researchers provided the oil and nuts, and said “it’s not clear if people could get the same results from self-designed Mediterranean diets” — or if Americans would stick to them more than Europeans who are used to such foods.

Dr. George Bray of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., said he would give the study “a positive — even glowing — comment” and called it “the best and certainly one of the largest prospective dietary trials ever done.”

“The data are sufficiently strong to convince me to move my dietary pattern closer to the Mediterranean Diet that they outline,” he added.

Another independent expert also praised the study as evidence diet can lower heart risks.

“The risk reduction is close to that achieved with statins,” cholesterol-lowering drugs, said Dr. Robert Eckel, a diet and heart disease expert at the University of Colorado.

“But this study was not carried out or intended to compare diet to statins or blood pressure medicines,” he warned. “I don’t think people should think now they can quit taking their medicines.”

source:

 


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It’s Not Just the Fat: There’s Another Way Red Meat May Harm the Heart

By Alexandra Sifferlin   April 08, 2013

Eating Red, Processed Meat Raises Your Risk of Early Death

Saturated fat? Cholesterol? Sure, red meat has plenty of those, but it also contains a compound that toys with gut bacteria and can lead to clogged arteries.

When it comes to explaining exactly why steaks and hamburgers and other red meats can be so harmful to the heart, the saturated fat that the body breaks down and sequesters in blood vessel walls where they can form dangerous plaques is an easy and obvious culprit. But the high rates of heart disease in the developed world suggest that these fats may not be working alone, say a group of researchers from the Cleveland Clinic who study how microbes and bacteria in our gut influence heart disease.

Our gut is full of bacteria — good strains that don’t cause disease — and recent studies show that these microbes can have a significant impact on our health, affecting our propensity for obesity, asthma, inflammatory diseases and even cancer. Not surprisingly, what we eat can influence which populations of bacteria are more common at any given time, so the researchers of the new study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, focused on how these gut microbes responded to a diet that included meat. Specifically, they looked at a compound called carnitine, which is abundant in meats like beef, lamb, duck and pork, but is also a popular dietary supplement in energy drinks.

In previous work on mice, the scientists found that gut bacteria can transform choline, a vitamin-B-group nutrient, from the diet into a compound called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) that transports cholesterol to arteries where it forms potentially heart-stopping plaques. Carnitine, it turns out, is structurally similar to choline, so the researchers set out to document whether carnitine is metabolized by human gut bacteria in a similar way to gum up heart vessels and cause atherosclerosis.


To better understand the relationship between carnitine and TMAO, the researchers conducted a series of experiments with meat eaters and a vegan willing to consume meat for the sake of the study. In the first phase, they documented the boost in TMAO produced after the meat-eating volunteers ate an 8-oz. steak and downed a capsule that would attach to and label the carnitine for easy detection. Consuming high amounts of carnitine from the steak was only associated with a higher level of TMAO in the blood of the five meat eaters, however, and not in the vegan who hadn’t consumed meat in at least a year. That suggests that eating meat can promote larger numbers of bacteria that break down carnitine into TMAO, thus generating more heart-harming cholesterol and establishing a cycle of damage to the heart.

This was confirmed when the researchers then looked at the levels of TMAO and carnitine in the blood of 2,595 patients undergoing heart-disease evaluations who were either omnivores, vegans or vegetarians. Meat eaters tended to harbor higher levels of carnitine and had a higher risk of heart disease, stroke or heart attack compared with the vegans or vegetarians. The bacteria in the gut, then, are heavily influenced by long-term-diet patterns, adding another layer to the understanding of how food can affect our risk for developing certain diseases. “A diet high in carnitine actually shifts our gut microbe composition to those that like carnitine, making meat eaters even more susceptible to forming TMAO and its artery-clogging effects. Meanwhile, vegans and vegetarians have a significantly reduced capacity to synthesize TMAO from carnitine, which may explain the cardiovascular health benefits of these diets,” said study leader Dr. Stanley Hazen, of the Cleveland Clinic, in a statement.

In fact, when the meat eaters were given antibiotics for a week to cull some of the intestinal bacteria, levels of TMAO dropped significantly. That finding hints that it may be possible to control some of the heart-harming effects of red meat by suppressing certain populations of bacteria in the gut, although more studies need to be done to confirm exactly which bacterial populations are responsible for breaking down carnitine, and how direct the association between carnitine and TMAO is.

And then there are questions about carnitine supplements. Some energy drinks contain the compound, which is often added to rev up metabolism and increase energy, but if it also promotes the growth of bacteria that contribute to atherosclerosis, then people consuming energy drinks may not be aware that these products may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

The findings certainly set the stage for more detailed studies on how red meat may contribute to heart disease, but in the meantime, it’s probably not necessary to entirely cut out red meat from your diet. Hazen’s own strategy should serve as a model: once a meat eater who enjoyed about 12 oz. several times a week, he told the New York Times that he now limits himself to eating 4 to 6 oz. once every two weeks. Moderation, it seems, is the best approach until more information becomes available.

source: Time


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9 Reasons to Love Lentils

Diana Herrington  May 18, 2011

One of the Top 5 Healthiest Foods On The Planet…
as selected by Health Magazine.

Lentils are good for so many parts of your life: your body, your blood, your pocketbook, your taste buds, and even the environment.

Most recipes with lentils are gluten-free and sugar-free.

9 Big Benefits of these Tiny Beans

1. Low Cost:

Just 20-30 cents will you buy one cup of lentils which can supply 1/3 of the daily protein requirement for a 150-pound adult, plus a truckload of other nutrients.

2. High Protein: 

Lentils have the highest level of protein by weight of any plant-based food.

3. High Nutrition:

Lentils are the mightiest of the beans. If beans are good for you, then lentils — the smallest of the beans — are GREAT for you. In general the smaller the seed, the more nutrition a food has by weight or volume.

4. Low in Fat and Sodium

5. Most Alkaline of all Protein Sources

6. Easy to Digest and Cook:

Compared to many other beans they are much faster to cook and easier to digest. This is why they have been the mainstay of many cultures for centuries.


7. Healthy For the Soil and Environment:

Lentils increase nitrogen and other essential nutrient to the soil during growth. They require less moisture than most crops and prevent soil erosion. By eating lentils you are helping the earth and the environment!

8. High in Cholesterol-Lowering Fiber (both soluble and insoluble):

Numerous studies have shown high levels of fiber are associated with decreased degenerative diseases. In one study that examined food intake of 16,000 middle-aged men, researchers found that legumes were associated with a whopping 82 percent reduction in risk of death from coronary heart disease!

9. Tasty:

Some lentils, like brown lentils grown in North America, are so tasty that all you have to do is boil them and add a bit of salt. Other lentils are more bland so a bit of spice is needed. This is the dahl of many eastern countries. Either way, if you are interested in healthy cooking and have ever considered reducing meat consumption, it definitely worth it to find a few good lentil dishes you like.

History

The lentil is one of the oldest cultivated legume, dating back at least 8,000 years. Although the scientific name relates to the lens of the eye it is interesting that it is one of the foods used in the Christian Lent period, a time when one level of fasting is to abstain from any kind of meat.

Nutrients

Power Nutrients in Lentils: iron, protein, phosphorus, copper, vitamin B1, potassium
Power Plus Nutrients: fiber, tryptophan, manganese
Extreme Power Nutrients: folate, molybdenum
Caution: Lentils are high in so many nutrients, including natural substances called purines. If you have a physical condition which requires you to be on a low purine diet, this is to be considered. Recent research, though, indicates that the purines from vegetable sources do not have the same negative effect as the purines from meat and fish.


Recipes: Lentils are SO good for you, and there are many delicious recipes.


source: care2.com


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9 Incredible Health Benefits of Bell Peppers

Shubhra Krishan    March 23, 2013

I simply love bell peppers, particularly the brightly colored ones.  Although they belong to the chili pepper family, bell peppers are mild and can jazz up a salad in an instant, lend a perky crunch to your pizza, and taste fantastic when roasted.

But the appeal of bell peppers goes way beyond their stunning good looks. Here’s a short list of the good things they can do for your health:

Bell peppers are low in calories! So, even if you eat 1 full cup of them, you get just about 45 calories. Bonus: that one cup will give you more than your daily quota of Vitamin A and C!

They contain plenty of vitamin C, which powers up your immune system and keeps skin youthful.  The highest amount of Vitamin C in a bell pepper is concentrated in the red variety.

Red bell peppers contain several phytochemicals and carotenoids,  particularly beta-carotene, which lavish you with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.


The capsaicin in bell peppers has multiple health benefits. Studies show that it reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, controls diabetes, brings relief from pain and eases inflammation.

If cooked for a short period on low heat,  bell peppers retain most of their sweet, almost fruity flavor and flavonoid content, which is a powerful nutrient.

The sulfur content in bell peppers makes them play a protective role in certain types of cancers.

The bell pepper is a good source of Vitamin E, which is known to play a key role in keeping skin and hair looking youthful.

Bell peppers also contain vitamin B6, which is essential for the health of the nervous system and helps renew cells.

Certain enzymes in bell peppers, such as lutein  protect the eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration later in life.

So, pop some bell peppers into your shopping basket, and start reaping their rich health benefits!


source: care2.com