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More Olive Oil May Bring Longer Life

Swapping out the butter or other artery-clogging fats in your diet for heart-healthy olive oil may add years to your life, researchers say.

Folks who consume more than 1/2 a tablespoon of olive oil a day are less likely to die from heart disease, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or lung disease when compared to people who consume less of this healthy fat, a new study finds.

It’s not just adding olive oil to your diet that staves off death from disease, said study author Marta Guasch-Ferre, a research scientist in the nutrition department at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. “We need to pay attention to overall diet quality and lifestyle, and consistent with our results, the key would be to add olive oil into the diet as a substitution of other unhealthier fats.”

Olive oil is rich in healthful antioxidants, polyphenols and vitamins, and is a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. “One may speculate that mechanisms related to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of olive oil may have played a role in these findings,” Guasch-Ferre said.

Olive oil use could also be a marker for a healthier lifestyle. Folks in the study who consumed the most olive oil were more physically active, less likely to smoke and ate more fruits and vegetables than people who consumed less olive oil.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data on more than 90,000 people from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who were free of heart disease and cancer when the study began in 1990. These folks were followed for 28 years. Every four years, they were asked how often they ate certain foods, including fats such as margarine, butter, mayonnaise, dairy fat and olive oil.

When compared with people who never consumed olive oil, those who consumed more than 1/2 a tablespoon a day had a 19% lower risk of dying from heart disease, a 17% lower risk of dying from cancer, a 29% lower risk of dying from a neurodegenerative disease, and an 18% lower risk of dying from lung disease.

The researchers also developed statistical models to simulate what would happen if a person swapped out 3/4 a tablespoon of margarine, butter, mayonnaise or other vegetable oils with olive oil. This switch reduced the chances of dying from all causes. Substituting olive oil for other vegetable oils such as canola, corn, safflower and soybean didn’t have the same effect, the study showed.

The findings are published in the Jan. 11 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Many questions on the potential health benefits of olive oil need answering before broad recommendations on its use can be made, wrote Susanna Larsson in an accompanying editorial. She is an epidemiologist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

For example, Larsson asked, “What is the amount of olive oil required for a protective effect? Are the protective effects confined to polyphenol-rich extra virgin olive oil or are refined olive oil and other vegetable oils as beneficial?”

Nutritionists not involved in the new study point out that eating a healthy, balanced diet is more important than any one food.

Olive oil

It’s not just the olive oil that confers these health benefits, it’s likely what the olive oil travels with and/or adds flavor to, said Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health emerita at New York University.

“Olive oil is part of the classic heart-healthy Mediterranean diet,” Nestle noted. This style of eating includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein, and is low in processed foods. “It’s never about one food, it’s really about dietary patterns,” she said.

Olive oil has calories, and they can add up quickly, Nestle pointed out. There are about 120 calories in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

This isn’t a lot of olive oil either, said Meghan McLarney, a dietitian at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha. “A typical salad at a restaurant has about 4 tablespoons of dressing.”

Replacing a fat is different from adding one to your diet, and there are easy ways to replace butter and other animal fats with olive oil, she said.

“If a recipe calls for butter, cut out half of the butter and replace it with olive oil,” McLarney said. “This blend is a great way of transitioning and introducing a healthier fat but keeping the flavor.”

Swapping out butter or margarine for olive oil or infused olive oil can make a great flavoring on whole grains, vegetables and proteins. “You can bake with olive oil, too,” she said.

Learn more about healthy fats and how to include them in your diet at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

SOURCES: Marta Guasch-Ferre, PhD, senior research scientist, Department of Nutrition, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston; Marion Nestle, PhD, Paulette Goddard professor, nutrition, food studies, and public health, emerita, New York University, New York City; Meghan McLarney, RD, dietitian, Nebraska Medicine, Omaha; Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Jan. 11, 2022

By Denise Mann       HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 11, 2022       HealthDay News

source: www.webmd.com


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Raw or Cooked? How Best to Eat 11 Fruits and Vegetables

Find out which foods you should eat raw or cooked to maximize antioxidants.

Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of nutrients and antioxidants like carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols that help prevent health issues like cancer and cardiovascular disease and can improve mood. Antioxidants help your body counteract damage caused by toxic byproducts called free radicals. Eating more fruits and vegetables also increases your vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, thiamine, and niacin, minerals, and fiber.

But it can be tricky to know how you should store and prepare fresh foods to get the most nutrients.

Luckily, when you store most fruits and vegetables, this generally does not affect antioxidants levels. In fact, antioxidant levels can even go up in the few days after you buy the fruits and vegetables. But when you start to see the fruit or vegetable spoil and turn brown, that usually means that they have started to lose antioxidants. The main exceptions are broccoli, bananas, and apricots, which are more sensitive and start to lose their antioxidants during storage within days, so eat those sooner than later.

Whether you should cook or eat raw fruits or vegetables to maximize antioxidants varies. Some vegetables like mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, and peppers gain certain antioxidants after they are cooked.

1. Tomatoes: Cooked may be better than raw.

Storage tip: Even though this will make shelf life shorter, store tomatoes in room temperature since tomatoes can lose antioxidants (and flavor) when stored in cooler temperatures.

Cook your tomatoes to release higher levels of lycopene and total antioxidant activity. You can cook them for up to 30 minutes at 190.4 degrees Fahrenheit (88 degrees Celsius). Lycopene is found in red fruits and vegetables like watermelon, red bell pepper, and papaya and has been linked to lower rates of cancer.

Raw tomatoes have less overall antioxidants, but have more vitamin C.

2. Carrots: Cooked may be better than raw.

Cook your carrots to get more beta-carotene, an antioxidant that gets converted in your body to vitamin A, which is good for your eyes and immune system. Sous Vide carrots for best results. Steaming or boiling carrots preserves more antioxidants than roasting, frying or microwaving carrots. If you’re in Top Chef mode and want to maximize antioxidants, try sous vide carrots, which has even more antioxidants than steamed carrots.

3. Broccoli: Raw and cooked.

Storage tip: Keep broccoli wrapped in packaging in the refrigerator at 1 degree Celsius (or 33.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Unlike most vegetables, broccoli tends to lose antioxidants faster than other vegetables when stored without packaging, particularly when it starts to lose its color and turn yellow. Wrap the broccoli in microperforated or non-perforated packaging to keep antioxidants for longer.

If you eat raw broccoli, you’ll get higher levels of an enzyme called myrosinase, which creates helpful compounds like sulforaphane, which blocks the growth of cancer cells and helps fight Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers. Myrosinase is sensitive to heat and thus destroyed during cooking.

Cooked broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, increases indole, which is thought to be protective against cancer. Steamed broccoli has also better potential to reduce cholesterol than raw broccoli.

Sous vide or steam broccoli to keep antioxidants and nutrients. Boiling 9-15 minutes causes the loss of up to 60 percent of nutritious compounds become leached into the water. Stir-frying and a combination of boiling and stir-frying (common in Chinese cuisine) causes the most loss of vitamin C and nutrients. Steaming allows broccoli to retain better color and texture.

broccoli

4. Cauliflower: Raw and cooked.

Fresh cauliflower has 30 percent more protein and many different types of antioxidants such as quercetin. Raw cauliflower keeps the most antioxidants overall, but cooking cauliflower increases indole levels.

Don’t boil cauliflower in water because that loses the most antioxidants. Water-boiling and blanching causes the worst loss of minerals and antioxidant compounds in cauliflower because many of the nutrients get leached into the water. Steam or sous vide cauliflower to maintain nutrients.

5. Brussel Sprouts, cabbage: Raw and steamed.

Brussel sprouts and cabbage are cruciferous vegetables rich in compounds protective for cancer. One study found that people who consumed about 300 grams or two-thirds pound of Brussels sprouts daily for a week had higher levels of a detox enzyme in the colon, which helps explain the link between eating cruciferous vegetables and lower risk of colorectal cancer.

Raw Brussels sprouts give you the most folate and vitamin C. Steaming Brussels sprouts can release more indole compounds (but they arguably taste best when roasted!).

6. Kale: Raw and blanched.

Kale has beta-carotene, vitamin C, and polyphenols. Cooking kale significantly lowers vitamin C and overall antioxidants. Keep kale raw or, if you prefer cooked, blanch or steam kale to minimize antioxidant loss.

7. Eggplant: Cooked and grilled.

Grill eggplant to make it a lot richer in antioxidants compared to raw or boiled (and it tastes a lot better too). Don’t forget to salt your eggplant slices before cooking to get rid of excess moisture and bitterness.

8. Red Peppers: Raw and cooked (stir-fry, roasted).

Red peppers are a great source of vitamin C, carotenoids, polyphenols, and other phytochemicals. Raw red peppers provide more vitamin C because vitamin C breaks down with heat. But other antioxidants like carotenoids and ferulic acid go up when red peppers are cooked.

Stir-fry or roast red peppers. Do not boil red peppers—boiling red peppers loses the most nutrients and antioxidants. Stir-frying and roasting actually preserves red pepper antioxidants, more than steaming.

9. Garlic and onions: Raw and cooked.

Garlic and onions have been linked with foods that help fight high blood pressure. Red onions have the highest amount of quercetin, a type of flavonoid family antioxidant thought to protect against certain forms of cancer, heart disease, and aging.

Garlic and onions are pretty hardy when cooked. You can blanch, fry, and even microwave them without changing their antioxidant levels by much, so prepare them however you like.

10. Artichokes: Cooked.

Cook your artichokes in order to boost their antioxidants. Steam artichokes to boost antioxidants levels by 15-fold and boil them to boost them by 8-fold. Microwaving them also increases an artichoke’s antioxidants. But don’t fry them– that plummets flavonoids, a type of antioxidant.

11. Blueberries: Raw and cooked.

Blueberries are one of the fruits with the highest levels of antioxidants, and you can eat them raw or cooked to get the most antioxidants. One study found that some type of antioxidants levels went up with cooking blueberries, while others went down.

Here are some final general tips:

Avoid deep-frying. Bad news for vegetable tempura fans: Deep-frying vegetables creates free radicals from the hot oil. Not only are free radicals damaging for the body, but the vegetables lose much of their antioxidants in the process.

Fresh is generally better than frozen. Vegetables like spinach and cauliflower can lose B vitamins in the process of being frozen.

At the end of the day, prepare your fruits and vegetables so that you’ll be more likely to eat them. As long as you stay away from the deep fryer, fresh fruits and vegetables will generally give you a lot more nutrients and antioxidants than processed foods.

 Marlynn Wei, MD, PLLC            October 3, 2015       Reviewed by Ekua Hagan

source: www.psychologytoday.com


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The Dietary Change Linked To Living 5 Years Longer

Higher levels of this type of fat in the blood can add five years to your lifespan.

A study has found that raising levels of omega−3 fatty acids in blood can lower the risk of premature death similar to quitting smoking, an equivalent to adding 4.7 years of life.

Omega-3 fatty acids are well-known for their beneficial health effect, thus the American Heart Association recommends eating oily fish such as trout, salmon, sardines, and anchovies twice weekly.

For the study, researchers used the omega-3 index test to measure EPA and DHA content in red blood cells (RBC), an excellent way to predict the risk of death from all causes.

They analysed data from the Framingham Offspring Cohort study, which has tracked Massachusetts residents in the United States over 11 years.

Dr Aleix Sala-Vila, the study’s co-author, said:

“Having higher levels of these acids in the blood, as a result of regularly including oily fish in the diet, increases life expectancy by almost five years.

Being a regular smoker takes 4.7 years off your life expectancy, the same as you gain if you have high levels of omega-3 acids in your blood.”

The study compared RBC fatty acids levels with standard risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in predicting premature death.

Some well known risk factors are age, total cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking.

The results show that four types of fatty acids, including omega-3 are better predictors of mortality risk.

trout_fish

Two of these predictors belong to saturated fatty acids which have often been associated with heart disease risk but in this study were linked to longer life.

A diet rich in omega−3 fatty acids improves the eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) content in erythrocytes (red blood cells) resulting in nearly 5 years of human life expansion.

Dr Sala-Vila said:

“This reaffirms what we have been seeing lately, not all saturated fatty acids are necessarily bad.”

The correct amount of dietary fatty acids may contribute considerably to individual health.

Dr Sala-Vila added:

 “What we have found is not insignificant.

It reinforces the idea that small changes in diet in the right direction can have a much more powerful effect than we think, and it is never too late or too early to make these changes.”

About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.

The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (McBurney et al., 2021).

November 16, 2021


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Eating Chili Peppers Can Help You Live Longer, Cut Risks For Heart Disease And Cancer


DALLAS, Texas — Previous studies have shown that spicy food can have a positive impact on your health. Now, a study released by the American Heart Association has a “hot” new take on the topic. Researchers say eating chili pepper isn’t just good for your health, it can help you live longer by reducing heart disease and cancer.

The study finds consuming chili peppers cuts the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 26 percent. The odds of dying from cancer decreased by 23 percent compared to people who don’t include peppers in their diet.

One of the key findings is that chili peppers act as a natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, and blood-glucose regulator. This is due to the release of capsaicin into an eater’s system. This substance gives a pepper its trademark mild to intense spicy flavor.

The international appeal of chili peppers
Researchers looked at over 4,700 studies from five major health databases to gather their data. Their final report included four large studies on the health of individuals who either did or didn’t eat chili peppers. The data examined more than 570,000 people from the United States, Italy, China, and Iran.

Overall, the report finds a 25-percent drop in all causes of death among people who include chili peppers in their diet.

“We were surprised to find that in these previously published studies, regular consumption of chili pepper was associated with an overall risk-reduction of all cause, CVD and cancer mortality. It highlights that dietary factors may play an important role in overall health,” says senior author Bo Xu of the Cleveland Clinic’s Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute in a media release.

“The exact reasons and mechanisms that might explain our findings, though, are currently unknown. Therefore, it is impossible to conclusively say that eating more chili pepper can prolong life and reduce deaths, especially from cardiovascular factors or cancer. More research, especially evidence from randomized controlled studies, is needed to confirm these preliminary findings.”

Dr. Xu adds these findings have some limitations because the respondents ate different amount and various types of chili peppers. This makes determining if a specific variety or serving size is better for a patient’s health.

The study is being presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2020.

by Chris Melore NOVEMBER 13, 2020

Source: www.studyfinds.org/eat-chili-peppers-live-longer/


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The Fruit That Boosts Weight Loss And Reduces Fat Absorption

A weight loss fruit that makes you feel full, improves your gut health, and reduces absorption of fats.

Having an avocado every day as part of your diet will increase healthy gut bacteria and reduce the absorption of fat.

The fruit is rich in fibre and monounsaturated fat, a healthy fat that lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood.

A study by Ahmed et al. (2019) suggests that avocados contain a fat molecule that could help prevent diabetes and maintain a healthy weight by improving blood glucose levels, glucose metabolism, and insulin sensitivity.

A new study has found that people who eat avocados have higher levels of gut microbes responsible for breaking down fibres and producing a number of metabolites (short-chain fatty acids) that improve gut health.

Ms Sharon Thompson, the study’s first author, said:

“We know eating avocados helps you feel full and reduces blood cholesterol concentration, but we did not know how it influences the gut microbes, and the metabolites the microbes produce.

Microbial metabolites are compounds the microbes produce that influence health.

Avocado consumption reduced bile acids and increased short chain fatty acids.

These changes correlate with beneficial health outcomes.”

Bile acids are produced by the liver, stored in the gallbladder, and released into the intestine for breaking down fats from foods we eat.

Western diets are higher in fats causing more production of bile acids which can alert the gut microbiota population and cause intestinal inflammation.

The study recruited 163 overweight or obese participants and divided them into two groups receiving a normal diet.

The only difference was that one ate fresh avocados (175 g for men or 140 g for women) as part of a meal every day for 12 weeks and the other group had a similar diet but no avocados.

avocado-toast

Dr Hannah Holscher, study co-author, said:

“Our goal was to test the hypothesis that the fats and the fiber in avocados positively affect the gut microbiota.

We also wanted to explore the relationships between gut microbes and health outcomes.

Despite avocados being high in fat, the avocado group absorbed less fat compared to the other group.”

Dr Holscher said:

“Greater fat excretion means the research participants were absorbing less energy from the foods that they were eating.

This was likely because of reductions in bile acids, which are molecules our digestion system secretes that allow us to absorb fat.

We found that the amount of bile acids in stool was lower and the amount of fat in the stool was higher in the avocado group.”

Types of fats found in foods affect the gut microbiome differently, for example, avocados contain monounsaturated fats which are considered heart-healthy.

On top of that, avocados are high in soluble fibre: an average avocado contains 12 g of fibres which is a big portion of the daily recommended fibre intake (28 to 34 g).

Dr Holscher said:

“Less than 5% of Americans eat enough fiber.

Most people consume around 12 to 16 grams of fiber per day.

Thus, incorporating avocados in your diet can help get you closer to meeting the fiber recommendation.

Eating fiber isn’t just good for us; it’s important for the microbiome, too.

We can’t break down dietary fibers, but certain gut microbes can.

When we consume dietary fiber, it’s a win-win for gut microbes and for us.”

People shouldn’t worry that avocados are high in calories as it is more important that it is a nutrient-dense food that contains micronutrients like fibre and potassium that we don’t get enough of.

About the author      Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.

The study was published in The Journal of Nutrition (Thompson et al., 2020).

source: PsyBlog   October 7, 2021


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Which Bread Is Best For You — Whole-Grain, Multigrain or Whole Wheat?

Hint: Check the label first and foremost

Gone are the days of eating white bread. Many people are aware that whole-grain has more nutritional heft than white, fluffy, overly milled breads, but it’s not always easy to pick a good loaf when you’re at the grocery store.

Sometimes, a refined loaf of bread can masquerade as something more nutritious. Patrol the bread aisle and you’ll see terms like whole wheat, multigrain, seven-grain, 12-grain, all-natural, organic and enriched, to name a few. Who wouldn’t throw up their hands trying to decide what to buy?

Dietitian Laura Jeffers, MEd, RD, LD, helps break down which bread is healthier and what you should stay far away from.

Look for ‘100%’ on labels

When browsing the bread aisle at your grocery store, look for the term “100% whole-grain” or “100% whole-wheat” on the package.

“If you’re wondering which is better, either one works,” says Jeffers. “Whole wheat is a whole grain.”

Although different grains offer different benefits, many whole-grain breads are primarily made with wheat. If you’re looking for a nice mix of grains, check your ingredient label. Primary ingredients should be listed first in order of the amount within the loaf (wheat, oats, flax seeds, barley, buckwheat, etc.).

“Be cautious of terms like ‘wheat’ or ‘multigrain’ that don’t mention a percentage,” she warns. “They sound healthy, but they’re probably made with partially or mostly refined white flour. Wheat flour is 75% white flour and only 25% whole-wheat.”

“Enriched” is another clever term that means the maker of the bread has added nutrients to an otherwise nutrient-free white bread. When you see that word on a label, put it down and look for something else.

Unless you find that 100% on the package and whole-wheat listed as the first ingredient on the label, the bread is simply a refined loaf of bread with synthetic nutrients added to replenish those natural nutrients lost in the milling process.

bread

Good bread makes your body happy

The benefits of eating 100% whole-wheat or whole-grain far surpass just the taste. Eating whole-grain foods within an overall healthy diet helps to lower your risk for many diseases, including:

Whole-grains are also rich in protein, fiber, B vitamins and many other nutrients that help to lower blood pressure, reduce gum disease, strengthen the immune system and help control weight. The Whole Grains Council reports that benefits are greatest with at least three servings per day, but every whole grain helps.

Say ‘no’ to substandard bread

Most other bread is made with grains that have been finely milled. The resulting flour is whiter and lighter — in more ways than one.

Not only does this refined flour look whiter and bake fluffier, but it also falls short of many of the nutrients essential to optimum health. Whole-grains begin as a whole grain kernel: bran, germ, endosperm.

The milling process mechanically removes the bran, which is the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain and contains B vitamins and other minerals. Milling also removes the second germ layer, which is rich in Vitamin E and essential fatty acids. In the end, what’s left is the starchy center, which is ground into flour for various baking purposes.

“Refined flour lacks all of those wonderful nutrients and high-starch foods like white bread can quickly raise your blood sugar levels, putting you at risk for diseases like diabetes,” she says. “That’s why you should consider nothing but the best: 100% whole wheat or whole-grain bread.”

 November 4, 2020 / Nutrition

source: health.clevelandclinic.org


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What The Western Diet Does To The Immune System

Diets rich in two nutrients harm immune cells in the gut, putting people at high risk of intestinal infections.

A diet rich in fat and sugar damages particular immune cells named Paneth cells that produce antimicrobial molecules keeping inflammation and microbes under control.

Highly specialised Paneth cells are located in the small intestine where nutrients from food are absorbed and sent to the bloodstream.

Western diets are high in processed foods and fat and sugar, which cause Paneth cells to not work properly.

Paneth cell dysfunction cause abnormalities in the gut immune system which in turn leads to infections (disease-causing microbes) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a study has found.

Dr Ta-Chiang Liu, the study’s first author, said:

“Inflammatory bowel disease has historically been a problem primarily in Western countries such as the U.S., but it’s becoming more common globally as more and more people adopt Western lifestyles.

Our research showed that long-term consumption of a Western-style diet high in fat and sugar impairs the function of immune cells in the gut in ways that could promote inflammatory bowel disease or increase the risk of intestinal infections.”

IBD patients often have defective Paneth cells, which are responsible for setting off inflammation in the small intestine.

For instance, Paneth cells can no longer function in patients with Crohn’s disease, which is a type of IBD and marked by fatigue, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and anaemia.

The research team examined Paneth cells of 400 adults and found that the higher the body mass index (BMI) the worse these cells looked.

Frequent consumption of foods high in sugar and fat causes weight gain and has many health consequences.

These two macronutrients generally make up more than 40 percent of the calories of a typical Western diet.

The scientists fed mice a high sugar, high fat diet and in two months they became obese and had abnormal Paneth cells.

Dr Liu said:

“Eating too much of a healthy diet didn’t affect the Paneth cells.

It was the high-fat, high-sugar diet that was the problem.”

When a healthy diet replaced the Western diet, within four weeks, the Paneth cells were restored to normal.

Dr Liu said:

“This was a short-term experiment, just eight weeks.

In people, obesity doesn’t occur overnight or even in eight weeks.

It’s possible that if you have Western diet for so long, you cross a point of no return and your Paneth cells don’t recover even if you change your diet.

We’d need to do more research before we can say whether this process is reversible in people.”

In addition, deoxycholic acid (a secondary bile acid produce by bacteria in the gut) is involved in carbohydrate and fat metabolism.

Bile acid plays a key role regarding Paneth cell abnormality since it increases the activity of the farnesoid X receptor (involved in sugar and fat metabolism) and type 1 interferon (part of the immune system active in the antiviral responses) thus hindersing Paneth cell from working properly.

The study was published in the Cell Host & Microbe (Liu et al., 2021).

June 11, 2021        source:  Psyblog

fruits-veggies

Is a Plant-Centered Diet Better for Your Heart?

More evidence suggests the long-standing belief that eating low amounts of saturated fats to ward off heart disease may not be entirely correct.

A new study that followed more than 4,800 people over 32 years shows that a plant-centered diet was more likely to be associated with a lower risk of future coronary heart disease and stroke, compared with focusing on fewer saturated fats alone.

“It’s true that low-saturated fat actually lowers LDL [or bad] cholesterol, but it cannot predict cardiovascular disease,” says lead study author Yuni Choi, PhD, postdoctoral researcher in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota. “Our research strongly supports the fact that plant-based diet patterns are good for cardiovascular health.”

To assess diet patterns of study participants, the researchers conducted three detailed diet history interviews over the follow-up period and then calculated scores for each using the A Priori Diet Quality Score (APDQS). Higher APDQS scores were associated with higher intake of nutritionally rich plant foods and less high-fat meats. While those who consumed less saturated fats and plant-centered diets had lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, or lower levels of “bad” cholesterol, only the latter diet was also associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke over the long term.

Choi said targeting just single nutrients such as total or saturated fat doesn’t consider those fats found in healthy plant-based foods with cardioprotective properties, such as avocado, extra virgin olive oil, walnuts, and dark chocolate. Based on study results, she recommends those conscious of heart health fill their plates with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, legumes and even a little coffee and tea, which were associated with a low risk of cardiovascular disease.

“More than 80% should be plant-sourced foods and then nonfried fish, poultry, and low-fat dairy in moderation,” she says.

“I think in focusing just on nutrients, we oversimplify the heart [health] diet hypothesis and miss the very important plant component,” says research team leader David Jacobs, PhD, professor, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota. “If you tend to eat a plant-centered diet you will tend to eat less saturated fats because that’s just the way the plant kingdom works.”

Following a plant-centered diet is consistent with the American Heart Association’s (AHA) existing recommendations to minimize saturated fats and emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, says Linda Van Horn, PhD, professor, and chief of the Department of Preventive Medicine’s Nutrition Division at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and a member of the AHA’s Nutrition Committee.

“There is no question that current intakes of plant-based carbohydrate, protein and fat are below what is recommended and moving in that direction would be a nutritious improvement,” she says, noting, however, that this doesn’t necessarily mean everyone needs to be on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Given that plant-centered diets have been associated with lowering the risk of other diseases, the researchers are now looking to better understand how APDQS scores impact chronic conditions such obesity, diabetes, and kidney disease. They’ll also be researching how diet affects gut bacteria as they expect eating plant-based foods provides more fiber and promotes healthy microbiomes.

“I think that diet patterns provide a really solid base for the public and policy makers to think about what a healthy diet really is,” Jacobs says.

SOURCES

Nutrition 2021: “Which Predicts Incident Cardiovascular Disease Better: A Plant-Centered Diet or a Low-Saturated Fat Diet? The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study.”

Yuni Choi, PhD, postdoctoral researcher, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota.

Linda Van Horn, PhD, professor, chief of the Department of Preventive Medicine’s Nutrition Division, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago.

David Jacobs, PhD, professor of epidemiology and community health, University of Minnesota.7

By Rosalind Stefanac           June 10, 2021         source:   Medscape Medical News    WebMD


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10 Science-Backed Ways To Avoid Depression

Depression is an extremely common experience, which can be hard to escape from once an episode has begun.

Psychological research has found all sorts of ways that the chances of developing depression can be reduced.

From social connection, through building resilience to taking up a hobby, there are many science-backed methods for lowering depression risk.

1. Social connection

Social connection is the strongest protective factor against depression.

People who feel able to tell others about their problems and who visit more often with friends and family have a markedly lower risk of becoming depressed.

The data, derived from over 100,000 people, assessed modifiable factors that could affect depression risk including sleep, diet, physical activity and social interaction.

Dr Jordan Smoller, study co-author, explained the results:

“Far and away the most prominent of these factors was frequency of confiding in others, but also visits with family and friends, all of which highlighted the important protective effect of social connection and social cohesion.”

2. Build resilience

Recalling positive memories helps to build resilience against depression.

Reminiscing about happy events and having a store of these to draw on is one way of building up resilience.

Similarly, getting nostalgic has been found to help fight loneliness and may also protect mental health.

Thinking back to better times, even if they are tinged with some sadness, helps people cope with challenging times.

3. Regulate your mood naturally

Being able to naturally regulate mood is one of the best weapons against depression.

Mood regulation means choosing activities that increase mood, like exercise, when feeling low and doing dull activities like housework when spirits are higher.

Some of the best ways of improving mood are being in nature, taking part in sport, engaging with culture, chatting and playing.

Other mood enhancing activities include listening to music, eating, helping others and childcare.

4. Eat healthily

Eating more fruits and vegetables lowers the risk of depression.

Reducing fat intake and increasing levels of omega-3 are also linked to a lower risk of depression.

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of fruits and vegetables may account for their beneficial effect.

Vitamins and minerals in fruit and vegetables may also help to lower the markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein.

Similarly, adding more fibre to the diet decreases depression risk.

This is probably why many studies link vegetarian and vegan diets to a lower risk of depression.

5. Stop obsessing about failures

Excessive negative thinking about unfulfilled dreams is linked to depression and anxiety.

When people repeatedly compare a mental vision of their ideal self with the failure to reach it, this can produce psychological distress.

Aspirations can be damaging as well as motivating, depending on how the mind deals with them and what results life happens to serve up.

Thinking obsessively about a perceived failure is psychological damaging.

depression

6. Reduce sedentary activities

Cutting down on screen-time strongly reduces depression risk, whether or not people have previously experienced a depressive episode.

The results come from data covering almost 85,000 people.

The study found that another important lifestyle factor linked to less depression is adequate sleep — around 7 to 9 hours is optimal.

Again, adequate sleep improves mood even in people who have  not experienced depression.

7. Be in nature

Being in nature relaxes the mind, which in turn enhances the immune system.

This may explain why nature has a remarkably beneficial effect on a wide range of diseases including depression, ADHD, cancer, diabetes, obesity and many more.

Dr Ming Kuo, who carried out the research, explained how nature helps:

“When we feel completely safe, our body devotes resources to long-term investments that lead to good health outcomes — growing, reproducing, and building the immune system.

When we are in nature in that relaxed state, and our body knows that it’s safe, it invests resources toward the immune system.”

8. Take up a hobby

People who take up any hobbies reduce their risk of depression by almost one-third.

Pursuing hobbies increases the chance of a depressed person recovering by 272 percent.

Hobbies are usually considered informal leisure activities that are not done for money and do not involve physical activity.

Things like music, drawing, sewing and collecting would be good examples.

To be beneficial to mental health, hobbies do not necessarily need to be social.

However, some studies do find that social hobbies can be particularly beneficial to happiness.

9. Get fit

People high in aerobic and muscular fitness are at half the risk of depression.

Being fit also predicts a 60 percent lower chance of depression.

The study tracked over 150,000 middle-aged people in the UK.

Their aerobic fitness was tested on a stationary bike and muscle strength with a handgrip test.

After seven years, people who were fitter had better mental health.

Those with combined aerobic and muscular fitness had a 98 percent lower risk of depression and 60 percent lower risk of anxiety.

10. Mindfulness

Mindfulness helps to reduce depression, anxiety and stress for many people, new research finds.

However, its effects on depression and anxiety may be relatively small, with the highest quality studies finding little benefit.

The best advice is probably to try and see if it works for you, but do not be surprised if its effects on depression and anxiety are modest.

Here are some common mindfulness exercises that are easy to fit into your day and 10 ways mindfulness benefits the mind.

Want more suggestions? Here are 8 more everyday tools for fighting depression.

May 21, 2021       source: Psyblog


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2 Portions Of Mushrooms Halve Risk Of Memory Loss

Any variety of mushrooms may well have the beneficial effect as they all contain an antioxidant called ergothioneine.

Two portions of mushrooms a week halve the risk of memory loss, research finds.

Mild cognitive impairment, as it is known, is frequently a precursor to dementia.

It involves forgetfulness, along with problems with language and attention.

However, the problems are normally subtle — certainly more so than dementia.

Older people eating around half a plate of mushrooms per week, though, were at half the risk of developing the condition.

Even one small portion of mushrooms a week may be enough to have a meaningful effect, the scientists think.

Dr Lei Feng, the study’s first author, said:

 

“This correlation is surprising and encouraging.

It seems that a commonly available single ingredient could have a dramatic effect on cognitive decline.”

The study involved over 600 people over 60-years-old in Singapore who were followed over six years.

They were tested for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) along with being asked about their dietary habits.

Dr Feng said:

 

“People with MCI are still able to carry out their normal daily activities.

So, what we had to determine in this study is whether these seniors had poorer performance on standard neuropsychologist tests than other people of the same age and education background.”

 

mushrooms

 

The study found that six commonly eaten mushrooms were linked to a 50 percent lower risk of cognitive decline.

These were:

 

  • golden,
  • oyster,
  • shiitake,
  • white button,
  • dried,
  • and canned mushrooms.

However, any variety of mushrooms may well have the beneficial effect as they all contain an antioxidant called ergothioneine.

Dr Irwin Cheah, study co-author, explained:

 

“We’re very interested in a compound called ergothioneine (ET).

ET is a unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which humans are unable to synthesise on their own.

But it can be obtained from dietary sources, one of the main ones being mushrooms.”

The researchers will now conduct a randomised controlled trial of a pure compound of ET.

The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (Feng et al., 2019).

 

April 30, 2021       source: PsyBlog

 


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One Portion Of These Foods Boosts Mental Health

People who eat more fruit and vegetables have better mental health, research finds.

Indeed, the more fruit and vegetables people eat, the better their state of mind.

Eating just one extra portion of fruit and vegetables per day is enough to measurably improve mental well-being.

Just one portion has the same positive effect as going for a walk on 8 extra days a month.

Only around one-in-ten people in the US eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables.

The recommended amount in the US is 1½ to 2 cups per day of fruit and 2 to 3 cups per day of vegetables.

Dr Neel Ocean, the study’s first author, said:

“It’s well-established that eating fruit and vegetables can benefit physical health.

Recently, newer studies have suggested that it may also benefit psychological well-being.

Our research builds on previous work in Australia and New Zealand by verifying this relationship using a much bigger UK sample.

While further work is needed to demonstrate cause and effect, the results are clear: people who do eat more fruit and vegetables report a higher level of mental well-being and life satisfaction than those who eat less.”

The study followed many thousands of people across seven years.

The study controlled for other factors, like lifestyle, education, health status and other aspects of the diet.

Dr Peter Howley, study co-author, said:

“There appears to be accumulating evidence for the psychological benefits of fruits and vegetables.

Despite this, the data show that the vast majority of people in the UK still consume less than their five-a-day.

Encouraging better dietary habits may not just be beneficial to physical health in the long run but may also improve mental well-being in the shorter term.”

The study was published in the journal Social Science & Medicine (Ocean et al., 2019).

April 8, 2021

source: PsyBlog

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Link Between Dietary Fiber And Depression
Partially Explained By Gut-Brain Interactions

New study suggests that higher daily dietary fiber intake is linked to lower risk for depression in premenopausal women

Fiber is a commonly recommended part of a healthy diet. That’s because it’s good for your health in so many ways – from weight management to reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer. A new study also finds that it might be linked with a reduced risk of depression, especially in premenopausal women. Study results are published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Depression is a common and serious mental health condition that not only affects a person’s ability to perform daily activities but can also lead to suicide. It’s estimated that more than 264 million people worldwide have depression, with numbers increasing over time. This debilitating condition is much more common in women, and there are a number of theories as to why this is the case. Changes in hormone levels in perimenopausal women have been linked to depression.

Because of the serious consequences and prevalence of depression, numerous studies have been undertaken to evaluate treatment options beyond the use of antidepressants. Lifestyle interventions, including diet, exercise, and mindfulness, may help to reduce the risk for depression. In this new study involving more than 5,800 women of various ages, researchers specifically sought to investigate the relationship between dietary fiber intake and depression in women by menopause status. Dietary fiber is found mainly in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

Previous studies have already suggested the benefits of fiber for mental health, but this is the first known study to categorize the association in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. It also included a broader range of ages in participants and involved women who underwent natural, as well as surgical, menopause.

The study confirmed an inverse association between dietary-fiber intake and depression in premenopausal women after adjusting for other variables, but no significant difference was documented in postmenopausal women. Research has suggested that estrogen depletion may play a role in explaining why postmenopausal women don’t benefit as much from increased dietary fiber, because estrogen affects the balance of gut microorganisms found in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. The link between dietary fiber and depression may be partially explained by gut-brain interactions, because it is theorized that changes in gut-microbiota composition may affect neurotransmission. Fiber improves the richness and diversity of gut microbiota.

Results are published in the article “Inverse association between dietary fiber intake and depression in premenopausal women: a nationwide population-based survey.”

“This study highlights an important link between dietary fiber intake and depression, but the direction of the association is unclear in this observational study, such that women with better mental health may have had a healthier diet and consumed more fiber, or a higher dietary fiber intake may have contributed to improved brain health by modulating the gut microbiome or some combination. Nonetheless, it has never been more true that ‘you are what you eat,’ given that what we eat has a profound effect on the gut microbiome which appears to play a key role in health and disease,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

Journal Reference:

Yunsun Kim, Minseok Hong, Seonah Kim, Woo-young Shin, Jung-ha Kim. Inverse association between dietary fiber intake and depression in premenopausal women. Menopause, 2020; Publish Ahead of Print DOI: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001711

January 6, 2021

Source: The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)        www.sciencedaily.com