Club Food

Cocoa for Cardiovascular Health

Food.Chocolate.DarkEuropean Union Consortium researchers report two studies that suggest that consuming cocoa flavanols – plant-derived bioactives from the cacao bean – may help to improve cardiovascular function and lessen the burden on the heart that comes with the aging and stiffening of arteries.

In the first study, Christian Heiss, from the University Duesseldorf  (Germany), and colleagues enrolled two groups of 22 young (under 35 years) and 20 older (50-80 years) healthy men, to consume either a flavanol-containing drink, or a flavanol-free control drink, twice a day for two weeks. The researchers then measured the effect of flavanols on hallmarks of cardiovascular aging, such as arterial stiffness (as measured by pulse wave velocity), blood pressure and flow-mediated vasodilation (the extent to which blood vessels dilate in response to nitric oxide).  The team observed that vasodilation was significantly improved in both age groups that consumed flavanols over the course of the study (by 33% in the younger age group and 32% in the older age group over the control intervention). As well, among the older age group, a statistically and clinically significant decrease in systolic blood pressure of 4 mmHg over control was also seen.

In the second study, Roberto Sansone, from the University Duesseldorf (Germany), and colleagues , enrolled 100 healthy middle-aged men and women (ages 35 to 60 years) with low risk of cardiovascular disease.  The participants were randomly and blindly assigned into groups that consumed either a flavanol-containing drink or a flavanol-free control drink, twice a day for four weeks. The researchers also measured cholesterol levels in the study groups, in addition to vasodilation, arterial stiffness and blood pressure. The team observed that cocoa flavanols increased flow-mediated vasodilation by 21%.; as well as decreased blood pressure (systolic by 4.4 mmHg, diastolic by 3.9 mmHg), and decreased  total cholesterol (by 0.2 mmol/L), LDL cholesterol (by 0.17 mmol/L), and raised HDL cholesterol (by 0.1 mmol/L).

Taken collectively, the Consortium submits that flavanols are effective at mitigating age-related changes in blood vessels, and could thereby reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy individuals.

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Source: WorldHealth.net

Eating Green Leafy Vegetables Keeps Mental Abilities Sharp

Food.Vegetables1Something as easy as adding more spinach, kale, collards and mustard greens to your diet could help slow cognitive decline, according to new research. The study also examined the nutrients responsible for the effect, linking vitamin K consumption to slower cognitive decline for the first time.

“Losing one’s memory or cognitive abilities is one of the biggest fears for people as they get older,” said Martha Clare Morris, Sc.D., assistant provost for community research at Rush University Medical Center and leader of the research team. “Since declining cognitive ability is central to Alzheimer’s disease and dementias, increasing consumption of green leafy vegetables could offer a very simple, affordable and non-invasive way of potentially protecting your brain from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.”

The researchers tracked the diets and cognitive abilities of more than 950 older adults for an average of five years and saw a significant decrease in the rate of cognitive decline for study participants who consumed greater amounts of green leafy vegetables. People who ate one to two servings per day had the cognitive ability of a person 11 years younger than those who consumed none.

In addition to green leafy vegetables, other good sources of vitamin K, lutein, folate and beta-carotene include brightly colored fruits and vegetables.

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Source: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). “Eating green leafy vegetables keeps mental abilities sharp.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 March 2015.

Blueberries Confer Immune and Cardiovascular Benefits

Food.BlueberryAbundant in the flavonoids anthocyanin and flavanol, blueberries have been shown in previous studies to improve cognitive performance and brain health. Steven R. McAnulty, from Appalachian State University (North Carolina, USA), and colleagues enrolled 25 men and postmenopausal women, to receive a daily supplement of blueberry powder (equivalent of 250 gm of blueberries), or placebo, for six weeks. Among those receiving the supplement, the researchers observed that natural killer cells rose by 4%. As well, among pre-hypertensive subjects, the blueberry powder caused significant reduction of diastolic blood pressure.

The study authors write that: “blueberry ingestion for six weeks increases natural killer cells and reduces augmentation index, aortic systolic pressure, and diastolic pressures in sedentary males and females.”

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Source: WorldHealth.net

Fish Oil Supports Brain Structure

Food.Fish.Oil.SupplementOn average, one person is diagnosed every minute with Alzheimer’s disease, a condition for which no cure presently exists and thus for which intensive efforts to prevent or slow cognitive decline with age is focused.

Lori Daiello, from the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center at Rhode Island Hospital (Rhode Island, USA), and colleagues completed a retrospective study of older adults (229 cognitively normal individuals, 397 patients with mild cognitive impairment, and 193 patients with Alzheimer’s disease), enrolled in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, who were assessed with neuropsychological tests and brain magnetic resonance imaging every 6 months.

Researchers tracked global cognitive status, and cerebral cortex gray matter and hippocampus and ventricular volumes. The study found that fish oil supplement use during the study was associated with significantly lower rates of cognitive decline as measured by two standardized assessment scales, but this benefit was observed only for the group of participants without dementia at the time of enrollment. Importantly, the study authors report that: “[fish oil supplements] use during the study was also associated with less atrophy in one or more brain regions of interest.”

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Source: WorldHealth.net

Eating Baked, Broiled Fish Weekly Boosts Brain Health

Food.SalmonEating baked or broiled fish once a week is good for the brain, regardless of how much omega-3 fatty acid it contains, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The findings, published online recently in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, add to growing evidence that lifestyle factors contribute to brain health later in life.

“Our study shows that people who ate a diet that included baked or broiled, but not fried, fish have larger brain volumes in regions associated with memory and cognition,” senior investigator James T. Becker, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, Pitt School of Medicine said. “We did not find a relationship between omega-3 levels and these brain changes, which surprised us a little. It led us to conclude that we were tapping into a more general set of lifestyle factors that were affecting brain health of which diet is just one part.”

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Source: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. “Eating baked, broiled fish weekly boosts brain health, study says.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 August 2014.

Rosemary, Oregano Contain Diabetes-Fighting Compounds

Food.Rosemary.LavenderThe popular culinary herbs oregano and rosemary are packed with healthful compounds, and now lab tests show they could work in much the same way as prescription anti-diabetic medication, scientists report. In their new study published in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, they found that how the herbs are grown makes a difference, and they also identified which compounds contribute the most to this promising trait.

The researchers tested four different herbs, either greenhouse-grown or dried commercial versions, for their ability to interfere with a diabetes-related enzyme, which is also a target of a prescription drug for the disease.

They found that greenhouse herbs contained more polyphenols and flavonoids compared to the equivalent commercial herbs. But this didn’t affect the concentration required to inhibit the enzyme. Commercial extracts of Greek oregano, Mexican oregano and rosemary were better inhibitors of the enzyme, required to reduce risk of type-2 diabetes, than greenhouse-grown herbs.

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Source: American Chemical Society. “Rosemary, oregano contain diabetes-fighting compounds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2014.


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Anti-Cancer Mechanism of Green Tea Revealed

Food.Tea.GreenLactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA) is an enzyme that is elevated in several human cancers, including pancreatic cancer. Wai-Nang Lee, MD, from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed; California, USA), and colleagues observe that epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the active biologic constituent in green tea, changes the metabolism of pancreatic cancer cells by suppressing LDHA expression.

The researchers also found an enzyme inhibitor, oxamate, which is known to reduce LDHA activity, operated in the same manner: It also disrupted the pancreatic cancer cells metabolic system. The study authors submit that: “These results suggest that phytochemical [epigallocatechin gallate] and LDHA inhibitor oxamate confer their anti-cancer activities by disrupting the balance of flux throughout the cellular metabolic network.”

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Source: MedicineNet.

 


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Research Shows Almonds Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease

Food.Almonds1Scientists have found that eating almonds in your diet can reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping blood vessels healthy.

Research found that they significantly increase the amount of antioxidants in the blood stream, reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow. These findings add weight to the theory that Mediterranean diets with lots of nuts have big health benefits.

The study was led by Professor Helen Griffiths, Professor in Biomedical Sciences and Executive Dean of the School of Life and Health Sciences at Aston University in Birmingham, UK. Researchers tested the effects of a short-term almond-enriched diet on healthy young and middle-aged men as well as on a group of young men with cardiovascular risk factors including having high blood pressure or being overweight.

At the end of the study period, the group eating an almond-enriched diet had higher levels of antioxidants (alpha-tocopherol) in their blood stream, improved blood flow and lower blood pressure, potentially reducing their risk of heart disease.

Professor Griffiths said: “Our study confirms that almonds are a superfood. Previous studies have shown that they keep your heart healthy, but our research proves that it isn’t too late to introduce them into your diet – adding even a handful (around 50g) every day for a short period can help. You could replace a daytime snack with a bag of almonds or add them to your regular meals like porridge or muesli to help reduce your risk of heart problems.”

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Source: Medical News Today.


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Diet Rich in Plant Antioxidants Helps Blood Sugar

Food.Chocolate.DarkA substance found in a variety of plant-based foods may improve blood sugar in people at risk for heart disease and diabetes, according to a recent study.

Researchers found that a diet rich in plant antioxidants (called polyphenols) lowered blood sugar. The antioxidants are found in dark chocolate, green tea, coffee, and extra virgin olive oil, among other foods.

Lead researcher Lutgarda Bozzetto, MD, says the people in the study felt the diet was easy to stick with. Bozzetto is with the University of Naples Federico II in Italy and presented the study at the European Atherosclerosis Society 2014 Congress.

In this new study, 45 overweight or obese people followed one of four diets:

  • A diet low in omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols
  • A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids
  • A diet rich in polyphenols
  • A diet that included omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols (in lower amounts than group 3)

Those on the omega-3 fatty acid-enriched diets lost more weight during the 8-week study. But blood sugar and insulin levels improved more with the polyphenol-enriched diet. The researchers also noticed improvements in the way the pancreas worked in people on the polyphenol-enriched diet.

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Source: MedicineNet.


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Canola Oil May Be an Oil of Choice for People with Type 2 Diabetes

Food.RapeseedNew research suggests canola oil may be one of the oils of choice for people with Type 2 diabetes. Researchers compared people with Type 2 diabetes who ate either a low glycemic index diet that included bread made with canola oil, or a whole wheat diet known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The research found that those on the canola bread diet experienced both a reduction in blood glucose levels and a significant reduction in LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol.

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Source: St. Michael’s Hospital. “Canola oil may be an oil of choice for people with type 2 diabetes.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 June 2014.


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