Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jon's Health Tips - Latest Health Research


This is driving me nuts. After my last report I went out and bought a lot of pecans. Now I have to go out and buy walnuts:

1. Walnuts are top nut for heart-healthy antioxidants

"Walnuts rank above peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other nuts," said Joe Vinson, Ph.D., who did the analysis. "A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. But unfortunately, people don't eat a lot of them. This study suggests that consumers should eat more walnuts as part of a healthy diet."

Vinson noted that nuts in general have an unusual combination of nutritional benefits — in addition those antioxidants — wrapped into a convenient and inexpensive package. Nuts, for instance, contain plenty of high-quality protein that can substitute for meat; vitamins and minerals; dietary fiber; and are dairy- and gluten-free. Years of research by scientists around the world link regular consumption of small amounts of nuts or peanut butter with decreased risk of heart disease, certain kinds of cancer, gallstones, Type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.

I'm going to keep eating lots of fish and taking fish-oil supplements:

2. High consumption of omega-3s reduces obesity-related disease risk

Omega-3 Reduces Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

The following have renewed my already strong commitment to oatmeal and apples:

Fiber Intake Associated With Reduced Risk of Death

Dietary fiber may be associated with a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular, infectious and respiratory diseases, as well as a reduced risk of death from any cause over a nine-year period, according to a report posted online February 14 that will be published in the June 14 print issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Fiber, the edible part of plants that resist digestion, has been hypothesized to lower risks of heart disease, some cancers, diabetes and obesity, according to background information in the article. It is known to assist with bowel movements, reduce blood cholesterol levels, improve blood glucose levels, lower blood pressure, promote weight loss and reduce inflammation and bind to potential cancer-causing agents to increase the likelihood they will be excreted by the body.

High-fiber diets during early adult years may lower lifetime cardiovascular disease risk

A new study from Northwestern Medicine shows a high-fiber diet could be a critical heart-healthy lifestyle change young and middle-aged adults can make. The study found adults between 20 and 59 years old with the highest fiber intake had a significantly lower estimated lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease compared to those with the lowest fiber intake.


Scientists are reporting the first evidence that consumption of a healthful antioxidant substance in apples extends the average lifespan of test animals, and does so by 10 percent.

We all probably consume too much salt, so I can't wait for the weather to improve so I can get more exercise (and regain my old level of fitness):

7. Physical activity decreases salt's effect on blood pressure

Here's another reason for me to get physically fit:

8. Episodic physical activity & sexual activity = increased risk of heart attack

Episodic physical activity and sexual activity are associated with an increase in the risk of heart attacks for a short window of time during and shortly after the activity. This association was less pronounced among persons with high levels of habitual physical activity.

I feel better about eating my beloved deli meat and hotdogs (although I know the fat content still isn't good for me and only eat any of it once every 2 or 3 weeks or so) after reading about 9. this research and corresponding with the researcher:

If given the choice between eating a hot dog or enjoying some rotisserie chicken, consider the hot dog. That's because hot dogs, as well as pepperoni and deli meats, are relatively free of carcinogenic compounds, according to Kansas State University research. But it's a not-so-happy ending for bacon and rotisserie chicken -- especially chicken skin -- because both have higher levels of cancerous material.

J. Scott Smith, professor of food chemistry, and a K-State research team have been looking at such ready-to-eat meat products to determine their levels of heterocyclic amines, or HCAs. These are carcinogenic compounds found in meat that is fried, grilled or cooked at high temperatures. Studies have shown that humans who consume large amounts of HCAs in meat products have increased risk of stomach, colon and breast cancers.

I wrote to him asking about nitrites in the preserved meats, but he assured me they weren't so dangerous after all, which Wikipedia tends to confirm:

A principal concern about sodium nitrite is the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines in meats containing sodium nitrite when meat is charred or overcooked. Such carcinogenic nitrosamines can be formed from the reaction of nitrite with secondary amines under acidic conditions (such as occurs in the human stomach) as well as during the curing process used to preserve meats. Dietary sources of nitrosamines include US cured meats preserved with sodium nitrite as well as the dried salted fish eaten in Japan. In the 1920s, a significant change in US meat curing practices resulted in a 69% decrease in average nitrite content. This event preceded the beginning of a dramatic decline in gastric cancer mortality.[14] About 1970, it was found that ascorbic acid, an antioxidant, inhibits nitrosamine formation. Consequently, the addition of at least 550 ppm of ascorbic acid is required in meats manufactured in the United States.

I have decided to replace most of my green tea consumption with white tea, after 10. compiling and reviewing recent research which mostly covers green tea, but seems to apply even more strongly to white tea:

When discussing white tea vs green tea, it is important to realize that they both come from the same plant, the tea plant Camellia sinensis. The main difference between the two types of tea is that the white tea leaves are harvested at a younger age than the green tea leaves. They both undergo very little processing. White tea is not fermented at all, while green tea is partly fermented. By contrast, black tea is fully fermented. Because they are so gently treated, white tea and green tea retain their content of beneficial antioxidants.

However, studies have shown that the young, white tea leaves retain antioxidants in higher concentrations than green tea does. Studies have shown that white tea has a concentration of antioxidants that is three times higher than in green tea. Essentially, white tea contains the same concentrations of antioxidants as the young and fresh tea leaf buds that are still attached to the bush. This makes white tea the tea with the highest antioxidant content, which for many is the main reason for drinking white tea. For comparison, one cup of white tea contains approximately twelve (12) times as much antioxidants as fresh orange juice.

Here's a pretty perfect description of my diet and new confirmation on how good it is for me:

11. Mediterranean diet: A heart-healthy plan for life

The Mediterranean diet is a dietary pattern characterized by high consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids, primarily from olives and olive oils; daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals, and low-fat dairy products; weekly consumption of fish, poultry, tree nuts, and legumes; a relatively low consumption of red meat; and a moderate daily consumption of alcohol, normally with meals.

The Mediterranean diet has been shown to be associated with decreased mortality from all causes, lower risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some types of cancer. Additionally, it has a beneficial effect on abdominal obesity, lipids levels, glucose metabolism and blood pressure levels, which are also risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of the Mediterranean diet as a whole, as well as the effects of the individual components of the diet, and especially olive oil, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fish, also confer to the beneficial role of this pattern.

And more research on the effects of alcohol drives me to drink more:

12.Effects of alcohol on risk factors for cardiovascular disease

The findings described in this paper strengthen the case for a causal link between alcohol intake and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, suggesting that the lower risk of heart disease observed among moderate drinkers is caused by the alcoholic beverage itself, and not by other associated lifestyle factors.

Alcohol consumption helps stave off dementia

Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption may decrease the risk of cognitive decline or dementia.

I'm not going to add a dose of safflower oil to my diet, but maybe I should:

14. Safflower oil each day might help keep heart disease at bay

A daily dose of safflower oil, a common cooking oil, for 16 weeks can improve such health measures as good cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin sensitivity and inflammation in obese postmenopausal women who have Type 2 diabetes, according to new research. Safflower oil reduced abdominal fat and increased muscle tissue in this group of women after 16 weeks of daily supplementation. These new findings have led the chief researcher to suggest that a daily dose of safflower oil in the diet – about 1 2/3 teaspoons – is a safe way to help reduce cardiovascular disease risk.

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