Peter Jaret http://www.eatingwell.com/taxonomy/term/880/all en Why Do We Need Vitamin C? http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/vitamin_c_why_do_we_need_it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-standard"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_standard" width="310" height="310" alt="" src="http://bed56888308e93972c04-0dfc23b7b97881dee012a129d9518bae.r34.cf1.rackcdn.com/sites/default/files/orange_grapefruit_310_0.jpg?1274726641" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-question"> <div class="field-label">Question:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Vitamin C: Why do we need it?<br /> Five reasons why you need Vitamin C and ideas on how to fit it in everyday</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-answer"> <div class="field-label">Answer:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Vitamin C burst into prominence back in the 1970s, when Nobel Prize-winning scientist Linus Pauling claimed that high doses could stop cancer and might be the long-sought cure for the common cold. </p> <p> Alas, neither claim has quite held up under scrutiny. Vitamin C doesn’t prevent colds. Nor does taking large doses slow or stop cancer. But Pauling’s instincts were not entirely wrong. There are still many sound reasons to get plenty of C.</p> <h3>What It Does</h3> <p> Researchers have long known that vitamin C is an essential building block of collagen, the structural material for bone, skin, blood vessels and other tissue. Failing to get enough vitamin C causes inflammation of the gums, scaly skin, nosebleed, painful joints and other problems associated with scurvy.</p> <p> In addition, many studies show that eating foods rich in C can reduce the risk of developing cancer, particularly cancers that strike the mouth and digestive tract, according to Jane Higdon, a nutrition scientist at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, able to neutralize unstable oxygen molecules that might otherwise damage DNA. Recent findings suggest it may also protect against Helicobacter pylori, bacteria linked to both stomach cancer and ulcers. A 2003 study at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center reported that people with high blood levels of vitamin C are less likely to test positive for infection by H. pylori. The vitamin appears to inhibit bacterial growth. </p> <p> Vitamin C is also proving to be friendly to the heart and arteries. Analyzing data from more than 85,000 women in the Nurses Health Study, researchers at Children’s Hospital, Boston, reported in 2003 that those with the highest intake of C had the lowest risk of heart disease over a 16-year period. Here, too, the antioxidant effect may be at work, preventing damage to artery walls that can promote cholesterol buildup. But vitamin C seems to protect in other ways as well. In 2004, scientists from the University of Oslo reported that after volunteers ate two or three vitamin-C-rich kiwis a day for 28 days, platelets in their blood were less likely to clump together and form small blood clots that can jam arteries and lead to heart attack or stroke. Eating kiwis also lowered triglycerides, or fats in the blood, by 15 percent, an effect that scientists credit to kiwis’ vitamin C, E and polyphenol content.</p> <p> Getting plenty of C may be especially important for pregnant moms and infants. Last year a study in Seoul, South Korea, reported higher birth weights among babies born to mothers with high vitamin C levels. This year a report in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that vitamin C in breast milk may reduce the risk of allergic dermatitis in predisposed infants. </p> <h3>How Much You Need</h3> <p> The current recommended daily intake for men is 90 mg and for women it is 75 mg. “Don’t waste your money on megadoses of vitamin C,” says Higdon. A National Institutes of Health study showed that the body can only absorb a maximum of about 400 milligrams a day; more than that simply washes out of the system (the upper tolerable limit for vitamin C has been set at 2,000 milligrams per day). Follow the latest advice to eat between five and nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day and chances are you’ll get all you need—especially if you choose several foods high in C. </p> <h3>Food Sources of Vitamin C</h3> <p> Virtually everything in the produce section boasts some vitamin C. Excellent sources (per 1/2 cup serving) include:</p> <p>green bell pepper = 60 mg<br /> orange = 48 mg<br /> strawberries = 45 mg<br /> broccoli = 39 mg<br /> cantaloupe = 29 mg<br /> tomato = 23 mg<br /> turnip greens, cooked = 20 mg<br /> sweet potato, baked with skin = 20 mg<br /> okra, cooked = 13 mg </p> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-related-group-1"><legend>Related Content Group 1</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-relatedtitle1"> <div class="field-label">Related Content Title 1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Healthy Recipes to Try </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-relatedlinks1"> <div class="field-label">Related Links 1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nutrition_health/nutrient_library/vitamin_c_rich_recipes">Vitamin C-Rich Recipes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_citrus_recipes">Healthy Citrus Recipes</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/recipes_menus/recipe_slideshows/sweet_strawberry_recipes">Sweet Strawberry Recipes</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_tomato_recipes">Healthy Tomato Recipes and Cooking Tips</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-related-group-2"><legend>Related Content Group 2</legend><div class="field field-type-text field-field-relatedtitle2"> <div class="field-label">Related Content Title 2:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> More on Vitamin C </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-relatedlinks2"> <div class="field-label">Related Links 2:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nutrition_health/nutrient_library/vitamin_c">Vitamin C</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nutrition_health/healthy_aging/can_vitamin_c_save_your_skin">Can Vitamin C Save Your Skin?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peter Jaret </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-publication"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> June/July 2005 </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/vitamin_c_why_do_we_need_it#comments Peter Jaret June/July 2005 Diet, Nutrition & Health - Nutrition News & Information Fri, 21 Aug 2009 14:44:46 +0000 Nifer 10194 at http://www.eatingwell.com 7 Reasons to Eat and Cook from the Farmers' Market http://www.eatingwell.com/food_news_origins/seasonal_local/farmers_markets/7_reasons_to_eat_and_cook_from_the_farmers_market <p>Stop by my farmers’ market on a Friday morning at the peak of summer and you might hear Lone Oak Ranch’s Marlene Gonzalez, a fourth-generation organic farmer, describe what a pluot is (a cross between a plum and an apricot). Or Roberto Rodriguez, who grows some of the sweetest strawberries you’ll ever taste, reveal why he decided to switch nearly half of his 37 acres of fields to organic agriculture so his 6-year-old would not be exposed to pesticides. Nearby, at Nunez Farm’s stall, you might well overhear shoppers exchanging recipes for Japanese eggplant.</p> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Dr. Preston Maring </div> <div class="field-item even"> Peter Jaret </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Why farmers’ markets will help you find healthier, simpler ways to shop, cook and live. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-standard"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_standard" width="310" height="310" alt="" src="http://bed56888308e93972c04-0dfc23b7b97881dee012a129d9518bae.r34.cf1.rackcdn.com/sites/default/files/veggies_basket_310.jpg?1251232421" /> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-related1"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-relatedtitle1"> <div class="field-label">Related Content Title 1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Related Recipes and Articles </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-relatedlinks1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/food_news_origins/seasonal_local/farmers_markets/americas_top_farmers_markets">America&#039;s Top Farmers&#039; Markets</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_mediterranean_recipes">Healthy Mediterranean Recipes and Menus </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/food_news_origins/seasonal_local/renewing_americas_food_traditions/renewing_americas_food_traditions">Renewing America&#039;s Food Traditions</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/food_news_origins/green_sustainable">Green &amp; Sustainable</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>* 1. Get Inspired<br /> * 2. Follow a Better Diet<br /> * 3. Cook for Your Health<br /> * 4. Support Your Community<br /> * 5. Encourage Sustainable Agriculture<br /> * 6. Eat by Season<br /> * 7. Change Our Food Systems</p> <p><strong>1. Get Inspired</strong></p> <p>The truth is I’ve always loved farmers’ markets. I love to cook, and farmers’ markets are the best place to find the freshest vegetables and fruits of the season. The farmers’ market offers all the inspiration my wife and I need to make something special for dinner, whether it’s a homemade pizza with leeks, tomatoes, feta and prawns or an asparagus-potato frittata. Thanks to farmers’ markets, we’ve been introduced to fruits and vegetables we didn’t know much about before, such as kohlrabi (a Sputnik-looking relative of cabbage with a mild, sweet taste, perfect raw or baked into a gratin).</p> <p>Farmers’ markets keep us in touch with the seasons in a way I have come to cherish—the arrival of asparagus and the first luscious strawberries in the spring, sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes and succulent fresh corn at the height of summer, a rainbow cornucopia of peppers and squash come fall, and winter’s citrus crop and savory root vegetables, which we love to roast with chunks of fennel, a recipe we discovered by hanging out at farmers’ markets.</p> <p>As a physician, I know that a diet built around fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables like these is the cornerstone of preventive medicine. I also know that like most people, my colleagues—doctors, nurses, staff members—as well as our patients, are so busy they don’t always have time to go to a farmers’ market.</p> <p>Why not, I found myself thinking, bring the market to them? I didn’t know the first thing about running a farmers’ market. But it didn’t take me long to find the director of a local farmers’ market association who enthusiastically agreed to help. After months of planning, on May 16, 2003, a bright and breezy spring day, our first farmers’ market opened for business. It was like a block party. People poured out of the hospital. There was a palpable sense of excitement. I think everyone there understood right away the connection between good food and good health. People really caught the spirit of it. It was a day I’ll never forget.</p> <p>As far as I know, ours was one of the first farmers’ markets ever established at a major medical center. To be honest, when it first started, I didn’t know whether or not it would survive. Five and a half years later, it’s still open for business and drawing enthusiastic crowds every Friday. As a primary-care physician, I take pride in having helped many people focus on the basics for good health. I’m also proud to have helped create our thriving farmers’ market—and not just because people love shopping here. I love what it says about our health-care program. And I love what it says about our community. </p> <p><strong>2. Follow a Better Diet</strong></p> <p>Too often people think of hospitals as places that just care for the sick. That’s part of what we do, of course. But another crucial part is keeping people healthy. And there’s no better way to inspire healthy eating than a market packed with local, farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. I’m convinced that our farmers’ market has helped make the people who work here and those who visit a little healthier.</p> <p>For 30 years I’ve watched one patient of mine struggle with a weight problem. But once she began to do most of her shopping at the farmers’ market, she changed her diet to include more fruits and vegetables and lost close to 30 pounds. And on the elevator recently, I chatted with a man who works as an engineer at the hospital who told me he’d lost so much weight that his work clothes were too loose. When I congratulated him, he said, “Hey, this is really thanks to you and thanks to the market.” I’m so convinced of the health benefits of basing your diet around seasonal farm-fresh produce that I’ve even written prescriptions for patients for arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette.</p> <p>Of course it’s hardly news that fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes are good for you—they provide fiber, vitamins and minerals. Still, the evidence for just how good they are continues to amaze me. Study after study shows that eating foods from the garden helps keep blood pressure and cholesterol from climbing and lowers the danger of developing diabetes. A nationwide study published a few years ago and coordinated by Kaiser Permanente in Oregon showed unequivocally that reducing salt intake and eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products significantly reduced blood pressure.</p> <p>In one of the latest and most persuasive studies, researchers from Harvard gathered data from more than 72,000 women over two decades, as part of the well-known Nurses’ Health Study. Women who followed the so-called “prudent diet,” made up of many of the foods on display at farmers’ markets—fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains—had a 28 percent lower risk of dying of heart disease. In contrast, those who ate a “Western diet” rich in high-fat, sugary and processed foods had a 22 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease and a 16 percent higher cancer risk. For some of these women, the difference between these two ways of eating was literally a matter of life and death. I’m convinced it is for most of the rest of us as well.</p> <p>The Mediterranean diet—abounding in fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains and healthy plant oils, such as olive and peanut oil—has become almost synonymous with optimal health. With good reason, as studies from around the world continue to show. A study published in the December 2007 Archives of Internal Medicine showed that the Mediterranean diet reduces risks of cancer and heart disease and improves the odds of living a long life. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Athens also showed a strong association between a largely plant-based diet and longevity. And when researchers at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in Spain, reviewed 35 studies, they found that the Mediterranean eating pattern improved cholesterol levels, boosted antioxidants, protected against insulin resistance (a risk factor for diabetes) and helped keep blood vessels healthy.</p> <p>Several large studies have shown that people with heart disease can dramatically improve their health by making fruits and vegetables the centerpiece of their diet and replacing saturated fats (such as those you might get from dairy and meat) with unsaturated fats (such as those in avocados and nuts). That’s very good news, of course. But our real goal should be to prevent diseases in the first place.</p> <p>That’s why I always find it a joy to see kids at our farmers’ market, and not only because they seem to be having such a good time. Starting healthier eating habits early in life is likely to offer the biggest payoff of all. Along with more physical activity, a healthy diet with nutrient-rich, low-calorie foods is just about the only prescription we have to end the epidemic of weight problems and diabetes among children. In many ways, a healthier diet will also help kids grow into healthy adults. Another study from Kaiser Permanente showed that a diet abundant in fruits and vegetables increased bone density during those critical teen years. I like to think the kids who come through our market and sample a fresh peach or a handful of cherry tomatoes will go on to make healthier choices for the rest of their lives. </p> <p><strong>3. Cook for Your Health</strong></p> <p>The list of health benefits associated with a diet centered around plant-based foods goes on and on. If we could put all those together in one pill, we’d have a blockbuster drug. But it wouldn’t be as colorful or delicious as the prescription you can fill at a farmers’ market. So why do most Americans still fall woefully short on the optimal number of servings of fruits and vegetables—between 5 and 9 a day, depending on how many calories you consume?</p> <p>There are many reasons, of course. But the leading one, I think, is that the choices closest at hand are those from fast-food outlets. And in some places, those are just about the only choices.</p> <p>That’s why bringing the market to the medical center proved to be so powerful. If you make healthy food available and visible, people will try it. It’s a little like putting a bowl of fruit front and center in the kitchen so you or your children will grab an apple or a peach for a snack—except in this case we’ve put an entire farmers’ market on the street where people come and go. And we know at least some people are eating more healthy food as a result. In 2005 we conducted a survey and found that of our repeat market customers, 71 percent said they were eating more fruits and vegetables. Sixty-three percent were eating new and different fruits and vegetables.</p> <p>Convenience is part of what our market offers. But I think people caught the spirit of it for another reason. It’s one thing for your primary-care doctor to say, “You know, you really should be eating a healthier diet.” But it’s a lot more convincing when your medical center hosts a farmers’ market where you can fill a bag with fresh, delicious produce. Our market proved that we, as doctors, not only talk the talk, we walk the walk. And that goes a long way toward convincing people—not just patients but everyone in our community—that we really believe in the importance of making healthy food choices.</p> <p>Encouraging people to shop at farmers’ markets also encourages them to cook, and I firmly believe that’s another key to good health. When you prepare your own meals, it’s much easier to take charge of exactly what you eat. Take the example of salt. Too much of it can raise blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Where does most of the salt in the average diet come from? Processed foods. When people cook their own food (as opposed to relying on these processed foods), they typically consume less salt without even having to think about it.</p> <p>Also, when you’re in charge of the menu, you can easily serve a more modest-sized portion of meat and add extra servings of fresh vegetables to a salad or a stir-fry, for example. You can also make smart choices, such as serving a whole grain like quinoa or brown rice instead of a refined grain like white rice. You can experiment, as my wife and I have, with fruits and vegetables you weren’t familiar with and might just learn to love.</p> <p>I’ll admit, we’ve been lucky that our son, who trained as a professional chef before enrolling in medical school, taught us some tricks of his trade. When he was home for the summer, we cooked as a family nearly every night and had the tastiest meals I’ve ever enjoyed. My son showed us how to wield a chef’s knife correctly and how to slice and dice quickly. You don’t need to go to culinary school to cook at home, of course. And if you want to learn more, many larger farmers’ markets are sponsoring cooking classes. Even if yours doesn’t, it is a great place to meet other people who truly love good food—a place where you’re more likely to learn about how to choose, store and prepare produce than almost anywhere else.</p> <p><strong>4. Support Your Community</strong></p> <p>The benefits of supporting farmers’ markets go beyond individual health to something larger: the well-being of an entire community. Prosperous farms help ensure green spaces between towns and cities and conserve land for agriculture. For many small growers, a thriving local market offers the opportunity to make a decent living from farming, pay their workers a fair wage and plan for the future. At farmers’ markets, they can sell directly to customers, earning close to 80 cents on a dollar, on average, compared to just 20 cents if they sell to food distributors who ship their produce to grocery chains.</p> <p>In large metropolitan areas, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago or New York City, many small farmers sell exclusively through farmers’ markets. They wouldn’t be able to survive as small business owners without them. For example, my friend Mr. Rodriguez began selling his organic strawberries at our farmers’ market and soon we began offering his spectacular berries to patients at our 19 Northern California hospitals. Now, each season he provides 130 dozen pints per week and, to do that, he has had to hire five new farm workers.</p> <p>Also, when you buy from a farm or a farmers’ market, you are helping ensure that the farm is economically viable and that local produce will be available year after year. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me it’s worth a lot to know that every spring I can help myself to several different varieties of exquisitely ripe and sweet berries, and that early fall will arrive with fresh figs and beautiful heirloom tomatoes by the basketful. Small farms have played a leading role in re­introducing many unusual varieties of fruits and vegetables that were virtually abandoned when large-scale agriculture came along. Among these so-called heirloom varieties are hundreds of different kinds of apples, pears and tomatoes that were in danger of being lost, fruits and vegetables you would hardly ever find at supermarkets.</p> <p>And of course there’s the simple fact that these local markets are just plain fun. They are places where people can come together to shop, talk, sit on a bench and watch the world go by, listen to music and exchange recipes. Local markets are as old as the oldest human settlements, and they have always been about more than just the buying and selling of goods. They are the heart and soul of a community. With the rise of big-box stores and shopping malls, we’ve unfortunately lost that feature in many parts of the country.</p> <p>But today it’s being recaptured in the growing number of farmers’ markets cropping up in towns and cities large and small, with their colorful stalls and handwritten signs, their bins of hand-picked produce that was often harvested just hours ago. </p> <p><strong>5. Encourage Sustainable Agriculture</strong></p> <p>Farmers’ markets help keep not only our communities healthy but our environment too. Small farms have been leaders in adapting sustainable agricultural techniques that protect water and build healthy soils. They have revived growing techniques that don’t require as many chemical fertilizers and pesticides as some large operations do, and adapted to specific local growing conditions. Their hard work has helped prevent contamination of rivers, streams, lakes and oceans and often prevented farm workers from being exposed to chemicals that are known to pose health hazards.</p> <p>Many small farms, whether they are certified “organic” or not, use sustainable approaches: the farmers you meet at these community markets often have only 20 or 30 acres or less and don’t have the option of moving their operations to new locations when the soil becomes unworkable. Their livelihood, and the health of the towns they live in, depends on sustainable growing techniques that preserve and replenish the fertility of their small patch of soil. Local growers protect our communities in another way. They typically plant a wide variety of crops, in contrast to some large industrial farms, which grow hundreds or thousands of acres of the same crop. Crop diversity is a good defense against the spread of damaging insects and plant pathogens. If a problem arises in one crop, it’s unlikely to spread to others. That’s not true of monocropping, where the spread of a pathogen can be catastrophic.</p> <p>Finally, local farmers are a small but important part of the solution to the largest environmental challenges we face. We’re just beginning to understand the environmental consequences of shipping food long distances. Energy independence has become the rallying cry. Well, every time you buy something locally grown rather than shipped from halfway around the world, you reduce the amount of oil being burned and the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere. All in all, you end up getting a lot from your food dollar when you spend it at a local farmers’ market, and that dollar goes right back into your community.</p> <p><strong>6. Eat by Season</strong></p> <p>I sometimes linger at our market simply to listen in on conversations between shoppers and farmers. I learn something new almost every time about how food is grown or how to prepare it, about the vagaries of weather and the details of our local climate. Before we started our market, I didn’t know all that much about where the food I ate came from or how it was grown. Now I know many of the local farmers by name. I have new respect for how hard they work. I follow the local weather reports, knowing that too much rain in the spring or an unexpected freeze can endanger their crops. I’m much more aware of the many challenges they face. I understand that farming is by its nature a precarious business, at the mercy of weather and fluctuating prices. But I’ve also seen firsthand the deep satisfaction farmers take from planting seeds and watching them turn into the foods that nourish us.</p> <p>By their very nature, farmers’ markets encourage us to buy seasonal produce. As every chef knows, the most beautiful, best-tasting and most economical foods are the ones that are in season. Eating with the seasons is all about anticipation and then savoring what is ripe at the moment—the first tangerines of the winter that light up the market, the season of stone-fruit, then the arrival of heirloom tomatoes, followed by the wild shapes and colors of squash in the late fall. The bounty on display at a farmers’ market at the peak of the season is the very opposite of fast food. It’s food that a farmer has spent months nurturing to the moment of perfect ripeness. It is food to be cherished and savored.</p> <p><strong>7. Change Our Food Systems</strong></p> <p>When a good idea comes along, it takes root and begins to grow faster and more vigorously than even its biggest advocates ever imagined. Certainly that was true of our small market. We were open for business only a few weeks when I started getting calls from people at other Kaiser Permanente facilities who wanted to start their own farmers’ markets. Within a year, five farmers’ markets were up and running. Today, our health-care system boasts some 30 markets in four states. And of course, many other hospitals and medical centers have launched their own.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the success of our farmers’ market inspired us to look for other ways to encourage the people we serve to eat healthier foods. One obvious place for a hospital to start is with its patients. The same values that inform our outdoor market, after all, should guide the choice of food we serve to our patients. That means using as much food as we can manage from small local farms growing in sustainable ways. Over the past few years we’ve been working hard to introduce more locally grown fresh produce onto the menu and to plan around foods that are in season. It’s a big undertaking. In 2006 Kaiser Permanente bought about 25 tons of produce from small family farmers to serve at our hospitals. In 2007, we were up to 60 tons.</p> <p>Building on the enthusiastic reception our market received, we’re also experimenting with other ways to get produce to the people. We’ve started “best of the market” programs, where we put together bags of produce from the market and bring them to people who may be too busy caring for patients to be able to shop themselves. We’re investigating ways to grow vegetables on unused land at a few of our medical-facilities.</p> <p>Around the country, farmers’ markets are booming. According to the latest tally, there are more than 4,600 farmers’ markets in the United States. Almost anywhere you go during the growing season, you’ll find one. Each and every one, in its own way, reflects the special character of the places they call home—from the sizzling chiles in Arizona to the tropical fruits on Maui to the wild mushrooms displayed at the Portland Farmers Market in Oregon.</p> <p>More and more markets are working to make sure that people at every economic level can take advantage of fresh, locally grown produce. Several states are experimenting with wireless devices that allow people on food stamps to use their swipe cards at local markets. Many neighborhood food banks are forming partnerships with local farmers, arranging to buy up food that might otherwise go to waste in the field and serving it to those in need—a win-win arrangement for everyone. A wonderful group called Urban Farming has been converting abandoned lots in Detroit into small garden plots tended by volunteers, who turn their produce over to local food banks and other meal-assistance programs—an idea that has taken root in dozens of other cities around the country.</p> <p>Chances are there’s a terrific farmers’ market near you. Or a community-supported agriculture program that allows customers to buy a certain amount of produce from a local farmer each week—providing farmers more stable revenue and consumers the best of the harvest. I urge you to support them. As a physician, I know there’s nothing more important to health than what you eat. As an avid home cook, I know there’s no better place to find the healthiest, freshest and best-tasting food than at a farmers’ market.</p> <p>Enjoy it in good health.</p> <p><em>Dr. Preston Maring, the associate physician-in-chief at Kaiser Permanente’s Oakland (CA) Medical Center, is a crusader for local, healthy food and a national advocate for the small family farm. Peter Jaret won a James Beard Foundation journalism award for his article “The Search for the Anti-Aging Diet” (EatingWell Magazine, November/December 2007). His most recent book is Nurse: A World of Care (Emory University Press, 2008).</em></p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/food_news_origins/seasonal_local/farmers_markets/7_reasons_to_eat_and_cook_from_the_farmers_market#comments Dr. Preston Maring Peter Jaret Recipes & Menus - Fresh Food News & Origins - Seasonal & Local Thu, 20 Aug 2009 17:55:46 +0000 Sarah Hoff 9938 at http://www.eatingwell.com The Food Cancer Connection http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/immunity/the_food_cancer_connection <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peter Jaret </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Can diet make a difference? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Hardly a month goes by without a headline trumpeting the news that yet another food has been shown to fight cancer. Broccoli, garlic, onions, green tea, tomatoes, whole grains, even coffee have all joined the anticancer brigade over the years. </p> <p>So it came as a shock when one of the largest diet and health studies ever undertaken threw cold water on some of those glad tidings. Analyzing data from more than 100,000 people enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study, scientists at Harvard School of Public Health found no link at all between eating fruits and vegetables and cancer risk. It didn’t matter whether people consumed two servings a day or 10; their risk of developing cancer over the 15-year study period was exactly the same.</p> <h3>Lack of Evidence</h3> <p>How could that be? For years, the National Cancer Institute has promoted its “Eat 5 to 9 a Day” program, encouraging Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables. Some of the country’s leading cancer-research centers have published diet books designed to lower cancer risk, featuring fruits and vegetables. Were the experts wrong?</p> <p>“We’d all like to believe that a healthy diet can help prevent cancer,” says Alice Lichtenstein, D.Sc., a nutrition expert at the USDA Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. “Unfortunately, though there appears to be an association between diets high in fruits and vegetables and lower risk of cancer, we have yet to identify exactly which dietary components may be protective, or indeed whether simply upping produce intake may decrease more potentially risky food choices.”</p> <p>Fiber offers a case in point. Early studies suggested that the more fiber people consumed, the lower their risk of colon cancer. With hopes running high, the National Cancer Institute funded two studies that compared two groups of volunteers, some eating a high-fiber diet, others a diet low in fiber. To universal surprise, the high-fiber diet showed no benefit in reducing risk. </p> <h3>Produce in Perspective</h3> <p>Sharon Ross, a program director at the NCI, remains optimistic that ongoing research will bring better news: “Part of the difficulty is that we don’t have good tools to study diet and cancer,” she says. Many studies are based on what people recall eating over previous years, a notoriously undependable source of information. Animal studies can help, but it’s not easy to know if the results apply to people in the real world. The gold standard is a study that controls what people eat and follows them over time. But because cancer typically takes decades to show up, this kind of study is enormously expensive and difficult to conduct.</p> <p>Eventually, Ross suspects, scientists may discover that the importance of diet varies, due to genetic differences. “We may find that for some people, eating fruits and vegetables will make a big difference. In others, it may not play much of a role. We’ll be able to tailor dietary advice much more precisely to individuals.”</p> <h3>Bottom Line</h3> <p>Wherever research leads, the recent news is no reason to abandon a healthy diet. “There is still a great deal of evidence from many studies that diet can help prevent some cancers,” insists Richard S. Rivlin, M.D., director of the Anne Fisher Nutrition Center at the Strang Cancer Prevention Laboratory in New York. “Prostate cancer is a good example. Precancerous changes occur at the same rate in men almost everywhere around the world, but the progression of the disease is very different. Lots of evidence points to differences in diet as the explanation.” </p> <h3>News You Can Use</h3> <p>The American Institute for Cancer Research just published its most up-to-date food, nutrition and activity recommendations to help prevent cancer. Here are 8 quick tips:</p> <p>1. Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.<br /> 2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.<br /> 3. Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods (particularly processed foods high in added sugar, or low in fiber, or high in fat).<br /> 4. Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans.<br /> 5. Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats.<br /> 6. If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day.<br /> 7. Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).<br /> 8. Don't use supplements to protect against cancer.</p> <p>Source: American Institute of Cancer Research<br /> For more information go to <a href="http://www.aicr.org" title="www.aicr.org">www.aicr.org</a>.</p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/immunity/the_food_cancer_connection#comments Peter Jaret February/March 2006 Healthy Immune System Diet, Nutrition & Health - Immunity Tue, 18 Aug 2009 22:24:26 +0000 Penelope Wall 9748 at http://www.eatingwell.com Is Salt the Next Health Focus? http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/blood_pressure/is_salt_the_next_health_focus <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peter Jaret </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> A recent study suggests that a low sodium diet may reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 25 to 30 percent. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the past four years the number of reduced-salt alternatives on grocery shelves, from V8 juice to Goldfish crackers, has more than doubled. Indeed, “low-sodium” seems poised to follow “trans-fat-free” as the next rallying cry in the campaign for healthier diets, especially as new evidence underscores the benefits of easing up on salt.</p> <p>The most startling numbers come from a study published in the April 2007 British Medical Journal, which found that reducing sodium slashed cardiovascular-disease risk by 25 to 30 percent—far more than even many advocates of low-sodium diets imagined. “We’ve known for a long time that excessive sodium raises blood pressure,” says Nancy Cook, Sc.D., an associate professor of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who led the study. Two previous investigations, reported in 1992 and 1997, had shown that when some of the participants were counseled to reduce sodium, average blood pressure levels fell. Cook and her team decided to check back to see if the volunteers in the low-sodium group—1,169 people in all—were any healthier 10 to 15 years later. They were. Surveys showed that people who’d been counseled to cut back on salty foods were still following that advice. And they were as much as one-third less likely to have suffered a heart attack, stroke or other complications of cardiovascular disease. </p> <p>“The numbers really surprised us,” says Cook, who acknowledges that while cutting back on salt has been shown to lower blood pressure, the reduction is usually fairly modest—a few points, on average, in those with borderline hypertension. The reduction in the study participants’ heart-disease risk, by contrast, was dramatic. One reason may be that elevated blood pressure is only one way excessive sodium is bad for the body. Recent studies show it can also stiffen artery walls and may even damage heart muscle. Too much sodium may also be a factor in fueling the epidemic of insulin resistance, a risk factor for both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.</p> <p>How much sodium is too much? Federal experts recommend a maximum of 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day—the amount in a teaspoon of table salt. Some studies show that cutting back even further (to a Spartan 1,500 mg daily) offers additional protection against hypertension. </p> <p>Unfortunately, most Americans still consume about 3,375 mg of sodium a day. The growing ranks of low-sodium processed foods should help bring those numbers down, since processed foods account for a whopping 80 percent of sodium in Americans’ diets.</p> <p>Bottom Line: Watching your sodium intake now can provide big health payoffs later. Reduced-sodium processed foods can help, but you’ll get even more benefit by choosing whole, unprocessed foods, cooking more from “scratch” and using just a dash of salt as needed. By gradually reducing the amount you use, you can reset your taste buds so that less salt doesn’t mean bland. “Many of the people in our study reported that they had grown to prefer low-sodium alternatives,” says Cook.</p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/blood_pressure/is_salt_the_next_health_focus#comments Peter Jaret September/October 2007 High Blood Pressure Diet Diet, Nutrition & Health - Blood Pressure Tue, 18 Aug 2009 21:46:51 +0000 Penelope Wall 9741 at http://www.eatingwell.com Inflammation: Should You Worry? http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/heart_health/inflammation_should_you_worry <p>The evidence linking elevated cholesterol to heart-disease risk may be rock-solid, but there are still mysteries. One of the most perplexing is the fact that as many as one-third of heart attacks occur in people with perfectly normal cholesterol levels. And many people with high blood-cholesterol readings show no signs of clogged arteries.</p> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peter Jaret </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Beyond cholesterol: the role of inflammation in heart health. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The evidence linking elevated cholesterol to heart-disease risk may be rock-solid, but there are still mysteries. One of the most perplexing is the fact that as many as one-third of heart attacks occur in people with perfectly normal cholesterol levels. And many people with high blood-cholesterol readings show no signs of clogged arteries.</p> <p>Obviously, there’s more to heart-disease risk than cholesterol. And new research suggests that one hidden risk factor may be inflammation. Most of us know inflammation as the visible redness and swelling that shows up around a cut on the skin that has become infected. A similar process can happen inside the body. Low-level systemic inflammation, researchers suspect, may damage the lining of blood vessels, increasing the risk of plaque buildup and heart attacks.</p> <p>Lately, more and more doctors have begun to test for inflammation by measuring a telltale marker, called C-reactive protein (CRP), in the blood. Studies show that people with the highest levels are twice as likely to develop heart disease or suffer a heart attack as those with the lowest CRP readings. Some experts now argue that CRP testing should be done routinely to identify people at risk who aren’t picked up by cholesterol screening.</p> <p>What causes inflammation? No one knows. One guess is that the culprit is a viral or bacterial infection. Fortunately, aspirin, statins and weight loss all seem to reduce inflammation. There’s also evidence that being physically active may help keep inflammation in check.</p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/heart_health/inflammation_should_you_worry#comments Peter Jaret Heart Healthy Diet Diet, Nutrition & Health - Heart Health Tue, 18 Aug 2009 20:02:29 +0000 Penelope Wall 9716 at http://www.eatingwell.com Eat. Drink. Be Well. http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/heart_health/eat_drink_be_well <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peter Jaret </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Food tempers alcohol&#039;s effect on blood pressure. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-standard"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_standard" width="310" height="310" alt="" src="http://bed56888308e93972c04-0dfc23b7b97881dee012a129d9518bae.r34.cf1.rackcdn.com/sites/default/files/meal_wine_bread_310.jpg?1250608078" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A glass of wine, beer or spirits may be good for the heart, but there is a catch. Although alcohol makes blood less likely to clot and lowers cholesterol levels, researchers have long known that drinking, even in moderation, can raise blood pressure. In fact, alcohol consumption is typically listed as a standard risk factor for hypertension. But if you imbibe moderately with dinner, worry not. New findings published last December in the journal Hypertension show that consuming alcohol with a meal is much less likely to affect blood pressure than drinking on an empty stomach.</p> <p>Reviewing data from a survey of 2,609 men and women collected between 1995 and 2001, researcher Saverio Stranges and his colleagues at the University at Buffalo found that the risk of hypertension was almost 50 percent higher in people who reported drinking without food compared to those who typically imbibed with a meal. “One of the surprises is that consuming alcoholic beverages with food seems to reduce the effect of alcohol on blood pressure even among light and moderate drinkers,” says Stranges. “And it doesn’t matter whether people consume wine, beer or liquor.”</p> <p>Although the study didn’t look at why, Stranges speculates that food slows the rise of alcohol in the blood and speeds its elimination from the body. But he admits the explanation may be much simpler: people who sip their drinks over hors d’oeuvres or dinner may also have healthier lifestyles than people who drink without food.</p> <p><strong>“One Drink” means:</strong></p> <p>12 ounces beer<br /> or<br /> 5 ounces wine<br /> or<br /> 1 1/2 ounces spirits</p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/heart_health/eat_drink_be_well#comments Peter Jaret June/July 2005 Heart Healthy Diet Diet, Nutrition & Health - Heart Health Tue, 18 Aug 2009 14:56:00 +0000 Penelope Wall 9676 at http://www.eatingwell.com The Power of Spirits http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/the_power_of_spirits <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peter Jaret </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> New science explores just how much a glass of cheer can do for your health. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>One after another the guests arrived, flushed from climbing the steep steps up to the ancient stone house. Dish by dish, the long kitchen table filled with homemade local specialties. Friends of ours—one Greek, one Dutch—had restored this centuries-old house in the village of Agios San Marcos, on a steep hillside on the island of Corfu, and tonight they were throwing the Greek equivalent of a potluck to celebrate the arrival of their American guests. And what a feast! Grilled squid with lemon. A peppery fish stew called bourdeto. A salad of fresh arugula and another, called horiatiki, made with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and feta. For dessert: a walnut cake and a melange of pineapple, kiwi, yogurt and honey. It was quintessential Mediterranean fare, a bounty of the foods we now associate with good health and long life—fish, leafy greens, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, yogurt, walnuts and...</p> <p>“Vino!” a voice called from the courtyard. Shouts and laughter followed. Nikos, a neighbor who lived down the hill, had enlisted one of the donkeys that are used to hoist heavy building materials up the steep paths to carry two five-gallon jugs filled at a nearby winery.</p> <p>The wine. Of course! From the time the ancient Greeks sailed the “wine-dark seas” celebrated in The Odyssey and even before, alcoholic beverages have held a cherished place not only in Greece but in many Mediterranean cultures. “Where there is no wine,” a Greek proverb has it, “there is no love.” And there might not be such robust good health, either. Olive oil may have been the first darling of the Mediterranean diet, but lately, more and more research has focused on wine’s contribution to a healthy heart and long life.</p> <p>It’s hardly news that drinking in moderation protects against heart disease—more than 100 studies have come to that conclusion. “But now we’re beginning to see that alcohol may protect against type 2 diabetes as well, a disease that is becoming a huge health problem among Americans,” says epidemiologist Eric Rimm, Sc.D., a leading authority on alcohol and health at the Harvard School of Public Health. People who drink moderately also appear to gain protection against age-related memory loss and even some forms of cancer. And though wine has been the focus of most research, the latest evidence suggests that alcoholic beverages of all kinds, in moderation, offer similar health benefits.</p> <p>Drinking has a dark side, of course. Consuming too much increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease and cancer. Alcoholism ruins lives and destroys families. According to the latest statistics, more than 17,000 traffic deaths a year are alcohol-related. That’s roughly 40 percent of all traffic fatalities. Especially worrisome is the fact that after declining from 1993 to 1997, episodes of alcohol-impaired driving are becoming more frequent, according to a report published in 2005 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. “We have to be very cautious when we talk about alcohol to acknowledge that it’s a double-edged sword,” says physician JoAnn Manson, M.D., Dr.P.H., chief of preventive medicine at Brigham &amp; Women’s Hospital in Boston. “For people who abuse alcohol, the risks far outweigh any benefits.”</p> <p>Still, for people who imbibe sensibly, the benefits are impressive. The heart-disease protection associated with a glass of alcohol a day is just about equal to what the latest generation of cholesterol-lowering drugs offers. Some experts in the field say that given the evidence, doctors have a duty to talk to patients, particularly those at risk of heart disease, about the effects, both good and bad, of alcohol.</p> <p><strong>Ancient Knowledge Trickles Down</strong><br /> in a sense, modern science is rediscovering what people have known intuitively through the ages. “From ancient Greek writings to the Bible, the historical record is filled with references to the health benefits of wine and beer,” says Joseph A. Hill, M.D., Ph.D., a cardiologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Farming may well have begun in order to ensure a reliable supply of ingredients needed to make alcoholic beverages. In ancient Egypt, mothers were enjoined to send their children to school with bread and beer for lunch. The Pilgrims decided to go ashore at Plymouth Rock not because they thought it was prime real estate but rather because they’d run out of beer on board, according to Hill. That’s less astonishing than it seems at first. For most of human history, as it happens, wine and other alcoholic beverages were the only safe things to drink; plain water was usually contaminated with harmful microbes.</p> <p>Alcohol has also long been believed to possess medicinal qualities. Hippocrates himself recommended wine for a variety of ailments. And over the centuries, plenty of wits and sages have celebrated the virtues of drink. A bishop of the Spanish city of Seville once famously quipped: “I have enjoyed great health at a great age because every day since I can remember I have consumed a bottle of wine except when I have not felt well. Then I have consumed two bottles.”</p> <p>Modern physicians first began to suspect that alcohol might protect against heart disease almost a century ago, when autopsies revealed that the arteries of heavy drinkers were remarkably free of atherosclerosis. Researchers in the 1970s began to look at large populations of people to compare drinkers and nondrinkers and their risk of heart disease. In 1974, Arthur Klatsky, M.D., a cardiologist at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, California, published the first epidemiological evidence that consuming alcohol was associated with a lower risk of coronary disease. In a recent update of those original findings, which now include data from 128,934 people who have been followed for more than 20 years, he and his colleagues calculated that people who imbibe one to two drinks a day enjoy a 32 percent lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease than those who abstain from alcohol.</p> <p>“The benefits show up in men and women, in people with diabetes and without, in all ethnic groups, across the board,” says Klatsky. More than 100 studies, in fact, conducted in countries around the world, have confirmed that people who consume moderate amounts of alcohol are about one-third less likely to get heart disease or die of a heart attack than those who do not drink at all.</p> <p>What’s so good about alcohol? Researchers first assumed that it worked like a solvent, clearing out clogged arteries the way drain cleaners unclog pipes. Now they say that alcohol protects against heart attacks chiefly by boosting levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL)—popularly known as good cholesterol. Its counterpart, low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, accumulates on artery walls, eventually restricting blood flow. HDL is believed to act like a sort of truant officer, rounding up the bad particles from arteries and hustling them down to the liver, where they are removed from the body. “Research focused first on the dangers of LDL cholesterol. But we’re now beginning to realize that high levels of HDL cholesterol are extremely important for cardiovascular protection,” says Kenneth Mukamal, M.D., M.P.H., a researcher and internist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “Unfortunately, we don’t yet have good medications that are effective at increasing HDL levels.” Exercise can boost the numbers, say researchers, but even regular exercise generally raises HDL by only about 3 milligrams per deciliter. Alcohol, in contrast, has been shown to boost levels by 10 to 13 mg/dL.</p> <p>Alcohol protects in other ways too. Heart attack and stroke danger climbs with age in part because artery walls become rigid. In 2005, researchers at the National Institute on Aging found less stiffness in the arteries of moderate drinkers than in people who didn’t drink at all. Alcohol has also been shown to help prevent blood clots that might otherwise block blood supply to cardiac muscles, the cause of most heart attacks.</p> <p><strong>Staving Off Diabetes &amp; Keeping the Mind Young</strong><br /> The benefits of alcohol go beyond heart-disease protection. One of the biggest surprises in recent years has been evidence that moderate drinking protects against diabetes. “By now something like a dozen studies have shown that people who drink moderately have less risk of diabetes and fewer complications if they do have the disease,” says Harvard’s Eric Rimm. Insulin resistance, which often occurs when people become overweight, is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes. Several small clinical trials have shown that moderate alcohol consumption improves insulin sensitivity. “That may be particularly important given the rise in obesity in the United States,” says Rimm. One reason moderate drinking is linked to lower danger of heart disease, in fact, may be that it helps prevent diabetes, which is known to increase cardiovascular risk.</p> <p>What’s good for the heart also seems to be good for the head. A 2005 study of women between the ages of 65 and 79 conducted at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina found that those who consumed one or two drinks a day performed better on a variety of tests of cognitive function and dementia. A 1999 Boston University study similarly found that among both men and women, moderate drinkers performed better than abstainers on a host of mental-function tests. Researchers speculate that alcohol may protect the brain in exactly the same way it protects the heart: by keeping blood vessels healthy, thus ensuring that brain cells get all the nutrients they need. By preventing blood clots in the brain, alcohol may also reduce the risk of small cerebral strokes, which can impair memory and brain function.</p> <p>And there may be one more reason to raise a glass to health. Several studies suggest that alcoholic beverages may even protect against certain forms of cancer. The findings are controversial, since excessive drinking is known to lead to liver cancer, and even moderate levels of alcohol can slightly raise a woman’s risk of breast cancer.</p> <p>Still, in a small study published last year, Spanish researchers found that drinking red wine was associated with a 43 percent lower risk of lung cancer. And at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, researchers recently reported that prostate-cancer risk among men who drank four or more glasses of red wine a week was half what it was among nondrinkers.</p> <p><strong>Glad Tidings, Grave Concerns</strong><br /> By all rights, the glad tidings about alcohol should be reason to uncork a good bottle of Champagne and celebrate. More than half of American adults say they drink alcoholic beverages. The vast majority fall into the “light” to “moderate” drinking category, which means no more than one to two drinks daily. (One drink is usually defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 100-proof liquor. All have about 15 grams of alcohol.) If researchers are right, moderate drinkers are the healthier for it.</p> <p>Yet health experts have remained remarkably reticent to trumpet the news about alcohol’s potential benefits. Make that more than reticent. In the mid-1970s, when data from the landmark Framingham Heart Study suggested that moderate drinking was associated with significantly lower heart-disease risk, officials from the National Institutes of Health insisted that the information be withheld from the published study, according to R. Curtis Ellison, M.D., professor of medicine at Boston University, a renowned researcher on alcohol and health. They went further, he says, urging the researchers to report that there was “no significant relationship” between alcohol and the incidence of heart disease—which was simply wrong.</p> <p>Why? Part of the answer lies in history and culture. “We are a temperance nation,” says Ellison. “When it comes to alcohol, we’ve tended to see the choices as either getting drunk or abstaining.” Small wonder, then, that when positive data surfaced, federal officials feared that if scientists said anything good about alcohol, people would rush to the bottle and become alcohol abusers.</p> <p>Other cultures view alcohol very differently, says Ellison. “Many Mediterranean countries see alcohol, particularly wine, simply as one of the pleasures of life, part of a meal to be enjoyed, like everything else, in moderation.” As Ernest Hemingway observed in A Moveable Feast, “In Europe we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also a great giver of happiness and well being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating....”</p> <p>Ironically, countries that tend to have the most nondrinkers also tend to have the most problem drinkers—with the fewest people falling within the moderate-drinking category. Of course, for some people, drinking can be dangerous, even deadly. While moderate amounts of alcohol protect the heart, too much actually raises the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, liver disease and other serious medical problems. In many studies that look at alcohol and health, in fact, the results typically trace what epidemiologists call a J-shaped curve. Nondrinkers turn out to be at slightly increased risk, indicated by the raised hook of the letter J. Risk drops for moderate drinkers (the falling curve of the bottom of the letter) and then rises precipitously for people who drink too much (the stem of the J).</p> <p>The J-shaped curve demonstrates the age-old injunction to observe “moderation in all things.” (Or as a bit of anonymous doggerel puts it: “God in His goodness sent the grapes, to cheer both great and small; little fools will drink too much, and great fools not at all.”)</p> <p>For health officials trying to make recommendations, however, defining too little and too much hasn’t been easy. Some studies show that risk may begin to climb after two drinks. Others see no problems at all until people reach four or five drinks a day. In some cases, the window of safety between too little and too much can be very narrow. One study found that women who drank half a drink a day lowered their risk of developing high blood pressure by 14 percent; those who consumed one and a half drinks raised the danger by 20 percent. The difference between benefit and risk, in other words, was just one drink.</p> <p>Today, most official recommendations agree that one glass a day for women, two for men represents a reasonable guideline. And most experts agree on this, too: people who drink much more than that should be counseled to cut back or quit entirely.</p> <p><strong>If You Decline a Daily Tonic</strong><br /> But what about people who don’t drink? Should they be advised to start? In an editorial entitled “To Drink or Not to Drink?” published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2003, Ira Goldberg, M.D., a physician at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, says no. “If alcohol were a newly discovered drug (instead of a drink dating back to the dawn of human history), we can be sure that no pharmaceutical company would develop it to prevent cardiovascular disease,” he argues. The risks of excessive drinking are so serious that they outweigh the possible benefits. What’s more, many of those benefits can be gained in other ways: by eating a healthier diet, getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight—advice that most Americans still have a long way to go in following.</p> <p>Despite heading up several large studies that have illuminated alcohol’s benefits, epidemiologist Eric Rimm agrees. “I don’t think we should be telling people who don’t drink to start. People don’t drink for good reasons, either religious injunctions or a family history of alcohol abuse or because they simply don’t like it. But given what we know about both the risks and benefits, I do think doctors should be spending more time talking to patients about alcohol.”</p> <p>Instead of issuing blanket official recommendations on alcohol, most experts say advice should be tailored to the individual, based on age, heart-disease risk, family history and personal medical history. Moderate drinking is most likely to benefit someone with at least one risk factor for heart disease, for instance (these include elevated cholesterol and a family history of heart trouble). “For a woman with a family history of early breast cancer and little risk of heart disease, the dangers are likely to outweigh the benefits,” says Manson at Brigham &amp; Women’s Hospital. Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive are cautioned to abstain from alcohol entirely because of the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome, which results in birth defects and other abnormalities in infants.</p> <p>Age is also a key factor in weighing risks and benefits. Since heart-disease hazard climbs with age, men aren’t likely to benefit at all until they hit their mid-thirties, women not until they reach menopause, when their heart-disease risk begins to climb. A 2002 British study found that for men under 35 and women under 55, the risks of drinking—including the dangers of alcohol-related accidents—exceed the benefits.</p> <p>“It’s easy to say that a 25-year-old woman whose mother died of breast cancer shouldn’t be advised to drink alcohol,” says Ellison. “It’s also reasonable to tell a 70-year-old man with borderline high cholesterol and low HDL levels that drinking a glass or two a day could help protect him from cardiovascular disease.” The real challenge, he acknowledges, is advising people who fall in between those two extremes.</p> <p><strong>Santé!</strong><br /> For people who already drink alcohol in moderation, the latest findings offer one more reason to enjoy a glass or two. To get the optimal health benefits from alcohol, research suggests, it’s wise to consume alcohol with a meal, for two reasons. First, food slows the rise of alcohol in the bloodstream, so it’s less likely to impair judgment or reflexes. Moreover, the anticlotting effect of alcohol is believed to offer the most protection just after a big meal, when fat particles in the blood increase and thus clots are more likely to form. And since that effect lasts only a matter of hours, experts say the best advice—if you drink—is to consume small to moderate amounts of alcohol most days of the week. “Drinking one glass of wine a day is not the same as drinking seven during the weekend,” says Ellison.</p> <p>In the end, of course, although people around the world toast to their health when they raise a glass—Santé! (France), Bisochtak! (Egypt), Kampai! (Japan), Egészségedre! (Hungary)—alcohol is more than just a tonic. Alcoholic beverages are deeply woven into the rich tapestry of many cultures. They’re part of the way people in many places around the world have traditionally celebrated the gathering of friends and the observance of holidays.</p> <p>“To take wine into your mouth,” the American writer Clifton Fadiman once observed, “is to savor a droplet of the river of human history.” So it certainly seemed that night on the island of Corfu, as the last daylight ebbed from the sky and, looking down from the balcony, we watched the Adriatic turn dark and the lights of town begin to blink on as the first stars appeared overhead. The bounteous food, wine made from local grapes, the generous laughter of friends, the sight of the last swallows dipping and playing in the honeysuckle-scented air over that sweeping vista of sea and sky—all of them have been savored here for centuries not for reasons of “should” and “shouldn’t” but simply for what they are: the unadorned pleasures of a good life.<br /> <em>-Peter Jaret</em></p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/the_power_of_spirits#comments Peter Jaret Diet, Nutrition & Health - Nutrition News & Information Tue, 18 Aug 2009 14:50:34 +0000 Sarah Hoff 9673 at http://www.eatingwell.com Can Exercise Override Bad Genes? http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/can_exercise_override_bad_genes <p>As if gene-diet interactions aren’t complicated enough, researchers have uncovered a third crucial player in the mix: physical activity. New studies suggest that exercise can override the harmful effects of some "bad genes" and boost the beneficial effects of others.</p> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peter Jaret </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> And more reasons to get moving. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-publication"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> November/December 2008 </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-related1"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-relatedtitle1"> <div class="field-label">Related Content Title 1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> More Exercise Tips </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-relatedlinks1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nutrition_health/weight_loss_diet_plans/diet_exercise_tips">Diet &amp; Exercise Tips</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nutrition_health/weight_loss_diet_plans/diet_exercise_tips/exercise_basics">Exercise Basics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nutrition_health/weight_loss_diet_plans/diet_exercise_tips/how_to_exercise_without_even_knowing_it">6 Ways to Exercise Without Even Knowing It</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nutrition_health/weight_loss_diet_plans/diet_exercise_tips/exercise_because_it_feels_good">Exercise Because It Feels Good</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nutrition_health/weight_loss_diet_plans/diet_exercise_tips/exercise_escape_plan">Exercise Escape Plan</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/blogs/diet_blog/6_ways_to_sneak_in_your_exercise">6 ways to sneak in your exercise</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/blogs/diet_blog/can_you_trick_yourself_into_liking_exercise">Can you trick yourself into liking exercise?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As if gene-diet interactions aren’t complicated enough, researchers have uncovered a third crucial player in the mix: physical activity. New studies suggest that exercise can override the harmful effects of some "bad genes" and boost the beneficial effects of others.</p> <p>In one example, scientists at the University of Kuopio, in Finland, found that people with particular variants of three different genes (dubbed GLUT2, ABCC8 and PPARG) stand a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But when ­people with these variants exercise regularly, they lessen the danger. Although the studies ­didn’t look at why, scientists have shown that ­exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity and blood-sugar levels.</p> <p>Exercise can also amplify the effects of "good genes." For example, people with one variant of a gene called LIPC, which controls cholesterol metabolism, typically have elevated levels of good HDL cholesterol. When those with this lucky gene variation exercise, as researchers at the Steno Diabetes Center in Gentofte, Denmark, reported recently, they get an even bigger boost in HDL levels.</p> <p>Sedentary lifestyles, on the other hand, may make bad genetic interactions even worse. Growing evidence shows that certain variations of a gene called FTO are associated with being overweight or obese, for example. Research ­reported in the journal Diabetes earlier this year suggests that when people with these "fat" forms of the gene skimp on physical activity they are even more likely to accumulate fat. Fortunately, exercise can overpower the effects of this fat-accumulating gene variant, according to a study of 704 adults published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in September.</p> <p>Findings like these aren’t surprising. A wealth of epidemiological studies already show that physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes. The good news: even if you inherit an unlucky roll of the genetic dice, there’s plenty you can do to improve the odds.</p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/can_exercise_override_bad_genes#comments Peter Jaret November/December 2008 Diet, Nutrition & Health - Nutrition News & Information Tue, 18 Aug 2009 14:48:01 +0000 Sarah Hoff 9672 at http://www.eatingwell.com Heart of the Matter http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/heart_of_the_matter <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peter Jaret </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Cholesterol &amp; the heart-smart consumer: foods to eat, foods to avoid. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A year ago, Alabama pediatrician Laura Sawaya-Cortez thought she knew just about everything there is to know about cholesterol—except her own numbers. “I didn’t want to know,” she now admits, since she suspected they were probably too high. Ten years earlier, when she went to a local cholesterol-screening program, her numbers were above normal. “But I was in my mid-twenties then and it wasn’t something I worried about,” she says. Last March, motivated by her family history, she finally had her numbers checked with a fasting blood test—and discovered that they were well into the danger zone.</p> <p>You might think a doctor would follow her own doctor’s advice. But when Sawaya-Cortez’s physician suggested that she start taking a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, she said no. Or at least, not yet. Before she began a medication that she might have to take for the rest of her life, she wanted to see if she could bring the numbers down herself, following the familiar advice that many physicians give their patients. She and her husband cut way back on red meat. They started eating more fish and turkey and switched from whole milk to soymilk. They helped themselves to lots of fruits and vegetables. And within a few months her total cholesterol had dropped from 226 to 177, landing firmly in the the safe zone. Her LDL (bad) cholesterol was down an impressive 50 points, from 161 to 111. “Frankly, I was amazed. I wouldn’t have thought it was possible.”</p> <p>Stories like hers might once have inspired Steven Peterson, 55, a business consultant in northern California. Like Sawaya-Cortez, the last thing he wanted to do was take drugs after he learned that his cholesterol numbers were through the roof. “I tried everything. Oats for breakfast. Soy protein smoothies for lunch. No red meat. Olive oil instead of butter. Nuts for snacks. When I read somewhere that broccoli sprouts might lower cholesterol, we actually started growing them in a window garden in the kitchen.”</p> <p>No luck. When Peterson went back to have his cholesterol rechecked after six months, it was slightly higher than before. He left the doctor’s office with a prescription for Lipitor, one of the family of leading cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins.</p> <p>Abnormal cholesterol levels remain at the top of the list of serious risk factors for heart disease. Based on the current guidelines, nearly 107 million Americans are now believed to have cholesterol levels high enough to put them in danger of heart disease and stroke. Some, like Peterson, may have to go on medication. But many others, like Sawaya-Cortez, could bring their numbers into line simply by adopting a healthier diet and finding time for a little more exercise.</p> <p>Too many people aren’t even giving it a try, experts say. Why bother with the hassle when all you have to do is pop a daily pill, people tend to think. And given how little time most physicians have to counsel patients about healthy eating these days—and how difficult it is to get people to change—many doctors are taking the easy way out and simply writing a prescription. “Dietary and lifestyle approaches have been all but abandoned,” says Margo Denke, M.D., a clinical professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, who in past years helped draft the nation’s official cholesterol guidelines. “And that’s really a shame.”</p> <p>It is a shame—for several reasons. First, the benefits of eating wisely go way beyond lowering cholesterol. In some studies, adopting a healthier diet has lowered heart-disease risk dramatically, even when cholesterol numbers don’t budge. What’s more, making a few changes to the menu may be easier than taking a daily pill for the rest of one’s life. The latest generation of cholesterol medications, called statins, only work if you take them every day. Many people don’t. Surveys find that after a year, as many as two out of three have stopped filling their prescriptions. And once the drugs are discontinued, especially if people’s diets remain the same, cholesterol levels zoom back up.</p> <p>And let’s face it, many people with high cholesterol don’t change the way they eat. It’s not unusual to sit down to a hearty dinner with someone who boasts that because he’s on a drug, he can eat anything he wants. “Wrong, wrong, wrong,” says Scott M. Grundy, M.D., director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, who helped formulate the latest National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines. “It’s not a matter of either/or, of drugs versus diet. Taking cholesterol-lowering medication doesn’t mean you can forget about diet. By eating a healthier diet, you can lower your risk even further. And if you’re on medication, you may be able to get by with a lower dose.”</p> <p><strong>What’s on the menu?</strong><br /> It’s been more than 50 years since researchers first linked diet, high cholesterol levels and heart disease, and you’d think the experts would agree on the healthiest menu. Alas, there’s still plenty of controversy. Lately, in fact, nutrition researchers say there is no single ideal diet. “What we’re beginning to understand is that there is no one-size-fits-all diet to lower heart-disease risk,” says Robert Knopp, M.D., a leading cholesterol expert at the University of Washington in Seattle. “Different people respond to different diets in very different ways.”</p> <p>Part of the change in thinking stems from a more sophisticated understanding of cholesterol. “Fifteen years ago, all we looked at was total cholesterol,” says Debbie Strong, dietitian at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation’s Heart and Vascular Institute in Louisiana. Today it is known that LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins) is especially harmful, because it tends to accumulate on blood vessel walls as plaque. Another form, HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins), is beneficial, because it helps ferry the bad (LDL) cholesterol out of the body. Research has revealed that measures of triglycerides, a form of fat particles in the blood, are also linked to heart-disease risk. Today, LDL, HDL and triglyceride levels are considered far more important than total cholesterol.</p> <p>And that’s where evaluating diets has proved trickier than anyone imagined. Some diets, like very-low-fat regimens, are effective at bringing down LDL-cholesterol numbers, but they often lower beneficial HDL as well and raise triglycerides—a dangerous combination of negative effects. Higher-fat diets keep HDL from falling, but they usually don’t lower LDL as far.<br /> Yet while there is no single perfect diet, the experts do agree on a few universal basics. It’s important to reduce saturated fats (the kind found in meat and non-skim dairy products) as well as hydrogenated fats, or trans fats. These fats trigger the body to churn out more cholesterol. According to Denke, saturated and trans fats probably account for 80 percent of the effect of diet on cholesterol levels. The actual cholesterol content of a food (dietary cholesterol) is not as important.</p> <p>Also key is a diet abundant in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, says Joseph M. Keenan, a cholesterol expert at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. The antioxidants and other phytochemicals they contain may help keep artery walls healthy. But even more important, many plant-based foods (such as oats, barley, legumes and pectin-containing fruits) are high in soluble fiber, which acts like a sponge in the digestive tract, drawing cholesterol out of the body. Whole-grain foods are also much lower than refined starches on the glycemic index (GI), and there’s growing evidence that a low-GI diet may help improve cholesterol levels. In a 2005 study at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, researchers compared volunteers who followed the typical food pyramid advice with others who adopted a stricter low-glycemic-load diet. Those on the low-GI diet lost more weight and saw greater improvements in their HDL cholesterol numbers.</p> <p>Beyond these basics, there appear to be specific foods that may be particularly potent in reducing cholesterol. Studies have turned the spotlight on everything from oats and barley to soybeans, almonds, peanuts and blueberries. Some may help simply because they’re high in soluble fiber; others may in fact contain substances that help give cholesterol levels an extra nudge downward. Research has shown that phytosterols and stanols, substances found at low levels in plants, can significantly lower LDL levels—prompting manufacturers to create versions of margarines and other foods with added phytosterols or stanols.</p> <p>Whatever’s on the menu, experts say, it’s crucial to keep calories under control. Becoming overweight or obese is itself associated with abnormal cholesterol levels. And many studies have shown that people who shed even a small percentage of their excess body fat see improvements in cholesterol and triglyceride levels. “For someone who’s seriously overweight, the best diet is the one that helps them lose weight, even if that just means controlling portion sizes,” says Jay Mehta, M.D., Ph.D., professor of internal medicine at the University of Arkansas.</p> <p><strong>How low can you go?</strong><br /> Put all the best advice together into one diet plan and how much can you expect your numbers to improve? To find out, University of Toronto nutrition scientist David Jenkins recently created what he calls a “diet portfolio” of foods that have shown the most promise in reducing cholesterol—including tofu, oats, berries, almonds and margarines that contain sterols and stanols. To boost fiber, the menu includes soymilk whipped up with Metamucil (made from psyllium), as well as soy burgers and other meat substitutes designed to slash saturated fat. In a study published in 2003, Jenkins reported that some volunteers with high cholesterol lowered their LDL levels by 30 percent on the portfolio diet—very close to the kind of improvement typically seen with statin drugs. The same volunteers saw only an 8.5 percent drop when they followed a regimen that simply lowered saturated fat.</p> <p>As impressive as those results are, physician Dean Ornish says he can do better. The Ornish diet, one of the pioneering heart-disease-prevention regimens, slashes not only saturated fat but all fat to a bare-bones minimum. Meat, fish, egg yolks and dairy products containing fat are banned. Even unsaturated vegetable oil is doled out in scant teaspoons. Ornish claims that his diet lowers LDL cholesterol by as much as 40 percent.</p> <p>Although there is plenty to be learned from these studies, some experts have their doubts about the very optimistic findings. One reason the Jenkins diet may have recorded such dramatic improvements in LDL is that all the volunteers were a healthy weight, says Denke, who wrote an editorial accompanying the publication of the study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In general, she says, it’s much easier to bring LDL down with dietary changes in people who are thin than in those who are fat.</p> <p>Ornish-style very-low-fat plans raise similar concerns. True, they dramatically slash LDL cholesterol, but they often drag down protective HDL, as well, and raise triglyceride levels—an undesirable combination. And sticking to these plans is no picnic. After California-based physician Stephen Weiss was rushed to the hospital for an emergency angioplasty to clear out cholesterol-laden arteries leading to his heart, he immediately began following the Ornish diet. “Believe me, there’s nothing like learning that you came this close to dying of a heart attack to motivate you to make some big changes,” he says. But the longer he stayed on the diet, the worse he felt. “I was tired all the time, I looked bad and I felt worse,” he remembers. Finally his doctor ordered him to add nuts, avocados, lean meats and more vegetable oil to his menu—shifting away from the extremes of the Ornish regimen and closer to the American Heart Association diet, which recommends about 30 percent of calories from fat (mostly monounsaturated or polyunsaturated varieties) and includes low-fat or nonfat dairy products, lean meats, fish and lots of fruits and vegetables. “Right away I began to look and feel better and my HDL went up.”</p> <p>Because he is also taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, Weiss can’t say how much the diet has helped, but he’s convinced that it’s playing an important role. Now back to work as an internist with Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, he counsels patients to make doable changes—a little less red meat, more fish, an extra serving or two of vegetables and fruits, less sugar—rather than turn their diets upside down. He also tells them to be patient. Dietary changes may take from two to six months to show up in improved cholesterol numbers.</p> <p>Some studies, in fact, show dramatic health benefits, even though cholesterol levels may show only minor improvement. The famous Lyon Diet Heart study in 1999, for example, showed that patients following a Mediterranean-style diet for 46 months had a 50 to 70 percent lower risk of recurrent heart disease, including cardiac death and nonfatal heart attack. The easy-to-follow diet included more fruit and vegetables, more fish, more poultry, more bread, cereals, beans and nuts. It had less red meat and moderate use of eggs and poultry. Butter and cream were replaced with olive oil and a canola-oil margarine high in alpha-linolenic acid.<br /> Most doctors, in fact, recommend the mainstream American Heart Association diet, which has many Mediterranean influences, in part because it represents simple changes that most people can make and maintain. Studies show that, on average, sticking to the AHA regimen reduces LDL by about 8 percent. The way individuals respond to changed diet varies widely, however.<br /> Why isn’t clearly understood. “Obviously, someone who has been eating fast-food cheeseburgers every day for lunch and steaks for dinner is likely to get more dramatic results than someone who’s already following a pretty healthy diet,” says Weiss. And then, of course, there are genetic differences, which can trump even the healthiest diet. Just out of college, Hilary Lundquist, 22, learned that her total cholesterol was 230, enough to be of concern to her physician. “I was flabbergasted,” she says. “I’ve always eaten lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean protein and soy, low- and nonfat dairy, even flax.”</p> <p><strong>Every little bit helps</strong><br /> Ultimately, Lundquist, whose parents both have high cholesterol, may have to go on medication to control her cholesterol, joining millions of Americans. Fortunately, the latest drugs have been shown to lower not only cholesterol but also the risk of heart disease. And new drugs in the pipeline, researchers say, are likely to be even more effective. One currently awaiting FDA approval, for example, has been shown to dramatically increase HDL levels at the same time that it helps people lose weight—a promising combination.</p> <p>Even the best medications, however, won’t replace the benefits of a healthy diet. One recent study showed that a 10-milligram dose of the statin drug simvastatin combined with 15 grams of soluble fiber a day had the same cholesterol-lowering power as a 20-milligram pill alone. “What that means is that we can often reduce the dose that people need by making a few changes in their diets,” says family physician Daphne Miller, M.D., who also teaches nutrition at the University of California, San Francisco. “In other cases we can get them off the drugs entirely.”</p> <p>Thanks to statins, Steven Peterson has been able to keep his LDL cholesterol down. Thanks to a healthy diet, he’s also been able to stick with a relatively low dose of the medication—saving money and avoiding side effects. “We stopped cultivating broccoli sprouts in the kitchen, I’ll admit that,” he says. “But it’s still whole grains for breakfast, skim milk, meat only now and then, lots of salads, vegetables, whole-grain breads, nuts or fruit for snacks.” Lately he’s been considering switching to whole-wheat pasta and trying a new brand of yogurt enhanced with stanols. “The way I figure, every little bit helps.”<br /> <em>-Peter Jaret is an award-winning science and health writer based in California.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/heart_of_the_matter#comments Peter Jaret Diet, Nutrition & Health - Nutrition News & Information Tue, 18 Aug 2009 14:17:14 +0000 Sarah Hoff 9665 at http://www.eatingwell.com 3 Reasons to Run (or Walk) for Your Life http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/healthy_aging/3_reasons_to_run_or_walk_for_your_life <p>You’ve heard it before: regular exercise—nothing more strenuous than a brisk half-hour walk most days of the week—offers potent protection against heart disease. But if that bit of information hasn’t motivated you to move more, perhaps the promise of living to be a robust 100 will. New research shows that exercise:</p> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peter Jaret </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> New studies suggest regular exercise may help you live longer and healthier. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-publication"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> November/December 2007 </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-related1"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-relatedtitle1"> <div class="field-label">Related Content Title 1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> More Exercise Tips </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-relatedlinks1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/can_exercise_override_bad_genes">Can Exercise Override Bad Genes?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nutrition_health/weight_loss_diet_plans/diet_exercise_tips/exercise_basics">Exercise Basics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/blogs/diet_blog/can_you_trick_yourself_into_liking_exercise">Can you trick yourself into liking exercise?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/blogs/diet_blog/6_ways_to_sneak_in_your_exercise">6 ways to sneak in your exercise</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>You’ve heard it before: regular exercise—nothing more strenuous than a brisk half-hour walk most days of the week—offers potent protection against heart disease. But if that bit of information hasn’t motivated you to move more, perhaps the promise of living to be a robust 100 will. New research shows that exercise:</p> <p><strong>1. Buys you time.</strong> Data from the Framingham Heart Study, a 40-year study of 5,209 people, suggest that people walking 30 minutes a day for five days a week (or an equivalent amount of other exercise) add about a year and a half to their lives. Those who push themselves a little harder—running instead of walking, for example—add three and a half years on average.</p> <p><strong>2. Keeps you sharp.</strong> A slew of studies suggest that regular physical activity can help maintain memory and other aspects of brainpower. A 2007 study out of Texas Tech University showed that exercise boosts a key neurochemical that allows brain cells to communicate. At Oregon Health &amp; Science University, researchers studying a group of people in their late eighties found that those who remained active were two to five times more likely to avoid memory loss and other cognitive deficits. </p> <p><strong>3. Preserves agility.</strong> Findings from the Rush Memory and Aging Project at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center recently showed that exercise puts the brakes on the decline in motor function associated with age. That may be one reason, along with maintaining strength, that physical activity helps prevent falls, one of the leading causes of health problems for older people.</p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/healthy_aging/3_reasons_to_run_or_walk_for_your_life#comments Peter Jaret November/December 2007 Healthy Aging Diet, Nutrition & Health - Healthy Aging Mon, 17 Aug 2009 21:05:22 +0000 Penelope Wall 9640 at http://www.eatingwell.com The Search for the Anti-Aging Diet http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/healthy_aging/the_search_for_the_anti_aging_diet <p>“What’s the secret to a long and healthy life?” When I asked my great-grandmother that question on the occasion of her 90th birthday, her answer took everyone by surprise. “I always make sure to eat the fat and gristle off meat,” she said. </p> <p>Fat and gristle? </p> <p>We all laughed at the time, Great-Grandma included, but no one dared argue with her. What her pet theory lacked in scientific evidence it more than made up for by personal example. She lived a jolly, healthy, sharp-minded life well into her nineties.</p> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peter Jaret </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> New studies suggest healthy eating may add years to your life. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-standard"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_standard" width="310" height="310" alt="" src="http://bed56888308e93972c04-0dfc23b7b97881dee012a129d9518bae.r34.cf1.rackcdn.com/sites/default/files/supplements_plate_310.jpg?1260202802" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-publication"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> November/December 2007 </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-related1"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-relatedtitle1"> <div class="field-label">Related Content Title 1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Healthy Aging Recipes </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-relatedlinks1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_aging_recipes">Healthy Aging Recipes and Menus</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/recipes_menus/collections/7_foods_to_keep_young">7 Foods to Keep You Young</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-related2"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-relatedtitle2"> <div class="field-label">Related Content Title 2:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> More on Healthy Aging </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-relatedlinks2"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nutrition_health/healthy_aging/3_ways_to_beat_your_age">3 Ways to Beat Your Age</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nutrition_health/healthy_aging/what_s_the_healthy_aging_secret_in_cocoa_tea_and_red_wine">What’s the Healthy Aging Secret in Cocoa, Tea and Red Wine?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nutrition_health/healthy_aging/3_reasons_to_run_or_walk_for_your_life">3 Reasons to Run (or Walk) for Your Life</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nutrition_health/healthy_aging/7_ways_to_keep_your_body_young">Antidotes for Aging Parts</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/nutrition_health/healthy_aging_center">Healthy Aging Center</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“What’s the secret to a long and healthy life?” When I asked my great-grandmother that question on the occasion of her 90th birthday, her answer took everyone by surprise. “I always make sure to eat the fat and gristle off meat,” she said. </p> <p>Fat and gristle? </p> <p>We all laughed at the time, Great-Grandma included, but no one dared argue with her. What her pet theory lacked in scientific evidence it more than made up for by personal example. She lived a jolly, healthy, sharp-minded life well into her nineties.</p> <p>Since then, whenever the headlines tout a new breakthrough in longevity—whether it’s green tea, red wine or a supercharged antioxidant supplement—I haven’t paid much heed. Lately, though, I’ve begun to wonder if it isn’t time to take a fresh look at the field of anti-aging research—and not only because I’m halfway through my fifties. </p> <p>Increasingly, serious scientists have joined the quest for a fountain of youth. The National Institutes of Health is spending millions to explore ways to increase life span, including research into drugs, nutritional supplements and calorie restriction. Last year, headlines announced that a new anti-aging drug, based on a substance called resveratrol found in wine and grapes was being tested in people. If the booming science of anti-aging medicine has turned up anything that really works, I decided, I want to know about it. </p> <p>So a few months ago I set off on my own search for a fountain of youth. From the start I decided to rule out things like potions of mysterious-sounding Chinese herbs, anti-aging vitamin formulas and injections of pituitary-gland extract at mountainside Swiss clinics. Maybe they work, maybe they don’t; so little evidence exists either way that the claims are almost impossible to evaluate. What I really wanted to know was simple: can the foods we eat and the way we live make a measurable difference in life span? Beyond that, is there any way to actually slow the hands of time and push the limits of longevity? </p> <p>I decided to start my investigation with the people who should know best—those who live the longest.</p> <h3>Secrets of Long Life From Around the World</h3> <p>For years scientists have been trekking the globe in search of communities of people rumored to live unusually long and healthy lives, trying to pinpoint their age-defying secrets. In the last few decades, they’ve come up with a handful of promising candidates. For example, research suggests that olive oil (see below) has helped the Greeks beat heart disease. For native Inuits of Alaska, diets containing extraordinary amounts of fish provide cardiovascular protection. The secret of longevity on the San Blas islands, off the coast of Panama, may be the most unexpected—and welcome—of all: chocolate, which happily turns out to be a rich source of compounds that help keep blood vessels healthy.</p> <p>But some of the most compelling findings on longevity and diet comes from the islands of Okinawa in southern Japan. People here are five times as likely to live to 100 than people in the United States or other industrialized countries. (In Okinawa there are about 50 centenarians per 100,000 people versus 10 in 100,000 in the U.S. and most other developed countries.)</p> <p>When I contacted Bradley Willcox, M.D., co-principal investigator of the Okinawa Centenarian Study, to ask what accounts for the Okinawans’ longevity, his answer startled me. “Sweet potatoes,” he wrote back. It turns out that sweet potatoes are a staple in the Okinawan diet, along with bitter melon (a tropical fruit often used in stir-fries) and sanpin tea (a blend of green tea and jasmine flowers). All three foods are exceptionally rich in antioxidants, which may help protect against cellular wear and tear from unstable oxygen molecules generated by our body’s biochemical processes. Although researchers still aren’t exactly sure why we age, one theory is that oxygen radicals keep chipping away at healthy cells, damaging and ultimately destroying them. The antioxidant theory may help explain why another group recognized for exceptional longevity—the Seventh-Day Adventists—typically outlive their neighbors by four to seven years. Their religious denomination, founded in the U.S. in the 1840s, emphasizes healthy living and a vegetarian diet starring vegetables, fruit, whole grains and nuts—all foods packed with antioxidants. </p> <h3>Dinner at the Longevity Cafe</h3> <p>The more I poked through the research, the longer my list of age-defying foods became. Wine or other alcoholic beverages deserve a place at the table; they’ve consistently been associated with lower mortality, as long as they’re consumed in moderation. Blueberries, too, as they’ve been shown to ward off age-related brain impairments. </p> <p>I was hoping to add an item or two to the list when I put in a call to Katherine L. Tucker, Ph.D., director of the nutritional epidemiology research program at Tufts University. Tucker has been sifting through 50 years of data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, the longest-running study of aging in the world. When I asked her what foods have popped up in her findings, she gently steered the question in a different direction. What mattered more than single foods, she said, was overall food patterns. </p> <p>“It’s always been tempting to look at a particular food and then home in on what it contains. That’s how a lot of nutrition science has been conducted,” she explained. When fruits and vegetables rich in beta carotene showed up in many studies, for instance, researchers rushed to test beta-carotene supplements—experiments that went famously wrong when the pills offered no special benefits and posed some danger. The experience encouraged many nutrition scientists to go back to studying eating patterns, since people eat foods in combination, not one at a time. </p> <p>Tucker pointed to results from a recent analysis she did of 501 men from the study. Over time, those who helped themselves to lots of fruits and vegetables were less likely to develop heart disease and more likely to be alive at the end of 18 years of study. Each serving of fruits and vegetables was associated with a 6 percent reduction in risk of death from any cause. Men who limited their saturated fat also reduced their risk of heart disease. But far and away the most impressive benefits fell to men who served up fruits and vegetables and cut back on saturated fat: they slashed their risk of dying of heart disease by 76 percent and of any cause by 31 percent during the study period.</p> <p>Current health recommendations don’t stop with fruits and vegetables and saturated fat, of course. Most of us know the advice by heart: 1) Get plenty of whole grains; 2) Eat fish a couple of times a week; 3) Eliminate trans fats; 4) Take a glass of wine with dinner if you’d like; 5) Don’t smoke. What’s the payoff for following all the best advice to the letter? To find that out, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health looked at more than 84,000 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study. Those who got a gold star for following each of these five “commandments” cut their risk of heart attacks and other coronary events by a spectacular 82 percent.</p> <p>Because so many variables are involved, scientists can’t say exactly how many extra years of life you or I will gain by eating well and staying active. But when I asked Harvard nutrition scientist Meir Stampfer, M.D., Ph.D., he estimated that the women in the Nurses’ Health Study who followed all the best health advice might be adding an additional 14 years to their lives. Joan Sabaté, M.D., Ph.D., chair of nutrition at Loma Linda University, told me the Seventh-Day Adventists add an extra 10 years to their lives, on average, thanks to five lifestyle factors: being vegetarian, not smoking, exercising frequently, maintaining a healthy weight and eating lots of nuts.</p> <h3>How to Live to be 120</h3> <p>A lifestyle that helps avoid chronic health problems isn’t the only thing that determines how long you live, of course. Genes, too, help decide whether one’s life span ends up being average (which is about 78 in the United States) or extraordinary (like that of Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, the oldest person on record, who died in 1997 at age 122). If I manage to live into my nineties, the genes I inherited from my gristle-eating great-grandmother will be partly to thank for it. Thomas Perls, M.D., who directs the New England Centenarian Study, believes that good health habits may be enough to carry many of us into our mid-eighties. To live longer than that, though, we need lucky genes. </p> <p>But is that the whole story? What about that most elusive fountain of youth—a way to actually slow the aging process and extend the limits of longevity? A growing number of experts think they’ve found it. For years, in fact, researchers have been aware of a sure-fire way to put the brakes on aging. </p> <p>In 1935, a team of Cornell University nutritionists discovered that mice fed one-third fewer calories than normal lived about 40 percent longer than mice that ate as much as they wanted. Since then, scientists have tested a Noah’s ark of creatures—from yeast cells and fruit flies to monkeys. In most studies, calorie restriction appears to increase life expectancy and protect against a host of diseases. Well into old age, animals typically remain more active and younger-looking, as well.</p> <p>Scientists don’t know exactly why cutting calories may lengthen life, but the leading theory goes like this: When calorie intake falls short, cells sound an alarm, switching their priorities from reproduction to repair and maintenance, fending off genetic damage and the wear and tear caused by the effects of unstable oxygen molecules. Controlling this switch, researchers have learned over the past few years, are a class of enzymes called sirtuins, which affect how energy is delivered to cells. In a 2006 experiment straight out of science fiction, University of California, San Francisco, biochemistry researcher Cynthia Kenyon, Ph.D., tinkered with the equivalent gene in roundworms. The result: a mutant species with a life span six times longer than normal.</p> <h3>Eat Less, Live Longer?</h3> <p>Maybe gene manipulation will allow us to live to 200—someday. Until then, there’s calorie restriction (CR). Three large studies are under way to test the principle in people. Early findings show promise. In 2007, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis reported that CR improved heart function and lowered inflammation levels in a group of volunteers—two signs that could mean better health and longer life down the road. In a study of 48 volunteers, Eric Ravussin and his colleagues at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Laboratory found that after six months those men and women who cut calories by 25 percent reduced their insulin levels and their core body temperature—two changes associated with longevity. They also had fewer signs of the kind of chromosomal damage that is associated with aging and cancer. </p> <p>Clinical trials are far from proving that CR dramatically extends life span in humans. Still, an estimated 50,000 Americans subscribe to CR, a practice popularized by Roy Walford, M.D. Walford, a pathologist at UCLA, wrote several books—including Beyond the 120-Year Diet—on the health benefits of eating a low-calorie, high-nutrient diet. (Walford died in 2004, at age 79, from complications of Lou Gehrig’s disease.) </p> <p>Peter Voss, 53, is an expert in artificial intelligence who runs a start-up firm in Los Angeles. A Google search led me to Voss’s lively website about his experiences with CR (optimal.org), which he began in 1997. He now consumes just 1,850 calories daily, which he guesses is about one-third less than what he ate more than a decade ago. “The more I read about calorie restriction, the more interested I became, until I finally decided to give it a try,” he told me when I reached him. Five foot 10 inches tall, he now weighs 130, down from 155 pounds 10 years ago. His blood pressure, good to begin with, resembles that of an active teenager, about 100/60. His triglyceride and cholesterol levels are rock bottom. </p> <p>In the beginning Voss scrupulously counted calories and scoured nutrient labels. Now he monitors his progress by keeping his weight stable. Voss’s diet is Spartan by any standard. Steel-cut oatmeal with fruit and skim milk is a special treat. But Voss insists that he isn’t always hungry. “I eat whenever I feel like it,” he says. Instead of reaching for a cookie for a snack, however, he crunches a carrot or a red pepper. At restaurants, he sticks with appetizers or a first-course salad. His girlfriend, a marathon runner, also follows a CR diet, which probably helps him stick with the program.</p> <p>There are downsides. Calorie restriction reduces testosterone levels, which in men can mean lower libido. (Researchers don’t have much data about the way CR affects female hormones.) Voss is now so thin that sitting on a hard chair gets uncomfortable. But he insists he still has all the energy he needs to work the 14 hours a day required by his company, and to squeeze in an hour or so of power walking most days.</p> <p>Not everyone thinks CR will buy Peter Voss much extra time. Recently, John Phelan, Ph.D., a researcher at UCLA, published a mathematical model predicting that calorie restriction is likely to offer at best a 7 percent increase in human life expectancy. As evidence he pointed out that the average Japanese male consumes about 2,300 calories a day. Men on Okinawa consume about 17 percent fewer calories—very close to Peter Voss’s 1,850 a day—but they only live a little less than a year longer than Japanese mainlanders. Calorie restriction may have its most dramatic effects in species that have experienced periodic famines, forcing them to evolve extreme measures to shut down reproduction and focus on staying alive until food supplies return. We humans, naysayers argue, aren’t likely to be among them.</p> <p>Still, many researchers are excited about the potential benefits. In August, just back from an Experimental Biology conference where the latest findings on CR were presented, Susan Roberts, Ph.D., who is directing a calorie-restriction experiment at Tufts University, wrote in an e-mail: “The human data on people who are already doing CR themselves is extremely impressive. I was sitting in the meeting virtually ready to sign up…myself!”</p> <h3>Practicing the 80 Percent Solution</h3> <p>That’s all I needed to hear. The next day I gave CR a try. For about 14 hours. The experience made me understand why even researchers who are convinced that calorie restriction will extend life span doubt it’s of much practical use. Let’s face it: it’s hard enough to get people to make the changes that are already proven to increase the odds of a long and healthy life, like eating more vegetables and exercising half an hour a day. </p> <p>There’s a delicious paradox here. Research into calorie restriction comes at a time when people around the world are consuming more calories than ever—and packing on the pounds. Calorie-restriction diets may seem extreme. But the truth is, most of us would do well to follow the basic tenet, which is to favor low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods. To offer support and advice for people trying calorie restriction themselves, a group of enthusiasts started the CR Society in 1994 (calorierestriction.org). Their advice is anything but controversial: avoid simple sugars and flours, eat lots of leafy greens and other vegetables, choose monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fats and avoid saturated fat. Peter Voss’s typical daily fare is a nutritionist’s dream: strawberries with nonfat yogurt, almonds, steamed vegetables, salmon, five-bean chili, peanut butter and bananas. If more of us helped ourselves to a menu like his, we’d be healthier for it even if we didn’t cut calories. And probably add years to our lives. </p> <p>Long before the verdict is in on calorie restriction, in other words, and even longer before effective longevity pills hit the market, there’s a lot most of us can do to better our odds of living long and staying active and alert. For my part, I decided to dish up a few extra servings of vegetables, snack on nuts, treat myself to a small square of dark chocolate for dessert and get to the gym a little more often. Oh yes, and to take a page from those long-lived Okinawans, who have been practicing their own simple form of calorie restriction long before modern science came along. According to Bradley Willcox, the Okinawans have traditionally followed hara hachi bu, a custom of eating until they are just 80 percent full. The practice allows them to consume fewer calories without bothering to read nutrition labels—and it means they don’t have to obsess about what to eat and not eat but can go about enjoying themselves. </p> <p>And that, in the end, may be even more crucial to their longevity than, well, sweet potatoes or sanpin tea. Finding delight in family and friends, having something to look forward to every day: studies of centenarians around the world suggest that these intangibles, even more than the specifics of diet, may be the most powerful secret to longevity. The Okinawans have a name for it: ikigai, or “finding your reason to live.”</p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/healthy_aging/the_search_for_the_anti_aging_diet#comments Peter Jaret November/December 2007 Healthy Aging Diet, Nutrition & Health - Healthy Aging Mon, 17 Aug 2009 20:39:41 +0000 Penelope Wall 9635 at http://www.eatingwell.com The Great Egg Debate http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/cholesterol/the_great_egg_debate <p>When experts first began to warn about the dangers of high cholesterol, eggs took a beating, along with other high-cholesterol foods like shrimp. Since they’re high in dietary cholesterol, the thinking went, these foods must contribute to cholesterol in the blood. So for years they were banished from heart-healthy menus. Then new research came along, weakening the link between dietary and blood cholesterol and pointing an accusing finger instead at saturated and trans fats.</p> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peter Jaret </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> What you should know about eggs and dietary cholesterol. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>When experts first began to warn about the dangers of high cholesterol, eggs took a beating, along with other high-cholesterol foods like shrimp. Since they’re high in dietary cholesterol, the thinking went, these foods must contribute to cholesterol in the blood. So for years they were banished from heart-healthy menus. Then new research came along, weakening the link between dietary and blood cholesterol and pointing an accusing finger instead at saturated and trans fats.</p> <p>The egg message, for one, began to seem, well, a little scrambled. In fact, scientists still disagree when it comes to eggs. Some studies show that high cholesterol foods like eggs can drive up blood cholesterol levels; others show no effect. Official guidelines in the U.S. advise consuming no more than 300 mg of dietary cholesterol daily if you’re healthy and 200 mg a day if you have high blood cholesterol, heart disease or diabetes. (A large egg contains about 212 mg; 3 ounces of shrimp 166.) But official guidelines in both Canada and Australia place no limits on dietary cholesterol.</p> <p>Eventually, research may clarify the issue. For now, the bottom line seems to be that you’ll get a bigger payoff from reducing saturated fat and increasing the soluble fiber in your diet than you will from avoiding eggs. But if you have more than one a day, it may be worth cutting back or trying a low-cholesterol egg brand, such as Eggland’s Best—and watching to see if your LDL numbers drop.</p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/cholesterol/the_great_egg_debate#comments Peter Jaret Diet, Nutrition & Health - Nutrition News & Information Mon, 17 Aug 2009 20:22:39 +0000 Sarah Hoff 9628 at http://www.eatingwell.com How to Eat for Your DNA http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/how_to_eat_for_your_dna <p>After living together for more than three decades, my partner Steven and I couldn’t be more alike. We eat the same meals. We trudge off to the gym on the same schedule. Each of us could fit, with a bit of tugging, into the jeans we wore in college. Steven has put up with the brief appearance in our kitchen of all passing health-food fads. (Remember broccoli sprouts?) I like to think the best choices have stuck around—rolled oats, low-fat yogurt, nuts, plates piled high with a colorful mix of vegetables, a piece of dark chocolate for dessert. Our cholesterol levels should be perfect.</p> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peter Jaret </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Genetic testing. Personalized vitamins. DNA diets. Should the fast-evolving field of nutrigenomics change the way you eat? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-publication"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> November/December 2008 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>After living together for more than three decades, my partner Steven and I couldn’t be more alike. We eat the same meals. We trudge off to the gym on the same schedule. Each of us could fit, with a bit of tugging, into the jeans we wore in college. Steven has put up with the brief appearance in our kitchen of all passing health-food fads. (Remember broccoli sprouts?) I like to think the best choices have stuck around—rolled oats, low-fat yogurt, nuts, plates piled high with a colorful mix of vegetables, a piece of dark chocolate for dessert. Our cholesterol levels should be perfect. And, at a recent doctor’s visit, mine were—so good that even the doctor was impressed.</p> <p>Steven’s lurked deep in the danger zone.</p> <p>“Genes," the doctor breezily explained, when Steven objected to the injustice of it all. Then he wrote Steven a prescription for a cholesterol-lowering drug.</p> <p>Maybe we aren’t so alike after all. Did Steven’s “bad" genes curse him with high cholesterol, despite following the healthiest of diets? And did “good" genes mean I could feast on junk food, if I chose to, and still stay healthy? What about the effects of specific foods? Should we be following different diets, less of this for him, more of that for me?</p> <p>My questions led me to the emerging science of nutritional genomics (a.k.a. nutrigenomics)—the study of interactions between genes and diet. The latest studies suggest that the interplay between DNA and diet may have a powerful influence on what we like to eat (bitter vegetables or sweets), why some people get fat and others stay thin, why some develop diabetes and others don’t, why certain people get a buzz from coffee and others aren’t affected—and yes, why two people following the same diet can end up with cholesterol levels at opposite extremes. There are already more than 30 companies that offer some type of genetic screening and personalized nutrition advice. Should Steven and I take one of these tests, which typically involve swabbing a cheek for DNA and filling out some questionnaires, to find out? Before shelling out anywhere from $300 to $2,500 per test, I decided to do some more digging.</p> <p><strong>Like Sweets? Blame Your Grandparents</strong></p> <p>In 2002, the Human Genome Project completed an awesome undertaking: the first comprehensive map of the tens of thousands of genes, those tiny bits of DNA, that make us human. Yet as towering as that achievement was, what researchers have discovered in the years since may be even more important. Although all of us have very similar genes, hundreds of thousands of tiny differences exist. These genetic variations—what scientists refer to as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs—make each of us unique in all sorts of ways, including how our bodies respond to different types of foods. For example, one gene discovered in May of this year appears to stimulate the desire to eat sweet foods. People with a particular form of this gene consistently consume more sugar and sweet foods and beverages than those with a slightly different one.</p> <p>Could the discovery of this “sweet tooth gene" help explain why some people are more likely to become overweight? “It’s easy just to say that people get fat because they eat too much," David M. Mutch, Ph.D., told me when I rang him up in his office at INSERM, the French Institute for Health and Medical Research, in Paris. “But it’s much more complicated than that."</p> <p>When I reached Mutch he was making plans to return to Canada, where he grew up, to start a nutritional genomics research group at the University of Guelph, in Ontario—one of dozens of such groups being established around the world.</p> <p>“The numbers are pretty staggering: worldwide, 1 billion people are overweight and 300 million of them are obese," he said. “The problem is spreading and so far we haven’t been able to do much to stop it. The hope is that nutritional genomics may help explain why some populations are especially susceptible to obesity, and perhaps offer better ways to prevent or treat it."</p> <p>For more than two decades, researchers have speculated that so-called “thrifty genes" may make some people more likely to put on pounds than others. According to the prevailing theory, certain populations evolved during times of frequent famines to have genes that are especially thrifty, storing every extra calorie of energy in the form of body fat. Those thrifty genes are life-saving when food is scarce. When food is abundant, they may increase some people’s risk of becoming fat. The Pima Indians of Mexico, for instance, are lean and have very little risk of diabetes when they continue to eat their traditional diet, which is abundant in beans, seeds and whole grains. But when Pima Indians moved to the southwestern United States, where fast-food restaurants flourish, they quickly began to suffer exceptionally high rates of obesity and diabetes.</p> <p>Indeed, new research suggests that the level to which a poor diet leads to weight gain depends partly on specific genes. Last year, data from the Framingham Heart Study, which has followed thousands of people spanning two generations in the town of Framingham, Massachusetts, revealed a variant gene that makes people who carry it especially susceptible to weight gain when they eat a high-fat diet.</p> <p>But it’s far more complicated than identifying just one gene to understand and solve the obesity epidemic. “So far, we’ve identified more than 300 genes that influence body weight and body fat," Mutch explained. Some affect appetite and satiety. Others appear to influence how efficiently people burn fat for energy.</p> <p><strong>My Metabolism, Your Metabolism</strong></p> <p>Researchers are still a long way from understanding the whole picture. But nutrigenomics is starting to explain several baffling mysteries. Consider coffee. A number of studies offer evidence that drinking java lowers heart-disease risk, most likely as a result of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds in coffee beans. But a few studies show heavy coffee drinkers having a higher than average risk of heart disease—leaving scientists scratching their heads. Nutrigenomics suggests an explanation. In people with the genetic variant that causes sluggish metabolism of caffeine, the stimulant sticks around in the bloodstream longer than usual, where it may disrupt normal heart rhythms and boost blood pressure, overwhelming any benefit. Quick metabolizers, on the other hand, clear the caffeine fast from their bloodstreams but still enjoy the benefits.</p> <p>Type 2 diabetes offers another example. Several studies suggest eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrates—foods linked with big jumps in blood sugar—can lead to type 2 diabetes. But when researchers look at large groups of subjects, no clear link emerges. The reason may be that only some people are genetically sensitive to the effects of these foods on blood sugar.</p> <p>When researchers do large studies and pool the data, treating all the subjects as if they’re genetically alike, such differences typically get lost in the averages. What’s more, most prevailing diet recommendations are based on such studies. So the advice may work for most people but not all. “Dietary recommendations are based on averages across large populations," says Jose Ordovas, Ph.D., who directs the Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory at Tufts University in Boston and has published more research on diet and gene interactions than almost anyone in the field. “What nutritional genomics teaches is there is no one-size-fits-all diet that works for everyone."</p> <p>The ideal heart disease–prevention diet may differ significantly among different people, says Ordovas, who studied the biochemistry of cholesterol before he got “hooked" on genetic-related research after attending an American Heart Association seminar on the topic in 1983. Preliminary research suggests that some people reduce their risk for heart disease most significantly by following a low-fat diet; others fare better on a higher-fat diet (assuming they choose healthy fats). Similarly, studies show that some people shed pounds on low-fat, high-carb regimens; others seem to do best on low-carb, higher-fat regimens. Genetic screening may eventually be able to pinpoint who’s who, allowing doctors to offer individualized advice.</p> <p>And what about the mystery under my own roof? Can nutrigenomics explain why some people’s cholesterol levels respond to a healthy diet and others’ don’t? Here, too, there are plenty of clues. Scientists have detected one gene variation that seems to enhance the health benefits of polyunsaturated fats, for example, giving people who possess it a bigger boost in good cholesterol when they eat a diet rich in plant oils. Another appears to make bad-cholesterol levels more likely to soar when people eat a high-fat diet. “Variants in a gene called APOE, which controls cholesterol metabolism, seem to be especially important," Ordovas told me. People with one genetic pattern see a big drop in cholesterol levels when they switch to a healthier diet. Those with a slightly different pattern get almost no benefit at all.</p> <p><strong>To Test or Not To Test?</strong></p> <p>Findings like those Ordovas described could someday allow doctors to know in advance who can control their cholesterol levels through a healthier diet and who, like Steven, will also need medication to keep their numbers in check. But almost all the researchers I spoke with said it was too early to offer specific nutrition advice based on nutrigenomics.</p> <p>Prowl the Internet, though, and you’ll find plenty of companies already doing just that. “Identify your inherited genetic variations and understand how they influence your Health &amp; Well-being," proclaims Sciona, a Denver-based company, on its splashy website. “Learn whether variations in your own genome have been associated with a genetic risk for a number of common complex diseases," promises another, called deCODEme.com, based in Iceland.</p> <p>Most of these direct-to-consumer companies use mail-order test kits that allow customers to collect a sample of their own DNA with a cheek swab and ask them to complete questionnaires that ask about diet, exercise and other lifestyle behaviors. The DNA is then analyzed for genetic variants that have been linked to health problems, food preferences, athletic performance and other traits. To find out more, I called Rosalynn Gill, Ph.D., a molecular biologist and founder of Sciona. The company, she told me, had recently published a study that suggests that genetic screening and personalized nutrition advice may already help people shed pounds more successfully.</p> <p>Researchers at the National Technical University of Athens, in Greece, conducted the experiment with 93 overweight or obese volunteers who had tried and failed to lose weight. Everyone in the study was given the same general weight-loss advice—to follow a Mediterranean-style diet based on fish and poultry, legumes, fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains. (They were also asked to follow a recommended exercise routine.) In addition, 50 of the study’s participants received Sciona’s genetic test and additional personalized nutrition advice based on the results. For example, those with a gene variation that makes it harder for the body to metabolize folate, a B vitamin associated with lower risk for heart disease and some cancers, were encouraged to take a supplement.</p> <p>The aim of the study was to determine whether the company’s genetic test would help ensure that dieters get adequate nutrients while they are cutting back on calories, not whether genetic testing would boost weight loss, Gill explained. And, in fact, none of the personalized advice from the genetic screens related to weight loss. But when researchers ran the numbers, something unexpected popped up. The volunteers who received genetic screening lost more weight. After almost a year, they had lowered their BMI by 5.6 percent, on average, compared to a 2.2 percent gain among the control subjects. “We think genetic screening may have encouraged people to stick a little more closely to a healthy diet," Gill said. “If you think the recommendations are absolutely about you, you’re much more likely to take them to heart." That may be. But anyone forking over $299 or more for a DNA test is likely to want more than just a motivational boost. </p> <p>A test offered by Interleukin Genetics, another direct-to-consumer genetic-screening company, analyzes genes linked to inflammation, which is believed to be a risk factor for heart disease and other health problems. "If you carry those variants, you may be able to reduce your risk through diet or a nutritional supplement that reduces inflammation," Kenneth Kornman, Ph.D., the company"s founder, told me. To test that idea, Interleukin Genetics recently collaborated with a company called Nutrilite to create such a supplement. (The pills included rose hips, powdered blueberry and blackberry, grapevine extract and other substances linked with reducing inflammation.) Seventy-nine volunteers who were screened using the company"s genetic test took the pills—or placebo tablets—daily for 12 weeks. After taking the supplement, some of those who tested positive for the gene variant linked to increased risk of inflammation saw a drop in inflammatory markers. For those who tested negative for this gene variant, however, taking the supplement had no effect on inflammation levels. The DNA test, in other words, successfully identified people who would get the biggest benefit from taking a supplement.</p> <p>"If you"re investing in dietary supplements to prevent chronic illnesses like heart disease," Kornman told me, "a test like this can help you make the best choice."</p> <p>So has the era of nutrigenomics already arrived? I put that question to Jim Kaput, Ph.D., who directs the Food and Drug Administration"s Division of Personalized Nutrition and Medicine. The FDA created the new division in 2006 to advance research in nutritional genomics. Its existence is as good a measure as any of how much excitement the new field has generated. But when I asked Kaput if nutrigenomics screening was ready for prime time, his answer surprised me: "My personal opinion? Not yet."</p> <p>One of his concerns is that most companies currently test only a few dozen gene variants. Research already shows that hundreds, even thousands, may impact how diet affects your risk of heart disease or diabetes—and the genes that companies screen for today may not even prove to be all that important once the whole picture becomes clearer. "To study nutritional genomics, you need to have good data about what people actually eat, and you have to have a good understanding of how genes work," Kaput said. "We have a lot of work to do on both counts." Part of the task of the new division, he told me, is to improve the quality of data by encouraging better studies. "In five years, I think we"ll begin to have the kind of solid data we really need to make sense of the connections. It"ll take longer than that to offer useful advice based on what we learn."</p> <p><strong>The Ethics of It All</strong></p> <p>Sara Katsanis, a research analyst for the Genetics &amp; Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University, worries that the risks of the at-home genetic-testing kits go beyond wasting money on something unsubstantiated by hard science. "Along with genetic tests, most direct-to-consumer companies also dispense information and advice," she explained. Some firms will tell you how much certain genetic variations increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, macular degeneration or other conditions. They'll also give you recommendations on how to lower your risk. "But at the moment there is almost no federal oversight of the claims these companies make," Katsanis said. There's no way to know, in other words, how reliable these tests are. And because the companies sell their services directly to consumers, doctors aren't usually involved in interpreting the results.</p> <p>Not long ago, in fact, California banned direct-to-consumer genetic screening and the State of New York sent out warning letters, arguing that tests that provide medical information must be ordered, or at least supervised, by a health-care professional. More recently, California licensed two companies that use in-house doctors to review orders for the test. Health officials there say additional companies are likely to win approval as the state reviews their applications.</p> <p>Even with appropriate medical supervision, there's the issue of privacy. A genetic-screening test contains a vast amount of information about you, including variants that may put you at risk of serious illnesses. Because direct-to-consumer companies aren't medical entities, they are not required to abide by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), although some states may have regulations that help protect consumer privacy. "Many of these companies do everything they can to protect your privacy," Katsanis said. "But that's no guarantee." Indeed, most companies explicitly say on their websites that they can't guarantee privacy. The danger is that if the results get into the wrong hands, people with genetic-disease risks could suffer discrimination in the workplace or when applying for health insurance. Several sites offer the option of e-mailing your genetic results to friends and family, I discovered. How secure is that?</p> <p>Steven and I toyed with the idea of getting tested. It would be interesting to compare our genomes, to see if any gene variations popped up to explain the mystery of our divergent cholesterol numbers. As some of the websites promised, it would even be fun. "Get to know your friends and family through genetics," declared a company called 23andMe.com, one of the leading direct-to-consumer firms. "Add some excitement to your family reunion."</p> <p>But the more we thought about it, the less enthusiastic we became. The issue of privacy spooked us. The price—$1,000 per test, on average—didn't seem worth it after what I'd learned. We don't need a genome scan to tell us that Steven's cholesterol numbers won't drop any lower no matter how many more bowls of oatmeal he eats. And when we glanced over the personalized recommendations many of the companies offer, much of the advice looked a lot like standard nutrition guidance.</p> <p>Eventually, as researchers get a better handle on which genetic variants are most important and precisely how they affect health, nutrigenomics will be able to offer much more specific advice. For now, though, we agreed to forgo genetic testing and go on eating the way we always have. That clearly won't be enough to rein in Steven's cholesterol. But odds are it offers us a slew of other benefits, from lower blood pressure to less risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain forms of cancer. Eating well also keeps our weights in a healthy range, which subsequently makes it easier to stay active—two important factors in warding off disease.</p> <p>And who knows? Nutrigenomics research may yet turn up some food that's especially potent for someone with Steven's particular genotype.</p> <p>I wonder if anyone's looked at broccoli sprouts.</p> <p><em>Peter Jaret's story "The Search for the Anti-Aging Diet" (November/December 2007) won a James Beard Foundation journalism award. His most recent book is Nurse: A World of Care (Emory University Press, 2008).</em></p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/how_to_eat_for_your_dna#comments Peter Jaret November/December 2008 Diet, Nutrition & Health - Nutrition News & Information Mon, 17 Aug 2009 19:55:40 +0000 Sarah Hoff 9619 at http://www.eatingwell.com DNA Diets and Custom Fit Foods http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/dna_diets_and_custom_fit_foods <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peter Jaret </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Studies in nutritional genomics are showing how your DNA may affect the way your body processes certain foods. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Most nutrition experts say that nutritional genomics hasn’t yet evolved to the point at which we should be pursuing personalized diets. But studies are turning up genetic links to a wide variety of common foods and, for those with a family history of conditions including heart disease or certain types of cancer, it can’t hurt to learn more about what foods may work well with your DNA and which may not. Among the highlights:</p> <p><strong>Coffee</strong></p> <p>Genetic variants determine whether people metabolize caffeine fast or slowly. Genes may even influence how much of a buzz we get from caffeine. Individual differences could explain why some people are unusually sensitive to the stimulant.<br /> Broccoli, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables</p> <p>A healthy choice no matter what your genetic profile, cruciferous vegetables may offer especially powerful protection against heart disease and cancer in people with a genetic variant that slows the breakdown of the disease-fighting compounds in these foods, allowing them to linger longer in the body.</p> <p><strong>Green tea</strong></p> <p>Long associated with lower risk of cancer, green tea has been shown to be especially beneficial in preventing breast cancer in women with a particular gene form that slows the breakdown of catechins, the potent substances in tea that are believed to help boost immunity and fight cancer.</p> <p><strong>Spinach, asparagus and other folate-rich foods</strong></p> <p>A common variant of the gene known as MTHFR makes it harder for the body to use folate, a nutrient in spinach, asparagus, oranges and other foods that’s associated with lower risk of heart disease and colon cancer. Individuals with this variant may need twice the daily recommended intake of folate to stay healthy.</p> <p><strong>Alcohol</strong></p> <p>Moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to protect against heart disease and diabetes, but new genetic studies show that certain gene variations may amplify or lessen the benefits by influencing how alcohol is metabolized.</p> <p><strong>Fish</strong></p> <p>A study by researchers at the University of Florence, in Italy, found that consuming fish and fish oils may be an especially effective way to lower cholesterol among people with a particular gene variant called LPA.</p> <p><strong>Corn oil, safflower oil and other polyunsaturated fats</strong></p> <p>A variant form of a gene dubbed PPARA, which plays a role in cholesterol metabolism, has been shown to alter the body’s response to dietary fats. People with this variant benefit from a bigger- than-normal drop in triglycerides when they consume the polyunsaturated fats found in many vegetable oils, such as corn and safflower oil.</p> <p><strong>Curcumin</strong></p> <p>A component of turmeric, a spice common in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines, curcumin has been associated with lower LDL-cholesterol levels. Now new findings suggest that it can activate key genes involved in cholesterol metabolism.</p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/dna_diets_and_custom_fit_foods#comments Peter Jaret November/December 2008 Diet, Nutrition & Health - Nutrition News & Information Mon, 17 Aug 2009 19:48:54 +0000 Sarah Hoff 9618 at http://www.eatingwell.com Health Benefits of Tea http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/health_benefits_of_tea <p>Some of the strongest evidence of tea’s health benefits comes from studies of heart disease. Scientists have found that those who drink 12 ounces or more of tea a day were about half as likely to have a heart attack as non-tea drinkers. Here are some of our favorites:</p> <p> <strong>Gunpowder</strong> is a pungent green tea from China; Dragon’s Well has a subtle chestnut flavor and a lingering aftertaste.</p> <p><strong>Darjeeling</strong>, said to be the “Champagne” of Indian teas, is a black tea with delicate flavor that may bring aromas of grapes, almonds or wildflowers.</p> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-author"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Peter Jaret </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subtitle"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Modern science salutes the health benefits of an ancient beverage. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-standard"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_standard" width="310" height="310" alt="" src="http://bed56888308e93972c04-0dfc23b7b97881dee012a129d9518bae.r34.cf1.rackcdn.com/sites/default/files/tea_Japanese_310_1.jpg?1255554832" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-content-taxonomy field-field-publication"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Winter 2003 </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-related1"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-relatedtitle1"> <div class="field-label">Related Content Title 1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Related Recipes </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-relatedlinks1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/recipes/chocolate_earl_grey_sorbet.html">Chocolate-Earl Grey Sorbet</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/recipes/stir_fried_noodles_with_green_tea.html">Stir-Fried Noodles with Green Tea</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/recipes/dried_fruit_compote_with_green_tea_lemon.html">Dried Fruit Compote with Green Tea &amp; Lemon</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/recipes/hibiscus_pomegranate_iced_tea.html">Hibiscus-Pomegranate Iced Tea</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-related2"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-relatedtitle2"> <div class="field-label">Related Content Title 2:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Related Articles </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-relatedlinks2"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/healthy_cooking/quick_healthy_cooking/quick_sides_desserts_more/tea_time">How to Maximize the Flavor and Health Benefits of Tea</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/red_tea_for_health">Red Tea for Health</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101/shopping_cooking_guides/tea_buyers_guide_and_steeping_tips">Tea Buyer&#039;s Guide and Steeping Tips</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Some of the strongest evidence of tea’s health benefits comes from studies of heart disease. Scientists have found that those who drink 12 ounces or more of tea a day were about half as likely to have a heart attack as non-tea drinkers. Here are some of our favorites:</p> <p> <strong>* Gunpowder</strong> is a pungent green tea from China; Dragon’s Well has a subtle chestnut flavor and a lingering aftertaste.<br /> <strong>* Darjeeling</strong>, said to be the “Champagne” of Indian teas, is a black tea with delicate flavor that may bring aromas of grapes, almonds or wildflowers.<br /> <strong>* Assam</strong>, another black tea, is robust and “malty” – a good morning wake up.<br /> <strong>* White tea</strong>, a prized special-occasion green tea with a delicate taste and light golden color, consists of tea buds picked at daybreak.<br /> <strong>* Formosa oolong</strong>, only slightly fermented from Taiwan, is floral and delicate and pairs well with food.</p> </div> </div> </div> http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/health_benefits_of_tea#comments Peter Jaret Winter 2003 Recipes & Menus - Gout Diet, Nutrition & Health - Nutrition News & Information Mon, 17 Aug 2009 15:08:29 +0000 Sarah Hoff 9545 at http://www.eatingwell.com