U.S. Blacks Have High Heart Failure Risk

New findings in the New England Journal of Medicine reveal young and middle-aged African-Americans living in the United States are 20 times more likely to suffer heart failure. Data reported average age of heart failure onset among blacks was 39, with hypertension, obesity, and kidney problems also seen earlier in blacks. The research also associates young people not getting their blood pressure checked, lack of health insurance and not taking medications as other risk factors; Reuters investigates.

Not matter what color you are. Diet is a major contributing factor to heart failure. In December, a study showed eating eggs and diary can raise heart failure risk up to 23% and people with 7 pounds of abdominal fat, i.e. chub, are 11% more likely to have a heart failure, but a diet rich in fruits and vegetables naturally lowers LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

In related news, black and Hispanic children were found to have less type-1 diabetes than white kids, with Caucasian children posting the highest rate, but a recent report revealed African-Americans living in poorer communities have limited access to healthy foods.

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Health-Points: Friday 3.20.09

  • I guess I’m going to die soon, because I’m a big dummy! New findings in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine reveals an association between higher IQ and decreased mortality, i.e. death, in men. Researchers believe people with higher IQ test scores are less likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and drinking alcohol and more likely to eat better and exercise; ScienceDaily reports.
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Grapes Help Fight Abdominal Fat

A new study in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research suggests polyphenols, found in grape seeds, may protect against oxidative stress linked to obesity. Scientists fed hamsters a high-fat diet supplemented with Chardonnay grape seed extract for 12 weeks. At the end of the experiment mice not given the grape seed extract had more abdominal fat than mice given the extract. Also, data revealed the high-fat group had increases in blood sugar, triglycerides and insulin resistance, while the extract group was “in part” protected from these effects; via Food Navigator.

In October, grapes were shown to lower blood pressure and reduce heart damage, but lots of plant foods, like blueberries and kiwis, contain polyphenols, antioxidants and other nutrients shown to prevent cancer. Nuts and seeds are other excellent sources phytochemicals and fibers that prevent blood vessel inflammation, raise good cholesterol and lower blood glucose.

I snack on grapes when I’m chained to my desk blogging. Good thing I find them on the cheap! As a kid, my grandfather had an old-school Italian grapevine growing all over the garage. It was cool.

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Mushrooms Lower Breast Cancer Risk

A new study of more than 2,000 women in China revealed women who ate more fresh or dried mushrooms had a lower risk of breast cancer. Published in International Journal of Cancer, scientists examined 1,009 breast cancer patients, ages 20 to 87, and an equal number of healthy women. Determining that participants who ate 10 grams or more per day of fresh mushrooms were two-thirds less likely to develop breast cancer than people who didn’t eat mushrooms and women consuming 4 grams or more of dried mushrooms were 50% less likely to develop breast cancer than non-mushroom eaters; Reuters reports.

But most people won’t eat mushrooms, a lot my friends won’t go near them and they’re not alone, Americans list mushrooms, along with blueberries and peas, as 20 of their most hated foods. Insanity! According to Dr. Fuhrman eating mushrooms, along with green vegetables, tomatoes, garlic and other veggies, will keep you slim and even reduce your risk of diabetes. Not too shabby.

In related news, experts believe mushrooms, with their chewy texture, make excellent substitutes for meat and can help combat obesity. Then just last week, mushrooms were found to prevent colon cancer tumors in mice. Oh goodie, I got some white button mushrooms in the fridge right now!

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Abnormal Heart Rhythm Increases Death-Risk in Diabetics

The new study published in the European Heart Journal involved 11,140 participants with type-2 diabetes. Data at the beginning of the study claims risk of death due to atrial fibrillation, i.e. irregular heart heat, was 61%. The risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke was 77% and 68% for heart failure. However, researchers determined these risks could be lowered if doctors prescribed aggressive treatments to diabetic patients with atrial fibrillation, in this case blood pressure-lowering drugs; via HealthDay News.

Relax, drugs aren’t the only option. Superior nutrition, i.e. lots of fruits and vegetables, has amazing cardio-protective effects, like rejuvenating blood vessels. High-nutrient diets are more effective than drugs at reserving heart disease and preventing diabetes.

In related news, studies have linked diabetes with heightened risk Alzheimer's disease, zinc, a nutrient found in peas, broccoli and kale, lowers the risk of diabetes in women and now the U.S. has 3 million more people with diabetes than in 2005. Eek!

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Diabetes: Brits Get Drugs Before Better Diet

In the United Kingdom 1 in 3 people with diabetes are given medication too soon, instead of being encouraged to eat better and exercise. The study, presented at a Diabetes UK conference, revealed 36% of the 650 people studied were put on medication within 1 month of being diagnosed, despite medical guidelines recommending lifestyle changes be tried first. Startling when you consider 400 people a day are diagnosed with type-2 diabetes in the United Kingdom; BBC News investigates.

This is sad, especially in light of all the research linking diet to diabetes, such as the dangers of drinking soda and the benefits of eating vegetables. Consuming a lot of high-fiber, high-nutrient foods, i.e. fruits and veggies, improves pancreatic function and lowers insulin resistance, allowing glucose levels to return to normal range without medications.

The UK’s had a rough go of it. Health officials recently urged people to buy less saturated fat and Prince Charles blasted junk food for children’s disconnect with nature, but luckily they’ve enlisted Wallace and Gromit to help fight obesity and improve health!

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Heart Disease, Obesity, Diabetes Increase Dementia Risk

New findings in the Archives of Neurology reveal obesity, along with heart disease and diabetes heighten the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. In a series of studies researchers examined over 10,000 individuals with conditions such as obesity and determined those participants with metabolic syndrome-related ailments had reduced cognitive function later in life, leading to Alzheimer's; HealthDay News reports.

Dr. Fuhrman insists a diet rich in green vegetables helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, while diets low in vegetables and high in meat actually increase the likelihood of developing dementia. Exercise has also been shown to protect against dementia.

But we’re still a whacked out country! In 2008, the number of Americans with Alzheimer's reached 5 million. Although later in the year it was discovered internet searches can keep our brains healthy, but I don’t think that includes looking for funneh LOLcats.

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Health-Points: Friday 3.13.09

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More Vitamin D Needed in Winter...

New research in the Journal of Nutrition suggests quadrupling Vitamin D levels in the winter. For the study, scientists recruited 112 women, average age of 22.2, giving some a placebo between March 2005 and September 2005 and then given a placebo or a vitamin D supplement until February 2006. At the end of the experiment, women on the vitamin D supplement had higher serum levels 25-hydroxyvitamin D, 35.3 nanomoles per liter compared to only 10.9 nanomoles per liter. The body manufactures Vitamin D from ultra-violet light derived from the sun; NutraIngredients reports.

Dr. Fuhrman is a huge proponent of vitamin D, especially for bone health, more so than calcium. Vitamin D also helps reduce risk of hip fractures, multiple sclerosis and boosts physical strength in young girls. And it was not too long ago the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested doubling kids’ intake of vitamin D, citing evidence vitamin D helps prevent serious illness, like cancer and diabetes.

Vitamin D deficiency has drawn increased attention over the past few months. Previous studies have associated insufficient Vitamin D with stunted growth, hypertension and rickets. In the winter, when the days are shorter and sunlight is in short supply, therapeutic lights can keep the sunshine coming.

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Healthy Foods Hard to Find in Poor Neighborhoods

According to a new study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition retailers in low income communities are less likely to sell healthy food, such fruits and vegetables. Stores in wealthier areas tend to offer healthier fare. Researchers examined survey data from 759 Baltimore, Maryland residents and discovered 24% of blacks lived in neighborhoods with limited access to healthy food, compared to only 5% of whites. Experts propose offering tax breaks to stores in poorer areas for selling healthier food or distributing cash subsides so residents can buy fruits and veggies; HealthDay News reports.

Sadly, this predicament is very common. More and more supermarkets are moving out of New York City, leaving low income residents with small bodegas and drugs stores mostly selling junk food and few, if any, fresh fruits and vegetables. To make matters worse, many of these neighborhoods are already wrought with fast food, deepening local epidemics of heart disease and diabetes.

In related news, people living in communities with a lot of fast food restaurants were found to have an increased risk of stroke. Overall likelihood was 13% higher and increased 1% per restaurant.

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Good Foods, Bad Foods. Making Kids Mental!

When I was just a little blogger, my mom put the kibosh on a lot of foods. No chips. No bacon. No white bread. No fast food. No snack cakes. And I’m sure there were others, but I’m too emotionally scarred to remember. Now, did all this make be neurotic? No, never!

Sorry. Sarcasm doesn’t translate well in written form. But seriously, some doctors and nutritionists believe uber vigilant parents who classify certain foods as bad, such as salt and sugar, and other foods as good, like veggies, might be driving their kids crazy.

Some say parents can be too obsessive about their children’s diet and despite their good intentions cause food anxieties. Experts worry this can lead to clinical eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia, which have been diagnosed in increasing numbers among young people over the past two decades. In the past, weight-gain was the criteria for bad foods, like fat and sugar, but that has evolved into a broader concept of health concerns, such as diabetes, heart disease and hyperactivity; The New York Times investigates.

Personally, I wouldn’t say my mom’s food tyranny made me anxious. For the most part, it kept me in check. To this day I’ve never had Whiz. Even when I was fat and bloated I avoided the horrible foods. Sure, I ate poorly, but never Big Macs, nachos or Little Debbie.

Now, if I have kids—wow, I just got the chills—I’ll lead by example, like Dr. Fuhrman says. I’ll eat my veggies and encourage my kid to do the same. I won’t keep crap in the house. And if little Gerry asks, I’ll tell him other daddies let their kids eat junk because they’re mean. Kidding!

Via Slash Food.

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