Sugary Beverages Can Harm Your Heart

Turns out by limiting your sugary beverages you might just be helping your heart. A new study published in the journal Circulation finds that men who drank just one sugar sweetened drink a day had a 20% higher risk of heart disease than those who didn’t drink these beverages according to Harvard School of Public Health professor of nutrition and epidemiology Frank Hu, MD, PhD who lead the study.

This research supplies strong evidence that the higher intake of sugar-sweetened drinks is a key risk factor for heart disease. Even moderate intake, as little as one drink a day, is not safe.

The finding is based on the examination of almost 43,000 men who were taking part in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The team had conducted a similar study with women from the Nurses’ Health Study where there was also found to be a link between heart disease and the intake of sugar sweetened beverages. A similar finding in male subjects enhances the validity of the first findings.

Hu and the team asked the male subjects, aged 40 to 75, to supply details on their beverage drinking habits. During the period from January 1986 to December 2008 the participants reported on what they ate and other health habits every two years. They also gave a blood sample halfway through the study. During the 22-year study there were 3,683 heart attacks.

The researchers then broke the men into four groups based on how many sugary beverages they drank – no sugar sweetened drinks, drinking sugary drinks two times a month, drinking these beverages one to three times a week, drinking sugar sweetened drinks from nearly four times a week to as many as nine times a day. Those falling into this intake level were considered daily drinkers, the group 20% more likely to have had a heart attack than the non-drinkers.

The number held up even after accounting for other things known to impact heart disease risk. Age, smoking status, amount of exercise, intake of alcohol, diet quality, weight and even family history.

When Hu’s team examined the blood samples, they saw that men who drank sugary drinks daily had higher indicators for heart disease than the non-drinkers did. The daily drinkers had high levels of blood fats known as triglycerides, and lower levels of good (HDL) cholesterol. Both triglycerides and low HDL are risk factors for heart disease.

Why the link between sugary drinks and heart disease? No one can say for sure, but there are three things that could be contributing.

1. increased body weight is an immediate after effect of drinking sugar-sweetened drinks.

2. impact on blood fats – increasing triglycerides and decreasing good cholesterol.

3. increasing inflammatory indicators associated with heart disease such as C-reactive protein. This and several other studies have seen this effect.

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Just One Sugary Drink A Day Brings Higher Risk Of Heart Disease… Continued…

There was no link between artificially sweetened diet drinks and heart disease. This doesn’t mean the diet variety of your favorite beverage is a healthy alternative. These drinks have not as yet been widely studied.

Industry group the Sugar Association continues to argue that sugar is not the main culprit in heart disease, but rather overall lifestyle choices carry more weight than a single food or drink. Disputing the study, they point out that the high intake group covered a very wide range of intakes. They feel it is more sensible to look at fighting obesity, and reducing risk of heart disease, by focusing on the whole diet – reducing calories and getting more exercise.

The American Beverage Association offered a statement on the study subjects, claiming they were nearly all white and of European descent so that the findings may not apply to the general population. Also, factors such as stress (a recognized risk of heart disease) were not accounted for by the researchers. They go on to point out that the study finds only an association between sugary drinks and heart disease, not cause and effect.

Hu believes that if you love sugary beverages you don’t have to give them up completely. Just limit your intake to one or two a week. Consider these drinks a treat, not a regular event.

Low Carb Or Low Fat Diet Best For Losing Belly Fat?

Important news on weight loss and heart health. When it comes to losing dangerous belly fat and improving the function of your blood vessels, it seems that for those who are overweight either a low carb or low fat diet will work just as effectively.

Doctors know that being too heavy, especially if the fat sits at your waistline, is a risk in terms of heart disease. The latest findings come from a study conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers and presented at the American Heart Association 2012 scientific meeting.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. It’s caused by the build up of plaque in the arteries that lead to your heart. Over time the arteries narrow and blood flow to your heart can slow or stop altogether. And while you can’t change heart disease risk factors like your age, your gender, your genes or your race, there are things you can do, today, to decrease your risk. One of the most important is to get your weight under control.

That’s easier said than done. And to help clarify the question about which means of weight loss, low carb or low fat, is best, the Johns Hopkins researchers examined 60 men and women who were 215 pounds on average. Half the group was assigned to follow a low carb diet, the other half a low fat eating plan – both offering subjects a similar amount of calories every day.

The low carb diet used for the research had up to 30% of daily calories coming from foods like bread, pasta and some fruits, while 40% was from fat that came from meat, dairy and nuts. The low fat diet had no more than 30% of daily calories coming from fat, and 55% of calories coming from carbs.

The subjects also did some moderately intense exercise during the 6-month study period. At the beginning and again at the end of the research, the team assessed the blood vessel function of each participant by conducting a special blood flow test that allowed the researchers to see how well the arteries expanded when they needed to, thus allowing blood to flow more freely through the body.

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Medical Doctor Reveals The Shocking Truth

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These Diets Both Good For Losing Belly Fat And Helping Your Heart… Continued…

When the study was over, the low carb group lost an average of 28.9 pounds; the low-fat group lost an average 18.7 pounds. But more important than the number on the scale, in terms of heart health, was the amount of belly fat a subject lost. The more loss in this area, the better the arteries functioned.

The research found that the amount of blood vessel function improvement was directly linked to how much belly fat the subject lost, no matter whether they were following a low carb or low fat diet according to lead researcher and professor of medicine Kerry Stewart from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The news is important because there had been concerns from some experts that a low carb diet might have a harmful impact of heart health. This latest work has shown that there is no harmful effect to the heart from eating this way, and that it will help you lose lots of weight as well

Foods High In Trans Fats May Affect Your Mood

Snippy and irritable and not sure why? Eating  a diet full of foods high in trans fats has been associated with negative, even aggressive, behaviors according to some intriguing new research conducted at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and published online in PLoS ONE. It may be that those trans fat laden goodies you’re wolfing down are causing problems not only to your body, but to how you feel as well.

Trans fatty acids are a part of fried foods (French fries, doughnuts), baked foods (pastries, pie crusts, biscuits, pizza dough, cookies, crackers), many prepared meals and snacks as well as being a staple at many restaurants and fast food chains. They’re created via a man-made process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oils in their liquid form, making them become solid.

It wasn’t until the mid 1990s that experts began to look at trans fats for potential health issues and suggested we all start examining our food labels for “partially hydrogenated oils”.

Earlier research has found dietary trans fats to be associated with adverse effects on cholesterol, metabolic function, insulin resistance, inflammation, cardiac and overall health. Eating these types of fats is known to increase your risk of not only heart disease but also potentially debilitating stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

For this latest work, researchers examined the diet and other behavior of 945 subjects, both men and women. They accounted for other contributing factors to poor mood such as a subjects’ history of aggressive behavior and their use of alcohol or tobacco. The team saw that those who took in more trans fats were more likely to show negative behaviors – impatience, irritability and aggression – than those who took in fewer trans fats.

The trans fat intake was associated with more aggression as well as being more consistently able to predict aggressive behavior than any other predictors assessed according to study lead Dr. Beatrice Golomb, an associate professor in the UC San Diego department of medicine. If the findings hold, they may add power to the recommendations to avoid eating these foods, or having them served at institutions such as schools or prisons.

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Is The Food You Eat Making You Miserable..? Continued…

If you’re looking to manage your own intake of trans fats, the American Heart Association recommends limiting your intake to less than 1% of your total calorie intake for a day. So if you’re on a 2,000-calorie diet, no more than 20 calories should come from a trans fat. That works out to less than 2 grams of trans fats a day. This leaves no room for the industrially created trans fats; you’ll be getting all you need from the natural sources you’re eating anyway.

Here are some other great suggestions for keeping irritability, stress and anxiety from taking hold of you:

- Avoid refined sugar as it causes all kinds of trouble for blood sugar and this can trigger both mood swings and irritability.

- Watch your caffeine intake, if you’re tired and run down this can intensify stress and worsen your mood.

- Get enough water in both food and liquid form as this helps counter stress and irritability.

- Brew a cup of tea as the relaxed feelings you get as you sip are backed by research showing it can bring down blood pressure, and enhance mood and immunity. Tea is also loaded with natural antioxidants that help fight stress.

By following these tips you can avoid any mood alterations caused by foods high in trans fats.

Breast Cancer Link With Diet

New research published in the journal Cancer Research on the breast cancer link with diet finds that high levels of dietary cadmium are likely to increase your chance of developing this form of cancer. Cadmium is a metal that is naturally a part of our environment, and is also a part of many farm fertilizers. It doesn’t take much for the substance to make its way into food – breads, cereals, potatoes, root crops and veggies. Experts have known for a while now that cadmium is toxic and in some forms cancer causing according to doctoral student Bettina Julin at Stockholm’s’ Karolinska Institutet.

Cadmium has been associated with lung cancer in workers who were exposed to it, but the link with breast cancer is something new. Over the last 8 years, research on animals has found that cadmium has estrogen like effects. Estrogen is known to fuel the growth of some types of breast cancers, and can raise breast cancer risk in women after menopause.

For the latest work, Julin and her team followed almost 56,000 Swedish women taking part in the Swedish Mammography Cohort established in 1987-90. The subjects supplied information on their diet, as well as other details, and were followed for 12 years during which time there were 2,112 diagnoses of breast cancer in the study population.

The team divided the women into three groups, based on dietary intake of cadmium. The lowest intake was under 13 micrograms a day, the mid level look in from 13 to 16 micrograms per day, and the highest intake group consumed over 16 micrograms of cadmium per day.

The subjects who had the highest level of exposure to cadmium from the food they ate had a 21% higher risk of breast cancer. The risk was highest (27%) for lean to normal weight women than it was for overweight women.

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Dietary Cadmium Linked To Higher Risk Of Certain Cancers… Continued…

The link between cadmium and breast cancer was strongest for estrogen receptor positive (ER-positive) breast cancers. As the name suggests these are breast cancers fueled by estrogen. The link between cadmium and ER-negative cancer was too slight to be statistically significant. More work is needed.

The study findings are no reason to stay away from veggies and whole grains according to the researchers. In fact, they found that subjects in the research who ate a lot of these foods had a lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who were exposed to cadmium from other food sources. It’s not clear why, but researchers believe that whole grains and veggies might protect against developing breast cancer because of their antioxidant properties.

Understanding that cadmium works like estrogen in the body, and that estrogen promotes cancer growth are vital points to pass on – especially to women who have gone through menopause. If you’re concerned about your breast cancer link to dietary choices, be sure that you are making other smart, healthy lifestyle choices known to be good for you – curb your intake of alcohol, don’t smoke, be more active and keep your weight under control. Because while you can’t change your age or the genes you carry, there are still plenty of things you can do to keep your body healthy and cancer free.

Links Between Weight Gain And Lack Of Sleep

Yet another reason to get your sleep. A new study discovers a link between weight gain and lack of sleep, finding that if you’re sleep deprived you’ll eat more calories than usual, and this can cause you to gain weight rather quickly.

Researchers compared subjects who slept as much as they wanted to those who were allowed just two thirds of their normal sleeping time and found that sleep deprivation was associated with an intake of more calories. An extra 549 calories per day according to the study.

Over a week, this adds up to a pound of weight, though researcher Andrew Calvin, MD, MPH, a fellow in cardiovascular disease and an assistant professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic admits experts don’t know how long the increased calorie intake continues. The latest study lasted only eight days.

The team examined 17 subjects; both men and women aged 18 to 40 who did not have any sleep disorders. The participants wore a watch-sized device known as an actigraph that kept track of their sleep for three nights, and the team evaluated how much time the person spent sleeping.

Next came the eight-day study in the sleep lab, subjects were randomly assigned to sleep as much as they wanted, or to sleep only two thirds of their normal sleep time. At home, the average amount of sleep was 6.5 hours per night.

During the time in the sleep lab, the sleep deprived group averaged 5.2 hours, while the others continued to sleep that 6.5 hours per night. Food intake was logged during the study, and participants had access to as much as they wanted.

Turns out that while the sleep-deprived group ate the 549 extra calories each day, the control group ate almost 143 fewer calories a day than they usually did.

The researchers also tracked how active the participants were. You might think that if you’re awake longer, you’re more active. This wasn’t so. The sleep-deprived subjects didn’t have that much difference in activity than those who slept all they wanted.

Sleep deprivation was also associated with somewhat higher levels of leptin, a hormone that signals the brain you’re full, and slightly lower levels of ghrelin, the hormone that signals hunger. Calvin and his team expected the opposite – lack of sleep would reduce leptin and make ghrelin go up. That would account for people feeling hungrier and less satisfied. The changes found in the research were slight and might well be a consequence, instead of a cause, of consuming those extra calories.

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Lack Of Sleep Linked To Eating Lots More Calories… Continued…

These findings support earlier studies showing lack of sleep is associated with weight gain and being obese, in both children and adults. But the link between lack of sleep and extra calorie intake may be far more complex than anyone thought.

Your best bet, especially if you are trying to maintain a healthy weight, or lose some weight, is to get enough sleep for your needs. Start with the National Sleep Foundation guideline of from 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night and see how this works for you.

The findings on the relationship between weight gain and lack of sleep were presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism 2012 Scientific Sessions. Because the study was presented at a medical conference, you need to think of it as preliminary until its undergone a “peer review” process.

Dangers Of Too Much Red Meat

If you want to live longer, you’ll want to avoid eating too much red meat (including processed meats) according to some new research. Instead, make healthier choices like chicken, fish, whole grains, nuts and other solid sources of protein suggest researchers from Harvard who have concluded a new study appearing in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The work found that the risks of dying early from either heart disease or cancer, or from any cause for that matter, go up as the amount of red meat you eat on a regular basis rises.

Using information that comes from two long running projects (the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and Nurses Health Study), the team examined the diets of over 121,000 middle aged men and women for as long as 28 years.

All participants were free of heart disease and cancer at the start of the study, and supplied information on their diets via food frequency questionnaires updated every four years. Almost 20% (23,923) of the study participants died during this period.

What the researchers found was that on average, each added serving of red meat the person ate per day was associated with a 13% higher risk of dying while the study was being conducted.

Processed meats – bacon, hot dogs, salami – were even more dangerous, with each added serving of these meats bringing a dramatic 20% increase in death risk.

Lead study author An Pan, PhD., a research fellow out of the Harvard School of Public Health and his team also saw that those who ate the most red meat also were heavier, less active and more likely to engage in troubling behaviors like smoking cigarettes and drinking too much alcohol.

Based on the study findings, the team estimates that switching one daily serving of red meat for fish, chicken, nuts, legumes, whole grains or low fat dairy would cut the risk of dying at mid-life by 7% to 19%.

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Eating Too Much Of This May Be Taking Years Off Your Life… Continued…

If all the subjects in the study had cut their average red meat intake to under half a serving a day, the team estimates, 9% of deaths among the men and 8% of deaths for the women might have been avoided.

Red meat is known to be high in saturated fat and cholesterol – so everyone recognizes that it’s not a good choice if you want to stay free of chronic disease. The new study is the first to look at the impact on lifespan on switching from red meat to a healthier alternative. Beyond the high saturated fat content, red meat charred at high temperatures can leave cancer-causing agents on the surface of the meat for you to ingest. And it’s thought that the additives in processed meats could promote cancer.

It’s also important to understand that a diet with lots of red meat is also likely to be deficient in other foods, fruits and veggies for instance. It may also be tough to tell if health problems from red meat come from the food itself or from other lifestyle factors that red meat eaters’ share. And since red meat has such a bad reputation, those who avoid it may also be doing other things to benefit their future health that aren’t being captured in a study setting.

Experts encourage you to avoid eating too much red meat; cutting down to between two to three servings a week according to study lead Pan, who is not suggesting we give up meat entirely – although avoiding processed meats as a whole is a smart idea. Remember too that a more plant-based diet provides a double benefit – it reduces your exposure to harmful substances AND offers you natural sources of valuable nutrients your body needs.

Eating White Rice Ups Your Chance Of Diabetes

For those who enjoy white white rice as a regular part of your diet… take note. A new international analysis finds those who eat white rice regularly have a much higher chance of diabetes.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health examined the findings of four earlier studies conducted in the U.S., Australia, Japan and China. None of the 350,000 subjects participating in these projects had diabetes at the start of studies that lasted anywhere from four to 22 years.

The team led by research associate Qi Sun, saw a strong link between regularly eating white rice and the onset of type 2 diabetes, the link being stronger in women than in men.

The more white rice a subject consumed, the greater the risk for diabetes. Each serving (6 ounce/158 grams) of this rice brought a 10% increased risk of diabetes according to the estimates of the Harvard team.

When you compare white to brown rice, white might be more popular, but it is also one of the least nutritious varieties – with lower amounts of fiber as well as magnesium and vitamins being stripped away during the refining process. Intake of some of these valuable nutrients has been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes the researchers point out.

White rice also scores high on the (GI) glycemic index (a measure of how a food affects blood sugar). Diets with lots of high GI foods are also associated with more type 2 diabetes. Even so white rice is eaten most often worldwide.

Bear in mind that this research does not prove that white rice causes type 2 diabetes.

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Medical Doctor Reveals The Shocking Truth

The real reason you can’t shift those stubborn pounds has nothing to do with a lack of willpower, eating too much or not eating the right kinds of foods – absolutely nothing.

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Regular Intake Of White Rice Ups Risk Of This Chronic Condition… Continued…

However, experts like registered dietitian Karen Congro, director of The Wellness, consider these findings important for Life Program at the Brooklyn Hospital Center. Even though white rice is a simple carb, she points out, it’s also a high glycemic food and can be the cause of high spikes in blood sugar even if you don’t have diabetes. Low glycemic food choices are always going to be a better option in terms of reducing your risk of diabetes.

There are healthier alternatives to the white rice we eat so much of; you might try brown rice, barley or quinoa, buckwheat or any number of whole grains. An overall low fat, reduced calorie eating plan is what most experts will recommend when it comes to giving your body enough of what it needs, without too many calories that add pounds.

If you’re seriously trying to ward off type 2 diabetes, you want to do more than make some changes in your diet. You also need to be more active – 30 minutes of moderately intense activity at least 5 days a week.

If you haven’t been active for a while talk to your doctor first and be sure to start slow and build your workout length and intensity over time. And remember, you don’t have to get all that activity in one shot – you can break it down into 10-minute increments all through the day and get the same benefits. Keeping your weight under control should help you lower your chance of diabates.

How To Avoid Stress Eating

We’ve all had times where food soothes our tensions, helps lift a bad mood, even passes the time, and in a strange way, such indulgences do bring us happiness… an instant lift because the intake of simple carbs triggers the quick release of serotonin, a mood elevating hormone produced by the brain.

We learn to associate the good feeling with the less than healthy food or eating pattern. What’s more, the intake has set off a chain reaction that causes all kinds of trouble for the body, taxes the adrenals, suppresses the immune system for hours afterward and leaves you feeling sluggish and a bit off. That’s all before the sugar crash.

San Francisco based dietitian, Manuel Villacorta, explains that in the past people had to be active to live… but today we’re all less active, more stressed than ever before, and bad food choices are all too convenient. While we might think that all the sugar we’re eating goes to our cells for energy, and certainly some does, the rest goes straight to fat cells… nearly always adding inches to the waistline.

Over time your brain becomes accustomed to eating when stressed and creates reward pathways… so that by mid afternoon you’re craving something sweet. This is when you’re most vulnerable because willpower alone isn’t enough to fight the pull of those reward pathways. Villacorta suggests eating the right combinations of food, at the right times and your body won’t be as taxed… and will be better able to handle stress.

You’ll also need to work to create a new pathway… a new pleasing memory. Doing this helps you boost the happy hormones (serotonin and dopamine) and bring down the stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline). Here are some smart suggestions of how to fight stress eating…

- Eat complex carbs, while all carbs encourage the brain to produce serotonin, complex carbs digest more slowly and keep your blood sugar levels steady.

- Crunch on veggies, raw vegetables like baby carrots, celery and radishes are good for you and good stress relievers too. The crunching releases tension in the jaw.

- Eat the right fat, choices that have lots of omega-3 fatty acids (walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds, pin nuts, tuna, salmon) help manage unhealthy surges in stress hormones and also offer protection against mood disorders like depression. Omega-3s are key to brain function… and if you’re thinking clearly you’ll be better equipped to face, and cope with stress.

- Get more vitamin C, eating foods like citrus fruits helps reduce stress hormone levels and boost the immune system too. This is important as our immune systems are often compromised when we’re dealing with stress.

- Drink green tea as studies have found theanine, an amino acid naturally in green tea, can have a calming, but not drowsy, effect. The bonus, it also helps to reduce high blood pressure, a well-known side effect of stress on the body.

Beyond what you eat, there are coping strategies you can use when the cravings hit mid afternoon. Get up and take a brisk, two-minute walk outside in the fresh air instead. Or do breathing exercises such as ten deep breaths in and out to help lower cortisol levels in your body. If you find that you really are hungry, go for something healthy that’s satisfying, delicious and nutritious.

And beware, that the light, low calorie ready-made “snacks” aren’t the answer – these foods are loaded with additives and calories and not much else. Twenty minutes after eating them your digestive enzymes are looking for some sustenance and finding nothing. It’s no wonder people aren’t satisfied… and go back for more.

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5 Tips To Fight Off Afternoon Stress Eating Binges… Continued…

According to Tufts University interim dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Robin Kanarek, food is more than a source of nutrition; it’s also full of cultural and social value. Our beliefs about a particular food may be influencing how we behave.

For example, in a study where subjects were given either a doughnut or a banana with an equal number of calories and grams of sugar – the doughnut eaters reported feeling worse about themselves and their body image after they ate.

In another study, participants were provided with a milkshake – one group was told it was high in calories, the other was told it was low-cal. The subjects who thought they drank the high calorie shake were more likely to have a Ring Ding (devil’s food cake filled with cream and frosted) after. The thinking? Familiar to us all… you’ve already cheated so you might as well go all the way.

The ultimate message here on how to avoid stress eating isn’t about short term solutions, but rather filling your diet with less processed, sugar laden foods and exchanging these for more natural, wholesome choices that are bound to have you feeling better, with lots of energy and a sense of well being that can’t be beat. If you’re having trouble making good food choices, or struggling with stress eating, a session with a registered dietitian could be a huge help.

Stroke Risk Factors Lowered By Citrus Fruits

Enjoying oranges, grapefruits and other varieties of citrus fruits might just help bring down stroke risk factors according to some new research. While a healthy diet, full of fruits and veggies has been associated with lower stroke risk in other research; no one was sure why this happened.

For this latest work, the team looked only at compounds called flavanones that are part of citrus fruit. They are a type of dietary flavonoid that’s been associated in past research with lower stroke risk; it’s also found in dark chocolate and red wine.

For this research the team focused on six subclasses of flavonoids (including flavanones) to try and figure out which specific plant foods work on risk of stroke. The team examined 14 years of follow up data that came from the U.S. Nurses’ Health Study, including almost 70,000 women who reported their food intake every four years, including details on their consumption of fruits and veggies.

During the follow up period, 1,803 strokes took place, with half being blood clot related. And while total flavonoid intake didn’t reduce stroke risk, intake of flavanones did. Women who ate the most flavanones had a 19% lower risk of blood clot related stroke than those who ate the least amounts of these nutrients.

Those who ate the most citrus fruits/juices had a 10% reduced risk of blood clot related stroke than those who didn’t eat these foods at all.

According to study lead Aedin Cassidy, head of nutrition at Norwich Medical school at the University of East Anglia, the data offers strong support for adding more citrus fruits to your daily intake of fruits to reduce the risk of blood clot related (ischemic) strokes. It may be that the flavanones in these fruits improve the function of blood vessels, or they may reduce inflammation that has been associated with stroke.

Vitamin C, thought to be the reason for the heart protective effects of citrus fruits was not associated with a lowering of stroke risk in this research.

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The Latest On Citrus Fruits And Stroke Risk… Continued…

To get the biggest bang for your buck, the whole fruit is better than the juice because whole foods have more flavanones and only have natural sugar. A typical piece of citrus fruit has 45 to 50 milligrams of flavanones. The higher intake group in the study consumed over 470 milligrams of flavanones per day; the lowest intake was almost 150 milligrams per day.

Now it’s also important to understand that those who took in the most flavonoids smoked less and were more active. They ate more fiber, veggies and fruit overall, consumed less alcohol and caffeine. More research is needed to see if the connection holds up between flavonoid consumption and stroke risk, and if it is true for men as well as women.

This research shows us all just how important fruits and vegetables are to our health and for lowering stroke risk factors. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines of America 2010 suggest you to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies at most meals, and this is a good rule of thumb for everyone.

Brain Aging Prevention

More news on the brain aging prevention. Eating a diet that’s full of omega-3 fatty acids might just help to prevent memory troubles, as well as slowing down the effects of aging on the brain as the years pass. This comes from a new study that examines the link between blood levels of omega-3s and brain health.

The work appears in the journal Neurology and has found that those with low levels of omega-3 fatty acids have more risk of aging related memory problems.

Diets without docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and omega-3s that are a natural part of fish and other foods might cause the brain to age more quickly. The lower brain volume observed in those with lower levels of omega-3s was equal to about two years of structural aging of the brain according to study lead Zaldy S. Tan, MD, MPH of the Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Earlier research has shown that those who eat a diet with lots of fatty fish like salmon and tuna have a reduced risk of dementia, heart disease and stroke. The results from this most recent work appear to explain why.

The team measured levels of omega-3 fatty acids inside red blood cells for 1,575 seniors (average age was 67) who were dementia free at the time and participating in the Framingham Offspring Study. Subjects were evaluated for mental function and had MRI scans of their brains to look at size and blood supply.

Those whose DHA levels were in the lowest 25% had lower brain volumes compared to those with higher levels of DHA. What’s more, those who had low DHA and were also lacking all the other omega-3 fatty acids didn’t score as high on tests of visual memory, abstract thinking and processing. Brain scans showed that these subjects also had less blood supply in their brain.

The results, the researchers say, demonstrate that low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA, are associated with a pattern of memory and cognitive function issues even in those who have not been diagnosed with dementia.

The team accounted for different lifestyle and health factors… things like age, education level and body weight, to see if other differences in those with low levels of omega-3 could be found to help understand their rapid brain aging. Yet the difference remained, making it appear even more likely that omega-3 fatty acids are the explanation for the better brain health.

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Lots Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help Brain Age Better… Continued…

This is not to say that consuming omega-3 fatty acids prevents age related mental decline. It shows only that there could be an association between eating these foods and a healthier brain. There could be other factors, such as fruit and vegetable intake or activity levels responsible for a healthy brain.

Foods known to naturally have lots of this nutrient include salmon, halibut, sardines, albacore, trout, herring, walnut, flaxseed and canola oils. You can also get omega-fatty acids from shrimp, clams, light chunk tuna, catfish, cod and spinach. From this list you can see why fish has earned a reputation as a brain food… omega fatty acids can not be produced by the human body and therefore must be taken in as part of the diet.

Many choose to take docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in supplement form, but until we know more, this may not be the best option for everyone. Adding a serving (or two) of some of the foods we’ve mentioned here is a more natural approach. And be sure to talk with your healthcare team if you’re concerned about your personal risks and are looking for brain aging prevention techniques to keep your brain healthy as the years pass.