Posts Tagged “heart disease”

New Studies: Regular Mango Consumption May Improve Diets

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As low fruit and vegetable consumption continues to contribute to diet-related chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, two new research studies find regular mango consumption may improve diets and help manage key risk factors that contribute to chronic disease.

Specifically, these new studies report findings in two areas: 1) mango consumption is associated with better overall diet quality and intake of nutrients that many children and adults lack at optimum levels, and 2) snacking on mangos may improve glucose control and reduce inflammation in contrast to other sweet snacks.

With mangos consumed widely in global cuisines and 58% of Americans reporting snacking at least once a day in 20211, this new research provides added evidence that regularly consuming mangos may have health advantages and be relevant to cultural dietary preferences and current eating patterns.

Mango consumption associated with higher diet quality and better intakes of nutrients of concern in children and adults

A recent observational study found positive outcomes in nutrient intakes, diet quality, and weight-related health outcomes in individuals who consume mangos versus those who do not2. The study, published in Nutrients in January 2022, used United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2018 data to compare the diets and nutrient intakes of mango consumers to people who did not consume mangos.

Both studies were supported by funds from the National Mango Board.

The study showed that children who regularly ate mango had higher intakes of immune-boosting vitamins A, C and B6, as well as fiber and potassium. Fiber and potassium are two of the four “nutrients of concern” as defined by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which means many Americans are not meeting recommendations for these.

In adults, researchers found similar results, showing that mango consumption was associated with significantly greater daily intakes of fiber and potassium but also vitamins A, B12, C, E and folate, a vitamin critical during pregnancy and fetal development. For both children and adults, consuming mango was associated with a reduced intake in sodium and sugar, and for adults was associated with a reduced intake of cholesterol.

“We have known for a long time that there is a strong correlation between diet and chronic disease,” says Yanni Papanikolaou, researcher on the project. “This study reveals that both children and adults eating mangos tend to have significantly better diet quality overall along with higher intakes of fiber and potassium compared with those who don’t eat mangos. It is also important that mango fits into many diverse cuisines. Whole fruits are under consumed, and mango can encourage fruit consumption especially among growing diverse populations.”

Snacking on mangos associated with better glucose control and lower inflammation

In addition to these broad benefits of mango consumption, a separate pilot study, published in Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases in 2022 looked at mango as a snack and found that consuming whole mangos as a snack versus a control snack had better health outcomes in overweight and obese adults3. Given 97% of American adults consume snacks that contribute up to 24% of their daily energy intake4 this study sought to compare snacking on 100 calories of fresh mango daily to snacking on low-fat cookies that were equal in calories.

Twenty-seven adults participated in the study, all classified as overweight or obese based on Body Mass Index (BMI) and reported no known health conditions. Participants were given either mango or low-fat cookies as a snack while maintaining their usual diet and physical level for 12 weeks, and after a four-week wash-out period the alternating snack was given for another 12 weeks.

Researchers measured the effects on glucose, insulin, lipid profiles, liver function enzymes and inflammation. At the end of the trial period, findings indicated that mango consumption improved glycemic control (an individual’s ability to manage blood glucose levels, an important factor in preventing and managing diabetes) and reduced inflammation.

Results showed there was no drop in blood glucose when participants snacked on low-fat cookies. However, when snacking on mangos there was a statistically significant (p= 0.004) decrease in blood glucose levels at four weeks and again at 12 weeks, even though there was twice as much sugar, naturally occurring, in the mangos compared to the cookies. Researchers also observed statistically significant improvements to inflammation markers, total anti-oxidant capacity (TAC) and C-reactive protein (CRP), when snacking on mangos. TAC is a measurement of overall antioxidant capacity, or how well foods can prevent oxidation in cells. CRP is biomarker used to measure inflammation in the body. The research suggest that the antioxidants abundant in mangos offered more protection against inflammation compared to the cookies.

“The findings of this study show that antioxidants, fiber and polyphenols abundant in mango may help to offset sugar consumption and aide in glucose control. Antioxidants may also offer protection against inflammation” says Dr. Mee Young Hong, lead investigator on the study and Professor in the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences at San Diego State University. “Further research is needed but the initial findings are encouraging for people who enjoy sweet snacks.”

Some limitations in this study include sample size, using only one dose of mango, and measuring effects on participants without any pre-existing conditions. Further research should explore optimal dose of mango and examine long-term effects of mango consumption on those with metabolic conditions. It would also be of benefit to compare mango to a fiber-matched control snack to distinguish the effects of fiber versus the bioactive compounds in mangos.

With only 99 calories and over 20 different vitamins and minerals, a 1 cup serving of mango is nutrient-dense, making it a superfood. Because mangos are widely consumed in cultures around the world and United States, research into their health benefits contributes to a better understanding of their place in a healthy diet.

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New Study: Vegetables Alone Cannot Stave off Heart Disease

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High consumption of vegetables alone won’t help prevent heart disease in adults who are deficient in physical activity and other lifestyle factors, according to a new study.

In the study of about 400,000 middle-aged adults in the United Kingdom with a 12-year follow-up, higher consumption of raw but not cooked vegetables was associated with lower heart disease risk.

However, researchers at Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Population Health and other institutions said even the benefit of raw vegetables to reduce heart disease was probably not as important as other lifestyle factors, including physical activity, smoking, drinking, fruit consumption, red and processed meat consumption, and use of vitamin and mineral supplements.

“This study suggests the need to reappraise the evidence on the burden of cardiovascular disease attributable to low vegetable intake in the high-income populations,” the research summary said. 

The study was published Feb. 21 in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.

Mollie Van Lieu, vice president of nutrition and health for the International Fresh Produce Association, said she wasn’t surprised to see the research results.

“We know that contributors of poor heart health are obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and a host of other factors from eating an excess of foods that aren’t fresh fruits and vegetables,” Van Lieu said. “If an individual continues to eat a diet high in sugar, sodium, unhealthy fats and refined ultra-processed carbohydrates, we cannot expect vegetables to singularly fix the harm that those foods cause.”

That being said, there is “no question” that a healthy dietary pattern must include a wide variety of vegetables, said Van Lieu, and that increasing consumption of whole and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables can help individuals reduce consumption of other foods that contribute to poor health.

“We don’t want studies like this to distract from the importance of growing consumption,” she said. “But what studies like this can point to is that we need an overall nutrition strategy that addresses all the factors that contribute to poor dietary health and prevents our population from consuming the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.”

Taylor Wallace, principal and CEO of the Think Healthy Group and adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies for George Mason University, said the United Kingdom study adjusted for far more variables than a typical study.

“An issue with nutrition epidemiology (in general) is that you can easily ‘overcorrect,’ which leads to null findings,” he said. “The ‘residual confounding’ argument the authors give in the conclusion works the opposite way, too … its more likely they overcorrected and lost the effect. Just because its cloudy outside doesn’t mean the sun isn’t shining.”

Another limiting factor in the study, Wallace said, was that intake of vegetables was assessed only once at baseline. 

“This makes the study a very weak and ill-designed prospective cohort study that has limited utility,” he said. “Cohort studies that show beneficial effects of vegetables (of all forms) used validated food frequency questionnaires many times over a 12-year period, as dietary patterns often change. This is not a good measure of food intake at all.”

In addition, he said the study couldn’t account for cooking methods, such as whether vegetables were fried, baked or boiled. Those diverse types of cooking methods may have very different influences on cardiovascular disease and overall health, Wallace said.

“Not accounting for factors like this is equivalent to throwing dice down a roulette table and then claiming the game is impossible to win at because you lost,” he said. 

Also, he said findings not reported in the abstract but apparent in the supplemental files show that adjustment for all the covariates didn’t make a difference in regard to all-cause mortality. “There was still a large protective effect of cooked and raw vegetables,” Wallace said.

In general, he said, the study data goes against what has consistently and frequently been reported in systematic reviews and other epidemiological analyses.

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Strawberries Improve Heart Health in Male Teens, Study Says

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Teen age boys who are at higher risk for heart disease than their peers may benefit from eating a lot of strawberries, according to a recent small study. 

“The literature to date strongly supports the concept that the regular consumption of strawberries can be associated with improvements in cardiovascular health,” according to a University of California-Davis news release.

The study by UC-Davis researcherss Roberta Holt, Carl Keen and others, “Effects of short-term consumption of strawberry powder on select parameters of vascular health in adolescent males,” was published in the Food & Function journal. The study is the result of the 2019 Berry Health Benefits Symposium.

The goal of the study is to better inform dietary recommendations about the amount and frequency of strawberry intake to support cardiovascular health at each life stage.

The research team prioritized teenagers for their study because heart disease risk can begin in childhood. 

The study used only 25 teens, recording results an hour after consumption and again a week later. More studies, especially longer-term studies, are needed in a variety of populations because many factors influence how polyphenols in strawberries affect the heart, according to the release.

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Study Claims Eating Chili Peppers Leads to Lower Mortality Risk

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The Journal of American College of Cardiology has issued a new study titled Chili Pepper Consumption and Mortality in Italian Adults, finding individuals who ate chili peppers 4 or more times per week, along with a Mediterranean diet, were at a 23 percent lower risk of mortality.

The study was performed on 22,811 Italian men and women. Chili pepper intake was estimated by the EPIC (European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer) Food Frequency Questionnaire and categorized as none/rare consumption, up to 2 times/week, >2 to ≤4 times/week, and >4 times/week.”

“Regular consumption of chili pepper is associated with a lower risk of total and CVD death independent of CVD risk factors or adherence to a Mediterranean diet.” according to the study.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out heart disease is the leading cause of deaths in the United States.  When considering all-causes for cardiovascular disease participants that consumed chili peppers 4 times/week were at a 23 percent lower risk of mortality comparing to none/rare consumption of chili peppers were at a 34 percent risk of mortality.

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Avocados Linked to Better Diet Quality, Lower Body Weight, Positive Health Parameters

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DSCN8788by Hass Avocado Board

Insulin and homocysteine levels were lower in the avocado group, as well as a significantly reduced incidence of metabolic syndrome, according to a study.

Homocysteine, when elevated, has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.  Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises the risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.   The analysis, Avocado Consumption by Adults is Associated with Better Nutrient Intake, Diet Intake, Diet Quality, and Some Measures of Adiposity:  National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2001 -2012 , was published in the journal Internal Medicine Review.


  • Compared to non-consumers, avocado consumers have:
    • Higher intakes of dietary fiber, total fat, good fats (monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids), vitamins E and C, folate, magnesium, copper and potassium.
    • Lower intakes of total carbohydrates, added sugars and sodium.
  • Avocado consumers have improved diet quality, as measured by the Healthy Eating Index-2010.
  • Improved physiologic measures include:
    • On average, avocado consumers weighed 7.5 lbs less, had a mean BMI of 1 unit less and 1.2 in. smaller waist circumference compared to non-consumers.
    • Avocado consumers were 33% less likely to be overweight or obese and 32% less likely to have an elevated waist circumference compared to non-consumers.
    • Incidence of metabolic syndrome was significantly reduced for avocado consumers.

The findings are based on avocado consumption and its association with nutrient and food group intake, diet quality, and health biomarkers assessed using a nationally representative sample of 29,684 adults (ages 19 years and older) participating in the 2001-2012 NHANES. Fresh avocado intake averaged a consumption of 76 grams per day (a little more than half of a medium Hass avocado) and was assessed by 24-hour dietary recalls. Diet quality was measured using the Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010), which measured adherence to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The analysis was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Children’s Nutrition Research Center and the Hass Avocado Board (HAB).

“These findings indicate incorporating avocados could be one way for Americans to meet the recommended fruit and vegetable intake and potentially improve physiologic measures,” said Nikki Ford, Hass Avocado Board Director of Nutrition. “As we fund additional clinical studies investigating the relationship between fresh avocado consumption and weight management and risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, we continue to encourage healthcare professionals to remain committed to recommending avocados as part of an overall healthy diet.”

About the Hass Avocado Board
The Hass Avocado Board (HAB) is an agriculture promotion group established in 2002 to promote the consumption of Hass Avocados in the United States. A 12-member board representing domestic producers and importers of Hass Avocados directs HAB’s promotion, research and information programs under supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. Funding for HAB comes from Hass avocado producers and importers in the United States.

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10 Reasons to Check out Broccoli Rabe

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AndyBoyArticle by: Keri Glassman, MS – RD – CDN,

Our  (Andy Boy) Nutrition Expert, Keri Glassman, is one of America’s foremost registered dietitians. She brings with her a wealth of nutritional knowledge, as well as an appreciation for foods that people love. 

If you’re one of the 70% of Americans who fail to meet the minimum U.S. Dietary Guidelines for daily vegetable intake…You. Are. Missing. Out. Yup, you really need to get them in Stat.

My go-to fave is broccoli rabe. It’s loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, and also packs in minerals like calcium, folate, and iron, just to name a few.

Another bonus? Broccoli rabe is filled with water and fiber, which aid in digestion and can also keep you feeling fuller for longer, supporting healthy weight loss.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “broccoli rabe really rocks”, then yes, you are 100% correct.

Here is a cheat sheet on why and how broccoli rabe should play a starring role in your diet:

  1. Reduce your disease risk. Broccoli rabe offers a powerful dose of fiber, vitamins and minerals including antioxidants and phytochemicals which have been shown to lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease and may help reduce the risk of cancer. Experts believe that the carotenoids in broccoli rabe act as antioxidants, slowing the damage that free radicals cause our bodies, before they can do harm.
  2. Pump up the vitamin volume! 1 cup of broccoli rabe has more than 112% of your daily recommendation of vitamin K (strong bones!) and about 20% your recommendation of vitamin A (20/20 vision anyone?).
  3. Fill up til you’re full. Broccoli rabe has a high water volume, which helps you stay hydrated. One study showed subjects’ metabolic rate increased 30 percent within 10 minutes after drinking 17 ounces of water. Broccoli rabe also have a high fiber content, which not only leaves you feeling satisfied and full for longer, but also helps keep things moving in the GI tract.
  4. Amp your weight loss. All veggies offer multiple nutrients for very few calories, aiding in weight loss efforts. When it comes to broccoli rabe, the more the merrier!
  5. Boost your brain. One study found that women who ate the most leafy greens, like broccoli rabe, and cruciferous vegetables had brains that were 1 to 2 years “younger” in performance than those who ate fewer. Bringin’ back the youth!
  6. Promote skin health. The phytochemicals and antioxidants found in green veggies like broccoli rabe can help protect your skin against UV damage by countering free radicals in your body to lessen the deterioration of skin’s vital components like collagen and elastin. Say hello to greens and say hello to gorgeous skin!
  7. Calcium without the dairy. Calcium is an absolutely vital nutrient for keeping your bones healthy and strong. Whether dairy isn’t an option for you, or if you’re just looking for some variety, broccoli rabe will give you a tasty calcium boost that you need.
  8. Protect your eye health. Carrots tend to get most of the credit when talking about eye health, but broccoli rabe and other leafy greens contain lutein, which help block certain light rays from damaging your eyes.
  9. Work in some protein! Now, it’s no surprise that leafy greens aren’t as protein-rich as meat, tofu, or other meat substitutes, but with more than 1 gram per cup of broccoli rabe, you can give yourself a little protein boost from an unexpected source.
  10. Branch out! Greens go way beyond spinach and kale. Why? Well, aside from the taste (holy yum!), broccoli rabe fights cancer (over 50% of your daily vitamins A & C in just 3.5 oz.), combats heart disease (it contains strong anti-inflammatory nutrients that may reduce the risk of heart disease) and helps you to detox (contains sulfur which helps detoxify the liver).

A few Do’s and Don’ts to take your green eats to the next level:

  • DO shoot to eat 1 serving of leafy greens (e.g. 1 cup broccoli rabe) at every meal.
  • DO choose nutrient dense dark, leafy greens such as broccoli rabe over less nutritious options
  • DON’T drench or fry your greens in dressings or oils. What a shame it would be to lose all of the natural nutritional power, right?
  • DON’T worry about consuming too many greens. More is better, as long as you’re controlling the added fat, such as olive oil. Which, by the way, is delicious with a bunch of broccoli rabe and a few red pepper flakes.

Check out Keri’s recipe for Broccoli Rabe Chips.

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Grapes Can Lower Risk of Infection, Study Suggests

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DSCN2927+1A USDA study has revealed that eating grapes could help obese people decrease certain types of fats in their blood that are linked to heart disease and lower their risk of infection.

Susan Zunino, a molecular biologist with the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Western Human Nutrition Research Center (WHNRC) in Davis, California, studies phytochemicals—natural compounds found in fruits such as grapes and strawberries. Her recent work suggests that phytochemicals from grapes may have a positive effect on the immune system of obese individuals.
Hospital and clinic documentation of viral and bacterial infection has shown that obese people are at a much higher risk for developing infections after surgery, according to Zunino. About 35 percent of Americans are obese, which puts them at a higher risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and bacterial and viral infections.
In the study, obese participants drank either a mixture of water and grape powder made from freeze-dried table grapes or a placebo twice a day for three weeks. The two groups switched to the opposite mixture for the next three weeks.
Blood samples were analyzed to measure the effects of grapes on blood lipids (fats), blood markers of inflammation and cells of the immune system during the study. Compared with the placebo group, the grape powder group had reduced plasma concentrations of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as “bad” cholesterol, which is associated with heart disease.
When scientists stimulated immune cells from blood with a bacterial component, they found an increase in the production of proteins—cytokines—that are instrumental in fighting off infections. In previous research, Zunino discovered that one of the same cytokine proteins was produced when obese individuals consumed strawberry powder.
However, obesity leads to more inflammation in the body, according to Zunino. Therefore, more studies are needed to find out if the increase in cytokine production, after grapes and strawberries are eaten, contributes to more inflammation or is beneficial in reducing infections.

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An Apple a Day Really Can Keep the Doctor Away

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DSCN2896+1It seems that there is some truth in the old saying: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  A recent release by U.S. Apple Association (USApple), shows that eating apples can help fight the factors that contribute to heart disease, the leading cause of death globally.

The release provides evidence from research that shows the benefits of eating apples:
An Ohio State University study recently found that eating an apple a day for four weeks lowered blood levels of oxidized LDL the bad cholesterol by 40%.
A University of Oxford (UK) study found that eating an apple once a day may be just as beneficial as daily statin use when it comes to preventing vascular deaths in individuals over 50.
A University of Florida study found eating two apples a day reduced LDL by 23%.
U.S. researcher’s report that for every 10 grams of fiber consumed per day the risk of developing heart disease may decrease 14 percent, and the risk of dying from heart disease may decrease 27 percent. They also found that fiber from fruits appeared to be slightly more protective than cereal fiber, lowering the risk of coronary disease death by 30 percent.

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Study Cites Grapes as Good for Eyes, Reducing Risk of Blindness

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Eating grapes is good for the eyes and could reduce the risk of going blind later in life, according to new researcDSCN4876h.

The fruit protects against a chemical process known as oxidative stress, which releases harmful molecules called free radicals into the retina.  Grapes are rich in antioxidants that protect healthy cells from DNA damage and it is believed these compounds are behind the eyesight benefits.

The retina is the part of the eye that contains cells that respond to light, known as photoreceptors. Degenerative diseases of the retina can cause blindness.
“Adding grapes to the diet actually preserved retinal health in the presence of oxidative stress in this study,” says Professor Abigail Hackam, of the University of Miami in the U.S., which carried out the research.
Elevated oxidative stress is strongly associated with retinal disease and has been widely studied in the development of age-related macular degeneration and other eye conditions.
During the research, mice were fed either freeze-dried whole grape powder – the equivalent of about three servings a day for humans – a diet with the same level of sugar, or a standard research control diet.  The results showed that both retinal structure and function were preserved in the group eating the grape-enriched diet.
Mice in this group maintained their retinal thickness, the quantity of photoreceptors and the amount of photoreceptor activity, despite high oxidative stress. In the non-grape eaters, retinas were damaged, displaying holes and lesions, and there was a significant decrease in thickness.
There was also a 40 per cent reduction in photoreceptors and significant loss of photoreceptor activity.
Previous research by scientists at the University of Glasgow found that the antioxidant benefits of drinking purple grape juice could also reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Another study, by scientists at Washington State University, found that eating grapes can help prevent weight gain.
They contain a compound called resveratrol – also found in blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and apples – that converts bad, white fat in the body into good ‘beige fat’, which burns up calories.

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Heart Health of Youth Boosted by Fruit, Vegetable Consumption

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DSCN2899+1Young adults can preserve their heart health decades later by eating fruits and vegetables, according to a new study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
The study concluded “higher intake of fruits and vegetables during young adulthood was associated with lower odds of prevalent coronary artery calcium after 20 years of follow-up,” according to the article. “Our results reinforce the importance of establishing a high intake of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy dietary pattern early in life.”
Coronary artery calcium is used to measure the atherosclerosis, a disease that hardens arteries is a factor in many types of heart disease, according to a news release from the American Heart Association.
Researchers found that people who ate the most fruits and vegetables at the study’s start had 26% lower odds of developing calcified plaque two decade later, compared with the those who ate the least amount of fruits and vegetables, according to data from more than 2,500 study participants.
The research represents the first study to evaluate whether eating more fruits and vegetables as young adults could produce a measurable improvement in heart and blood veseels years later.
“People shouldn’t assume that they can wait until they’re older to eat healthy — our study suggests that what you eat as a young adult may be as important as what you eat as an older adult, ” lead author Michael Miedema, senior consulting cardiologist and clinical investigator at the Minneapolis Heart Institute, Minneapolis, Minn., said in the release.
“Our findings support public health initiatives aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable intake as part of a healthy dietary pattern,” Miedema said. “Further research is needed to determine what other foods impact cardiovascular health in young adults.”

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