Posts Tagged “heart disease”

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.

SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS:

  • 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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Eating More Produce in Youth Linked To Healthy Heart

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VegBananas1by American Heart Association

Researchers found that eating more fruits and vegetables as young adults was associated with less calcified coronary artery plaque 20 years later. Coronary artery calcium can be measured by a CT scan to detect the presence and amount of atherosclerosis, a disease that hardens arteries and underlies many types of heart disease.

The researchers divided data from 2,506 study participants into three groups, based on their daily fruit and vegetable consumption. Women in the top third ate an average of nearly nine servings of daily fruits and vegetables and men averaged more than seven daily servings. In the bottom third, women consumed an average 3.3 daily servings and men 2.6 daily servings. All servings were based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.

Researchers found that people who ate the most fruit and vegetable at the study’s start had 26 percent lower odds of developing calcified plaque 20 years later, compared to those who ate the least amount of fruits and vegetables.

Previous studies have shown a strong association between eating more fruits and vegetables and reduction in heart disease risk among middle-age adults. However, this is the first study to examine whether eating more fruits and vegetables as young adults could produce a measurable improvement in the health of their heart and blood vessels 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, ” said lead author Michael D. Miedema, M.D., senior consulting cardiologist and clinical investigator at the Minneapolis Heart Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Researchers studied health information from adults in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, a government-funded study of black and white young adults, which started in 1985.  At the study’s start, participants provided a detailed diet history, information on other lifestyle variables and cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, whether or not they smoked cigarettes, weight and others. Twenty years later, participants underwent a CT scan to check for buildup of calcium on the walls of the arteries of the heart, which is calculated as a coronary artery calcium score. Higher coronary calcium scores are associated with a higher risk for heart attacks and other coronary heart disease events.

“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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Apple app for weighing fruit; Eating Produce and Heart Disease

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DSCN4900Apple has announced a less known, but essential capability of the iPhone 6s, the Plum-O-Meter, an application created by Simon Gladman.
The Plum-O-Meter allows fruit shoppers to weigh their plums by placing them on the screen of the application.   Gladman says that Plum-O-Meter uses the advanced technology in the pressure-sensitive screen to act as a scale: the app signals which of the objects placed on the display is heavier.
This application can also weigh apples, lemons, coconuts or anything else relatively heavy.  Gladman originally wanted to make the application for grapes but they were too light to activate the 3D Touch.

Preventing Heart Disease

It has been discovered that eating fruits and vegetables as a young adult will help prevent heart disease and coronary artery plaque 20 years later.

The researchers divided data from 2,506 study participants into three groups, based on their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. Women in the top third ate an average of nearly nine servings of daily fruits and vegetables and men averaged more than seven daily servings. In the bottom third, women consumed an average 3.3 daily servings and men 2.6 daily servings. All servings were based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.

Researchers found that people who ate the most fruit and vegetable at the start of the study had 26 percent lower odds of developing calcified plaque 20 years later, compared to those who ate the least amount of fruits and vegetables.

 

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USDA Study Points to Lack of Fresh Produce Consumption

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DSCN2951 Americans’ vegetable habits lean towards french fries and ketchup, and proof of that is in new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Nearly 50 percent of vegetables and legumes available in the U.S. in 2013 were either tomatoes or potatoes.   Lettuce came in third as the most available vegetable.

The USDA’s dietary guidelines recommend that adults consume 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables a day, but the agency’s researchers found only 1.7 cups per person are available.

The federal dietary guidelines do not recommend relying primarily on potatoes, tomatoes and lettuce for most of our vegetable needs. They prescribe a varied mix that includes dark leafy greens, orange and yellow vegetables, and beans—along with those potatoes and tomatoes.   The USDA wants us to eat them because they help reduce the risk for heart disease, stroke and some cancers as well as help keep a healthy weight.

So the vegetables that are available don’t really match what we’re supposed to be eating. What about what we are actually eating?

Some 87 percent of adults failed to meet the vegetable intake recommendations during 2007-2010.  Recent survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a lot of variation state to state — with 5.5 percent of people in Mississippi getting enough vegetables to 13 percent in California meeting the recommendations.

Most people are likely to be eating tomatoes and potatoes, but as the USDA points out we often get them in the not-so-nutritious forms of french fries and pizza. About one-third of potatoes, and two-thirds of tomatoes, were bound for processing via items ranging from chips, to sweetened pizza sauce and ketchup.

 

 

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New Study Highlights The Health Benefits Of Eating Pistachios

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DSCN2875+1By The American Pistachio Growers

FRESNO, Calif. — Eating pistachio nuts does not contribute to weight gain or an increased body mass index – a measure of body fat based on height and weight – when included in a balanced diet, according to a scientific review of several clinical studies. This is among the many findings described in a review article published in the British Journal of Nutrition titled, “Nutrition attributes and health effects of pistachio nuts.” The article analyzes the results of more than 100 research studies and clinical trials regarding nut consumption and health, highlighting the potential health benefits of pistachios, which are a source of plant-based protein, vitamins and minerals and also a good source of fiber.

Pistachios and Weight Management

Reviewers analyzed randomized controlled trials that looked at pistachios’ effect on body weight and found that diets that include pistachios have not been linked to weight gain. In fact, one study found a decrease in body mass index, and another noted a significant decrease in waist circumference for those who ate pistachios.

An important component of weight management is satiety, the feeling of fullness after eating, and evidence shows that all nuts help promote satiety, suppress hunger and inhibit eating.

Heart Disease

Researchers also looked at five studies that examined the effects of pistachios on heart disease. Many of the studies found that diets that include pistachios tend to be linked to significantly lowered cholesterol and blood pressure levels, even for those who are at high risk of diabetes.

Nutrition

Researchers found that a one-ounce serving of pistachios (about 49 nuts) provides 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein and 11 percent of the RDA of fiber for adults. With three grams of fiber per serving, pistachios rank among the top two nuts in fiber content. The authors note that fiber intake is linked to decreased weight gain and helps lower the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.

Pistachios vs Other Nuts

  • Vitamin Content: Pistachios contain Vitamin K and the B vitamins, including thiamin (B1), pyridoxine (B6), and folic acid (B9).
  • Mineral Content: Pistachios contain a number of minerals, including potassium, magnesium, calcium, copper, and manganese, which are thought to play a role in blood pressure control, bone health management, and the prevention of several chronic diseases.
  • Antioxidant Support: Numerous studies suggest that pistachios contain phytochemicals that may act as antioxidants in the body.
  • Role in Eye Health: Pistachios contain approximately 13 times more lutein and zeaxanthin (carotenoids) than the next highest nut. High amounts of these carotenoids are found in the retina of the eye and are known to benefit eye health, which may help prevent vision loss associated with aging.

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