Walnuts May Help Lower Blood Pressure for Those at Risk of Heart Disease

Walnuts

Date: May 1, 2019

Source: Penn State

When combined with a diet low in saturated fats, eating walnuts may help lower blood pressure in people at risk for cardiovascular disease, according to a new study.

When combined with a diet low in saturated fats, eating walnuts may help lower blood pressure in people at risk for cardiovascular disease, according to a new Penn State study.

In a randomized, controlled trial, researchers examined the effects of replacing some of the saturated fats in participants’ diets with walnuts. They found that when participants ate whole walnuts daily in combination with lower overall amounts of saturated fat, they had lower central blood pressure.

According to the researchers, central pressure is the pressure that is exerted on organs like the heart. This measure, like blood pressure measured in the arm the traditional way, provides information about a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at Penn State, said the study suggests that because walnuts lowered central pressure, their risk of CVD may have also decreased.

“When participants ate whole walnuts, they saw greater benefits than when they consumed a diet with a similar fatty acid profile as walnuts without eating the nut itself,” Kris-Etherton said. “So it seems like there’s a little something extra in walnuts that are beneficial — maybe their bioactive compounds, maybe the fiber, maybe something else — that you don’t get in the fatty acids alone.”

Alyssa Tindall, recent student in Dr. Kris-Etherton’s lab and a new Ph.D. graduate in nutrition, said the study was one of the first to try to uncover which parts of the walnuts help support heart health.

“Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid — ALA — a plant-based omega-3 that may positively affect blood pressure,” Tindall said. “We wanted to see if ALA was the major contributor to these heart-healthy benefits, or if it was other bioactive component of walnuts, like polyphenols. We designed the study to test if these components had additive benefits.”

For the study, the researchers recruited 45 participants with overweight or obesity who were between the ages of 30 and 65. Before the study began, participants were placed on a “run-in” diet for two weeks.

“Putting everyone on the same diet for two weeks prior to the start of the study helped put everyone on the same starting plane,” Tindall said. “The run-in diet included 12 percent of their calories from saturated fat, which mimics an average American diet. This way, when the participants started on the study diets, we knew for sure that the walnuts or other oils replaced saturated fats.”

After the run-in diet, the participants were randomly assigned to one of three study diets, all of which included less saturated fat than the run-in diet. The diets included one that incorporated whole walnuts, one that included the same amount of ALA and polyunsaturated fatty acids without walnuts, and one that partially substituted oleic acid (another fatty acid) for the same amount of ALA found in walnuts, without any walnuts.

All three diets substituted walnuts or vegetable oils for five percent of the saturated fat content of the run-in diet, and all participants followed each diet for six weeks, with a break between diet periods.

Following each diet period, the researchers assessed the participants for several cardiovascular risk factors including central systolic and diastolic blood pressure, brachial pressure, cholesterol, and arterial stiffness.

The researchers found that while all treatment diets had a positive effect on cardiovascular outcomes, the diet with whole walnuts provided the greatest benefits, including lower central diastolic blood pressure. In contrast to brachial pressure — which is the pressure moving away from your heart and measured with an arm cuff in the doctor’s office — central pressure is the pressure moving toward your heart.

Tindall said that the results — recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association — underline the importance of replacing saturated fat with healthier alternatives.

“An average American diet has about 12 percent calories from saturated fat, and all our treatment diets all had about seven percent, using walnuts or vegetable oils as a replacement,” Tindall said. “So, seeing the positive benefits from all three diets sends a message that regardless of whether you replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats from walnuts or vegetable oils, you should see cardiovascular benefits.”

Kris-Etherton added that the study supports including walnuts as part of a heart-healthy diet.

“Instead of reaching for fatty red meat or full-fat dairy products for a snack, consider having some skim milk and walnuts,” Kris-Etherton said. “I think it boils down to how we can get the most out of the food we’re eating, specifically, ‘how to get a little more bang out of your food buck.’ In that respect, walnuts are a good substitute for saturated fat.”


Want To Live Longer? Do These Four Things Daily

yoga on beach 2

By Jason Wachob

We all want to optimize our time on this planet and live the healthiest, longest lives possible. Joel Dudley, Ph.D., and Chris Mason, Ph.D., the founders of Onegevity, an AI-driven health care service, are committed to empowering people to better understand and take charge of their health through data-driven and customized solutions.

Dudley and Mason joined me on the mbg podcast to talk about what they believe doctors should be testing for, what we should be doing daily for our microbiome, and why prevention is critical for the future of health care.

A big topic here at mbg is longevity, and with advancements in genetic, microbiome, and blood testing, we know more than ever before. In this episode, we delve deeper into all that, but here, they offer four things we can all be doing right now, today:

1. Present your body with new challenges.

A simple, cost-effective way to try to reverse the effects of aging is to present your body with new challenges. “Maintaining your body’s ability to respond dynamically to the environment is important,” explained Dudley. This could be why things like HIIT and cold exposure are linked with greater longevity. It boils down to flexing your body’s ability to respond to challenges that will, in turn, build resilience.

2. Get quality sleep.

When asked about one of the key factors in living a long life, Mason responded that sleep is crucial. As for how much? He says somewhere from six to eight hours is optimal and reminds us that some essential processes occur only during sleep. We discussed the new research on the glymphatic system that connects the brain with our immune system, and he suggested that sleep may be the only time the body can drain unwanted things out of our brains.

3. Move, move, and move.

The scientists point out that while certain diseases such as Huntington’s disease and cystic fibrosis are genetic and may be difficult to prevent, through lifestyle changes such as exercise, a good diet, and a healthy microbiome, we may be able to move the needle on things like cardiovascular risk, longevity, and cognitive clarity. Dudley says while intense exercise such as HIIT may improve longevity, taking time each day to walk is a great option. It’s less about what exactly you’re doing and more about getting out and moving in some way.

4. Get baseline testing.

Mason and Dudley recommend getting testing (genetic, microbiome, blood work) done so you can have a baseline of what things look like now, so down the line you and your provider have something to compare to. Whether you have health issues or not, having more information pieced together can help create a picture of what’s going on inside you and may mean more effective care.

Whether it’s longevity or cardiovascular, gut, or immune health, it’s important to remember that every part of our health story is connected. Mason and Dudley explain that it takes the whole picture to understand what’s going on inside, and they have us excited about what the future of health looks like.


Cucumbers are the Best Salad Base of All Time—and These 5 Recipes Back That Up

cucumber

I feel kinda bad for cucumbers. Thanks to the world’s obsession with its famous cousin, the versatile zucchini, people are zoodling their lives away without even giving the cuke a fair shake. Well, sorry zucchinis, but cucumbers have some impressive qualities, too. And one of them is their ability to make you want to ditch the kale for a salad that’s crunchy, satisfying, and super-hydrating.

Cucumbers are typically used as a salad topping, but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be the star of the show. A large cucumber contains 2 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and a solid amount of vitamin C and vitamin K, magnesium, and potassium, which is known to help with bloating (something kale commonly causes). On top of that, since cucumbers are 96 percent water, eating them makes it easy to stay hydrated.

To take full advantage of the many benefits of cucumbers, create some hearty salads you can devour all season long.

The 5 best healthy cucumber salads

1. Jalapeño lime cucumber salad

If you like a little spice in your life, this cucumber salad featuring finely-diced jalapeños is a winner. Combined with zesty lime, your taste buds are in for a treat.

2. Thai cucumber salad

Give your cucumbers a Thai twist with this quickie salad that’s loaded with red onion, lemon juice, cayenne powder, and chopped peanuts.

3. Sweet and spicy cucumber salad

To satisfy both your sweet and spicy cravings, whip up this cucumber salad that contains ingredients like rice vinegar, red pepper flakes, and diced red onion.

4. Mediterranean cucumber salad

For the ultimate hydrating cucumber salad, add in some other refreshing veggies too: cherry tomatoes, radishes, and red bell pepper.

5. Japanese cucumber salad

This cucumber salad ups the flavor with wakame, a type of seaweed that brings on plenty of health benefits. It’s been shown to help fight off cancer, decrease your risk of heart disease, and provide mental health-boosting omega-3 fatty acids.


Sorry, Kombucha fans: Dentists say it’s Ruining our Teeth

Another point is that it is not as effective to add PROBIOTICS as it is to think in terms of introducing PRE-Biotics.  Think raw foods before a meal, such as a salad. Every culture throughout time had serves a salad before or after a meal. My whole life I have always eaten a banana about 20 minutes or so before each meal. I eat a lot of salads, and for breakfast I always have lemon or lime water when I wake up and then have a banana before I enjoy a cup of coffee. I also do that southern thing of having sliced tomatoes with almost every meal, even breakfast.

Chai Kombucha

Billed as a “healthy” drink, the fermented tea could be worse than soda for your oral health

For many new age-y health enthusiasts, probiotic drinks like kombuchaare an intrinsic part of a healthy lifestyle.

Kombucha, which is a fermented sweetened tea made of a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) that grow inside a semi-permeable membrane, is said to aid digestion, boost immunity, reduce inflammation, increase energy, and even alleviate anxiety and depression, among other (oft-dubious) claims. Since its rise in popularity over the last ten years, kombucha can be found on the shelves of nearly every grocery store, especially health food stores like Whole Foods. The kombucha market around the world is expected to reach $5.45 billion by 2025.

However, the rise in this drink among the health conscious has come with a price: your teeth. Some dentists are noticing a rise in eroded enamel coinciding with kombucha’s popularity, questioning its so-called miraculous impact.

“Kombucha is nearly as acidic as a pop and energy drinks,” Dr. Bobby J. Grossi, an author, motivational speaker and founder of the Grossi Institute for Dental Assisting, told Salon. “Acidic drinks mess with the PH level of the saliva which ideally should be 7 or 7.3, when the saliva level becomes more acidic it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria which can take over the mouth.”

This bacteria, Grossi said, causes erosion of the enamel, plaque accumulation which can lead to both gum disease or tooth decay. Grossi added sugary drinks weaken your teeth.

The acid in kombucha is crucial for the bacteria’s survival, which makes this a challenging issue for manufacturers to solve. Dr. Greg Grobmyer of AuthorityDental.org, who has a DDS from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, told Salon it is nearly as acidic as soda, too. “It is not uncommon to see ‘pitting’ in the enamel of someone who drinks a lot of kombucha,” he told Salon.

Pitting occurs on the surface of a tooth and usually leads to decay.

“We suggest rinsing your mouth with water after drinking kombucha to wash away the acidic compounds it may leave behind and not eating or brushing for at least 30 minutes afterwards, allowing your tooth enamel to remineralize and reharden,” Grobmyer said.

When asked if it is better or worse, Grossi said he does not believe it’s either-or between kombucha and soda.

“Both drinks are very acidic and have a lot of sugar in them,” Grossi said. “I am a firm believer that water and milk are the drinks of choice.”

“I also recommend always drinking water with a fresh lemon in it to help create a more alkaline environment, not only in your mouth but in your bloodstream,” Grossi said.

Overall, it seems the jury is still out when it comes to kombucha’s purported health benefits.

While studies do show that probiotic foods are good for your digestion and gut health, other studies have called into question kombucha’s healthfulness. A 2014 academic journal article, published in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, states: “Most of [kombucha’s] benefits were studied in experimental models only, and there is a lack of scientific evidence based on human models.”

Given that dentists constitute the front lines of our oral health, it might be wise to heed their observations.

Nicole Karlis

Nicole Karlis is a news writer at Salon. She covers health, science, tech and gender politics. Tweet her @nicolekarlis.


Coffee’s Effects on Our Endocannabinoid System

Daily consumption of caffeine is seen as a “normal” addiction, er, habit. It doesn’t seem to pose any deleterious health effects, and, tolerance and withdrawal aside, many people can stay on a daily “maintenance dose” of coffee without any adverse consequences. That common perception, however, may be challenged based on data suggesting that caffeine can affect our newly discovered physiological system: the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

A study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine last year by Dr. Marilyn C. Cornelis and colleagues of Northwestern University studied the metabolome (a profile of metabolites) of 47 habitual coffee consumers across 3 months. For the first month, the study participants were to abstain for coffee (that must have been painful). In the second month, the participants were instructed to drink four cups a day and in the third month, they had to drink eight cups a day. Scientists measured the level of different metabolites in the participants’ fasting serum at each month.

The researchers found a total of 115 metabolites associated with coffee intake. These metabolites tend to be associated with a particular biological pathway. The scientists mapped the metabolites to 33 known pathways. Eighty-two of the 115 metabolites found had already been identified. Researchers observed a significant increase of metabolites related to 5 specific pathways: xanthine metabolism; benzoate metabolism; steroid metabolism; fatty acid metabolism and endocannabinoid metabolism.

These metabolites could be traced back to their sources (for example, xanthine metabolism produces caffeine metabolites). Some were previously unknown to be related to coffee metabolism. For instance, it had not been previously reported that fatty acid metabolism was involved in coffee metabolism. What was especially surprising was the finding of metabolites related to the ECS. What would the ECS have to do with coffee? And what does it mean for the ECS?

Metabolites related to the ECS decreased in response to coffee consumption. This is despite the fact that caffeine has not been shown to activate common endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2). However, that fact does not preclude the observed reduction in metabolites related to the ECS. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that there is something else that decreases ECS function: chronic stress. What does this have to do with coffee?

Caffeine can induce a stress response in some individuals. The ECS is thought to maintain several biological and psychological processes, and stress is one of them. Prolonged stress can decrease the function of the ECS. So, is there a coffee-stress-ECS connection? This is probably an overly simplistic interpretation of the data. In fact, stress appears to have a bidirectional effect on the production of certain endocannabinoids. Stress can increase the production of the endocannabinoid anandamide but decrease the production of 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG).

The “why” and the “how” of the decrease in ECS-related metabolites are not yet understood. The authors concede that this is merely an observation, or a starting point, if you will, for further research. At most, they suggest that the reduction of coffee metabolites processed by the ECS may be due to a desensitization of the ECS to coffee. Furthermore, this does not address the effects of phytocannabinoids, such as CBD or THC, may have in combination with caffeine intake. So, until that data comes out, maybe order a grande instead of a venti?

Source: Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, Journal of Internal Medicine, Drug Discovery Today, Neuropsychopharmacology, Journal of Caffeine Research, Nature Reviews: Neuroscience,


Chocolate is Better for Your Cough Than Cough Syrup, Study Says

Image result for dark chocolate

It may sound too good to be true, but researchers now say indulging in that piece of chocolate is actually the best cure for your cough.

A research group from a university in England randomly prescribed more than 160 patients either regular cough medicine or a chocolate-based medicine.

Patients on the chocolate-based medication reported improving more quickly than those on regular cough syrup.

Scientists believe the properties of cocoa help relieve irritation and inflammation.

Preferably make it DARK and RAW chocolate, which is WAY healthier than milk or conventional chocolate!


Blow to Low Carb Diet as Landmark Study Finds High Fiber Cuts Heart Disease Risk- But It Matters Where the Fiber Comes From!

Spinach with Gamasio

Eating more fiber, found in fruits, vegetables, herbs as well as nuts and pulses, will cut people’s chances of heart disease and early death, according to a landmark review commissioned by the World Health Organization. Many organizations recommend more grains and breads, but these are mostly empty carbs.  You want 80% of the volume of food you eat each day to be fruits, veggies, salads and herbs. This will give you the fiber you need as well as an abundance of nutrients, enzymes and phyto-chemicals.

The authors of the review, which will inform forthcoming WHO guidelines, say their findings are good news – but incompatible with fashionable low-carb diets.

The research is led by Prof Jim Mann’s team at the University of Otago in New Zealand, who also carried out the major review that informed WHO guidance on curbing sugar in the diet, leading to sugar taxes around the world.

Sugar is a “bad” carbohydrate, but fiber is found in “good” carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, salads and herbs. However, the overwhelming backlash against sugar has led to popular diets that reject carbohydrates, including the fibrous sort that can, say the scientists, save lives.

Mann told the Guardian that the research “does contribute to the debate considerably. Here we have got very strong evidence that a high-fiber diet, which for the majority of people is at least high-ish in carbohydrates, has an enormous protective effect – a wide range of diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer benefit from a high-carbohydrate diet.”

But he said it would not end the “diet wars”, because there were so many vested interests involved. “It’s twofold. There is the commercial vested interest, which there is an enormous amount of from chefs and celebrity chefs and so on. And there is also the professional vested interest.” This included some doctors and scientists, he said.

The review found that we should be eating at least 25g to 29g of fiber a day, with indications that over 30g is even better. Most people in the world manage less than 20g.

Among those who ate the most fiber, the analysis found a 15-30% reduction in deaths from all causes, as well as those related to the heart, compared with those eating the least fiber.

Coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer were reduced by 16-24%. The results mean 13 fewer deaths and six fewer cases of coronary heart disease for every 1,000 people who eat high-fiber foods compared with those who do not.

Minimally processed fibrous foods can also help people lose weight. “The randomised controlled trials involving an increase in the intake of fruits and vegetables showed reduction in body weight and cholesterol,” says the paper published in the Lancet medical journal.

“Fiber-rich whole foods that require chewing and retain much of their structure in the gut increase satiety and help weight control and can favorably influence lipid and

The researchers investigated 185 observational studies containing data that related to 135m person years, as well as 58 clinical trials involving 4,635 adults. For every 8g increase in dietary fiber eaten per day, total deaths and incidences of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer decreased by 5-27%. Protection against stroke and breast cancer also increased.

In a comment piece in the Lancet, Prof Gary Frost from Imperial College London said the analysis “provides compelling evidence that dietary fiber from fruits and vegetables major determinants of numerous health outcomes and should form part of public health policy”.

But only 9% of the UK population eat the large amounts of fiber outlined in the paper, he said, and “public health bodies face considerable challenges altering intake at the population level”.

Other scientists backed the findings and said the public should eat more fiber. “It is a concern that the fiber consumption in the UK is on average, currently much less than [30g a day]. It is also worrying that otherwise healthy consumers who try to follow popular diets low in carbohydrate will find it very difficult to achieve a healthy level of fiber intake,” said Dr Ian Johnson, emeritus fellow at the Quadram Institute Bioscience.

Prof Nita Forouhi of Cambridge University’s MRC epidemiology unit said the findings “do imply that, though increasingly popular in the community at large, any dietary regimes that recommend very low-carbohydrate diets should consider the opportunity cost of missing out on fiber from whole grains”.

When it came to carbohydrates, she said, “the quality matters very much, over and above the debate on quantity. Wholegrain foods are typically high in fiber, and this research provides further evidence to highlight their importance and support a shift in our diets from processed and refined foods in the food supply chain towards more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.”