Plant Nutrient, Phytosterols May Halt Cancer Development

Plants are loaded with healthful nutrients and now a new study claims phytosterols—a long known for their heart-protecting effects—also help prevent cancer.

The ingredients may work via the traditional route of reducing cholesterol, particularly in the membrane of cancer cells, and by activating an enzyme called caspase which is known to play an essential role in programmed cell death (apoptosis).

“This combined evidence strongly supports an anticarcinogenic action of phytosterols and hence advocates their dietary inclusion as an important strategy in prevention and treatment of cancer,” wrote the reviewers from the Department of Animal Science and the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals, at the University of Manitoba.

The reviews findings are published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Phytosterols, cholesterol-like molecules derived from plants, are increasingly well known to consumers due to their scientifically proven ability to reduce cholesterol levels. As consumer awareness has increased, the number of products containing plant sterols or plant stanols and their esters has increased.

Via Nutra Ingredients.

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When It Comes To Heart Risk, Healthy Living Pays Off!

According to a new study published in Journal of the American Medical Association, eating right and exercising is still the best way to protect your health, and your heart.

I know. It’s hardly a revelation, but earlier this year a report said nowadays more Americans have multiple chronic illnesses—including heart disease—than ever before.

Clearly, a lot of us aren’t getting the message. We’ve got too many cheeseburgers and hotdogs on the brain!

The research found individuals that lost weight, exercised, avoided smoking and drinking, and ate plenty of fruits and vegetables have a lower lifetime risk of heart failure and high blood pressure.

So next time you see someone coming out of a Burger King, slap the bag out of their hand, and run! It’s good exercise.

In related news, low-calorie, plant-based diets also help lower heart risks.

Via HealthDay News.

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Higher Omega-3 Levels Linked to Lower Bodyweight

Omega-3 fatty acids, the good fats recently found to improve heart health and help prevent prostate cancer, are now being associated with lower bodyweight.

Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, scientists observed that overweight or obese people had blood levels of omega-3s roughly 1% lower than healthy people.

For the study, 124 people of varying bodyweights—21 were classified as healthy weight, 40 overweight and 63 obese—had blood samples taken, with results showing an inverse relationship between omega-3 levels and participants’ waist size and hip circumference.

Obese people had omega-3 levels of 4.53%, but healthy people had levels of 5.25%.

Sure, it’s only a small difference, but healthy bodyweight is just one perk of omega-3s. Other reports have shown omega-3 fatty acids offer protection from stroke, depression linked to pregnancy and help lower young children’s risk of type-1diabetes.

Good sources of omega-3 include flaxseed, walnuts and micro algae-derived supplements.

Via Food Navigator.

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Vegetable Chemical May Stop You from Going Crazy

First off, let me say something. I eat a ton of fruits and vegetables, but I am still nuts! So I don’t know about this study. I have my doubts, my very crazy doubts.

Presented at the British Pharmacological Society’s Summer Meeting, researchers claim flavonoids—powerful antioxidants in fruits and vegetables—may offer health benefits for Alzheimer’s patients.

Experts suggest consuming flavonoids reduce brain pathology, i.e. disease, and improve thinking. One particular flavonoid, called epicatechin, is believed to protect brain cells.

More research needs to be conducted, but scientists say so far findings support the idea that a diet high in flavonoid-rich foods could impact the development and progression of dementia.

The nutrients in fruits and vegetables have a wide array of benefits, including preventing Alzheimer’s. Vitamin D is another good one. Vitamin D, i.e. the sunshine vitamin, has also been shown to lower the risk of dementia.

In related news, flavonoids have been linked to reduced risk of ovarian cancer and flavonoids found in soybeans improve blood flow and protect against cardiovascular disease.

Via ScienceDaily.

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CT Scans Could Raise Cancer Risk...

Last year, host of NBC’s Meet the Press, Tim Russert, shockingly collapsed and died from a heart attack, after apparently just passing a cardiovascular stress test.

It raised questions about typical heart tests. And now, new findings in the Archives of Internal Medicine claim commonly prescribed CT scans could increase the risk of radiation-induced cancer.

CT scans use radiation to generate a three-dimensional image of the inside of an object and are often used to detect things like brain tumors, stroke, aneurysm and the extent of trauma-related injuries.

In the study, scientists claim if men, ages 25 to 75, and women, ages 55 to 75, received CT scans every five years there would be an additional 42 cases of cancer for every 100,000 men and 62 more cases of cancer per 100,000 women.

The researchers say even though the increased risk is small, doctors should be careful to limit their patients’ exposure to radiation.

And in 2007, some experts came down hard on conventional stress-testing and angiograms.

Via The Wall Street Journal Health Blog.

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Heavy Boozing May Lead to Bad Prostate Cancer

The days of the film noir private dick taking a slick drag off a cigarette and sipping a shot of stiff whiskey are long gone. He died from lung cancer and cirrhosis of the liver.

Now, booze might look cool up on the big screen, but it doesn’t do your health any favors. In the past, reports have linked alcohol to cardiovascular disease and erectile dysfunction. Eek!

Go on and add prostate cancer to the list. A new study in the journal Cancer found heavy drinkers—men who drank 1.7 ounces of pure alcohol each day, the equivalent of four shots of hard liquor, four or five times a week—had a higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

That’s a lot of drinking! The typical beer has 4% to 6% alcohol by volume, wine 12.5% to 14.5% and around 40% for vodka.

The study aimed to test alcohol’s effect on finasteride—found in popular prostate cancer medications—showing that alcohol reduces the drugs benefits. Clearly, drugs aren’t the be-all-end-all of for prostate cancer. That’s why the researchers recommend men limit their intake of alcohol.

In related news, experts determined eating less meat and more vegetables helps prevent prostate cancer.

Via HealthDay News.

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Lowering Blood Pressure Can Be Harmful...

I’m not like most physicians when it comes to treating hypertension. I’m not quick to prescribe medications; instead I advocate a non-drug centered approach to reverse heart disease and lower blood pressure. In my medical practice I have helped thousands of patients realize dramatic reduction in blood pressure, sometimes in as little as one week, simply by helping them adapt to my nutrient diet style and exercise program. In fact, I believe the conventional method of drug treatment is actually creating more heart attacks, strokes, and chronic disease than saving lives.

My July 2008 Healthy Times Newsletter, on treating high blood pressure, I outline the primary reasons that diet and lifestyle changes are so much safer and more effective than hypertension drug therapy, including:

  • Nutritional excellence, weight loss, salt avoidance, and exercise are proven to be the safest and most effective at providing cardio-protective benefits - actually reversing blood vessel plaque and getting rid of high blood pressure.
  • Medications have risks and side effects that can be life threatening.
  • Excessive lowering of diastolic blood pressure in the elderly and those on medication to control significant coronary artery disease actually increases the risk of heart attack.1

This newsletter offers detailed information about the risks and overuse of blood pressure medication and recent research findings corroborate my approach for lowering blood pressure.

According to a Cochrane Review treating patients with medications to reach lower blood pressure targets below the standard 140/90 did not show any reduction in morbidity and mortality. The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of over 22,000 adults with hypertension taking anti-hypertension medication which indicated a higher risk for total mortality and a relatively significant increased risk of major cardiovascular events with more aggressive use of medications.

High blood pressure (BP) is defined as having a systolic (the upper number) blood pressure above 140 and a diastolic (the lower number) blood pressure above 90 mmHg. High blood pressure is a risk factor for increased risk of heart attack and stroke. As a result this range has become the standard blood pressure target for physicians and patients. A recent trend toward lower targets has been recommended by hypertension experts who set treatment guidelines. This trend is based on the assumption that the use of drugs to bring the BP lower than 140/90 mmHg range will reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. However, this approach was proven false even in high risk patients.

The review was performed to find and assess all trials designed to examine whether lower blood pressure targets are better than standard blood pressure targets. When the data was analyzed, it revealed that using more drugs in the lower target groups did achieve modestly lower blood pressures. However, this approach did not prolong survival or reduce stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure.2

Blood pressure medications are especially a concern when medication lowers the diastolic number too low. When the diastolic blood pressure is lowered excessively (as they lower systolic pressure), it increases the potential for cardiac arrhythmias that can lead to death.3 The excessive use of blood pressure medications that lower diastolic blood pressure too low also have been shown to increase the occurrence of atrial fibrillation, another serious rhythm disturbance of the heart.4

I have been educating my patients and readers about this for many years and now this meta-analysis provides even more scientific evidence that supports my recommendations--to avoid heart attack and stroke, the goal is not just to achieve a systolic blood pressure below 130; you must achieve it without medication!

Learn more about why using drugs to treat hypertension is dangerous and ineffective in my July 2008 Healthy Times Newsletter.

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Citrus Nutrient May Help Stop Obesity

In college, the only citrus I got was the lime in my beer bottle, but now I know better. Citrus fruits are loaded with health-promoting nutrients, like vitamin C.

Kiwi fruit, watermelon, strawberries, mangos and raspberries are all packed with vitamin C. And in May, vitamin C was found to stave off age-related vision loss.

Now, new findings in the journal Diabetes claims another fruit nutrient, naringenin—a flavonoid in citrus fruits—halts the development of metabolic syndrome, which leads to diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

For the study, scientists fed mice a high-fat diet—to simulate a western diet—in order to induce symptoms of metabolic syndrome and discovered mice fed a fatty diet plus naringenin had “corrected” levels of triglycerides and cholesterol.

Naringenin also protected against insulin resistance. Experts say naringenin reprogrammed the liver to burn up excess fat, instead of storing it. However, more research is needed to determined naringenin’s exact effect on heart disease.

In related news, pomegranates were found to reduce inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease.

Via EurekAlert!

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Q & A: Do Chicken and Shrimp Lower Cholesterol?

A lot of people think a healthy diet means grilled chicken and pasta. Nope. Try again. In his book Cholesterol Protection for Life, Dr. Fuhrman explains chicken—and even lean meats—don’t do much to lower cholesterol. In this discussion from the member center, Dr. Fuhrman explains why foods like chicken and shrimp aren’t wise choices for heart health:

Question: I remember reading a while back that chicken and shrimp are low in fat but high in cholesterol. Is that true? My friend has a heart condition and his nutritionist told him shrimp and chicken were good to eat depending on how it was cooked. I would like to convince him otherwise. First, I want to make sure I have my facts straight.

Dr. Fuhrman: Animal products, including high protein white meat chicken raise cholesterol, not just because of its saturated fat and cholesterol content, but because animal protein also raises cholesterol. Secondly, it is not just about cholesterol. You must reduce low-phytochemical and low-antioxidant foods like animal products and leave room for the high-nutrient plant foods.

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Soy Might Help Men Not Forget Things

I’m a guy. I forget things, little things, like birthdays, where I left my car keys, or to put on underwear. Luckily, some soy might fix that.

According to a new study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, isoflavones in soy could help improve men’s mental function and memory.

Researchers recruited 34 healthy men and participants were given a daily dose of 116 milligrams of soy isoflavones. Then men were tested on memory, mental function and visual-spatial processing.

Data showed guys getting the soy isoflavones committed 23% fewer errors and needed 17% less time to complete tasks. So ladies, if your man is a big dummy. Go get him some soymilk.

Soy is a super food! Previous reports have found it lowers risk of breast cancer, improves heart health and helps build strong bones, but don’t go soy crazy. Dr. Fuhrman says no diet should be based on just one food, not even soy.

Via Nutra Ingredients.

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Veggie Protein Lowers Blood Pressure

New findings in the journal Circulation reveal glutamic acid—a protein found in vegetables—reduces average systolic blood pressure by 1.5 to 3 points and diastolic pressure by 1 to 1.6 points.

The drop may seem teeny tiny, but overall it may lower death rates from stroke by 6% and heart disease related deaths by 4%.

Vegetable protein is 23% glutamic acid, while meat protein is only 18% glutamic acid.

However, researchers insist improving blood pressure does not come down to one single nutrient and urge people eat their vegetables, avoid fatty foods and not drink a lot of alcohol.

Now, you probably know this by now, but cutting salt is a major way to lower blood pressure. In March, a study discovered salt decreases an important blood pressure-lowering enzyme, which signals blood vessels to relax. Eek!

Via HealthDay News.

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Q & A: HDL Cholesterol and Fasting

You hear a lot of LDL cholesterol, i.e. bad cholesterol, but HDL cholesterol—the good stuff—is just as important to heart health, especially when you’re losing weight. In this quick discussion from Dr. Fuhrman’s member center, he talks about LDL, HDL, weight-loss and fasting:

Question: My HDL went from 26 to 21. My cardiologist told me to eat more avocados to improve it. I did and my weight responded immediately. I gained weight. I think this was a bad idea. Am I right?

Also, I heard you say that the best treatment for heart disease is a combination of nutrition and fasting, but I read in your book it's not wise to fast if you're overweight. I went from 245 to 210 on Eat to Live in a few months, but I'm still overweight.

So I am confused. On the one hand, you say don't do fast when you're overweight, but on the other hand, you recommend fasting instead of do surgery.

Dr. Fuhrman: Listening to the nutritional advice of typical doctors is like asking your mailman for advice on your taxes. They typically have little knowledge or experience. Focusing on HDL and not your weight is a mistake.

A low HDL reading is of no practical consequence, just get rid of your plaque and keep LDL low. A high HDL can benefit a person with a higher LDL, but a low HDL does not hurt a person with a favorable, low LDL.

Weight loss is much more important than your lipid numbers because the plaque can be reduced most effectively once you have reached a lower body fat percentage, i.e. below 10%.

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