Sunday, May 12, 2013

Could eating WALNUTS be the key to good heart health?

This must be a record for the length of a study:  Six hours!  A very shaky basis for long-term generalizations.  Side effects were also not examined.  The cure can sometimes be worse than the disease with "antioxidants"

Eating a handful of walnuts could  provide near-instant protection from heart disease.

Scientists found ‘significant’ improvement in cholesterol levels and blood vessel flexibility, which helps blood flow smoothly, just four hours after people consumed either the shelled nuts or walnut oil.

The research suggests regular consumption would protect against cardiovascular disease in the long term.

‘Just a handful could help significantly reduce the risk of heart disease,’ said Dr Penny Kris-Etherton, professor of nutrition at Penn State University in Pennsylvania.

‘Eating shelled walnuts or some walnut oil four times a week will certainly provide very significant benefits.’

The study was the first to identify which parts of the walnut provide the health boost, she explained.

The team gave 15 participants with high blood cholesterol levels four treatments – two handfuls of shelled walnuts (85g), six grams of walnut skin, 34g of the nutmeat with the fat removed, or three tablespoons  of oil (51g).

They looked at their responses after 30 minutes, one hour, two hours, four hours and six hours.

The researchers found that a one-time  consumption of walnut oil – also found in the shelled nuts – improved blood vessel health after four hours.

‘Our study showed that the oil found in walnuts can maintain blood vessel function after a meal,’ said lead author Claire  Berryman, a graduate student in nutritional sciences at Penn State. ‘The walnut oil was particularly good at preserving the function of endothelial cells.’

Endothelial cells, which line the blood vessels throughout the body, play an important part in blood vessel flexibility.

According to the researchers, walnuts contain omega-3 fats, plant sterols known to lower cholesterol, and vitamin E, all of which may help explain their protective effect.

Miss Berryman added: ‘Implications of this finding could mean improved dietary  strategies to fight heart disease.’

Heart and circulatory diseases cause more than a quarter of all fatalities in Britain, or more than 159,000 deaths a year. The cost of premature deaths, lost productivity, and medical treatment is around £19billion.

Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘Nuts can be a nutritious choice as they provide us with protein and minerals. However, nuts are also high in fat. Portion control is important to make sure you’re benefiting from the nutrients without adding extra calories.

‘Walnuts do contain omega-3 fats .....  However, the best source of omega-3 fat is oily fish and we don’t yet know for certain if walnuts bring the same benefits.’


Eating peppers twice a week could reduce the risk of Parkinson's Disease

The Original Article is "Nicotine from edible Solanaceae and risk of Parkinson disease". By virtue of the large sample size, the results were statistically significant but most of the differences found were in absolute terms quite small.  There is however little doubt that there is something going on with nicotine that is helpful with Parkinson's.  The details remain to be unravelled, however

Eating peppers twice a week could help reduce the risk of developing Parkinson's disease by up to a third.

Scientists found individuals who ate foods containing an edible form of nicotine, which also includes tomatoes, potatoes and aubergines, gained a degree of protection against the condition.

The research adds to evidence linking a reduced risk of the disease with smoking and the use of nicotine patches.

But experts urged caution, saying other constituents in the produce may have played a role in the findings, while the disease itself may also influence whether people smoke or eat certain foods.

'Our study is the first to investigate dietary nicotine and risk of developing Parkinson's disease,' said Dr Susan Searles Nielsen from the University of Washington in Seattle.

'Similar to the many studies that indicate tobacco use might reduce risk of Parkinson's, our findings also suggest a protective effect from nicotine, or perhaps a similar but less toxic chemical in peppers and tobacco.'

For the new study, published in the journal Annals of Neurology, 490 patients newly diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, were questioned about their dietary habits and tobacco use.

A further 644 individuals not suffering from any neurological conditions also participated in the study.

Vegetable consumption in general was not found to affect Parkinson's risk.

But the likelihood of being diagnosed with Parkinson's reduced the more people ate vegetables from the Solanaceae family, which contain tiny amounts of nicotine, the addictive chemical in cigarettes.

The trend was strongest for peppers, mainly in people with little or no previous exposure to tobacco, with participants who ate them at least twice a week found to be 30 per cent less likely to develop Parkinson's.

Although the evidence suggests nicotine to be the active ingredient, the team did not rule out another chemical shared by tobacco and its cousins being responsible for the effect. One possibility was anatabine, which had anti-inflammatory properties.

Previous experiments in animals, showed stimulation of nicotine-sensitive receptor molecules in the brain prevents the kind of nerve damage seen in Parkinson's.

Human population studies have also found those who smoke are less likely to develop the disease.

Even passive smoking, which involves much less exposure to nicotine, seems to be protective.

Dietician Catherine Collins, from St George's Hospital NHS Trust in London, said the study provided further evidence of the benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet rich in vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers.

But she said the findings had 'insufficient robustness' to justify promoting peppers as a protection against Parkinson's.

Nicotine content can vary in vegetables due to growing conditions, storage, and harvesting and cooking methods.


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