Tuesday, October 09, 2012

How watermelon could prevent heart attacks AND weight gain -- in mice

A daily slice of watermelon could help prevent heart disease by halting the build-up of harmful cholesterol, new research shows.

Scientists who carried out studies on mice fed a high-fat diet found the fruit halved the rate at which 'bad' low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, accumulated.

Current guidelines in the UK recommend keeping total cholesterol below 5mmols per litre, a measurement of how much fat there is in each litre of blood in the body, with LDL accounting for no more than 3mmols/litre.

But an estimated 20 per cent of patients with excessive LDL levels are classed as resistant to statins - the drugs taken by around seven million people in the UK to control cholesterol.

The latest study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, suggests watermelon juice could help.

Researchers fed two groups of mice a high-fat diet but gave one water to drink and the other watermelon juice.

They tracked their health for several months and at the end of the experiment found the mice given watermelon juice had 50 per cent less LDL than those on water - despite eating the same diet.

They also weighed an average of 30 per cent less, but their blood pressure was no different.

Research leader Dr Shubin Saha said: ‘We didn’t see a lowering of blood pressure. But these other changes are promising.

‘We know that watermelon is good for health because it contains citrulline. We don’t know yet at what molecular level it’s working and that’s the next step.’

Some studies suggest the chemical is vital for the production of nitric oxide, a gas that widens blood vessels.

This research follows another recent study published in the Journal of Functional Foods which suggested eating apples each day could significantly improve the heart health of middle-aged adults in just one month.

Those who ate a daily apple over four weeks lowered 'bad' cholesterol in the blood by 40 per cent.

Taking capsules containing polyphenols, a type of antioxidant found in apples, had a similar, but not as large, effect.

Bad cholesterol can interact with free radicals to become oxidized, which can trigger inflammation and can cause tissue damage.


Harrison Bergeron’s Lunchtime

Some things in Sweden have yet to change.  The Local reports:

A talented head cook at a school in central Sweden has been told to stop baking fresh bread and to cut back on her wide-ranging veggie buffets because it was unfair that students at other schools didn’t have access to the unusually tasty offerings. Annika Eriksson, a lunch lady at school in Falun, was told that her cooking is just too good.

Pupils at the school have become accustomed to feasting on newly baked bread and an assortment of 15 vegetables at lunchtime, but now the good times are over. The municipality has ordered Eriksson to bring it down a notch since other schools do not receive the same calibre of food – and that is “unfair”.

Moreover, the food on offer at the school doesn’t comply with the directives of a local healthy diet scheme which was initiated in 2011, according to the municipality.

“A menu has been developed… It is about making a collective effort on quality, to improve school meals overall and to try and ensure everyone does the same,” Katarina Lindberg, head of the unit responsible for the school diet scheme, told the local Falukuriren newspaper.  However, Lindberg was not aware of Eriksson’s extraordinary culinary efforts and how the decision to force her to cut back had prompted outrage among students and parents.

“It has been claimed that we have been spoiled and that it’s about time we do as everyone else,” Eriksson said. She insisted, however, that her creative cooking has not added to the municipality’s expenses. “I have not had any complaints,” she told the paper.

Eriksson added that she sees it as her job to ensure that the pupils are offered several alternatives at meal times.  The food on offer does not always suit all pupils, she explained, and therefore she makes sure there are plenty of vegetables to choose from as well as proteins in the form of chicken, shrimp, or beef patties. From now on, the school’s vegetable buffet will be halved in size and Eriksson’s handmade loafs will be replaced with store-bought bread.Her traditional Easter and Christmas smörgåsbords may also be under threat.


The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Some things about living still weren’t quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron’s fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away…


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