Myth-Melting Study Finds Chocolate Burns Belly Fat, Improves Cholesterol

chocolateA new study published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences has revealed something quite counterintuitive about chocolate, one of the world’s most prized ‘high-fat’ foods.  This strangely medicinal ‘sweat treat,’ which ironically you find in the candy aisle at the pharmacy, improved markers of cardiovascular disease, including the reduction of belly fat, and only after one week of consumption.

Researchers from Continue reading

Why Cholesterol is Essential for Optimal Health, and the Six Most Important Risk Factors of Heart Disease

There’s some serious confusion about cholesterol, and whether high cholesterol levels are responsible for heart disease.

Chris Masterjohn, who recently received his PhD in nutritional sciences from the University of Connecticut, has published five peer-reviewed papers on vitamins and supplementation, and he’s currently researching Continue reading

Photographic Cholesterol Test

ctestA noninvasive approach to total cholesterol determination

Researchers in India have developed a total cholesterol test that uses a digital camera to take a snapshot of the back of the patient’s hand rather than a blood sample. The image obtained is cropped and compared with images in a database for known cholesterol levels.

Writing in the Continue reading

Latest Discovery Could Help Lower Your Blood Pressure

Have you heard anything about cocoa husks? They’re a by- product of the chocolate industry that researchers have discovered to be rich in soluble and insoluble fiber. In fact, when cocoa husks first appeared in nutritional trials, they were marketed as a weight-loss tool. But now, researchers are finding that this functional food is capable of a whole lot more when it comes to health benefits.

Researchers at Continue reading

Five Reasons Why This Nut Is Tops for Your Health

almondsNow that we know that nuts are actually good for us, it should come as no surprise that almonds could do more than promote healthy cholesterol levels. It turns out, according to researchers at Tufts University in Massachusetts, that almonds can help lower quite a few risk factors, not only for heart disease, but diabetes as well. Continue reading

This Popular Drug Creates Over 60,000 New Diabetics Each Year

Story at-a-glance

• The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requiring additional warning labels for the cholesterol-lowering drug class known as statins, warning that the drugs may increase your risk of liver damage, memory loss and confusion, type 2 diabetes and muscle weakness

• The FDA has removed Continue reading

The Hidden Reason You Get Flabby (Not Calories or Lack of Exercise)

Story at-a-glance

  • One dogma that has contributed to the ever-worsening health of the Western world is the belief that “a calorie is a calorie.” This simply isn’t true. The idea that obesity is the end result of eating too much and exercising too little; i.e. consuming more calories than you’re expending, is also false.
  • Fructose is ‘isocaloric but not isometabolic.” This means you can have the same amount of calories from fructose or glucose, Continue reading

The Big Benefits of B3

Vitamin B3 (a.k.a. niacin) hones in on the health benefits that it exerts in our bodies. This goes beyond its many roles, but actually describes the disease- fighting nature of the vitamin. It has much to do with the flow of blood in the body, as we’ll see here.

1. Hyperlipidemia, Coronary Heart Disease: “Hyperlipidemia” means high cholesterol and triglycerides. Vitamin B3 was used as early as 1955 to treat patients with high cholesterol. The nutrient, at doses of 1,000 to 4,000 milligrams (mg) a day, lowered triglycerides by 20% to 50%, and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by 10% to 25%, while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol by 10% to 30%.

A major study in the 1960s and 70s tracked over 8,300 men aged 30 to 64 who’d had a heart attack in the past six years. Niacin, at three grams a day, reduced cholesterol by an average of 10%, triglycerides by 26%, another heart attack by 27%, and stroke by 26%. In another study, niacin was combined with a statin (i.e. a cholesterol-lowering drug) Continue reading

Conquer Blood Sugar for Weight Loss and Better Health

If you ate too many sugary treats during the holidays, sugar cravings may still be dancing in your head. Those cravings often mean your blood sugar is out of balance, putting you at risk for weight gain and diabetes. Luckily, you can shrink your sweet obsession and trim your waistline with some easy, natural solutions that tame blood sugar.

Gone Tomorrow

The holidays have come and gone, and hopefully those of us who made New Year’s resolutions can bring them to fruition in 2012. For many of us, our goals are aimed at living healthier lives and becoming stronger, happier and more energetic. That often means cutting out the undesirable from our diets: excessive sugar, processed foods and trans fats. But with the holiday festivities just over, Continue reading

Why this is better than a Stent for Artery Disease

Stents or drugs are often used in patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD). But the latest health news shows that exercise may do just as well in helping these people improve their walking ability. The health breakthrough was just presented at an American Heart Association meeting in Rhode Island. PAD is caused by plaque build-up in the arteries, disrupting blood flow, especially to the legs. About 10 million Americans suffer from PAD and the painful cramping (“claudication”) that it causes in the leg muscles. This makes walking hard, leading to a sedentary lifestyle that worsens health. Currently, doctors’ advice is to go with medication, supervised exercise rehabilitation, and stents. The new study is the first multi-center clinical trial to compare the treatment strategies. It is published in the November issue of “Circulation.”

The study found that, amongst 111 patients, the most effective treatment proved to be supervised exercise. This is based on the results of a treadmill test taken at the beginning and six months later. Patients in the supervised exercise group improved by a mean of 4.6 minutes in the treadmill test, while the group who received stents improved by a mean of 2.5 minutes.

Conversely, quality of life was reported higher in the stent group, Continue reading

Does Grapefruit Really Help Reduce Body Weight?

Have you ever wondered whether there’s any real benefit to following a grapefruit diet? Does it really work? According to researchers at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, grapefruit does help when it comes to shedding pounds — but only modestly.

The researchers based this health advice on a recent clinical trial they conducted. They noted at the outset of the study that reducing dietary energy density has proven to be an effective strategy to promote weight control. This effect appears most strong when a low-energy dense “preload” is eaten before meals. In other words, eating foods low in energy output before a meal, should, in theory, help to control weight. What is up for debate, according to the research team, is what the best food would be for the preload. So they set out to investigate the effects of grapefruit, grapefruit juice, and water preloads consumed before meals.

Eighty-five obese adults participated in the study. Continue reading

Cholesterol Levels Explained

HDL Cholesterol

When it comes to HDL cholesterol — “good” cholesterol — the higher the number, the better it is for your health. This is because HDL cholesterol protects against heart disease by taking the “bad” cholesterol out of your blood and keeping it from building up in your arteries. The table below explains what the numbers mean.

HDL Cholesterol HDL-Cholesterol Category
60 and above High; Optimal; helps to lower risk of heart disease
Less than 40 in men and less than 50 in women Low; considered a risk factor for heart disease

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are the chemical form in which most fat exists in food and the body. A high triglyceride level has been linked to the occurrence of coronary artery disease in some people. Here’s the breakdown.

Triglycerides Triglyceride Category
Less than 150 Normal
150 – 199 Borderline high
200 – 499 High
500 or higher Very high

Total Cholesterol

Your total blood cholesterol is a measure of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and other lipid components. Doctors recommend total cholesterol levels below 200

Total Cholesterol Category
Less than 200 Desirable
200 – 239 Borderline High
240 and above High