Garlic and Cardiac Damage

Could Cloves Help Counter Cardiac Damage?

Throughout the ages, healers have attributed medicinal powers to garlic, but few scientific studies have backed the bulb's protective effects -- which is why new research documenting garlic's potential to prevent heart damage is so exciting.

Chinese scientists studied how garlic oil impacted a particular kind of heart disease common to diabetics. High blood sugar can triple the level of free radicals -- unstable molecules that attack healthy tissue, including the heart, which may explain why diabetics have up to four times the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to non-diabetic heart patients.

But researchers found that rats receiving high doses of garlic oil enjoyed a 40% reduction in diabetes-induced damage to heart cells. The garlic oil group also experienced up to 12% improvement in heart function.

While more research is needed to confirm these benefits for humans, it's worth garnering some garlic for its multitude of micronutrients including vitamins C, B6 and niacin. Other foods potentially helpful for diabetics include cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, eggplant and leafy greens.

Veggies during pregnancy may reduce your child's future risk of diabetes. Expectant moms who ate the least vegetables gave birth to babies with more than a 70% increased risk of developing diabetes.


Think 'how' not 'why' when it comes to exercising more

 Sample Image Ease & Enjoyment Trump Health Benefits as Most Effective Motivation

We've been expounding on the health benefits of exercise for years, but new research shows that this may not be the most effective way to motivate people to exercise more. Focusing on how -- not why -- to exercise appears to yield greater practical results in terms of increasing workout time. 
Researchers from the Texas Christian University took 51 sedentary college students and let them choose a target exercise to practice for 8 weeks: brisk walking, running/jogging, elliptical training, group exercise or bicycling. Participants were then assigned to a "reasons," "actions" or control group.

The "reasons" group was told to write down why they should exercise more, and the "actions" group was told to journal how to meet their exercise goals -- e.g., workout with a friend, join a gym, keep sneakers in the car, exercise to music or at a favorite location (the control group did not journal).

At the end of two months, the "actions" group was exercising a full 36 minutes a week longer than the control group, while the "reasons" group only 12 minutes more -- in other words the "actions" group was exercising about 230% longer than the "reasons" group.

So, while it may not be motivating, it's still nice to know exercise lengthens life, curbs appetite (especially sweet tooth), lowers Parkinson's, breast cancer and Alzheimer's risk, speeds healing, enhances immunity, improves productivity and even boosts sexual self-esteem.

Nov 2010

Taste Fat = Less Fat

 00-fatfood2 Some people are extremely sensitive to touch; others have acute hearing, or possess an extraordinary ability to distinguish colors and detail. Turns out there's another "super power": The ability to detect the presence of fat in food. What's more, having a fat-sensitive tongue translates into having a fat-resistant body.

Australian researchers compared the Body Mass Index (BMI) of 54 healthy men and women, ages 26-30, with their oral sensitivity to fat in their diets. Of these, the 12 who were determined to be hypersensitive to fatty acids consumed an average of 17% fewer total calories throughout the day, and nearly 30% less fat. The super fat-tasters also weighed significantly less than those less able to taste fat.

While it's possible that the fat-sensitive eat less of what they perceive as "overly rich" foods, it's more likely that the over-consumption of fat eventually desensitizes the tongue. We see a similar dynamic with drugs, alcohol and sugar -- over time, the body requires more and more of the addictive substance to deliver the same "high." Eating more fat means tasting it less and ultimately weighing more.

Saturated fat is even harder to burn off than other types of calories, and trans fat makes a beeline for your belly. Excess fat intake also clogs the arteries and even invades heart muscle. A high-fat diet during pregnancy can prompt genetic changes that make it more likely for offspring to grow up overweight. Start weaning yourself off your fat addiction by filling up on fruit and vegetables while substituting healthy fats from sources like avocados, nuts and healthy oils.

Peas help Pressure Drop!

 Sample Image 20% drop in blood pressure with pea protein
When striving to meet the recommended three cups of legumes/beans a week, put peas on your list. New research suggests protein-rich peas may help reduce hypertension risk while supporting kidney health.
Canadian chemists fed protein extracted from yellow peas to rats suffering from chronic kidney disease. After eight weeks, the pea-protein diet produced a 20% drop in blood pressure. What's more, the pea protein appeared to counter some of the symptoms of the kidney disease, increasing urine production by 30%, restoring it to normal range, thus bolstering the kidney's detoxifying function.

While this yet-to-be-published study remains under peer review, ample previous evidence links consumption of vegetable protein to lower blood pressure rates. In addition to supplying 9 grams of protein, a cup of cooked peas also provides 36% of your daily fiber, as well as an impressive 50% vitamin K and 40% of both vitamin C and manganese. Peas also boast significant quantities of the eye-healthy antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.   

For added blood pressure advantage, limit meat consumption. A 10-year study of 29,000 women found a 35% increased risk of hypertension among those who ate the most red meat.

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