Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Essential Fatty Acids in Vegetarian Nutrition

Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Where ever flaxseeds become a regular food item among the people, there will be better health". While this prediction was based on simple observation, scientific evidence would suggest there is more than a grain of truth to his words. Flaxseeds are an exceptional source of lignans, a potent anticarcinogen and the richest known source of the essential omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid.

It is generally assumed that North Americans need not worry about getting enough fat of any kind, but as research unfolds, a fatal flaw in this thinking is revealed. Not all fats are damaging to health. Some fats are protective, and two in particular are essential to life – they are the essential fatty acids (EFA), linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3).

Changes in our food supply since the industrial revolution have jeopardized both the quantity and balance of these nutrients. Our current dietary pattern provides excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids in relation to omega-3 fatty acid content (1,2). This imbalance of essential fatty acids affects vegetarians at least as much as omnivores. In addition, the trend towards very low fat vegetarian diets (10% or less of calories from fat) may further compromise essential fatty acid intake.

Function of EFA’s

Essential fatty acids are necessary for the formation of healthy cell membranes, the proper development and functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the production of hormone-like substances called eicosanoids (thromboxanes, leukotrienes, prostaglandins). These chemicals regulate numerous body functions including blood pressure, blood viscosity, vasoconstriction, immune and inflammatory responses (3). Humans have the ability to convert the linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid to longer chain fatty acids, which serve as precursors for eicosanoids.

Eicosanoids formed from arachidonic acid (AA) (omega-6 family) have the potential to increase blood pressure, inflammation, platelet aggregation, thrombosis, vasospasm, allergic reactions and cell proliferation. Those formed from eicosapentanoic acid (EPA)(omega-3 family) have opposing affects (4,5). Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are not interchangeable; we must consume both.

These two families of essential fatty acids compete for enzymes involved in their desaturation, thus the excessive consumption of foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids may compromise the conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to EPA, with adverse affects for health and disease. Current research suggests that the levels of essential fatty acids and the balance between them may play a critical role not only in growth and development, but also in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases including coronary artery disease, hypertension, type II diabetes, arthritis and other immune/inflammatory disorders, and cancer (6-11).

The primary sources of essential fatty acids are plants on land and in the sea. Linoleic acid is found primarily in seeds, nuts, grains and legumes. Alpha-linolenic acid is found in the green leaves of plants, including phytoplankton and algae, and in selected seeds, nuts and legumes (flax, canola, walnuts and soy). Arachidonic acid (AA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acid are obtained directly from animal foods – AA from meat and poultry and DHA and EPA from fish.

When addressing the issue of essential fatty acids in vegetarian diets, three key questions arise:

1. How much omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids do vegetarians need?
2. Do vegetarians convert alpha-linolenic acid to EPA and DHA in sufficient quantity?
3. How can vegetarians insure an adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids?

How much omega-6 and omega-3 do vegetarians need?

There are two primary considerations when assessing the adequacy of these essential fatty acids: quantity and balance. The World Health Organization recommends that polyunsaturated fats make up 3 -7% of the energy in the diet (12), without any specification as to the amount needed from each family of fats. However, experts advise that one should consume a minimum of 3% of energy from omega-6 fatty acids and 0.5% from omega-3 fatty acids. Many now suggest that infants, and others who do not consume preformed EPA and DHA, should consume 1% of their energy needs as omega-3. This would include vegetarians and others who do not eat fish (13). While no definitive recommendations are in place for pregnant and lactating vegetarians, it may be appropriate to increase the intake of alpha-linolenic acid to 2% of calories due to the importance of long chain omega-3 fatty acids in the developing fetus and infant (14-16).

An adult consuming 2000 calories could achieve the recommended minimum 3% omega-6 fatty acids and 1% omega-3 fatty acids with 60 calories of linoleic acid (6.7 g) and 20 calories of alpha-linolenic acid (2.2 g). Obtaining 6.6 g of linoleic acid is easy on almost any diet, even those that are very low fat (10-15% fat). Omega-3 fatty acids are not as plentiful in our food supply, and the primary source for most North Americans is fish. Vegetarians and others not eating fish are well advised to include omega-3-rich plants in their diet on a regular basis.

Scientists use the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids to assess the balance between essential fatty acids in the diet. Research scientists from around the world recommend ratios varying from 5:1 to 10:1, while some experts suggest a ratio of between 1:1 and 4:1 as being optimal (1). The current ratio in our diet is estimated to be 14:1 to 20:1 with some studies indicating higher ratios in vegetarian populations compared to omnivorous populations (17,18).

Are plant sources of omega-3 sufficient for human needs?

Vegetarians and vegans have no direct sources of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (long chain omega-3 fatty acids) in the diet, hence they must convert alpha-linolenic acid to EPA and DHA in the body. Researchers have questioned whether this conversion is adequate to meet human needs for long chain omega-3 fatty acids. Scientific studies suggest that although the conversion is slow and incomplete (perhaps only 10% of alpha-linolenic acid is converted)(8), and although vegetarians tend to have lower blood levels of long chain omega-3 fatty acids (19,20), it is sufficient to meet the needs of most people (21,22).

It is important to note, however, that certain factors can depress the enzymes responsible for the desaturation of alpha-linolenic acid, thus adversely affecting this important conversion process. These factors include high intakes of saturated fat, trans fatty acids, cholesterol and alcohol, an inadequate intake of energy or protein, or a deficiency of certain nutrients, such as zinc or copper (5). There may also be conversion problems for people with diabetes or other metabolic disorders and for those who inherit a limited ability to produce conversion enzymes (possibly where fish has been a major component of the diet for centuries).

In addition, infants convert alpha-linolenic acid to DHA and EPA more slowly than adults. Studies have provided evidence that preterm infants do not have the capacity to form sufficient DHA, resulting in reduced visual acuity and brain function. Thus DHA must be considered an essential nutrient for these babies (23,24). Currently, infant formulas in the U.S. are not fortified with DHA, although several companies have patented DHA blends for this purpose and DHA-fortified formulas are expected to hit the U.S. market sometime this year (25). Several European countries, including the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland and Spain, presently produce DHA-fortified formulas.

Breastfed infants generally receive ample DHA from their mother's milk, although amounts vary considerably depending on maternal intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Vegetarian and vegan mothers have lower concentrations of DHA in their milk (26,27), although infant levels of DHA appear to be only slightly less than that of infants of omnivorous mothers (28). A DHA supplement based on cultured microalgae (under the trademark Neuromins) is now available from natural food stores nationwide.

How can vegetarians insure an adequate intake of omega-3?

The following four guidelines will help to insure an appropriate quantity and balance of essential fatty acids in vegetarian and vegan diets:

Limit intake of saturated fats and trans fatty acids. In vegetarian diets the primary sources of saturated fats are dairy products and eggs, while vegan diets are low in saturated fats, unless there is a heavy reliance on tropical oils. Trans fatty acids come primarily from hydrogenated vegetable oils. These fats have the potential to interfere with the conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to DHA, in addition to increasing risk for degenerative diseases. Trans fatty acids are plentiful in shortening, hydrogenated margarines, processed foods containing hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (crackers, cookies, cakes, pastries, frozen convenience foods, snack foods) and fast foods (hydrogenated oils are used for deep frying).

Make monounsaturated fats the principal fat in the diet. Monounsaturated fats should make up the largest portion of fat in the diet, as they have proven to have neutral or positive affects on health. In addition, emphasizing monounsaturated fats will help to keep saturated fats, trans fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids to a modest level. Olive oil (77% mono-fat) and/or canola oil (58% mono-fat) would be the recommended oils to use. Avocados, olives, hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, macadamia nuts, peanuts and pecans are also excellent sources of monounsaturated fats. These foods also provide valuable vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber, and when used moderately, make an excellent addition to the vegetarian diet.

Limit the intake of omega-6-rich vegetable oils. Minimizing the use of oils rich in omega-6 fatty acids is the easiest way to keep linoleic acid levels at a reasonable level. Oils that contain predominately omega-6 fatty acids include corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and cottonseed oil. Commercial products such as margarine, salad dressing and mayonnaise that are made with these oils should also be limited. Soybean oil and walnut oil are also rich sources of omega-6 fatty acids, but their omega-6 content is partially compensated for by an omega-3 content of 5-8%.

Include a source of omega-3 fatty acids in the daily diet. In order to obtain sufficient omega-3 fatty acids in the vegetarian diet, good plant sources of this nutrient must be incorporated into the daily diet. If we assume an energy intake of 2000 kcal/day, 5% of calories as polyunsaturated fats and a omega-6: omega-3 ratio of 4:1, one would require 8.9 g of omega-6 and 2.2 g of omega-3 fatty acids. It would not be a challenge to consume the 9 grams of omega-6 fatty acids, even on a very low-fat vegetarian diet. The Reversal Diet (the Dean Ornish program that allows for no oils, nuts or seeds) provides an average 6 grams of linoleic acid primarily from whole grains and soy products. On the other hand, it would require considerable effort for vegetarians to get 2.2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, by carefully selecting excellent plant sources of omega-3.

The best source of alpha-linolenic acid is flaxseed oil (57% omega-3 and 17% omega-6 fatty acids). Other omega-3-rich plant foods are much less concentrated sources of this nutrient, often coming packaged with much higher amounts of linoleic acid. Table 1 lists good plant sources of alpha-linolenic acid.

Practical Pointers for Using Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil

The oil from flaxseeds is highly unsaturated, thus will be easily damaged upon exposure to light, heat or air. Flaxseed oil can be purchased in the refrigerator section of natural food stores. It is packaged in black plastic bottles or dark brown glass bottles to protect it from light. The oil must be kept refrigerated and will stay fresh for up to 8 weeks after it is opened. One should check the expiration date. Flax oil that will not be used within this time should be frozen. It normally lasts for a year or more in the freezer. Rancid flax oil will smell "skunky" and should be discarded.

Flax oil should never be exposed to direct heat, thus it should not be used in cooking. It works well as a salad dressing base or as a tasty topping for pasta, potatoes, rice or vegetables (garlic/chili flavored flaxseed oil is a great choice). It can also be added to hot cereal, soup, sauces, dips or blender drinks. Mix flax oil with butter or a non-hydrogenated margarine for an omega-3-rich spread. The oil can also be taken as a supplement (1-2 tsp./day or in pill form for those who don’t like the taste).

Whole flaxseeds are protected by a hard outer coat and will last for many months in your pantry. Unfortunately, because the seeds are so small, they generally enter the gastrointestinal system intact, and exit intact also. To enhance the digestibility of flaxseeds, simply grind them in a blender or a coffee grinder. Flaxseeds can be purchased in the bulk section of natural food stores and in most large grocery stores. Once flaxseeds are ground they go rancid quickly, thus should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

Ground flaxseeds can be sprinkled on salad or cereal. The soluble fiber in the seeds will make the liquid in your cereal very thick if it sits for too long. Ground flaxseed also makes an excellent egg replacer. One tablespoon of ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons of liquid replaces one egg in baking. This works especially well in muffins, pancakes, cookies and cakes.

Flaxseed Cautions

Flaxseeds absorb 5 to 6 times their weight in water, so it is important to drink plenty of fluids when consuming ground seeds.

Raw flaxseeds, but not the flaxseed oil, contain cyanogenic glucosides, which are converted in the body to thiocyanates. These chemicals may interfere with iodine uptake by the thyroid gland and may increase the risk of goiter (especially when dietary iodine is limited). It has been suggested that intake of raw flaxseed should be restricted to 3-4 tablespoons a day. Cooking inactivates the cyanogenic glucosides, so there is less concern with flaxseed used in baking.

By: Brenda Davis, RD
Date: July 25, 2007 ( Last edited: 03/12/02 )

Vegetarian Sources of Omega 3 fats

So how does current government advice that “we” should try to eat at least two servings of fish a week, including one serving of oily fish, as part of a healthy balanced diet translate into dietary advice for vegetarians? And what should you do if your GP suggests fish oils for creaking joints or to thin your blood? Well, the first thing to remember is that the vegetarian diet is widely recognised as being protective against heart disease, the main ailment that the advice is aimed at, so vegetarians have a head start already, and of course the general population don’t exactly eat much oily fish, or indeed offal, the other “good” source of omega 3 fats.

To begin with we must distinguish between the two polyunsaturated fatty acids which are termed essential because they can not be made in the body and therefore must be present in the diet. They are linoleic acid (LA), an omega 6 fat, which is widely available in a vegetarian diet, being present in large quantities in most oils and other vegetable based fatty foods, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega 3 fat, which is not so widely available in a vegetarian diet, and is generally considered to be the more beneficial of the two EFAs.

Alpha-linolenic acid is what is known as an omega 3 fat, and is a precursor of the longer chain omega 3 fats eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - ie EPA and to a lesser extent DHA can be made in the body from ALA. These two fatty acids are the ones available in significant amounts in oily fish, and fish oil supplements. All three omega 3 fats have been shown to offer numerous physiological benefits, notably their anti-inflamatory properties and their ability to offer cardioprotective effects especially in people with pre-existing cardiovascular problems, though EPA and DHA are more potent than simple ALA.

Generally, vegetarian, and especially vegan, diets are relatively low in ALA compared with LA, and provide little EPA and DHA directly (though a certain amount of DHA is found in eggs, especially from hens fed on flax seeds or algae), and tissue levels of long chain omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to be relatively low in vegetarians and vegans, even though ALA intake varies little across vegans, vegetarians and omnivores.

Taking an overview of the various fatty acids intake recommendations worldwide, and the confounding factors surrounding the common vegetarian diet, leads to a conclusion that an ALA intake of 1.5% of total energy is optimum for vegetarians – or roughly 4g a day. This should provide enough of the parent omega 3 fat to ensure significant amounts of EPA and DHA are formed by the body (conversion rates are around 5-10% for EPA and 2-5% for DHA). However it is also important for vegetarians to ensure that their intake of LA is not too high compared with ALA since a higher intake of LA interferes with the process in which the human body converts ALA into the even more beneficial EPA and DHA, so a LA to ALA ratio of around 4 to 1 or slightly lower is considered to be the optimum, but any steps to bring down an excessively high amount of omega 6 fats in the diet would be beneficial.

There are a number of steps to take to ensure that the optimum levels of all the omega 3 fats are present in the body.

1. Make sure you include a good source of ALA in your diet, the simplest source would be one teaspoon of flax seed oil a day, taken either on its own or mixed into dressings etc. Flax oil is also available in vegetable capsules. Alternately include 4 to 5 teaspoons of ground flax seeds, or rape seed oil in your diet – though do not heat any of the oils, and only add the flax seeds to any foods at a late stage since heating will destabilise the ALA. It is important that the flax seeds are ground or at least crushed, if left whole much of the fat will be unavailable.

2. Replace fats high in omega 6 oils, such as sunflower oil or corn oil, with fats higher in monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or rape seed oil which do not disrupt the formation of EPA and DHA.

3. Other foods can add to your intake of ALA. Most of the little fat in leafy green vegetables is ALA – broccoli has 0.13g per 100g, cabbage 0.11g per 100g, so simply eating your greens is making a positive addition to your intake. Walnuts and tofu are also good sources but are comparably high in LA.

Pregnant or nursing mothers who are uncertain whether their diet is providing enough omega 3 fats may wish to consider supplementing their diet with a direct source of DHA since this appears to play an important part in the development of immature brains. DHA supplements derived from algae and encased in non gelatine capsules are now available. It has also been suggested that DHA supplements may be of help to children with certain behavioral or learning difficulties.

By: Vegetarian Society

Date: July 25, 2007

Omega 3 Benefits – 7 Research Proven Results

Omega 3 benefits are pretty darn astounding.

And making sure you're getting these exciting omega 3 benefits in your life is probably the most important thing you can do for your health.

Research studies are published almost weekly where the scientific community discovers more and more amazing omega 3 benefits.

If you haven't already been swept up in the net, here are seven proven benefits you should know about.

1. Freedom from pain and inflammation. Omega 3 fish oil fatty acids, particularly EPA, have a very positive effect on your inflammatory response. Through several mechanisms, they regulate your body's inflammation cycle, which prevents and relieves painful conditions like arthritis, prostatitis, cystitis and anything else ending in "itis."

2. Better brain function and higher intelligence. Pregnant and nursing mothers can have a great impact on the intelligence and happiness of their babies by supplementing with omega 3 fish oil with DHA. For adults, fish oil improves memory, recall, reasoning and focus. You'll swear you're getting younger and smarter.

3. Feeling better with much less depression. Making you smarter is not all that fish oil does for your brain. Psychiatry department researchers at the University of Sheffield UK, along with many other research studies, found that fish oil supplements "alleviated" the symptoms of depression, bipolar and psychosis. [Journal of Affective Disorder Vol. 48(2-3);149-55]

4. Lower incidence of childhood disorders. Just to show how fish oil fatty acids leave nobody out, studies show that children (and adults) with ADD and ADHD experience a greatly improved quality of life. And those with dyslexia, dyspraxia and compulsive disorders have gotten a new lease on life thanks to fish oil supplements.

5. Superior cardiovascular health. Fish oil's DHA, EPA and DPA have also been proven to work wonders for your heart and the miles and miles of arteries and veins that make up your cardiovascular system. They help lower cholesterol, tryglicerides, LDLs and blood pressure, while at the same time increasing good HDL cholesterol. This adds years to your life expectancy.

6. Protection from heart attack and stroke. When plaque builds up on arterial walls and then breaks loose, it causes what's known as a thrombosis, which is a fancy way of saying clot. If a clot gets stuck in the brain, it causes a stroke and when it plugs an artery, it causes a heart attack. Research shows fish oil fatty acids break up clots before they can cause any damage.

7. Reduction of breast, colon and prostate cancer.
And finally, fish oil has been shown to help prevent three of the most common forms of cancer – breast, colon and prostate. Science tells us that it accomplishes this in three ways – by stopping the alteration from a normal healthy cell to a cancerous mass, by inhibiting unwanted cellular growth and by killing off cancer cells.

By: Michael & Katie Byrd
Date: July 25, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Seniors’ puttering boosts longevity

Some researchers not connected to the recent study were impressed by how little activity it may take to affect longevity.

You don’t have to climb Kilimanjaro on your 70th birthday or run an Ironman on your 75th. You don’t even have to power walk around the neighborhood three times a week to live longer.
For septuagenarians and those older, just puttering around, doing simple chores or expending energy in any way may influence survival, according to a new study.
"The message here is that any movement is better than no movement for older adults," said Todd M. Manini, a researcher from the National Institute on Aging and lead author of the study, published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "It doesn’t necessarily have to come from structured exercise activity, like going to a gym."
If documented by future research, "the findings would have major implications for physical activity recommendations for older adults," said Steven N. Blair, president and chief executive of the Cooper Institute in Dallas, and William Haskell of the Stanford University School of Medicine, in an accompanying JAMA editorial.
Previous research has reported that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of chronic disease and shortens life, but researchers say that those studies used estimations, based almost entirely on the subjects’ recollections, of how much energy they were expending.
This study, however, follows subjects over time and includes an objective measure of their physical activity.
To conduct the study, researchers followed 302 mobile, healthy and independently living adults 70 to 82 years old. They were tracked from 1997 or 1998 to 2006.
At the beginning of the study, researchers measured the subjects’ energy expenditure over a two-week period using a technique known as the doubly labeled water method to accurately assess how much energy they burned. Subjects drink a special water made up of nonradioactive isotopes. Then scientists test the urine for the rate at which the isotopes are eliminated from the body as carbon dioxide.
To determine the amount that subjects expended in activities, the researchers measured participants’ resting metabolic rate (how much energy a body uses just to survive) and subtracted that from their total energy use. Participants also filled out a standard physical-activity questionnaire, which asked how much walking, high-intensity exercise and activities (such as care-giving and stair-climbing) they did over that two-week period.
The results were surprising: The people who used the most energy did not perform any more high-intensity exercise or walking exercise than those who used the least. The scientists found that those who burned the most energy were more likely to work for pay and to climb more stairs each day.
Fifty-five participants (18.2 percent) died over the study’s eight-year period. After adjusting for various factors, the researchers found that higher levels of activity — whether from low-intensity everyday tasks or high-intensity exercise — were associated with living longer.
When they divided the participants into three groups by energy expenditure, they found that those in the high energy expenditure group had a 12.1 percent risk of dying during the course of the study, while those in the lowest energy expenditure group had a 24.7 percent risk. After adjusting for lifestyle differences, such as smoking, the scientists calculated that those who were most active had a 69 percent lower risk of death than those who were least active.
But questions remain, researchers said. It is possible that the method to assess daily activities wasn’t entirely accurate. Also, just because subjects performed a certain number of activities during one period does not mean that they continued to do those same activities until they died.
By: Hilary MacGregor
Date: July 22, 2007

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Black Tea or Green Tea - Which is Healthier?

Researchers now believe black tea provides many of the same health benefits as green tea

While I enjoy a freshly brewed cup of green tea, there are times when I crave the fuller flavor of black tea. And why not? Green tea may be China's national drink, but black teas are known for their distinct flavors. Black tea from China can be sweet or spicy, with a hint of chocolate or the sweet fragrance of orchids.

Until recently, I worried that, by indulging my craving, I was losing out on green tea's numerous health benefits. But recent research indicates that black tea has its own health giving properties.

Green or Black Tea - which is better?

Until recently, tea research has focused on green tea. Green tea is loaded with the compound epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg), a powerful anti-oxidant. Since the fermentation process used to make black tea converts EGCg into other compounds, researchers assumed black tea had less health benefits than green tea. However, recent studies indicate the compounds contained in black tea - theaflavins and thearubigens - do more than contribute to its dark color and distinctive flavor. They also provide health benefits originally attributed solely to green tea.

It's important to remember that tea research is still in the early stages. Jane Higden, a research associate with the Linus Pauling Institute, states in a recent article: "although numerous observational studies have examined the relationships between tea consumption and the risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer, there is no conclusive evidence that high intakes of tea are protective in humans." Still, it looks like there is no need to worry about depriving yourself of possible health benefits if black tea is your beverage of choice.

Here are the results of research into black tea:

Black Tea Research

* A long-term study by the Netherlands National Institute of Public Health and the Environment found a correlation between regular consumption of black tea and reduced risk of stroke. Researchers looked at data from a study examining the health benefits of foods that are high in flavonoids - phytonutrients with antioxidant benefits. While some of the flavonoids were obtained from fruits and vegetables, seventy percent came from black tea. The study looked at 552 men over a 15 year period. Researchers concluded that the flavonoids in black tea helped reduce the production of LDL - the "bad" cholesterol that can lead to stroke and heart attacks. Furthermore, men who drank over four cups of black tea per day had a significantly lower risk of stroke than men who drank only two to three cups per day.

* A separate study by Dr. Joseph Vita at Boston's School of Medicine supported these results. For four months, sixty-six men drank four cups of either black tea or a placebo daily. Dr. Vita concluded that drinking black tea can help reverse an abnormal functioning of the blood vessels that can contribute to stroke or heart attack. Furthermore, improvement in the functioning of the blood vessels was visible within two hours of drinking just one cup of black tea.

* Finally, a study of over 3,000 adults in Saudi Arabia - where black tea is favored over green - found that regular consumption of the dark brew can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by fifty percent.

Tea graph from the Linus Pauling Institute. Reprinted with permission.
Date: 21.07.2007

25 Reasons Why You Should Start Drinking Green Tea

Green tea has increasingly become a very popular drink worldwide because of its immensely powerful health benefits.It is extraordinarily amazing what green tea can do for your health.And if you're not drinking 3 to 4 cups of green tea today, you're definitely NOT doing your health a big favor.Here Are The 25 Reasons Why

You Should Start Drinking Green Tea Right Now:

1. Green Tea and CancerGreen tea helps reduce the risk of cancer. The antioxidant in green tea is 100 times more effective than vitamin C and 25 times better than vitamin E. This helps your body at protecting cells from damage believed to be linked to cancer.

2. Green Tea and Heart DiseaseGreen tea helps prevent heart disease and stroke by lowering the level of cholesterol. Even after the heart attack, it prevents cell deaths and speeds up the recovery of heart cells.

3. Green Tea and Anti-AgingGreen tea contains antioxidant known as polyphenols which fight against free radicals. What this means it helps you fight against aging and promotes longevity.

4. Green Tea and Weight LossGreen tea helps with your body weight loss. Green tea burns fat and boosts your metabolism rate naturally. It can help you burn up to 70 calories in just one day. That translates to 7 pounds in one year.

5. Green Tea and SkinAntioxidant in green tea protects the skin from the harmful effects of free radicals, which cause wrinkling and skin aging. Green tea also helps fight against skin cancer.

6. Green Tea and ArthritisGreen tea can help prevent and reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Green tea has benefit for your health as it protects the cartilage by blocking the enzyme that destroys cartilage.

7. Green Tea and BonesThe very key to this is high fluoride content found in green tea. It helps keep your bones strong. If you drink green tea every day, this will help you preserve your bone density.

8. Green Tea and CholesterolGreen tea can help lower cholesterol level. It also improves the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol, by reducing bad cholesterol level.

9. Green Tea and Obesity Green tea prevents obesity by stopping the movement of glucose in fat cells. If you are on a healthy diet, exercise regularly and drink green tea, it is unlikely you'll be obese.

10. Green Tea and Diabetes Green tea improves lipid and glucose metabolisms, prevents sharp increases in blood sugar level, and balances your metabolism rate.

11. Green Tea and Alzheimer'sGreen tea helps boost your memory. And although there's no cure for Alzheimer's, it helps slow the process of reduced acetylcholine in the brain, which leads to Alzheimer's.

12. Green Tea and Parkinson'sAntioxidants in green tea helps prevent against cell damage in the brain, which could cause Parkinson's. People drinking green tea also are less likely to progress with Parkinson's.

13. Green Tea and Liver DiseaseGreen tea helps prevent transplant failure in people with liver failure. Researches showed that green tea destroys harmful free radicals in fatty livers.

14. Green Tea and High Blood PressureGreen tea helps prevent high blood pressure. Drinking green tea helps keep your blood pressure down by repressing angiotensin, which leads to high blood pressure.

15. Green Tea and Food PoisoningCatechin found in green tea can kill bacteria which causes food poisoning and kills the toxins produced by those bacteria.

16. Green Tea and Blood Sugar Blood sugar tends to increase with age, but polyphenols and polysaccharides in green tea help lower your blood sugar level.

17. Green Tea and ImmunityPolyphenols and flavenoids found in green tea help boost your immune system, making your health stronger in fighting against infections.

18. Green Tea and Cold and FluGreen tea prevents you from getting a cold or flu. Vitamin C in green tea helps you treat the flu and the common cold.

19. Green Tea and AsthmaTheophylline in green tea relaxes the muscles which support the bronchial tubes, reducing the severity of asthma.

20. Green Tea and Ear InfectionGreen tea helps with ear infection problem. For natural ear cleaning, soak a cotton ball in green tea and clean the infected ear.

21. Green Tea and HerpesGreen tea increases the effectiveness of topical interferon treatment of herpes. First green tea compress is applied, and then let the skin dry before the interferon treatment.

22. Green Tea and Tooth DecayGreen tea destroys bacteria and viruses that cause many dental diseases.It also slows the growth of bacteria which leads to bad breath.

23. Green Tea and Stress L-theanine, which is a kind of amino acids in green tea, can help relieve stress and anxiety.

24. Green Tea and AllergiesEGCG found in green tea relieves allergies. So, if you have allergies, you should really consider drinking green tea.

25. Green Tea and HIVScientists in Japan have found that EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) in green tea can stop HIV from binding to healthy immune cells. What this means is that green tea can help stop the HIV virus from spreading.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Five Ways to Lower “Bad” Cholesterol Levels

For people battling high cholesterol, choosing meals wisely can be a challenge, but it is essential. Restaurants, parties, even an office potluck may present unhealthy temptations. But simple dietary modifications can help you eliminate those unhealthy choices, while still allowing you to enjoy your meals. Try these healthful ways to help lower your cholesterol:
  1. Reduce saturated fat. The richest sources of saturated fat (fat that is usually solid at room temperature) in the diet are red meat and dairy foods. Substitute soy protein for animal protein, and use low- or non-fat dairy products.
  2. Avoid trans-fat. Stay away from items that list "partially hydrogenated oil" on the label, especially snack foods. Try baked or air-popped versions instead.
  3. Use fresh garlic regularly in your meals. Garlic has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels.
  4. Drink green tea daily. The antioxidants in green tea help lower cholesterol and prevent the cholesterol in your blood from oxidizing.
  5. Eat plenty of soluble fiber. It has a powerful cholesterol-lowering effect. The best sources are beans and lentils, apples, citrus fruits, oats, barley, peas, carrots and freshly ground flaxseed.

By: Andrew Weil, M.D.

Date: July 17, 2007


Move Just a Little, Live Longer

If you don't exercise because you think you don't have the time or energy, here's a news flash: Those excuses no longer work.

That's because "any movement helps," according to Gregory Florez, a spokesman for the American Council on Exercise and CEO of, a health coaching site.

In fact, exercising at a moderate intensity, even in short bursts of 10 minutes several times a day, or doing daily activities such as running errands, can improve your health and probably lengthen your life, recent research suggests.

"Small bouts of activity, even 10 minutes at a time, will have the same impact as 30 minutes or so of continuous exercise," Florez said, if those small bouts are repeated three times a day.

Two recent studies prove you don't have to be a marathoner in training to reap the health benefits of exercise or even to get a little fitter.

In one study, published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association, relatively modest amounts of activity by older people, ages 70 to 82, paid off in longevity.

The research team, led by Todd Manini of the U.S. National Institute on Aging, followed 302 older adults for six years. The researchers found that death rates went down as daily energy output -- sometimes doing things as simple as vacuuming or running errands -- went up.

Those people in the highest one-third of daily energy output had a 69 percent lower risk of dying during the follow-up than those in the lowest third, the researchers found. Those in the highest third also burned about 600 more calories a day than those in the lowest third. Even short bursts of physical activity made a difference in the calorie-burning group -- they were more likely to walk up two flights of stairs a day, for instance.

The extra reduction in 600 calories per day translates, the study authors said, to about two hours of activity. But it could be any activity -- traditional exercise, washing dishes, vacuuming, running errands.

In a study published in the May 16, 2007, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that as little as 72 minutes of moderate exercise per week can improve aerobic fitness. The investigators looked at 464 sedentary, overweight women, on average 57 years old.

One group worked out on a stationary bike or treadmill at moderate intensity for an average of 72 minutes a week; another group did the workout for 136 minutes a week, on average, and a third group worked out for 192 minutes a week. A fourth group did no exercise and served as the control group.

A fitness test at the end of the six-month study found women who exercised for 72 minutes improved fitness by 4 percent. The 136-minute group improved fitness by 6 percent while the 192-minute group improved by 8 percent.

No one is saying you'll get super-fit working out for 72 minutes a week or running errands nonstop. "But unless you have a lofty goal such as running a marathon, it's OK to break up the exercise into small segments," Florez said. It will pay dividends in longevity, overall health, including cardiovascular health, and bone density, he said.

"Any activity is good activity," agreed Tyson Bain, an exercise physiologist and gerontologist at the Cooper Institute, Dallas.

He urges people to find an activity they enjoy doing. That way they'll be more likely to stick with it.

When he helps people get into an activity program, especially older people, he starts with an assessment of how well they can move and perform, and asks which times of day they prefer to be active and what types of activity interest them. He also asks them to consider what activities or sports they are good at.

Depending on a person's health, Bain recommends people aim for at least 30 minutes of activity most days, even though the recent research suggests less can still yield benefits. "Split it up -- 15, 15," he advises those who balk. "You'll get the same benefits."

Fit your activity around your lifestyle, Florez tells people. "Strength train with resistance bands or dumbbells while you watch Desperate Housewives," he said. "Take a walk with a friend."

You will combine social interaction with activity, and both have been shown to lengthen your life, he said.

To learn more about how to start an activity program, visit the American Council on Exercise.
By: HealthDay News
Published: Juky 15, 2007

Sunday, July 15, 2007

8 Foods That May Lower Your Cholesterol

Following an overall healthy diet that’s low in saturated fat and abundant in fruits and vegetables is wiser than obsessing over specific "super" foods.

Still, some foods have been shown to give cholesterol levels an extra nudge in the right direction:

When women in a University of Toronto study added oat bran to an already heart-healthy diet, HDL-cholesterol levels—the beneficial kind—climbed more than 11 percent.

A 2005 Tufts University study found that substances in almond skins help prevent LDL cholesterol from being oxidized, a process that can otherwise damage the lining of blood vessels and increase cardiovascular risk.

Beans & Lentils
In results reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2005, LDL-cholesterol levels fell almost twice as far in volunteers on a low-fat diet who added beans and lentils (along with more whole grains and vegetables) to the menu.

Blueberries contain a powerful antioxidant called pterostilbene that may help lower LDL cholesterol, scientists at the Agricultural Research Service reported in 2004.

When volunteers in a 2004 USDA study added barley to the standard American Heart Association diet, LDL-cholesterol levels fell more than twice as far

The monounsaturated fats in avocados have been found to lower bad LDLs and raise good HDLs, especially in people with mildly elevated cholesterol.

Drinking a glass of wine with dinner—any alcoholic beverage, in fact—has been shown to raise good-cholesterol levels and lower the risk of a heart attack. (Excessive drinking, however, raises heart-disease danger.)

By: EatingWell.Com

Date: July 15, 2007


Monday, July 9, 2007

Life: The Long View

Aging and our new prospects for longevity.

Had you been born in the year 1850, no one would have expected you to live much past the age of 38. The life expectancy of a newborn in 1925 was still only 57 years. Today, our young ones may live well past the projected average age of 78.

Those are some terrific leaps in life expectancy, and the extra years represent the ultimate gift of modern medicine. Researchers are now on the cusp of therapies to extend our lives ever longer.

The Road Keeps Getting Longer

Remember that no one dies of old age; we die of diseases. Earlier extensions in life-span averages came thanks to antibiotics, advances in medicine and better health programs. In addition to curbing "early mortality," science also has helped us affect late mortality by making it possible to live with or even beat diseases like cancer.

Life-span extension has been on the radar of the scientific community for only 15 to 20 years. And during the past 10 years we've seen quantum leaps due to a better understanding of genetics. "Aging stopped being something that happens to us and started being something we could not only describe but actually understand the molecular basis of," says Dr. Felipe Sierra, director of the Biology of Aging program at the National Institute on Aging (NIA). Sierra's program funds most of the basic biological research on longevity.

Greetings, SIR2

One researcher on the path is Dr. Lenny Guarente, professor of biology at MIT and author of Ageless Quest: One Scientist's Search for Genes That Prolong Youth. Building on earlier yeast studies, Guarente and fellow researchers found eight years ago that a gene called SIR2 could extend life span in roundworms.

He explains in simple terms, "If, by genetics, you move an extra copy of the SIR2 gene into a host—whether it's a roundworm, yeast or a fruit fly—the host lives longer. Conversely, if you knock the gene out, they live shorter."

Mammals have seven SIR2-like genes now known as sirtuins, and Guarente believes this gene pathway may provide the key to governing longevity in mammals. "The one sirtuin everyone is interested in now, the top dog, is SIRT1," Guarente says. "It's hard to believe that one gene could be so dominant in something like aging, but SIRT1 is shown to do so many important things in cells. It's just counterintuitive that something would have broad benefit against several diseases." But SIRT1 and its sirtuin brethren appear to pack a powerful punch.

A True Silver Bullet?

Granted, it's a long way up the life-form chain from roundworms to mice (the first mammals being tested) to people. But all mammals share the sirtuin gene set, and these genes appear to be responsible for preserving the lives of cells.

So, here's where it gets exciting: Eventually we may be able to create a drug that mimics how sirtuins protect cells. Medical professionals are famously skeptical about identifying "silver bullet" solutions, but some scientists believe that such a drug would do for age-related diseases what statins have done for lowering cholesterol. "The challenge for us is going to be to develop drugs that are effective and safe," says Guarente. "I think it's in the cards. I think it's going to happen."

Calorie Restriction

At first blush, calorie restriction sounds like a reasonable and simple anti-aging technique: Reduce calories to be healthier and therefore live longer. That's the same dietary advice we've been getting for years. But the geneticists studying it are not just saying you should cut back on the Ding Dongs. Restricting calories is what helps the sirtuin genes preserve cell life. The silver-bullet drug essentially would "trick" the cells into thinking they had been calorie-restricted.

Why use a drug instead of changing your diet? It's possible to limit your intake to about 1,000 calories per day, but that raises a couple of issues: a) drastically restricting your diet can lead to malnutrition and being underweight, both of which are associated with their own life-threatening conditions; and b) only 1,000 calories per day? Good luck with that.

Long Story Short

Research on calorie restriction and sirtuins is at the forefront of longevity studies today. Here's a quick glance at other current theories and therapies.

Insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signaling may explain how the prevention of obesity-related disorders helps leaner people live longer.

Apoptosis and senescence have been studied for several years in other contexts. The role of apoptosis ("cell suicide") and senescence (loss of a cell's power to regenerate) in maintaining cellular equilibrium has come back into focus for longevity research.

Adult stem cells may provide a means to repair or replace damaged cells (or cells lost to apoptosis or senescence) that play a role in disease and aging.

All of these pathways provide hope for extending life in the coming decades. In the meantime, eating well, exercising and maintaining a healthy state of mind will always be fundamental to enjoying a good, long life.

By Rich Maloof for MSN Health & Fitness