Could Full-Fat Dairy Be Good For You?

Health experts have long warned people away from full-fat dairy products because they contain high levels of saturated fat, which is thought to raise levels of LDL—or “bad” cholesterol. But a major new study has concluded that in moderation, whole milk and full-fat yogurt and cheese could in fact help protect against heart disease and stroke. Researchers examined data from more than 130,000 people across 21 countries over nine years and found that participants who ate two or more daily servings of full-fat dairy had a 22 percent lower risk of heart disease, a 34 percent lower risk of stroke, and a 23 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. (A serving was 8 oz of milk or yogurt, or a half-ounce slice of cheese.) Butter consumption wasn’t linked to similar benefits—though that may have been because most of the study’s subjects ate little of it. Study co-author Mahshid (Read More)

Another Way Sugar Can Kill

Consuming too much sugar can increase people’s risk for heart disease- even if they’re otherwise healthy, new research reveals. Scientists asked 11 men with fatty-liver disease and 14 healthy men to follow either a high- or low-sugar diet for 12 weeks. All of the men consumed the same number of calories each day, but sugar accounted for 26 percent of the high-sugar accounted for 26 percent of the high-sugar diet (650 calories) and just 6 percent of the low-sugar diet. When the study ended, both the healthy men and those with fatty-liver disease who were on the high-sugar diet showed damaging changes in the way their bodies metabolized the fat linked to heart disease. The healthy men on the high-sugar diet also had more fat in their blood and liver, HealthDay.com reports. Dana Angelo White, a dietitian at Quinnipiac University who was not involved in the study, said its results (Read More)

How Does Caffeine Work?

With ever-increasing amounts of coffee and “energy” drinks containing caffeine being consumed, it might be important to know why this stimulant works. Everyone who uses caffeine experiences a “lift” that seems to energize them to perform their functions more efficiently. They are absolutely right! Caffeine, the chemical in these beverages that produces the effect, causes increased activity in the frontal lobe of the brain where short term memory resides and also in the anterior cingulum part of the brain, which controls the concentration and attention span. This increased activity means you are more able to focus, you have more attention and your task management is better.

Dehydration Hurts Concentration

When you find yourself struggling to concentrate on something, try having a glass of water. That’s the conclusion of a new, detailed analysis of more than 30 studies into the effects of dehydration, NPR.org reports. The researchers, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, found that going thirsty had no significant impact on reaction times and other basic cognitive functions. But for more complex tasks that require focused attention or coordination, dehydration did appear to impair people’s performance. Examples include “maintaining focus in a long meeting, driving a car, [or] a monotonous job in a hot factory,” said study leader Mindy Millard-Stafford. “Higher-order functions like doing math or applying logic also dropped off.” Millard-Stafford and her colleagues found that cognitive impairment tended to begin when people lost 2 percent of the water in their body. For the average person, that equates to about 35 fluid ounces of sweat—roughly what you’d produce with an (Read More)

Food Chemicals Harming Kids?

The leading U.S. pediatricians’ group has issued a stark warning about food additives and food-packaging materials, cautioning that many of the chemicals used in these products have never been properly tested and could pose a health risk to children. The American Academy of Pediatrics cited mounting scientific evidence that “direct additives,” such as artificial flavorings and colorings, as well as “indirect additives” that leak into food from plastic and other packaging may interfere with the body’s hormone system. That disruption can cause increased risk of obesity and other health problems. Children are more vulnerable to these chemicals than adults because their organs are still developing, and because “pound for pound, they eat more food,” lead author Leonardo Trasande tells HealthDay.com. The AAP identified several particularly harmful chemicals: nitrates and nitrites, which are used as preservatives, especially in meat products; phthalates and perchlorates, which appear in plastic packaging; and bisphenols, used (Read More)

The Cost of Skipping Breakfast

When it comes to heart health, breakfast really may be the most important meal of the day. New research shows that people who have only coffee or juice in the morning are twice as likely to develop atherosclerosis, or “clogged” arteries, reports The Guardian (UK). After examining the diets of 4,052 healthy, middle aged men and women, researchers found that those who generally ate a light breakfast or skipped the meal entirely had more plague in their arteries than those who are a hearty breakfast. There were also more likely to be overweight, smoke, and have high blood pressure. Co-author Valentin Fuster, from Mount Sinai Heart in New York, says missing the first meal of the day can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythms and trigger hormone imbalances, leading people to overeat later in the day. “Skipping breakfast in the morning by itself is not the problem,” he explains. “The problem (Read More)

Potassium Protects the Heart

People often eat bananas, avocados, and leafy greens for various health benefits. New research adds another benefit: These and other potassium rich foods may help prevent heart disease, ScienceDaily.com reports. Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that a high-potassium diet makes arteries more flexible, and thus could reduce the risk for atherosclerosis, or “hardening of the arteries.” For the study, the researchers fed mice with a genetic susceptibility to heart disease a diet with low, normal, high levels of potassium. The mice on the low-potassium diet had more severe narrowing and hardening of the arteries than those with adequate potassium intake. High potassium diets had the opposite effects, suggesting that potassium rich foods – which also include potatoes, spinach, carrots, and artichokes – could also help prevent heart disease in people.   Mineral Depletion. Too little potassium, calcium or magnesium in your diet can contribute to leg (Read More)

The Benefits of Eating Fish

Concerns about mercury contamination should not dissuade Americans from eating seafood, the American Heart Association has announced. Recent research has found that large fish such as ahi tuna and swordfish contain high levels of the metal, which is toxic to the brain and nervous system. (Mercury enters the atmosphere through coal burning and other industrial activity, eventually making its way into lakes and oceans.) But studies have also found that seafood helps prevent heart disease, reports MedicalDaily.com. After reviewing all the available data, the AHA concluded that the significant cardiovascular benefits of eating fish outweigh the neurological risks. In an updated scientific advisory, the organization advises adults to consume two 3.5-ounce servings of nonfried fish every week, and specifically recommends salmon, trout, sardines, and other oily fish that are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. “The benefits of fish,” says Harvard epidemiologist Eric Rimm, who chairs the group that wrote the (Read More)

Scarfing Snacks in the Office

Catered meetings, donuts in the office kitchen, and sugary vending machine snacks could be expanding the waistlines of American employees, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers asked more than 5,000 employees across the U.S. about the food and drink they bought at work or got for free in common rooms, meetings, or social events. Nearly a quarter of participants obtained food at work at least once a week, each consuming an average of 1,300 calories a week—more than half the recommended daily calorie intake for the average adult. Most of the food was high in added sugar—cookies, brownies, pizza, and cakes were among the most commonly offered munchies—and more than 70 percent of the calories consumed in the office came from freebies. To change employees’ habits, study co-author Stephen Onufrak tells ABCNews.com, companies should “encourage healthier foods at meetings and events, especially when the (Read More)

Fast Food and Infertility

Women trying to get pregnant should steer clear of fast foods and eat more fresh fruit instead. That’s the conclusion of a new study that followed the diets of nearly 5,600 women in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and the U.K. Researchers found that participants who ate meals at fast-food restaurants at least four times a week took nearly a month longer to conceive than those who rarely ate fast food. And while women who rarely or never ate fast food had an 8 percent risk of infertility—defined as not being able to get pregnant after a year of trying—the risk was 16 percent among regular fast-food eaters. Meanwhile, women who ate fruit at least three times a day got pregnant two weeks faster on average than women who ate fruit less than once a month. “It shows that healthier foods support conception,” study leader Jessica Grieger tells NBCNews.com. Researchers note that (Read More)