Latest Research News

A study involving 74 older adults (70+), of whom 3 had mild dementia, 33 were cognitively normal and 38 had mild cognitive impairment, has found that high levels of "good" cholesterol and low levels of "bad" cholesterol correlated with lower levels of the amyloid-beta plaques in the brain (a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease).

A review of research from 1957 to the present has concluded that a whole diet approach, and specifically Mediterranean-style diets, has more evidence for reducing cardiovascular risk than strategies that focus exclusively on reduced dietary fat.

A Swedish study has found that those who ate poor breakfasts as year 9 students had a higher incidence of metabolic syndrome 27 years later, compared with those who ate more substantial breakfasts.

A British study analyzing data from 7,011 adults who participated in two Health and Lifestyle Surveys, has found that a new method of measuring obesity, A Body Shape Index (ABSI), is a more effective predictor of mortality than Body Mass Index (BMI). You can find an online calculator at

A study involving 39 young adult men and women of normal weight, who ate 750 extra calories in the form of muffins every day for seven weeks, found that those whose muffins were made with palm oil built significantly more fat and less muscle than those whose muffins were made with sunflower oil. Moreover, the palm oil group developed the fat in more dangerous places  — in the liver and abdomen. The groups gained the same amount of weight.

A study in which 23 healthy volunteers ate half a kilo of strawberries every day for a month has found that their levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides reduced significantly.

"Sprouted" garlic — old garlic bulbs with bright green shoots emerging from the cloves — have been found to have even more heart-healthy antioxidant activity than fresh garlic.

A study involving 44 middle-aged overweight men who consumed 70 grams of dark chocolate per day over two periods of four weeks, has found that dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to arteries while also preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels. Both arterial stiffness and white blood cell adhesion are known factors that play a significant role in atherosclerosis.

A Finnish study has found that people who increased their intake of fatty fish to a minimum of 3–4 weekly meals had more large HDL cholesterol in their blood than people who were less frequent eaters of fish. Large HDL particles are believed to protect against cardiovascular diseases.

A large long-running study has found that eating a diet rich in animal proteins during middle age makes you four times more likely to die of cancer than a low-protein diet (a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking), 74% more likely to die of any cause within the 20-year study period, and five times more likely to die of diabetes.

Middle-aged Japanese men living in Japan had lower incidence of coronary artery calcification, a predictor of heart disease, than middle-aged white men living in the United States, after accounting for risk factors such as smoking, cholesterol, alcohol consumption, diabetes and high blood pressure.

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative has found that calcium and vitamin D supplements after menopause can improve women's cholesterol profiles, with much of that effect tied to raising vitamin D levels. Taking the calcium and vitamin D supplements was especially helpful in raising vitamin D levels in women who were older, women who had a low intake, women who had levels first measured in the winter, and women who didn’t smoke and who drank less alcohol.

A study involving 362 children with reading problems has found that 16 weeks of daily 600 mg supplements of omega-3 DHA from algal sources improved their sleep. According to a sleep questionnaire filled out by parents, 40% of these children had significant sleep problems. Monitoring of 43 of the poor sleepers found that children taking daily supplements of omega-3 had nearly one hour (58 minutes) more sleep and seven fewer waking episodes per night compared with children taking a placebo.

Analysis of insulin-producing cells has revealed that those with type 2 diabetes have epigenetic changes in approximately 800 genes, with altered gene expression in over 100 genes (many of them relating to insulin production).

Data from 11 different cohort studies, involving more than 600,000 people from around the world, has found that:

A meta-analysis of 72 studies with over 600,000 participants from 18 nations has concluded that total saturated fatty acid, whether measured in the diet or in the bloodstream as a biomarker, was not associated with coronary disease risk. Nor was there any significant association between consumption of total monounsaturated fatty acids, long-chain omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and cardiovascular risk.

Data from AREDS2, involving 4,203 older adults with age-related macular degeneration, has found that daily dietary supplements of either omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (also found in fish) or lutein and zeaxanthin (nutrients found in green leafy vegetables) were not associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

A review of 19 studies involving over 162,000 people has found that adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with a 21% reduced risk of diabetes, with a greater effect (27%) for those at high risk for cardiovascular disease. The association was found in both European and non-European groups.

The research was presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual Scientific Session.

A study involving healthy men and women fed a baseline diet containing 550 mg choline/day (the adequate intake level set by the Institute of Medicine) for 10 days, then put on a low choline diet (50 mg choline/day) for up to 42 days, has found that the "right" amount of choline depends on many factors, including gender, age, and ethnicity.

A very large Italian study provides more evidence that the Mediterranean diet reduces inflammation, with their finding that those with a greater adherence to such a diet had significantly lower levels of platelets and white blood cells. These are both inflammatory markers: high platelet counts are associated with both vascular disease and non-vascular conditions such as cancer, and a high white blood cell count is a predictor of ischemic vascular disease.

A 25-year study of diet and aging in 76 rhesus monkeys shows a significant reduction in mortality and in age-associated diseases among those on calorie-restricted diets.

Mice given decaffeinated green tea and regular exercise lost weight and improved their health after 16 weeks. Specifically, they reduced body mass by 27% (on average), reduced abdominal fat by 37%; reduced blood glucose level by 17%, plasma insulin level by 65%, and insulin resistance by 65%..

Neither green tea alone, nor exercise alone, produced such significant changes. The amount of green tea was a lot: the equivalent of 8-10 cups a day. Decaffeination may not be important; it was done to keep the effects of caffeine out of the study.

A mouse study has found that obese mice had high levels of interleukin 1 in both their blood and their brains, and this was associated with:

  • high levels of inflammation,
  • low levels of a biochemical important to synapse function, and
  • impaired cognitive function.

Moreover, when fat was removed from the obese mice, interleukin levels dropped dramatically, and cognitive performance improved.

A mouse study suggests that merely changing meal times could have a significant effect on the levels of triglycerides in the liver. Levels of triglycerides followed a circadian rhythm, with levels peaking about eight hours after sunrise (note that mice are nocturnal). Mice generally eat 20% of their food during the day, and 80% at night. Mice lacking a functional body clock eat constantly during the day. When normal mice were given the same amount of food, but had to eat it only at night, there was a quick and dramatic 50% decrease in overall liver TAG levels.

A small trial involving seven older adults with insomnia has found that when they consumed 8 ounces of tart cherry juice twice daily for two weeks, they were able to sleep more than an hour longer each night (averaging 84 minutes) compared to when they took the placebo, and their sleep tended to be more efficient.

A study involving 61 women, of whom 33 were chronically stressed caring for a spouse or parent with dementia, has found that highly stressed people who ate a lot of high-fat, high-sugar food were likely to have:

  • a larger waistline,
  • more truncal fat,
  • higher oxidative damage, and
  • more insulin resistance.

This association was not found among the low-stress women who ate the same amount of unhealthy food.

The findings are consistent with animal studies.

Resveratrol — an ingredient in red wine that has been implicated in a number of health benefits — has been found to inhibit interleukin 6 (IL-6), a pro-inflammatory protein that is part of the immune system (although IL-6 can be anti-inflammatory during exercise).

A 2-year trial involving 59 patients with type 2 diabetes has found that those on a low-carbohydrate diet showed lower levels of inflammation compared with those on a traditional low-fat diet. Weight loss was similar in both groups.

Contradicting some earlier studies, new research using data from the very large and long-running Nurses' Health Study has found that calcium supplement intake was not associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease in women.

Preliminary studies have demonstrated that grape skin extract exerts a novel inhibitory activity on hyperglycemia and could be developed to aid in diabetes management.

An Italian study has found that older adults with the highest concentration of resveratrol metabolites were no less likely to have died of any cause than those with no resveratrol found in their urine.

A review and meta-analysis of all international studies that compared the effects of higher versus lower added sugar consumption on blood pressure and lipids (blood fats or cholesterol) has uncovered evidence that sugar has a direct effect on risk factors for heart disease, and is likely to impact on blood pressure, independent of weight gain.

A meta-analysis of six studies from around the world, involving 75,498 couples, has found that a spouse had a 26% greater risk of developing diabetes if the other had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

A study in which 136 older couples (average age 63) filled out questionnaires measuring their overall marriage quality and their perceived support from their spouse, has found that calcification in the coronary arteries was highest when both partners in the relationship viewed each other as offering ambivalent support (sometimes helpful, sometimes not). When only one partner felt this way, the risk was significantly less.

Overall marital satisfaction didn’t have a significant impact on this cardiovascular risk factor.

DNA data from more than 48,000 patients and 139,000 healthy controls from four different ethnic groups has identified seven new genetic regions associated with type 2 diabetes.

It is now realized that the focus in treating diabetes shouldn’t be so much on controlling blood sugar. New medical guidelines point to the importance of the following interventions (in order of benefit):

  1. smoking cessation (most important)
  2. blood pressure control
  3. metformin drug therapy
  4. lipid reduction
  5. glycemic control (least important).

This isn’t to say that blood sugar isn’t important; but the others should be dealt with first.

Previous research has indicated that about a quarter of older adults who become mildly depressed will go on to become seriously depressed within a year or two. A study comparing problem-solving therapy for primary care — a seven-step approach delivered by non-mental-health professionals to help patients resolve difficulties and thus improve coping skills and confidence — with a program of dietary coaching (same number of sessions and hours), has found that elderly adults with mild symptoms of depression responded equally well to both treatments.

Two studies help explain why kidney disease increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and vascular calcification. The mediator seems to be a hormone called FGF23, which is sensitive to the level of phosphates in the body.

Phosphate rich foods include processed cheese, Parmesan, cola, baking powder and most processed foods.

A study in which 157 healthy adult volunteers were asked to regulate their emotional reactions to unpleasant pictures, has found that those who showed greater brain activation when regulating their negative emotions also had higher blood levels of interleukin-6 (a marker for inflammation) and increased thickness of the carotid artery wall (a marker of atherosclerosis).

The finding helps explain why stress increases the risk for stroke and heart attack.

A finding that free radicals promote longevity in the roundworm challenges the theory that free radicals (oxidants) are damaging and cause aging.



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