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Archive for May, 2018

Who knew? May is National Egg Month, and I almost let it slip by. But don’t be deterred from celebrating. This versatile food is great all year.

The poor egg has been maligned for decades. In the 1970s, I taught a nutrition class in New Orleans to nursing students. My office, on one side of the river, required I traverse the old Huey P. Long bridge connecting to the other side. It was scary. The rickety bridge rattled and reaching the other side safely seemed dubious. It revved my adrenalin and blood pressure.

When my class discussed the role of LDL (low density lipoprotein), known to have a negative effect on the cardiovascular system, I would say to my students, “If I have a heart attack on my way to class, it isn’t the egg I had for breakfast. It was driving across that bridge.”

Stress remains a factor in heart disease, but eggs? Now some forty years later, my stand on eggs has been vindicated. For many years, researchers have known that cholesterol in the foods we eat has less effect on blood cholesterol levels than does the type of fats we eat. Individuals with diets high in saturated fat (those mostly from animal sources) are more likely to have increased cholesterol blood levels (LDL) than those who consume unsaturated fats (mostly from plant sources).

Many still argue that those who eat the yolk, which contains small amounts of cholesterol, should limit intake to three to four eggs per week. While an egg yolk has about 200 mg of cholesterol, the effects may be more positive than negative.

A nine-year Chinese study of nearly a half-million people compared the risk of heart attacks and strokes of those who consumed an average of a half to one egg per day with those who never ate eggs. Researchers concluded that eggs eaten in moderation had no effect on elevated risks for developing heart disease or stroke.

Naysayers pointed out that the study wasn’t a controlled experiment. They claimed results might not apply to other parts of the world such as the U. S. where westernized diets prevail, and most people are overweight. Other recent research suggests that eggs may block the production of LDL in the liver while at the same time boosting HDL, known as the good cholesterol. The Egg Nutrition Center is one source of more  nutrition information about the value of eggs in the diet. 

A study published in the May 7, 2018 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the effect of a high-egg diet on the cardiovascular system of people who were pre-diabetic or had type 2 diabetes. Compared to a low-egg diet (less than two per week) the high-egg diet had no adverse effects on the heart. Both diets were weight-loss diets and results from the two diets were similar.

That’s not the only good news about eating moderate amounts of eggs. Besides its many nutrient benefits and its quality protein, studies find more health attributes for this wholesome food. Eggs are significant sources of choline and lutein (a xanthophyll carotenoid). These nutrients may influence cognitive functions. As the number of Americans over age 65 rapidly increases, so does the incidence of cognitive decline. Scientific evidence substantiates the role choline and lutein in brain and neurological development post conception, and it is believed that lutein may influence cognition across the lifespan.

I remain a proponent of eggs as part of a healthy diet. Unless advised otherwise by a qualified health professional, add eggs into your diet with the assurance they are unlikely to affect heart conditions in a healthy person. It just may keep your brain more healthy and active during the latter years of life. Most of us need all the help we can get.

                                                     

 

 

 

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This Mother’s Day give Mom a priceless gift we all strive toward―better eyesight, healthier heart function, and improved memory. Who doesn’t want that? Mom can anticipate this health package while salivating over a box of dark chocolates tied with a lovely bow.

That’s right. Dark chocolate―the most craved food by women―is a present that keeps on giving in the form of more positive health outcomes. New research finds that decadent rich dark chocolate helps protect from several health issues that are more likely to progress as we age.

Don’t expect a prescription for dark chocolate from an ophthalmologist any time soon, but this yummy “melt in your mouth” sweet continues to show promise in improving vision. Researchers compared 26-year-olds given a 1.5 ounce of Trader Joe’s 72 percent Cacao Dark Chocolate bar with a Trader Joe’s Crispy Rice Milk Chocolate bar of similar size. About two hours later, participants underwent vision tests using the standard letter-based eye chart. Those who consumed the dark chocolate compared to milk chocolate showed a slight, although significant difference in visual acuity.

Dark chocolate contains greater amounts of flavanols, often referred to as heart-healthy compounds. How this affects eyesight isn’t known but may result from increased blood flow to the retina or to the cerebral cortex of the brain.

With brain function in mind, dark chocolate may reduce stress levels and inflammation. A bar or piece with at least 70 percent cacao, the source of flavonoids, stimulates areas of the brain involved in memory. It’s also a mood elevator and may improve sensory processing, the ability of the brain to receive and respond to information that comes through our senses.

This tasty treat may have positive effects on the cardiovascular system. Moderate amounts of dark chocolate may lower the risk of atrial fibrillation. The delectable food seems to help loosen stiff arteries and prevent white blood cells from sticking to artery walls. As little as one chocolate square may slightly reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. To some extent, small amounts may lower LDL cholesterol.

Other health issues have been linked to chocolate. It benefits the immune system through increased numbers of white blood cells which fight infection and disease. Limited studies found it may play a role in preventing diabetes. Who knows what other health conditions may be linked to something so enjoyable to eat?

Like many things, there’s a caveat. Chocolate is high in calories. However in the studies cited, researchers emphasized that limited amounts (in one study a square of dark chocolate had 30 calories) can benefit our physical well-being. The smallest portion may help maintain health.

Show Mom extra love this Mother’s Day with a special gift for better health and a delight to her palate. How can she resist a box of chocolates?

Assortment of Beautiful Sweet Chocolates in Box Top View. Chocolate Pralines Mix Background

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