Van's Health Foods

In Historic Downtown Livermore since 1972

Curcumin as effective as aerobic exercise

Curcumin, the anti-inflammatory antioxidant compound in the culinary spice turmeric, improved circulation in postmenopausal women as effectively as aerobic exercise. In this study, 32 postmenopausal women with similar health characteristics at the start of the study took a daily curcumin supplement or a placebo, while a third group took moderate exercise training only.

After eight weeks, while there were no changes for placebo, both the curcumin and exercise groups had better relaxation, widening, and functioning of blood vessels and arteries compared to the start of the study. Doctors said that both aerobic exercise and curcumin may improve age-related decline in the circulatory system and taking a curcumin supplement may help prevent cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women. Curcumin may also be an alternative for people who cannot exercise.

Omega fatty acids reduce chances of heart disease

In this study, doctors followed 3,277 healthy men and women free from heart disease at the start of the study. After 23 years of follow-up, while there were no benefits for men, women who consumed moderate amounts of alpha-linolenic acid or linoleic acid–both omega fatty acids–were less likely to have heart disease caused by restricted blood flow compared to the women who got less of these two nutrients.

Doctors also measured total omega-3s and found, compared to women who consumed the least, women who consumed the most of these polyunsaturated fatty acids–plentiful in fish–were much more likely to remain heart-disease free.

Reference: Nutrition Research Journal; 2012, Vol. 32, No. 12, 795-99

From the February 2013 newsletter

According to earlier studies, depression may have a link to cells damaged by oxidative stress. In this analysis, doctors compared antioxidant levels to signs of depression in 1,798 adults aged 20 to 85 and found, compared to those with lowest levels, people with the highest circulating levels of antioxidant carotenoids were 59 percent less likely to have depressive symptoms. There was also a direct link: as carotenoid levels increased, signs of depression decreased.

Carotenoids–the naturally occurring bright red, yellow, and orange pigments in fruits and vegetables like carrots–are powerful antioxidants. Doctors found three carotenoids in particular were most closely linked to better mood; beta-carotene in both men and women, and lutein and zeaxanthin in women only. Lutein and zeaxanthin also protect eyesight, as many earlier studies have confirmed. Discussing their findings, doctors said antioxidants may help reduce oxidative damage in the brain and hope new studies reveal more mood benefits of antioxidants.

Reference: British Journal of Nutrition; August, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the February 2013 newsletter

Van's Health on February - 28 - 2013

Green tea lowered blood pressure

In this study, 56 people with obesity-related high blood pressure took 379 mg of green tea extract per day, or a placebo. Before the study and after three months of taking green tea extract, doctors measured blood pressure, sugar, and fats (lipids), protein in the urine, signs of inflammation, and antioxidant levels.

While the placebo group improved slightly, those in the green tea group saw systolic and diastolic blood pressure decline 4.9 and 4.6 mmHg, respectively. And while there were no improvements for placebo, the green tea group had healthier insulin and blood sugar levels, as well as lower LDL cholesterol and higher HDL–the “bad” and “good” cholesterols, respectively. Doctors said the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action of green tea compounds may explain its health benefits.

Coleus forskohlii improved blood pressure

Doctors said that coleus forskohlii, a tropical perennial plant, may have blood pressure lowering effects. In this study, 41 people with high blood pressure but no major illnesses, aged 50 to 80, took coleus forskohlii three times per day with meals, either in root form, 1,000 mg per meal; or in root tuber form, 1,400 mg per meal.

Doctors also asked participants to reduce salt in the diet and to exercise mildly, both of which can lower blood pressure. After two months, 75 percent of those in each group showed mild improvements in blood pressure.

Coleus forskohlii has been used in Ayurvedic medicine, which is native to India, to treat heart disease, convulsions, and spasmodic pain, with the earliest references in Indian medical literature dating from about 50 B.C.

Reference: Nutrition Research Journal; 2012, Vol. 32, No. 6, 421-7

From the October 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on December - 19 - 2012
categories: Herbs, Supplements

Selenium is a trace mineral essential to health that binds with proteins to form powerful antioxidant enzymes called selenoproteins. Earlier studies have linked good selenium levels to lower chances for several cancers, but few studies have tested for a link to diabetes, doctors said.

In this study, researchers analyzed the diets of 3,630 women and 3,535 men without diabetes or heart disease at the start of the study. After two years of follow-up, more than one in 10 had developed diabetes, but those with the highest level of selenium–measured in the toenail–were 24 percent less likely to have developed the condition.

Doctors said that adequate levels of selenium could come from a good diet, rich in plant-based foods such as fresh garlic, mushrooms, whole grains, wheat germ, and brewer’s yeast, as well as organ meats, tuna fish, and other seafood. Selenium levels in plant-based foods depend on the amount in soil, which varies across the U.S.

Reference: Diabetes Care; 2012, Vol. 35, No. 7. 1544-51

From the October 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on December - 9 - 2012
categories: Supplements

Lycopene lowered inflammation and improved blood flow

Blood vessels have an inner lining called the endothelium which may become inflamed, stiffened, and more likely to form clots. In this study, 126 healthy men, average age 34 with healthy weight, took 6 mg of lycopene or 15 mg of lycopene per day, or a placebo. After eight weeks, compared to the start of the study, while there were no significant changes in the low-dose or placebo groups, men who took 15 mg of lycopene had much higher antioxidant levels, less DNA damage, better blood pressure flow and lower systolic blood pressure, lower levels of C-reactive protein–an inflammatory factor–and an increase in the size of LDL-cholesterol particles, making them less likely to stick to artery walls and form plaque.

In discussing their findings, doctors said supplementing to raise lycopene levels in the blood can reduce oxidative stress and improve the health and function of the endothelium blood vessel linings.

Vitamin D improves reproductive health

Doctors said when animals are deficient in vitamin D, sperm counts and sperm motility are low. In this study, researchers measured vitamin D levels in 40 men and found that those with 75 nanomoles of vitamin D per liter of blood (nmol/L) had much higher sperm motility compare to men with 25 nmol/L or less. Motility is the ability of sperm to move properly toward the egg. As levels of vitamin D increased, more of the sperm were motile, and had normal structure, shape, and size.

Reference: Human Reproduction; 2011, Vol. 26, No. 6, 1307-17

From the July 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on September - 26 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Green tea may have many health benefits, and in this study, doctors tested an antioxidant flavonoid in green tea, EGCG, for a link to brain activity and mood. Participants took 300 mg of EGCG, or a placebo. Before and two hours afterwards, researchers took a resting-state electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure brain activity.

While the placebo group did not change, the EGCG group had a greater sense of calm, reduced feelings of stress, and a significant increase in alpha, beta and theta brain waves, which correspond, respectively, to relaxation, reasoning, and creative powers.

Reference: Appetite; 2012, Vol. 58, No. 2, 767-70

From the June 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on June - 10 - 2012
categories: Herbs, Supplements

Tocotrienols raised good cholesterol levels and signs of antioxidant activity

 

Doctors said that most prior research has focused on tocopherols, the most common form of vitamin E, and that tocotrienols, the other major form, may have greater antioxidant capacity. Both forms of vitamin E are fat soluble, and are found in plant-based foods such as wheat germ, sunflower, and safflower oils for tocopherols, and palm oil, cereal grains, and rice bran for tocotrienols.

In this study, 62 healthy people–half aged 35 to 49, the other half over 50–took a 160 mg supplement containing 74 percent tocotrienols and 26 percent tocopherols, per day, or a placebo. After six months, compared to placebo, levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol, were much higher in the tocotrienol group. Also, in those over 50, signs of oxidative damage were lower. Blood levels of vitamin E were significantly higher in the younger group at three months and, after six months, in the over-50 group. Researchers also saw antioxidant enzyme activity increase in those who took tocotrienols.

Reference: Nutrition and Metabolism; 2011, Vol. 8, No. 1, 42

From the November 2011 newsletter

Van's Health on February - 22 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins
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