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Suresh Hinduja


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Walnuts' Potential New Link to Heart Health Reported

By Marcia Wood

July 31, 2006

Walnuts, already shown in some studies to reduce "bad" (LDL) cholesterol, may have yet another way of enhancing cardiovascular health.

University of California-Davis (UC-Davis) scientists and their Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and University of Padova (Italy) co-investigators have found that laboratory hamsters that ate feed containing walnuts had significantly lower levels of a natural chemical called endothelin. The compound causes inflammation of arteries and growth of sticky deposits—called plaque—on blood vessels. These conditions contribute to heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.

In this six-and-one-half-month study of about 100 hamsters, walnuts apparently suppressed heart artery endothelin. Walnuts had that effect at all levels tested, which were the equivalent of a human eating from three to eight handfuls of walnuts a day.

For the study, scientists used English walnuts, the kind sold in supermarkets nationwide, adding them to the hamsters' meals as a finely ground powder.

Research chemist Wallace H. Yokoyama, with the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif., collaborated in the study, which was led by research nutritionist Paul A. Davis at UC-Davis.

The study, reported earlier this year in the Journal of Nutrition, builds upon observations by researchers elsewhere that eating walnuts may affect blood vessels directly. The California study is the first to demonstrate this by showing walnuts' ability to suppress artery endothelin in lab animals. Additional studies are needed to determine if this beneficial effect occurs in people who eat a moderate amount of walnuts.

Walnuts are a good source of fiber, healthful fatty acids and minerals. They can be sprinkled on breakfast cereal, tossed with crisp greens for a lunch or dinner salad, or simply eaten out of hand as a snack.

I think a walnut pesto is on the cards. :)

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Hopkins study shows combination of curcumin and quercetin greatly reduces size and number of colorectal polyps

A small but informative clinical trial by Johns Hopkins investigators shows that a pill combining chemicals found in turmeric, a spice used in curries, and onions reduces both the size and number of precancerous lesions in the human intestinal tract.

In the study, published in the August issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, five patients with an inherited form of precancerous polyps in the lower bowel known as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) were treated with regular doses of curcumin (the chemical found in turmeric) and quercetin, an antioxidant in onions, over an average of six months. The average number of polyps dropped 60.4 percent, and the average size dropped by 50.9 percent, according to a team led by Francis M. Giardiello, M.D., at the Division of Gastroenterology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Marcia Cruz-Correa, M.D., Ph.D., at Johns Hopkins and the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine.

“We believe this is the first proof of principle that these substances have significant effects in patients with FAP,” says Giardiello.

Familial adenomatous polyposis is a disorder that runs in families and is characterized by the development of hundreds of colorectal adenomas (polyps) and eventual colon cancer. Recently, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been used to treat some patients with this condition, but these compounds often produce significant side effects, including gastrointestinal ulcerations and bleeding, according to Giardiello.

Previous observational studies in populations that consume large amounts of curry, as well as laboratory research on rodents have strongly suggested that curcumin -- a relatively innocuous yellow pigment extracted from turmeric, the powdered root of the herb curcuma longa and one of the main ingredients in Asian curries -- might be effective in preventing and/or treating cancer in the lower intestine, according to Cruz-Correa. She said curcumin has been given to cancer patients, and previous studies have demonstrated that is well tolerated at high doses.

Similarly, quercetin -- a member of a group of plant-derived polyphenolic anti-oxidant substances known as flavanoids (found in a variety of foods including onions, green tea and red wine) -- has been shown to inhibit growth of colon cancer cell lines in humans and abnormal colorectal cells in rodents.

Although these substances were administered together, due to relative dose levels it is Giardiello’s belief that curcumin is the key agent.

“The amount of quercetin we administered was similar to what many people consume daily; however, the amount of curcumin is many times what a person might ingest in a typical diet, since turmeric only contains on average 3 percent to 5 percent curcumin by weight,” says Giardiello. Because of this, he cautions that simply consuming curry and onions may not have the same effect as was produced in this study.

In the trial, five patients were selected from the Cleveland Clinic in Weston Fla. All patients had previously had their colons surgically removed. Four of the five patients retained the rectums, whereas the remaining patient had both colon and rectum removed and part of the small intestine adapted to serve as colon and rectum. All patients had five or more adenomas in their lower intestinal tract. None of the patients had taken NSAIDS for more than one week during the three months leading up to the study.

Participants were examined using a flexible sigmoidoscope before treatment was initiated and at three month intervals (range three to nine months) during treatment. Number and size of polyps were examined at each visit.

Each patient received 480 milligrams of curcumin and 20 milligrams of quercetin orally three times a day for six months and was told not to use NSAIDs for the duration of the study. Three patients followed treatment as prescribed. One patient did not follow the scheduled treatment doses between months three and six and was continued on therapy until the ninth month. A second patient dropped out of the study after the third month.

A decrease in polyp number was observed in four of the five patients at three months and four of the four patients at six months.

Side effects were minimal. One patient reported slight nausea and sour taste within a couple of hours of taking the pill, which went away within three days, and a second patient had mild diarrhea for five days.

“This study showed for the first time that curcumin treatment was efficacious in decreasing the number of polyps in patients with FAP, similarly to what has been seen with the use of synthetic NSAID agents, but with minimal side effects. Furthermore, we saw that adenomas found in the small intestine of our patients also responded to curcumin,” says Cruz-Correa. She says a randomized clinical trial will be conducted between Johns Hopkins and University of Puerto Rico Comprehensive Cancer Center involving more patients. No date has been set for this trial.

This study was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. Additional researchers who contributed to this study include Daniel A. Shoskes, M.D.; Patricia Sanchez, M.D.; Rhongua Zhao, M.D., Ph.D., and Steven D. Wexner, M. D., of the Cleveland Clinic, Weston, Fla.; and Linda M. Hylind of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

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Chilis are good for Diabetes

Regular consumption of chilli pepper could improve control of insulin levels after eating, helping obese people and diabetics manage their levels, says research from Australia.

Chilli pepper, a rich source of antioxidants, has previously been linked to inhibiting the growth of pancreatic cancer cells, and has been suggested to cut fat and energy intake when added to the diet.

And now researchers from the University of Tasmania have reported the findings of small human trial, which showed that regular consumption of a chilli-containing meal could improve insulin control by about 60 per cent.

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*Atkins it is again*

STANFORD, Calif. — The case for low-carbohydrate diets is gaining weight. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have completed the largest and longest-ever comparison of four popular diets, and the lowest-carbohydrate Atkins diet came out on top.

Of the more than 300 women in the study, those randomly assigned to follow the Atkins diet for a year not only lost more weight than the other participants, but also experienced the most benefits in terms of cholesterol and blood pressure.

“Many health professionals, including us, have either dismissed the value of very-low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss or been very skeptical of them,” said lead researcher Christopher Gardner, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. “But it seems to be a viable alternative for dieters.”

The results are published in the March 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The 311 pre-menopausal, non-diabetic, overweight women in the study were randomly assigned to follow either the Atkins, Zone, LEARN or Ornish diet. Researchers chose the four diets to represent the full spectrum of low- to high-carbohydrate diets.

The Atkins diet, popularized by the 2001 republication of Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, represents the lowest carbohydrate diet. The Zone diet, also low-carbohydrate, focuses on a 40:30:30 ratio of carbohydrates to protein to fat, a balance said to minimize fat storage and hunger. The LEARN (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships and Nutrition) diet follows national guidelines reflected in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid—low in fat and high in carbohydrates. The Ornish diet, based on bestseller Eat More, Weigh Less by Dean Ornish, is very high in carbohydrates and extremely low in fat.

Study participants in all four groups attended weekly diet classes for the first eight weeks of the study and each received a book outlining the specific diet to which they were assigned. For the remaining 10 months of the study, the women’s weight and metabolism were regularly checked, and random phone calls monitored what they were eating.

One of the strengths of the $2 million study was that this setup mimicked real-world conditions, Gardner said. Women in the study had to prepare or buy all their own meals, and not everyone followed the diets exactly as the books laid out, just as in real life.

At the end of a year, the 77 women assigned to the Atkins group had lost an average of 10.4 pounds. Those assigned to LEARN lost 5.7 pounds, the Ornish followers lost 4.8 pounds and women on the Zone lost 3.5 pounds, on average. In all four groups, however, some participants lost up to 30 pounds.

After 12 months, women following the Atkins diet, relative to at least one of the other groups, had larger decreases in body mass index, triglycerides and blood pressure; their high-density lipoprotein, the good kind of cholesterol, increased more than the women on the other diets.

Gardner has several ideas for why the Atkins diet had the overall best results. The first is the simplicity of the diet. “It’s a very simple message,” he said. “Get rid of all refined carbohydrates to lose weight.” This message directly targets a major concern with the American diet right now—the increasing consumption of refined sugars in many forms, such as high-fructose corn syrup.

Beyond pinpointing this high sugar intake, the Atkins diet does the best at encouraging people to drink more water, said Gardner. And when people replace sweetened beverages with water, they don’t generally eat more food; they simply consume fewer calories over the course of the day.

The third theory Gardner offered as to why the Atkins diet was more successful is that it is not just a low-carbohydrate diet, but also a higher protein diet. “Protein is more satiating than carbohydrates or fats, which may have helped those in the Atkins group to eat less without feeling hungry,” he said.

Although the Atkins group led in terms of the average number of pounds lost, this group also gained back more weight in the second half of the study than those in the three other groups. Gardner also noted that the women in the Atkins group had lost an average of almost 13 pounds after six months, but ended the one-year period with a final overall average loss of 10 pounds.

Though critics of low-carbohydrate diets say that such diets can lead to health problems, none of the factors measured in this study was worse for the Atkins group. Gardner cautions, however, that there are potential long-term health problems that could not have been identified in a 12-month study. Also, several basic vitamins and minerals can be difficult to get in adequate amounts from a very-low-carbohydrate diet.

In the long run, Gardner hopes to use the large data set generated in this study to investigate why different diets might work better for different people. “We’re trying to see if we can learn more about the factors that predict success and failure with weight loss,” he said.

Regardless of what new insights are revealed, Gardner said the message he hopes people take from the study is the importance of eliminating from their diet, as much as possible, refined carbohydrates such as white bread and soda.

Gardner’s co-authors were Alexandre Kiazand, MD, postdoctoral scholar; Sofiya Alhassan, PhD, postdoctoral scholar; Soowon Kim, PhD, data analyst; Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine; Raymond Balise, PhD, statistical programmer; Helena Kraemer, PhD, professor of biostatistics; and Abby King, PhD, professor of health research and policy and of medicine.

The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, and a grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

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The Science of Appetite
Human beings have always had a complicated relationship with food. Staying alive from day to day requires our bodies to keep a lot of systems running just so, but most of them—circulatory, respiratory, neurological, endocrine—operate automatically. Eating is different. Like sex, it's a voluntary thing. And like sex, it's a sine qua non to keep the species going. So nature cleverly rigs the game, making sure we pursue them both by making sure we can't resist them. In the case of food, that has lately spelled trouble. Human history has usually been characterized by too little to eat rather than too much. Nature never planned for what could happen when unchecked appetites were suddenly matched by unchecked resources. But we're seeing it now.

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The fat of our cooking oil: How government regulations are deliberately compromising our health and our bodies

* Results of CSE laboratory study on cooking oils released. Study looks at major brands in the market. Reveals some unpalatable facts about fat

* Finds high levels of dangerous trans fats in all samples of vanaspati oils

* Sub-committee of health ministry accepts that trans fats unhealthy and wants standards set urgently. But health ministry gives in to industry pressure – no standard is set. Instead, allows companies to label and get away

* Study finds oil companies can make claims about health benefits which cannot be substantiated, because we have no real regulator for our health

New Delhi, February 3, 2009: How ‘healthy’ is the oil that you are eating? Despite tall claims by companies and manufacturers, the stark truth is that you can never tell. In fact, the oil that you eat believing it to be the best for your health, could probably be swimming with trans fats, which could lead to heart diseases and cancer. Or its claims to health benefits could be plain misinformation – and you would never know, as there is no way of counter-checking these claims.

And all this happens because food regulatory bodies in India just have no stomach for setting stricter standards – for the product or for the health claims on its labels.

This is the finding of a latest laboratory study by the Delhi-based research and advocacy organisation, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). CSE had, earlier, published its findings on pesticides in bottled water, soft drinks and other products.

Trans fats in our oils: what the study found

CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Lab tested 30 samples of branded oil widely available in the market. The total fatty acid profile (saturated and unsaturated) comprising 37 components and nine trans fats was analysed. The samples comprised vegetable oils such as soybean, sunflower, mustard and coconut, partially hydrogenated (vanaspati) oils, desi ghee and butter. They were tested according to the internationally used methodology of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) for fatty acids analysis (Method 969.33 Fatty acids in Oils and Fats).

The tests found that in all vanaspati brands, trans fat levels were five to 12 times higher than the world’s only standard for trans fats in oil, set in Denmark, at 2 per cent of the total oil.

The level ranged from 23.7 per cent in the case of ‘Panghat’ (a Mawana Sugar brand) and 23.31 per cent in the case of ‘Raag’ (an Adani Wilmar Ltd brand). Interestingly, the lowest trans fats level was found in desi ghee of Milk Foods Ltd and in Amul butter – 3.73 per cent (see graph).

It is now well understood in the world of food science that trans fats are found in cooking oil because of the industrial process of hydrogenation, which industry prefers because it can sell oils that have longer shelf life and are easier to use.

But trans fats are deadly for health. They are especially bad for the heart, as they reduce the amount of good cholesterol (HDL). They can increase the risk of infertility in women, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. French researchers have even connected them to breast cancer. It is for this reason that all across the world, trans fats in oil are indicted and are being banned or tightly regulated. After Denmark, most US states have taken the decision to ban or restrict trans fats in food in restaurants.

India’s regulatory malady

What is shocking, find CSE researchers, is that even while our food regulators have accepted trans fats as a serious health concern, they are delaying setting the standard, presumably under pressure from the edible oil industry. This is particularly strange, as “today our oil and food industry is in the hands of big multinationals who meet these standards in other parts of the world.” As a result, India has no regulation to check the content of trans fats in oil.

In 2004, the Union health ministry’s Oils and Fats Sub-committee, under the Central Committee for Food Standards, begun discussions on a standard for trans fats. In January 2008, the sub-committee forwarded its recommendations to the Central committee for standards. But the Central committee is still awaiting more data and information. This procrastination means while there are no legal standards, companies are literally getting away with murder.

Instead of standards, in September 2008, the Union ministry issued a notification for labelling of trans fats on oil and food. So today, oil companies get away by giving the composition in a range: Rath vanaspati, for instance, says its package has 8-33 per cent trans fats. This would mean that the product has 15 times higher trans fats than the Danish standard. This makes a complete mockery of the science of food regulations.

Says Sunita Narain, director, CSE: “If you consider what the Union ministry of health has issued in the name of labelling nutrition facts and you will know how our food is at risk. It literally allows companies to get away with anything – as long as it is on the label. This is just not acceptable.”

Other oils: high on hype, low on facts

The other brands tested did not have trans fats but were still very far from the ‘perfect healthcare solution’ that most of them claimed to be. In fact, the study has found that it is impossible to say with certainty which oil is the best. Manufacturers claim advantages which just cannot be adequately cross-checked and verified.

For instance, while sunflower oil, rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFA, claims to be excellent for the heart, it is low on omega 3; recent research says that it is omega 3 which prevents ischemic heart diseases. Similarly, canola or rapeseed oil, touted to be “as healthy as olive oil”, has been blasted by a large number of studies for being unhealthy for the cardiovascular system and for retarding growth.

The study finds that if all oils are compared against the WHO recommendation, then no single oil in the market can claim to be healthy. For instance, the WHO says that the ratio of PUFA and saturated fatty acids in oil should be between 0.8-1. It also recommends that the ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 should be between 5-10. None of the tested oils, including the much touted healthy brands, meet these standards – says the CSE study.

In this existing climate of misinformation and half-baked information, nutritionists recommend “the best oil is one used in moderation and switched frequently to get the maximum nutrition value.”

Clearly, the matter of food is too serious to be ignored by our regulators, says CSE. We need stringent standards and tough enforcement so that companies cannot take us and our food for a ride. This is a matter of our bodies.

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SO what should we do??Can't stop using oil ,cud reduce it though,but still ....

I had just started adding dash of Amul Shudh Ghee in my 7 yr old's parathas,koki,kutti etc.So that he could gain some weight and strengthen his bones(he is too skinny despite of eating proper meals .....he eats every vegetable and dal that is cooked at home).Now after reading all this, I am hell confused as what shud I do?

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I dont think one should take it so seriously, these findings make frequent reversals. Most of the transfats are to be found in Dalda like formulations aka Vanaspati.

Take a further look here and then decide what's best. Or least worse.

Fatty acids sampler.

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I've been noticing more and more chefs on Food Network TV encouraging the use of butter vs. margarine.. I think Alton Brown was advocating the other day......

Butter vs. margarine: Which is better for my heart?


Margarine usually tops butter when it comes to heart health.

Margarine is made from vegetable oils, so it contains no cholesterol. Margarine is also higher in "good" fats — polyunsaturated and monounsaturated — than butter is. These types of fat help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad," cholesterol, when substituted for saturated fat. Butter, on the other hand, is made from animal fat, so it contains cholesterol and high levels of saturated fat.

But not all margarines are created equal — and some may even be worse than butter. Most margarines are processed using a method called hydrogenation, which results in unhealthy trans fats.

Butter vs. Margarine

I am still confused over the age-old controversy "butter vs. margarine." Which is better for me to eat?

I can certainly understand your frustration, especially when you are trying your best to follow a heart-healthy diet. Let's look at why butter and margarine both get a bad rap. First let's look at butter. The problem with butter is that it contains two cholesterol-raising ingredients: dietary cholesterol and saturated fat. Dietary cholesterol is found only in animal products so you won't find any cholesterol in a plant-based food or food product (such as margarine). Some of us are more affected by cholesterol in the diet than others, meaning some people can consume a diet high in cholesterol without blood cholesterol levels being affected; but others need only eat a little dietary cholesterol and their cholesterol levels soar. Overall, it is recommended that healthy persons consume no more than 200 milligrams cholesterol each day. Butter has 33 milligrams of cholesterol in one tablespoon alone!

From TIME.. (1948?):,794217,00.html

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I dont think one should take it so seriously, these findings make frequent reversals.

You know, I'm no scientist nor even a gourmet just a plain 'ol hardcore foodie :P , but that sent me thinking about other things that we have been told that are bad for our health, and have been reversed by the same folks. Yeah, yeah, not the "same" folks but their ilk. Imagine all the good food I've missed out on account of these proclamations and then reversals ( at this stage, I pause, and ask myself: "Can I sue?$$". But, won't, no patience. So don't tempt. ;) ).

Case in point, I was always told that "Itna mirchi khate ho, mar jaoge! ;) " , "Spices are bad for your health :) " etc., etc., etc.,

And now I'm told that chillies are actually good for you:

Chilli Willi ( some veggie naughty content warning )

Someone needs to get their act straight, na?



(Copied from:

All fruits and vegetables offer outstanding health benefits. Nutritional research shows

that each one contains its own set of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other

important nutrients. To get the maximum health benefits, experts recommend eating a

variety of fruits and vegetables along with other natural foods.

Edited by Sekhar

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