Blog | Sunday, November 9, 2008

What to eat...and not to eat

New Orleans is an eatin' town, so it's apt that a slew of research is being presented on nutrition and heart health. Here's the scoop:

--Vegetables, soy, wine, green/black tea and fish. People who ate these things were less likely to have left ventricular dysfunction than those who ate processed meat/cheese and added fats. (researcher: Longjian Liu, MD)

--Non-soy legumes, like pinto beans, chickpeas and navy beans. Eat a bunch of these and there's a good chance your LDL will drop. (researcher: Lydia A.L. Bazzano, MD)

--Hibiscus tea, if you're mildly hypertensive (129+ systolic). You'll have to drink three cups a day, but if you follow the path of those studied, your systolic BP will drop 7.2 points in six weeks. (researcher: Diane McKay, PhD)

--Folic acid. People who took 2 mg/day along with 1 mg of Vitamin B12 had no extra risk of cancer or other adverse events. They weren't protected against CVD, either-- which was kind of a bummer, since the researchers hoped the B12 would lower homocystine levels and thus CVD risk. But at least the fortified bread is safe. (researcher: Dr. Jane Armitage)

--Fruits and veggies. "Well, duh", you say. What's fairly new in this study is the finding that, for each portion of fruit or vegetable, blood flow in hypertensive folks improved about 6%. So if your patients won't do it for the all the other reasons there are to eat healthfully, hit 'em with the vascular argument! (researcher: Damian McCall, PhD)

--Vitamins E and C... at least if you're doing so to avoid heart problems. The 14,641-subject Physician's Health Study found neither supplement protects against cardiovascular disease when taken separately. Sure, antioxidants have been studied to death, but this study was large and long-term, with an average follow-up of 8 years. (researcher: J. Michael Gaziano, MD)

--Animal and industrial trans fats, which seems fairly obvious. Whether the source is animal or man-made, these acids give you a double shot of nastiness, raising your LDL and lowering your HDL in one fell swoop. (researcher: Ingeborg Brouwer, PhD)

No word yet on the healthful properties of jambalaya and gumbo.