Enlightened Diet: Healing Foods for Summer

Enlightened Diet: Healing Foods for Summer

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How coffee protects against diabetes, tomatoes fight vascular disease, and berries reduce the risk of Parkinson’s.

How Coffee Protects Against Diabetes

When we think of ways to prevent Type 2 diabetes, we typically think of losing weight, exercising, avoiding processed foods, and eating more whole foods and fiber. But here’s a surprising step that may cut one’s risk in half: drinking four cups of coff ee each day. University of California researchers report that coffee’s protective effect lies in a protein called sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). This protein is known to regulate the biological activity of the body’s sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen, which have long been thought to play a role in the development of Type 2 diabetes. Coffee consumption, it turns out, increases levels of SHBG in the blood. For the study, the researchers identifi ed 359 women who’d just been diagnosed with diabetes and matched them by age and race with 359 healthy female controls. in testing the women’s SHBG levels and looking at their coffee consumption, the researchers found that the more coffee was consumed, the lower the risk of developing diabetes. The researchers concluded that women who drink at least four cups of coffee a day are less than half as likely to develop diabetes as non-coffee drinkers. interestingly, decaffeinated coffee did not offer the same protective effect.

Fight Vascular Diseases With Tomatoes

Wondering what to do with all those tomatoes pouring out of your garden? eat them! lots of them! rich in antioxidants, tomatoes have been proven to help prevent cancer, cataracts, and other chronic diseases, and Japanese researchers are now adding another health benefi t to the fruit’s already impressive list. Tomatoes, they report, contain a nutrient that could tackle the onset of vascular disease. The nutrient, called 9-oxo-octadecadienoic acid, has antidyslipidemic effects, meaning it counteracts abnormal lipid amounts in the bloodstream, such as excess cholesterol or fats from the foods we eat. What makes this discovery especially important is the fact that dyslipidemia, or vascular disease, usually causes no symptoms but can lead to symptomatic diseases like arteriosclerosis and cirrhosis. A good way to prevent dyslipidemia is to prevent an increased buildup of lipids in the blood. The researchers concluded, “Finding a compound which helps the prevention of obesity-related chronic diseases in foodstuffs is a great advantage to tackling these diseases. it means that the tomato allows people to easily manage the onset of dyslipidemia through their daily diet.” (Wiley – Blackwell, Jan. 2011)

How Berries Reduce the Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

Nothing says summer like the taste of fresh, sweet berries which, according to a study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, offer an unexpected health benefit. Men and women who eat berries on a regular basis, the researchers report, may have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Men, they add, may also further lower their risk if they include other fruits in their diet, such as apples and oranges. The study involved 49,281 men and 80,336 women who answered dietary questionnaires, which the researchers then analyzed to calculate an individual’s daily intake of flavonoids — potent antioxidants found in berries and other foods, such as tea, red wine, chocolate, and citrus fruit. The participants were followed for 20 to 22 years, during which some developed Parkinson’s disease.

In men, the top 20 percent who consumed the most flavonoids were about 40 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s than the bottom 20 percent of male participants who consumed the least amount of the antioxidant. in women, the researchers found at first no relationship between overall flavonoid consumption and the disease. But when they looked at the women’s consumption of sub-classes of flavonoids, specifically anthocyanins from berries, women, too, were found to have a lower risk of Parkinson’s. The study was supported by the national institutes of Health.

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