Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Red Grapefruit Could Reduce Cholesterol

A recent study on dietary interventions aimed at lowering cholesterol divided participants into three groups. Each group consumed the same diet, except that one ate one red grapefruit daily, the second ate one white grapefruit, and the third ate no grapefruit at all. After only one month, there were no differences in the heart rate, blood pressure or weight of the three groups. Antioxidant activity in both white and red groups was increased compared with the group that ate no grapefruit. But the group that ate red grapefruit every day also had significantly decreased blood levels of triglycerides. Although it is common knowledge that grapefruit and other citrus fruits contain antioxidants that help control lipid levels, the researchers can't explain what components of red grapefruit make it so much more effective than other varieties.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Low-Fat Diet Debunked by Study

For years doctors have sung the praises of a low-fat diet. While it makes sense on the surface, an eight-year study that tracked 49,000 women aged 50-79, seems to suggest otherwise. Regardless of whether participants were assigned to low-fat diet or left to their own devices to eat what they pleased, they experienced the same rate of heart disease and cancer. While the $415 million research was deemed "the Rolls Royce of studies," some doctors speculate that the study did not go far enough in terms of measuring the benefits of a low-fat diet. One criticism is that the study should have targeted younger women. Another is that the percentage of fat in the low-fat diets should have been kept lower than 24-29%. Finally, some nutrition experts claim that it's less about the amount of fat in your diet and more about the type. Either way, it's clear that the more we study the link between diet and disease, the less we really know.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Alternative Medicine's Growing Attraction

Whether taking herbal remedies to prevent a cold or traveling to Mexico for alternative cancer care, as the late Coretta Scott King did, Americans spend $27 billion annually on complementary medicine. According to The New York Times, the increase has as much to do with the increasing distrust of mainstream medicine as with the therapeutic properties of herbs or other supplements.