Tag Archives: heart disease

High protein diet may increase heart failure risk in middle-aged men – AHA

For middle-aged men, eating higher amounts of protein was associated with a slightly elevated risk for heart failure than those who ate less protein, according to new research in Circulation: Heart Failure, an American Heart Association journal.

Despite the popularity of high protein diets, there is little research about how diets high in protein might impact men’s heart failure risk.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“As many people seem to take the health benefits of high-protein diets for granted, it is important to make clear the possible risks and benefits of these diets,” said Jyrki Virtanen, Ph.D., study author and an adjunct professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio. “Earlier studies had linked diets high in protein – especially from animal sources — with increased risks of Type 2 diabetes and even death.” Continue reading

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Filed under American Heart Association, coronary heart disease, diabetes, heart, heart problems, plant protein, protein

Exercise trumps genetics when it comes to heart disease

This is a case of the more the merrier as far as I am concerned. Eat less; move more; live longer is the mantra of this blog. And here, we have fresh research extolling the virtues of exercise in preventing heart disease.

Exercise, especially cardio fitness, could outweigh genetics when it comes to heart disease, according to new research.

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The study, published in the journal Circulation, showed strength and cardiorespiratory fitness lowered the risk for heart disease across the board – whether people were categorized with low, intermediate or high genetic risk.

“Genes don’t have to determine destiny,” said Dr. Erik Ingelsson, lead study author and professor of medicine at Stanford University. “You can impact your risk by being more fit.”

I can’t say it enough times – take responsibility for your health. Don’t be blaming problems on your genes.

The study examined 482,702 people in England, Scotland and Wales who participated in the UK Biobank, an international research project that recruited participants between ages 40 and 69 years old from 2006 to 2010. Researchers followed those who didn’t have any signs of heart disease for about a decade. They tracked activity and exercise through questionnaires, grip strength measurements and other tests.

“It’s was a very consistent pattern for all of these different measures,” according to Ingelsson, who said he believes it is the largest such study. “All were associated with lower risk of disease in the future.”

Researchers specifically investigated the genetic profiles for those at highest risk for coronary heart disease and a heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation, or AFib. Those at the highest risk who also had the highest levels of cardiorespiratory fitness – conducted through oxygen and effort measurements on a stationary bicycle – cut their coronary heart disease risk by 49 percent and their AFib risk by 60 percent.

The research is important – and timely, said Dr. Russell Pate, a professor in the University of South Carolina’s Department of Exercise Science in the Arnold School of Public Health.

“They’ve demonstrated that physical activity and fitness were associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease outcomes across a continuum of persons,” Pate said. “For the public, that’s an important message. You can’t eliminate genetic risk, but you can absolutely attenuate the effects.”

Pate just finished a term on a committee that writes the federal Physical Activity Guidelines. The group’s advisory report was released last month and will be the foundation for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ policy recommendations on how physical activity can promote health and reduce the risk of disease. The advisory group’s recommendations have a chapter emphasizing the importance of exercise with people who have chronic conditions.

The latest research is “added ammunition in making the case that promotion of physical activity deserves a prominent place in public health,” Pate said.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world, though there are proven ways to lower risk. People often hear about risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and excess weight. Now, the expanding field of genetics can provide more information, Pate said.

“We’re in a new era in terms of people being able to know their risk status,” he said. “We can now provide information at a new and higher level.”

Ingelsson and the study authors suggested it could lead to individualized strength-training and aerobic programs to help people counteract their genetic risk for heart disease.

But one important question to answer, and a potential future area of study, Ingelsson said, is whether that knowledge truly is power. If we know that lifestyle choices like exercise could offset our genetic risk for disease, how likely are we to start that healthier lifestyle?

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Filed under cardio exercise, Exercise, exercise benefits, heart, heart disease

Current trends point to more than half of U.S. children suffering from obesity as adults – Harvard

If current trends in child obesity continue, more than 57 percent of today’s children in the U.S. will have obesity at age 35, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study also found that excess weight in childhood is predictive of adult obesity, even among young children, and that only children currently at a healthy weight have less than a 50 percent chance of having obesity as adults. The findings were based on a rigorous simulation model that provides the most accurate predictions to date of obesity prevalence at various ages.

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The study was published in the November 30, 2017 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Adult obesity is linked with increased risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer,” said Zachary Ward, programmer/analyst at Harvard Chan School’s Center for Health Decision Science and lead author of the study. “Our findings highlight the importance of prevention efforts for all children as they grow up, and of providing early interventions for children with obesity to minimize their risk of serious illness in the future.” (my emphasis) Continue reading

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Obesity is common, serious and costly – CDC

I have written about the dangers of obesity almost more times than I can remember, yet it remains a nightmare for us. As we tell our children over and over – actions have consequences. When will we learn that everything we eat and drink becomes a part of us. We don’t just get to enjoy the taste with no physical effects afterwards.

    • More than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults have obesity. [Read CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data brief PDF-704KB]
    • Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death. [Read guidelines]
    • The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who have obesity were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. [Read summary]

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Obesity affects some groups more than others Continue reading

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Harvard says, ‘Nuts to you’ – for heart health

I am fortunate in that I like nuts in all manner and form. Always have. So, nuts are an integral part of my daily diet.

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Many people think of nuts as just another junk food snack. In reality, nuts are excellent sources of healthy fat, protein, and other healthful nutrients.

One surprising finding from nutrition research is that people who regularly eat nuts are less likely to have heart attacks or die from heart disease than those who rarely eat them. Several of the largest cohort studies, including the Adventist Study, the Iowa Women’s Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, and the Physicians’ Health Study have shown a consistent 30 percent to 50 percent lower risk of myocardial infarction, sudden cardiac death, or cardiovascular disease associated with eating nuts several times a week. In fact, the FDA now allows some nuts and foods made with them to carry this claim: “Eating a diet that includes one ounce of nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease.” Continue reading

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Plant-based diet yields cardiometabolic health benefits -MNT

I was a vegetarian in my younger days. I lasted for about five years. In those days, there wasn’t the same level of consciousness or acceptance of this kind of diet that there is now. Although I left vegetarianism, I have continued to limit the amount of red meat I consume. I also eat a lot of fish and seeds and nuts for protein sources.

Medical News Today reports that plant-based eating patterns continue to soar in popularity and a group of nutrition researchers outline the science behind this sustainable trend in a review paper, entitled “Cardiometabolic benefits of plant-based diets,” which appears as an online advance in Nutrients. The review will publish in a future special edition, entitled “The Science of Vegetarian Nutrition and Health.”

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The review outlines how a plant-based diet, which is naturally low in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and rich in nutrients, like fiber and antioxidants, could be one tool, in addition to adopting a healthful lifestyle, used to improve nutrition intake and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

 

The authors, Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., and Neal Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C., analyzed clinical research studies and reviews published until May 2017. Their research finds a plant-based diet, built around vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, can improve nutrient intake and help manage body weight and glycemic control, improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reverse atherosclerosis, or the narrowing of the arteries caused by the accumulation of arterial plaque.

“The future of health care starts on our plates,” says Dr. Kahleova, the lead study author and the director of clinical research at the nonprofit Physicians Committee. “The science clearly shows food is medicine, which is a powerful message for physicians to pass on to their patients and for policymakers to consider as they propose modifications for health care reform and discuss potential amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill.”

To understand the health benefits of a plant-based diet, the researchers analyze its structure:

Fiber

Fiber contributes to bulk in the diet without adding digestible calories, thus leading to satiety and weight loss. Additionally, soluble fiber binds with bile acids in the small intestines, which helps reduce cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar.

Plant-Based Rx: Aim to eat at least 35 grams of dietary fiber a day. The average American consumes 16 grams of dietary fiber each day.

Fats

Plant-based diets are lower in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats can increase insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Plant-Based Rx: Swap meat and dairy products, oils, and high-fat processed foods for smaller portions of plant staples, like a few avocado slices or a small handful of nuts and seeds, which are rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

Plant Protein

Vegetable proteins reduce the concentrations of blood lipids, reduce the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease, and may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.

Plant-Based Rx: Legumes, or lentils, beans, and peas, are naturally rich in protein and fiber. Try topping leafy green salads with lentils, black beans, edamame, or chickpeas.

Plant Sterols

Plant sterols that have a structure similar to that of cholesterol reduce cardiovascular disease risk and mortality, have anti-inflammatory effects, and positively affect coagulation, platelet function and endothelial function, which helps reduce blood clots, increases blood flow, and stabilizes glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Plant-Based Rx: Consume a high intake of antioxidants and micronutrients, including plant sterols, from whole plant foods, like vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, beans, and seeds. A plant-based diet supports cardio-metabolic benefits through several independent mechanisms. The synergistic effect of whole plant foods may be greater than a mere additional effect of eating isolated nutrients.

“To make significant health changes, we have to make significant diet changes,” concludes Dr. Kahleova. “A colorful plant-based diet works well for anyone, whether you’re an athlete looking to boost energy, performance, and recovery by enabling a higher efficiency of blood flow, which equates to oxygen conversion, or if you’re a physician who wants to help patients lose extra weight, lower blood pressure, and improve their cholesterol.”

Dr. Kahleova and the study authors recommend using a plant-based diet as an effective tool to treat and prevent cardiometaoblic disease, which they would like to see promoted through future dietary guidelines and nutrition policy recommendations.

Continue reading

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15 health benefits of pomegranate juice

I have to confess a great deal of ignorance when it comes to the pomegranate. I haven’t had one in years. I have had some of the juice the comes in very cool shaped bottles.

Today, pomegranate juice is being studied for its many health benefits. It may help with cancer prevention, immune support, and fertility.

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Here are some of the potential benefits of pomegranate, according to Medical News Today.

1. Antioxidants

Pomegranate seeds get their vibrant red hue from polyphenols. These chemicals are powerful antioxidants.

Pomegranate juice contains higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruit juices. It also has three times more antioxidants than red wine and green tea. The antioxidants in pomegranate juice can help remove free radicals, protect cells from damage, and reduce inflammation.

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Filed under Alzheimer's disease, anti inflammatory, anti oxidant, arthritis, pomegranate juice, Vitamin C

What happens after you quit smoking: A timeline

As regular readers know, I feel strongly that smoking is an unmitigated blight on our lives. We lose over 170,000 people to it every year – just in lung cancer alone – totally preventable. To be honest, I am surprised that anyone who can read would choose to be a smoker. Nonetheless, it is so. I have a Page on it – How many ways does smoking harm you?   which I recommend you check out after reading this.

I am reproducing what follows from Medical News Today because I like the way they spell out positive aspects of ceasing smoking. Jenna Fletcher wrote it.

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Cigarette smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States. Despite this, some smokers find quitting daunting. They think it will take a very long time before seeing improvements in their health and well-being.

However, the timeline for seeing real benefits to quitting smoking is much faster than most people realize. Health benefits begin in as little as an hour after the last cigarette and continue to improve. Continue reading

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How Trans fats affect the blood – Study

Make sure you are clear on what trans fats actually are. Here is how Wikipedia describes trans fats, “Trans fats, or trans-unsaturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, are a type of unsaturated fat that occur in small amounts in nature but became widely produced industrially from vegetable fats for use in margarine, snack food, packaged baked goods and frying fast food starting in the 1950s. Trans fat has been shown to consistently be associated, in an intake-dependent way, with increased risk of coronary heart disease, a leading cause of death in Western nations.

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“In 2003 the World Health Organisation recommended that trans fats make up no more than 1% of a person’s diet.  In 2013, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils (which contain trans fats) are not “generally recognized as safe“, which was expected to lead to a ban on industrially produced trans fats from the American diet.  On 16 June 2015, the FDA finalized its determination that trans fats are not generally recognized as safe, and set a three-year time limit for their removal from all processed foods.”

Tohoku University researchers have found that trans-fatty acids promote cell death in a more direct manner than previously thought, leading to the development of atherosclerosis, a major cause of heart attacks and strokes.

Trans-fatty acids are unsaturated fatty acids produced as by-products during food manufacturing. Trans-fatty acid consumption is strongly linked to atherosclerosis, an inflammatory disease in which plaque clogs arteries. Atherosclerosis is a major cause of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. Continue reading

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Beware of blue light at night – Harvard

Sleep, like walking, is one of the critical elements of good health very commonly not appreciated by the man on the street. I have a Page – How important is a good night’s sleep with a ton of information on it.

Here is some valuable info from the Harvard Health Letter on getting a good night’s sleep.

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Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted.

But we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. (My emphasis)

But not all colors of light have the same effect. Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.

Daily rhythms influenced by light

Everyone has slightly different circadian rhythms, but the average length is 24 and one-quarter hours. The circadian rhythm of people who stay up late is slightly longer, while the rhythms of earlier birds fall short of 24 hours. Dr. Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School showed, in 1981, that daylight keeps a person’s internal clock aligned with the environment.

The health risks of nighttime light

Study after study has linked working the night shift and exposure to light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It’s not exactly clear why nighttime light exposure seems to be so bad for us. But we do know that exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms, and there’s some experimental evidence (it’s very preliminary) that lower melatonin levels might explain the association with cancer.

A Harvard study shed a little bit of light on the possible connection to diabetes and possibly obesity. The researchers put 10 people on a schedule that gradually shifted the timing of their circadian rhythms. Their blood sugar levels increased, throwing them into a prediabetic state, and levels of leptin, a hormone that leaves people feeling full after a meal, went down.

Even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. A mere eight lux—a level of brightness exceeded by most table lamps and about twice that of a night light—has an effect, notes Stephen Lockley, a Harvard sleep researcher. Light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep, says Lockley, and researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

The power of the blues

While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night does so more powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).

In another study of blue light, researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of people exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light–blocking goggles to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles. The fact that the levels of the hormone were about the same in the two groups strengthens the hypothesis that blue light is a potent suppressor of melatonin. It also suggests that shift workers and night owls could perhaps protect themselves if they wore eyewear that blocks blue light. Inexpensive sunglasses with orange-tinted lenses block blue light, but they also block other colors, so they’re not suitable for use indoors at night. Glasses that block out only blue light can cost up to $80.

Less-blue light

If blue light does have adverse health effects, then environmental concerns, and the quest for energy-efficient lighting, could be at odds with personal health. Those curlicue compact fluorescent lightbulbs and LED lights are much more energy-efficient than the old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs we grew up with. But they also tend to produce more blue light.

The physics of fluorescent lights can’t be changed, but coatings inside the bulbs can be so they produce a warmer, less blue light. LED lights are more efficient than fluorescent lights, but they also produce a fair amount of light in the blue spectrum. Richard Hansler, a light researcher at John Carroll University in Cleveland, notes that ordinary incandescent lights also produce some blue light, although less than most fluorescent lightbulbs.

What you can do

  • Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
  • Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
  • If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength at night.
  • Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.When I work on my computer late at night, I always wear a pair of blue blocker sunglasses. You can buy them on Amazon for under $20. I have no problems getting to sleep.

    Tony

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Filed under good night's sleep, harvard health letter, Harvard Medical School, sleep, sleep deprivation

Physical activity provides big boost to seniors with heart disease – AHA

So often the answer to any health question comes back to exercise – physical activity. Eat less; move more; live longer remains the mantra of this blog. From the following, the American Heart Association (AHA) seems to agree.

  • Improving physical function among older adults with heart disease helps heart health and even the oldest have a better quality of life and greater independence.
  • Healthcare providers should emphasize cardiac rehabilitation when appropriate and provide individualized guidance on increasing daily physical activities for older patients with heart disease.

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Improving physical activity among older adults with heart disease benefits their heart health, independence and quality of life, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

Physical activity helps reduce heart disease symptoms for patients with heart failure, heart attacks and stroke, and it also helps to improve the age-related erosions of strength, balance, and reduces frailty that particularly affect older heart patients. It is important part of care for the growing population of older adults with heart disease.

“Many healthcare providers are focused only on the medical management of diseases, such as heart failure, heart attacks, valvular heart disease and strokes, without directly focusing on helping patients maximize their physical function,” said Daniel E. Forman, M.D., the geriatric cardiologist who chaired the American Heart Association panel that drafted the new statement. Continue reading

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Heart disease and brain health linked – Harvard

I have written time and again about the link between exercise and brain health. The Harvard Heart Letter has a nice post on how heart disease and brain health are tied together.

“Just like in the rest of your body, advancing years can take a toll on your brain function. Much of this slowing down is predictable and can be chalked up to normal aging. However, when thinking skills become increasingly fuzzy and forgetfulness gets to be a way of life, an early form of dementia known as mild cognitive impairment may be setting in,” so writes Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter.

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“Often, the first reaction is to attribute these changes to the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease. But blood flow problems may be to blame, as well. “An estimated one-third of all cases of dementia, including those identified as Alzheimer’s, can be attributed to vascular factors,” says Dr. Albert Hofman, chair of the department of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Continue reading

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Filed under blood pressure, coronary heart disease, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, heart, heart disease, heart health brain health, stroke

Vitamin D – Do you get enough?

Vitamin D is considered by some to be the rock star of the vitamin world. To read further on its benefits check out: Vitamin D and Cognitive Function, Vitamin D Deficiency May be Linked to Heart Disease, Vitamin D Deficiency May Compromise Immune Function, Calcium and Vitamin D Help Hormones Help Bones, Vitamin D Improves Mood and Blood Pressure in Women with Diabetes, Vitamin D and Your Body – Harvard, What are the ABC’s of Vitamins?

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Tony

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Lack of fresh food choices linked to signs of early heart disease – AHA

It seems that while our reliance on fast foods and processed foods might be saving us some time, in the long run it is costing us dearly.

A lack of access to nearby stores selling fresh food may increase residents’ risk of developing the signs of early heart disease, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) journal Circulation.

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“The lack of healthy food stores may help explain why people in these neighborhoods have more heart disease,” said Jeffrey Wing, Ph.D., M.P.H., co-lead author and assistant professor in the Department of Public Health at Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan. “The thought is that greater access to healthier foods may have promoted healthier diets and, in turn, less coronary plaque formation.”

Study results point to a need for greater awareness of the potential health threat posed by living in neighborhoods with scarce healthy grocery options. Continue reading

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Increased weekly exercise levels linked to lower risk of 5 chronic diseases

Must say that I love it when the news meets my bias. So, the story from The BMJ today was particularly satisfying.

Higher levels of total physical activity are strongly associated with lower risk of five common chronic diseases – breast and bowel cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, finds a study in The BMJ today.

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Many studies have shown the health benefits of physical activity. This has led the World Health Organization (WHO) to recommend a minimum total physical activity level of 600 metabolic equivalent (MET) minutes a week across different ‘domains’ of daily life. Continue reading

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6 Health Reasons To Eat Spicy Foods More Often

It’s interesting to learn how spices affect our bodies as well as our taste buds.

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Tony

Our Better Health

Many people from different cultures and backgrounds worldwide have a special place in their hearts for spicy foods, and it turns out that these foods don’t only taste great, but provide wonderful health benefits as well.

Although everyone prefers a different level of spice in their foods, it doesn’t actually matter how much your food burns your tongue, but what type of spice you use in your cooking. Spices can serve as wonderful alternatives to medicines and other conventional healing modalities, and have been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments, including aches and pains. Many spices have antimicrobial properties, which explains why they make wonderful alternative remedies.

“Studies show that many different herbs and spices offer health benefits,” says David Heber, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, and director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. Much of the existing evidence supports use of cinnamon, chili…

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