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J Nutrition Apr, 2008

SUMMARY -Reminders of why we should eat dark chocolate, fiber, nuts, fruits, and especially dark vegetables are documented by careful studies. But supplements, especially zinc, can be hazardous. The short message as I marvel at the 2 inches of snow we got yesterday - "Be aware of what you put in your body."

BENEFITS OF CHOCOLATE - "Previous studies with plant sterols (PS) and cocoa flavanols (CF) provide support for their dietary use in maintaining cardiovascular health. This double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study evaluated the efficacy of daily consumption of a cocoa flavanol-containing dark chocolate bar with added PS on serum lipids, blood pressure, and other circulating cardiovascular health markers in a population with elevated serum cholesterol... Results indicate that regular consumption of chocolate bars containing PS and CF as part of a low-fat diet may support cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and improving blood pressure."

BENEFITS OF FIBER - "Including Indigestible Carbohydrates in the Evening Meal of Healthy Subjects Improves Glucose Tolerance, Lowers Inflammatory Markers, and Increases Satiety after a Subsequent Standardized Breakfast...Low-glycemic index (GI) foods and foods rich in whole grain are associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease."

BENEFITS OF FLAVONOIDS (DARK VEGETABLES AND CHOCOLATE) - "Serum C-reactive protein (CRP) is a biomarker for chronic inflammation and a sensitive risk factor for cardiovascular diseases...Among the flavonoid compounds investigated, quercetin, kaempferol, malvidin, peonidin, daidzein, and genistein had inverse associations with serum CRP concentration ...Our findings demonstrate that intake of dietary flavonoids is inversely associated with serum CRP concentrations in U.S. adults. Intake of flavonoid-rich foods may thus reduce inflammation-mediated chronic diseases."

BENEFITS OF NUTS - "Epidemiologic studies and clinical trials have demonstrated that the unique fatty acid profile of nuts beneficially affects serum lipids/lipoproteins, reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Nuts are low in SFA and high in PUFA and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). Macadamia nuts are a rich source of MUFA. .. Thus, macadamia nuts can be included in a heart-healthy dietary pattern that reduces lipid/lipoprotein CVD risk factors. Nuts as an isocaloric substitute for high SFA foods increase the proportion of unsaturated fatty acids and decrease SFA, thereby lowering CVD risk."

BENEFITS OF FRUITS AND ESPECIALLY VEGETABLES - "We examined the associations of intake of vegetables, legumes and fruit with all-cause and cause-specific mortality in a population with prevalent diabetes in Europe. A cohort of 10,449 participants with self-reported diabetes within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study was followed for a mean of 9 y...Analyzed separately, vegetables and legumes were associated with a significantly reduced risk, whereas nonsignificant inverse associations for fruit intake were observed...Intake of vegetables, legumes, and fruit was associated with reduced risks of all-cause and CVD mortality in a diabetic population."

HAZARD OF REGULAR ZINC SUPPLEMENTS - "'...dietary supplementation with vitamins and trace element antioxidants may not always provide beneficial effects.' tumor-bearing animals, supplemental Zn stimulated tumor growth and shortened life span; Zn is also a selenium (Se) antagonist and has been shown to abolish its anticarcinogenic effects (2,3)."


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