Can blueberries protect heart health? was reported by Tim Newman for MedicalNewsToday.com, 1 June 2019.  According to a new study, consuming 1 cup of blueberries each day might improve the metabolic markers associated with cardiovascular risk.

Blueberries are delicious and nutritious; if they could also lower the risk of heart disease, that would be a bonus. For that reason, the United States Highbush Blueberry Council helped fund a study to investigate blueberries’ potential benefit to heart health. Researchers from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom teamed up with scientists from Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.

Interestingly, the scientists only saw the benefits in the group consuming 1 cup of blueberries per day — not in those consuming half a cup.  Dr. Curtis believes that this is because “higher daily intakes may be needed for heart health benefits in obese, at-risk populations, compared with the general population.” 

The scientists believe that the cardiovascular benefits they saw are primarily due to the presence of anthocyanins in blueberries.  In the lower intestine, the body metabolizes anthocyanins to produce a range of chemicals; some of these chemicals provide sustenance to the resident gut bacteria and are “likely play a key beneficial metabolic role,” say the study authors.

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Mediterranean Diet Tied to Better Memory for Diabetics was published by Lisa Rapaport for MedScape.com, 4 June 2019.  People with diabetes may have better brain function if they follow a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish and healthy fats, a U.S. study suggests.

Lead study author Josiemer Mattei of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston said, “A healthy Mediterranean diet includes foods that are rich in fruit and vegetables, which has antioxidants, and in fish and oils, which include healthy fats. These nutrients help sustain cognitive function by reducing inflammation and oxidation in the brain.”

These benefits may help people whether or not they have diabetes. When people do have diabetes, however, the abundance of whole grains and legumes in a typical Mediterranean diet may help keep blood sugar well controlled and improve cognitive function, Mattei added.

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Finally Getting in Shape: The Japanese Rule to a Healthy Diet is an interesting read by Kaki Okumura for Lifestyle/Medium, 16 May 2019. 

For years, I’ve been following a single rule that has been a staple value in my house, something my mother had taught me, and the whole of Japan knows about it too. It’s called: Harahachi-bunme. It’s a long-standing Japanese saying that directly translates to “8/10ths your stomach”; meaning, you should only eat until you are 80% full.

It follows very simple principles that we should not overindulge in food, and we should be modest about how much we eat. Neither starving nor stuffing ourselves, it follows the principle that extreme lifestyles are neither good for us nor sustainable, and the key is finding balance and a middle ground to satisfy our needs.

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Meet the Startup That Thinks DNA Can Predict Your Best Diet by Elizabeth G. Dunn for Health/Medium, 25 July 2018. 

It seems remarkable, when you stop and think about it, that humans have managed to invent self-driving cars and tiny robots that can do surgery before we’ve nailed down what counts as a healthy lunch. Seven billion eaters on this planet — untold trillions of meals served since the first Homo sapiens carved their first stone blade — and we’re all still grasping at dietary advice that is both ever-changing and flatly contradictory. Low fat, low carb, low sugar, paleo, keto, vegan, gluten-free: They all work for someone, but no single diet works for everyone. Few of us feel we’ve cracked the code when it comes to eating for weight loss, let alone optimal health.

Christopher Gardner, a nutrition scientist and professor of medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, tells me there is now a solid body of clinical evidence — including his own recent, high-profile study into the efficacy of low-fat versus low-carb diets — to support this phenomenon. “If you get a group of people eating almost exactly the same thing, they don’t respond the same way,” Gardner says. “There’s massive variability. It’s just staggering. One would think that given that variability is there, there’s a way to explain it.”

One potential explanation currently gaining traction: that variations in our genome determine how each of us processes the nutrients in food.

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