Friday, April 10, 2020

Have a cuppa for your heart: Research shows regular tea drinkers maintain better cholesterol levels as they age

Natural News) Tea is a widely popular aromatic beverage that is consumed around the world. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN) claims that tea is the most widely consumed beverage worldwide, second only to water. 

But this beverage is more than just a drink to warm you up during cold weather. Tea is also highly appreciated for the plethora of health benefits it provides. For example, research has found that drinking a cuppa every day can bring with it some heart benefits.

Previous studies have established tea’s ability to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by decreasing blood levels of low-density lipoprotein or LDL – the so-called “bad” cholesterol that builds up in arteries. However, these studies have not answered how drinking tea affects “good” cholesterol, also known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which helps carry LDL away from the arteries.

But a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association revealed that a daily cup of tea can slow down the natural decrease in HDL that is associated with aging.

The connection between drinking tea and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels

For this study, researchers from Pennsylvania State University (PSU) analyzed the relationship between tea consumption and blood HDL levels. They observed more than 80,000 people from the Kaliuan community in Tangshan, China over a six-year period. The researchers found that those who drank tea exhibited significantly slower age-related decreases in HDL levels. They associated this with an eight percent decrease in cardiovascular disease risk.

The researchers also discovered that green tea had a significantly stronger effect on heart health than black tea. This was despite both types of tea containing large amounts of polyphenols and catechins, compounds that are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. (Related: A cup of tea or a handful of berries a day can help prevent heart disease.)

The link between increased tea consumption and the slower decline in HDL levels was observed in all participants, though it was more prominent in men and in those aged 60 and above who smoked, were obese or lived a sedentary lifestyle.
“We still observed a significant association in these people, which suggests that the observed association cannot be totally interpreted by someone’s overall healthy lifestyle,” said senior author Xiang Gao, who is also the director of the Nutritional Epidemiology Lab at PSU.

But the study had several limitations. The researchers’ findings were mostly based on self-reported information about general tea consumption (either monthly or weekly). The study also did not include dietary information like the consumption of meat, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, the study exclusively analyzed people from a particular Chinese community who don’t necessarily represent the nation’s entire population.
According to Judith Wylie-Rosett, a professor at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the study took “a cautious approach to endorsing the benefits” of drinking tea while analyzing its impact on HDL levels.

“We don’t tend to talk much about the decline in HDL cholesterol with age, and our main lifestyle strategies for trying to increase it are vigorous physical activity and losing weight,” she added. It’s nice to know that other lifestyle choices can help support these efforts.
Learn more about the health benefits of drinking tea at

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

A potential cholesterol-lowering agent in olive leaves?

(Natural News) Diabetes, particularly Type 2 diabetes, is now considered a global pandemic. According to the World Health Organization, the global prevalence of diabetes among adults has risen from five percent to nearly nine percent in 2014. Diabetes is a chronic condition that can cause blindness, heart attacks, kidney failure, stroke and even death. Statistics show that in 2016, diabetes directly caused the death of about 1.6 million people worldwide.

In recent years, studies involving plants with anti-diabetic properties have yielded significant results. One such study, which appeared in the journal Nutrition Research, focused on the health benefits of olive leaves, especially for prediabetics. Olives (Olea europaea) are widely known for their antioxidant, anti-cancer and cardioprotective properties, but researchers from the University of Tsukuba in Japan found that their leaves can also help with lipid metabolism.

Oleuropein, a phytonutrient that can lower blood lipid levels, is the most abundant antioxidant found in fresh, unripe olives. The study revealed that oleuropein is also present in olive leaves and has beneficial effects against dyslipidemia, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The link between obesity, diabetes and blood cholesterol

Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. Research suggests that being overweight stresses the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), a cell organelle responsible for processing proteins. When the ER is overwhelmed by the influx of nutrients caused by overeating, it signals the cell to dampen down its insulin receptors. This causes the cell to become less responsive to insulin, eventually resulting in insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance is a precursor to Type 2 diabetes.

Besides blood sugar, diabetes is also known to affect blood lipid levels. People with diabetes tend to have lower levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and high levels of triglycerides and bad cholesterol (LDL). This condition, known as diabetic dyslipidemia, increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Diabetic dyslipidemia is a treatable risk factor for cardiovascular disease; however, people can develop atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease before they are diagnosed with diabetes.

Drinking olive leaf tea lowers blood lipid levels in prediabetics

In their previous study, the researchers reported that olive leaf tea (OLT) benefits obese and diabetic individuals but not healthy ones. They thus hypothesized that OLT may have a more pronounced effect on abdominal obesity, as well as glucose and lipid metabolism, in prediabetics.

 To test this hypothesis, the researchers recruited individuals 40 to 70 years old with a body mass index of 23 – 29.9 kilograms (kg)/square meters (m2). They randomly assigned the participants to either the OLT group or the low-concentration OLT (LOLT) group. The intervention, which involved consumption of 330 milliliters (mL) of OLT or LOLT thrice daily during mealtime, lasted for 12 weeks.

The researchers found that after the intervention, serum levels of triglycerides and LDL significantly decreased in the OLT group. These reductions were higher than those found in the LOLT group. Although body weight, waist circumference and insulin levels did not significantly change in both groups, the fasting blood sugar levels of the OLT group were more significantly reduced than those of the LOLT group. (Related: Olive Leaf Extract Proves Effective for Diabetes Treatment.)

Based on these results, the researchers concluded that OLT can effectively lower the blood lipid levels of prediabetics. Further studies, however, are needed to accurately determine the effect of olive leaves on abdominal obesity and glucose metabolism.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Spices and memory: Is garlic the key to improving cognitive health among the elderly?

(Natural News) Garlic is a popular spice known to have many health benefits. One of these benefits is the ability to improve cognitive health among older people. An animal study conducted by researchers from the University of Louisville found that a compound in garlic called allyl sulfide could help prevent age-related memory loss experienced by people with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. In particular, the compound helps counteract age-related changes in gut bacteria associated with memory problems.

The gut contains trillions of microorganisms collectively called the gut microbiota. These microorganisms are known to play an important role in maintaining human health. However, there is not much known about the health effects associated with changes in gut microbiota that come with age. As a person gets older, the diversity of the gut microbiota declines.
In the study, the researchers wanted to better understand how gut microbiota changes influence age-related cognitive decline. To do so, they fed 24-month old mice, which is equivalent to the age of people between 56 and 69 years, with allyl sulfide orally. Then, they compared these mice with four- and 24-month-old mice which did not receive the dietary allyl sulfide supplement.

The researchers saw that the older mice that received the garlic compound exhibited better long- and short-term memory, as well as healthier gut bacteria, compared with the older mice that did not receive the treatment. The two-year-old mice that did not receive the garlic compound also had impaired spatial memory.

In additional experiments, the researchers found that the reduced gene expression of neuronal-derived natriuretic factor (NDNF) in the brain was likely responsible for the cognitive decline. This gene, which was recently discovered by the researchers, is needed for long-term and short-term memory combination.
Moreover, the team found that mice that received allyl sulfide exhibited higher levels of NDNF gene expression. Recombinant-NDNF protein therapy in the brain also restored the cognitive function of the older mice that did not receive the garlic compound. Moreover, they found that the administration of allyl sulfide produced a hydrogen sulfide gas, which prevents inflammation in the intestines, in the gut lumen.
Taken together, the findings indicated that the intake of the garlic compound could enhance memory consolidation by restoring gut bacteria. The team continues to conduct experiments to better understand the relationship between the gut microbiota and cognitive decline. They also plan to look at whether garlic could be used as a treatment for age-related cognitive problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. They presented the current study’s findings at the American Physiological Society‘s annual meeting held in Orlando, Florida.

Other brain health benefits of garlic

For thousands of years, garlic has been used both for culinary and medicinal purposes. And over the years, scientists have uncovered and proven its health benefits, especially its benefits for the brain.

For one, garlic may help prevent brain cancer. It contains another compound called dilly trisulfide (DATS), which plays a role in reducing tumor growth in individuals with glioblastoma, the deadliest form of brain tumor. In a study published in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology, the compound effectively prevented tumor progression and induced apoptosis or cell death in active human glioblastoma, without harming the liver.

Garlic can also improve blood flow to the brain by preventing blood clot formation. Blood clots are masses that occur when liquid blood hardens. A blood clot can block an artery or vein in the heart, which may also affect the neck or brain and lead to stroke. Eating garlic can help because it is an effective blood thinner, which works like aspirin, and can help regulate blood circulation.

Aside from garlic, there are many other spices that can boost brain function. These include turmeric, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and holy basil.

Sources include:

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Used for eons, researchers study how red yeast rice prevents CVD

(Natural News) Red yeast rice is a traditional Chinese food commonly used for lowering cholesterol. It is also believed to help prevent cardiovascular disease. A review published in the Chinese Journal of Natural Medicinesconfirmed that red yeast rice and its products could be used as a healthy functional food for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is a condition in which plaque or fatty deposits build up and clog the arteries, resulting in a thicker and narrower artery wall. Endothelial injury continues throughout the disease. Therefore, improving endothelial function is of essential in the prevention of the disease.

Researchers from the University of South ChinaThe Second Affiliated Hospital of Henan University of Science and Technology, and Beijing Anzhen Hospital of Capital Medical University reviewed existing evidence on the potential of red yeast rice and its related products in preventing and treating atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD).

Based on the evidence they have gathered, red yeast rice and its products help in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases because of their effectiveness and safety in improving lipid levels. Red yeast rice also reduces oxidative stress and inflammation while increasing nitric oxide (NO), which maintains normal vasodilatory function and helps prevent platelet aggregation and adhesion. These beneficial effects may be attributed to its compounds: polyketides, monounsaturated fatty acids, phytosterols, isoflavones, condensed tannins, coenzyme Q10, microelements, and pigments, including ankaflavin, monascin, rubropunctatin, monascorubrin, rubropunctamine, and monascorubramine.

Other health benefits of red yeast rice

In addition to improving heart health, red yeast rice offers other health benefits. These include:
  • Helping to treat metabolic syndrome: Red yeast rice consumption may help reduce several risk factors for metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Human and animal studies have shown that supplementing with red yeast rice can help control levels of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol, as well as prevent excessive weight gain.
  • Reducing inflammation: Although inflammation is a normal immune response that products the body against acute infection and foreign invaders, too much and prolonged inflammation can do more harm than good. Human and animal studies have shown that supplementing with red yeast rice may help reduce inflammation and fight oxidative stress in the body, promoting better health.
  • Warding off cancer: There is also some evidence on red yeast rice having anti-cancer properties. Animal and test-tube studies have reported that red yeast rice may help fight against cancer, particularly prostate cancer, by reducing tumor growth and the spread of prostate cancer cells.
For more studies on heart-healthy foods like red yeast rice, visit

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Delicious medicine: Compounds in chocolate are good for your heart

(Natural News) Chocolates are some of the world’s best-loved sweets. They’re a comfort food for some and a guilty pleasure for others. But no matter how or why you choose to eat chocolates, you should know that they’re doing you more good than just making you feel happy or satisfying your cravings. According to a 2018 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutritioneating chocolates every day keeps your heart healthy.

Chocolates are good for your arteries
The study involved 45 male volunteers who were divided into three different groups. Each group was assigned a capsule to take with their breakfast every day for one month. Two of the three capsules contained different amounts of the two most studied compounds found in chocolate: (-)-epicatechin and procyanidins. Both compounds are flavonols or flavan-3-ols, a class of flavonoids found in many fruits and vegetables, including cocoa. (-)-Epicatechin and procyanidins are known antioxidants.

(-)-Epicatechin lowers blood pressure and reduces stiffness in arteries

When researchers from the University of Dusseldorf in Germany examined the effects of the compounds, they found that (-)-epicatechin improved endothelial function in the volunteers. It also lowered their blood pressure and reduced arterial stiffness. These results aligned with those of previous studies, particularly one made in the Netherlands which reported that men who consumed large amounts of (-)-epicatechin had a 38 percent lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease than men who consumed less (-)-epicatechin.

In contrast, the volunteers who took capsules with less (-)-epicatechin and more procyanidins did not receive the same benefits. “This demonstrates that the impact of CF (cocoa flavonols) on vascular health is linked to (?)-epicatechin and not to CF procyanidins,” wrote the researchers. (Related: Chocolate lowers blood pressure and slashes risk of heart disease.)

Procyanidins lower blood cholesterol levels

Procyanidins are not without their health benefits. Although volunteers who took large amounts of procyanidins did not experience a decrease in blood pressure or arterial stiffness, they did enjoy a reduction in blood cholesterol levels. This demonstrated that procyanidins still support heart health, albeit in an indirect way. The impact of procyanidins may not be immediately felt, but it’s still massive in the long run.
The researchers also explained that the role of procyanidins may have to do with the effect size of flavonols – that is, they protect and preserve (-)-epicatechin and other flavonols from degradation during food processing and storage, and in the gastrointestinal tract during digestion. The researchers noted that this might explain the results of other studies, which used only pure (-)-epicatechin and reported no significant effects on cardiovascular function.

Other reasons to eat chocolate

Research shows that (-)-epicatechin can also decrease blood glucose levels in diabetic patients. (-)-Epicatechin increases insulin sensitivity and decreases insulin resistance, suggesting that eating (-)-epicatechin-rich foods like chocolate can help prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
(-)-Epicatechin also has anticancer effects. Several studies reported that it can stop angiogenesis or the formation of new blood vessels, which is one of the ways cancer cells grow and spread to other parts of the body. High concentrations of (-)-epicatechin also prevent cancer cell proliferation in vitro.
Procyanidins, together with (-)-epicatechin and other flavonols, may have anti-inflammatory properties. One study found that these compounds can inhibit enzymesinvolved in inflammation and the formation of tumors. Procyanidins are also used in connection with health conditions such as chronic venous insufficiency, capillary fragility, diabetic retinopathy, sunburn, pancreatic insufficiency, and varicose veins. In terms of anticancer activity, procyanidins target components of intracellular signaling pathwaysimportant for regulating cell survival and death and mediating metastasis.

Friday, February 22, 2019

High-dose vitamin C can treat dengue fever and Zika virus

(Natural News) Nutritional therapies are simple low-cost methods of interrupting the transmission of various viral infections, as well as reducing one’s susceptibility to these diseases. Of particular note is the incredible healing power of vitamin C in reducing symptoms related to dengue fever, Zika virus, and similar infections.

Dengue fever can be effectively reduced with vitamin C therapy. A case study by Thomas E. Levy, M.D. showed that 10 packets of liposome-encapsulated vitamin C (1,000 mg per packet) completely cured a 15-year-old Colombian girl suffering from hemorrhagic dengue fever. Levy wrote of his experience on NaturalHealth365 and said that his patient was well after only 48 hours.

Recent studies are proving the efficacy of intravenous vitamin C therapy in effectively resolving symptomatic and documented cases of Ebola virus infection in Sierra Leone as well. Case studies published in various medical journals documented the health and status of several Ebola patients in Central Africa. Across the board, a protocol of ozone, four to eight grams of vitamin C, and a supplement containing multiple antioxidants (such as thiamine, riboflavin, selenium, N-acetyl cysteine, glutathione, and lipoic acid) dramatically reduced symptoms.

Similarly, vitamin C therapy appears to be effective in treating the Zika virus. A 2016 case report written by researchers from the University of Puerto Rico, Berdiel Clinic, and the Ponce Health Sciences University concluded that high doses of intravenous vitamin C therapy administered over three days significantly improved the condition of a patient. Symptoms associated with Zika were completely resolved without any side effects after the fourth day.

A natural antioxidant that cures and prevents

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from free radical damage. While it can be used quite effectively as a therapeutic agent in many diseases and disorders, its power remains in its ability to protect the immune system by fighting off infections. Indeed, vitamin C is a clear example of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnips, green peppers, red peppers, and green, leafy vegetables. In a 2013 study titled “Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview,” researchers concluded that the antioxidant had profound effects on how the body responds to infections. Supplementing with vitamin C leads to a significantly reduced risk of becoming ill from various diseases and infections. Vitamin C is especially recommended for treating various inflammatory conditions.

Other documented uses for vitamin C

A number of experimental studies have observed that vitamin C therapy can be beneficial for the following conditions:
  • Heavy metal toxicity — Vitamin C therapy may help remove heavy metals from the body. Recent clinical trials based on histopathological examinations of animal models concluded that the antioxidant lessened the severity of effects of chronic lead exposure in the liver, kidneys, brain, and testes.
  • Diabetes — There is convincing clinical evidence that vitamin C can prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. The metabolic disorder is associated with intense oxidative stress — a condition that can be treated with vitamin C.
  • Neurodegenerative disorders — A study conducted on 12 schizophrenics found that large doses of vitamin C improved the mental condition in 75 percent of the patients.
  • Cancer — High doses of vitamin C can improve the survival of patients diagnosed with terminal cancer. Studies suggest cancer patients to take around 10 g of vitamin C to reap its full benefits.
Sources include:

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Beat depression without drugs: These are the best supplements and activities that work faster and better than prescription medicine

(Natural News) If you’re depressed, you might be wary of taking antidepressants. Antidepressant use is incredibly common, with roughly one out of every 10 adults taking these drugs, but apprehension is certainly understandable given the dangerous side effects that are associated with these meds. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to suffer. Thankfully, there are several natural antidepressants and activities that you can try to help alleviate depression.
EGCG (Green tea)
You might be surprised to find that you may already have a very effective natural antidepressant in your pantry. The main active component of green tea, EGCG, boosts your resilience to stress and has been found to be just as effective as anti-anxiety drugs in combating anxiety. Studies have shown that drinking green tea every day can reduce your risk of depression by an impressive 44 percent.
Avoid taking the shortcut with supplements as these are not usually well absorbed by the body. Moreover, when you drink green tea, you’ll benefit from the synergy between the EGCG, l-theanine, and caffeine, which work together to boost attention, learning and memory. If you’re dealing with depression as well as anxiety, this is a great starting point.

Fish oil
Research has linked depression to low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and deficiencies of one particular omega-3, DHA, have been linked to depression as well as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Another type of omega-3, EPA, can also reduce depression.
Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3s if you don’t tend to eat a lot of oily fish, but be sure you look out for options that contain EPA as well as DHA for the maximum benefits.

This beautiful yellow spice works just as well as Prozac does on depression by acting on serotonin metabolism, according to studies. It can also help decrease appetite. It’s not surprising, then, that saffron is one of the more common fraudulent foods given its utility in losing weight and fighting depression. Look for a standardized extract of the Crocus sativus plant from reputable sources to be sure you’re getting something effective.
Rhodiola (Arctic Root)
If you need quick depression relief, arctic root – also known as rhodiola – is a good bet. Found mostly in the colder areas of the world at higher altitudes, it is a mainstay in Chinese traditional medicine for reducing stress-induced fatigue and boosting physical stamina. It raises the activity of brain chemicals that improve mood, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. When you have depression alongside fatigue or anxiety or it’s caused by seasonal affective disorder (SAD), you could find relief from arctic root.
Dietary changes
In many cases, the food you eat could cause or contribute to your depression. The trans fats found in fried and processed foods are particularly dangerous in this regard as researchers have found a direct correlation between the amount of trans fats consumed and depression risk. Replacing them with extra virgin oil can reduce your depression risk by as much as half.
You might also consider adding coconut oil to your diet. Its composition of medium-chain fatty acids and antioxidants has also been shown to be as effective as antidepressants at fighting depression.

Get moving
When you are depressed, it’s hard to find the motivation to do much of anything, but knowing that physical exercise is one of the best ways to improve your mental health may just be enough to get you up on your feet. Because exercise regulates the neurotransmitters that are targeted by prescription antidepressants, it can relieve depression just as well as these drugs can – and in some cases, even better! Exercise boosts the flow of blood to your brain while delivering more nutrients and oxygen.
Not only can it stimulate the formation of new brain cells and increase the connectivity between different areas of your brain, but it can even change genetic expression. Try to get your exercise outdoors so you can also benefit from the depression-alleviating effects of being with nature.
These are just a few of the ways that you can address your depression without having to put your life at risk by taking pharmaceuticals. Why not experiment with these alternatives and see what works for you?