Even High-Fat Dairy Could Be Good for You

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

Dairy foods might be your ticket to better heart health, even if you’re drinking whole milk and eating rich cheeses, a new study suggests.

The study couldn’t prove cause-and-effect, but folks who ate three servings of dairy per day had an overall lower risk of death during the study period than people who ate no dairy. They also had a lower risk of stroke and death from heart disease, researchers found.

The benefit was linked to both whole-fat and low-fat forms of dairy products, said lead researcher Mahshid Dehghan. She is an investigator of nutrition epidemiology with McMaster University’s Population Health Research Institute in Hamilton, Ontario.

Based on the findings, she concludes that “up to three servings of dairy per day lowers risk of death and cardiovascular disease, regardless of fat.”

One standard serving of dairy amounts to about 8 ounces of milk or yogurt, half-an-ounce of cheese, or a teaspoon of butter, according to the study.

The research received no funding from the dairy industry.

Despite the new findings, the American Heart Association would still urge people to stick to low-fat dairy, said spokeswoman Jo Ann Carson, a professor of clinical nutrition with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

“We know in general getting more saturated fat raises your LDL cholesterol, and that’s the number one risk factor for heart disease, especially in the United States,” Carson said.

Dehghan pointed out that some people avoid dairy because of its saturated-fat content, because fat has more calories and because saturated fat has been linked to higher “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.

But in doing so, they are missing out on other important nutrients that dairy provides, such as amino acids, vitamins and minerals, she added.

“Dairy products contain a range of potentially beneficial compounds,” Dehghan said. “We are suggesting the net effect of dairy intake on health outcome is more important than looking solely at one single nutrient.”

To study the impact of dairy on heart health, the researchers examined data from over 136,000 people, aged 35 to 70, in 21 countries. People filled out a food questionnaire at the start of the study, and then were followed for an average of nine years.

People in North America and Europe had the highest dairy consumption — more than four servings per day, on average. South Asia, Southeast Asia, China and Africa all had less than one serving per day, on average.

Compared to people who ate an average three servings of dairy per day, those who ate no dairy had higher rates of overall death (3.4 percent versus 5.6 percent, respectively), heart-related deaths (0.9 percent versus 1.6 percent), major heart disease (3.5 percent versus 4.9 percent), and stroke (1.2 percent versus 2.9 percent) during the study period.

“Our results showed an inverse association between total dairy and mortality and major cardiovascular disease,” Dehghan said. “The risk of stroke was markedly lower with higher consumption of dairy.”

The benefit held even among those who ate only whole-fat dairy. Compared with those who ate less than half-a-serving daily, people who had three servings a day of whole-fat dairy had lower rates of death (4.4 percent versus 3.3 percent, respectively) and heart disease (5 percent versus 3.7 percent) during the study.

Carson noted that dairy products contain potassium and magnesium, minerals linked to lower blood pressure.

“A lot of times we push fruits and vegetables as a source of potassium and that is an important source, but drinking two glasses on non-fat milk every day would give you a reasonable amount of potassium also,” Carson said.

The protein in dairy probably also helps protect heart health. “Having adequate protein maintains our muscles,” she said. “The heart is a muscle.”

That said, people should stick to low-fat dairy, she advised.

Carson gave the example of patients with high cholesterol who are told to stop eating high-fat dairy.

“I know some of those people just give up milk then. They say, ‘I like my whole milk, if I’m not supposed to have it, I’m just giving up milk,'” Carson said. “Maybe that’s not the best thing to do.”

Researchers cannot say whether eating more than three servings per day would be of increased benefit, because not enough people in the study ate that much dairy, Dehghan said.

“We do not encourage overeating of any kind of food,” Dehghan said. “Three servings is moderate consumption, and moderate consumption is beneficial.”

The study was published online in The Lancet.

Source: HealthDay

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Study finds full-fat cheddar cheese does not raise cholesterol . . . . .

Chinese-style Chili Shrimp


16 large unpeeled head-on shrimps
oil for deep-frying
1 tablespoon oil, extra
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
1 tablespoon chili bean paste (toban jiang)
1 teaspoon sugar
3-4 tablespoons chicken stock
1 teaspoon clear rice vinegar
1 scallion, finely chopped
2 red chilies, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch
cilantro leaves


  1. Pull off the legs from the shrimp, but leave the body shells on. Using a pair of scissors, cut each shrimp along the back to devein it.
  2. Fill a wok one quarter full of oil. Heat the oil to 375°F, or until a piece of bread fries golden brown in 10 seconds when dropped in the oil.
  3. Cook the shrimp in batches for 2 minutes, or until they turn bright orange. Remove and drain. It is important to keep the oil hot for each batch or the shells with not turn crisp. Pour out the oil and wipe out the wok.
  4. Reheat the wok over high heat, add the extra oil and heat until very hot. Cook the garlic and ginger for a few seconds to flavor the oil. Add the soy sauce, rice wine, chili bean paste, sugar and stock. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil.
  5. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute, then add the rice vinegar, scallion, chilies and sesame oil, stirring constantly.
  6. Combine the cornstarch with enough water to make a paste, add to the sauce and simmer until thickened. Sprinkle the cilantro leaves on top before removing to serving dish.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: The Food of China

Video: Shanghai’s Ultraviolet Restaurant

A 22-Course Meal, in 22 Settings

At the restaurant Ultraviolet in Shanghai, Chef Paul Pairet has taken the dining and turned it into theater, adding ambient music, enhancing scent and unorthodox utensils to the menu.

The restaurant is the best restaurant in China and #8 in the Asia’s Best 50 Restaurants 2018.

Watch video at You Tube (3:57 minutes) . . . . .

Biologist Wants Americans To Taste A Rainbow Of Pomegranates

April Fulton wrote . . . . . . . .

Pomegranates symbolize life and vitality in many cultures. They are mentioned in the Quran, in ancient Greek mythology, and in Chinese folktales. Perhaps you bought one to split open during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year celebrated this weekend.

But for many Americans, the fruit is far too exotic for regular consumption. If you can find them, there’s usually just one variety — Wonderful. It comes in a mysterious, dark-red, leathery ball containing hard-to-get jewel-bright seeds and a bitter pith, or it’s already juiced and sold in a glass bottle.

“The average American has less than one pomegranate a year,” says John Chater, a post-doctorate scholar studying pomegranate cultivars at the University of California, Riverside. Chater wants to change the way Americans think about the pomegranate. Specifically, he wants to introduce pomegranates that vary in flavor and color (hello, pink and yellow) and make them more mainstream.

Chater fell in love with pomegranates early in life. As a child, Chater recalls visiting his grandfather, a Lebanese immigrant, on his olive farm. Chater’s grandfather, S. John Chater, grew a few types of pomegranates just for fun from seeds brought over from Lebanon. He preferred a sweet variety with soft seeds (arils, in pomegranate parlance) — nothing like the hard, red fruit most Americans know.

“I used to go over there and he would make me taste different types of pomegranates,” Chater says. “When I was a kid, I thought everybody had a grandfather like this.”

It turns out, everybody did not have a grandfather like this. In fact, years later, while beginning his undergraduate work in environmental studies, Chater found out that his grandfather was a bit of a cult figure in the world of exotic fruit breeding. One geneticist he met had his grandfather’s photo on the wall of his office, and the U.S. government has several of his grandfather’s cultivars in storage at the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Plant Germplasm System.

The NPGS, which studies the seeds and tissues of crops to safeguard diversity and support agricultural production, is interested in pomegranates because they are drought and salt tolerant. They can thrive where other fruits cannot, plus they are extremely high in antioxidants and vitamin C.

Along with his colleagues at UC Riverside, Chater is growing 13 varieties of edible pomegranates, including Parfianka, a red-skinned type with sweet pink seeds that taste like wine; Golden Globes, which are yellowish with a soft aril; and of course, the familiar red, sweet-tart Wonderful. He is studying how consumers perceive the varieties’ flavors and colors, and whether they’d appeal to growers under different climate conditions.

He has also conducted taste studies published in the Journal of Food Science suggesting that many consumers prefer sweeter varieties with softer seeds and less acid than the Wonderful type.

“When it comes to apples, or even peaches or plums, people like different types,” Chater says, so why not pomegranates?

It may be a tough sell. For one thing, apples, peaches and plums are more popular fruits by far. In 2017, apples were the second most-popular fruit purchased in the U.S., just after bananas. Peaches were number nine, while plums came in at number 19, according to The Packer, a fruit and vegetable trade magazine. Pomegranates, considered a specialty crop, don’t even rank in the top 20.

The Wonderful variety makes up 90 to 95 percent of the tiny U.S. pomegranate market, Chater says. While he has nothing against Wonderful — in fact some of his early research came out of grants made by the family that owns the brand of the same name — he thinks consumers and growers should have options.

Wonderful “has some issues,” he says. It’s a late-season fruit, meaning that it remains on the trees longer than other varieties. This makes it more susceptible to pests, sunburn and wind, he says. Also, if the fruit splits from the stress, it can’t be sold in its whole form, it has to be sold for juice, which is not as profitable.

Some of Chater’s cultivars, like Parfianka, fruit early and avoid many of these problems. Others are more adaptable to cooler, wetter climates.

“It could really help the industry” to have an earlier-ripening fruit, says Jeff Simonian, who sits on the Pomegranate Council, an organization to promote the fruit that was founded in 1997. He’s also the marketing director for his family’s business, Simonian Fruit Company, located near Fresno, Calif. He sells mainly stone fruits and a few varieties of pomegranates, and is excited about Chater’s efforts — but cautious, too.

The Wonderful variety is tops for a reason — it produces a big yield and it stores and ships well, Simonian says.

Shaking up the pomegranate market would require a big educational process for both growers and the public, he adds.

But it’s been done. Some new varieties of fruits introduced into the U.S. market recently have really taken off. For example, some retailers can’t keep cotton candy grapes (yes, they really taste like the county fair favorite) on the shelves.

Cuties and Halos are easy-peel, fairly seedless varieties of mandarin oranges that come in five-pound boxes. They are extremely popular with the lunchbox set.

Some of the non-Wonderful pomegranate varieties have clear or light-colored arils that might be a good choice for lunchboxes because they don’t stain. Perhaps the arils could be packaged in small bags the way sliced apples are now, in ready-to-eat portions, Chater says.

If Chater and his team can do something like that for pomegranates, “It would be a great thing,” says Simonian.

Source: npr

Lifestyle Changes Reduce the Need for Blood Pressure Medications

Men and women with high blood pressure reduced the need for antihypertensive medications within 16 weeks after making lifestyle changes, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Joint Hypertension 2018 Scientific Sessions, an annual conference focused on recent advances in hypertension research.

Lifestyle changes are the first step in reducing blood pressure according to the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Hypertension Guideline.

“Lifestyle modifications, including healthier eating and regular exercise, can greatly decrease the number of patients who need blood pressure-lowering medicine. That’s particularly the case in folks who have blood pressures in the range of 130 to 160 mmHg systolic and between 80 and 99 mmHg diastolic,” said study author Alan Hinderliter, M.D., associate professor of medicine at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

The researchers studied 129 overweight or obese men and women between ages 40 and 80 years who had high blood pressure. Patients’ blood pressures were between 130-160/80-99 mmHg but they were not taking medications to lower blood pressure at the time of the study. More than half were candidates for antihypertensive medication at the study’s start, according to recent guidelines.

Researchers randomly assigned each patient to one of three 16-week interventions. Participants in one group changed the content of their diets and took part in a weight management program that included behavioral counseling and three-times weekly supervised exercise. They changed their eating habits to that of the DASH plan, a nutritional approach proven to lower blood pressure. DASH emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy and minimizes consumption of red meat, salt and sweets. Participants in the second group changed diet only, focusing on the DASH diet with the help of a nutritionist. The third group didn’t change their exercise or eating habits.

The researchers found:

  • Those eating the DASH diet and participating in the weight management group lost an average 19 pounds and had reduced blood pressure by an average 16 mmHg systolic and 10 mmHg diastolic at the close of the 16 weeks.
  • Those following only the DASH eating plan had blood pressures decrease an average 11 systolic/8 diastolic mmHg.
  • Adults who didn’t change their eating or exercise habits experienced a minimal blood pressure decline of an average 3 systolic/4 diastolic mmHg.
  • By the study’s end, only 15 percent of those who had changed both their diet and their exercise habits needed antihypertensive medications, as recommended by the 2017 AHA/ACC guideline, compared to 23 percent in the group that only changed their diet. However, there was no change in the need for medications among those who didn’t change their diet or exercise habits – nearly 50 percent continued to meet criteria for drug treatment.

Hinderliter suspects lifestyle modifications would be just as helpful to people with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and in patients on medications for high blood pressure but that needs confirmation in future studies, he said.

Source : American Heart Association

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