Substantial Health Benefit from Replacing Steak with Fish

Miriam Meister wrote . . . . . . . . .

The average Dane will gain a health benefit from substituting part of the red and processed meat in their diet with fish, according to calculations from the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark. Men over 50 and women of childbearing age in particular would benefit from such a change in diet.

In a PhD study at the National Food Institute, Sofie Theresa Thomsen has developed a method to calculate the total health impact of replacing one food with another in the diet. The method has been used to assess the health impact that would be achieved by replacing red and processed meat with fish, so the intake reaches the recommended weekly intake of 350 grams of fish.

Fish is an important source of healthy fatty acids and vitamin D, but may also contain potentially harmful substances such as methylmercury. Red and processed meat contributes to the intake of saturated fat in the Danish diet and is associated with the development of different types of cancer, but red meat is also an important source of e.g. dietary iron. Replacing red and processed meat with fish in the Danish diet can therefore have a health impact on human health.

Seven thousand healthy years of life to be gained annually

Risk-benefit assessments weigh up the beneficial and adverse health effects by estimating how many healthy years of life a population gains because of health improvements, or lose due to reduced quality of life or by dying earlier than expected.

This is exactly what Sofie Theresa Thomsen has done in her calculations.

“They show that the Danish population as a whole can gain up to 7,000 healthy years of life annually, if all adult Danes eat fish in the recommended quantities while at the same time reducing their meat intake. This estimate covers among others the prevention of approximately 170 deaths from coronary heart disease per year,” she says.

However, the health benefit depends on the type of fish people put on their plates, as well as the age and sex of the persons whose diet is being altered.

Go easy on the tuna

The greatest health benefit comes from eating only fatty fish (such as herring and mackerel) or a mixture of fatty and lean fish (such as plaice and pollock), while a smaller health gain is achieved by eating only lean fish. This is because fatty fish contain larger amounts of beneficial fatty acids.

On the other hand, the calculations show a significant health loss if tuna is the only type of fish in the diet, because tuna is both low in beneficial fatty acids and can have high concentrations of methylmercury. The health loss is calculated as particularly high among women of childbearing age, as intake of fish with a high concentration of methylmercury can damage unborn children’s brain development.

Furthermore, the study shows that it is possible to reduce the proportion of Danes who have an insufficient intake of vitamin D significantly by replacing some of the red and processed meat with a mixture of fatty and lean fish. The study also points out that the proportion of Danes with an insufficient intake of dietary iron will not increase despite the lowered meat intake.

Greatest effect among men over 50 and childbearing women

The study shows large variations in the overall health impact when the red and processed meat gives way to fish. Everyone over the age of 50—but the men in particular—as well as women of childbearing age will reap the greatest health benefits from eating 350 grams of fish weekly, of which 200 grams are fatty fish.

For men, this is because the group as a whole is at higher risk than other population groups of developing cardiovascular disease. The risk is reduced by replacing part of the red meat with fish that contain fatty acids, which can prevent cardiovascular disease.

“In women of childbearing age the health benefit is particularly large because the intake of fish containing healthy fish oils will not only benefit the women themselves. The health-promoting properties of fish will also have a beneficial effect in the development of their unborn children, which is taken into account in the overall calculations,” Sofie Theresa Thomsen explains.

Useful when developed intervention strategies and dietary advice

The methods developed in the PhD study are useful e.g. when examining the health effects of various interventions designed to promote healthy eating habits or when developing official dietary guidelines.

Source: National Food Institute

Large Char Siu Ramen of Ramen Taketora (らーめん たけ虎) in Shibuya, Japan

Char siu (roasted pork) hanging on the side of the whole bowl

The price of each bowl is 1,480 yen (tax included).

The Smell of Dark Chocolate, Demystified

Chocolate is one of the most-consumed treats around the world, and the smell alone is usually enough to evoke strong cravings from even the most disciplined eaters. Much like a fine wine, high-quality dark chocolate has a multi-layered scent and flavor, with notes of vanilla, banana or vinegar. Now, researchers report in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry which substances — and how much of them — make up this heavenly aroma.

Flavor is more than just what the tongue tastes — smell also plays a key role, with many compounds working together to create a unique sensory experience. Although nearly 600 compounds have been identified in chocolate over the last century, only a fraction of them are known to contribute to the aroma. Previous studies have identified compounds responsible for the scent of milk and dark chocolates, but it’s been unclear how much of each component is needed to make something smell specifically like dark chocolate. To uncover this olfactory mystery, Carolin Seyfried and Michael Granvogl decided to build the scent from scratch for the first time using state-of-the-art methods.

The researchers purchased two types of dark chocolate, each with a distinguishable aroma, from a local grocery store. With aroma extract dilution analysis, they identified the volatile compounds that likely contributed to the bars’ scents. Next, they measured the amounts of the compounds with stable isotope dilution analysis. Some of these substances, such as the violet-scented β-ionone, were quantified for the first time in chocolate. Finally, using these data, the team reconstructed the aromas of the two dark chocolates, which smelled very similar to the original bars, according to a trained sensory panel. The researchers say this finding shows that the essential aroma compounds in chocolate were correctly identified and quantitated.

The findings were pblished in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Source: American Chemical Society

Brain Bleed Risk Puts Safety of Low-Dose Aspirin in Doubt

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . .

Let’s say you’re one of the millions of older adults who takes a low-dose aspirin religiously, in the belief that it will guard against heart disease and heart attacks.

Now, a new review suggests your risk of a brain bleed outweighs any heart benefit that a daily aspirin might bring you.

Researchers said the findings support a recent change to guidelines on low-dose aspirin: The blood thinner should now be reserved for people at high risk of heart attack or stroke.

Others can skip it.

The change was issued in March by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA). The groups said that while the bleeding risk with aspirin has always been known, it now appears the risk is not worth it for most people.

Instead, the average person should focus on controlling their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and not smoking.

“All of those things are more important than taking low-dose aspirin in preventing future heart attacks and strokes,” said Dr. Meng Lee, one of the authors of the new report.

“Our findings do support the latest change to the ACC/AHA guidelines,” said Lee, of Chang Gung University College of Medicine, in Taiwan.

For the study, the investigators pooled the results from 13 clinical trials testing low-dose aspirin in older adults with no history of heart problems or stroke. On average, aspirin raised the risk of bleeding in or around the brain by 37%, the findings showed.

The risk was still small: The researchers estimate that a daily aspirin would cause an additional two brain bleeds for every 1,000 people.

But for people at lower risk of heart attack or stroke, that’s a chance they probably should not take, according to the new guidelines.

And, based on two trials, people of Asian ethnicity might be at particular risk of brain bleeding. Patients in those studies saw their risk rise by 84%.

It’s not clear why, according to Lee — but other studies have found the same pattern.

The latest finding was published online in JAMA Neurology.

If it has long been known that aspirin carries a bleeding risk, why is the advice changing now?

Research in recent years has shown that the balance of risks versus benefits has changed, explained Dr. Eugene Yang, a member of the ACC’s Prevention Section and Leadership Council.

Earlier studies did suggest that the bleeding risks with aspirin were generally outweighed by its ability to curb the odds of a first-time heart attack and stroke.

But things are different today, Yang explained. People are smoking less and there have been improvements in controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol. That means for lower-risk people, the heart benefit of aspirin has diminished — making the bleeding risk more of a concern.

Yang stressed, however, that the guideline change applies only to people without “overt” cardiovascular disease. For people with a history of heart attack or stroke, or significant narrowing in the arteries supplying the heart, brain or legs, the advice stays the same.

“In those cases, you’re trying to prevent further complications,” said Yang, who is also a clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington, in Seattle.

In addition, he pointed out, aspirin is not an absolute “no” for preventing first-time complications, either.

The guidelines say people over age 70 should avoid aspirin if they do not have overt cardiovascular disease. But it may still be considered for certain people ages 40 to 70 who are at heightened risk of cardiovascular complications.

“It’s not a simple, black-and-white decision,” Yang said.

If you are currently taking aspirin and wondering if you should stop, talk to your doctor first, Yang advised.

“There could be other reasons it was prescribed, such as lowering the risk of colon cancer or to prevent blood clots,” he said.

Source: HealthDay


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