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For The Love Of Food

by | Feb 25, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week we finally have definitive proof that the Biggest Loser and Dr. Oz are pure evil. It was just a matter of time. Also, a thought provoking piece on food prices, more condemning news for diet soda and a new recipe search tool from Google.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete list of my favorite stories check out my links on Digg. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Jan 14, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

I found a stellar collection of thought provoking stories this week. Did you know that the HDL story is more complicated than we originally speculated, even Paleo advocates can acknowledge that how you eat is important and that drinking more can be good for you? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete list of my favorite stories check out my links on Digg. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Dec 17, 2010

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Good cholesterol (and that means fat) may lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, why New Year’s resolutions are pointless and the benefits of sleep on your appearance. No recipe this week because all my favorite blogs were filled with cookies. Tis the season.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete reading list join me on Digg. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Nov 5, 2010

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This week I was introduced to the concept of food “ultra-processing”, learned how to best convince friends to eat more vegetables and was re-horrified at a fellow scientist’s ignorance of the relationship between dietary cholesterol to personal health.

On and unrelated note, I’ll be at the Foodbuzz Festival this weekend. If you’ll be around, come say hi 🙂

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete reading list join me on Digg. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | May 14, 2010

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Holy smokes was it a great week for reading around the web. Not only should you read all these articles, I strongly recommend glancing through my StumbleUpon and Delicious lists (see below) to browse all the stuff that didn’t make it here today (feel free to ignore the articles about basketball).

In other news I added Facebook Like buttons to my posts this week, so go nuts 🙂

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you there. (Note: If you want a follow back on Twitter introduce yourself with an @ message).

Links of the week

Enjoy!

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Cholesterol Explained [video]

by | May 12, 2010

Enough people have asked me if the kind of cholesterol in egg yolks is good or bad (hint: it’s neither) that I think it is time for a brief tutorial on this misunderstood molecule.

Rather than put you to sleep with a watered down version of a Wikipedia article I decided to explain the interaction of diet and cholesterol in a short video. Hopefully this will help clear up what cholesterol is and how you should eat to minimize your risk of heart disease.

As always, feel free to drop me questions in the comments.

If you like this story follow me on the new Digg!

http://forms.aweber.com/form/30/split_210533730.htm

Further reading:

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For The Love of Food

by | Sep 25, 2009
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

I’m pleased to inform you that I became an official blogger at The Huffington Post this week. My first article there was my interview with David Kessler, Learning to Eat Less: How Understanding Your Brain Can Make You Healthier. I hope to post many of my best articles there in the coming months, usually in the Living section.

Publication at Synapse has also resumed, though I have stepped down as the official science editor to focus on Summer Tomato and (ah hem) finish my lab work.

I’m also excited to announce the creation of the Summer Tomato monthly newsletter! The newsletter will include new content that is not posted here on the blog, and will feature Summer Tomato news, healthy eating tips and recipes. Newsletter subscribers will also have access to exclusive offers and discounts on future Summer Tomato material. Exciting, right?!

newsletter-formhttp://forms.aweber.com/form/16/1808371216.js

Don’t forget to confirm your subscription by clicking the link in the confirmation email.

If you are wary of entering your email address, rest assured I will never sell or exchange your information and you can unsubscribe anytime. Consider this my personal spam-free guarantee. The main purpose of the newsletter is to reward loyal readers with great tips to upgrade your healthstyle. Feel free to email me any time if you are unhappy with Summer Tomato material.

This week around the web there were some interesting articles about the cholesterol-heart disease hypothesis, which you may be surprised to hear is not particularly strong. These stories may renew your interest in my post last week on How to raise your HDL cholesterol. There are also a few pieces on the role of the brain in eating behavior, which I am becoming more and more interested in (shocking, I know).

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you there. (Note: If you want a follow back on Twitter introduce yourself with an @ message).

I also invite you to submit your own best food and health articles for next week’s For The Love of Food, just drop me an email using the contact form. I am also accepting guest posts at Summer Tomato for any awesome healthstyle tips and recipes you’d like to share.

This post is an open thread. Share your thoughts, writing (links welcome!) and delicious healthy meals of the week in the comments below.

For The Love of Food

What great stuff did you read and write this week?

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For The Love of Food

by | Jun 19, 2009
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

The food safety bill finally passed this week, I found 2 fabulous (looking) soup recipes and Lifehacker shares the best tools for storing them.

If you would like to see more of my favorite articles each week or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page.

Submissions of your own best food and health articles are also welcome, just drop me an email using the contact form. I am also currently accepting guest posts for any healthy eating and exercise tips.

For The Love of Food

What great articles did you read or write this week? Leave your links in the comments.

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The Curious Case of HDL Cholesterol

by | Mar 9, 2009

cholesterol chemical structureDrug treatments that raise the “good” high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol do not improve health outcomes, according to a new analysis. But some researchers suspect raising HDL through lifestyle changes may still be effective in treating heart disease.

HDL is the form of cholesterol that actively removes dangerous lipids from the blood, and has long been thought to be protective against heart disease. This form of cholesterol is believed to work in opposition to low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is strongly correlated with heart disease and cardiovascular mortality. Thus the ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterols is often considered the most important indicator of heart disease risk.

Strong clinical evidence shows that LDL lowering drugs like statins can protect against heart disease and cardiovascular mortality. However there is still no effective way of improving cardiovascular outcomes by directly targeting HDL cholesterol.

Pharmacological treatments that raise HDL cholesterol levels include fibrates, niacin and a Pfizer drug called Torcetrapib. However, trials that tested these drugs for improved cardiovascular outcome have yielded mixed results. Rather than lowering mortality risk, evidence suggests that fibrates and Torcetrapib actually increase mortality in patients. Some trials have shown niacin to be effective at reducing cardiovascular events, but the data are inconsistent.

A new meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal asked whether pharmacological treatments that are known to raise HDL can improve cardiovascular outcomes. After adjusting for several known confounders (including the effect of LDL cholesterol) pharmacological treatments that raise HDL were not effective at protecting against heart disease.

Does this mean that HDL is not important for heart disease? Not necessarily.

The original studies that implicated HDL in heart protection were observational. For example, it was shown in the Framington Heart Study that people with HDL levels greater than 60 mg/dL have a reduced risk of heart disease compared to individuals with lower HDL. Likewise, individuals with less than 40 mg/dL of blood HDL are considered at risk for coronary heart disease, even when LDL cholesterol is relatively low.

Additionally, lifestyle choices that contribute to raising HDL are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Examples of these are physical activity, weight loss, not smoking, increased omega-3 fatty acid consumption, decreased trans fat consumption, alcohol consumption and dietary soluble fiber. Also, diets low in saturated fat but relatively high in unsaturated fats have been shown to raise HDL and decrease heart disease risk.

All these HDL raising activities can improve cardiovascular outcome. However, this does not mean that HDL itself prevents heart disease. Rather, it seems to be a good biomarker (observational correlate) of heart disease.

Why are pharmacological methods of raising HDL not helpful (and possibly even harmful) at treating heart disease?

One possible explanation for this discrepancy is the observation that HDL has different forms, some that are protective and others that are harmful. For instance, some interventions may raise HDL cholesterol by limiting its breakdown (harmful), while others raise it by increasing HDL production (more beneficial). Also, some methods that increase HDL do so in a way that creates new problems, such as increased blood pressure.

The complex interaction between pharmacological interventions, HDL metabolism and cardiovascular outcome may have made it difficult to detect any benefit of raising HDL cholesterol in this meta-analysis. Since pharmacological intervention for raising HDL does not consistently help (and sometimes harms) cardiovascular outcome, lifestyle changes remain the most promising target for raising HDL to protect against heart disease.

Anyone want to guess how high my HDL cholesterol is??

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Should Doctors Recommend Wine To Patients?

by | Jan 15, 2009

Today I have an article out in Synapse called “Wine May Increase Heart Healthy Fats in the Blood.” I am making an executive decision that it is too science-y for this blog, so instead I would like to open a discussion about how doctors should treat information like this.

For you uber-nerds (like me), here is the PubMed link to the original paper.

Let’s start with some excerpts from my article:

  • Moderate alcohol consumption has long been known to be protective against mortality from coronary heart disease, but the biological mechanism of this effect is unknown. A new analysis suggests that drinking wine may alter the composition of healthy fats in the blood, mimicking the beneficial effects of seafood consumption and conferring protection against heart disease.”
  • “The beauty of this finding is that the improvement in fatty acid profile from wine consumption seems to be clinically relevant. Based on the current consensus, small dietary changes in fatty acid consumption have a large clinical effect, so a 38% to 50% increase in EPA levels among moderate wine drinkers is noteworthy. Similar levels of improvement in lipid profiles from studies of fish consumption have shown considerable benefit for cardiovascular outcome.”
  • “Thus, the present finding may offer dietary intervention as a possible method of cardiovascular protection, particularly when combined with increased omega-3 consumption.”
  • “In the present study, the difference between participants in the low fatty acid group who did not drink and those in the high fatty acid group who drank the most was an 83% increase in blood EPA, a change associated with a 50% to 75% reduced risk of heart attack. Such a dramatic difference represents a useful alternative to fish consumption for those who may not have access to seafood for whatever reason.”
  • “Thus, increasing both dietary omega-3 fatty acids and wine consumption may be helpful to protect against cardiovascular events. Plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in walnuts, soy, flax and canola oils, and one gram per day is the current recommendation for heart protection. “Moderate” alcohol intake is one glass per day for women and two for men.”

From a clinical perspective, the evidence that alcohol provides a tremendous protection against mortality from heart disease is undeniable. It is thought to work by both raising good HDL cholesterol and reducing blood clotting.

This effect is not limited to red wine, all spirits elicit substantial protection.

Despite these benefits, there are also a number of obvious reasons to avoid alcohol, particularly excessive consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with addiction, liver disease, stroke and can cause accidents and other behavioral problems.

Notably, benefits similar to those seen with alcohol can be conferred by increasing exercise amount or intensity.

If you want to experience the benefits of alcohol you need to use it in moderation, which is 1 drink per day for women and 2 for men, or possibly slightly more. More than one drink per day for women is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, however this effect is attenuated by sufficient folate intake.

Doctors have been recommending increasing exercise for decades, but only a small percentage of the population makes an effort to get enough to make it as valuable against heart disease as alcohol. Also, there is a large population of individuals that have physical ailments that prevent them from performing vigorous cardiovascular exercise.

But to this day the American Heart Association–the same agency that recommended the low-fat, high-carb diet that many argue actually promotes heart disease–refuses to recommend moderate alcohol consumption. The basic tenet of their argument is that alcohol is not necessary because heart protection can be achieved in other ways, and the risks outweigh the benefits.

Is this right? I’m not so convinced.

Do you think doctors should discuss the potential benefits of alcohol with their patients? Should the AHA change their recommendation?

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