Posts

Showing posts from 2012

Black Pepper Fights Fat

A simple, widely available spice and kitchen staple may help us trim our waistlines. New research published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry gives the nod to black pepper.
The study provides evidence of a long-sought explanation for the beneficial, fat-fighting effects of the common seasoning. Piperine, the pungent-tasting substance that gives black pepper its characteristic taste, helps block the formation of new fat cells.

Repair and Reuse: Mending a Throwaway Culture

Countries can learn much from each other, and people that know how to fix things now have another model for benefiting their community by reducing the burden on landfills.

Conceived three years ago in Amsterdam as a way to help reduce waste, the Repair Café concept—in which citizens gather one or more days a month to socialize while mending clothes and broken household items like coffeemakers and vacuum cleaners—currently operates in more than 30 locations throughout The Netherlands. The effort in sustainability has been bolstered by a government grant, support from foundations and small donations that pay for staffing, marketing and even a Repair Café bus.

“In Europe, we throw out so many things,” says Martine Postma, a former journalist who initiated the idea after attending an exhibit on the benefits of repairing and recycling. “It’s a shame, because the things we throw away are usually not that broken.”

“I think it’s a great idea,” says Han van Kasteren, a professor at the Eindho…

Green Christmas Holiday Planet Savers

Here are some fresh ways to tweak family traditions for a greener holiday this and every year.

Incorporate local, sustainable cuisine into the family feast. Ingredients for a traditional holiday dinner can travel up to 30,000 miles. Instead, show support for local community farmers and reduce food transportation miles by choosing a heritage turkey or meatless entrée. Stellar complements may include organic cranberry jelly, mulled apple cider or wine from an area farm, orchard or vineyard.

Adopt or recycle the Christmas tree. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as many as 33 million live-cut Christmas trees are purchased each year in North America, and most end up
in landfills. Fortunately, Christmas tree adoption services like Central California’s Rent a Living Christmas Tree are popping up across the country, allowing them to go on living. The potted trees can be rented and delivered. If tree adoption services are not yet available locally, make sure to recycle a …

A Wise Man’s Gift for Arthritis Sufferers

Frankincense, an aromatic resin obtained from Boswellia trees native to Africa, is an age-old herbal remedy that may help alleviate the pain of arthritis, according to scientists at Cardiff University, in Wales. “The search for new ways of relieving the symptoms of inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis is a long and difficult one,” says Dr. Emma Blain, who led the research with coinvestigators Professor Vic Duance, from Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences, and Dr. Ahmed Ali, of the Compton Group. The team believes they have been able to demonstrate that treatment with an extract of Boswellia frereana—a rare frankincense species—inhibits the production of key inflammatory molecules and helps prevent the breakdown of cartilage tissue that causes the condition.

The African Somali people have long used extracts of frankincense as a traditional remedy for arthritis. “Our research achieved the use of innovative chemical extraction techniques to determine the active ingredient in…

Shrimply Alarming

Shrimp cocktail is a popular holiday appetizer, but may not be the healthiest menu choice.

Researchers at Texas Tech University have found evidence of antibiotics in samples of farm-raised shrimp of international origin imported onto U.S. grocery shelves. The antibiotics present included nitrofuranzone, a probable human carcinogen. Two samples of the seafood tested in major cities contained levels of nitrofuranzone that were 28 and 29 times higher than the amount allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Domestic shrimp harvested from the Gulf of Mexico also contained carcinogens and toxicants, according to a recent article by GreenMedInfo.com.

Equally unsettling, most farmraised shrimp is far from sustainable, says Oregon researcher J. Boone
Kauffmann, who estimates that 50 to 60 percent of shrimp farms worldwide are built on cleared mangrove areas. The shrimp produced from these farms have a carbon footprint up to 10 times higher than beef from cows raised on cleared Amazon…

Good Foods to Keep the Brain Sharp

New research reveals that diet may make a difference in reducing the risk of developing the most common form of dementia, known as Alzheimer’s disease. A study published by the American Academy of Neurology suggests that eating foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, chicken, salad dressing and nuts, may be related to lower blood levels of a problematic protein called beta-amyloid associated with Alzheimer’s and memory problems.

For the study, 1,219 people older than 65 and free of dementia provided information about their diets for an average of 1.2 years before their blood was tested for beta-amyloid. Researchers looked specifically at 10 nutrients, including saturated fatty acids; omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids; mono-unsaturated fatty acids; vitamins E, C, B12 and D; beta-carotene; and folate. The scientists found that higher consumption of omega-3 fatty acids corresponded to lower blood beta-amyloid levels.

Particularly, those consuming just one gram …

Eco-Pioneer Paying It Forward: Rachel Carson’s Legacy

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s seminal book, Silent Spring, which warned of the far-reaching dangers of deadly pesticides and was widely regarded as a catalyst for America’s conservation, clean air and water and environmental protection movements.

Now author Laurie Lawlor and illustrator Laurie Beingessner bring her message to today’s youth in the children’s book, Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World. Carson’s life—from her childhood fascination with nature to becoming a college graduate and biologist to writing Silent Spring before her death in 1964—is told in easy-to-understand terms. An epilogue recounts her legacy for all generations.

Carson encouraged readers to rethink fundamental values about the relationship between people and nature and not to suppose that, “Nature exists for the convenience of man,” as she put it. One of the vivid examples of life’s interconnectedness that Carson cited occurred in Clear Lake, Californ…

Breast Cancer Links to Environmental Toxins

New evidence that chemical pollution may be linked to breast cancer comes from a surprising source: a group of male breast cancer patients at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina. Poisons in the camp’s drinking water, including benzene, a carcinogenic gasoline additive, perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE), are regarded as a cause; conditions at the base are also blamed for unusual rates of leukemia and birth defects.
The worst period of contamination of the base’s water supply began in the late 1950s and continued for more than 30 more years. Because men are simpler to study than women— their risk of developing breast cancer is not complicated by factors such as menstruation, reproduction, breastfeeding and hormone replacement therapy—the epidemiologists may be able to conclusively link industrial chemicals with an increased risk of the disease for both genders.
Source: National Disease Clusters Alliance

October 24 is Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Day

The popularity of acupuncture in the United States is increasing steadily, according to a study of Americans’ use of the ancient Chinese energy balancing technique, published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Researchers found that in 2007, 6 percent of adult Americans included acupuncture as part of their regular health care regimen, up 42 percent from 2002 (at that time, the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine also reported that 60 percent of adults surveyed considered acupuncture as a treatment option).
Most commonly used for pain relief, acupuncture is based on the theory that needle stimulation of specific points on the body’s energy channels, called meridians, corrects imbalances and helps restore health. Some Western experts believe that the needles stimulate pain-sensing nerves, which trigger the brain to release endorphins, the body’s pain-relieving chemicals.
Former President Richard Nixon is generally credited wit…

ABCs Keep Colon Cancer at Bay

What do Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower have in common? According to a new  study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, these cruciferous veggies are associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer. Throw in a good measure of A’s, as in apples, and people can also reduce their risk of distal colon cancer, report researchers from the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research at the University of Western Australia and Deakin University, in Victoria, Australia. The investigation examined the potential link between fruits and vegetables and three cancers in different parts of the bowel.

Few U.S. Adults Regularly Practice Healthy Habits

A recent American Heart Association (AHA) survey reports that only 12 percent of American adults regularly practice the healthy-life trifecta of good nutrition, exercise and oral care. The most common excuse is a lack of time.
Of those surveyed, 80 percent said that eating at least nine servings of fruit and vegetables daily is a struggle. About 60 percent find it difficult to log the association’s recommended 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. At least 25 percent don’t brush and rinse twice daily and floss at least once daily.
Yet, 90 percent of Americans like the idea of improving their health. The AHA “My Heart. My Life.” initiative offers a straightforward set of solutions to help families understand how to make incremental changes that have long-term health impact (MyLifeCheck.Heart.org).
“Whether it is simply adding a 30-minute brisk walk to your day, eating a few more fruits and vegetables with meals, balancing your calories and physical activity to achieve a…

No GMOs: Stop Monsanto’s Attacks on Safe Food Laws

Beyond continuing its well-documented opposition to genetically modified (GMO) labeling laws in order to protect its corporate interests, Monsanto has recently launched aggressive backdoor attacks on organic and non-GMO farmers and consumers.
The corporation’s rider attached to the U.S. House of Representatives’ 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill would allow planting of new genetically engineered (GE) crops—even when courts rule that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved them illegally.
Now, Monsanto has slipped an even more dangerous provision, HR 872, into the house version
of the Farm Bill. This so-called Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act would stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from reviewing new and expanded uses of pesticides (often caused by the introduction of herbicideresistant GMO crops) and require the USDA to approve GE crops easier and faster.
Most GMO crops have been genetically engineered to withstand spraying with herbicides whose toxic ing…

Why Laptops Should be Renamed... and Relocated

The portable computers that serve as our business and communication “lifelines” may actually be thwarting unborn lives. Researchers suggest that laptop computer (LTC) users should avoid putting the devices directly on their laps, especially for extended periods of time.

Recent research reported in the journal Fertility and Sterility examined semen samples from 29 healthy male donors that used an LTC on their laps, near their testes. The scientists found that LTCs connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi resulted in decreased sperm motility and increased sperm DNA fragmentation.

A separate study, published in the journal Archives of Environmental and Occupational Health, noted that electromagnetic fields produced by LTCs likely induce currents within the body and can expose developing fetuses in pregnant women to unsafe levels. The researchers concluded that, “[An individual’s] ‘laptop’ is paradoxically an improper site for the use of an LTC, which consequently
should be renamed to not ind…

New Study Finds Walnuts Improve Sperm Quality In Men

A Healthy Family Starts With Walnuts FOLSOM, Calif., Aug. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Research published in the recent issue of Biology of Reproduction Papers-in-Press reports that 75 grams (approximately 2.5 ounces) of walnuts consumed per day improved sperm vitality, motility, and morphology (normal forms) in a group of healthy young men between 21-35 years of age.  These findings are of particular interest to the 70 million couples worldwide who experience sub-fertility or infertility.  In fact, 30 – 50% of these cases are attributed to the male partner, and in the United States the prevalence of men seeking help for fertility is estimated at ~3.3 – 4.7 million[1].
(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120816/SF58428-a)
(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120816/SF58428LOGO-b)
(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120112/MM34615LOGO-a)
This research suggests that walnuts provide key nutrients that may be essential in male reproductive health.  According to Professor Wendi…

Walking + Texting = Forgetting

Talking on a cell phone or texting might have an unexpectedly troubling downside. Researchers at Stony Brook University, in New York, studied young people that were texting while walking and discovered that they walked slower, veered off course more and experienced decreased working memory.

Dried Plums Keep Bones Healthy

When it comes to improving bone health in postmenopausal women—and people of all ages, for that matter—eating dried plums is a simple, proactive solution to help prevent fractures and osteoporosis, reports a Florida State University researcher. “During my career, I have tested numerous fruits, including figs, dates, strawberries and raisins, and none of them come anywhere close to having the effect on bone density that dried plums, or prunes, have,” says Bahram H. Arjmandi, The Florida State University’s Margaret A. Sitton Professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences.
Arjmandi and his colleagues tested two groups of postmenopausal women over a 12-month period. The first group of 55 women consumed 100 grams of dried plums (about 10 prunes) each day, while the second, control group of 45 women ate 100 grams of dried apples. All participants also received daily doses of calcium (500 milligrams) and vitamin D (400 international units). The group that con…

Juggling Bumps Up Brainpower

Can rhythmically tossing and catching balls in the air help grow the brain? Researchers from the Universität Regensburg, in Germany, after studying two dozen people using brain scans, say yes. Half were asked to learn to juggle; the others were given no special instructions. After three months, the brains of the jugglers had grown by 3 to 4 percent in the areas that process visual and motor information; the more skilled the jugglers became, the greater the brain growth. No change occurred in the non-juggling group. The research team says the study proves that new stimuli can alter the brain’s structure, not just its function.
Source: Nature.com

Perfect Pools: Practical Options for Chlorine-Free Swimming

Swimming in an ocean, river or lake dramatically differs from man-made pools in obvious ways, but also one that water lovers may not dwell on. In the typical, chlorine-laced environment of most public and private pools, major emphasis is placed on killing germs quickly and cheaply; possible side effects to skin, hair and lungs from exposure to a toxic chemical are assumed.
Nevertheless, safe and refreshing options are available.
Saltwater pools use sodium chloride in a naturally occurring cycle to keep it clean. Chlorine is present as a byproduct of the off-gassing of the salt, but much less so than in a conventionally chlorinated pool. An ionizer not only keeps water sanitized, it makes the water feel silky smooth to the touch, using copper and sometimes silver ions to maintain cleanliness. No salt and little or no chlorine are used. An oxidation system is a chemical-free way to keep pools disinfected using ultraviolet light or electricity; it requires a generator. Production of ultr…

Rice Syrup Alert

Consider reading labels and avoiding or restricting foods sweetened with rice syrup, at least for now. A recent study by researchers at Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire, found levels of arsenic in foods containing rice syrup that exceeded U.S. standards for bottled water. The sampling of products included cereal bars, energy shots (drinks) and baby formulas sweetened with organic brown rice syrup. Arsenic is toxic and potentially carcinogenic, and the researchers are pushing for regulatory limits in food, like those that protect drinking water.

Storm Clouds: Data Centers Leave Bigfoot Carbon Footprints

Giant data centers, known as “clouds,” that store and transmit data, photos, emails, songs and streaming videos every day, have become one of the fastest-growing consumers of worldwide electricity. Now, a Greenpeace International report details the truth about how much coal is burned to operate and maintain this virtual, online cloud of electronic data transmission worldwide.
Every day, tons of asthma-inducing, climate-destroying coal pollution is emitted into the air just to keep the Internet going. The good news is that tech industry leaders such as Facebook and Google are starting to quit the coal habit; Apple’s new North Carolina data center will run in part on renewable, biogaspowered fuel cells and a large array of solar panels.
A Greenpeace initiative is working to persuade Microsoft, Amazon and others to likewise disassociate their brands from the specter of poisoned air currently damaging the climate.
Take action at Tinyurl.com/dirtycloud.

Cancer Prevention in a Spice

This year, an estimated 52,610 people (38,380 men and 14,230 women) will develop cancer in the head and neck, leading to an estimated 11,500 deaths (or just under 22 percent), according to statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society’s publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2012. New hope may lie in an ancient spice.
A pilot study conducted at the University of California-Los Angeles Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has shown that eating curcumin, the main component in the spice turmeric, works to suppress a cell-signaling pathway that spurs the growth of malignancies in the head and neck. Further, curcumin reduces pro-inflammatory cytokines (naturally occurring regulatory proteins) within saliva.
Turmeric is widely used in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking (curry, for example), and has been long valued for its anti-inflammatory properties. In India, women have used it for centuries as an anti-aging agent rubbed into the skin, as a poultice to promote wound healing and…

The Lowdown on Low Iron

Low levels of iron in the blood not only cause fatigue, but also may be linked to more serious health risks, including dangerous blood clots. Iron deficiency is widespread, and thought to affect at least 1 billion people worldwide, mostly women. Alleviating such deficiencies is a preventive measure.
Source: Imperial College, London

Why Corn Syrup is Worse than Sugar

Why is it important to choose natural sugars instead of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)? Dr. Vanessa
Bundy, a pediatric resident at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University, remarks, “Fructose is metabolized differently than other sugars and has some byproducts [that are] believed to be bad for us.”


Children and adolescents that consume many foods containing pure fructose, such as sodas and energy drinks, kids’ cereals and sugary snacks, are at special risk. The researchers’ analysis of 559 adolescents, ages 14 to 18, correlated high-fructose diets with higher blood pressure, fasting glucose
levels, insulin resistance and inflammatory factors that contribute to heart and vascular disease. Heavy consumers of the mega-sweetener also tended to have lower levels of cardiovascular protectors such as HDL (good) cholesterol and adiponectin, a protein hormone that regulates the body’s metabolism of lipids (fats and oils) and glucose (a simple sugar and universal s…

Bad Air: Smog Pollution Threatens National Parks

The nonprofit Sierra Club is waging a fundraising campaign to protect U.S. national parks from the effects of power plants burning dirty coal.  Executive Director Michael Brune reports, “Nearly one-third of all national parks exceed pollution safety levels.” To date, the club has been successful in stopping construction of 160 coal-fired plants.

Natural Resources Defense Council (nrdc.org) analyses show that not only cities, but seaside suburbs and rural areas as well, are reporting health-threatening “bad air days” during the summer due to smog pollution. Some 250 communities and parks in nearly 40 states, led by California, routinely experience one or more “code orange” dangerous air days, deemed unsafe for children, older adults and those with breathing problems to be outside. More than 2,000 air quality alerts occurred nationwide in the first seven months of 2011, with many areas having long periods of days marred by elevated smog levels.

The push for cleaner air comes amid ongoi…

Beauty Detox Put Your Best Face Forward Safely

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) estimates that the average woman uses at least 12 personal care products—including soaps, shampoos, cosmetics and lotions— every day, many of which contain potentially toxic ingredients. The David Suzuki Foundation states, “U.S. researchers report that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins or hormone disruptors.” Stacy Malkan, of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, advises, “Beware of bogus claims like ‘certified hypoallergenic’, meaningless marketing terms like ‘clean and simple’, and companies that do not list the product ingredients on their website.”

One of the most troublesome additives is paraben, a chemical preservative found in numerous products that mimics estrogen and may disrupt normal hormone function. Others include diethanolamine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA), hormone disrupters that can form cancer-causing nitrates and are common ingredients of shampoos…

Go Rio: Natural Wealth Spreadsheet Proposal

The British government is setting up a Natural Capital Committee that will describe the country’s wealth in terms of the quality of its air, water, wildlife and other natural resources. Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman intends to propose that all countries begin “green accounting” to audit the state of their rivers, forests and other landscapes.

The United Nations Rio+20 Conference in Brazil this June is expected to unite the participating nations in protecting the world’s environment. Sustainable development goals under consideration include ensuring that all agriculture is sustainable, protecting oceans, setting up an international court on environmental crime, and appointing an ombudsperson to speak on behalf of future generations.

The summit, to be attended by 190 nations, will also look at cutting subsidies for fossil fuels and low carbon energy for all. Spelman observes that businesses in Great Britain are already measuring the impact they are having on the environment. S…

Sky Scrapers ‘Living’ Buildings Might Inhale Urban Carbon Emissions

Dr. Rachel Armstrong, a senior TED fellow and co-director of Avatar, a research group exploring advanced technologies in architecture, is promoting the development of buildings with “lungs” that could absorb carbon emissions and convert them into something useful and “skin” that could control interior temperatures without radiators or air-conditioning. She projects that, “Over the next 40 years, these ‘living’ buildings, biologically programmed to extract carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, could fill our cities.”

It’s an application of synthetic biology, a new science devoted to the manufacture of lifelike matter from synthesized chemicals that engineers create tobehave like organic microorganisms, with the added benefit that they can be manipulated to do things nature can’t. Armstrong calls them protocells.

She explains, “A protocell could be mixed with wall paint and programmed to produce limestone when exposed to carbon [emissions] on the surface of a building. Then you’ve got …

Auto Immune Toxicity Report on New Car Interiors

The consumer watchdog Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff.org, a product test results website, points out that
there is more to green vehicles than fuel economy. That new-car smell can include a toxic mix of chemicals carried over from the manufacturing of seats, steering wheels, dashboards and armrests. The group’s fourth annual report on more than 200 model year 2011 and 2012 vehicles gave the Honda Civic and CR-Z and the Toyota Prius top marks for the least interior pollution, while the Kia Soul, Chrysler 200 SC and Mitsubishi Outlander ranked as the worst.

The researchers tested for toxic heavy metals such as lead and mercury, and cancer-causing chemicals like benzene and brominated flame retardants. “Automobiles function as chemical reactors, creating one of the most hazardous environments we spend time in,” says Jeff Gearhart, research director of the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based nonprofit.

No mandatory testing or regulation of the chemicals used in vehicle manufacturing exists, so cons…

Spuds Lower Blood Pressure

The potato’s rep as a fattening food is getting a much-deserved revision. In a recent report in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists note that two small servings of purple potatoes a day reduce blood pressure by about 4 percent—nearly as much as oatmeal—without causing weight gain. The researchers say that decrease may potentially reduce the risk of some forms of heart disease.
In the study, 18 volunteers that were overweight or obese with high blood pressure ate six to eight golf ball-sized purple majesty potatoes, with skins, twice a day for a month. The researchers used purple potatoes because the pigment in darker fruits and vegetables is especially rich in beneficial phytochemicals. They monitored participants’ blood pressure, both systolic (the first number in a blood pressure reading, such as 120/80) and diastolic, and found that the average diastolic pressure dropped by 4.3 percent, while the systolic pressure decreased by 3.5…

Flexible Work places Boost Well-Being

Better sleep and feelings of health are among the benefits of a flexible workplace, according to a new study by University of Minnesota sociology professors that followed 608 office employees in a collaborating company.
The initiation of a performance-focused work environment that redirected the focus of employees and managers towards measurable results and away from when and where work was completed, yielded positive markers. Employees that were allowed to routinely change when and where they worked, based upon their individual needs and job responsibilities, experienced improved sleep quality, higher energy levels, better self-reported health and a sense of personal mastery.
Source: Journal of Health and Social Behavior

Tiny Baubles: Plastic Pollution Flows from Washday to the Sea

A study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology warns that microscopic plastic debris from washing clothes made of synthetic materials like polyester, acrylic and nylon is accumulating in the marine environment and could be entering the food chain. Concentrations were greatest near coastal urban areas.
Up to 1,900 tiny fibers per garment were released with each wash during the study. Earlier research has shown that plastic particles smaller than one millimeter comprise 80 percent of environmental plastic and are being eaten by animals and getting into the food chain.
Mark Browne, Ph.D., an ecologist based at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a member of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, advises, “Once the plastics had been eaten, they transferred from the animals’ stomachs to their circulation system and actually accumulated in their cells.”
The team took samples from 18 beaches around the globe, including sites in Austr…

Sour News ABOUT Sweet Drinks

Drinking sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages may increase a woman’s risk of heart disease and diabetes, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2011.
Middle-aged and older women that drank two or more such drinks per day were nearly four times as likely to develop high triglycerides and significantly more likely to develop impaired fasting glucose levels, plus increase their waist size. The study also noted that risk factors for heart disease and stroke developed even when the women didn’t gain weight.

Memory and the Pill

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) report that while birth control pills don’t damage memory, they can alter it. Women that were not taking birth control pills were better at remembering details than their peers on the pill.
The difference makes sense, says UCI graduate researcher Shawn Nielsen, because contraceptives suppress sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone to prevent pregnancy. These hormones were previously linked to women’s strong left-brain memory by a UCI research group led by Ph.D. Neurobiologist Larry Cahill.

Eating Greens Can Change Genes

An international team of scientists led by researchers at McMaster and McGill universities, in Canada, were surprised to find that consuming generous amounts of fruit and raw vegetables modified a gene designated 9p21, the strongest marker for heart disease. In one of the largest gene-diet interaction studies ever conducted related to cardiovascular disease, the researchers analyzed more than 27,000 individuals from five ethnicities—Latin American, European, Chinese, South Asian and Arab—and the effect their diets had on the target gene.

They discovered that men and women with the high-risk genotype that consumed a healthy diet with plenty of raw vegetables and fruits had a risk of heart attack similar to individuals carrying the low-risk genotype. “We know that 9p21 genetic variants increase the risk of heart disease for those that carry it,” says Genetic Epidemiologist Jamie Engert, joint principal investigator of the study, “but it was a surprise to find that a healthy diet could …