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Eating grapes could lower your risk of heart failure caused by chronic high blood pressure (hypertension), says a University of Michigan study. Hypertensive rats fed a diet heavy in antioxidant-rich grapes for 18 weeks showed reduced heart-muscle enlargement and thickening, as well as improved blood-pumping, likely due to an increase in glutathione, a cellular antioxidant essential to heart health.
Fish Out the Junk
A diet high in omega-3s can slow the damage done to your brain by junk food, experts at the University of Liverpool have found. After reviewing 185 studies on the subject, the researchers concluded that, while a diet high in saturated fat and refined sugar can disrupt metabolism, nerve creation, and mental processing, foods containing omega-3 fatty acids—like those found in fish oil—can fight off the effects. “Fish oils… may [put the brakes on] the detrimental effects of some of the processes triggered in the brain by high-fat diets,” says Lucy Pickavance, Ph.D., one of the researchers involved in the study.
You Really Can’t Eat Just One
It’s your brain, not your taste buds, that keeps you chomping on chips, according to data presented to the American Chemical Society. When researchers fed rats standard animal feed, a mixture of fat and carbs, or potato chips, they found that the chips lit up brain areas controlling reward and addiction. Why is this good news? “If scientists can pin-point the molecular triggers in snacks that stimulate the brain’s reward center, it may be possible to develop drugs or nutrients… that help block this attraction to snacks and sweets,” says the paper’s author, Tobias Hoch, Ph.D.
A hit of whole walnuts or walnut oil can boost heart health, a new study asserts. Researchers at Penn State, Tufts, and UPenn gave subjects with high blood cholesterol either whole walnuts, walnut skins, defatted nut meat, or walnut oil. The oil came out on top for improving vascular health, while whole walnuts helped HDL—the good cholesterol—do its job better, too. “Incorporating walnuts and/or their oil in a heart-healthy diet may reduce the risk of heart disease,” says study honcho Claire Berryman.
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