Image credit: Daniella Segura
Eating peanuts good for health of arteries claims new research
Peanuts – the most popular snack in the UK – do more than provide a tasty treat, as scientists have discovered they could help the body’s network of blood vessels too.
Peanuts are actually legumes (seeds that grow in pods) and are an excellent source of protein.
Experts split a group of 15 overweight men into two groups. Half had a shake that included 3oz of ground peanuts. The other half had the shake (without the peanuts) but it was the same in terms of energy and nutrients.
The men that had the peanut shake had better functioning blood vessels afterwards than did the other group.
“Peanuts are a healthy snack when eaten as part of a healthy diet,” says lead researcher Xiaoran Liu. “Previous studies have shown that individuals who consume peanuts more than two times a week have a lower risk of coronary heart disease. This study indicates that the protective effect of peanut consumption could be due, in part, to its beneficial effect on artery health.”
But remember that peanuts are very full of energy, so use them as a replacement for other calories, rather than an addition.
Source, Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul: www.jumpstartonline.co.uk.
Hot stuff! Folic acid may help older people cope with heat waves
Taking folic acid can improve blood vessel dilation in older people, according to new research, so folic acid supplements could be an inexpensive way to help older people increase skin blood flow during heat waves and reduce possible cardiovascular events.
“We know that when older adults are exposed to heat, their bodies are not able to increase skin blood flow to the same extent that young subjects do, and as a consequence, older adults are at a greater risk for cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, during environmental heat waves,” explains Anna Stanhewicz, who is involved in the work. “When young, healthy people are exposed to heat, their bodies increase blood flow to the skin and this increased flow, combined with sweating, helps to cool the body down.”
This is partly because older blood vessels cannot make enough nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is produced by the blood vessels using an enzyme that needs a cofactor called BH4. As people age, their levels of BH4 decrease.
The research team previously found that when they gave BH4 to older adults they were able to produce more nitric oxide. And the new study showed that folic acid increased nitric oxide production by increasing BH4.
“The bottom line is that folic acid supplementation increased nitric oxide production in older blood vessels,” Anna Stanhewicz says.
Source, Jump Start Mind, Body & Soul: www.jumpstartonline.co.uk.
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Man-made broccoli compound may become a future osteoarthritis treatment
A new drug based on a substance found in broccoli could offer hope to people with osteoarthritis, says research presented at a conference.
The therapy is based on a man-made version of sulforaphane, which is a compound found in vegetables such as cabbage, sprouts and broccoli.
Experts have found that the compound blocks enzymes that destroy joint cartilage and processes that cause inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. But people would have to consume immense amounts for it to have an effect.
But now a team has cleverly managed to incorporate sulforaphane into a medication called Sulforadex (SFX-01), in which a single dose provides as much sulforaphane as eating around 2.5 kg of broccoli in a day.
Lab tests showed that SFX-01 improved bone architecture, balance and movement.
A spokeswoman from Arthritis Research UK comments:
“We know that sulforaphane helps to block inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, but so far it has been difficult to see how this finding could be applied to humans without them having to consume vast amounts of broccoli every day. This new research could take us a step closer to being able to take a daily supplement.”
Source, Arthritis Digest: www.arthritisdigest.co.uk.
Image credit: Gustaaf Prins
Cats relax to the sound of music – and classical is top of their list
It is widely accepted that, in humans, music relaxes the body, mind and soul and an extensive body of research indicates that these benefits extend even to patients under general anaesthesia. And it appears that the same could go for cats.
“In the surgical theatres at the faculty where I teach and at the private veterinary medical centre where I spend my time operating, environmental music is always present, and is an important element in promoting a sense of wellbeing in the team, the animals, and their owners,” explains lead researcher, Miguel Carreira. “Different music genres affect individuals in different ways. During consultations I have noticed, for example, that most cats like classical music, particularly George Handel compositions, and become more calm, confident and tolerant throughout the clinical evaluation.”
The research team studied 12 female pet cats undergoing surgery and recorded their respiratory rate and pupil diameter at various points to gauge their depth of anaesthesia. The cats, which had been fitted with headphones, were exposed to two minutes of silence (as a control), followed randomly by two minutes each of classical music, gentle pop music and heavy metal.
The results showed that the cats were in a more relaxed state under the influence of classical music, with the pop music producing intermediate values. By contrast, the heavy metal music produced the highest values, indicating a more stressful situation.
The clinicians conclude that the use of certain music genres in the surgical theatre may allow a decrease in the amount of anaesthetic needed, in turn reducing the risk of undesirable side effects and thus promoting patient safety.
Next the team is going to look at if dogs are affected in the same way.
Image credit: FaceMePLS
Celebrating pets and the elderly
National Pet Month was celebrated earlier this summer and the theme was Pets and the elderly: enjoying later years together. The following points were highlighted:
- Pet owners make fewer visits to their GP. Research in Germany found that those with pets paid 15% fewer visits to their doctor, with dog owning pensioners visiting their GP 21% less than non-dog owners.
- Pets help reduce blood pressure, heart rate and stress. Even a simple act such as stroking a pet or watching fish swim in an aquarium lowers anxiety and blood pressure, reducing heart rates even in stressful situations.
- Pets help make us more active. Dog walking, for example, can help reduce obesity, which is a £5 billion burden on the NHS each year.
- Pets do wonders for our social lives. In social settings, for instance, owning a dog can lead to more social interaction plus pets can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- Pets have a wonderful role to play as we grow older. Pets in care homes can have a transformative effect on residents, combatting loneliness. Aquariums have been found to improve behaviour in dementia units and when placed in dining rooms have even managed to improve appetites!
<<walking dog>> Image credit: FaceMePLS