Tuesday, May 16, 2006

To Stay Healthy, Eat Red Meat & Load up on Ice Cream

Two separate studies show that red meat reduces blood pressure and low fat diets have no affect on cancer or heart disease.

Combined with recent news that the health benefits of green tea and soy beans have been discounted, one begins to wonder what the definition of "eating healthy" is anymore.

Eat your steak
In Australia, new research reported by The Australian found substituting red meat for bread lowered the blood pressure of study participants by 20 percent. How could this be? Two things: salt and amino acids (protein).

Red meat has less salt in it than bread. And while
scientists still debate the relationship between salt and high blood pressure, it's likely that salt (or something common to high-salt diets) raises blood pressure.

As far as protein, previous research shows increasing protein can lower blood pressure. I learned this while reading about
a study at News.BBC.co.uk earlier this year. The study actually dealt with how diets rich in vegetables lowered blood pressure. But the BBC's story explained that amino acids -- which are common in both vegetables and meat -- can dilate blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure.

What about fat?
While you're reaching for a steak, go ahead and snag some french fries, ice cream and maybe a doughnut, too.
The New York Times reported on a study this year finding low-fat diets don't cut down on your risks for heart attacks, strokes, colon cancer or breast cancer.

And this wasn't just any study. Citing the research's size and funding, one doctor called this "the Rolls-Royce" of studies, reports the Times.

Unfortunately, the study's scientists and others interviewed by the Times were short on specifics. The most poignant comment came from Barbara V. Howard, an epidemiologist and principal investigator in the study: "We are not going to reverse any of the chronic diseases in this country by changing the composition of the diet… people are always thinking it's what they ate. They are not looking at how much they ate or that they smoke or that they are sedentary."

In other words, health is a very complex thing and no single factor -- not even ones so broad as diet, activity level or smoking -- can be blamed for any disease. Well, maybe smoking can. But that's another blog entry.


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About Me

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.