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Blog posts of '2015' 'January'

Is an Avocado a Day a Secret to Better Health?

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Is an Avocado a Day a Secret to Better Health?Almost everyone knows the famous food-related piece of advice: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." But it may be time to rephrase that saying. Recent studies have shown that replacing bad fats (saturated fatty acids) with good fats (unsaturated fatty acids) can benefit cholesterol and help support both heart health and weight management. These studies point to the benefits of the Mediterranean diet as one pathway to better eating habits. One particular study focuses on the benefits of avocados as a novel way of introducing healthier fats into your diet.

Out with the Bad Fats and in with the Good!

Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the study sought to test the effect avocados had on traditional cardiovascular risk-factors by substituting the saturated fatty acids in the average American diet with unsaturated fatty acids found in avocados. Risk factors included: total cholesterol, triglycerides, small dense LDL, and non-HDL cholesterol.

Forty-five healthy, overweight, or obese patients ranging in age from 21 to 70 were selected. Placed on three different cholesterol-lowering diets, participants consumed an average American diet—consisting of 34% calories from fat, 51% carbohydrates, and 16% protein—for two weeks prior to starting one of the following cholesterol-lowering diets: a lower-fat diet without the consumption of avocado, a moderate-fat diet without avocado, and a moderate-fat diet that included eating one avocado per day.

An Avocado a Day...

When compared to the average American diet, LDL, commonly known as "bad choelsterol, was lower after consuming the moderate-fat diet that included an avocado. LDL was also lower for the moderate-fat diet without the avocado, but not as much; it was 8.3 mg/dL lower when compared to the avocado-a-day diet, which was 13.5 mg/dL lower.

"In the United States, avocados are not a mainstream food yet, and they can be expensive, especially at certain times of the year," said Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Ph.D, R.D., senior study author, Chair of the American Heart Association's Nutrition Committee, and Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. "Also, most people do not really know how to incorporate them in their diet except for making guacamole. But guacamole is typically eaten with corn chips, which are high in calories and sodium. Avacados, however, can also be eaten with salads, vegetables, sandwiches, lean protein foods (like chicken or fish) or even whole," she said.

Taking the First Steps to Better Heart Health

The focus behind many heart-healthy diets has been to change the types of fats consumed rather than eliminate them. The Mediterranean diet seeks to do this by going heavy on the vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, and foods rich in unsaturated fatty acids. Research on avocados now puts them in the same group and presents an easy way to start replacing bad fats with good ones. Although it can be tough always sticking to a particular way of eating, integrating an avocado into your daily eating habits can be a great starting point to support good heart-health and weight management. Start your avocado-a-day routine today!

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Your Body Is the Battleground and a Cold Nose May Be a New Enemy

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Your Body Is the Battleground and a Cold Nose May Be a New EnemyTalking in a nasal-like tone and feeling congested for weeks at time is no fun. Then again, neither is sneezing, coughing, or constantly burying your face in a tissue. The common cold is an inescapable part of being human, it seems, and while many advances have been made in modern medicine over the last two centuries, the elusive instant cure-all for it remains as mysterious as a supermassive black hole. While many remedies, exist, there is no one path to feeling better. However, a new study reveals an interesting fact about temperature and nose colds.

Cold Temps Can Influence... the Nose Cold?

One of the most common forms of the cold—the rhinovirus—has been the subject of previous studies conducted in various temperatures. However, earlier research only focused on how the virus reacted to colder body temperatures. This new study headed by author and Yale professor of immunobiology, Akiko Iwasaki, sought to further investigate the relationship between higher temperatures and the immune-response rate.

To investigate this relationship, Iwasaki extracted cells from subjects' airways. She then compared the immune-response of the cells exposed to the rhinovirus when the cells were incubated at 37oC (98.6oF) or the body's normal temperature. The same comparison was made with a lower body temperature of 33oC (91.4oF). Findings suggested that the innate immune-response to the rhinovirus was impaired at the lower body temperature when compared to the normal body temperature.

"In general, the lower the temperature, it seems the lower the innate immune response to viruses," noted Iwasaki. This gives weight to remedies like hot drinks and hot soup when you have a cold. Keeping your body temp warm is actually scientifically helpful to your immune system when fighting off a cold.

The Importance of the Immune Response

While you may not be able to avoid the common cold and other mildly annoying illnesses, you can do your part to strengthen your body's immune response. Raising your body temperature by staying warm, as shown in the study above, and even covering your extremities (especially the nose) can help your body respond better in fighting off the cold as explained by the body temperature studies above. Supplementing with certain vitamins and minerals like zinc, vitamin C, and Echinacea can also support the body's immune system. While everyone will experience the common cold at some point, it doesn't need to be a losing battle.

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