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Walnuts cut heart disease risk

Consumption of whole walnuts or their extracted oil can reduce cardiovascular risk through a mechanism other than simply lowering cholesterol, researchers have claimed.

“We already know that eating walnuts in a heart-healthy diet can lower blood cholesterol levels,” Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, Penn State said.
“But, until now, we did not know what component of the walnut was providing this benefit. Now we understand additional ways in which whole walnuts and their oil components can improve heart health,” she said.

In a randomized-controlled trial, the researchers gave 15 participants with elevated blood cholesterol one of four treatments -- either 85 grams of whole walnuts, 6 grams of skin, 34 grams of defatted nutmeat, or 51 grams of oil.

The team evaluated biochemical and physiological responses in the participants before the treatments were administered and again 30 minutes, one hour, two hours, four hours and six hours after administering the treatments.

The researchers repeated this process for each of the remaining three treatments.
Results showed that a one-time consumption of the oil component in walnuts favorably affected vascular health.

Cinnamon-flavoured food may cause liver damage

Scientists have found that many kinds of cinnamon, cinnamon-flavoured foods, beverages and food supplements in the United States use a form of the spice that contains high levels of a natural substance that may cause liver damage in some sensitive people.

Ikhlas Khan and colleagues explain that cinnamon, which comes from the bark of certain trees, is one of the most important flavoring agents used in foods and beverages.
“True,” or Ceylon, cinnamon is expensive, so most breads, sticky buns and other products in the United States use dried cassia bark, or cassia cinnamon.

Ceylon cinnamon contains very little coumarin, a naturally occurring substance that has been linked to liver damage in people sensitive to the substance.

However, cassia cinnamon can contain larger amounts. Khan's team decided to check on the coumarin content of a wide variety of food products.

“As found in this study, coumarin was present, sometimes in substantial amounts, in cinnamon-based food supplements and cinnamon-flavored foods,” they say.

Drinking champagne can boost memory

Scientists have found that the phenolic compounds found in champagne can improve spatial memory.

They explained that the compounds, which are more concentrated in champagne than in white wine, alter proteins linked to the brain’s ability to store memories — the same proteins that seem to deteriorate with age, the Discovery News reported.In a press release, Professor Jeremy Spencer at the University of Reading in the U.K said that they encourage a responsible approach to alcohol consumption, and their results suggest that a very low intake of one to two glasses a week can be effective.

Those who don’t like champagne can get some of the same results by eating other polyphenol-rich foods, such as blueberry and cocoa, the researchers said.

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