Health & Medical Diseases & Conditions

Is This Healthy Food For Thought?

Specific foods lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 345 people with an average LDL cholesterol of 170 were divided into 2 groups. The control group continued a heart-healthy diet. The intervention group incorporated 4 kinds of food into a heart-healthy diet: nuts, soy products, foods rich in viscous fiber (such as oatmeal, barley, eggplant, okra) and plant-sterol-enriched margarine. After 24 weeks the control group's LDL cholesterol dropped an average of 3%. The intervention group's dropped an average of 13.5%. Although 85% of cholesterol is genetic, 15% can be influenced by diet. Being "influential" is healthy.

Salt and inactivity are not only bad for your heart, they are bad for your brain. A study published in the journal Neurology of Aging measured the salt intake and activity levels of 1,262 healthy people ages 67-84 over a 3-year period. Those with the highest levels of sodium (over 3,090 milligrams daily) and the lowest levels of exercise had poorer cognitive performance than those with low sodium intake (not exceeding 2,263 milligrams daily) and active lifestyles. Considering in 2011 there are 4-5 million Americans with dementia, if you're going to salt away, "salt away" this information.

Music may prevent hearing loss. As we age, we lose tiny hair cells that enable sound to reach our brain. We lose inner ear neurons and chemicals, reducing our capacity to hear. However, musicians have trained ears. A study published in PLoS ONE found middle-aged musicians were 40% better at tuning out background noise and hearing sentences. They were also better at remembering sentences, making it easier to follow conversations. If you play a musical instrument, keep playing. If you used to play an instrument, start again. If you've never played an instrument, this information could "fall on deaf ears".

Weather can affect our moods. A study published in the journal Emotion surveyed approximately 500 adolescents and their mothers. Researchers identified 3 types of weather reactivity and found evidence weather reactivity runs in families. "Summer Lovers" (17% of the adolescents) were happier, less fearful and less angry on days with more sunshine and higher temperatures than on days with more hours of precipitation. For "Summer Haters" (27%) the opposite was true. "Rain Haters" (9%) felt angrier and less happy on days with more precipitation. The other 47% of the adolescents were not affected by weather. They were "weatherproof".

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