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Nuts, seed proteins more heart healthy than meat

Raghu Kshitiz

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KATHMANDU — People consuming nuts and seeds have a lower risk of heart disease than those mostly eating meat, according to a study conducted in the United States and France.

Researchers from Loma Linda University School in California, and AgroParisTech and the Institute of National Agronomic Research in Paris, have found that meat protein is associated with a sharp increased risk of heart disease while protein from nuts and seeds is beneficial for the human heart.

Red meat increases heart disease risk by 60 percent while food proteins — nuts and seeds — cause a 40 percent reduction to risk, the findings published this week in the International Journal of Epidemiology said.

“While dietary fats are part of the story in affecting risk of cardiovascular disease, proteins may also have important and largely overlooked independent effects on risk,” said Dr. Gary Fraser, from Loma Linda’s School of Public Health in a press release.

“This new evidence suggests that the full picture probably also involves the biological effects of proteins in these foods.”

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The study examined 81,337 Seventh-day Adventists, a group that is about evenly split between vegetarians and meat-eaters, from 2002 to 2007. The men and women, between age 25 and 44, were asked what kinds of food they eat on a regular basis, including the amount of meat, nuts, grains and veggies.

“A wide variety of nuts, eaten in small quantities each day, will lower blood LDL cholesterol — the bad cholesterol,” Fraser told Business Insider. The difference, he said, is 10 to 14 mixed nuts a day.

The researchers during the nine-year followup period, closely examined what the participants ate, as well as details of 2,276 deaths among participants credited to cardiovascular causes.

Fraser said that nutritionists considered ‘bad fats’ in meats and ‘helpful fats’ in nuts and seeds, and said the researchers had always suspected it made a difference what kind of protein people consumed.

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The researchers, however, didn’t just examine the differences between animal and plant proteins, they also looked at other dietary sources, they said. The researchers found no significant associations for grains, processed foods, legumes, fruit and vegetables among protein factors.

“Associations between the ‘meat’ and ‘nuts and seeds’ protein factors and cardiovascular outcomes were strong and could not be ascribed to other associated nutrients considered to be important for cardiovascular health,” the researchers wrote in the study.

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Drinking 3 cups of coffee or tea daily may keep stroke risk at bay

Raghu Kshitiz

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KATHMANDU — There have been several conflicting studies on the health benefits of drinking coffee and tea and their various varieties. But drinking up to three cups of coffee or tea in a day is safe because it reduces irregular heartbeat and stroke risk, according to a new study published in the journal JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology.

Coffee has previously been believed to worsen abnormal heart rhythms, as doctors generally discourage patients suffering from the condition. However, the results of this particular study say that a daily consumption of upto 300 mg of caffeine may be safe for arrhythmic patients.

This is because the caffeine acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system and blocks the effect of adenosine. Adenosine is a chemical which causes Atrial Fibrillation (AFib).

A single cup of coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine. It acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system and works to block the effects of adenosine — a chemical that causes AFib.

AFib is the most common heart rhythm disorder, causes the heart to beat rapidly and skip beats, and if left untreated, can cause strokes.

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“There is a public perception, often based on anecdotal experience, that caffeine is a common acute trigger for heart rhythm problems,” said lead author Peter Kistler, Director at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital.

But, “caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea have long-term anti-arrhythmic properties mediated by antioxidant effects and antagonism of adenosine,” he added.

A meta-analysis of 228,465 participants showed that AFib frequency decreasing by 6 per cent in regular coffee drinkers, and an analysis of 115,993 patients showed a 13 per cent reduced risk.

Another study of 103 post-heart attack patients who received an average of 353 mg of caffeine a day showed improvement in heart rate and no significant arrhythmias — or abnormal heart rhythms, that cause the heart to beat too fast, slow or unevenly.

However, in two studies, where patients drank at least 10 cups and nine cups of coffee per day, showed an increased risk for ventricular arrhythmias (VAs) – a condition in which the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) beat very quickly.

On the other hand, patients with pre-existing heart conditions who consumed two or more energy drinks — that contains concentrated caffeine — per day reported palpitations within 24 hours.

With Agency Inputs

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