C-reactive protein, CRP, heart attack risks, stretching, saturated fat, Omega-3, cholesterol

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Mike Furci offers research, trends and other info to help with your fitness, health and nutritional needs.

…C-reactive protein (CRP) may play a major role in predicting new cardiovascular events? Most studies show that the higher the hs-CRP levels, the higher the risk of heart attack. People who have tested in the upper third of hs-CRP levels are twice as likely to have a heart attack as those who test in the lower third. However, not all the established cardiovascular risk factors were controlled for when the association was examined. In other words, more studies need to be done to establish a true independent association between hs-CRP and new cardiovascular events. (americanheart.org 01/18/2005)

…despite years of research and mountains of data, there is still no definitive answer to whether stretching is worth your time and effort? Proponents argue that stretching prevents injury, diminishes delayed onset muscle soreness, and improves athletic performance. Some go as far as to say that regular stretching can help speed recovery from workouts, and improve blood flow to the area being stretched. Opponents will argue that stretching can actually cause injury, and does nothing to improve performance or prevent delayed onset muscle soreness. In fact, there are many experts who not only believe stretching does nothing to improve performance, but that it can significantly hinder it. Most studies show stretching will improve a joint’s range of motion but does that translate into improved performance and decreased risk of injury? The fact is, there is no evidence one way or the other.

…making changes in your lifestyle habits is the main therapy for elevated blood triglyceride levels? These are the changes you need to make:

  • If you're overweight, cut down on calories to reach your ideal body weight. This includes all sources of calories, from fats and proteins to carbohydrates and alcohol.
  • Reduce the saturated fat and cholesterol content of your diet.
  • Reduce your intake of alcohol considerably. Even small amounts of alcohol can lead to large changes in plasma triglyceride levels.
  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes on most or all days each week.
  • People with high triglycerides may need to substitute monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats -- such as those found in canola oil, olive oil or liquid margarine -- for saturated fats. Substituting carbohydrates for fats may raise triglyceride levels and may decrease HDL ("good") cholesterol in some people.
  • Substitute fish high in omega-3 fatty acids for meats high in saturated fat like hamburger. Fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids. (americanheart.org 02/04/2005)

…that the French have the lowest heart disease rate in the world despite the fact that the average French diet is high in saturated fat and simple sugars? Scientists refer to this contradiction as the French paradox. The apparent health of the French is being attributed to their consumption of red wine. Washington researchers found that red wine may benefit more than the health of your heart. Men who drank four or more glasses of red wine per week had a 50% to 60% reduction in the risk of prostate cancer. It was particularly effective at reducing the risk of the most aggressive form of prostate cancer. The researchers also found that drinking beer, hard liquor or white wine had no effect. Red wine contains the antioxidant called resveratrol, which is found in the skin of red grapes.

…a new report shows that close to half of Americans don't clean their desks before eating at them, and a third don't wash their hands, which may foster the spread of infectious diseases like colds and flu. Researchers say improving at-work hygiene and hand washing habits could have a major impact in reducing sick days. Brian Sansoni, spokesman for the Soap and Detergent Association, says, "Desks, phones, door knobs, conference tables, fax machines and other common workplace areas can be breeding grounds for bacteria-spreading germs." (webmd.com 10/28/2004)

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