Get your greens: according to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal, people who eat on the average of 1.5 daily servings of green leafy vegetables ave a 14% lower risk of contracting type 2 diabetes than those who consume less than half a serving of those vegetables. Diabetes is nasty, do whatever you can to prevent it.

Consumer Reports On Health magazine, working with the independent Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, identified 12 ingredients that are linked to serious adverse effects. Avoid these: aconite, bitter orange, chaparral, colloidal silver, coltsfoot, comfrey, country mallow, germanium, greater celandine, kava, lobelia, and yohimbe. All can cause cardiovascular, kidney, liver, or other problems.

There has been some discussion as of late about a class of drugs to raise HDL cholesterol levels. HDL cleans arterial walls of plaque, and is considered a barometer of cardiovascular health. There are other, better ways than drugs. 12 weeks of aerobic exercise, whether walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling, can boost HDL by almost 25%. Aim for 5 days/wk for 30 minutes. Losing weight can also increase HDL. For every 10 lbs. HDL increases by 2 mg/dl. Quit smoking. Hdl levels are 7 mg/dl lower in smokers than in nonsmokers. Get more omega-3’s in your diet. Fish, leafy greens, walnuts, soy protein, are all great sources. Trans fatty acids, found in baked goods and margarine, lower HDL and should be avoided. Niacin, or nicotinamide (B3) can also boost HDL levels. Check with your doctor about a prescription version-too much can cause flushing in the cheeks.

A high nitrate diet improves cerebral blood flow in older adults. Nitrate is converted into nitrite in the mouth, and acts as a vasodialator, reducing blood pressure and increasing blood flow. One group of subjects ate a low-nitrate diet, consisting of grains, dairy, and meats. High-nitrate meat products and processed meats were excluded. The other group ate a nitrate-rich diet consisting of green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, beet root juice, and broccoli. The blood flow in the frontal cerebral lobes of the high-nitrate group were much higher than the other group. The frontal lobes is where ischemia is present in elderly, resulting in decreased decision-making ability, among other issues. Eat your greens.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.