High blood pressure (HBP) affects over 100 million Americans, and contributes a great deal to cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. Current suggestions are to lose weight, quit smoking, moderate alcohol intake, and reduce sodium consumption. A new study, reported in the Wall Street Journal (7/12/11) suggests that in addition to the above, increasing intake of the mineral potassium has been found to offset sodium’s impact on heart disease, mainly by regulating fluid balance. Good potassium sources are baked (and sweet) potatoes, bananas, avocados, beets, dates, figs, beans, cantaloupe, papaya, melons, Brussels sprouts, carrots, lentils and artichokes. On the meat side, dark meat turkey, salmon, and lean beef are good choices. Potassium is in every cell in the body,and life would be impossible without it. In addition to countering sodium, potassium also helps regulate heartbeat and muscle contraction.

A study reported in the European Journal of Clinical investigation showed that drinking seven or more cups of coffee a week reduced the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 63% in middle-aged Chinese coffee drinkers. Drinking one cup a week cut diabetes risk by 33%, one to six cups reduced the risk by 54%. It seemed only a short time ago that drinking coffee had adverse health effects……

A recent study at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (my alma mater-go Badgers), found that a patient’s feelings about a treatment could be a helpful weapon in the fight against the common cold. The study, to be published in the July/August edition of the Annals of Family Medicine, found that cold sufferers who get a pill, regardless of what it contains, have less severe symptoms and recover sooner than patients who don’t take pills. The effect was even stronger in persons who believed in echinacea’s healing properties. The power of the brain is awesome and untapped.

An article on tomatoes in AARP magazine (June 2011) got my attention. The antioxidant, lycopene, found in tomatoes (and watermelon), not only guards against several types of cancer, but may also reduce your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes. In one study, drinking 13 ounces of tomato juice daily for three weeks lowered LDL cholesterol levels by 13%, and preliminary research also suggests a link between lycopene and increased bone mass. In addition to lycopene, tomatoes may have another star nutrient: 9-oxo-octadecadienoic acid, which researchers at Kyoto University in Japan recently found lowers cholesterol and fat in the bloodstream. Mom was right; eat your vegetables.

FYI: large eggs today have 14% less cholesterol and 64% more vitamin D than a decade ago, presumably from changes in hen feed. Wasn’t it just a short while back that eggs were supposed to kill you too? Sighhhhhh

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.