OK this is not a long piece on the range of food that is good for you (but you’re welcome to add your penn’orth via comments)
First the fish oils ie Omega-3 acids, debate. Not long ago scientists said that it wasn’t as good for you as we had been led to believe even though there had been evidence that it helped kids at school.
Now a report in the Times newspaper says scientists are saying that eating oily fish – which contain omega-3 acids – such as herring, mackerel, or salmon, can add a least two years to your life.
The study followed 2,700 Americans of retirement age for 16 years and found that those with higher levels of fatty acids in their blood lived longer. Having adequate levels of omega-3 in your blood is good for your cardio-vascular health according to Dr Dariush Mozaffarian commenting on the research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
There are three omega-3 acids (the clue is in the name I think): Docosahexaenoic acid was linked to a 40% reduction in death from CHD; docosapentaenoic acid was linked to a lower risk of death from stroke; eicosapentaenoic acid was linked to a lower risk of non-fatal heart attacks. Together they were associated with cutting the risk of an early death by 27%
Secondly bananas. A report on bmj.com on research on 128,000 people said “High quality evidence shows that increased potassium intake reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension and has no adverse effect on …..or renal function in adults”.
Potassium is found in fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, milk, fish, bed chicken, turkey among other foods. Ensuring that you eat enough potassium in your diet eg from bananas, and cutting down on salt intake will reduce your chance of having a stroke by almost a quarter.
The DoH advises against older people taking potassium supplements unless advised by their GP as your kidneys become less able to remove it from your blood as you get older. But for most people there is a benefit.
Another study showed that modest reductions of salt over a few weeks can significantly reduce your blood pressure and therefor reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.
Thirdly exercise. According to US scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, an hour’s brisk walk can do you as much good as 30 minutes of jogging as long as you get warm and raise your pulse rate. The study looked at over 30,000 runners and 15,000 walkers.
They found that running a kilometre reduces the risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels by 4.3% and heart disease by 4.5% but was 7% and 9.3% for walkers. The risk of diabetes was reduced by 12% for both runners and walkers. The report is in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.
The choice therefore is to run for shorter periods or walk briskly for twice as long to expend the same energy. Some people don’t like running because they think it will damage their joints but recent evidence says there is no clear link and that exercise is good for joints and may ward off arthritis.
The British Heart Foundation’s view is that moderate-intense aerobic activity helps you reduce weight, cholesterol levels and blood pressure as well as improving your mental health.
Official guidelines in the UK are to do 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week or 1.25 hours of vigorous exercise – either of which can be taken in 10-minute bursts. Basically any kind of physical exercise is good for you, even golf!
Some bad news from Japan however: bald men are more at risk of heart disease than those with a full head, or even receding, hair. Maybe it’s the testosterone?