Schneck Medical Center

SUM 2015

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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2 8 S P I R I T O F W O M E N S U M M E R 2 015 w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m H E A L T H C E N T R A L D I E T SHUTTERSTOCK Cleaning up your kitchen act Cocoa for memory? Flavanols—bioactive substances found in cacao beans—might help you remember where you put your keys when you hit your 50s or 60s. Age-related memory decline may be caused by changes in a specific part of the brain (the dentate gyrus), and diet may help to counter those changes, according to a study pub- lished online in Nature Neuroscience. In an experiment, 37 healthy adults ages 50 to 69 were randomly given diets either high or low in flavanols for three months. The high-flavanol group experienced improvements in the function of the dentate gyrus and performed better on a memory test than the low-flavanol volunteers. But researchers caution that the study subjects received a specially prepared high-flavanol cocoa drink; regular cocoa is most likely stripped of many of the flavanols. You can also get flavanols in tea and fruits such as apples and grapes. • Blueberries for your heart Summer is the perfect time to indulge in delicious blueberries— and help your heart at the same time. A daily one-cup serving of blueberries may lower blood pressure and potentially delay the progression of prehypertension to hypertension, reducing your risk of coronary heart disease, according to a recent study pub- lished in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For eight weeks, 48 postmeno- pausal women with pre- and stage-1 hypertension were given either the powder equivalent of one cup of fresh berries, or a placebo powder during a trial at Florida State University. Those who consumed blueberry powder experienced a decrease in blood pressure and a reduction in arterial stiffness. Cobbler, anyone? • M any home cooks neglect some aspect of food safety, despite what they say they're doing to prevent foodborne illness, suggests new research from Kansas State University. Although the majority of the 123 volunteers in a videotaped experiment received food safety recommendations, most made a mistake in the kitchen, such as cross-contaminating raw meat and ready-to-eat fruit. Hand washing was one of the biggest problems, according to the study. Most participants washed their hands, but they either didn't wash long enough or they used only water. Then they dried their hands on the same kitchen towel each time, contaminating it several times during the day. Even if you pride yourself on a clean kitchen, it can't hurt to brush up on hygiene basics from time to time, say the experts. • Gut reactions to vitamin D If you're consuming products high in vitamin D, such as fortified milk and breakfast cereal, you may be doing more than supporting your bones and muscles. Medical experts are linking high levels of the vitamin to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, according to a study in the journal Gut. Researchers looked at blood samples of more than 900 adults who participated in the long-term Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Within the group, 318 people subsequently developed cancer and 624 did not. And those with higher levels of vitamin D in their systems had a lower-than-average risk of developing colorectal tumors. Vitamin D may act by boosting the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells, say researchers. You can get vitamin D from sun exposure, fatty fish, eggs and fortified foods and beverages. •

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