1)  A Breakfast Staple That Blocks Heart Failure

January 25, 2010, by Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD |

Fruit, veggies, exercise — they all make the heart-healthy list. And now, according to a new study, so does this breakfast staple: cereal.

But we’re not talking about Cocoa Puffs. We’re talking about whole-grain cereals — like steel-cut oats, shredded wheat, or muesli. Men in a study who noshed at least once a week on whole-grain cereals were significantly less likely to experience heart failure.

Longer Life in Every Bowl?
Several studies suggest that it’s the fiber in whole-grain cereals that may quell risk factors for heart failure, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and obesity. The other heart-protective habits addressed in the study: maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, drinking alcohol only in moderation, and not smoking.

A Combo Protects Best
Men who practiced at least four of the six lifestyle habits on the study’s heart-healthy list cut their risk for heart failure in half. So start stacking the odds in your heart’s favor with these heart-helping strategies:

  • Sneak more fruits and veggies into your day.
  • Even a minimal amount of exercise may help protect your heart.
  • Alcohol – one drink of wine, beer, or liquor per day for most women, and two drinks per day for most men. This also is the general recommendation given by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Benefit

Keeping your blood pressure at 115/76 mm Hg can make your Real-Age as much as 12 years younger.

References 

Relation between modifiable lifestyle factors and lifetime risk of heart failure. Djousse L. et al., JAMA 2009 Jul 22;302(4):394-400.

2)  Burn More Fat with This Wonder Breakfast
January 25, 2010, by Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD |

Your workouts might melt even more body fat if you eat this at breakfast: whole-grain cereal.

Why? A small study suggests that eating healthy carbs in the morning may turbocharge your fat-burning furnaces when you exercise later on in the day.

Good Carbs, Bad Carbs
The key here is the whole grain — because the study showed that low-glycemic-index carbs (the high-fiber kind) were what moved the dial on fat burning. When sedentary women ate these kinds of carbs as part of a healthy breakfast, they burned far more body fat during an hour walk later in the day, compared with women who ate a wimpy-carb breakfast. The winning breakfast? Muesli, fresh fruit, skim milk, and low-fat yogurt..

More to the Fat-Burning Story
Seems when you eat high-fiber carbs, you store fewer carbs as a fuel source, forcing your body to use fat for energy instead. Thus, the extra fat-burning boost during exercise. Two additional benefits experienced by the healthy carbs group: extra fat-burning during a post-breakfast rest period and greater feelings of fullness. Burn extra fat and not feel hungry? Sold! Now, make your workouts feel easy with this important balance of energy-boosting nutrients.

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Benefit
Maintaining a constant desirable weight can make your RealAge 6 years younger.

References
Fat oxidation during exercise and satiety during recovery are increased following a low-glycemic index breakfast in sedentary women. Stevenson, E. J. et al., Journal of Nutrition 2009 May;139(5):890-897.

3)  The Strange Side Effect of Healthy Food

January 25, 2010, by Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD |

We’re big fans of nuts. Meaning, the ones from trees, not necessarily the ones that make the nightly news kicker because of counterfeiting a $1 bill (not making this up) or trying to rob a bank with a note on the back of a subpoena issued to the robber. Tree nuts (and peanuts, which are legumes) add healthy fats to your diet and reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

But one type of nut in particular does a funny thing sometimes: It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth for weeks. We got a note from a woman whose son experienced this after eating an entree liberally sprinkled with pine nuts. The bitter taste got worse whenever he ate anything, especially sweets (a stay-away-from-sweets strategy we don’t recommend). Other pine nut eaters have experienced the same thing, and a journal report linked the lingering bitter taste to nuts that were imported from China in 2008.

Scientists aren’t sure what could cause your taste buds to get tripped up like this, but suggest that if pine nuts aren’t stored in a cool, dry place, oxidation could occur and quickly turn them rancid and bitter. Why the bitterness sticks around, nobody knows. But it does usually get better in 1 to 3 weeks. If this hassle has visited your mouth, try flavonoid-rich foods (vegetables and fruits) as well as Altoids (recommended by past victims). And if the pine nuts you’re about to put on your salad are from 2008 and China, don’t try them; buy fresher ones.

4)  How Are Your Arteries? Take This Free Test

January 25, 2010, by Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD |

Would you know if your arteries were stiffer than a double martini? New research suggests there’s a way to know that doesn’t involve doctors, insurance, or machinery.

An easy sit-and-reach test that indicates how flexible your body is may also tell you how flexible your arteries are. In study participants over age 40, a stiffer body corresponded to stiffer arteries (and higher heart disease risk).

The test: Warm up for 10 minutes (easy walking is fine). Then, sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, feet about 12 inches apart. Place a yardstick between your feet, with the 0 mark pointing toward your body, and the 15-inch mark even with your heels. Tape it in place. Place one hand on top of the other, lightly touching the yardstick. Now, reach forward slowly by dropping your head toward or between your arms, maintaining contact with the yardstick. Have someone check where your fingertips land. Average flexibility for someone age 40 to 45 means hitting the 15-inch mark if you’re male, 17 if you’re female. The range shortens by about 2 inches per decade for men beyond age 45 (until age 66+, in which case average guys still hit the 10 or 11); it shortens by about 1 inch per decade for women beyond 45.

True, people and their arteries are more flexible when they do more cardiovascular exercise. But this study looked at flexibility independent of that and still found a link. So, will stretching, yoga, and Pilates soften up your arteries? There’s no answer yet, but don’t wait to dive in — they’re smart components of any exercise and stress-reduction routine.

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