Sun Exposure: The Good and The Bad

beachAfter a long winter trapped inside the house, anyone can appreciate the wonderful feeling of a day in the sun. The effect is not simply due to the fresh air and warm breeze. Vitamin D, synthesized in the skin from sun exposure, has been shown to decrease anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing heart disease and certain types of cancer. However, too much time in the sun can increase the risk of developing skin cancer. For those of you wondering how to strike the right balance, I’ll recap the current science on sunlight, vitamin D and health.  Continue reading

Consuming Too Much or Too Little Salt Could Increase Risk of Heart Disease

ImageA new report from the Institute of Medici­­­ne opposes the United States’s recommendation to sharply reduce sodium consumption as a way to prevent heart disease. After reviewing the scientific evidence, an expert committee concluded that sharp reductions in sodium consumption do not decrease risk of heart disease and might actually increase the risk in some populations. The committee’s findings contradict recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which urged all Americans to reduce sodium intake below 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day and below 1,500 mg per day for at-risk individuals, who constitute more than half of the United States population.  Continue reading

The Low-Fat Diet: How it became so popular and where it stands today

ImageThe low-fat diet has been widely popular for the past 50 years and for much of that time it was the default diet advocated by most health practitioners. For a time, the consensus was that a diet had to be low in fat to be healthy, especially for cardiovascular health. With the increasing number of studies, our understanding of the effects of dietary fat has shifted and the scientific consensus is beginning to change.  Continue reading

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Linked with Longevity

ImageOmega-3 fatty acids from fish oil have been linked to cardiovascular benefits and reduced death from cardiovascular disease. However, there has been no solid data to examine the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and all-cause mortality, until now. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on April 2, 2013 finds that higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids are linked with a greatly decreased risk of death from all causes.  Continue reading

Processed Meat Associated with Increased All-Cause Mortality

ImageA study published on March 7, 2013 in the journal BMC Medicine found that consumption of processed meat is linked to an increase in all-cause mortality. Interestingly, red meat and poultry were not associated with increased risk. The lowest rates of mortality were to individuals who consumed a low to moderate amounts of meat.  Continue reading

Does Egg Consumption Increase Risk for Developing Heart Disease?

ImageAfter a colleague asked my opinion on the relationship between egg consumption and cardiovascular disease, I decided to delve further into the topic.

For decades, we’ve been advised to limit egg consumption to reduce our risk of developing heart disease. The reasoning for this is based on the diet-heart hypothesis, which argues eating foods rich in cholesterol and saturated fat increases risk of developing heart disease. Specifically applied to eggs, the argument states: 1) eggs are rich in cholesterol; 2) eating cholesterol has been shown, in some studies, to increase serum cholesterol; 3) high serum cholesterol promotes heart disease. Using this logic, populations with increased egg consumption should have increased rates of heart disease.  Continue reading