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Natural Approaches Negate Cardiovascular Risks

Posted Jun 01 2013 10:09pm

Naturopathic medicine is a system of medicine based on the healing power of nature.  Dugald Seely, from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (Canada), and colleagues enrolled 246 members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers at 3 study sites (Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton) for a year-long clinical trial to determine whether naturopathic lifestyle counseling helped to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Of the total sample, 207 people completed the study. The control group received enhanced usual care, and the intervention group received naturopathic care as a supplement to usual care 7 times during the study. Naturopathic doctors provided diet and lifestyle advice for patients to lose between 2.3 and 4.2 kg through a combination of caloric restriction and regular physical exercise, and dispensed natural health products such as omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fiber, coenzyme Q10 and other therapies.   Outcome measures were defined as change in prevalence of metabolic syndrome and a reduction in the Framingham 10-year cardiovascular risk score, a score used to estimate a person's risk of heart disease.  The researchers found that at one year, for both primary outcomes the treatment group improved whereas the control group deteriorated.  Specifically, the team observed that the prevalence of metabolic syndrome, a risk factor for heart disease, was reduced by 17% over a year compared with the control group. The study authors conclude that: “Our findings support the hypothesis that the addition of naturopathic care to enhanced usual care may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among those at high risk.”

Dugald Seely, Orest Szczurko, Kieran Cooley, Heidi Fritz, Serenity Aberdour, Gordon Guyatt, et al.  “Naturopathic medicine for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: a randomized clinical trial.”  CMAJ, April 29, 2013.

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Tip #169 - Chocolate Fix
Cocoa and cocoa products – particularly dark chocolate, contain high levels of flavonols, a potent type of antioxidant.

A team from University of Milan (Italy) assessed the effect of a dark chocolate composed of 860 mg polyphenols and containing 58 mg epicatechin, a specific type of antioxidant polyphenol. The team assigned 20 healthy men and women, average age 24.2 years, to consume a balanced diet for 4 weeks, midway through which one-half of the subjects were asked to additionally consume dark chocolate. The researchers observed that catechin levels increased just two hours after the consumption of the dark chocolate, a rise that coincidentally correlated to decreases in DNA damage on the order of 20% that were observed in blood cells.

Researchers from the Laboratory of Genetic and Environmental Epidemiology at Catholic University (Italy) studied a group of 5,000 subjects in generally good health over a one-year period. Specifically, the evaluated the anti-inflammatory properties of dark chocolate, as measured by serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a blood marker of inflammation. The team found that those subjects who consumed 1 serving (20 g) of dark chocolate every 3 days had serum CRP concentrations that were significantly lower than those who did not eat any chocolate. According to the researchers, these reductions in CRP translate to a 33% risk reduction of cardiovascular disease in women and 26% reduction in men...

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