Health matters

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Tomato time

For the first time, genetically engineered tomato plants have produced a peptide that, when eaten, mimics the actions of good cholesterol, report researchers at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012.

In the study, mice that ate freeze-dried, ground tomatoes had less inflammation and reduced atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries).

“We have found a new and practical way to make a peptide that acts like the main protein in good cholesterol, but is many times more effective and can be delivered by eating the plant,” says Dr. Alan M. Fogelman, senior author of the study and executive chair of the Department of Medicine and director of the Atherosclerosis Research Unit in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

An apple a day

Eating a fresh, crisp apple provides you with a unique bone-building phytonutrient called phloridzin. This flavonoid antioxidant is only found in apples — especially in the skins — and can help improve bone density and reduce bone breakdown for women after menopause.

Exercise & dementia

Regular physical activity may help older people reduce their chances of getting dementia.

In a new study published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, older, non-disabled people who regularly engaged in physical activity reduced their risk of vascular-related dementia by 40 percent and cognitive impairment of any etiology by 60 percent. The protective effect of regular physical activity remained regardless of age, education, changes in the brain’s white matter and even previous history of stroke or diabetes, researchers say.

“We strongly suggest physical activity of moderate intensity at least 30 minutes three times a week to prevent cognitive impairment,” says Dr. Ana Verdelho, lead author of the study and a neuroscience researcher at the University of Lisbon, Santa Maria Hospital in Portugal.

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