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Fruits and vegetables are good for your heart
Several years ago I reported on a study that looked at the effects of eating fruits and vegetables that are high in Vitamin C on the markers of inflammation in the blood that signal an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and other conditions (Bite 5/5/06 ). As I noted at the time, drawing the conclusion that because Vitamin C reduced inflammation, it would then reduce the risk of stroke or heart disease is a bit of a "leap of faith" (remember that in medicine A=B and B=C does not mean A=C).

Being overweight decreases positive effects of high-fiber diet
Back in January I wrote about C-reactive protein (CRP), a blood marker of inflammation, which is related to chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer (Overweight? Here's another reason to lose the excess, 1/12/07). Several other studies have suggested that one way to control the levels of CRP in the bloodstream is diet, particularly a high-fiber diet. 

Whole Grains Help You Lose Fat
Studies have shown that those who eat more whole-grain foods tend to have a lower Body Mass Index and a lower risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that at least half of your daily servings of grains should come from whole grains, not just because of the increased fiber, but also because they contain more of various heart-protective compounds than refined grains.


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Overweight? Here's another reason to lose the excess

human feet on a scale - the scale reads "help!"

We know that blood indicators of inflammation are related to chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. One important marker is known as C-reactive protein (CRP). Large studies have shown in the past that high levels of CRP are associated with overweight and obesity as indicated by high Body Mass Index, Waist-to-Hip Ratio, and waist circumference. Scientists at Johns Hopkins and the University of Texas sought to find out if the inverse was true: if people lost weight, did their blood levels of CRP decrease as well?

They reviewed 28 studies of weight loss in adults that also included tests of CRP (Arch Intern Med 2007;167:31-39). These studies were limited to those that were designed primarily to study weight loss, and the interventions included surgery, lifestyle changes, diet, or exercise.

After analyzing the different types of interventions, they found that across all types of interventions, the blood levels of CRP decreased fairly steadily as the subject's weight decreased. In fact, the largest amounts of weight lost were directly related to the greatest reduction in CRP.

What this means for you

It's clear that being overweight carries increased health risks; this is just one more piece of data. If you're overweight, decide today to eat healthier. Here are 10 Quick Tips for Eating Healthy.

First posted: January 12, 2007