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Moderate Alcohol Intake May Help Preserve “Good” Cholesterol

For years we've heard that drinking wine and other alcoholic beverages in moderation may be good for our heart. The majority of alcohol's cardiovascular benefits have been attributed to its association with higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which helps protect artery health. But how does alcohol affect your HDL over the long term, and does it matter what kind of alcoholic beverage it is?

The Benefits of Oats

You've probably heard oats helps lower cholesterol, which is due to their beta-glucan soluble fiber that makes oatmeal sticky. A new British Journal of Nutrition review of 58 clinical trials on oats that involved 3,974 people across the globe expands the role of oatmeal in reducing cardiovascular risk.

Weight Loss Can Improve Lipid Levels

Losing weight can improve your cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as your waistline, according to a major new intervention study. The study found similar weight loss amounts could be achieved by lower-fat or lower-carbohydrate diets, whether the lower-carb diet was rich in walnuts or in monounsaturated fat (as in canola or olive oils).

No Cholesterol Benefit from Soy Flour

Switching to soy flour doesn't help improve cholesterol levels, according to a new study in the Journal of Nutrition. Researchers compared muffins made with soy protein, with a mixture of soy and wheat, and with a whey-protein control on 213 adults with elevated LDL cholesterol.

Nuts Improve Cholesterol Levels

At least part of the proven cardiovascular benefits of eating nuts can be explained by their effects on cholesterol and other blood lipids, according to new Tufts research.

New Evidence of Brain Benefits from Following a Mediterranean-Style Diet

A newly published followup to findings from a study of the so-called Mediterranean diet adds to the evidence that such an eating pattern, especially when it includes nuts and olive oil, may help protect the aging brain. Results from a subgroup of the Spanish PREDIMED study showed that those assigned to a Mediterranean diet held steady in cognition while a control group declined. While previous observational studies have linked a traditional Mediterranean-style dietary pattern to cognitive protection, this is the first such evidence from a large randomized clinical trial.

Coffee Drinkers Have Clearer Arteries

Scientists may now better understand at least one way in which coffee could help to protect against cardiovascular disease. A large new Korean study reports that people drinking three to five cups of coffee daily were 41% less likely to show signs of coronary artery calcium than non-coffee drinkers. This calcification is an early indicator of the artery-clogging plaques (atherosclerosis) that cause coronary artery disease, which afflicts nearly 16 million Americans. (See box.)

Avocados Could Improve Your Cholesterol-and More

Not so long ago, avocados were a seasonal delicacy in most of the country, and when they were available, their high fat content scared away health-conscious consumers. With loosened import rules from Mexico, however, sales of Hass avocados (about 95% of the US market) have more than doubled in the past decade. Last year, Americans peeled about 4.25 billion avocados, and in February avocados even boasted their own Super Bowl commercial.

FDA Cracks Down on Coconut Claims

Products containing coconut, coconut oil and coconut milk are popping up everywhere, with marketers touting coconut as the latest superfood. But a recent warning letter from the US Food and Drug Administration cautions coconut boosters not to overreach. The FDA warned that coconut products cant be labeled as healthy if they contain more than 1 gram of saturated fat or more than 15% of calories come from saturated fat. Some have claimed that the saturated fat in coconut is different because its mostly lauric acid, which a few small studies suggest is metabolized differently than other saturated fats. But the FDA isnt buying that argument, noting that coconut products might contain as much as 16 grams of saturated fat per serving.

Whole Grains Improve Lipids in Statin

If youre over age 40, the odds are nearly one in four that youre taking statin medications to improve your cholesterol levels. And if doctors and patients follow prevention guidelines released earlier this year, almost half the over-40 population would be taking the prescription drugs, including almost all men ages 60 to 75. …