Cocoa flavanols possible tool to fight heart disease
A friend told me she dropped her cholesterol 30 points by taking the natural supplement CocoaVia. My husband, an internist, said supplements that lower cholesterol may not lower the risk for heart disease. Are there any studies regarding this supplement?
Your husband is right that not everything that lowers cholesterol actually prevents heart disease. Despite this, the Food and Drug Administration has approved cholesterol-lowering drugs such as alirocumab (Praluent) on the basis of their ability to lower lipids like LDL cholesterol, although they have not yet been shown to reduce heart disease.
There is reason to expect that cocoa flavanols will be helpful. A recent review found that cocoa-flavanol intake improved insulin sensitivity and blood lipids such as cholesterol, triglycerides and HDL cholesterol (Journal of Nutrition, November 2016).
There is a major study underway to determine whether CocoaVia standardized cocoa flavanols can reduce heart attacks and strokes. It is called COSMOS (COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study). We will let our readers know the results when the trial is completed. Does turmeric have valid medicinal properties? My son-in-law was told he needed a hip replacement, but turmeric cured his symptoms.
The National Library of Medicine ( www.pubmed .gov) contains thousands of research articles on turmeric or its active ingredient, curcumin. That’s be- A study seeks to determine if CocoaVia standardized cocoa flavanols can reduce heart attacks and strokes. cause there is intense interest in the medicinal properties of this Indian spice.
Curcumin is being studied for its activity against psoriasis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and a range of cancers. All of this research is being conducted in animal models, but the antiinflammatory activity of curcumin has been shown to help nasal congestion in humans (Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology online, Oct. 24, 2016). It also has been shown to help knee pain due to arthritis when taken as a supplement (Nutrition Journal, Jan. 5, 2016).
You can learn more about the health benefits of this and many other culinary spices from our brand-new book, “Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Kitchen Herbs and Spices Can Lengthen and Strengthen Your Life.” It is available at www. peoples pharmacy.com. I have vertical ridges on almost all my fingernails. Do you know what causes this?
Although they are annoying, vertical (longitudinal) ridges on the fingernails do not appear to be dangerous. These ridges are frequently attributed to aging. Occasionally vertically ridged nails also are brittle. Anemia and atherosclerosis may sometimes be the cause (Canadian Family Physician, February 2011).
You should ask your doctor if you need supplements of iron or B vitamins to correct anemia. A few small studies have suggested that taking biotin (2.5 mg/ day) can help correct the ridging and fragility (Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, August 2007).
One reader reported: “A dermatologist told me to take biotin for my nails when they were splitting and cracking. I started taking a daily supplement of biotin, and my nails improved greatly within three months. My son, who is a pharmacist, recommended a product containing biotin, calcium and phosphorus; my nails are strong and ridge-free.”