Co­coa fla­vanols pos­si­ble tool to fight heart dis­ease

Baltimore Sun - - HEALTH & STYLE - By Joe Grae­don and Teresa Grae­don In their col­umn, Joe and Teresa Grae­don an­swer let­ters from read­ers. Send ques­tions to them via

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.”

KAREN TAPIA AN­DER­SEN/LOS AN­GE­LES TIMES

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