Like swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano in the spring, Chia Pets begin appearing every December on late-night television and in the gift aisles of many stores. (Full disclaimer: I bought one for the Yankee Swap at Harvard Health Publication’s annual Christmas party.) Water these ceramic figures and they sprout a green “fur” from seeds embedded on the surface. Silly? Sure, that’s why they are such a hit. What you might not know is that the seeds may someday be a real gift for people with diabetes.
Chia seeds come from a plant formally known as Salvia hispanica, which is a member of the mint family. It gets its common name from the Aztec word “chian,” meaning oily, because the herb’s small, black seeds are rich in oils. It was a staple food for the Aztecs, and legend has it that their runners relied on chia seeds for fuel as they carried messages one hundred or more miles in a day. Chia seeds contain more healthy omega-3 fats and fiber than flax or other grain seeds. They are also a good source of protein and antioxidants. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*
New York City’s war on sugary soft drinks had to balance evidence-based medicine with a short, simple message that would go viral in the community. Going viral won, according to e-mails of internal discussions between the city’s health commissioner, his staff, and the ad agency that crafted the campaign. The statement that soda would cause a person to gain 10 pounds a year is contingent upon many factors, argued the staff, but the desire to produce a media message with impact overruled the details. One nutritionist called the campaign “deliciously disgusting.”
Chocolate may moderate HDL cholesterol in type 2 diabetics, according to the November issue of Diabetic Medicine. High polyphenol chocolate increased HDL cholesterol in diabetics without affecting weight, insulin resistance or glycemic control. Researchers enrolled 12 type 2 diabetics in a randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind crossover study to 45 g chocolate with or without a high polyphenol content for eight weeks and then crossed over after a four-week washout period. HDL cholesterol increased with high polyphenol chocolate (1.16+/-0.08 vs. 1.26+/-0.08 mmol/l, P=0.05) with a decrease in the total cholesterol: HDL ratio (4.4+/-0.4 vs. 4.1+/-0.4 mmol/l, P=0.04). No changes were seen with the low polyphenol chocolate.
With Halloween, sugar will be on everyone’s mind (and in everyone’s stomachs). To find out how many calories and how much fat that pile of Halloween candy totals, try this interactive module. (New York Times, Diabetic Medicine, ABC Chanel 7 News-Denver)
*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*