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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Don't Eat This Food If You're Drinking

Women, go ahead and enjoy a glass of wine or a bottle of beer with dinner, but don't eat meat with it.

That's the word from University of Minnesota researchers, who have found a startling link between regular drinking and high iron intake from meat and a heightened risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Why is the combination so potentially lethal? The researchers theorize that the alcohol triggers the release of iron from the proteins in the body where the mineral is normally stored, reports Reuters.

The 15-year study of 34,000 U.S. women between the ages of 55 and 69 found that significantly high levels of iron contribute to molecules that can damage body cells and given enough time can promote heart disease, cancer, and other deadly illnesses. In medical lingo, this is called reactive oxygen species and adds to the weight of scientific evidence that oxidative stress plays an important role in the development of cardiovascular disease.

During the course of the study almost 1,800 of the 34,000 women died from cardiovascular disease or stroke. While iron intake from eating meat did not increase the risk of dying, when it was coupled with just one alcoholic drink a day, the risk of cardiovascular death doubled in those who ate the most meat and were regular drinkers.

Here is where it gets interesting: The iron that causes the problem is heme iron, which is the kind found only in meat. Iron from supplements was not a problem. Regular drinkers who consumed moderate amounts of nonheme iron, which is found in plant sources such as beans, grains, and fortified cereals, had a lower risk of cardiovascular death than women who ate little nonheme iron, as well as women who ate the most. Study co-author Dr. David R. Jacobs Jr. thinks the specific food source of the nonheme iron impacts the cardiovascular effects. The best appears to be nonheme iron naturally found in vegetables and whole grains, rather than that found in fortified processed foods.

There is good news here, too: Women who drank regularly but had a relatively higher zinc intake showed a decreased risk of dying from heart disease or stroke, notes Reuters. Zinc, which is thought to be an antioxidant that rids the body of reactive oxygen species, is found in abundance in oysters, turkey, yogurt, tofu, spinach, kidney beans, fortified cereals, and cashews. While the recommended daily intake of zinc is 8 milligrams, the women with the highest zinc intake in this study consumed about 20 milligrams a day. Once again, supplements had no effect. The zinc had to come from food sources to offer cardiovascular protection.

What's a woman to do? Jacobs gave this recommendation to Reuters: Eat only small amounts of red meat and drink no more than one or two alcoholic beverages a day.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

source: Netscape.com

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