Really?

Really?
Comment E-mail Print Share
First Published: Tue, Oct 14 2008. 12 33 AM IST

Updated: Tue, Oct 14 2008. 12 33 AM IST
THE CLAIM
Grape juice has the same benefits as red wine.
By now the cardiovascular benefits of a daily glass of wine are well known. But many teetotallers wonder whether they can reap the same rewards from wine’s unfermented sibling—or are they simply going to be left out altogether?
Grape juice may not provide much buzz, but you can still toast to good health when it comes to its ability to avert heart disease. Alcohol in moderation can relax blood vessels and increase levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol. But the substances believed to provide much of red wine’s heart benefits—resveratrol and flavonoids—are also found in grape juice, especially that from red and dark purple Concord grapes.
Independent studies have found that like alcohol, grape juice can reduce the risk of blood clots and prevent LDL (“bad’’ cholesterol) from sticking to coronary arteries, among other cardiac benefits. One, conducted by scientists at the University of Wisconsin and published in the journal ‘Circulation’, looked at the effects of two servings of Concord grape juice a day in 15 people with coronary artery disease. After two weeks, the subjects had improved blood flow and reduced oxidation of LDL. Oxidized LDL can damage arteries.
Other studies in humans and animals, including one last year in the journal ‘Atherosclerosis’, have shown that daily consumption may lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. But beware, some varieties of juice have sugar and artificial ingredients.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Studies suggest that some kinds of grape juice may provide the cardiac benefits of red wine.
**********
THE CLAIM
Changes in weather can spur heart attacks.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but a link between the onset of cold weather and heart attacks has been hypothesized for some time, with an array of possible culprits: inflammation from common colds, the stress and indulgence of the holiday season, and higher blood pressure from narrowed blood vessels. Only in recent years have epidemiological studies looked for a connection, and most have found one.
In 2004, for example, a group of British scientists used data from the World Health Organization to look at changes in weather and heart attack rates in women over 50 in 17 countries from four continents. The study found a temperature drop of 9 degrees Fahrenheit (-12.8 degrees Celsius) was associated, in general, with a 7% increase in hospital admissions for stroke and a 12% rise in admissions for heart attack. Another study, in France, looked at 700 admissions over two years. It found that in people with hypertension, the risk of a heart attack doubled when the temperature fell below 25. Most studies have had similar findings. But one, by Canadian scientists, that looked at heart attack rates and Chinook winds in Calgary—which can cause temperatures to swing wildly—found no relationship.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Mixed, but most studies suggest that the number of heart attacks does rise when the temperature falls.
***********
THE CLAIM
Honey can soothe a burn.
Home remedies for soothing mild burns run the gamut, from aloe vera gel to butter. Most that have been around for ages are clearly bad ideas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that applying butter or various popular ointments, for example, can increase the risk of infection. But at least one remedy, honey, has held up well.
In studies of quick and easy treatments to soothe mild burns, scientists have found that honey has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that may promote healing. One study in 2006, examining the results of more than a dozen previous studies, found that small, non- serious burns healed faster when treated with gauze and a dash of honey, on average, than those treated with antibiotic creams and other dressings. A separate report published earlier found similar results.
Medical doctors say the tried and true method for healing small burns remains applying a wet compress, immersing the affected area in cool water and then covering the area with a sterile, non- adhesive bandage. But for those who prefer using natural remedies to soothe discomfort, honey may be a decent option.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Many home remedies for burns are unproved, but honey seems to soothe small burns.
©2008/The New York Times
Comment E-mail Print Share
First Published: Tue, Oct 14 2008. 12 33 AM IST