Natural Foods Merchandiser

Science Beat

Increasing Magnesium In Diet Lowers Heart Disease Risk
Increasing the amount of magnesium one consumes in the diet may reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease, according to a new study in The American Journal of Cardiology (2003;92:665?9). Eating foods high in magnesium may lower the likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans, affecting more than 58 million adults. More than 1 million people die from heart disease every year.

In the study, 7,172 Japanese men aged 45 to 68 enrolled as part of the Honolulu Heart Program from 1965 to 1968 to evaluate the effects of nutrition on heart disease. Data on dietary and supplemental intake of magnesium were collected initially and up to 30 years afterward. Intake of magnesium was broken down into quintiles. Those in the highest quintile of magnesium intake consumed between 340 mg and 1,138 mg of magnesium daily. Those in the lowest quintile ate less than 186 mg of magnesium daily. The number of heart disease-related events was recorded during the 30-year follow-up period.

The incidence of coronary heart disease decreased consistently with the increasing intake of magnesium. Men in the lowest quintile were almost twice as likely to have heart disease as those in the highest. The average amount of magnesium consumed daily by the study participants was 268 mg. High magnesium consumers were also found to eat higher amounts of fiber, calcium and protein, so it is possible that the high magnesium consumption reflects better overall dietary habits. The incidence of heart disease was similar in all groups consuming less than 340 mg per day compared with those with higher intake amounts.

Some studies indicate that most Americans do not get adequate amounts of magnesium in their diets. Foods that contain significant amounts of magnesium include nuts, whole grains, beans, dark green vegetables, fish and meat.

Early Intro of Grains Linked to Type 1 Diabetes
Introducing grains early in infants? diets may increase their risk of developing insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in childhood, according to two studies in Journal of the American Medical Association (2003; 290:1713?28). These findings suggest that infants who consume grain products before three months are most at risk of having pancreas damage and becoming diabetic.

In the first new study, 1,183 children at increased risk of developing IDDM were followed for an average of four years. Information on the infant?s diet was collected, including the dates foods were introduced, frequency of exposure and the types of foods consumed.

Infants exposed to any grains before four months or after six months had a higher risk of developing antibodies to the pancreas, compared with children who were introduced to grains between four and six months. This suggests that there may be an optimal window to introduce grain products without increasing IDDM risk. Several studies have found an association between IDDM and early consumption of gluten, a protein found primarily in wheat, oats, rye and barley. As a result, some physicians have recommended rice-based cereals instead. However, no significant difference was observed between gluten and rice grain products, suggesting that introducing any grains outside of the two-month window may increase IDDM risk.

In the second new study, 1,610 children born of IDDM parents were followed for up to 11 years. Tests to evaluate gluten sensitivity were performed, since some studies suggest an association between IDDM and gluten sensitivity (celiac disease).

Antibody production against cells in the pancreas was significantly increased in children who were fed gluten-containing foods in their first three months of life. However, no significant rise in antibodies against the pancreas occurred when children received gluten after six months.

Although the timing of introducing grains into an infant?s diet continues to be debated, both new studies showed that feeding grains to a child under the age of three months may increase the risk of IDDM. No increase in risk was observed in children who were breast-fed or formula fed, suggesting these may be the best food early in life.

Darin Ingels, N.D., is the author of The Natural Pharmacist: Lowering Cholesterol (Prima, 1999) and Natural Treatments for High Cholesterol (Prima, 2000).
Copyright ? 2003 Healthnotes Inc.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 2/p. 56

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.