blood pressure levels

  1. The part-time diet that really works

    On the face of it, it hardly seemed fair.

    Researchers put women on a low-carb diet up against women on a low-calorie diet -- but with a huge catch: The low-carb eaters would stick to the plan for just two days a week… and eat whatever they wanted the rest of the time.

    The low-calorie dieters, on the other hand, would commit to their diet 24/7.

    Now, it's been proven in the past that going low-carb is better than going low-cal any day of the week. But two days a week versus seven? How could it possibly compete?

    Turns out very well -- because after four weeks, the low-carb dieters lost more weight and had better insulin readings.

    It's like winning a fight with both hands tied behind your back.

    The study actually involved three groups of women: Two went low-carb for two days a week. One got to eat as much as they wanted as long as they kept the carbs to 50 grams or less… while the other had to practically starve for those two days, eating just 650 calories of low-carb food.

    The third group had to stick a version of the Mediterranean Diet every single day, and limit themselves to just 1,500 calories.

    Two months later, and both sets of low-carb women lost an average of 9 pounds -- while the calorie counters lost just 4 pounds. In addition, the women in both low-carb groups lowered their insulin levels by 18 percent -- versus just 4 percent among low-calorie eaters.

    And for the cherry on top, the low-cal women were twice as likely to quit the study as those who went low-carb -- but that's hardly a surprise. Nearly everyone has tried calorie counting at some point… and nearly everyone has failed at it.

    It's impossible because it's unnatural. When you're hungry, the instinct is to eat until you're full -- and the low-carb diet allows you to do just that.

    What's more, low-carb diets have also been shown to lower blood pressure levels, improve HDL cholesterol, slash triglycerides, and dramatically reduce your risk of diabetes.

    The best way to get all those benefits -- and more -- is to go full time on your own low-carb diet. The women in the study were allowed to eat whatever they wanted for five days a week -- but they didn't.

    Instead, their healthy low-carb habits carried over into the rest of the week, on their "off days," once they realized how much good it was doing them.

    Give it a shot yourself and you'll find out why.

  2. How depression breaks your heart

    The proverbial broken heart can actually do the job for real: Depressed people have double the risk of heart attack and a much higher risk of heart problems overall than non-depressed people.

    A fluke? No way -- the link has been made way too often, in too many studies.

    And now, the latest research shows how the mental strain of depression can take a physical toll on the body -- specifically in ways that can dramatically boost your heart risk.

    Researchers gave stress tests to 866 people, about 5 percent of whom were depressed -- and these people had a much harder time recovering afterwards.

    In fact, it seems like the stress didn't end with the test: Depressed people had heart rates that kept galloping and blood pressure levels that stayed high well after everyone else returned to normal.

    That's a sure sign of stress on the body -- and researchers say these delays in recovery show that the body's stress response simply isn't working right.

    And you already know what too much stress can do to even the healthiest of hearts.

    That's not the only reason for the link between depression and heart disease. As the researchers behind the new study point out, depressed people tend to have lousy habits -- they let themselves go, and eventually it takes a toll on the body.

    But there's also a third option out there -- one the new study didn't look at: meds.

    Antidepressant drugs can do a number on the body from top to bottom, and the older tricyclic meds that were used to treat depression in the decades before SSRIs came along in particular have been linked to serious heart problems.

    In one study, researchers found that tricyclic antidepressants increased heart risk by more than a third. Another recent study found that both tricyclics and SSRIs increase the risk of stroke in women.

    SSRIs have even been linked to sudden cardiac death in women.

    And if you already have heart disease, SSRIs might make the condition worse or even hasten your death: A Duke University study from 2006 found that heart patients who took the antidepressants had a 55 percent higher risk of death.

    SSRIs have also been linked to everything from personality changes and sexual side effects to headaches, nausea, diarrhea and even suicide -- and they don't even work very well to boot, with many failing to beat placebos in studies.

    Clearly depression can't be ignored. But just as clearly, it can't be treated with meds, either.

    That's enough on depression -- keep reading for the best way to stay happy.

  3. Get wine benefits from your wine

    One of the best things about enjoying the health benefits of red wine is the wine itself. So naturally, some researchers are trying to spoil the party -- because a new study looks at the benefits of the polyphenols in red wine... when taken without the actual wine.
  4. Skip soda to lower BP

    There are plenty of great reasons to skip the soda and pass on all those other sugary drinks, and now there's one more: Doing so can help lower your blood pressure.
  5. Meditation linked to heart health

    Transcendental Meditation may sound like a relic of the 1960s, but two promising new studies show how this relaxation technique could have some very real benefits for heart patients today.
  6. Don't let dialysis break your heart

    I know that one of the biggest concerns when you begin dialysis treatment is the threat of cardiovascular problems. But a new study points out a way to significantly reduce that risk.

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