1. One more reason to drink beer

    When it comes to booze and heart health, wine usually gets all the attention -- but it doesn't quite deserve it.

    Sure, wine is great for you -- but it's not the only healthy adult beverage in the bar.

    In fact, you can get just about all the benefits of wine and then some from plain old beer -- and the latest research confirms that a cold brew is every bit as good for your heart as a glass of red.

    Researchers from Italy's Fondazione di Ricerca e Cura say their survey of 200,000 people from around the world finds that regular beer drinkers have a 31 percent lower risk of heart disease than people who don't drink booze at all.

    That's precisely the same decrease in heart risk enjoyed by wine drinkers -- but it's coming from hops and barley instead of grapes, according to the study in the European Journal of Epidemiology.

    And that's not all beer can do for you -- not even close. Beer is also rich in potassium, magnesium, B vitamins and key antioxidants. It can help lower the inflammation linked to heart disease and other serious problems, and raise levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol by as much as 12 percent.

    Beer is also the single best source of dietary silicon around, which can help protect your bones as you age.

    One study even found that dieters who drink beer can lose more weight -- proving that the so-called "beer belly" is a myth. If you see a drinker with a big belly, take a look at what he's eating -- because that's almost certainly the real reason for his keg-sized gut.

    Of course, whether you drink wine or beer, you'll only get the benefits if you make your habit a moderate one and cut yourself off before you drink too much (and if you have to wonder if you've had too much, you've probably reached that point).

    Keep it to a glass or two a night, and you'll enjoy both the benefits and the taste.

    So go ahead -- pop the cork or crack open a frosty one. It's good for you.

  2. The next wave of cholesterol meds

    If you thought statin meds to lower LDL cholesterol were useless, you should see what they're cooking up next: drugs to raise your HDL levels.

    As easy as it is to get your LDL under control through lifestyle changes, it's even easier to boost your HDL levels the natural way -- and I'll tell you everything you need to know in a moment.

    But first, a new study of 400 patients finds that the "promising" experimental med evacetrapib can raise HDL levels by between 54 percent and 129 percent without any significant side effects.

    Sound good? Of course it does -- but don't sign up for the next wave of trials for HDL meds, because there's more going on here than meets the eye.

    Evacetrapib is actually part of a new class of meds called "cholesteryl ester transfer protein inhibitors" or "CETP inhibitors" for short. If those names are unfamiliar, it's because there are no CTEP inhibitors on the market yet despite earlier research that looked just as promising.

    In fact, the last CTEP inhibitor to make it this far in clinical trials, torcetrapib, also raised HDL levels... but it did something else when taken with statins: It boosted the risk of heart problems and even death so significantly that the trial had to be shut down.

    Those problems didn't pop up in smaller studies with hundreds of people -- only in the later trials involving thousands.

    But you don't have to wait for the perfect HDL med, because you can raise your levels on your own right now -- and you can do it naturally:

    Fish Oil: People who eat the most fatty fish have higher HDL levels -- and studies have shown that a fish oil supplement can raise those levels by between 4 and 8 percent and even reduce your triglycerides, too.

    Astaxanthin: This pink pigment found in krill can boost HDL by up to 15 percent -- and, like fish oil, it can slash your triglycerides at the same time.

    Nuts: Just a handful a day can boost your HDL, slash your LDL and lower triglycerides all at once. There's not a drug in the world that can do that.

    Booze: Moderate drinking can boost HDL levels so well that the researchers behind one recent analysis said it works better than any known med.

    Quit Smoking: Cigarettes can slash your HDL levels. Quitting can bring them back up and improve your health in so many other ways at the same time.

    Looking for more? Visit the Web site of the Health Sciences Institute and browse the free online library.

  3. Risky business: Sleepless kids are bad news

    Kids who miss out on sleep aren't just groggy in school -- they're also far more likely to do all the things that give parents nightmares.
  4. Shrinks want seniors to stop drinking

    If you're a senior and you had a drink or two last night, you had way too much. That's ridiculous, of course -- but that's the warning from a group of buzz-killing British shrinks, who claim that booze intake should be limited to just 1.5 units of alcohol a day for seniors.

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