Latest heart health news: saturated fats and sleep apnea

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Saturated fats not as bad as we think?

Saturated fats have long been viewed as heart disease culprits. Now a new report, about heart health, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine is questioning the supposed benefits of steering clear of them.

Researchers have been unable to find any evidence to clearly support the current cardiovascular guidelines, which encourage a low consumption of saturated fats. The findings all come back to bad cholesterol, which older studies have shown to increase with the intake of saturated fats. According to an NPR report, this fueled the idea that saturated fats must then increase the likelihood of heart disease. While the idea represents a logical leap, researchers say it has yet to be proven.

The report suggests that saturated fats may have more of a neutralizing effect when it comes to heart disease. According to NPR, they’ve actually been shown to increase good cholesterol and lower triglycerides when compared to carbohydrates.

9/11 first responders at increased risk for heart disease

A new study is linking high exposure to inhaled particulate matter at Ground Zero to increased risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea and post-traumatic stress disorder. Both conditions are considered risk factors for heart disease, making 9/11 first responders more likely to have cardiac issues. Researchers say the toxic dust cloud brought on by the attacks were made up of cement dust, smoke, glass fibers and heavy metals. Previous research has already tied this particulate matter to lung, heart and kidney disease abnormalities.

Trial underway to see if cocoa prevents heart disease

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is taking a closer look at the relationship between cocoa and heart disease. A new study is piggybacking on previous clinical trials that have shown cocoa extracts to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

For the study, participants will take pills that contain large amounts of flavanols extracted from cocoa. This will eliminate the weight gain participants would likely experience from eating large amounts of chocolate. Researchers will then examine if the pills are associated with decreased heart attacks, strokes and clogged arteries. The trial will include 12,000 participants.

By Marianne Hayes

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