Discovered: A famous diet can improve heart health by as much as 30 percent; maybe organic tomatoes are better for you after all; signs of an ancient underwater continent; Spider-Man's hypothetical web could stop a hypothetical train, according to physics.
Quantifying the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet. The healthiness of a Mediterranean diet (chock full of fruits and vegetables, olive oil, fish, nuts, and the occasional glass of wine) has been promoted by nutritionists for years. And now there's a sweeping study to back up the claims that it helps improve heart health, even for those already at high risk for a heart attack. Led by Ramon Estruch of the University of Barcelona, this is the first study to clinically measure the diet's impact on heart health. Estruch and his colleagues found that high-risk patients saw their chances of suffering a heart attack, stroke, or other heart complication decrease by 30 percent. Over 7,000 Spaniards with poor heart health were randomly assigned a Mediterranean or low-fat diet, and the results showed no real health benefits while the Mediterranean diet revealed appreciable cardiovascular health improvements. "The really important thing," University of Vermont professor and American Heart Association spokeswoman Rachel Jonson tells The New York Times' Gina Kolata, "is that they used very meaningful endpoints. They did not look at risk factors like cholesterol of hypertension or weight. They looked at heart attacks and strokes and death. At the end of the day, that is what really matters." [The New York Times]
Organic tomatoes may be healthier after all. If that Stanford study claiming organic foods hold no health benefits over genetically modified ones left a bad taste in your mouth, perhaps you'll reacquire your appetite for natural tomatoes after hearing about the results in a new PLOS One paper. The researchers found that organic tomatoes have more phenols and vitamin C than your typical grocery store tomato. Such phenols are believed to be important in fighting cancer. [Grist]