Georgetown Health Care Center

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Wanted: Low Homocysteine Levels

High homocysteine levels in the blood have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and dementia. Persons who eat greater numbers of servings of foods containing folate, which can help reduce homocysteine levels, have been found to have lower homocysteine levels in their blood. Foods high in folate include fruits, vegetables, grain products, and eggs.

A study was conducted using blood drawn from persons who participated in the Framingham Heart Study, and each person completed a questionnaire that asked about how often they ate certain types of foods. Those persons who ate the least amounts of fruits and vegetables daily - about two servings - had the highest homocysteine levels. In contrast, those who ate the most fruits and vegetables - about nine servings a day - had the lowest homocysteine levels.

Persons eating cereal had similar good results. Those who did not eat cereal had higher levels than those who ate an average of 10 bowls a week. This is especially interesting given that in 1997, the law requires all cereal-grain products to be fortified with folic acid.

The more foods with folate that the persons ate, the lower their homocysteine levels. The beneficial results peaked with eating five to six servings of fruits and vegetables daily and six or seven servings of cereal a week. In general, the women in the study had higher folate levels than did the men because women took more vitamin supplements and ate increased servings of fruits and vegetables.

Bee Stings

As summer approaches, it is smart to remember that the key to successful treatment of bee stings is in getting the stinger out of the skin as quickly as possible. A bee stinger continues to inject venom as long as it is in the skin. While some say that the way the stinger is removed from the skin is important (e.g., scraped off versus pulled out), researchers found that the amount of venom and size of the welt resulting from the bite was associated most with how quickly the stinger was removed. Whether the stinger was scraped off with a credit card or pulled out with fingers did not seem to influence the results.


This page was last updated on: Saturday, April 5, 1997
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