High Cholesterol in Young Adults Predicts Heart Disease
It's never too early to start worrying about your cholesterol. Elevated levels of "bad" cholesterol—or LDL—in adults as young as 20 may already be damaging their arteries and setting the stage for later heart disease and stroke, according to a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Researchers followed a group of individuals from 18 to 30 years old for 20 years, and found that those with high LDL levels in youth were more likely to develop heart disease later, regardless of their levels in adulthood. Cholesterol-lowering medications, however, may not be the best answer: Young adults should exercise and watch what they eat, Reuters reports.
Health Benefits of Home-Grown Produce
Americans need to adopt a more plant-based diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, U.S. News's Megan Johnson writes. And for good reason: Plants offer a host of health benefits. Aside from their fiber, vitamins, and minerals, evidence suggests that fruits and veggies contain compounds that play a role in preventing certain cancers as well as heart disease and stroke, for which supplements are no substitute, says dietitian Elizabeth Pivonka, president of the nonprofit Produce for Better Health Foundation.
Beta carotene found in carrots and sweet potatoes, for example, has been shown to help protect against lung cancer, but may be harmful when taken in pill form. And the latest research suggests that calcium supplements may raise the risk of heart attacks in adults while doing little to benefit bone health. (That's why some researchers are now encouraging folks to get the nutrient in their diet instead. Spinach and broccoli are good sources.)
Getting more isn't always easy. Supermarket produce can be expensive, making packaged snacks—already sweeter or saltier and higher in calories than fruits and vegetables—all the more tempting. A cheaper alternative: Grow your own. Home-grown produce has other advantages beyond its low cost. It's often tastier and arguably a bit more nutritious [Read more: Health Benefits of Home-Grown Produce.]
Kids Can Go to School With Head Lice, But Schools May Disagree
Last week the nation's pediatricians let loose a bit of news that could transform the lives of parents: They said head lice are OK. Any parent who has had to deal with a school's no-nit policy has experienced firsthand the frustration of keeping a perfectly healthy child home from school because that child's shiny clean hair harbors a few nits; the child isn't learning, the parent isn't earning. But don't be surprised if your school continues to send children home for lice, U.S. News contributor Nancy Shute writes.
Many schools have adopted a no-nit policy as the simplest way to manage head lice outbreaks, which are commonplace, affecting 6 to 12 million children a year. But the American Academy of Pediatrics took another look at the science, and said there's no evidence that head lice pose a disease risk, or are a sign of bad hygiene. What's more, they say there's no evidence that sending a child home reduces the spread of lice, or that in-school screenings can control outbreaks. So this week the AAP revised its policy, saying schools shouldn't send home children with lice or nits (louse eggs). [Read more: Kids Can Go to School With Head Lice, But Schools May Disagree.]
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