Sunday, July 02, 2006

Of Oysters, Toenails, and Heart Attacks

What’s the connection? Chromium. Still confused?
A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology links a low intake of the mineral chromium to an increased risk for heart attack. In the study, researchers measured chromium levels in the participants’ toenail clippings, thought to gauge long-term chromium intake better than a blood test.

The study followed more than 1,400 men for one year, about half of whom had a previous history of heart attack and half of who did not, for one year. Researchers found that the chromium concentrations among those who suffered a previous heart attack was about 15 percent lower than those who were heart-attack free. Additionally, the findings showed that as chromium levels increased, heart-attack risk decreased. The study states, “These results add to an increasing body of evidence that points to the importance of chromium for cardiovascular health.”

“What about the oysters?” You ask. They’re chock full of chromium. Oysters join liver, potatoes, and brewer’s yeast as the best sources of the mineral. Chromium supplements are also a well-tolerated source. And on the flip side, refined foods, especially sugar, can contribute to chromium deficiency because the refining process removes the mineral —yet another reason to keep your junk-food consumption in check.

—Leigh Eising

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