Monday, November 28, 2011

Research Update: Green Tea And Serum Cholesterol

Green tea intake lowers fasting serum total and LDL cholesterol in adults: A meta-analysis of 14 randomized clinical trials.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011; 94:601-10.

Objective: To examine the association between green tea consumption and serum cholesterol.

Methods:  This article is a meta-analysis.  The literature was extensively searched for all research on the affects of green tea on serum cholesterol.  The analysis included 14 studies and a summary estimate was calculated.  There were a total of 1,136 subjects from the 14 studies included in this meta-analysis.

Results: Green tea significantly lowered total cholesterol by 7.2 mg/dl and significantly lowered LDL cholesterol by 2.2 mg/dl.  There was no association between green tea consumption and HDL cholesterol.

Discussion:  This is a pretty impressive finding that could have a nice effect on your risk of coronary heart disease, the number one killer in the U.S.  It is hypothesized that every 1% drop in serum cholesterol lowers risk of coronary heart disease by 3%.  Green tea is produce from the leaves of the plant Camellia Sinensis.  Green tea leaves contain antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols.   The researchers believed that substances in green tea lower serum cholesterol by inhibiting key enzymes involved in cholesterol synthesis and by reducing intestinal absorption of cholesterol.   About half of the 14 studies used green tea beverages as the intervention and the other half used green tea dietary supplements in pill form.  No major adverse health effects were reported in any of the studies.

Take Home Message: If you are trying to reduce your total and LDL cholesterol, green tea may be another simple yet effective strategy.  The studies included in this meta-analysis used a variety of doses and the authors didn’t have recommendations regarding the amounts necessary to produce the desired effect.  There were no major adverse health effects reported, so it looks like a cup or 2 a day of green tea may be a safe and effective way to lower cholesterol.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Product Review: Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells

It’s time for another product review and this time I’m going with Bowflex Selecttech 552 Dumbbells.  In a rough economy, many people have cancelled their gym memberships and started working out at home.  This is not a bad idea.  You can take one year’s worth of gym dues and make a really nice little home gym that will last you for decades.  When deciding on the type of weights to include in your home gym, there is a lot to think about: the price of the system, the space you have available, what exercises you want to be able to do, etc. 

Bowflex Selecttech Dumbbells are a great choice for any home gym.  These are dumbbells that have a dial on the side that allows you to change the weight from 5 to 50 pounds in 5 pound increments.  If you want them to be 20 lbs, you simply turn the dials to 20 and you’re all set.  I’ve had a set of these for about 6 months and have been really happy with them.  Following are some of the pro’s and con’s of these dumbbells.

1) Very easy to change the weight load.  If you have plate loaded weights with collars, it can take you a few minutes between exercises to adjust the weights.  This can disrupt your work/rest interval.  With the Bowflex weights, the change is instantaneous.

2) Bowflex Selecttech’s look and act like regular dumbbells.  Other adjustable dumbbell systems like Powerblocks have an unusual shape with a handle in the middle of the dumbbell.  This makes it hard to do exercises like overhead back or triceps presses.  The Bowflex system can be held like a regular dumbbell so you can do anything with them.

3) Space Saver.  These adjustable dumbbells can take the place of an entire wall of individual dumbbells.  This is great if you are in an apartment or only have a small amount of space to devote to your home gym.

4) Very Well Made.  These dumbbells are very well made and durable.  I’ve had mine for about 6 months and they look like they just came out of the box.  There are no signs of wear and tear at all.

5) Don’t roll when you place them on the floor or bench.  This may be a minor issue for some, but there is nothing worse to me than laying down your dumbbells in between sets and having to chase them around the room.  The Bowflex dumbbells lay flat and don’t roll around.  

1) The only con I can come up with is the price.  They are about $350 for the set that goes from 5 to 52 lbs.  There used to be a set that went from 5 to 25 lbs as well, but I think they may have discontinued those.  Now, if you bought pairs of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 lb dumbbells individually, you’d spend a lot more than $350.  However, if you bought plate loaded dumbbells with collars you’d spend a lot less.

Would I Recommend The Bowflex Selecttech Dumbbell System?
Absolutely.  They are a bit pricey but they have really changed the way I can workout at home.  I can switch weights in between exercises and even in between sets with ease.  My workouts are now more fluid and I have more options than I used to regarding exercises.  I love the space saving aspect as well.  I recommend them highly.

If you are interested in picking these up, I researched a bunch of different ways to buy them and was surprised to find out that the best deal came from the Bowflex website ( ).  When I got mine they threw in a free stand.  They are also available on and at home gym equipment stores.