Health bites

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 April, 2013, 10:49am

Caffeine, the flavour enhancer

What if you could learn to like vegetables by having them with coffee? It's possible, according to a study by the University of Buffalo in New York state. Researchers randomly assigned 68 men and women aged 18 to 50 to receive a drink containing a placebo or caffeine, and then to consume a low- or high-energy yogurt. The yogurt flavours were unusual to avoid any taste preferences: almond, maple, peppermint, pumpkin pie, raspberry and lemon, strawberry and coconut, and cumin. After rating the yogurts over four days, yogurt liking increased over time, with the yogurts paired with the caffeine liked more than those paired with the placebo.


Garden path to happiness

Here's a great reason for Hong Kong to value its green space: urbanites with more of it tend to report greater well-being than those who don't have parks, gardens or other green space nearby. By examining data from a British national survey, researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School found that individuals reported less mental distress and higher life satisfaction when they were living in greener areas. This held even after changes in income, employment, marital status, physical health and housing type. The data was collected annually from more than 10,000 people between 1991 and 2008.


Worried about your health? Don't lose any sleep

Researchers at the University of Birmingham in Britain put eight healthy volunteers through two nights of normal sleep (eight hours), followed by three nights of four-hour sleep. After the first two nights of restricted sleep, the subjects had a significant reduction in vascular function compared with that after normal sleep. However, after the third night of sleep restriction, vascular function returned to baseline - possibly an adaptive response to acute sleep loss. Finally, the volunteers slept 10 hours a night for five nights, and vascular function improved. "If acute sleep loss occurs repetitively over a long period of time, then vascular health could be compromised further and mediate the development of cardiovascular disease," says Keith Pugh, a researcher.