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By Stephenie Karony

Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Don’t take HeartBar
claim to heart

Question: What's your opinion of the new HeartBar? It's supposed to help people manage heart disease. Why? What is it about the HeartBar that allows the manufacturers to make this claim?

Answer: A good question. I couldn't find anything to substantiate the HeartBar's medical food claim.

I suspect it's a self-endorsement by the bar's makers. It's not endorsed by any regulatory agency that I know of.

The HeartBar does contain L-arginine, an amino acid which has been associated with improved blood-vessel function in a few short-term studies.

But to jump to the conclusion that the HeartBar helps promote heart health is a bit of a stretch. HeartBars contain too much sugar and other sweeteners, plus cookie pieces made with trans fatty acids, to be considered heart healthy.

Let's call a spade a spade. The HeartBar makes a relatively tasty candy bar.

Q: What is Tae Kwon Do?

A: Tae Kwon Do is a martial art that focuses on the unification of body, mind and spirit. Tae Kwon Do literally means "the art of hand and foot fighting."

Practitioners say Tae Kwon Do gives them a sense of power in their bodies that they wouldn't otherwise have. Its goals are self-mastery, self-defense and the development of harmony between body, mind and nature.

Tae Kwon Do delivers a terrific cardiovascular workout; it burns lots of calories and it strengthens the entire body. The practice of Tae Kwon Do places a great deal of emphasis on high kicks and high jumping kicks. So you'll probably want to be in relatively good shape even before you start taking Tae Kwon Do classes.

Tae Kwon Do classes generally begin with some warm-up moves followed by active stretching, then move into conditioning and strengthening exercises for the muscles of the hips, abdomen and legs.

The remainder of the class is then spent practicing technique and sparring with partners.

Q: Can you clarify what the new labeling laws are on dietary supplements?

A: The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has given the manufacturers of dietary supplements greater leeway in making health claims on their products. Ever since the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act was put into effect in 1994, supplement labels could claim that a product affects the body's structure or function. Labels could not say it prevents, treats or cures a disease.

For example, the makers of St. John's Wort can claim their product enhances mood, but not that it treats depression. Manufacturers of CoQ10 can say it helps maintain a healthy heart and circulatory system, not that it prevents or cures heart disease.

So what led to the FDA's new ruling? There seemed to be an ongoing question as to what constitutes a disease. The definition, according to supplement makers, was too vague.

To clear up the confusion, the FDA has now ruled that "minor symptoms associated with normal life stages, such as adolescence, aging, menopause and pregnancy, are not diseases."

So manufacturers can now make claims about them.

I urge anyone who is going through a life stage (aren't we all?) to do their homework and find out if these claims are backed by solid scientific evidence.

Health Events

Stephenie Karony is a certified health
and fitness instructor, a personal trainer and the author of
"Body Shaping with Free Weights." Send questions to her at
P.O. Box 262, Wailuku Hi. Her column appears on Wednesdays.

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