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Entries in heart health (7)


10 Actions You Can Take Today for Better Heart Health

My grandmother died from a stroke. Her death left a huge impact on me.

Whenever I’m asked to share my family medical history, it’s a reminder of not only why she left this earth, but also what’s in my genes. Many of my clients share a similar journey. They’ve lost a close family member to cardiovascular disease and want to do anything and everything to avoid that outcome for themselves.

Heart disease affects 65 million Americans. It’s a sobering statistic. Even if you have a family history of cardiovascular disease, however, you don’t have to let your genes dictate your future. Instead, you can use this knowledge as motivation to pursue a healthy, prevention-minded lifestyle.

Want to support your heart health? Below are 10 actions you can start or continue today.


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Heart Disease 101: Unexpected Risk Factors

Consider this. I’m 31 years old, exercise at least five days per week, sleep at least seven hours every night, eat at least 5 servings of vegetables daily, avoid tobacco, and am near-optimal body composition. According to the American Heart Association’s heart disease risk calculator, I should be on moderate-to-high-dose statin therapy. Why? My systolic blood pressure runs slightly higher than 120mm Hg. That’s all.( In case you were wondering, my diastolic blood pressure is usually in the high 50s or mid 60s, which is considered excellent).The calculator didn’t ask for any of the other information I shared about my lifestyle choices. For its purposes, they don’t matter (or make the cut in its final design). If nothing else, this example at least begs the question of how cardiovascular risk is assessed. What do conventional measures examine, and what else should we be noting in realistically evaluating our potential for heart disease? 


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Full-Fat or Non-Fat Dairy: Which Is More Heart-Healthy?

  It seems like almost every time the recommendation for dairy is made for the diet, it includes the descriptor of “low fat” or “non-fat.” In fact, it’s so common that many people, when shopping for dairy, scan the coolers looking for low fat and non-fat on the front of the package. Are there any proven health benefits to avoiding full-fat dairy? Will choosing low-fat dairy help us reduce calorie intake and lose weight? Will reduced-fat dairy lessen the chance of getting heart disease or having a stroke? If we skip the fat in dairy, will we miss out on any important nutrients? Is there a difference in how the body responds to full-fat milk versus full-fat cheese, butter or cream? A new article published in Advances in Nutrition provides an extensive review answering some of these questions. Highlights from the article are included in the sections below.

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What You Should Know About Diet, Cholesterol and Health

When it comes to diet, cholesterol and heart health, you’ve probably heard something along these lines:

Eating fat raises cholesterol. Cholesterol causes heart disease. If saturated fat raises cholesterol and, cholesterol is supposed to cause heart disease, then eating saturated fat or cholesterol increases the risk of developing heart disease. Therefore, you should avoid foods containing saturated fat and cholesterol, like butter, bacon, red meat and eggs.

The above ideas have been repeated so many times by health and media organizations, most people think they’re proven facts. However, research going back more than 60 years has yet to show saturated fat or dietary cholesterol has any causal effect

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Cholesterol, Health and Heart Disease

For decades, sound bites on the news, daytime television and mainstream magazines have warned us of the dangers of fat and cholesterol. When it comes to our heart health and risk of future disease, we’re often told:

  • High cholesterol is a sure sign heart disease is right around the corner
  • We should limit or eliminate dietary cholesterol to lower our blood cholesterol levels
  • Fat, especially saturated fat, should be avoided because it can clog our arteries
  • When diet and exercise don’t bring cholesterol levels to a “healthy” level, statins should be prescribed (or they’re prescribed before focusing on diet and lifestyle changes)
  • Whole grains should be increased in the diet to help reduce cholesterol levels, which will lower heart disease risk

Though these all seem logical based on what we’ve been told about fat, cholesterol and heart disease, thorough reviews of the research from the past several decades shows the statements above are not true. If the above advice doesn’t improve health, could it possibly increase the chance of disease?

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Fat, Carbs and Cardiovascular Disease

If you were to ask the average person what causes heart disease, he or she would probably say dietary fat. Though fat has been vindicated through many different studies, it is still common for people to have the impression that dietary fat is unhealthy. We’ve discussed how dietary fat has been unnecessarily vilified for decades in previous articles, such as Saturated Fat: Wrongfully Accused, Cholesterol Gets a Bum Rap, and Myth Busting: Fat. A new research review from The Netherlands Journal of Medicine sheds more light on the confusion surrounding dietary fat, especially saturated fat, carbohydrates and cardiovascular disease. In many ways, Europe tends to be more progressive around nutrition, supplementation and drug therapy. Hopefully a review such as this one will pave the way for similar messages here in the United States in the near future.

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Sweet Heart

The sugar industry took another hit this past week. Another study provides evidence of sugar consumption to negatively impact our health. The study, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that increasing sugar intake may...

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