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Posts Tagged ‘Heart Disease’

Heart Disease – Does green tea lower heart disease risk?

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on June 8, 2009

All right, this green tea article has been hanging over my head for at least a month now. I just couldn’t get motivated to wade through all the research to determine if yes, this is an effective way to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease, or no, it’s just a lot of hype.

Well, I sat down and sorted it all out today and here’s what I found.

Health Claim

The proposed health claim for green tea is that drinking at least 5 fluid ounces as a source of catechins may reduce risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease.

What are catchins?

Green tea contains catechins, which are a type of flavenoid with antioxidant properties. Antioxidants slow the oxidation process. The oxidation of LDL molecules is what results in plaque formation. Therefore, increasing antioxidant intake should slow oxidation of LDL, resulting in less arterial plaque formation.

Also, when molecules are oxidized, free radicals are released that damage cells. These free radicals can increase inflammatory issues associated with cardiovascular disease.

How flavenoids work

The body recognizes flavenoids as foreign particles and works to eliminate them from the body. Flavenoids themselves do not act as an antioxidant and they are poorly absorbed by the body. However, the proposed benefit of extra flavenoids is that as the body eliminates the unwanted flavenoids, damaging free radicals are also eliminated.

Tea production

The various types of tea are produced differently. The leaves of oolong tea and black tea are allowed to oxidize (enzymes in the tea change catechins to larger molecules). Green tea is not oxidized, but produced by steaming fresh-cut leaves whereby enzymes are inactivated and little oxidation occurs. The least processed tea is white tea, which contains the highest levels of catechins. Green tea contains the second highest catechin level, approximately 125 mg catechins per serving (or ~25% dry weight of fresh tea leaves).

Here’s a little breakdown on tea oxidation:
Black tea – Highest oxidation; also, highest caffeine content and strongest flavor; 90% of all tea served in the West is black tea
Oolong tea – 10-70% oxidized
Green tea – Low oxidation
White tea – Minimal oxidation; Uncured, unfermented; Lower caffeine content that other teas

FDA Review

In 2005, the FDA did not approve the health claim for green tea, because the link between green tea and reduced cardiovascular disease risk was too weak and more conclusive evidence was needed.

Recent Research

This past June, 2008, a study was published that links green tea to reduced flow-mediated dilation of brachial arteries (major blood vessels in the upper arms). Flow-mediated dilation is related to coronary endothelial function and is an indicator for cardiovascular disease risk. Increased dilation is good. It means the heart has to do less work to move blood throughout circulation. (The endothelium is the inner layer of an artery, which blood flows against.)

This was a study of 14 healthy individuals that consumed 6 grams of green tea, followed by a measure of flow-mediated dilation. The results showed an increased flow-mediated dilation with tea (peak at 30 minutes post consumption). There was no change to antioxidant status after consumption. It’s proposed that the improved flow-mediated dilation is how green tea reduces cardiovascular disease risk.

The Hype

I came across multiple articles with headlines screaming “Green Tea Protects Against Heart Disease” since this study was published in June. I think there is significant research that still needs to be completed before it can be determined for sure how tea works to prevent heart disease. A study of 14 individuals is a small study.

Drinking 6 grams of green tea, would equal about three – 6 ounce cups of green tea each day. (Based on making 1 six ounce cup of tea with 1 teaspoon or 2.25 grams of green tea.) However, the study results are based on consuming 6 grams of tea in one setting followed by improved flow-mediated dilation at peak levels 30 minutes after consumption. How likely is it for you to drink three cups of tea quickly, back-to-back to reproduce the short-term benefit shown in this study?

To me, that is not a very effective way to reduce heart disease risk. But, I will say that if you like green tea – drink it. Many studies are showing that green tea is beneficial to heart disease. The what, how, and how much is yet to be determined. Who knows what future studies will find?!

To receive regular heart health and weight loss tips for dietitian Lisa Nelson, sign up for The Heart of Health and grab your copy of the special report “Stop Wasting Money – Take Control of Your Health” today!

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD

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Heart Disease – Link between Temperament, Personality, and Heart Disease Risk

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on April 2, 2009

Lisa Nelson RD: What role does temperament/personality play in a person’s heart disease risk?

Dr. Shelby-Lane: Temperament and personality have a definite effect on blood pressure and on heart disease. This is a great question and it has been studied by the experts, as you will note in the following excerpts. Heart disease consists of congenital abnormalities, arrhthymias, lipid abnormalities acquired and congenital, functional and physiologic problems, risk factors such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome, structural disease and valvular problems, heart failure, acquired disease such as coronary artery disuse, and infectious diseases along with diseases related to blood vessel structure. Again, anxiety, stress, and stress related disorders can have an effect on major hormones, heart rate and heart health and heart disease. Nutritional abnormalities can also affect heart performance.

New research suggests that people who suffer from panic attacks are at increased risk of developing heart disease.

Why people who suffer from panic attacks should be at increased risk of developing heart disease is unclear. According to the study, authors put forward several theories, one being that panic disorders might trigger nervous system changes which could promote the clogging of arteries. Another theory is that people may have been misdiagnosed as having panic attacks when they actually have coronary heart disease. “Clinicians should be vigilant for this possibility when diagnosing and treating people presenting with symptoms of panic,” said Dr Walters.

Study results have shown that people with depression are at increased risk of heart attack and heart failure because they are less likely to be active.

Scientists have known for some years that people who are depressed are at increased risk of heart attack and other cardiac events, however the reason why this should be has remained unclear. However, according to results of a study by Mary A Wooley and colleagues, the increased risk is due to behavioral factors.

The researchers analyzed data obtained from 1,017 people with heart disease, 199 of which had symptoms of depression. Results showed that 10% of depressed participants had a cardiac event (e.g. heart attack, heart failure, stroke, transient ischemic attack) during the study period, compared to just 6.7% of non-depressed participants, meaning that depressed participants were 50% more likely to have a cardiac event. However, results also showed that depressed participants were more likely to smoke, were less likely to take their medications as prescribed, and were less physically active. After the researchers factored these behaviors into their calculations the risk of a cardiac event in depressed participants was similar to that in non-depressed participants.

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD
Be Heart Healthy and Lose Weight

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High Blood Pressure and Magnesium

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on April 2, 2009

Magnesium is not a mineral that tops discussions very often; however, magnesium is critical to over 300 bodily functions.  Magnesium maintains normal muscle and nerve function, helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure and heart rhythm, maintains bone strength, and supports a healthy immune system. 

Many people consume a diet low in magnesium receiving less than two-thirds of the recommended dietary allowance. Good magnesium sources include whole grains, spinach, broccoli, squash, beans, popcorn, nuts, pork, and seeds. Fair sources of magnesium include dairy products, chocolate, and meats.
 
A magnesium deficiency takes a long time to develop. Magnesium deficiency symptoms include irregular heartbeat, weakness, fatigue, numbness, muscle pain, disorientation, and seizures. Conditions related to increased risk for magnesium deficiency include alcoholism, poorly controlled diabetes, intestinal disorders (Crohn’s disease), and intake of certain medications (diuretics). Sup-optimal levels of magnesium intake have been linked with diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, and pregnancy discomfort.
 
Diabetes
 
When someone has type II diabetes they are making adequate insulin levels. The problem with type II diabetes is that the cells do not recognize the insulin. When cells do not recognize insulin they do not let sugar from the blood enter the cell and blood sugar levels remain elevated. This leads to sugar spilling over into the urine, organ damage, and other complications. Magnesium is a factor in this because it’s the “key” that opens the door for insulin to get into the cell.  If magnesium levels are low there are no keys to open the door and insulin is unable to do its job resulting in continued high blood sugar levels.  When diabetes is poorly controlled the loss of magnesium in the urine is even greater.
 
Hypertension
 
Blood levels of potassium, calcium, and magnesium are closely connected and all influence blood pressure. Studies have linked low magnesium levels with elevated blood pressure. As an aside, if you have ever been told to eat a banana by your doctor, you should also increase your magnesium intake. FYI – Bananas are not the best source of potassium – potatoes are!
 
Osteoporosis
 
Magnesium is a major component of the matrix (middle) of bones. Low magnesium levels cause fragile bones that are less flexible and have a slower recovery rate if injured.
 
Pregnancy
 
Adequate levels of magnesium are related to decreased leg cramps during pregnancy. A magnesium deficiency is also a risk factor for gestational diabetes.
 
Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for Magnesium:
 
Men 350 mg per day
Women 280 mg
Pregnancy 300 mg
Lactation 355 mg first 6 months; 340 mg next 6 months
 
You do NOT want to take megadoses of magnesium – more is not better in this case.  You just want enough to meet the RDA. If you feel your intake of magnesium from foods is low, taking a basic multivitamin is a simple way to ensure you meet your needs. Read the multivitamin label carefully because not all multivitamins include magnesium. Always check with your doctor before altering your medications or supplements.
 
Bottom Line:
 
Magnesium may not be an exciting mineral, but it is critical.  Ensure you are eating adequate sources of magnesium rich foods and/or consider a supplement to promote optimum health.
 

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How to Lower Cholesterol: Step 3

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 30, 2009

In the last post I gave you the first step towards lowering cholesterol. Here is the third. Remember, by implementing these basic steps, you’re establishing a solid foundation that will support heart health and increase the effectiveness of medications and supplements.

Step 3: Lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight.

Weight has a significant impact on your heart health and cholesterol levels. Weight loss alone may lower triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels. Losing as little as 10% body weight could drop your cholesterol back to the heart healthy range.

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD

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Heart Disease and Fibromyalgia – Is there a link?

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 15, 2009

Here’s another question I asked Dr. Cynthia Shelby-Lane and her answer.

Lisa Nelson RD: Do you feel there is a link between heart disease and fibromyalgia?

Dr. Shelby-Lane: Fibromyalgia symptoms were akin to the symptoms of several “functional” disorders (i.e., medical conditions that affect bodily function via causes that are poorly understood) including recurrent non-heart-related chest pain, heartburn, heart palpitations and irritable bowel syndrome. However, a number of studies since have detected evidence of abnormalities in the internal organs of many fibromyalgia patients, including heart valve problems, malfunction of the muscles that move food to the stomach, and weakened lung function. These studies suggest that the abnormalities likely are symptoms of a larger disease, not illnesses by themselves.

Because of weakened respiratory muscles an individual finds it hard to breathe and the supply of oxygen to heart is decreased resulting in the above symptoms. Similar is the case with neck pain, due to weakened muscles.

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a recently recognized disorder rheumatologists and practitioners see quite often, especially in women 20 to 50 years old. It is characterized by widespread, chronic musculoskeletal pain, tenderness, fatigue and stiffness affecting muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissues with loss of sleep, depression, and shortness of breath. It is a poorly understood condition and there appears to be no universal cause and no single treatment that is effective for every person. Diagnosis of fibromyalgia is based on the tenderness of specific anatomical sites (at least 11 of 18 points) and pain in all four quadrants of the body that has lasted for 3-6 months or longer. It mostly affects the neck, shoulders, lower back, chest and/or thighs. Fibromyalgia patients meet many of the diagnostic criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome. Three to six million people are affected by fibromyalgia.

Possible Causes or Contributing Factors of Fatigue & Fibromyalgia

The cause of fibromyalgia is not known. Patients experience pain in response to stimuli that are normally not perceived as painful. Researchers have found elevated levels of a nerve chemical signal, called substance P, and nerve growth factor in the spinal fluid of fibromyalgia patients. The brain nerve chemical serotonin is also relatively low in patients with fibromyalgia. Studies of pain in fibromyalgia have suggested that the central nervous system (brain) may be somehow supersensitive. Scientists note that there seems to be a diffuse disturbance of pain perception in patients with fibromyalgia.

Also, patients with fibromyalgia have impaired non-Rapid-Eye-Movement, or non-REM, sleep phase (which likely explains the common feature of waking up fatigued and unrefreshed in these patients). The onset of fibromyalgia has been associated with psychological distress, trauma, and infection.

Fibromyalgia can occur in the presence of other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and hypothyroidism.

Nutritional therapies that help with fibromyalgia are D-ribose, L carnitine, magnesium, coenzyme Q 10, glutamine, fixated nitrogen, SAMe (optimal dosages vary for all supplements) and detoxification, but detection and correction of the underlying problem is the first course of action. This should also include hormone evaluation for adrenal and thyroid problems.

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD
Be Heart Healthy and Lose Weight

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Would you like to ask Dr. Cynthia Shelby-Lane, heart health expert, a question?

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on January 14, 2009

Dr. Cynthia Shelby-Lane, MD

Dr. Cynthia Shelby-Lane, MD

Are you ready to get answers to your most pressing heart health questions from a nationally known emergency room physician, heart health expert, and anti-aging specialist?

Well, now’s your chance! I will be interviewing Dr. Cynthia Shelby-Lane later this month. I want to ask the questions you want answers to. Submit your questions by commenting on this post below.

Here’s a little background information on Dr. Shelby-Lane. She’s known as the “agelessdoctor” with a private practice located in Detroit, Michigan – Elan Anti-Aging & Longevity Center of Michigan. After 23 years as an emergency room physician, her experience with life and death crises made her realize the limitations of traditional medicine. She became a board certified anti-aging specialist with a holistic approach to medicine, integrating traditional and complimentary strategies to treat and prevent disease. Dr. Shelby-Lane has recently expanded her practice to the internet and answers questions for patients around the world, providing alternative solutions and second opinions.

Dr. Shelby-Lane’s knowledge is extensive and has led to positions with numerous state and national medical boards, including two terms as President of the American Association of Women Emergency Physicians. Her areas of expertise include cardiovascular disease prevention, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, detoxification, adrenal and thyroid disorders, weight management, memory and brain health, autoimmune disorders and fibromyalgia.

In a unique twist, Dr. Shelby-Lane not only graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School, but also the Second City Comedy School in Chicago. She’s a firm believer that laughter is good medicine and I have to agree. She’s produced her own comedy show titled “Laugh Attack: Stopping the # 1 Killer – Heart Disease” and delivers a powerful lecture called “Heart Sense & Humor”. You can join her live via satellite radio on February 4th as she discusses heart disease and her upcoming book release.

The list of Dr. Shelby-Lane’s accomplishments is endless (including being a guest on Oprah – more than once!). The above is just a quick synopsis of the ones I thought you’d find most interesting related to heart disease.

Make the most of Dr. Shelby-Lane’s generous offer to carve time out of her busy schedule to answer your questions.

Comment on this post to submit your questions.

This interview will be posted in February as a special feature to recognize “American Heart Month”. So, watch for the answers to your questions next month! Until then, I’d love to have you join the hundreds of people reading The Heart of Health ezine where I provide free heart health and weight loss tips. Subscribers also receive the free report “Stop Wasting Money – Take Control of Your Health” or the free e-course “8 Essential Steps to Lower Cholesterol Naturally”.

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Mediterranean Diet to Reduce Heart Disease

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on December 23, 2008

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Mediterranean Diet and it’s link to heart health. The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and monounsaturated fats (olive oil).

Those that follow a Mediterranean Diet have a reduced there risk of developing heart disease and dying from a heart attack. Even those that have survived a heart attack and lived to adopt the Mediterranean Diet significantly reduced their risk of a second heart attack and other complications.

In an interesting twist, the native Mediterranean population has gradually adopted a more Western diet leading to negative results. The Mediterranean area has seen an income rise that’s resulted in extra dollars being spent on meat and saturated fat food sources. Over the past 4 decades the average calorie intake in the Mediterranean countries has increased ~30%. So, the once healthy Mediterranean countries are now seeing the weight epidemics the US is familiar with – 75% of the population overweight or obese in Greece, with over half of the population in Italy, Spain, and Portugal following suit. These countries are now supporting the “Mediterranean Diet” as a part of their cultural heritage they can not let die.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the characteristics common to a Mediterranean Diet:

  • High intake of fruits and vegetables
  • Select whole grains
  • Consume healthy fats (canola and olive oil)
  • Eat nuts in moderation
  • Low red wine consumption
  • Limit eggs to less than 4 times per week
  • Consume little red meat
  • Eat fish regularly

All the best,

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN
eNutritionServices

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Reduce Heart Disease with Glucomannan

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on December 16, 2008

Have you heard of glucomannan? Glucomannan is a type of soluble fiber. Research has shown that for every 1-2 grams of daily soluble fiber intake, LDL (bad) cholesterol is lowered 1%. Check out this post from Janie Ellington to learn more about glucomannan and how it reduces heart disease risk:


Benefits of Glucomannan Against Risk Factors for Heart Disease


All the best,

Lisa Nelson, RD
eNutritionServices

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Make Your Halloween Healthier

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on October 27, 2008

Halloween is just around the corner, which means trick-or-treating, and I stress the “treating”. Eliminating candy completely at Halloween is not a feasible option and why spoil a fun holiday the whole family should enjoy? However, by taking a few simple steps you can limit the amount of candy in your home and maintain a balance between holiday treats and your health goals.

  • Are you throwing or attending a Halloween party? Limit the cookies/candy and aim for some traditional fall goodies, such as caramel covered apples, pumpkin dip and pumpkin bars, which are tasty treats that offer some good nutrition too. If you are the party host, plan some party activities that get guests up and moving – Monster Mash dance contest or a scarecrow building contest – to work off some of the holiday goodies while having a ghoulish good time.
  • Limit the number of homes you take your children to for trick-or-treating. The fewer homes you visit, the less candy you take home.
  • “Donate” excess candy to the office or your child’s teacher. You and/or your spouse can place a candy dish at your office to share with co-workers and your children can load up a bag to give to teachers for school treats throughout the year.
  • Purchase only what you think you’ll need to hand out to trick-or-treaters. Estimate how many little devils and goblins came knocking on your door previous years and purchase just enough candy to cover your expected trick-or-treaters. This will limit the leftover candy you will be tempted to consume after the big night.
  • Portion control is key. Watch how much you eat at a time. If you have a sweet tooth, keep the candy out of sight and limit yourself to one or two pieces each day.

Halloween comes around once a year and for those dealing with health issues, such as heart disease or excess weight; this may be a stressful time trying to balance a healthy diet with the influx of candy. By following the above tips and making good decisions you can enjoy this time of year and some sweets, too.

Happy Halloween!
Lisa Nelson, RD, LN
eNutritionServices

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Your Checklist to Lower Cholesterol

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on September 12, 2008

Here’s a checklist of the top 8 things you must do if you want to successfully lower your cholesterol and keep it low.

Know your numbers

Have you had a lipid profile? Do you understand the numbers? If you are going to successfully lower cholesterol you need to know your numbers and what they mean. The most effective way to raise HDL is not necessarily the best way to lower LDL.

Evaluate your lifestyle

There are risk factors for high cholesterol that you can not control, such as age, gender, and family history, but there are factors you can control. For example, you can reduce risk by not smoking, increasing your activity, and losing extra weight.

Balance your fats

Reduce unhealthy saturated fats in your diet and replace them with heart healthy unsaturated fats. Total fat intake should be 30% or less of your total daily calories. Out of this 30%, saturated fat should be limited to 7%.

Be active

Physical activity lowers triglycerides and raises HDL (good) cholesterol. Shoot for 30 minutes 5 or more days a week. If you are not currently active, check with your MD before beginning an activity program.

Eliminate trans fats

You need to be food label savvy and watch out for trans fats. Trans fats raise LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and raise triglycerides. Limit trans fats to 1% or less of your daily caloric intake.

Understand triglycerides

Triglycerides are impacted the most by your simple sugar and alcohol intake. If you are struggling with high triglycerides, you need to use a different strategy to get your cholesterol under control.

Increase dietary fiber

A high fiber diet is necessary for heart health. You need 25-35 grams of dietary fiber daily, especially soluble fiber. For every 1-2 grams of daily soluble fiber intake, LDL (bad) cholesterol is lowered 1%.

Add omega 3 fatty acids

For heart health and lower cholesterol, you want to improve the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are involved in the regulation of heart rate, blood pressure, and blood clotting.

If you’re ready for regular heart health and weight loss tips for dietitian Lisa Nelson, sign up for The Heart of Health today and grab your copy of the special report “Stop Wasting Money – Take Control of Your Health” today!

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