Tag Archives: heart disease

Healthy for Life with a Healthy Heart

Only about 50 years ago, doctors didn’t know what was good for our hearts.
Little attention was paid to diet and even smoking was acceptable by some.

But after almost 50 years, scientists came up with some simple and straight forward answers. Regular exercise is important, of course, and so is staying away from cigarettes.

But by far the most important factor is to have a healthy diet. Eating the right foods is
the most effective way to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, two of the biggest enemies against a healthy heart.

The Bad Fats
Often we take the wrong foods, in particular fats. There are good fats and bad fats.
The bad fats are saturated fats, found in red meat, and butter, It’s incredible dangerous
for the heart. Study after study has shown that the more saturated fat people eat,
the higher their risks for heart disease.
Foods high in saturated fat raise levels of artery-clogging low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol. Foods high in saturated fat are often high in cholesterol as well.

The American Heart Foundation recommends that we limit our intake of saturated fat
to less than 7% of our calories each day. For example, if you get 2,000 calories a day,
your upper daily limit for saturated fat is 14 grams.
That means: in addition to eating fruits, vegetables, and other low-fat foods, you could have 3 ounces of extra-lean ground beef which contains 5 grams of saturated fat), a serving
of macaroni and cheese (6 grams), and a half-cup of low-fat frozen yogurt (3 grams).

Another problem fat, called trans fatty acids, has been shown to dramatically increase
the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Trans fatty acids are made when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oils to turn the liquid oils into solid fats like margarine and shortening. Ironically, they meant to be a healthy alternative to the saturated fat in butter.
But it appears that trans fatty acids may be even more harmful than saturated fats.
Trans fats raise the bad (LDL) cholesterol and lower the good (HDL) cholesterol,
increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.

It’s not only margarine and fried foods that may be a problem. Many cookies, cakes, and
other snack foods contain “partially hydrogenated oil,” which is also high in trans fatty acids.
Because of the health risk, the American Heart Association recommends you limit your
daily intake to less than 1% of your total calories.

Some Better Fats
Some fats are relatively healthful. You can easily recognize them by looking at the “un”
as in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. While theses type of fats are still high in
calories, in small amounts, they play several beneficial roles.
Polyunsaturated fats (found in soy, corn, safflower, sesame, and sunflower oils, as well as
nuts and seeds ) help your body to get rid of newly formed cholesterol, therefore, they
keep cholesterol levels down and reduce cholesterol deposits on artery walls.

Monounsaturated fats also appear to help lower cholesterol levels as long as the rest of
the diet is very low in saturated fats. Although they are a good substitute for saturated fats,
both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats should be used in moderation, because
their high calorie counts can lead to weight gain. No more than 30% of your calories
should come from fat.

Nuts are particularly good sources of these healthful fats. In a study of Seventh-Day
Adventists, researchers found that those who consumed nuts at least four times a week
had almost half the risk of fatal heart attacks of those who rately ate them.

Although the American Heart Association recommends less than 30% of calories from fat,
many health-care professionals, recommend even less.
They tell people to aim for getting about 20 to 25% of total calories from fat, most of which
should be in the form of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.

There is yet another kind of healthy fat, perhaps the king of healthy fats, called omega-3
fatty acids. This is found in most fish (but in particularly in oily, cold-water fish) and also
in flaxseed and certain dark greens. Omega-3 can help to prevent clots from forming in the
arteries. In addition, they help lower triglycerides, a type of blood fat that, in large amounts, may raise the risk for heart disease.

Studies show that eating fish twice a week, in particularly salmon, because it contains
high levels of omega-3, can help to keep your arteries clear and your heart working well.
In a stuy done at the Harvard School of Public Health, scientists found that the death rate
from heart disease was 36% lower among people who ate fish twice a week compared
with people who ate little or no seafood. The study, which was published in the American
Medical Association, also showed that overall mortality was 17% lower omong the regular
seafood eaters.

Flavonoids

Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants, and sturdy defenders against heart disease and cancer. See also my article titled: Antioxidants in green leafy vegetables
Like carotenoids, flavonoids add color – specifically red, yellow, blue and shades of brown
to the foods we eat and drink.
Present mostly in apples, celery, cocoa, (dark chocolate), cranberries, grapes, broccoli, endive, onions, green and black teas, and red wines.

But experts are beginning to discover that these compounds are doing more.
Some flavonoids make the linings of blood vessels more supple, lowering blood pressure and protecting against a buildup of heart- threatening plague. In one study, grape juice and
chocolate had this effect. Flavovoids also act like Teflon coating for the millions of tiny disks in your blood called platelets. They keep the platelets from clumbing together in the bloodstream and forming clots, which helps prevent heart attacks and stroke.

A recent study at the Harvard Medical School lab has found that one magical flavonoid found in wine and grapes: resveratrol, also lowers blood sugar levels and boosts liver function. In fact, in a group of lucky mice, it increased longevity by 31%.
In one study at the university of Virginia, resveratrol – found in grape skins, raspberries,
mulberries, and peanuts – literally starved cancer cells by interfering with a protein called
nuclear factor-kappa B, that helps food them.

In one Dutch study that examined the eating habits of 800 men, aged between 65 and 84,
researchers found that those who got the least flavonoids in their diets, were 32% more
likely to die from heart attacks than those who ate the most. It didn’t take many flavonoids
to get the benefits. The high-flavonoid group had the equivalent of 4 cops of black tea,
a half cup of apple, and 1//8 cup of onions per day.

When it comes to cancer prevention, flavonoids may help out by influencing cel-signaling
pathways – the way cells turn genes on and off in order to perform thousands of everyday
maintenance activities. Flavonoids may help turn on genes that stop cancer cells from
dividing or invading healthy tissues, or even help activate genes that make cancer cells
commit suicide, say experts from the Linus Pauling Research Institute at Oregon State
University in Corvallis.

In a recent study at the University of California, Los Angeles, those prostate-cancer
survivors who drank 8 ounces of pomegranate juice daily, increased by nearly 4 times
the period during which their PSA levels (prostate specific antigens) a cancer biomaker,
stayed constant. The study even surprised the researchers, who say that the combination
of flavonoids, anti-inflammatory compounds, and antioxidants in pomegranate juice
may be responsible.

Phytonutrients: compounds from the Garden for good Health

Within plant foods are thousands of compounds that are taking the diet-disease connection to an exciting new level.Science call these compounds phytochemicals or phytonutrients, that means chemicals or nutrients found in plants.

They are there to help our garden survive and strive.
Potent sulfur compounds in garlic and unions, for instance, act as bug repellents to keep
the vegetables healthy. Other compounds protect plants from bacteria, viruses, and other
natural enemies. When we eat plant foods, these compounds protect us, too – not from
bugs but from the forces that wreak havoc in our bodies.

We have known for many years that we need vitamins and minerals from our food
to maintain good health, and to prevent malnutrition and diseases such as rickets and scurvy. But research revealed that the essential nutrients we all know, such as vitamin A and E, are just the beginning. See also my page: health-and-fitness

Most likely some of these previously unknown compounds will fight not only deficiency-type diseases such as anemia, but also age-related illnesses such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

And the research has only begun. Scientists are discovering more phytochemicals all
the time and also ways in which theses compounds fight disease.

Neutralizing Free Radicals

Each member of the large family of phytonutrients work indifferent ways.
However, their most common weapons against disease appear to be their antioxidant
abilities.

Every day your body is under attack by harmful substances known as free radicals.
These are oxygen molecules who have lost an electron, due to pollution, sunlight,
stress, smoking, physical activity, and sunlight. As they attempt to regain there
missing electrons, they travel through your body and stealing electrons from your
body cells and sometimes from your DNA wherever they can.

Unless this chain reaction is stopped, the result is huge numbers of damaged
molecules and, over time, damage and disease.

For example, cholesterol is a useful and helpful substance. But when cholesterol
molecules are damaged by free radicals, they start to stick to the lining of
artery walls, causing hardened arteries and heart disease.

Another example: When free radicals attack molecules in the DNA of your body cells,
the genetic blueprint that tells your cells how to function, is damaged.
This can spark dangerous cell changes that lead to cancer and other diseases.
Even the aging process itself, scientists believe,is caused by free-radical damage.
The powerful antioxidants of phytonutrients in plants can literally save your life.

Essentially, they step between the free radicals and your body’s cells, offering up
their own electrons. When free radicals grab these “free” electrons, they become
stable again and do no further damage. Most phytonutrients are potent antioxidants.

Eliminating Toxic Wastes

Another way phytonutrients keep us healthy is by neutrolizing and flushing
toxic chemicals from our bodies before they make us sick. They do this by
manipulating enzymes known as phase-1 and phase-2 enzymes, explains Gary Stoner, PhD, professor and cancer researcher at Ohio State University in Columbus.
Phase-1 enzymes are like double agents. They are created by your body and are

important for normal cell function. But they also have the ability to work
against you. When cancer-causing toxins enter your system, phase-1 enzymes
help make them active. Phase-2 enzymes, on the other hand, are real good guys.
They seek out carcinogens and detoxify them before they can do damage.

When you eat broccoli or other vegetables, some of the phytoneutrients begin
stomping out the enemy phase-1 enzymes while increasing the production of
helper phase-2 enzymes. This process helps neutralize various cancer-causing
toxins that naturally accumulate in your body.

Regulating Hormones

A third way in which phytoneutrients fend off disease is by keeping certain
hormones – most notably the female sex hormone estrogen – at healthy levels.
Estrogen is “good news” and “bad news” kind of hormone. When it’s produced at
normal levels, it helps control everything, from menstruation to childbirth.
At the same time, it helps keep artery-clogging cholesterol in check, thus
preventing heart disease. When estrogen levels rise, however, they can fuel
hormone-stimulated cancers like breast cancer and cancer of the ovaries,
according to researchers.

There are several ways in which phytoneutrients keep estrogen at proper levels.
For example, a class of phytonutrients called isoflavones is extremely similar

to natural estrogen. When we eat foods containing isoflavones, these faux
hormones bind to the body’s estrogen receptors, leaving the real hormone with
nowhere to go but out.

Although estrogen is often referred to as if it were one hormone, in fact
there are different forms. One kind of estrogen, called 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone,
has been linked to breast cancer. Another form, 2-hydroxyestrone, appears to
be harmless. Certain phytonutrients are able to increase levels of the harmless form of estrogen, while decreasing levels of the dangerous kind.

Eating Your Medicine

From the previously mentioned facts it shows that phytonutrients bring in a diversity of
powerful defences. As a matter of fact, their potential is staggering.
Scientists forecast that in the near future these compounds will be used for treating disease in the hospital and for prevention at home, as was the case with vitamins and minerals.


Till then, scientists emphases that the only way to get the phytonutrients your body needs
is to eat them as Mother Nature brings them. That means eating fruits and vegetables at 
least nine servings per day for good health.
Scientists learn new things every day about this huge class of compounds that the glass
of orange juice contains that you have for breakfast in the morning and in the site salad
at lunchtime.

If you like to know more about plant-based nutrition, visit: http://nutritionstudies.org/

Health Benefits of Brown Rice

Rice is the main ingredient in cuisines around the world
with an estimated 40,000 varieties available worldwide.
In the United States you can buy white and brown basmati rice
from India and Pakistan, Arborio rice from Italy, Valencia rice
from Spain and “sticky”” rice from Japan, to name just a few.

Brown rice is the most nutritious kind of rice, which contains
abundant amounts of fiber, complex carbohydrates and essential
B vitamins. Brown rice retain all four parts of their original
grain kernel – the germ, the bran, a protective layer called
the aleurone, and the starchy endosperm – intact.

White rice only has the high-carb, nearly zero fiber endosperm.
What’s missing? Not just fiber, but hundreds of health-protective
phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, whole
grains can have 10 times the amount of vitamin E, four times
the potassium, magnesium and zinc; three times the vitamin B6,
and twice the selenium of white rice.

No wonder when you eat at least three servings of brown rice
a day, you cut your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and
overweight.

The body need small amounts of cholesterol for different functions,
for example for making cell walls and for manufacturing essential
hormones. In order to supply the necessary amounts, the liver
produces cholesterol every day. But when we eat a high-fat diet,
the body churns out more cholesterol than it can use.
As a result, the risk of heart disease goes up.
We can avoid this from happening by eating brown rice.
A compound in the bran layer of rice, called oryzanol, has been shown
to reduce the body’s production of cholesterol.
This compound is actually chemically similar to cholesterol-lowering
medications.

In a study at Louisiana State University, people ate 100 grams of
rice bran a day for three weeks. At the end, levels of harmful
low-density Lipoprotein (LDL), cholesterol decreased by 10%, while
levels of beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
stayed the same. That means a 30% reduction in risk of heart attack.
Ïn combination with a low-fat diet, brown rice is one of the best
foods you can eat for lowering cholesterol”, says Dr.Hegsted.

Fiber offers powerful protection against type 2 diabetes.
Studies show that eating at least three servings of brown rice a day,
cuts the risk for this condition by 21% to 30%. Because fiber slows
digestion and keeps blood sugar low and steady.

In contrast, carbohydrates from refined grains ( white rice) send
blood sugar soaring after a meal, and triggering the release of
more insulin to force the sugar into cells.
Over time, higher blood sugar and insulin levels put you in the
danger zone for diabetes – and also for high blood pressure and
even some forms of cancer.

The insoluble kind of fiber in brown rice acts like a sponge in the
intestine, soaking up large amounts of water, according to Dr. Hegsted.
As a result, stools are getting larger and wetter, so they pass
more easily. Also, larger stools move faster through the colon.
As a result, any harmful substances that they contain, have less time
to damage cells in the colon wall, which may reduce the risk of cancer.

Some researchers estimate that if people would increase the amount of
fiber in their diets to 39 grams a day, they could drop the risk of
colon cancer by 31%.