Tag Archives: heart health

Moderate Drinking Lowers Heart Risks

While there always seems to be mixed evidence about the healthfulness or dangers of alcohol consumption, add another “point” in the win column for those who like to partake in a little bubbly now again. In fact, if researchers have their way, this debate is over.

A new study from the University of Calgary is saying that moderate alcohol consumption can cut your risk of fatal cardiac diseases by as much as 25 percent. Cheers!

The good news is that this study isn’t flimsy at all. The researchers went over 60 years of data and as many as a million people involved in the studies. According to the current study’s authors, this is the most comprehensive analysis to date on the relationship between moderate drinking and heart ailments. (more…)

Daily Diet Soda Linked to Heart Attack

Just because a product says “diet” on the label doesn’t mean that it is healthy. So, when you switch from full-sugar soda to diet, it’s not necessarily getting you off scot-free. You may actually be risking stroke or a heart attack.

A study just published followed over 2,500 New Yorkers for about 10 years. They found that some diet soda drinkers had a 61 percent higher risk of vascular events, such as stroke and heart attack.

Now, let’s talk you off the ledge.

First, this study’s findings were for those who drank soda every day. I know that a lot of people drink diet soda on a daily basis, so maybe that’s not enough to alleviate your worries. I would say that it should be easy enough to moderate your soda intake to a few days a week, but even with these finding, the researchers aren’t prepared to put out a hard stance against drinking diet soda on a regular basis.

“I think diet soda drinkers need to stay tuned,” says the study’s lead author Hannah Gardener, an epidemiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “I don’t think that anyone should be changing their behaviors based on one study. Hopefully this will motivate other researchers to do more studies.” (more…)

Nutritionists “Heart” Dark Chocolate

Joy Bauer is a registered dietitian and the nutrition expert for the Today Show. She’s also the best-selling author behind several health books including Your Inner Skinny. You can visit her at JoyBauer.com, or follow Joy on Facebook and Twitter.

Few nutrition research findings have brought me more pleasure than the discovery that chocolate can actually be good for you! We now have a large body of research showing that dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, reduce clotting, and benefit overall heart health. But before you dive head-first into the nearest heart-shaped box of candy this Valentine’s Day, here’s what you need to know about choosing chocolates with the most health power.

Chocolate owes its health benefits to a category of antioxidants called flavonoids. Flavonoids and other beneficial phytochemicals are found in cocoa solids, and dark chocolate contains a higher proportion of cocoa solids than milk chocolate, making it the more heart-healthy choice.  That’s because milk chocolate contains more added milk and sugar, which dilutes the cocoa content. White chocolate contains no cocoa solids, only cocoa butter, which means it’s not officially chocolate and doesn’t deliver any health-promoting flavonoids. (more…)

10 Things You Don’t Know About Heart Health, but Should

February is heart month, a time for us to learn more about heart health and hopefully make lifestyle changes that will protect our hearts. Our tickers are rather important, if the tick doesn’t tock then that’s it. While the euphemism might be cute, the fact that one in every four deaths in the U.S. in 2006 was because of heart disease, making it the leading cause of death for both men and women (per the CDC), is not something to take lightly.

“Nearly twice as many women in the United States die of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases as from all forms of cancer, including breast cancer,” per the American Heart Association. Andrea Metcalf, author of Naked Fitness, has worked with the AHA for several years, and often speaks at Go Red events. She shared some startling facts that should snap awake any man or woman:

  • 1/2 women over 40 will have a major CVD (cardiovascular disease) episode
  • Cardiovascular disease kills more people than the next 6 leading causes of death combined
  • 1/3 of women die of CVD (all ages combined)
  • 90% of all people who have heart attacks have at least one or more of the following: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high heart rate

So what do we really know about our heart’s health? Sadly, not as much as we should. We know we should exercise and watch our sodium intake, but beyond that, we don’t know enough about a disease that kills more than half a million Americans each year (CDC).

We spoke to several experts to find out what it is we should know about heart health that we don’t already know. In short, we should stress less, brush our teeth more often, get more out of our annual OB/GYN visits, eat more seafood, and exercise more. We hope this information will help you make the important changes you need to make in order to live a longer, healthier life with a strong heart. (more…)

New Dietary Guidelines Address Heart Health Just in Time for American Heart Month

The updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans have finally been released and although they are a month late, and really not much different from the 2005 version, they address some vital concerns, including heart disease. The late release of the new guidelines serves as a strong foundation for this year’s American Heart Month. With an emphasis on reduced sodium intake as a key recommendation, the Dietary Guidelines acknowledge the importance of heart health among Americans.

On average, the typical American diet includes 3,800 mg of sodium a day. That’s a far jump from the recommended 2,300 mg and an even further jump from the reduced intake of 1,500 mg for “persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.” Although it would do good for everyone to lean towards the more modest number of 1,500 mg, it’s essential for about half of the population. There are many ways you can reduce the amount of sodium in your diet:

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Use Low-Fat Bacon for a Healthier Heart

Did you ever think that you could eat bacon and still take good care of your heart? Well, not all bacon is synonymous with the artery-clogging saturated fat that so many of us avoid in our regular diets. Bacon is a well-enjoyed protein that, in moderation, can be part of a balanced diet.

If you enjoy the taste of bacon but are watching your fat intake, don’t eat it morning, noon and night. Incorporate lower-fat center cut bacon (look for a brand such as Oscar Meyer that touts 30% less fat than the leading bacon) into your favorite healthy recipes, such as this hearty skillet dish with robust flavors and seasonal vegetables.

The best part? A little bit goes a long way – and you won’t even miss the extra calories.

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Keep Your Arteries Healthy with a Beef, Vegetable, and Almond Stir-Fry

Asian-inspired food sometimes gets a bad rap for being high in sodium, calories and fat. While it’s true that an order of General Tsao’s Chicken might not be so scale-friendly, making your own Asian-inspired dishes at home is a great way to consume more antioxidants and nutrient rich vegetables, including carrots, onions, bell peppers, and garlic, all foods that work together to keep your arteries healthy.

In most stir-fries, vegetables take center stage but by including a moderate portion of flank steak (3 ounces per person) in this recipe, you’ll also be serving up a healthy dose of protein and iron.

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Doctor Says Atkins is the Worst Diet

Atkins has long been a divisive and controversial diet. There have been studies supporting the diet, and others that don’t. The latest doesn’t.

Dr. Michael Miller, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, said that Atkins caused LDL (bad cholesterol) levels to rise by about 7 percent. The Ornish and South Beach diets had the opposite effect, causing LDL levels to lower by 7 – 10 percent.

While there have been varying results in previous studies, Miller claims his study is different because he designed it to see how people fared once they stopped losing weight on the given diet. Studies show that people usually lose weight rapidly on any diet if they follow it properly. It’s what people do after that is key.

“We don’t recommend the Atkins diet,” Miller said. “Why not start out with a diet that will be healthier for you in the long run after weight loss?”