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Posts Tagged "CARDIAC HEALTH"

National Heart Month

As February is officially National Heart Month, this is a great opportunity to look at how we can look after this vital organ through diet and natural supplements. The heart is part of the cardiovascular system, which also includes miles of blood vessels which run through the body. These vessels consist of veins and arteries which transport blood to the heart and to other organs. The health of the blood vessels is also important in maintaining a healthy heart. The best way of maintaining a healthy heart is keeping to a healthy diet, regular exercise and lowering stress levels. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds provides important vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids that are important for heart health. The Mediterranean diet, which consists of plenty of vegetables and fruits, has long been considered the ideal diet for a healthy heart. Smoking, high sugar and salt intake, regular heavy drinking (or binge drinking), inactivity, high (saturated) fat foods are all factors in causing hypertension, heart failure and poor circulation. For example, smoking is a known cause of atherosclerosis, which causes narrowing of the arteries. This can lead to high blood pressure and angina. Heart disease and diabetes are illnesses that are on the increase, especially in younger people. These conditions are very much linked, as one can lead to another. The rise in the number of people who are obese is another risk factor for the heart, as well as diabetes. The number of prescriptions that are written for hypertension is constantly on the increase, but there are a number of natural remedies for maintaining a healthy heart and keeping blood pressure at a healthy level. Magnesium, vitamin C, l-arginine, co-enzyme Q10, omega 3 fatty acids and garlic are a few supplements that can improve cardiovascular health.  ...

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Exercise for a Healthy Pension

Exercise for a Healthy Pension

It’s never too late to start exercising….that’s a fact! Taking up exercise in your 60’s can still help to prevent major illnesses. These are the findings of a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine which followed 3,500 healthy people at the age of retirement. The eight year study found that those who exercised three times were more likely to remain healthy than their non active peers. The results found that exercise cut the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. A fifth of the participants were classified as healthy eight years after the study. This group was mainly full of people who regularly exercised and exercise “newbies”. Dr Mark Hamer, from University College London said, “The take-home message really is to keep moving when you are elderly. It’s [a] cliche, but it’s a case of use it or lose it. You do lose the benefits if you don’t remain active.” Doireann Maddock, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This shows us that even if you don’t become active until later in life your health will benefit. However, there’s no need to wait until retirement to get started. Adults should try to be active daily and aim for 150 minutes of activities that get you breathing harder and feeling warmer each week. “Every 10 minutes counts, so even hopping off the bus a couple of stops early or taking a brisk walk on your lunch break will help.” The article A Workout a Day Helps Keep the Doctor Away reports on another large study highlighting the benefits of exercise on maintaining good health and preventing illness. We hope our health article “exercise for a healthy pension” has helped you. Please let us know by rating it above....

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Is walking good for you?

We all know by now that we should be walking more; getting off the bus/tube a stop or two early, walking the kids to school, getting up from our desk every 30 minutes and probably spending less time in front of  the TV, laptop or playing video games.  All in all we spend too much time sitting down and being inactive. So is walking good for you?  We all know that walking is a form of exercise and as part of a plan that includes a healthy diet can help lose weight and is a good but gentle form of cardiovascular exercise BUT there also a number of other benefits that are just as, if not more important.  These include: Type 2 Diabetes A recent study by the School of Public Health at Imperial College London suggested that people who walk to work were about 40% less likely to have diabetes than people who drove to work. Increases Vitamin D Levels Vitamin D is very important in that the body needs it to absorb calcium which in turn is vital to help maintain strong bones (calcium deficiency can lead to brittle bones and even osteoporosis. We also need Vitamin D to help the body fight infections and help maintain healthy organs.  A daily 15 minute walk is all that is needed to make sure you get your daily dose of Vitamin D. Reduces the risk of Heart Disease Research has shown that a daily brisk walk can help reduce the risk of  heart disease by up to 50%.  Even walking at a moderate pace for 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of heart disease in women by 40% according to a 1999 Harvard Study. I have highlighted just a few of the less obvious benefits of walking, the more widely known ones include increased heart lung fitness, reduction of body fat, increased muscle strength and stamina. A few more statistics that will hopefully motivate you to walk more….. “Walking for 20 minutes a day could save 37,000  people a year from dying prematurely of cancer, heart disease and stroke” according to a report by The Ramblers & Macmillan Cancer Support In fact, walking briskly can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high...

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Beans for a Healthy Heart

Beans for a Healthy Heart

A new study has confirmed information thatmany nutritionists and health professionals have been advocating for many years, that beans within your diet can help maintain a healthy heart. The study has found that people with type-2 diabetes should eat morebeans, lentils and pulses to help control blood sugar levels and reduce therisk of heart disease. Eating more foods such as chickpeas, kidney beans, peas, puy lentils, masoor lentils and haricot beans can reduce the risk of heart disease as they have a low glycaemic index (GI). The study which was led by Dr David Jenkins at St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto said, “Legume consumption of approximately 190g per day (a cupful) seems to contribute usefully to a low-GI diet and reduce CHD (coronary heart disease) risk through a reduction in blood pressure.” Dr Jenkins continued, “These findings linking legume consumption to both improved glycaemic control and reduced CHD risk are particularly important because type-2 diabetes is increasing most rapidly in the urban environments of populations in which bean intake has traditionally been high.” This is good news for many people from South East Asia, who generally have a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes. The Indian diet incorporates many lentils and beans, and these foods should be encouraged in as part of the daily diet. People with type 2 diabetes need to eat low amounts of refined carbohydrates such as white rice and white bread.Brown rice is a good alternative as it also has a lower glycaemic...

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Daily Flaxseed Can Lower Blood Pressure

Taking a daily dose of flaxseed has been found to lower the risk of high blood pressure, reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. Flaxseed can be added to cereals, salads or even baked foods such as bagels and muffins. Researchers from University Hospital Holguin, Cuba, havefound adding flaxseed to the diet can reduce systolic blood pressure by 10mmHgand diastolic blood pressure by 7mmHg. The study was conducted on 110 patients who had peripheralheart disease. Most of the group also had high blood pressure. The patientswere also taking an anti-hypertensive drug. Half of the group had 30g offlaxseed added to their diet (bagels, buns and muffins), and the control grouphad the same foods without the added flaxseeds. The results found that after six months the test group had asignificant drop in blood pressure levels. Dr Rodriguez who presented the studysaid that the reduction of systolic and diastolic blood pressure is the largestdecrease in blood pressure ever shown by any dietary intervention. These reductions in blood pressure would be expected to leadto a drop of around 50 per cent in the incidence of stroke and a 30 per centreduction in heart attacks, according to Dr Rodriguez. The flaxseed group also showed a major increase in plasmaalpha-linolenic acid and an even greater increase in levels of enterolactone.These levels did not change in the control group. The researchers believe that the reduction in blood pressurelevels is a result of the synergistic effect of the alpha-linolenic acid,enteroligans and...

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Watermelon Reverses Atherosclerosis

Watermelon juice has been found to reverse atherosclerosis in an animal study. The fruit juice demonstrated positive effects after just eight weeks. The study, which was conducted at the University of Kentucky was published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. The trial involved mice with diet induced high cholesterol. The control group was given water to drink whist the experimental group was given watermelon juice. After the eight week trial period, the experimental group had less fat mass which resulted in lower body weight and cholesterol levels. The experimental group also experienced a greater reduction in atherosclerotic lesions than the control group. These initial findings are very promising, although more work is required to back up these results. There is however no reason why people who are at risk of atherosclerosis or who have high cholesterol levels should not consume watermelons or watermelon juice. Watermelons are a good source of lycopene, which is important for a healthy cardiovascular system. Watermelons are also full of vitamin c, magnesium,potassium, B vitamins and bet-carotene. So a regular serving of the fruit will aide to enhance your health on many...

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Can Non-Alcoholic Red Wine Reduce Blood Pressure

“A glass of red wine is good for the heart”. We’ve all heard of this medical fact, but a new study suggests that non-alcoholic red wine can lead to a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The study was published in American Heart Association journal Circulation Research. The researchers studied 67 men with diabetes or three or more cardiovascular risk factors who ate a regular diet plus either a large glass of non-alcoholic red wine, red wine or a large measure of gin. The men consumed this diet for 4 weeks. The red wine group had very little change in their blood pressure readings, the gin group had no change whilst in the non-alcoholic red wine group the diastolic blood pressure reduced by 2mmHg and the systolic by 6mmHg. The researchers suggest that this could lead to a 14 percent reduction in the risk of heart disease and a 20 percent reduction in the risk of stroke. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic red wine contain polyphenols which are antioxidants the can reduce blood pressure. The researchers concluded that the reason that the non-alcoholic version is better is that the alcohol in red wine weakens its ability to lower blood pressure. The non-alcoholic red wine increased levels of nitrous oxide which helps to improve blood flow to the heart and organs, and reduces both systolic and diastolic blood...

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Bergamot Lowers Cholesterol

Bergamot is normally used as an essential oil in the treatment of skin conditions such as psoriasis, as a perfume in creams and lotions and as a flavouring agent in foods. New findings suggest that bergamot may have a role in reducing cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Bergamot is a small citrus fruit that is grown in Italy. Itis the size of an orange, but with a bitter taste. According to manufacturersof this supplement, it is this bitter quality actually helps to lower cholesterollevels in the blood. This citrus fruit is has a high content of polyphenolssuch as Naringin, Neohesperin, Brutelidin and Melitidin, which havedemonstrated a range of health benefits. Studies have found that bergamot can lower LDL (bad cholesterol), triglycerides and blood glucose levels, and increase levels of HDL (good cholesterol). The added benefit of this supplement is that it is freeof side effects, unlike commonly used statin medication. Statins such asatorvastatin and simvastatin can cause muscle pains and also have a host ofdrug interactions.  Begamot supplements may also help people with type-twodiabetes, metabolic syndrome, and those with prediabetes.  Bergamot may help as part of a weight loss programme,alongside a healthy diet and exercise. This supplement is also rich inantioxidants, which can help to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. This supplement should not to be taken during pregnancy or if breast...

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Can berries help prevent heart attacks?

Can berries help prevent heart attacks?

A new study claims that eating summer fruits such as strawberries and blueberries three times a week could drastically reduce the risk of heart attacks. The study was carried out on women, but these findings can also be applied to men. So can berries help prevent heart attacks? Read on to find out more… Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the University of East Anglia analysed data from 93,600 female nurses between 25 and 42 years. They were monitored every four years for 18 years. 405 heart attacks were reported during the study. The results found that the women who ate strawberries and blueberries at least three times a week had a 32 per cent lower risk of getting a heart attack, than those who ate the berries less frequently. The researchers also found that the berries were more effective at preventing heart attacks than other fruits and vegetables. The reasons behind this effect could be due to the anthocyanin content in the berries that can help to improve blood flow and prevent the build up of plaque on the blood vessels. Dr Eric Rimm, associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH said, “Blueberries and strawberries can easily be incorporated into what women eat every week. This simple dietary change could have a significant impact on prevention efforts.” Dr Aedin Cassidy, from the University of East Anglia said, “We have shown that even at an early age, eating more of these fruits may reduce risk of a heart attack in later...

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Can you lower cholesterol levels naturally with diet?

Can you lower cholesterol levels naturally with diet?

Food and diet is so important for healthy living, but can we lower cholesterol levels naturally with our diet? The foods that we eat can have a major impact on the levels of good and bad cholesterol in our body. Cholesterol is made up of LDL (low-density lipoproteins) referred to as “bad cholesterol” and HLD (high-density lipoproteins) which is also known as “good cholesterol”. Foods high in HDL have the ability to lower levels of LDL. So, what foods should we be eating? Whole grains such as brown rice, porridge, whole wheat, barley and millet are high in fibre, which can help to lower cholesterol levels. Soluble fibre helps to lower LDL cholesterol levels and prevents the absorption of saturated fat from the diet. Nuts and Seeds. Pumpkin, sesame, linseeds and sunflower seeds are full of omega 3 essential fatty acids, which help to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Walnuts, almonds and brazil nuts are also an essential food group for cholesterol lowering. These nuts and seeds are also rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, selenium and zinc. Research has found that antioxidants help to “mop-up” free radicals that are released from LDL cholesterol. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring are also excellent sources of omega 3 essential fatty acids. These essential fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory action, which help to prevent blood clotting.   Omega 3 oils help to lower LDL cholesterol, whilst increasing levels of HDL cholesterol. Fruits such as apples, avocados and citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes) help to lower cholesterol levels.  Studies have found that eating up to two apples a day can significantly lower total and LDL cholesterol levels. Avocados are a good source of polyunsaturated fats which help to lower levels of LDL cholesterol. Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C which, as an antioxidant, helps to reduce the effect of LDL cholesterol in the arteries. Beans and lentils, such as kidney, soya, pinto and chickpeas are extremely high in fibre and protein. Beans are best eaten when cooked from dry, but canned beans are also thought to be effective. Researchers have found that LDL cholesterol levels dropped after patients had regularly consumed beans for a month. Garlic is one...

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The Cholesterol Balance

More people than ever are being diagnosed with high cholesterol levels. Possible reasons for this are a high fat diet, lack of regular exercise, high alcohol consumption or being overweight. Cholesterol is an essential part of the body and is required for healthy nerves, hormones and cells. Cholesterol is also required in the formation of sex hormones. Low cholesterol levels have been linked to depression and anxiety. High cholesterol levels can lead to high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease. The levels of cholesterol are measured in millimoles per litre (mmol/l). The current guidelines state the levels of total cholesterol to be less than 5.0mmol/litre, LDL to be less than 2.0mmol/l and HDL should be at least 1.2mmol/l. Cholesterol is made up of LDL (low-density lipoproteins) referred to as “bad cholesterol” and HDL (high-density lipoproteins) which is also known as “good cholesterol”. LDL’s are responsible for leaving cholesterol deposits on the walls of the arteries. This can lead to the arteries clogging up and heart disease. HDL’s, mainly carry cholesterol to the liver and to organs that require cholesterol for cell and hormone formation. As you can see, it is not just a simple matter of drastically reducing cholesterol levels. We need to have a certain amount of cholesterol to be healthy. The current medical guidelines are to prescribe statins, such as atorvastatin, simvastatin and rosuvastatin, which are the most commonly prescribed drugs in the UK. These drugs work by reducing the LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, which can help to prevent heart disease, but also prevent good cholesterol getting into cells and hormones. Our bodies require cholesterol for optimum health. There are however certain foods that can help you to lower LDL cholesterol levels without affecting HDL levels. Eating more fibre is the first change that you can make to lower cholesterol levels. Foods high in fibre are porridge, beans, lentils, wholegrains and vegetables. Fibre has been shown to lower cholesterol levels in many studies. Healthier fats such as olive oil, avocado and pumpkins, linseed, sesame seeds can help to lower LDL levels and increase HDL levels in the body. Walnuts, almonds and brazil nuts are also a good source of essential fatty acids, which can...

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Is stress as bad as smoking for your heart?

Stress has always been viewed as being bad for our health and a new study has highlighted the damage that it can have on the heart. Stress is linked with many illnesses such as depression, heart disease and alopecia. Managing levels of stress can have a dramatic improvement on both mental and physical health. Stress has always been viewed as being bad for our health and a new study has highlighted the damage that it can have on the heart. Stress is linked with many illnesses such as depression, heart disease and alopecia. Managing levels of stress can have a dramatic improvement on both mental and physical health. Researchers analysed six studies involving nearly 120,000 people who were simply asked, “How stressed do you feel?” or “how often are you stressed?” The participants responded either with high or low. Researchers then followed them for 14 years to analyse the number of heart attacks and deaths from heart disease in the two groups. The group that had the highest perceived stress levels were 27 per cent more likely to have a heart attack or develop heart disease. The study author Safiya Richardson, MD said, “These findings are significant because they are applicable to nearly everyone.”  She continued to say the key message from this study is that how people feel plays an important part in their heart health.  Reducing levels of stress in any way can have a direct impact on improving heart function. The results from this study found that high stress levels have been linked with increased LDL cholesterol levels by 2.8mmol/l, and an increase in blood pressure of 2.7/1.4mmHg. Healthy LDL cholesterol levels are below 2mmol/l, and the ideal blood pressure is 120/80mmHg. Stress can affect the levels quite drastically, and yet it can be removed without the need of medication. Dr Donald Edmundson, co-author of the study and assistant professor of behavioural medicine at Columbia University Centre likened these effects from stress to smoking five more cigarettes a day. “While we do not know for certain why there appears to be an association between age and the effect of perceived stress on CHD, we think that stress may be compounding over time. For example, someone who...

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