Monday, December 13, 2010

Upgraded heart protection guidelines....

Today's Post: Monday, 12-13-2010

A few days ago, Health Day News had an online article that listed suggestions on how to protect your heart and prevent heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases.

They said that eating a “heart-healthy diet can help keep blood vessels clear of plaque, and help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.”

They then listed these guidelines from

I list those here but also list my upgrades just below their initial point.

1. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits.

This does work. But this guideline is stated in too weak a form and too general.

It’s actually one of the most effective guidelines on this list!

But it’s much more useful to know why and how much of these foods to eat each day!

Fruit and nonstarchy vegetables contain natural vitamin C which is strongly heart protective.

Organic berries have other antioxidants and eating them tends to increase your HDL cholesterol.

Apples and beans and lentils and other fruits and vegetables contain soluble fiber and sterols which lower LDL cholesterol.

Eating 3 to 5 servings a day of nonstarchy vegetables makes it easy to NOT eat foods with more calories and less nutrition. Yet you aren’t hungry because they are filling yet they have very few calories. So people who do this are virtually always less fat. And people trying to lose excess fat who gradually build up to doing this and keep doing it are much more likely to lose excess fat weight and keep it off.

This makes virtually all your heart risk markers improve. Your LDL and triglycerides will be lower and your HDL higher. Your blood sugar will be lower or less likely to get too high. Keeping your blood sugar low prevents the blood vessel damage that worsens heart disease from type 2 diabetes.

Lastly, if you eat 3 to 5 servings a day of nonstarchy vegetables, a serving of whole fresh fruit, and a single glass of fruit or vegetable juice once a day AND avoid overdoing salt, your blood pressure will be lower. This is the basis of the proven effective DASH 2 diet. Both fruits and vegetables are high in potassium and have little if any sodium AND people who do this are less fat. These two effects lower blood pressure if it’s high and prevent it from getting high if it’s normal. This is also heart protective.

2. Making at least half of your daily grain consumption whole grains. These may include whole-grain barley, brown rice, whole-grain corn and oatmeal.

Oops! This is seriously incorrect.

It is dramatically more heart protective to eat NO -- or almost no -- foods at all that contain refined grains. If you’ve been eating them, continuing to eat half of them is bad for your heart because it also causes you to get fat and get high blood sugar.

Eating half as many grain foods or less and having them always be 100 % whole grains is better. Some people do even better if they cut back grains to 10 % as many and to only whole grains -- or to no grains at all and eating beans and lentils and vegetables instead.

3. Eating low-fat dairy foods, such as yogurt, cheese and milk. The studies of the DASH 2 diet show this does help. And, it helps even more when the dairy foods come from grain fed cattle instead of those fed only grass and their native foods. The omega 6 oils you avoid help prevent inflammation which helps cause both cancer and heart disease.

4. Eat lots of nuts and dry beans, lean meat, fish and poultry without the skin.

This too is an excellent idea but includes too little information to be used correctly.

Raw nuts and dry roasted nuts are extremely heart health sources of both health OK protein and heart protective oils. For those who are not allergic to them who eat such nuts, their fiber and sterols lowers LDL cholesterol; eating them increases HDL; and they are zero on glycemic index so they make you feel full with no boost at all to your blood sugar.

But, some people are allergic to tree nuts. And nuts that have been coated with junk oils and or salt, are NOT good for you and should be avoided.

Soaking and cooking dry beans and lentils and then eating them is a very inexpensive way to get antioxidants, health OK protein, and an excellent way to get enough soluble fiber to sharply reduce your LDL cholesterol.

Eating fish is extremely good for you, particularly those high in omega 3 oils. Omega 3 oils lower inflammation which is heart protective. Eating them lowers the dangerous triglycerides in your blood. And, their protein allows you to NOT eat fatty meat and full fat dairy from grain fed animals which have too much omega 6 oils and saturated fat but still get enough protein.

But farmed fish are so polluted that they are simply NOT safe to eat. And some fish such eating tuna too often or swordfish at all, are dangerously high in mercury. And, some people are allergic to fish. Stick to wild caught fish that are from kinds not high in mercury and include more kinds that are high in omega 3 oils; and take purified omega 3 supplements.

Eating lean meat and poultry without the skin is particularly important when they have been fed grain instead of their natural diet. Their fat is too high in omega 6 oils and saturated fat. It also helps to not eat them often either.

5. Favor eating polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from vegetable oils, fish and nuts.

This one is, in part, dangerously wrong. It’s also partly very correct but not explained as to why.

Fish and nuts we already covered. Eating the right kinds are good for your heart and a good way to get protein and either monosaturated oils or the polyunsaturated omega 3 oils.

Extra virgin olive oil and its monosaturated fat also does NOT increase LDL or inflammation and increases LDL. People who eat it often have better health by far in many ways than people who do not.

The part that is dangerously wrong and proven wrong is left over from when this was not yet known: Polyunsaturated vegetable oils of other kinds, such as saffola, corn, soy, and canola can lower LDL cholesterol compared with dairy and meat fat. But that’s not their unsafe effects. They also lower the protective HDL AND their excessive omega 6 oils actually help CAUSE heart disease and cancer. Yikes!

Do your heart a favor and stick to extra virgin olive oil, wild caught fish, nuts, and avocados. Even full fat dairy products or meat from animals fed only grass is better for your heart than these oils!

6. Avoid: saturated and trans fats, sodium (salt), cholesterol and added sugars.

If you eat foods from this list which reduce LDL cholesterol and completely avoid the oils high in omega 6, eating some saturated fats from animals fed only grass is less harmful than was once thought. Because grain fed animals have about twice as much saturated fat AND excessive omega 6 oils in their fat, saturate fat from them should be avoided close to 100%.

So, with saturated fat, it depends on the source and the rest of what you eat as to how much you should stress cutting back on it.

>>> Trans fats and all, in ANY amount, of hydrogenated oils, are something to completely and totally avoid. It’s quite literally heart attack starter. It increase the small particle LDL that causes heart disease in people unlucky enough to eat any. This is shown by increases in triglycerides and drops in HDL. To protect your heart, you want to do the reverse!

If a food has a label and that label shows any trans fats OR has any kind of hydrogenated oil as an ingredient, do NOT buy or eat any! (Unfortunately, this quite often includes commercially baked goods of all kinds and it includes pie crusts where shortening was used.)

If you eat right and exercise, your body can process occasional sugar treats. But eating ten time that much or more or getting the sweet taste from high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners, tends to make people fat, get type 2 diabetes. Worse, we now know that it causes heart disease as well as eating trans fats does! (People who ingest that much get high triglycerides and low LDL which means they have lots of the small particle LDL that causes heart disease. Yet this is the current AVERAGE consumption!)

This one is HUGE to know and follow. It means: drinking no soft drinks – either regular or diet; eating or drinking no foods that contain high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners; and making foods with real sugar a few times a week or less treat and NOT a several times a DAY treat that is now the average.

Lastly, their list misses two whole categories that are as important in preventing heart disease as what you eat.

A. Getting regular vigorous exercise makes your blood vessels more flexible and the circulation to your heart better and tends to lower high blood pressure all day every day you do it.

It also directly protects your heart by lowering the amount of the dangerous small particle LDL in your blood that causes heart disease. Your HDL goes up and your triglycerides and LDL go down. Even better, the longer you keep doing it, the more effective it is and the better your readings get!

It also slows aging; grows new brain cells; and helps prevent or improve high blood sugar and obesity. Those things also help protect your heart.

It also allows you to be less than perfect at eating right. Without exercise, you have to be close to 100% perfect on eating right. But if you get abundant regular exercise on most days, you can be closer to 90 to 95% on what you eat and still be protected.

B. Cancer from smoking and second hand smoke can be deadly and they cause 30 to 33 % of all cancers! But that, believe it or not is the LITTLE problem from smoking and second hand smoke. They directly cause heart disease in EVERYONE exposed to them and do some damage EVERY time people are exposed to them. Worse, the pro-clotting effects the have recently have been found to trigger heart attacks in people who would otherwise have escaped them.

This too is as important as eating right.

So the guidelines are:

Eat right according to what we now know that is.

Get regular vigorous exercise, even if just for a few minutes, most days of the week.

And stay away totally from tobacco smoke.

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