Category Archives: Heart Health

You Can’t Get Too Many Bananas

You can’t get too many bananas, and maybe they should start saying a banana a day can keep the doctor away. Last time I really doubled down on my bananas was after a larger tattoo. Potassium leaks out, and the heart palpitations can be pretty scary. Bananas take care of you in that regard. But even if you’re not getting a tattoo or otherwise doing something where you need more potassium, bananas have a ton of different nutrients.

If you are a woman over the age of 50, bananas have recently been shown to potentially reduce your risk of stroke in association with your ability to take in more potassium. Researchers tested women, and they found that those eating a high potassium diet were 12% less likely to suffer from a stroke. Moreover, these same women were 16% less likely to suffer an ischemic stroke. Those eating a high potassium diet were also less likely to die in general than those who did not eat as much potassium.

Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, lead researcher and investigator at the Women’s Health Initiative of Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York says, Potassium has long been associated with lower blood pressure. We think it goes above and beyond that, to a cellular level. Potassium is used in cellular function, and could be positively affecting the cells that line blood vessels.

Wassertheil-Smoller did not expect that the relationship between potassium and stroke prevention was actually highest among women who did not have hypertension. She says, That was surprising and really interesting. So we think it’s good to up your potassium intake before hypertension has a chance to develop.

According to the research, they have not found the same type of connection between greater potassium intake and stroke in men. Researcher Wassertheil-Smoller says, We think it does apply to men, as, in general and on average, men eat more potassium than women because they tend to consume more calories.

Researchers took the data from 90,137 postmenopausal women between ages 50 and 79 for an average of 11 years. They consumed an average of 2,611mg of potassium daily, which is significantly below the USDA’s recommendation of 4,700mg per day. Wassertheil-Smoller suggests more than that saying, We would say at least stick to the WHO recommendation-which equals 12 bananas a day. You don’t have to just eat bananas. A serving of spinach is probably twice that of a banana. Potassium is sort of everywhere, you just have to read labels to make sure.

Symptoms of High Cholesterol

Unfortunately, there are no official symptoms of high cholesterol. You won’t get a fever, a headache, cold or flu symptoms, suddenly start bleeding, or anything else that would alert you that you need to go into your doctor right now, at least not until it may already be too late.

You can undergo regular preventative testing, and it’s generally easy and relatively painless. High cholesterol leads up to coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks and other similar issues, even leading to death with chest pain, dizziness, and/or shortness of breath. But it’s all about prevention and testing regularly.

There are good and bad cholesterol levels, and if your doctor is checking, they can test for both. They can tell you if your levels are high enough in good cholesterol and low enough in bad. They can even tell you if you have too low of cholesterol in general.

Diet and DNA are the two major factors that play into it. Regardless of the reasons behind your high cholesterol though, if left unchecked, it could get serious.

Cholesterol is essential to the body ironically, while causing potential harm. But the best person to tell you about your cholesterol and its impact is your doctor.

A High Protein Diet Can Lower Your Blood Pressure

The Paleo has garnered a lot of attention, both good and bad. Everybody is eager to talk about it, and yet, many of us don’t really know how it works. We have heard that it could put you at a higher risk of heart disease. We’ve heard that it can help you to lose more weight and gain more muscle, making you that much healthier. Everybody and their dog has something to say. However, as of late, the evidence has been turning in a positive direction according to Boston University and a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension.

The research study gathered 1,361 and tracked their blood pressure for about 11.3 years on average. They found that people eating the most protein obviously tend to lose weight based on what we have seen time and time again. However, they also have a lower risk of high blood pressure. They had a significant 40% drop in fact of the risk of developing hypertension over the course of the study as compared to those who ate the least protein during that time. It was not just because of the exercise that many low carb dieters also engage in. Researchers controlled for exercise trends in these studies.

Study author Justin Buendia says, It may be that people who eat more protein have healthier diets in general. With higher protein consumption, you may eat less of other high-calorie foods. You may feel full sooner, and that would lead to lower weight, which would lead to beneficial metabolic outcomes, such as lower blood pressure.

Researchers do not suggest eliminating grains from your diet or going low carb necessarily. You need to make sure that you still have plenty of fiber in your diet. I know, there’s no magic bullet or simple plan to lose weight and be healthier, which is why low carb diets are often more complicated than some would like to think.

How Ramen Noodles Could Shorten Your Life

Okay, so I love my ramens. I love combining them with veggies, eggs, and all sorts of other goodies. I know they’re fatty and not the healthiest food, but do I really care? Not much at this point. Instant ramen has become a staple of the college diet. So it can’t be that bad. After all, how many millions of people do this in college? The truth is that it could have some serious risks for cardiometabolic syndrome, which is a risk factor for severe cardiovascular problems for disease and stroke, and this is especially true in women.

Hyun Joon Shin MD released a statement saying, This research is significant since many people are consuming instant noodles without knowing possible health risks. Shin is currently a clinical cardiology fellow at Baylor University Medical Center, and he is also a nutrition epidemiology doctoral student at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Researchers brought together 10,711 adults between 19 and 64 from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2007-2009. They found that when subjects ate instant noodles, which could be ramen, lo mein, glass, Thai, or another, twice weekly, they had a higher risk of cardiometabolic syndrome, which is a combination of abnormalities in the body that affect the cardiovascular, renal, and metabolic systems.

The specific cause is not entirely clear, but it could stem from the Styrofoam base of many noodles, which contains bisphenol A (BPA), which is a known hormone disruptor. This could also explain why women have been more affected by this phenomena. The truth is though that ramens have plenty of different unhealthy ingredients. So it may be BPA, or it may be something else. It could very well be the MSG or the TBHQ (tertiary-butylhydroquinone), or the fact that it is high in saturated fat.

The study was specific to people in South Korea, which is generally seen to be on the healthier side. However, they also have the highest per capita instant noodle consumption in the world so far. There has been a rise in health problems in Korea in recent years, which includes obesity and heart disease. The findings seem to also apply to consumers who are in the United States, which ranks 6th globally for instant noodle sales.

In 2012, there were those who talked about the unhealthy effects of ramen noodles as well. They took a viral video inside the digestive tract, which was small and inconclusive granted as a study, conducted by Dr Braden Kuo. According to the video, the stomach was working overtime, and it struggled for hours at a time to grind up and digest the food. Malaysian health officials also issued a warning against ramen noodles due to ingredients like stabilizers, sodium, and unhealthy preservatives.

Natural Ways To Lower Your Blood Pressure

Like anything else, blood pressure can go high or low, but in America, obviously we have had a huge problem with high blood pressure and the related heart problems in many of our citizens. It has gotten out of control, and blood pressure medication is among the most common prescriptions across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently went so far as to call it public health enemy number two. Smoking was apparently #1. What it does tell us is that we need to do something. We can’t continue to ignore it, and fighting obesity and smoking could both be valid parts of this process. There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the prescription treatments, but what if you could help yourself naturally and not have that extra concern?

  1. Eat Less Salt, But Don’t Eat Bland: Personally, I eat salt on everything, and I still have perpetually low blood pressure. It’s a genetic thing. But this said, there are too many people with blood pressure problems who are just told to stop eating salt altogether, or to seriously lower their salt intake to dangerously low points. Frankly, new research is finding that if you don’t get enough salt, it can actually cause similar heart issues, and nobody really wants to eat all that bland food. So it makes it harder to stick to. Sea salt can really pack a greater salty punch. Just don’t overdo it.
  2. Eat Mineral-Packed Meals That Regulate Blood Pressure: Yes, you can skip on the salt to a certain degree, but you shouldn’t forget about your nutrients. In particular, many people don’t get enough minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and these can all help you to control your blood pressure. Blood pressure is based on a complicated metric, it’s not just about salt. Aim for 1,200mg of calcium, 4,700mg of potassium, and 420mg of magnesium daily. It would be ideal if you could get this from foods rather than supplements as it absorbs better just to start.
  3. Take a Walk: Take a 20 minute walk 3 days a week. I know, initially exercise has the ability to raise your blood pressure. However, regular fast to moderate walking can actually lower your blood pressure, and you can burn some extra calories at the same time. This will also help you to maintain the same results for a longer period of time.
  4. Strength Training Twice Weekly: If you participate in regular strength training to build healthy muscle, it will help you to lower your blood pressure and also lose weight. It increases your metabolism naturally, and anybody can do it. You can start with lighter weights and choose how you progress.
  5. Lose Weight: One of the biggest things that can raise your blood pressure and make it harder to lower it is being overweight or obese. There are plenty of things that go into losing weight including diet and exercise, and both these methods and the act of losing weight will help you to lower your blood pressure.
  6. Track Your Blood Pressure: One of the biggest barriers that many face is lying to themselves. They don’t actually know where they are, or where their blood pressure is. So how do you know if you are actually improving or making progress? You don’t. Research has shown that you can actually lower your blood pressure by a few points by tracking it, which logically leads to changes in behavior or greater accountability.

Fish Oil Boost Brain Power

A magical cure-all, or at least that’s what its supporters say, fish oil supposedly boosts fertility while improving heart health and helping you to lose weight at the same time. Some even claim it may help you to fight acne, fight depression, ulcers, diabetes, and a number of other conditions. What you may have not expected so far is that fish oil may actually help you to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

A study of 819 people that was published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia studied the effects of fish oil daily on cognitive decline over time along with brain atrophy. One person a minute is currently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, meaning it’s no small matter.

Lori Daiello, a research scientist at the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center at Rhode Island Hospital says, We found that fish oil was associated with better performance on standard tests of memory and thinking abilities over time, compared to those who didn’t take supplements. They also experienced less brain shrinkage in areas of the brain important for healthy cognitive aging – the cerebral cortex and hippocampus, the portion of the brain responsible for forming and retaining memories.

In the study itself, researchers analyzed information from neuropsychological tests and MRI brain imaging over up to 4 years during a longitudinal study of brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease. They used older adults with varying degrees of cognitive ability including normal cognitive ability, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease. Fish oil seemed to have the biggest effect on cognitive functioning.

Daiello says, Retrospective studies cannot establish cause and effect, so we can’t make a global recommendation that everyone should start taking fish oil supplements. But the findings highlight the need for additional research on the effects of long term fish oil use on brain health in later life.

The key ingredient is DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in cold-water fatty fish like salmon, swordfish, tuna, mackerel, and other similar fish. If you don’t love fish, you can also find it in eggs, milk, and algae. Daiello has found that there is no definitive evidence that suggests that actually eating fish is better than daily fish oil supplements. However, there are some people who don’t like fishy breath that can come with supplements.

Daiello says, In that case, you could always store the capsules in the freezer, which seems to diminish the scent.

If you are looking for a fish oil supplement for multiple reasons, you can expect many benefits. But you may want to talk to your doctor for recommendations for the best supplement for you.

Diabetics At Lower Risk Of Heart Attacks

While diabetes comes with so many risks it could make your head spin, there is good news. Yes, it’s something that is still associated with obesity, and we still want to get it under control to avoid complications as severe as death and amputations. The risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other heart complications and complications of diabetes are actually on their way out!

In the last 2 decades, the rates of heart disease and stroke fell among diabetics by more than 60% according to a new federal study. The studies have also shown that there has been a significant decline in the rates of diabetes related kidney failure and amputations to go with it. This seems mainly associated with better screening services and medical care, meaning early intervention and better care in general. Interestingly, this has happened while the rates of diabetes have more than tripled.

Dr John Buse, a University of North Carolina diabetes specialist says, It is great news. The prognosis for folks with diabetes has improved dramatically over the last two decades, at least for those with good access to care.

While there are those suffering purely hereditary forms of diabetes, some of which don’t respond 100% to diet and exercise, the most common type is related to obesity. This year, about 1 in 10 US adults has diabetes, and it has become the nation’s 7th leading cause of death according to the CDC. When obese, you are at a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes, but diabetics seem to have narrower blood vessels, which can lead to these types of heart problems in the future.

In the 90’s, there were key studies that showed diabetics could control their disease blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol with healthy diet and exercise and medical intervention. Researchers have found that people can keep the risk of vision, heart problems, amputations, and other complications of diabetes under control. They are not always inevitable as we might think.

Insurance programs have been extensively expanded to cover things like blood sugar monitors and other diabetes treatments. More diabetics are also being diagnosed earlier and with milder forms. Even with higher rates of diabetes overall, the rate of hospitalization fell from 140,000 to 136,000 along with many other positive signs for those living with diabetes.