Posts Tagged ‘Heart Health’

Top Foods to Prevent Heart Attack

February is National Heart Month. With more than 2 million Americans suffering heart attacks and strokes each year heart health is of vital importance. As a country, our poor eating habits are taking a huge toll on our heart health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, not one state in the U.S. had an obesity rate under 20 percent in 2010.   Thirty-six states had populations with obesity rates of 25 percent or higher.  Approximately one-third of U.S. adults (33.8 percent) are obese, and about 17 percent of kids aged 2-19 years are as well.  In the last 30 years childhood obesity has tripled, setting children up for future health problems that can dramatically shorten their lives: diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and certain types of cancer.

Embracing a heart-healthy diet can and should be a family affair. Focusing on eating whole, fresh foods instead of processed ones can help your family beat the battle of the bulge without feeling deprived.

Here is a list of top foods to incorporate into your diet to keep your heart healthy and to prevent a heart attack:

  • Fruits and Vegetables – the high fiber content in fruits and vegetables decreases the buildup of plaque in the arteries and less plaque means decreased blockages to the heart.
  • Nuts – Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans and pistachio nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids that can reduce blood cholesterol. All nuts are high in calories, so a handful will do.
  • Oats – eaten daily, oats can clean arteries better than some medications.
  • Salmon and Flaxseed – rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon and flaxseed lower triglycerides.
  • Garlic – numerous studies have shown benefits of regular garlic consumption on blood pressure, platelet aggregation, triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels.
  • Berries and cherries – these fruits are high in polyphenols, which prevent cell damage that creates unhealthy blood vessels and heart.
  • Quinoa – this tiny seed is an excellent source of magnesium, the mineral that relaxes blood vessels. Low levels of magnesium lead to hypertension, heart disease and arrhythmias.

The Many Ways Thyroid Effects Our Health

Many people don’t realize the far reaching effects that your thyroid can have on your general health. Most of us know that your thyroid is connected to your metabolism, your energy level and your ability to gain or lose weight. But, did you know that there are many other effects of suboptimal thyroid function? In addition, the prevalence of thyroid dysfunction in United States is widespread; as many as one in seven Americans have thyroid glands the don’t work as well as they should.

Thyroid function is also very important for heart health. We have two major thyroid hormones in our body, T4 and T3. The thyroid gland normally secretes about 90 percent T4, which has some activity. However, our body usually converts T4 to T3, which has five times more activity! This conversion is dependent on some nutrients like selenium and doesn’t happen as readily if you have a lot of stress. Therefore, many of us don’t convert our T4 hormone to the more active T3. Also, this inability to convert T4 to T3 may not show up with routine testing for thyroid function such as TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). 

Not only does this affect your metabolism, it can affect your heart.

Decreased T3 production will raise your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, due to decreased metabolism of fats. Decreased T3 also reduces the availability of your essential fatty acids, EPA and DHEA, which reduce inflammation and help to protect your heart. You can also obtain essential fatty acids by eating cold water fish such as mackerel and salmon and supplementing with a good-quality fish oil. But, it’s important to make sure your thyroid is functioning well so you have as much of the heart healthy EPA and DHA available as you can. Because inadequate T3 lowers your metabolism, it reduces the rate at which you burn oxygen. That can contribute to free radical damage to your heart.

If you have any symptoms of low thyroid such as weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, constipation, dry hair and skin or difficulty concentrating, call your physician and ask for thyroid testing that includes TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3 and thyroid antibody testing.

Dr. Stanton Quoted in Article – “10 Things You Don’t Know About Heart Health, But Should”

Dr. Stanton was recently asked to contribute to an article titled, “10 Things You Don’t Know about Heart Health but Should.” Dr. Stanton explained how testosterone is very important for heart function and how men can keep their testosterone levels up by limiting stress and getting enough sleep as well as eating a proper diet and strength training.

Read the article for other facts about heart health you might not know.

Five Supplements Good for Heart Health

Here is my list of five supplements that make good additions to a heart healthy regimen. Combine these with a proper diet and exercise: 

  1. B complex – this is very important in many of the reactions that produce energy in your body (including your heart). B vitamins have also been shown to reduce homocysteine, and high homocysteine is correlated with an increase in heart disease.
  2. Omega 3 – slows the build up of plaque in the arteries. Recommended if you have high triglycerides or family history of heart disease. Good sources are oily fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel.
  3. Vitamin D – a deficiency in Vitamin D is associated with increased cardiovascular risk. If you don’t get much sun take a daily supplement. Dairy products and oily fish are also good sources.
  4. Coenzyme Q 10, CoQ10 – increases heart contractility, the performance of cardiac muscles. Recommended especially if you have hypercholesterolemia or on statin drugs because statin drugs reduce the body’s production of CoQ10.
  5. Garlic – this is known to decrease triglycerides and reduce total cholesterol. You can take it in a supplement form or add it to your food. 

How Low Testosterone can affect the Heart

There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when keeping your heart healthy – diet, exercise, family history. New research suggests you might also want to keep an eye on your testosterone levels.

Over the last decade, a large body of literature has emerged suggesting that a link exists between androgen deficiency and cardiovascular disease. It has been concluded that testosterone levels are consistently lower in men with cardiovascular disease.

A number of other studies have suggested that reduced testosterone levels are also associated with increased total cholesterol and increased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL). Testosterone replacement therapy for androgen deficiency reduced total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Lower testosterone levels in aging are also associated with elevated triglycerides and increased risk for insulin resistance and diabetes.

So what are some ways you can elevate your testosterone levels?

  • Lose the belly fat. Excess weight around the midsection leads to more estrogen, less testosterone.
  • Lift weights. Training your muscles by lifting weights has shown to increase testosterone and your natural production of growth hormone.
  • Make nuts your snack of choice. Monounsaturated fats help raise testosterone. Good sources are nuts, organic peanut butter, canola oil and olive oil.
  • Don’t overtrain. Yes, lifting weights is good for raising testosterone, but you also must give your body adequate time to recuperate. Get eight hours of sleep and never train the same muscles two days in a row.
  • Don’t binge drink. Alcohol can cause a reduction in your testosterone production and the higher levels that occur with binge drinking make it worse.

Also, keep a good eye on your testosterone levels by having your physician test them periodically. If your levels are too low and you have symptoms of low testosterone, you may want to speak with your physician about prescribing bioidentical testosterone to fit your needs.