Category Archives: arterial plaque

Keeping Your Arteries Young – Tufts

The subject of aging is truly a multi-faceted one. I know, at 77, I feel like I find new aspects of it revealed nearly every day. Following is a write up from Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter that contains some good, positive information. All bold face items are my emphasis.

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It’s common to develop significantly stiffer arteries and high blood pressure as we age past our 50s. Healthy lifestyle factors may go a long way toward slowing this process. A new study published in Hypertension suggests healthy vascular (blood vessel) aging may be possible even in people 70 years and older.

“This study showed that regardless of age, following a healthy lifestyle and controlling cardiovascular risk factors translates to fewer adverse heart disease events,” says Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, who was not involved in the study. “That’s very encouraging.”

Artery Aging:

Most prior studies have looked at associations between poor vascular health and increased risk of cardiovascular events, like heart attack and stroke. But this study, led by Teemu J. Niiranen, MD, a research fellow at Boston University School of Medicine, focused on people with healthier arteries at the start of the study. “We found that it’s possible to maintain the blood vessels of people in their 20s, even into old age, but it’s rare in the Western world,” he says. At age 50, about 30% of those studied had healthy vascular aging. Over age 70, only 1% of people had healthy arteries. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, arterial plaque, arteries, Exercise, exercise benefits, healthy arteries, successful aging

Saturated Fat Does Not Cause Heart Disease – Annals of Internal Medicine

A growing body of research is starting to convince many doctors to think again how they look at fats and heart disease, according to Healthy Ways Newsletter.

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine this week showed that despite decades of old nutritional advice Cambridge University researchers have found that giving up fatty meat, cream or butter is not likely to improve health. Also, so-called ‘healthy’ polyunsaturated fats do not prevent cardiovascular problems.

The new study indicates that there is more than one kind of LDL molecule. The larger ones are benign while the smaller ones cause the problems.

The new study indicates that there is more than one kind of LDL molecule. The larger LDL molecules are benign while the smaller ones cause the problems.

They want the guidelines to be changed to reflect the growing evidence that there is no overall association between saturated fat consumption and heart disease.

The new research came from a meta analysis of data from 72 studies including more than 600,000 individuals from 18 countries.

Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury is the lead author of the new study and a cardiovascular epidemiologist in the department of public health and primary care at Cambridge University.

“The primary reason saturated fat has historically had a bad reputation is that it increases low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL, the kind that has been assumed to raise the risk for heart attacks. But the relationship between saturated fat and LDL is complex, said Dr. Chowdhury. In addition to raising LDL cholesterol, saturated fat also increases high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, the so-called good cholesterol that has shown to protect against heart disease. And the LDL that it raises is a subtype of big, fluffy particles that are generally benign,” Healthy Ways reported.

“The smallest and densest form of LDL is more dangerous. These particles are easily oxidized and are more likely to set off inflammation and contribute to the buildup of artery-narrowing plaque. An LDL profile that consists mostly of these particles usually coincides with high triglycerides and low levels of HDL, both risk factors for heart attacks and stroke.

“The smaller, more artery-clogging particles are increased not by saturated fat, but by sugar, sugary foods, and an excess of carbohydrates, Dr. Chowdhury said. “It’s the high carbohydrate or sugary diet that should be the focus of dietary guidelines,” he said. “If anything is driving your low-density lipoproteins in a more adverse way, it’s carbohydrates.”

The fat story is a complex one. I think it is important to focus on Dr. Chowdhury’s observation that the LDL that is raised is a subtype of big fluffy particles that are generally benign. In my experience, I have only read that LDL is the ‘bad’ cholesterol and we need to reduce it. Apparently that is not the case. It is sugar that increases the small and harmful LDL.

As I have written here more than once, I eat coconut oil , a saturated fat, every day in a number of ways and my cholesterol numbers have only gotten better.

To read more about the benefits of coconut oil check out my Page: Why You Should Include Coconut Oil in Your Diet.

Tony

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Filed under arterial plaque, coconut oil, HDL Cholesterol, LDL Cholesterol

Coconut Oil May Improve Your Brain

I tried coconut oil for the first time back in April and I wrote Why should I try coconut oil? enumerating facts about how endurance athletes (bike riders like me) use it as a high energy food;  how it helps to boosts our HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) readings, it has healing properties, etc.

Now comes a write up by Dr. Mercola about how coconut oil appears to be the perfect brain food.

brain

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I lost an aunt to Alzheimer’s and my mother suffered from dementia in her final years. The possibility that coconut oil could be a positive influence on the brain resonated powerfully with me.

The following is from Dr. Mercola: “There are only two types of fuel your body can convert into energy: carbs/sugar, or fat. Again, ketones are what your body produces when it converts fat (as opposed to glucose) into energy. And a primary source of ketone bodies are the medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) found in coconut oil. In fact, coconut oil contains about 66 percent MCTs. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, Alzheimer's, arterial plaque, brain, cholesterol, coconut oil, Dr. Mercola, HDL Cholesterol

What are Some Good Reasons for Eating Nuts?

In my own search for alternative sources of quality protein to take the place of the artery-clogging red meat I have added chia seeds and hemp seeds for starters.

Dr. Oz has some further suggestions in his blog post Three Health Benefits of Nuts.

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Some of the benefits he enumerates include:
“• The omega-3 fats in nuts, especially walnuts — which have six times as much as the next nearest nut — protect against heart disease.
• The fiber richness of nuts helps you lose weight. A small handful about 30 minutes before a mealtime fills you up enough to keep you from overeating.
• And (news flash) it turns out that these crunchy treats help tame type 2 diabetes.”

For some folks, the only downside of nuts is that their fats make them high in calories. A couple of good ways to include some nuts in your diet without knocking your calorie consumption out of the park is to find ways to add small quantities of them to your regular meals.

You can use them as a garnish on salads, adding protein and healthy fats without too many calories. Ditto your morning breakfast, I love walnuts on top of my oatmeal. Use your imagination and you can make some heart-healthy changes in your daily diet and boost your protein consumption, too.

Tony

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Filed under arterial plaque, arteries, chia seeds, Dr. Oz, fat, snack foods, Snacking, Weight

Should I Eat Less Chocolate? Costco Love Crunch

Regular readers know that I ride my bike an average of 20 miles a day which covers a multitude of sins at the table. A 20 mile bike ride burns over 1000 calories a day, or about 50 percent more than the 2000 I need to maintain my 150 pound body weight.

Because of that 1000 calorie ‘buffer’ until recently I had been enjoying a Hershey’s with Almonds bar most evenings.

Here is the nutrition breakdown for that Hershey’s with Almonds bar:
Calories 210
Total Fat 14 grams
Saturated Fat 6 grams
Cholesterol 10 mg
Sodium 25 mg
Carbs 21 grams
Sugar 19 grams
Fiber 2 grams
Protein 4 grams

As you can see, this isn’t horrible as far as nutrition is concerned, particularly in view of the 1000 calorie buffer. But, six grams of saturated fat isn’t great and the 19 grams of sugar amounts to almost 5 teaspoons full (4.2 grams/tsp).
love-crunch1
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Filed under arterial plaque, arteries, biking, calories, cardio exercise, cholesterol, Exercise, fat, granola, heart, Weight

What Are the Best and Worst Sandwiches to Order from Panera Bread?

You can’t go wrong eating out if you stick with chicken and turkey, right? Just beware of the big old burger.

Not so fast, says WebMD.

Panera's Signature Chicken on Artisan French Bread

Panera’s Signature Chicken on Artisan French Bread

Avoid like the plague Panera’s Signature Chicken on Artisan French Bread. It “contains 830 calories, 37 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, and 2,180 mg of sodium.  That’s the daily Sodium limit for healthy adults. The special sauce, bacon, and cheddar help turn chicken, a lean type of protein, into a calorie bomb. Unfortunately,  many of the hot panini, signature, and café sandwiches hit the 700-900 calorie range,” WebMD says.

 Panera's Smoked Turkey on Whole Grain Bread

Panera’s Smoked Turkey on Whole Grain Bread

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Filed under arterial plaque, burgers, calories, chicken, fast food, obesity, Panera Bread, Panera Chicken Sandwich, Panera Smoked Turkey, portion control, portion size, salt, saturated fat, sodium, turkey, Weight

Baby Boomers Aging Badly

I always thought that boomers were busy running triathlons and skiing down the slopes these days. They are reported to have the longest life expectancy of any previous generation and exploit the latest medical technology, so why wouldn’t they be? I am talking about that 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964.

JAMA researchers found otherwise.

Alice Park writing in Time.com reports that boomers have “higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol than members of the previous generation.

Junk foods like these are part of the reason boomers are failing the most important test of all.

Junk foods like these are part of the reason boomers are failing the most important test of all.

“The revelation comes from data in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a national snapshot of health measures and behaviors conducted by the U.S. government. Dr. Dana King, a professor in family medicine at West Virginia University School of Medicine and his colleagues compared baby boomers aged 46 years to 64 years between 2007 and 2010 to similar aged Americans in 1988 to 1994. Overall, only 13% of baby boomers rated their health as ‘excellent’ while nearly three times as many, 32%, of those in the previous generation considered themselves in excellent health.” Continue reading

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Filed under aging, arterial plaque, arteries, baby boomers, blood pressure, body fat, calories, cancer, cardiovascular risk, childhood obesity, diabetes, Exercise, fast food, health, healthy eating, healthy living, heart, heart disease, heart problems, junk food, life challenges, living longer, Weight

Southern fried foods heart-risky – Study

Reasons to think twice before you order chicken from the colonel …

Cooking with Kathy Man

Eating Southern-style foods may be linked to a higher risk of stroke, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2013.

In the first large-scale study on the relationship between Southern foods and stroke, researchers characterized a Southern diet by a high intake of foods such as fried chicken, fried fish, fried potatoes, bacon, ham, liver and gizzards, and sugary drinks such as sweet tea. In addition to being high in fat, fried foods tend to be heavily salted.

“We’ve got three major factors working together in the Southern-style diet to raise risks of cardiovascular disease: fatty foods are high in cholesterol, sugary drinks are linked to diabetes and salty foods lead to high blood pressure,” said Suzanne Judd, Ph.D., M.P.H., lead researcher and a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Alabama Birmingham’s biostatistics department.

Previous research has shown that Southerners are about 20 percent more…

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Filed under arterial plaque, arteries, blood pressure, body fat, calories, chicken, childhood obesity, cholesterol, fast food, heart, heart disease, heart problems, southern diet, stroke, Weight

Is it Healthy to Eat Eggs Regularly?

Not long ago a study published in the journal Athersclerosis reported that the more egg yolks a people ate the thicker their artery walls became. That indicates a higher risk of heart disease. Also, the effect was nearly as bad as from smoking cigarettes. The Egg Nutrition Center and American Egg Board voiced other ideas.

The incredible edible egg

The incredible edible egg

Researchers measured the buildup of carotid plaque in the arteries of 1,231 subjects. The men and women in the study were all patients at cardiovascular health clinics. For comparison’s sake, the team also measured the carotid plaque buildup of smokers in the study.

Plaque buildup increased according to age – after age 40 in a fairly steady fashion. But among the 20 percent of participants who reported eating the most egg yolks – three or more per week – carotid plaque increased “exponentially,” according to the study. The buildup equaled about two-thirds of that seen among the heaviest smokers in the group.

Arterial plaque buildup is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke; as plaque accumulates on artery walls, it narrows the space through which blood can pass, making the heart’s job of pumping more difficult. Moreover, plaque buildups can break away from the arterial wall, forming clots that can do terrible, even fatal, damage if they reach the heart or brain.

For the record, here is the nutritional breakdown of a large (56 gram) egg from SELFNutritionData:

Calories 80
Total Fat 6 grams
Saturated Fat 2 grams
Cholesterol 237 mg
Sodium 78 mg
No Carbohydrates
No Fiber
No Sugar
Protein 7 grams

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Filed under aging, arterial plaque, arteries, blood pressure, body fat, calories, eggs, Exercise, fast food, fat, portion size, protein, Weight