Tag Archives: heart disease

15 health benefits of pomegranate juice

I have to confess a great deal of ignorance when it comes to the pomegranate. I haven’t had one in years. I have had some of the juice the comes in very cool shaped bottles.

Today, pomegranate juice is being studied for its many health benefits. It may help with cancer prevention, immune support, and fertility.

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Here are some of the potential benefits of pomegranate, according to Medical News Today.

1. Antioxidants

Pomegranate seeds get their vibrant red hue from polyphenols. These chemicals are powerful antioxidants.

Pomegranate juice contains higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruit juices. It also has three times more antioxidants than red wine and green tea. The antioxidants in pomegranate juice can help remove free radicals, protect cells from damage, and reduce inflammation.

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What happens after you quit smoking: A timeline

As regular readers know, I feel strongly that smoking is an unmitigated blight on our lives. We lose over 170,000 people to it every year – just in lung cancer alone – totally preventable. To be honest, I am surprised that anyone who can read would choose to be a smoker. Nonetheless, it is so. I have a Page on it – How many ways does smoking harm you?   which I recommend you check out after reading this.

I am reproducing what follows from Medical News Today because I like the way they spell out positive aspects of ceasing smoking. Jenna Fletcher wrote it.

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Cigarette smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States. Despite this, some smokers find quitting daunting. They think it will take a very long time before seeing improvements in their health and well-being.

However, the timeline for seeing real benefits to quitting smoking is much faster than most people realize. Health benefits begin in as little as an hour after the last cigarette and continue to improve. Continue reading

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Filed under blood pressure, cholesterol, coronary heart disease, impact of quitting smoking, smoking, Smoking dangers

How Trans fats affect the blood – Study

Make sure you are clear on what trans fats actually are. Here is how Wikipedia describes trans fats, “Trans fats, or trans-unsaturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, are a type of unsaturated fat that occur in small amounts in nature but became widely produced industrially from vegetable fats for use in margarine, snack food, packaged baked goods and frying fast food starting in the 1950s. Trans fat has been shown to consistently be associated, in an intake-dependent way, with increased risk of coronary heart disease, a leading cause of death in Western nations.

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“In 2003 the World Health Organisation recommended that trans fats make up no more than 1% of a person’s diet.  In 2013, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils (which contain trans fats) are not “generally recognized as safe“, which was expected to lead to a ban on industrially produced trans fats from the American diet.  On 16 June 2015, the FDA finalized its determination that trans fats are not generally recognized as safe, and set a three-year time limit for their removal from all processed foods.”

Tohoku University researchers have found that trans-fatty acids promote cell death in a more direct manner than previously thought, leading to the development of atherosclerosis, a major cause of heart attacks and strokes.

Trans-fatty acids are unsaturated fatty acids produced as by-products during food manufacturing. Trans-fatty acid consumption is strongly linked to atherosclerosis, an inflammatory disease in which plaque clogs arteries. Atherosclerosis is a major cause of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. Continue reading

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Beware of blue light at night – Harvard

Sleep, like walking, is one of the critical elements of good health very commonly not appreciated by the man on the street. I have a Page – How important is a good night’s sleep with a ton of information on it.

Here is some valuable info from the Harvard Health Letter on getting a good night’s sleep.

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Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted.

But we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. (My emphasis)

But not all colors of light have the same effect. Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.

Daily rhythms influenced by light

Everyone has slightly different circadian rhythms, but the average length is 24 and one-quarter hours. The circadian rhythm of people who stay up late is slightly longer, while the rhythms of earlier birds fall short of 24 hours. Dr. Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School showed, in 1981, that daylight keeps a person’s internal clock aligned with the environment.

The health risks of nighttime light

Study after study has linked working the night shift and exposure to light at night to several types of cancer (breast, prostate), diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It’s not exactly clear why nighttime light exposure seems to be so bad for us. But we do know that exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms, and there’s some experimental evidence (it’s very preliminary) that lower melatonin levels might explain the association with cancer.

A Harvard study shed a little bit of light on the possible connection to diabetes and possibly obesity. The researchers put 10 people on a schedule that gradually shifted the timing of their circadian rhythms. Their blood sugar levels increased, throwing them into a prediabetic state, and levels of leptin, a hormone that leaves people feeling full after a meal, went down.

Even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. A mere eight lux—a level of brightness exceeded by most table lamps and about twice that of a night light—has an effect, notes Stephen Lockley, a Harvard sleep researcher. Light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep, says Lockley, and researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

The power of the blues

While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night does so more powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).

In another study of blue light, researchers at the University of Toronto compared the melatonin levels of people exposed to bright indoor light who were wearing blue-light–blocking goggles to people exposed to regular dim light without wearing goggles. The fact that the levels of the hormone were about the same in the two groups strengthens the hypothesis that blue light is a potent suppressor of melatonin. It also suggests that shift workers and night owls could perhaps protect themselves if they wore eyewear that blocks blue light. Inexpensive sunglasses with orange-tinted lenses block blue light, but they also block other colors, so they’re not suitable for use indoors at night. Glasses that block out only blue light can cost up to $80.

Less-blue light

If blue light does have adverse health effects, then environmental concerns, and the quest for energy-efficient lighting, could be at odds with personal health. Those curlicue compact fluorescent lightbulbs and LED lights are much more energy-efficient than the old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs we grew up with. But they also tend to produce more blue light.

The physics of fluorescent lights can’t be changed, but coatings inside the bulbs can be so they produce a warmer, less blue light. LED lights are more efficient than fluorescent lights, but they also produce a fair amount of light in the blue spectrum. Richard Hansler, a light researcher at John Carroll University in Cleveland, notes that ordinary incandescent lights also produce some blue light, although less than most fluorescent lightbulbs.

What you can do

  • Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
  • Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
  • If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength at night.
  • Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.When I work on my computer late at night, I always wear a pair of blue blocker sunglasses. You can buy them on Amazon for under $20. I have no problems getting to sleep.

    Tony

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Filed under good night's sleep, harvard health letter, Harvard Medical School, sleep, sleep deprivation

Physical activity provides big boost to seniors with heart disease – AHA

So often the answer to any health question comes back to exercise – physical activity. Eat less; move more; live longer remains the mantra of this blog. From the following, the American Heart Association (AHA) seems to agree.

  • Improving physical function among older adults with heart disease helps heart health and even the oldest have a better quality of life and greater independence.
  • Healthcare providers should emphasize cardiac rehabilitation when appropriate and provide individualized guidance on increasing daily physical activities for older patients with heart disease.

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Improving physical activity among older adults with heart disease benefits their heart health, independence and quality of life, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

Physical activity helps reduce heart disease symptoms for patients with heart failure, heart attacks and stroke, and it also helps to improve the age-related erosions of strength, balance, and reduces frailty that particularly affect older heart patients. It is important part of care for the growing population of older adults with heart disease.

“Many healthcare providers are focused only on the medical management of diseases, such as heart failure, heart attacks, valvular heart disease and strokes, without directly focusing on helping patients maximize their physical function,” said Daniel E. Forman, M.D., the geriatric cardiologist who chaired the American Heart Association panel that drafted the new statement. Continue reading

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Heart disease and brain health linked – Harvard

I have written time and again about the link between exercise and brain health. The Harvard Heart Letter has a nice post on how heart disease and brain health are tied together.

“Just like in the rest of your body, advancing years can take a toll on your brain function. Much of this slowing down is predictable and can be chalked up to normal aging. However, when thinking skills become increasingly fuzzy and forgetfulness gets to be a way of life, an early form of dementia known as mild cognitive impairment may be setting in,” so writes Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter.

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“Often, the first reaction is to attribute these changes to the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease. But blood flow problems may be to blame, as well. “An estimated one-third of all cases of dementia, including those identified as Alzheimer’s, can be attributed to vascular factors,” says Dr. Albert Hofman, chair of the department of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Continue reading

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Filed under blood pressure, coronary heart disease, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, heart, heart disease, heart health brain health, stroke

Vitamin D – Do you get enough?

Vitamin D is considered by some to be the rock star of the vitamin world. To read further on its benefits check out: Vitamin D and Cognitive Function, Vitamin D Deficiency May be Linked to Heart Disease, Vitamin D Deficiency May Compromise Immune Function, Calcium and Vitamin D Help Hormones Help Bones, Vitamin D Improves Mood and Blood Pressure in Women with Diabetes, Vitamin D and Your Body – Harvard, What are the ABC’s of Vitamins?

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Tony

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Lack of fresh food choices linked to signs of early heart disease – AHA

It seems that while our reliance on fast foods and processed foods might be saving us some time, in the long run it is costing us dearly.

A lack of access to nearby stores selling fresh food may increase residents’ risk of developing the signs of early heart disease, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) journal Circulation.

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“The lack of healthy food stores may help explain why people in these neighborhoods have more heart disease,” said Jeffrey Wing, Ph.D., M.P.H., co-lead author and assistant professor in the Department of Public Health at Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan. “The thought is that greater access to healthier foods may have promoted healthier diets and, in turn, less coronary plaque formation.”

Study results point to a need for greater awareness of the potential health threat posed by living in neighborhoods with scarce healthy grocery options. Continue reading

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Increased weekly exercise levels linked to lower risk of 5 chronic diseases

Must say that I love it when the news meets my bias. So, the story from The BMJ today was particularly satisfying.

Higher levels of total physical activity are strongly associated with lower risk of five common chronic diseases – breast and bowel cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, finds a study in The BMJ today.

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Many studies have shown the health benefits of physical activity. This has led the World Health Organization (WHO) to recommend a minimum total physical activity level of 600 metabolic equivalent (MET) minutes a week across different ‘domains’ of daily life. Continue reading

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6 Health Reasons To Eat Spicy Foods More Often

It’s interesting to learn how spices affect our bodies as well as our taste buds.

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Tony

Our Better Health

Many people from different cultures and backgrounds worldwide have a special place in their hearts for spicy foods, and it turns out that these foods don’t only taste great, but provide wonderful health benefits as well.

Although everyone prefers a different level of spice in their foods, it doesn’t actually matter how much your food burns your tongue, but what type of spice you use in your cooking. Spices can serve as wonderful alternatives to medicines and other conventional healing modalities, and have been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments, including aches and pains. Many spices have antimicrobial properties, which explains why they make wonderful alternative remedies.

“Studies show that many different herbs and spices offer health benefits,” says David Heber, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, and director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. Much of the existing evidence supports use of cinnamon, chili…

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How does obesity cause disease in organs distant from those where fat accumulates?

With two-thirds of us overweight and one third outright obese, I have written about the dangers of obesity since the blog began.

Now comes the European Society of Genetics with news of increased risks from obesity.

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Barcelona, Spain: Obesity is on the rise throughout the world, and in some developed countries two-thirds of the adult population is either overweight or obese. This brings with it an increased risk of serious conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and osteoarthritis. Many of these conditions do not appear to affect the parts of the body where the excess fat accumulates, but rather to involve body systems that are remote from the fat accumulation. Now an international group of scientists has taken an important step towards understanding the links between obesity and the related, yet physically distant, diseases it causes, the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics heard yesterday.

Ms Taru Tukiainen, D.Sc., a postdoctoral researcher working at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), Helsinki, Finland and colleagues from the UK and US, set out to study the relationship between body mass index (BMI), a common-used way of measuring obesity, and gene expression in 44 different tissue types, including some that are rarely accessible in large sample sizes, for example the brain and internal organs. “Most tissue sampling is invasive, but we were able to use the GTEx* dataset of tissues from autopsy donors, and therefore sample a far wider range than is usually possible,” Ms Tukiainen explains. “This is the first time that such changes in human tissue function in response to alterations in BMI have been explored among so many body systems simultaneously.”

The researchers found simultaneous changes in response to obesity in almost all the tissues studied. “These results show that obesity really is a systemic condition, and particularly a condition of systemic inflammation. Interestingly, though, the changes in tissue function appeared to be only partially shared between different types of tissues; some tissues clearly act in pairs with one half of the pair compensating for – or enhancing – the dysfunction of the other. For instance, adipose tissue and adrenal glands, which are both organs secreting hormones essential to metabolism, often react to changes in BMI in completely opposite ways, including a decrease in metabolic activity in the former and an increase in the latter,” Ms Tukiainen will say.

Although lifestyle changes are the most effective way to combat obesity, they can be hard work and difficult to maintain. Therefore the biological processes identified by the researchers may help the treatment of obesity by identifying potential drug targets, and particularly tissue-specific targets, they say. The results may also help to distinguish groups of individual who are at higher risk of developing complications, and lead toward personalized care.

“Our research highlights the burden of overweight and obesity on the digestive system. Although this is unsurprising, given the role of digestive system tissues in food processing, we found alarming links between BMI-related changes in different parts of the digestive tract and genes implicated in some diseases, for example Crohn’s disease.

“An association between two variables does not necessarily imply there is a causal link and, from the gene expression results alone, we cannot tell which is driving which. Do changes in BMI or changes in gene expression come first? We can, however, address the potential causes by using genetic variants known to be associated with BMI in combination with our data on gene expression,” says Ms Tukiainen.

Large-scale genome-wide association studies have already identified nearly 100 genetic variants that influence BMI. Analyses by the group that interpret this information further have shown that many of these gene expression changes, particularly in adipose tissue, appear to be caused by increased BMI.
“I believe that our work adds to the weight of evidence, and provides hypotheses for other researchers to follow up in the hope of being able to translate the results into ways of preventing and treating the very serious complications of obesity,” Ms Tukiainen will conclude.

*GTEx is a dataset consisting of thousands of tissue samples in which the RNA from each sample has been sequenced to measure gene expression. Because it is not a dataset collected specifically for obesity research, the donors are representative of the population as a whole, and the obesity epidemic is clearly reflected in that only 31% of GTEx donors are or normal weight; the remainder are either overweight or obese.

If you want to know more about obesity, check out these posts:

How does obesity affect you?

The public is largely ignorant about obesity risks

What are some obesity statistics?

Exercise can help to battle the obesity gene

Heart attack patients getting younger more obese

Eat less; move more; live longer are words to live by.

Tony

 

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Heart Disease Prevention Tool Shows Promise – Harvard

Yesterday I posted an item headed “Health and Fitness Ideas.” I concluded it with the statement, “I wish more people would focus on living a healthy life rather than just dropping some unwanted pounds. The first way is positive and long lasting. The second is superficial and most of the time doesn’t result in permanent weight loss.”

I think this news story from Harvard follows right on from that post. I recommend that you take their Healthy Heart Score test at the link provided below.

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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the U.S., and a healthy lifestyle is key to prevention. But the prevalence of healthy behaviors among U.S. adults is low. Current prevention strategies focus mainly on controlling CVD risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension with medication—as opposed to preventing them in the first place.

Now, new research from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggests that a tool developed at the School two years ago—the Healthy Heart Score— could be a useful tool for doctors to promote healthy behaviors in their patients, according to lead author Mercedes Sotos-Prieto, Harvard Chan research fellow.

The Healthy Heart Score—which measures nine key lifestyle risk factors for CVD such as smoking, high body mass index, and low physical activity—is known to effectively predict the 20-year risk of CVD in adulthood. But it hasn’t been known if the score is also associated with CVD risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia. Continue reading

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More Fruits, Veggies in Youth Linked to Healthy Heart Decades Later – AHA

•    Young adults who ate more than five daily servings of fruits and vegetables were less likely to have developed plaque deposits in their coronary arteries 20 years later.
    •    This study’s findings reinforce the importance of increasing fruit and vegetable intake as part of a healthy eating pattern in early adult life.

Eating more fruits and vegetables as a young adult may keep your arteries free of heart disease 20 years later, according to research in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Circulation.

Healthy-Heart-For-Kidsvs2_1024x1024Researchers found that eating more fruits and vegetables as young adults was associated with less calcified coronary artery plaque 20 years later. Coronary artery calcium can be measured by a CT scan to detect the presence and amount of atherosclerosis, a disease that hardens arteries and underlies many types of heart disease.

The researchers divided data from 2,506 study participants into three groups, based on their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. Women in the top third ate an average of nearly nine servings of daily fruits and vegetables and men averaged more than seven daily servings. In the bottom third, women consumed an average 3.3 daily servings and men 2.6 daily servings. All servings were based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.
Researchers found that people who ate the most fruit and vegetables at the study’s start had 26 percent lower odds of developing calcified plaque 20 years later, compared to those who ate the least amount of fruits and vegetables.

Previous studies have shown a strong association between eating more fruits and vegetables and reduction in heart disease risk among middle-age adults. However, this is the first study to examine whether eating more fruits and vegetables as young adults could produce a measurable improvement in the health of their heart and blood vessels years later.
“People shouldn’t assume that they can wait until they’re older to eat healthy—our study suggests that what you eat as a young adult may be as important as what you eat as an older adult, ” said lead author Michael D. Miedema, M.D., senior consulting cardiologist and clinical investigator at the Minneapolis Heart Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Continue reading

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A Physiologic Link Between Heart Disease and A Sedentary Lifestyle

There are some wonderful thoughts here on achieving good health. I hope you will read it and reap.

Eat less; move more; live longer.

I think it might be worth checking out my Page – Do You Know the Dangers of Too Much Sitting?

Tony

D.I.G.

And A Discussion About Exercises

The concept that being inactive and heart disease are related is a pretty well-accepted idea in our society today. There are many explanations for why this occurs and they all mainly have to do with metabolism, food intake, and energy expenditure.  (This is why you’re supposed to run 10 miles if you eat a strip of bacon, right?)

While these ideas are certainly not wrong, I think there’s an important concept that many of us are missing when we try to lower our heart and vessel disease risk.

What I’m talking about here is the concept of a rising “vascular age” due to inactivity and stiffness of our bodies.

But first, let’s talk about blood flow in the body.

How Blood Normally Flows In The Body

For the sake of discussion, let’s start thinking about blood flow at the level of the heart. The heart is a…

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Trans Fats, Not Saturated Fats, Linked to Greater Risk of Death and Heart Disease

“For years everyone has been advised to cut out fats. Trans fats have no health benefits and pose a significant risk for heart disease, but the case for saturated fat is less clear,” said de Souza.

Regular readers know that I have been beating the drum for the saturated fat – coconut oil for some time. Check out my Page – Coconut Oil – Why you Should Include it in Your Diet to read more about it.

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

A study led by researchers at McMaster University has found that that trans fats are associated with greater risk of death and coronary heart disease, but saturated fats are not associated with an increased risk of death, heart disease, stroke, or Type 2 diabetes.

The findings were published today by the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The lead author is Russell de Souza, an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics with the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

“For years everyone has been advised to cut out fats. Trans fats have no health benefits and pose a significant risk for heart disease, but the case for saturated fat is less clear,” said de Souza.

“That said, we aren’t advocating an increase of the allowance for saturated fats in dietary guidelines, as we don’t see evidence that higher limits would be specifically beneficial to health.”

Guidelines currently recommend…

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Nutrition and Healthy Aging for Men

Here’s a closer look at five of the most common health conditions that affect men as they age, and how better nutrition and lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce their risk.

Excellent information in this. I must admit to being highly satisfied to see the increased emphasis on exercise.

Please check out my Page on Important Facts About Your Braind (and Exercise Benefits).

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

Judith C. Thalheimer, a dietitian wrote . . . . .

As men get older, their risk of developing chronic diseases increases. Adopting healthier lifestyle habits can decrease that risk and help ensure a higher quality of life for years to come.

“Eating a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods can help men promote their overall health and reduce their risk of chronic diseases,” says Ximena Jimenez, MS, RDN, LD, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the Academy). By sharing that wisdom with male clients in a way that empowers them to take control of their health through lifestyle choices, nutrition professionals can have a major impact on their lives.

Here’s a closer look at five of the most common health conditions that affect men as they age, and how better nutrition and lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce their risk.

1. Heart Disease

The statistics…

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