Heart Health

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Know Your Healthy Holiday Cooking Oils

healthy cooking oils
The next several weeks are the most fattening time of the year for most Americans. We’ll be stocking our kitchens with butter and oils, to prepare those giant family feasts and holiday treats we all love. We now know that it’s okay – even advised – to embrace a certain amount of fat in our diets. But the information on what constitutes “good” fat and “bad” fat is rapidly changing!

Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, (aka “The Nutrition Myth Buster”) offered to help us understand which fats we should be eating. Dr. Jonny is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition and health. He’s a board-certified nutritionist with a master’s degree in psychology and the best-selling author of 15 books on health, healing, food and longevity, including his latest book (co-written with Dr. Steven Masley), “Smart Fat: Eat More Fat, Lose More Weight, Get Healthy Now!”

Lisa Nelson, RD: Butter or margarine? Which is the best choice?
Dr. Bowden: “Without question, butter. Margarine is one of the dumbest nutritional experiments in history; it was based on the now-obsolete fear of healthy, saturated fats. Butter from grass-fed cows is a perfectly healthy fat; it also contains cancer-fighting fats such as CLA.”

Lisa Nelson, RD: Olive oil is good for everything, right?
Dr. Bowden: “Absolutely not. There are different grades, from plain old “olive oil” to “extra virgin olive oil”. They vary enormously in their ability to stand up to heat. The very expensive extra virgin olive oil, which contains the most polyphenols, should never be used at high heat. With olive oil, as you move up the scale in quality – olive oil, virgin olive oil, extra virgin olive oil – you move DOWN the scale in its ability to stand up to heat. So, plain old olive oil is fine for higher heat application, virgin for medium heat and extra virgin ideally shouldn’t be heated. At the very most you could drizzle it on what you’re cooking at the last minute but ideally, it’s for drizzling and salads. You pay a lot extra for the careful low-heat processing to preserve the delicate health-giving olive polyphenols so it makes no sense to heat the oil and destroy them!”

Lisa Nelson, RD: Should we be using the cheap vegetable oil we all have in our pantries?
Dr. Bowden:
“No. It’s highly pro-inflammatory and processed within an inch of its life, so that it basically contains nothing of any value. Some vegetable and seed oils — especially the cold pressed organic kinds such as cold-pressed sesame oil — are fine once in a while. But the exclusive reliance on cheap processed oils such as corn oil, soybean oil or safflower oil contributes mightily to inflammation, which is a promoter of every single degenerative disease.”

Lisa Nelson, RD: What about more exotic oils like coconut, palm and macadamia?
Dr. Bowden:
“I love every one of these. Macadamia nut oil is similar to olive oil in that it’s high in monounsaturated fat, but has a higher smoke point. Ditto with avocado oil. Coconut oil has many anti-microbial fats and is great for energy. And Malaysian palm oil is one of my favorite oils of all: it’s sustainable, non-GMO (unlike soy and corn oils), has no trans-fats, is high in carotenoids and tocotrienols, and stands up to moderate heat.”

Lisa Nelson, RD: Is Crisco ok?
Dr. Bowden:
“About as OK as a diet of corn dogs and Pepsi. It’s the worst stuff imaginable. It’s much better to use healthy saturated fats: real, organic lard, Malaysian palm oil, coconut oil. They don’t form any really negative compounds that are bad for our bodies.”

Lisa Nelson, RD: Is it worth spending extra money on expensive oils?
Dr. Bowden:
“They’re worth it! The better oils are less processed, made with less heat and chemicals, and much more likely to retain whatever health compounds were in them in the first place.”

Lisa Nelson, RD: If someone were to keep one or two oils stocked in their pantry all times, which two healthy cooking oils would you recommend and what would each be best used for?
Dr. Bowden: “I would use avocado oil for high heat, Malaysian palm oil for medium heat and extra virgin olive oil for dressings and drizzling.”

Dr. Bowden adds that nutrients found in Malaysian palm oil are well researched for their benefits on brain and liver health. Those studies can be found at www.palmoilhealth.org.

Selecting heart healthy fats is just one step you can take to promote healthy cholesterol levels. Access additional steps via the free e-course How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps.

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD
Health Pro for HealthCentral

7 Dietary Choices to Better Manage Heart Failure

Heart failure affects about 5.7 million Americans.

Approximately half who are diagnosed with heart failure die within five years of diagnosis.

To manage heart failure, it is important to…

  1. Take medications as prescribed
  2. Stop smoking
  3. Maintain physical activity
  4. Lose weight (if overweight or obese)
  5. Limit alcohol intake
  6. Follow a heart failure diet

Here are 7 additional steps you can take to better manage heart failure risk…

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Low Calorie Sweeteners in a Heart Healthy Diet

low calorie sweetenersThe 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a reduced intake of added sugars to less than 10% of total daily calories. If you consume a 2000 calorie diet, this is equal to less than 12.5 teaspoons of added sugar. The average American consumes 19.5 teaspoons of daily.

The guidelines noted available scientific evidence finds FDA-approved no calorie sweeteners to be safe for the general population and an option for reducing added sugar intake.

In order for a low calorie sweetener to be identified as safe for the general population, it must undergo a wide range of tests to determine adverse effects at any dose during different stages of the life cycle. The level connected to an adverse effect must be identified to then define an amount that is without effect.

Whether or not a sweetener is approved for use in food products and beverages it must be proven safe for pregnant women and children.

The following low calorie sweeteners have been approved as safe:


Low calorie sweeteners have been controversial with concerns about connections to weight gain, increased sweet cravings, and altered gut flora.

A lot of the controversy has been spurred by associations in observational studies being misinterpreted, inappropriate data extrapolations from research, and/or experimental protocol not being physiologically relevant.
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Health Benefits of Sprouts and Shoots

benefits of sproutsNot only do shoots and sprouts add flavor and texture to meals, they also contribute needed nutrients. Bean sprouts are typically more calorie dense than seed sprouts, but they also contribute more protein.

Research into the health benefits of shoots and sprouts is limited. However, recent studies are examining the anticarcinogenic and antioxidant powers of sulforaphane, a compound in sprouts. There is up to 100 times more sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts than mature broccoli.

Animal studies have seen sulforaphane inhibit breast cancer steam cell and prostate tumor growth, while decreasing oxidative damage.

A small study found bamboo shoots to lower cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels.

Buying sprouts and shoots

Popular sprouts include mung beans, wheat, radish, broccoli, and alfalfa.

Popular shoots include pea vines and bamboo.

You will generally find a large selection of shoots and sprouts at your local farmers market and Asian stores.

Select shoots and sprouts that are plump and crisp. Avoid stringy, discolored, slimy, or limp shoots and sprouts.

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Red Meat and Heart Disease: Good or Bad For Heart Health?

red meat and heart diseaseQuestions surrounding the consumption of red meat and its contribution to heart disease has led to varied research. A main source of the nutrient choline is red meat and carnitine is derived of amino acids which are protein building-blocks. Red meat is a rich source of protein. Hence this exploration into whether or not we have another reason to reduce red meat consumption.

What is choline?

Choline is a nutrient that plays a role in liver function, normal brain development, muscle movement, nerve function, metabolism, and sleep. Choline is also involved in absorbing and removing fat and cholesterol from the body, reducing chronic inflammation, and the kidneys control of water balance.

What is carnitine?

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5 Effective Ways To De-Stress And Lowers Risk Of Heart Attack & Stroke

Guest post provided by resident counselor Lisa Walters.

Are you always stressed due workload at home and in your job? Do you feel a sting in your chest every time you are so much stressed? It’s high time that you learn how to de-stress before your heart suffers.

Studies have shown that stress increases your risk of heart attack and stroke by triggering the activity of the amygdala (fear center of the brain). It results to arterial inflammation, which can cause heart attacks. People who are highly stressed are prone to higher disease-causing white blood cells and an increase level of norepinephrine that can initiate heart attack.

Earlier, stress was only a biological response to life-threatening incidents. However, the modern days have made people produce the same biological reaction, even in simple daily activities. People are stressed on the road because of traffic, work presentation and even solving simple life’s issues.

Stress could lead to serious health problems if you will not learn how to manage it. Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack and excess weight.

Try these simple techniques that can help you de-stress before you become susceptible to stroke and heart attack:

1. Detach.

There’s a limitation for everything. You cannot walk out from stress without giving a pause to what’s causing it. Is it your demanding relationship, work, home, or family issues? Once in a while, detach from the actual scene and take time to breathe. If you cannot change the situation or the person, don’t you think it’s time to give up? If you have tried to fix the issue many times, but nothing worked it’s time to give yourself a break. Don’t stress yourself, you deserve to be happy than to face everyday problems.

2. Meditate.

Meditation has been used since the ancient times as a powerful tool to relax the body and mind. Focusing on your thoughts and breathing can lessen your risk of heart problems. You can also pray and do yoga to calm your mind and emotions.

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