Berry Nutrient Helps Improve Cholesterol

I love berries. I eat a bunch of blueberries everyday. Good thing a new study in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition claims consuming a lot anthocyanins—a nutrient found in blueberries—may improve both HDL and LDL cholesterol, i.e. raise good cholesterol and lower bad.

Using a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial design, the Chinese researchers studied the effects of a twice daily dose of 160 mg anthocyanins on the lipid levels of the participants.

After 12 weeks of supplementation, HDL cholesterol levels increased by almost 14 per cent in the anthocyanin group, compared to a rise of only 2.8 per cent in the placebo group. Furthermore, LDL cholesterol levels decreased by 13.6 per cent in the anthocyanin group, compared to an increase of 0.6 per cent in the placebo group.

The removal of cholesterol from cells, the so-called cellular cholesterol efflux, was found to increase by 20 per cent in the anthocyanin group, compared to a 0.2 per cent in the placebo group.

Listen, fruits and vegetables are loaded with all sorts of nutrients. Anthocyanins are just the tip of the iceberg. Other foods like concord grapes and prunes are good sources of anthocyanins too.

Via Nutra Ingredients.

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Q & A: HDL Cholesterol and Fasting

You hear a lot of LDL cholesterol, i.e. bad cholesterol, but HDL cholesterol—the good stuff—is just as important to heart health, especially when you’re losing weight. In this quick discussion from Dr. Fuhrman’s member center, he talks about LDL, HDL, weight-loss and fasting:

Question: My HDL went from 26 to 21. My cardiologist told me to eat more avocados to improve it. I did and my weight responded immediately. I gained weight. I think this was a bad idea. Am I right?

Also, I heard you say that the best treatment for heart disease is a combination of nutrition and fasting, but I read in your book it's not wise to fast if you're overweight. I went from 245 to 210 on Eat to Live in a few months, but I'm still overweight.

So I am confused. On the one hand, you say don't do fast when you're overweight, but on the other hand, you recommend fasting instead of do surgery.

Dr. Fuhrman: Listening to the nutritional advice of typical doctors is like asking your mailman for advice on your taxes. They typically have little knowledge or experience. Focusing on HDL and not your weight is a mistake.

A low HDL reading is of no practical consequence, just get rid of your plaque and keep LDL low. A high HDL can benefit a person with a higher LDL, but a low HDL does not hurt a person with a favorable, low LDL.

Weight loss is much more important than your lipid numbers because the plaque can be reduced most effectively once you have reached a lower body fat percentage, i.e. below 10%.

Image credit: Joana Roja - in and out-Happy 4th

News Coverage Slows Trans-Fat Purchases

Trans-fat’s been quiet lately, but for good reason. New findings in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine claim negative news reports on the dangers of trans-fat, such as heart risks, influences people to avoid foods with trans-fat. Trans-fat raises LDL or “bad cholesterol” and also lowers HDL or “good cholesterol” and is commonly found in junk foods like cookies, crackers and French fries. Researchers found shoppers in Los Angeles, California were more careful about their purchases after media coverage on artery-clogging trans-fats, but only for a short time; Reuters reports.

Not to long ago there was a great debate about banning trans-fat. Many health experts want trans-fat gone, but other say trans-fat is a market issue and consumers should decide whether or not they want to buy it. But trans-fat is unhealthy, linked to both colon cancer and breast cancer.

Trans-fat has gotten the shaft nationwide, from New York to California, even retailers and restaurants like Wal-Mart and Kentucky Fried Chicken have given trans-fat the heave-ho.

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Overweight Kids Can Have Heart Disease

Presented at this year's American Heart Association's Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention researchers claim overweight children as young as age 3 can starting showing signs of cardiovascular disease. Data on over 3,090 kids, ages 3 to 6, revealed good cholesterol levels (HDL) were lower in overweight children and C-reactive protein levels, associated with coronary events, were elevated in kids with higher body mass indexes; HealthDay News explains.

It’s true. Dr. Fuhrman points out that lipoprotein abnormality, i.e. high LDL and low HDL, which cause heart attack deaths in adulthood start to develop in early childhood. What you eat as a kid affects lifetime cholesterol levels, but don’t fret! Maybe you’re like me and ate fairly crappy early on, no worries. Start gobbling down fruits and veggies and you can aggressively reverse any damage you’ve done!

Now this is really scary. Children already have the attention span of a flea and previous studies link low HDL to poor memory. And worse, when kids grow up and want to play football, they’re encouraged to get big and bulk up which just like professional football players, inflates their risk of heart disease.

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High Blood Pressure Makes it Hard for Kids to Think

If you’re kid can’t concentrate. He might have high blood pressure. New research in the Journal of Pediatrics claims children with hypertension struggle with complicated tasks and have more memory problems than kids with normal blood pressure. The study involved 32 children, ages 10 to 18, newly diagnosed with hypertension, and paired them up with 32 kids with normal blood pressure. Parents of both sets of kids were surveyed to determine their children’s mental aptitude and data revealed the hypertensive group performed more poorly and had more anxiety and depression; ScienceDaily investigates.

Many people don’t realize it, but heart disease starts young. Dr. Fuhrman explains that lipoprotein abnormalities, i.e. problems with high LDL and low HDL, associated with heart attack deaths in adulthood, begin in childhood and bad foods habits, like eating a lot of saturated fat, are established when you’re a kid. That’s why it’s important for the whole family to eat healthfully, that way everyone can avoid heart disease and high blood pressure.

But some health officials would sooner put kids on statins than educate them and their parents on the benefits of improved nutrition. Fortunately, other experts call giving kids statins a monumental failure.

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Research Questions Traditional Heart-Risk Assessments

Two new studies, one in the American Journal of Roentgenology and the other in the British Medical Journal, cast doubt on the long-established Framingham Risk Score for evaluating cardiovascular disease. The Framingham score assesses risk based on age, gender, total blood cholesterol, HDL, smoking, blood pressure and taking blood pressure medication. The first study did not accurately predict risk for a group of 1,653 people with no history of heart disease and the second revealed the Framingham score did no better than chance in predicting the 108 deaths; HealthDay News reports.

Okay, I admit, this report made me woozy, way over my head! So I asked Dr. Fuhrman about it. Here’s what he had to say:

Medical studies are clouded when they only look at the symptoms of unhealthy behavior such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. These easily measurable numbers correlate with unhealthful lifestyle and diet-style, but they could reflect past habits, not present ones, plus they are not the sole cause of heart attacks.

These numbers do not incorporate other more critical factors such as diet-style and exercise tolerance and body weight. So if one person had higher cholesterol but was eating significantly healthier and exercising more, they might be at significantly lower risk than a person with a lower cholesterol and blood pressure, but with more intravascular and cellular oxidative stress from their low nutrient diet.

Hopefully that clears it up for you. Now, in other heart-related news, a recent report showed even a little extra belly fat can increase cardiovascular risk. And, in attempt to curb his own heart troubles and those of his city, Chicago’s health commissioner is encouraging everyone to go vegetarian!

Like Dr. Fuhrman says, a vegetable-based diet is the best way to aggressively reverse heart disease!

Image credit: Gare and Kitty