Antioxidants in almonds keep your arteries clean

Nuts are nutrient-rich – they contain a spectrum of micronutrients including LDL-lowering phytosterols, circulation-promoting arginine, minerals - potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, and antioxidants including phenols, resveratrol, tocopherols (vitamin E), and carotenoids.

Nuts, and almonds in particular, are some of the most beneficial foods for decreasing heart disease risk: 

  • A 2009 meta-analysis confirmed that almond consumption of at least 25 g per day (about 1 ounce) is associated with a 7 mg/dL decrease in total cholesterol.1 
  • Collectively, the data from the four most recent U.S. studies estimates that Americans who eat five or more servings of nuts per week have a 35% reduced risk of coronary heart disease.2 

There are many potential mechanisms by which nuts might exert these beneficial effects on heart health – the dramatic decrease in heart disease risk from nut consumption can’t be explained by cholesterol lowering alone. Scientists are now investigating the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of nuts for their potential cardioprotective effects.

Almonds may have powerful antioxidant activity, in addition to their cholesterol-lowering activity. As well as their vitamin E, the skins of almonds contain a large and varied collection of phenol antioxidants. 

A study of hyperlipidemic individuals fed either almonds or a snack with a similar fatty acid profile each day for 4 weeks compared markers of oxidative stress in these two groups. The subjects fed almonds showed reductions in markers of oxidative stress.3 

This alleviation of oxidative stress was reflected in reduces serum levels of oxidized LDL.4 Since oxidation renders LDL more likely to be taken up by inflammatory cells, oxidized LDL is more dangerous in relation to atherosclerotic plaque formation. The synergistic effects of the healthy fats, antioxidants, and surely many other phytochemicals in almonds help to prevent this early and important step in the development of atherosclerosis. Though this study was reported on almonds, other nuts and seeds have similar marked effects that protect the heart.   

 

References:

1. Phung OJ, Makanji SS, White CM, Coleman CI. Almonds have a neutral effect on serum lipid profiles: a meta-analysis of randomized trials. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 May;109(5):865-73.

2. Kris-Etherton PM et al. The Role of Tree Nuts and Peanuts in the Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease: Multiple Potential Mechanisms. J. Nutr. 138: 1746S–1751S, 2008.

3. Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Marchie A, et al. Almonds Reduce Biomarkers of Lipid Peroxidation in Older Hyperlipidemic Subjects. J. Nutr. 138: 908–913, 2008.

USDA/Agricultural Research Service (2008, November 4). Antioxidant Effects From Eating Almonds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 25, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2008/10/081031213057.htm

4. Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Marchie A, et al. Dose response of almonds on coronary heart disease risk factors: blood lipids, oxidized low-density lipoproteins, lipoprotein(a), homocysteine, and pulmonary nitric oxide: a randomized, controlled, crossover trial. Circulation. 2002;106:1327–32.

 

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may raise diabetes risk

Statins are a class of drugs used to treat elevated LDL cholesterol levels. Recently, researchers carried out a meta-analysis of 13 statin vs. placebo trials. Collectively, these researchers included over 90,000 subjects in their analysis, and came to the conclusion that taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol increases the likelihood of being diagnosed with diabetes by 9% over the following four years.1

This is in fact the second meta-analysis performed in the past few months to come to this conclusion – an analysis published in October 2009 determined that statins increased diabetes risk by 13%. 2

Nine percent (or even 13%) may seem like a small risk, but let’s think about how many people take statin drugs. Today, cholesterol-lowering medications are the 2nd most prescribed drug class in the U.S. (behind only pain relievers).3 Between 1988 and 2006 the use of statin drugs in U.S. adults over 45 increased 10-fold.4 

Currently, over 30 million Americans take statin drugs, and this number may increase further. Statins may soon be recommended to older Americans who have normal LDL levels but elevated C-reactive protein.5 

Each one of these millions of people will have a 9% increased risk of diabetes – when they could have used a high nutrient diet to lower their LDL and reduce their cardiovascular risk. A high nutrient diet rich in unrefined plant foods can reduce cholesterol to the same extent as statin drugs.6 Since reducing cholesterol with diet and exercise addresses the cause of the high cholesterol (the typical American diet), there will be no risk involved – in fact, it will also lead to weight loss, which will then reduce diabetes risk.

Statins are not benign substances – they are powerful drugs with side effects that include muscle pain and liver damage. Which would you choose to lower your LDL – statin drugs plus increased diabetes risk and potential liver and muscle damage, or dietary changes that reduce blood pressure, reverse and prevent diabetes and protect against dementia? My view is that drugs also have the psychological effects to inhibit the necessity of lifestyle and dietary changes that are the root cause of almost all our nation’s medical problems. Any way you look at it drugs kill millions of people and drug-centered health care is the problem, not the solution to our heath crisis and tremendous medical suffering.

 

References:

1. Sattar N et al. Statins and risk of incident diabetes: a collaborative meta-analysis of randomised statin trials. Lancet. 2010 Feb 16. [Epub ahead of print]

2. Rajpathak SN et al. Statin therapy and risk of developing type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Diabetes Care. 2009 Oct;32(10):1924-9.

3. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/FASTATS/drugs.htm

4. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/10newreleases/hus09.htm

5. Spatz ES et al.  From here to JUPITER: identifying new patients for statin therapy using data from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2009 Jan;2(1):41-8. Epub 2009 Jan 13.

6. Jenkins DJ et al. Effect of a very-high-fiber vegetable, fruit, and nut diet on serum lipids and colonic function. Metabolism. 2001 Apr;50(4):494-503.

 

More evidence that drugs are not the answer: obesity negates benefit of LDL lowering

 

Data collected between 1988 and 2006 and presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting last month showed modest improvements in two risk factors for cardiovascular disease: the number of Americans who do not smoke increased from 45% to 50%, and the number of Americans who have achieved optimal (below 100 mg/dl)  LDL levels increased from 22% to 28%.

But these improvements are counteracted by the rapidly growing prevalence of obesity that has occurred in the same time frame. 

American adults’ average body mass index (BMI) went from 26.5 to 28.8 (25 and above is overweight, 30 and above is obese). Incidence of overweight in children went from 20% to 35%.

What have been the consequences of this increase in body weight?

“Obesity is not benign.”

-Dr. Tiffany Powell, lead author of the study1

Obesity robs people of their quality of life as they age – as reported in the International Journal of Obesity, obese individuals had double the rates of disability compared to normal-weight individuals.2

The number of Americans with healthy blood pressure has fallen by 5%. The number of those with good blood sugar control have decreased by 9%. Most alarming is that left ventricular mass in children, a predictive indicator for future heart disease and stroke, has also risen - their hearts are being forced to work too hard to pump blood to their excess body fat.

How will this affect the incidence of cardiovascular disease in this country?

“Many people feel the decline in [heart] risk factors is leveling off and there will be an acceleration of cardiovascular disease.”

-AHA spokesman Dr. Roger Blumenthal1

A large part of the problem is that our society views these factors – hypercholesterolemia, poor blood sugar control, hypertension, obesity – each as a separate issue with its own drug-based method of management. But they are not separate. The truth is, the same nutrient-rich, vegetable-based diet combined with regular exercise is effective in preventing and reversing all of these conditions. 

References:

1. http://www.forbes.com/feeds/hscout/2009/11/17/hscout633216.html?feed=rss_forbeslife_health

2. Walter S et al. Mortality and disability: the effect of overweight and obesity. International Journal of Obesity (2009) 33, 1410–1418

 

Lycopene Makes Healthier Blood Vessels

Go eat a big fat tomato! Because a new study in the journal Atherosclerosis reveals lycopene—an antioxidant found in red and pink fruits and vegetables—lowers LDL and improves artery health:

Oxidation of LDLs is thought to play an important role in the development of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. Increasing LDL's resistance to oxidation is thought to possibly delay the progression of the disease.

“Our finding suggests that serum concentrations of lycopene may play a important role in the early stage of atherosclerosis,” wrote the researchers, led by Jong Ho Lee from the Department of Food and Nutrition at Yonsei University in South Korea.

“In addition, a reduced oxidative modification of LDL such as low oxidised LDL concentration and large LDL particle size may be one of the mechanisms by which lycopene could reduce arterial stiffness and the risk of CVD,” [reseachers] added.

Dr. Fuhrman is a big fan of lycopene. In fact, he calls tomatoes—which are loaded with lycopene—one of his ten super fruits and vegetables to eat everyday. Here’s more about tomatoes and his list:

Tomatoes have been a hot topic in recent years because their consumption has been linked to dramatic reduction in the incidence of common cancers. One of the tomatoes' heavily investigated anti-cancer phytochemicals is lycopene, which has been shown to be protective against cancer, including prostate cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancers.

  • Black raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Flax Seeds
  • Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli sprouts

Via Nutra Ingredients.

Image credit: Zeetz Jones

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.

Image credit: pfala

A Doctor Reclaims His Health with Superior Diet

Editor’s Note: Thomas Boeve, MD, an Otolaryngologist from Virginia, shares his story and talks about the good time he had at this year’s Health Getaway at Hawks Cay.

Dear Dr. Fuhrman, I would like to take a minute of your and Lisa’s time to thank you for incredible info-packed week at Hawks Cay this past week.

As you may recall, I am an Otolaryngologist in Virginia, but am scheduled to leave for Kenya with my wife, Jolene, and 4 children in January to begin a training program for African Surgeons. Unfortunately, I also have a terrible family history of heart disease as my mother died at age 56 from her first, and only, heart attack and my father and grandfather had open-heart surgery prior to age 65.

So, in March, I scheduled my physical exam and blood work. Unfortunately, the stark reality of the “Standard American Diet” was evident. I weighed 190 lbs, blood pressure 140/100 (on Lisinopril), Total Cholesterol was 204 (LDL 133). I was also on Allegra for environmental allergies, Prevacid for reflux disease, and a multivitamin.

I contacted a Cardiothoracic Surgeon friend-of-mine and he suggested stronger BP medicine and a Statin drug, as soon as possible. It was then that my wife introduced me to Eat To Live. She had found and read the book a few months prior, but knew I would not be interested. However, knowing how badly I wanted to be “medicine-free” in Kenya and did not want to follow in my family’s cardiac footsteps, she recognized the opportunity.

Without any additional medicine (3 months later), I now weigh 153 lbs, blood pressure is 107/72 (off medicine), total cholesterol is 133 (LDL 71). Furthermore, I am off my allergy and reflux medicine and feeling fantastic. My 12 year-old son was also able to quit his antihistamine and steroid nasal spray despite being plagued by debilitating springtime allergies for several years.

Thank you, again, for all your research, knowledge and desire to enhance our health through nutritional excellence.

Image credit: DrFuhrman.com

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

Plant-Based, Low-Calorie Diet Lowers Heart Risks

New research in the Archives of Internal Medicine claim plant-based diets promote weight-loss and reduce risk of heart disease. For the study, participants—overweight men and women with high LDL—were fed a diet rich in vegetables, nuts and fruits or a typical low-fat diet. Findings revealed both groups lost weight, but people on the vegetable-based diet had better cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. Here are Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts on the study:

It’s a pretty good effort. They are getting closer to the ideal diet—a nutritarian diet—by studying a vegetarian diet with reduction of flour and other high glycemic carbohydrates.

Of course, the results are pretty good, but it is evident these researchers lack the knowledge and clinical experience designing a diet-style for nutritional excellence.

We have a pilot study coming out shortly with results that dwarf this.

Via Newswise.

Image credit: *tamara*

Ignoring Cholesterol Leads to Heart Attacks

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reiterates people with high cholesterol—specifically those who ignore high lipoprotein levels—are 2 to 3 times more likely to have a heart attack. For the study, experts analyzed blood samples of 45,000 men and women, finding people with the highest levels of cholesterol had the most heart attacks; Reuters explains.

Keeping cholesterol in check is very important. Saturated fat raises cholesterol and ups risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Luckily, healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, have the opposite effect. A diet rich in plant foods slashes heart risks.

Now, if you think heart surgery, like angioplasty and stent placement, will save you. You’re wrong. Dr. Fuhrman says they’re scams and do not address the cause of heart disease.

Image credit: tassiesim

Charlotte Kicks Diabetes and Heart Disease

Summer is right around the corner. Perfect time to slim down and look great in your swimsuit.  Even singer Alanis Morissette lost the weight and now looks hot and sexy. And check out Charlotte, today’s she’s thin and healthy:

About a year and a half later I am off all my diabetic and heart medications. I have had no further heart problems and my diabetes is gone. My fasting blood sugar averages 79 without treatment. Since July 29, 2003 until now my total cholesterol has dropped from 219 to 130, my triglycerides are down from 174 to 73 and my LDL cholesterol has lowered from 149 to 70.

My current weight is around 130, slightly less than half my maximum. Since I wear a larger size on the bottom than on the top, I give it with two numbers. I have gone from a plus-size 24W/26W to a misses 8/10, which is a smaller size than I have ever worn in my adult life. As hard as it is to imagine, the last time I was this weight I was under age 12…continue reading.

Image credit: DrFuhrman.com