KRON 4 | Chocolate for Your Heart

Atrial fibrillation, also called AFib or AF, is the most common irregular heart rhythm in the United States where 2.7 to 6.1 million Americans are living with this dangerous condition. Here’s AFib explained, the risks, and how this one food affects these abnormal heart beats.

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A normal heart rhythm ejects blood from the heart into the aorta which distributes oxygenated blood to all parts of the body.

What is Atrial Fibrillation? 

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is an irregular heart rhythm caused by abnormal electrical signals in the upper chambers of the heart.

AFib is on the rise because the older you are, the greater the risk of developing AFib. Finding effective ways to prevent AFib and identify treatments for AFib is a public health priority.

Typically someone one with AFib has to take a blood-thinner to prevent blood clots from forming and reduce stroke risk. Blood thinners can have dangerous side effects, such as severe bleeding, coughing up blood, bruising without an injury, and dizziness.

High Blood Pressure Link

If you have high blood pressure, AFib needs to be on your radar. People with high blood pressure (which usually occurs with advancing age) accounts for 14% to 22% of AFib cases.

Health Effects from Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

Atrial fibrillation is dangerous. It is a risk factor for:

  • Stroke — 4 to 5 times higher risk compared with people without AFib. Strokes caused by AFib complications tend to be more severe than strokes with other underlying causes.
  • Heart failure AFib decreases coronary blood flow.
  • Cognitive decline and dementia — One gallon of blood goes through your brain every four minutes. If blood flow is impaired such as from AFib, brain function suffers. Persistent AFib decreases blood flow to the brain.
  • Death
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One gallon of blood goes through the brain every 4 minutes.

AFib Symptoms

Some people don’t have any symptoms, but many experience one or more of the following:

    • Irregular heart beat (feels like your heart is skipping beats)
    • Heart palpitations (racing, fluttering, or pounding)
    • Lightheadedness
    • Extreme fatigue / discomfort
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain / sweating (mimicking a heart attack)

The Chocolate Study   

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KRON 4 | Foods that Sop Up Bad Cholesterol

Continued from Part 1… How Plaque Attacks Your Body and Brain

Read how plaque invades your blood vessels here.

Cholesterol
Think of soluble fiber as the “cholesterol sponge”.

Foods that Lower “Bad Cholesterol”

You can lower your numbers by adding more fiber to your diet, particularly, beta-glucan (pronounced “glue-can”).

Beta-glucan is a soluble fiber also known as “oat gum”. Think of soluble fiber as a “cholesterol sponge”. It mops up LDLs in your intestines and gets rid of them with other waste. This keeps excesses from accumulating in your blood vessels and making plaque.

Foods High in Beta-Glucan

Bob's Red Mill BarleyBeta-glucan is found in the cell walls of cereals. It’s the main component of soluble fiber in oats and barley. Beta-glucan is what gives your morning oatmeal it’s creamy, viscous texture.

  • Whole oats
  • Whole oat flour (1 1/4 cups of rolled oats will yield 1 cup of oat flour)
  • Rolled oats (oats are heated and rolled flat)
  • Steel-cut oats (oats are thinly sliced lengthwise)
  • Oatmeal (the inner part of the oat grout)
  • Oat bran (the outer husk of the oat grout; lighter and finer than wheat bran)
  • Barley*
  • Whole barley flour

*Pearl or pearled barley has been processed to remove some or all of the outer bran layer resulting in a quicker cooking time.

Oats
Eating oats/barley a day can lower “bad cholesterol” by 5 to 7%.

How Oat Bran Lowered LDL (“Bad Cholesterol”)

In one study, beta-glucan significantly reduced the total and LDL cholesterol levels of adults with elevated cholesterol levels without changing the HDL (“good cholesterol”). Subjects consumed 2.9 g beta-glucan TWICE a day for 4 weeks. This amount is equivalent to a daily dose of about 70 g of oat bran (almost 2/3 cup dry).

An analysis of other studies conducted over 13 years supported the intake found that eating 3 grams ONCE a day of oat beta-glucan can lower total cholesterol by 5% in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by 7%, thus reducing major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Remember… atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) is a chronic disease which means it is persistent, long-lasting in its effects, and requires medical attention.

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Studies shows eating oats lowers “bad cholesterol”.

To get in at least 3 grams of oat beta-glucan a day, eat rolled oats, steel-cut oats, or oat bran in the following serving sizes:

  • Rolled oats, 3/4 cup dry OR 2/3 cup oat flour (7.5 g fiber)
  • Steel-cut oats*, 1/2 cup dry (8 g fiber)
  • Oat bran, 1/3 cup dry (6 g fiber)

*Steel cut oats contain more fiber than rolled oats.

Cooking with Oats

  • Oats are extremely versatile. You can use them to make breakfast cereals, breads, pancakes, pie crusts, nutrition bars, cookies, crackers, crumble toppings, and as a coating for fish.
  • They naturally thicken food. You can use these nutty-tasting oats to thicken soups and stews.
  • Use oat groats instead of rice in a pilaf.
  • chia-seed-smoothie_adobestock_77942716_croppedOat beta-glucan soluble fiber can also be added to beverages/liquids, such as smoothies, yogurt drinks, juice drinks), yogurt, soups, sauces, and dressings. Add some oats to your smoothies to make them more satisfying and nourishing. The fiber will help slow down digestion which can stabilize your blood sugar.

Apple c heart symbol_128x128Fit Tip: Eat at least 3 grams of oat beta-glucan per day. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, but you can lower your risk by including certain foods into your daily eating plan. Lifestyle and diet changes are the main ways to prevent or lower LDL numbers.

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xo

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KRON 4 | Can Just One Fatty Meal Be All That Bad?

You vowed to eat a heart-healthy diet and have been pretty successful, but every once in a while you can’t resist splurging on a big fat juicy cheeseburger and a thick, creamy milk shake. So is that really all that bad? Find out if an occasional surge of fat in your diet is okay.

The ‘Shake and Cake’ Study

The Heart Research Institute in Australia performed the following “carrot cake and milkshake” test. This well-known research was published in the American College of Cardiology. The subjects were normal weight men and women, age 18 to 40, with no cardiovascular risk factors or established heart disease.

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Researchers compared the effects from eating polyunsaturated (safflower oil) and saturated fat (coconut oil).

Each participant consumed fat in the form of a slice of carrot cake and a milkshake.  They had to eat one gram of fat per kilogram of body weight (i.e., one gram of fat for every 2.2 pounds).

For example, a 200-lb person (91 kg) had to eat 91 grams of fat or the equivalent of eating all of the following at one meal:

  • Double 1/4 pounder with cheese (45 g total fat) = 700 cal.
  • Large order of French fries (24 total fat) = 510 cal.
  • Large vanilla milkshake (22 g total fat) = 800 cal.
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Subjects in the study ate as much fat equivalent to a McDonald’s meal.

safflower oilDAY 1: The subjects ate the carrot cake and milkshake that were made with SAFFLOWER OIL which is predominantly polyunsaturated fat. Then 3 hours and 6 hours after they ate, the scientists measured their blood flow (endothelial function) and assessed how well their HDL (“good cholesterol”) was protecting their arteries from inflammation.

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Coconut oil is 90% saturated fat and solid at room temperature.

DAY 2 (one month later): The subjects returned and ate another carrot cake and milkshake meal that contained the same amount of calories and fat except the type of fat used was different. Instead of polyunsaturated fat, the cake and shake contained COCONUT OIL which is 90% saturated fat. Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature.

The Role of HDL (“Good Cholesterol”)

HDL cholesterol is “supposed” to be anti-inflammatory, that is, they suppress inflammatory molecules from multiplying. When arteries become inflamed:

  • Substances adhere to the artery wall.
  • Arterial plaques can rupture. A blood clot forms around the rupture blocking the artery, resulting in a possible heart attack.

The Results: Sludge in Your Arteries After Eating Just ONE Fatty Meal   

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KRON 4 | Is Black Rice the New Brown?

Did you know… that a spoonful of black rice bran contains more powerful antioxidants than a spoonful of blueberries?

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The “Forbidden Rice”

In ancient China, black rice was known as “forbidden rice” because only the emperor and members of the royal family were allowed to eat it. Black rice was first introduced to the United States in the 1990’s.

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Uncooked black rice (black) with cooked black (deep purple) and brown rice.

Characteristics of Black Rice

  • Color: Raw black rice is black or dark brown. When cooked, it becomes a deep purple-burgundy due to the healthful pigments (anthocyanins). The color will transfer to other foods, so if you combine brown rice with black, it’ll turn a purple hue.
  • Taste: Black rice has a roasted nutty taste. It’s used in Asian desserts as well as for food coloring, noodles, sushi, and pudding.
  • Storage: Store in the refrigerator and use within 3 months.

Superior Nutrition

Black rice is a whole grain and more nutritious than brown and white rice. It has more fiber, protein, and iron as well as fewer calories and carbohydrates. Here’s how they compare:

Black Rice Lundberg

1/4 cup uncooked BLACK rice (Organic Black Pearl Rice by Lundberg® Family Farms)

  • 160 calories
  • 33 grams carbohydrates
  • 5 grams protein
  • 3 grams fiber
  • 6% iron

Sukoyaka Genmai Brown Rice Whole Grain1/4 cup uncooked BROWN rice (by Sukoyaka Genmai)

  • 190 calories
  • 42 grams carbohydrates
  • 3 grams protein
  • 3 grams fiber
  • 0% iron

1/4 cup uncooked WHITE rice (by Rice Select™)

  • 190 calories
  • 45 grams carbohydrates
  • 3 grams protein
  • Not a significant source of dietary fiber or iron.

The Color is the Antioxidant!   

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KRON 4 | How Exercise and Turmeric Affect Your Arteries

Research shows if you don’t take care of the “inner lining” of your blood vessels, you may be setting yourself up for heart disease or a stroke. Here are some important tips to improve how long and how well your arteries function.  

The Relevance of “Endothelial Dysfunction” 

The inner lining of your blood vessels is called the “endothelium”. Endothelial function declines with age and is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. When the lining fails to function optimally, it’s called “endothelial dysfunction” or ED. Think of a healthy endothelium as being smooth (think Teflon®) where nothing sticks to it.

ED refers to a spectrum of damaging changes that take place in the endothelium, such as the smooth inner lining becomes inflamed and “rough” (think sandpaper) from the constant assaults of substances like sodium, high blood sugar, and cortisol (stress hormone). When the endothelium becomes rough, arterial plaque* sticks to the artery wall (think spackling paste or putty).

*Plaque is fatty, waxy substance made up of materials, such as fat, cholesterol, calcium, waste products from cells, and fibrin (a clotting agent).

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An unhealthy arterial lining can become “rough” like sandpaper and plaque sticks to it.

When Plaque Builds Up and Ruptures

As more plaque deposits build up, your artery narrows and reduces blood flow. This is known as “hardening of the arteries” or atherosclerosis. Plaque not only accumulates in the arteries, it can also rupture and create a blood clot at the ruptured area. Your body sees this rupture as an “injury” and rushes to repair it with platelets (or “thrombocytes”) to rapidly cover up the rupture and form a plug, or clot.

Platelets are very large colorless blood cells (think super glue). They help wounds heal and form blood clots to slow or stop bleeding by clumping and forming plugs in injured blood vessels.

When Plaque Breaks Away

Ruptured plaque can also break away and travel through the blood to other areas in your body and cause a blood clot. If the clot is big enough, it can block the flow of blood to arteries in various organs — e.g., lungs (pulmonary embolism), heart (heart attack), or brain (stroke).

How to Reverse Arterial Aging   

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