Tag Archives: heart health

Whole Grains for Your Heart? Use the 5 to 1 Fiber Rule

Grain and cereal food selection in heart shaped porcelain bowls over lokta paper background. Green freekeh wheat in large dish with ears.

Ever since your doctor told you to start eating more fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes (beans, split peas, chick peas, and lentils), you switched to eating whole wheat bread. You congratulated yourself on trading in (reluctantly) your soft white “wonder” for a 21-grain brick, but your new kind of loaf may not be as healthy and whole as you might think.

Why You Need More Dietary Fiber

There is accumulating evidence that eating more dietary fiber reduces your risk for:

• Type 2 diabetes
• Cardiovascular disease
• Certain cancers
• Weight gain
• Obesity
• Diverticular disease
• Functional constipation

According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, as your fiber intake goes up, your risk of metabolic syndrome goes down resulting in less inflammation and a drop in obesity risk. It was concluded that greater dietary fiber intake is associated with a lower risk of both cardiovascular disease and coronary artery disease. (See ‘”Inflammation / Foods that Heal and Harm“)

It’s no surprise that another study concluded that for every additional 7 grams of fiber consumed, heart disease risk decreased by 9%. Seven grams of fiber really doesn’t equate to that much food. You can get 7 grams through a serving of whole grains plus beans or lentils (e.g., rice and beans), or a few servings of fruits and vegetables.

How Dietary Fiber Benefits Your Heart

The cardiovascular benefits of dietary fiber include:

  • Helps get rid of excess bile (reduces LDL “bad” cholesterol)
  • Reduces cholesterol production
  • Feeds our “good” bacteria
  • Changes our gut hormones
  • Promotes eating low-calorie-density foods
  • Increases satiety
  • Delays gastric emptying

These effects collectively help control your cholesterol, body weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure which all reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Also, per a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dietary fiber has been shown to reduce inflammation, specifically, C-reactive protein, a sensitive inflammatory marker that can predict chronic disease.

Eat More Whole Plant Foods

Consuming more dietary fiber means eating lots of whole plant foods, such as:

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

Soluble fiber acts like a “cholesterol sponge”. Sources include:

  • Oats
  • Nuts
  • Seeds (especially flaxseeds)
  • Legumes
  • Most fruits

Sources of insoluble fiber, a.k.a. “Nature’s Broom”, help prevent constipation and include:

  • Whole wheat
  • Wheat bran
  • Brown rice
  • Other whole grains
  • Most vegetables

When shopping for “packaged” grain products, such as bread, crackers and ready-to-eat cereals, the first word in the ingredients list should be “whole”. However, the remaining ingredients might look like a bunch of chemicals, so how do you choose?

The “Five to One Fiber Rule”   

A more reliable strategy to identify a healthy whole grain food product is to   Continue reading

Fit TV | Anxiety and Depression Are Different in Men

June is Men’s Health Month

VIDEO: Three men/boys kill themselves every hour of every day. Would you recognize the symptoms if your son, husband, father or friend is depressed? Men generally don’t show the “classic” signs of depression nor do they typically reach out for help or seek medical attention.

Even trained clinicians are less likely to correctly diagnose depression in men than in women. In this episode, I talk with Dr. Will Courtenay, “The Men’s Doc”, an internationally-recognized expert on men’s emotional health. We discuss the symptoms and causes leading up to depression in men, including postpartum depression in men. (Yes, really!)

It wasn’t that long ago that actor and comedian Robin Williams shocked the world by killing himself. Williams battled drug and alcohol abuse for decades and had open heart surgery in 2009. Heart patients often experience anxiety after their cardiac event.

This episode also includes a three-minute segment on “Pet Health”. Pets often help alleviate depression. Find out how to care for your senior pet with San Ramon veterinarian Dr. Glen Weber.

How’s Your New Year’s Resolution Working for You?

exercise new year_600x600_dollarphotoclub_73123624If you made a promise to exercise more starting on the first of the year, three months have now passed. If you enthusiastically invested in the latest and greatest home fitness equipment or a membership at the nearest gym, how many hours have you logged in so far?

If you’ve had trouble sticking with your exercise regimen because it’s become too hard, too boring or just too _____ (you fill in the blank), here’s a New Year’s Resolution ‘addendum’ that may help.    Continue reading

The Starbucks® Effect | Is Caffeine Shortening Your Life?

starbucks-grande-coffee

Would you ever drink a cup of Starbucks® iced brewed coffee at 2:00 AM, then wonder why you can’t fall asleep? Well, you may as well be doing that if you start each day with a grande-size coffee streaming through your veins.

Here’s why… Caffeine has a lasting effect — a half life of five to six hours to be exact. In other words, it takes five to six hours for the amount of caffeine in your body to be reduced to exactly one-half of its concentration. (Translation: the amount of caffeine remaining in your body after six hours is equal to the amount you flush down the porcelain throne.)

See How It Breaks Down

Coffee cup with abstract white steamDue to the half-life of caffeine and the amount of caffeine in one grande-size Starbucks® coffee, if you drank one every day at 8:00 AM, by Day 3 at 2:00 AM nearly 44 gm of caffeine could still be in your system. That’s equivalent to a 6-oz cup of Starbucks® iced brewed coffee. See how it’s calculated:  The Effects from Drinking One Starbucks® Grande Per Day for Three Days“. 

Caffeine starts accumulating in your body when you consume caffeine throughout the day. This could be in the form of another drink, food or even medication. 

If you drink a Starbucks® short (8-oz cup) at 2:00 PM every afternoon in addition to your 8:00 AM morning grande, by Day 3 at 2:00 AM, nearly 91 gm of caffeine could still be in your system. That’s equivalent to one 12-oz Starbucks® iced brewed coffee (a clue to why you may not be able to fall asleep during the week). See how it’s calculated: “The Effects from Drinking One Starbucks® Grande and One Short Per Day for Three Days“.

Your Personal Buzz (Half-Life Variables)

The half-life of caffeine is  not a fixed number and can vary from three to over seven hours based on the individual. Variables include your:    Continue reading

Eat this Food EVERY Day

Puppy eating dog foodTake a tip from your vet. Dogs are eating this wonder food every day, why not you? Wouldn’t you also like a soft, glossy coat and healthy skin? This superseed is known for its immune system benefits and  anti-inflammatory properties.  What is it? It’s ground flaxseed.

Per a study published in the American Journal of Physiology¹, flaxseed is actually considered a ‘functional food’.  That is, it:

  • Has physiological benefits and/or
  • Reduces the risk of chronic disease
  • Has basic nutritional effects

Dietary flaxseed is a rich source of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and lignans which may help:

Be sure the flaxseed is ground (not whole) to receive the health benefits.

Be sure the flaxseed is ground (not whole) to receive the health benefits.

1. Decrease inflammation by blocking the release of some pro-inflammatory agents. Studies show atherosclerotic plaque regression can occur when inflammation is inhibited. Once plaque regression occurs, your arterial walls can heal and are better able to open and relax (necessary for healthy heart function). See “Inflammation | Foods that Heal and Harm“.

2. Decrease total cholesterol by 7% and LDL levels or “bad” cholesterol by 10%. (Per a study of menopausal women² that consumed 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed each day for three months.)

Atherosclerosis disease - plague blocking blood flow3. Reduce atherosclerotic plaque buildup by up to 75%. Arteries harden when plaque is deposited in the arteries (atherosclerosis). Some studies suggest that flaxseed omega-3’s keep white blood cells from sticking to the inner lining of the blood vessels.    Continue reading

Get Heart Smart

February is Heart Awareness Month

February is American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month — an annual reminder to raise your awareness about heart disease and how you can prevent it.

Here at The Health Reporter, you can find a variety of posts related to cardiac health that can help you and that you can share with people important to you.

It’s easy! To find heart-related articles and videos, go to Categories (left column of this blog page) then scroll down to “Heart Health | Cardiac Rehab” and click on it. You’ll be able you to share any post via email, Facebook or other favorite social media sites.

Fit TV | Health and Nutrition Videos

Here’s a sampling of some of Karen’s ‘quick health bites’ on nutrition, health and exercise. Click here to check out the current videos from The Health Reporter Minute and The Men’s Health Minute library of topics. More coming soon!

‘The Health Reporter’…Now Published on Kindle

The Health Reporter is now available on Kindle via Amazon.com! That means you can access the latest blog posts, videos and recipes wirelessly (no Wi-fi needed). To deliver to your Kindle, go to here.