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Cholesterol

Can nuts reduce the formation of vascular plaque?

Posted by on 9:54 pm Antioxidents, Cholesterol, Diet, Eating, Fat, Health, Low glycemic meals, The Learn to Eat Plan, Wellness | 0 comments

 

Plaque formation in the vascular system is something we are better off without, not only because it will increase cardiovascular risk, but we need good blood circulation to all tissue we have. Blood vessels in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients have, for example, been found to have a lot of plaque.

What can we do to help reduce plaque formation?

A high nutrient, low-glycemic index plant-based diet is a good choice, but is it possible to only add one food, and see a significant reduction in vascular plaque?

That’s exactly what the researchers of the following study investigated.

They measured the internal carotid intima-media thickness and plaque height using ultrasound at the start and after an average follow up of 2.4 years(Sala-Vila A, et.al, 2014).

Carotid intima-media thickness is the thickness of the inner layer of the blood vessel.

The participants consumed a Mediterranean diet. One group added either virgin olive oil or 30 grams of nuts every day to their diet. The control group consumed a low fat diet.

These were the results:

Compared with the control diet, consumption of a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts was associated with delayed progression of  intima-media thickness and plaque.

It is also interesting that there were no changes after the Mediterranean diet with the added virgin olive oil.

What could be the reason for that?

A good assumption would be that nuts contain nutrients the olive oil is missing, especially antioxidants.

Oil even if it is a good oil is not as good as natural unprocessed food.

30 grams of nuts is only one big handful.

Get in the habit of reducing your intake of grains and use some nuts instead. That will work a lot better for you (unless you are allergic to nuts). 

Reference

Sala-Vila A, Romero-Mamani ES, Gilabert R, Núñez I, de la Torre R, Corella D, Ruiz-Gutiérrez V, López-Sabater MC, Pintó X, Rekondo J, Martínez-González MÁ, Estruch R, Ros E.Changes in ultrasound-assessed carotid intima-media thickness and plaque with a Mediterranean diet: a substudy of the PREDIMED trial.Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2014 Feb;34(2):439-45.

 

 

Learn to Eat Program


 Based on the most effective scientific strategies, this program was created to help
you reduce inflammation and feel great.

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How and when does cardiovascular disease start?

Posted by on 8:55 pm Anti-aging, Cardiovascular Disease, Cholesterol, Eating, Fat, HDL, Heart disease | 0 comments

 

The clogged pipe analogy is the old, but outdated model of explaining cardiovascular disease which still is used most of the time because of lack of understanding and lack of exposure to research (Rothberg MB, 2013).

According to this model, cholesterol plaque in the arterial walls slowly reduce the opening of the artery, first causing decreased blood flow without symptoms, then it causes angina (chest pain), and eventually it results in an infarction.

Treatments based on this theory include both coronary bypass surgery and angioplasty opening the blood vessel with a stent or a balloon.

While a massive plaque eventually can close up an artery, a heart attack is usually caused by unstable plaque thatmay not be easily detected, but can rupture and form a clot.

This is what happens according to more in depth research.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) mainly produced in the liver may infiltrate the vascular endothelium (the inner wall of the blood vessel), where it can initiate a complex inflammatory response. This inflammatory response can lead to arterial remodeling, in which plaque growth within the vessel walls is accommodated by outward enlargement of the vessel.

In that case, large plaques may not reduce the opening of the blood vessel and are therefore hidden from angiography.

These plaques are particularly dangerous both because they are prone to rupture, they are unstable, and because before rupture they do not limit the blood flow and therefore do not induce formation of protective collaterals.

If the blood flow slowly gets restricted as in stable plaque, the body will compensate by making new blood vessels to support the area in need, that’s why stable plaque is less dangerous.

A lot of people apparently have several plaque ruptures in their vascular system without symptoms.These ruptures can heal and is later impossible to detect.

For these reasons it’s very difficult to use available scanning methods as reliable tools to predict  a deadly plaque rupture.

There is however strong evidence that addressing the extent and activity of the atherosclerotic burden and thrombosis-promoting risk factors will improve risk (Arbab-Zadeh A, et.al., 2015).

Oxidized LDL is especially damaging to the endothelium, the inner lining of the blood vessels (Gradinaru D, et al., 2015).

Oxidized LDL cholesterol is associated with early atherosclerosis (Calmarza P, et.al., 2014).

When does atherosclerosis start?

It start at a very young age.

Atherosclerosis varied from 17% in individuals less than 20 years old to 85% in people 50 years old or older (Tuzcu EM, et.al., 2001).

If you have children, this is something to keep in mind. It is very important to have a healthy diet even for a child.

References

Arbab-Zadeh A, Fuster V.The myth of the “vulnerable plaque”: transitioning from a focus on individual lesions to atherosclerotic disease burden for coronary artery disease risk assessment.J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015 Mar 3;65(8):846-855.

Calmarza P1, Trejo JM, Lapresta C, López P,LDL oxidation and its association with carotid artery intima-media thickness and other cardiovascular risk factors in a sample of Spanish general population.Angiology. 2014 Apr;65(4):357-62.

Gradinaru D, Borsa C, Ionescu C, Prada GI,Oxidized LDL and NO synthesis–Biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction and ageing.Mech Ageing Dev. 2015 Nov;151:101-13.

Rothberg MB,Coronary artery disease as clogged pipes: a misconceptual model.Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2013 Jan 1;6(1):129-32.

Tuzcu EM1, Kapadia SR, Tutar E, Ziada KM, Hobbs RE, McCarthy PM, Young JB, Nissen SE.High prevalence of coronary atherosclerosis in asymptomatic teenagers and young adults: evidence from intravascular ultrasound.Circulation. 2001 Jun 5;103(22):2705-10.

 

 

Learn to Eat Program


 Based on the most effective scientific strategies, this program was created to help
you reduce inflammation and feel great.

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Green Tea Provides many Benefits, but you Need to Know this Before you Drink it.

Posted by on 8:56 am Bloodsugar, Cholesterol, General Health | 0 comments

The antioxidants called catechins in green tea is the main reason for the many benefits green tea provides.

It is very important to be insulin sensitive and have good glucose control because elevated blood glucose levels and insulin resistance cause inflammation and damage tissue.

When 17 studies were reviewed which included 1133 participants, the researchers found that green tea consumption significantly reduced fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c (Hb A1c) (Liu K, et.al., 2013). Subgroup analysis also found that green tea significantly reduced fasting insulin.

 

As you get more insulin sensitive, you don’t need as much insulin to transfer the blood glucose into the cells. As blood levels of insulin go down, you will also start to use more fat for energy.
The following study investigated green tea extract in capsule form instead of drinking green tea. (Bogdanski P, et.al., 2012).The participants were obese, had high blood pressure and took either a capsule of 379 mg of green tea extract or a placebo capsule for 3 months. This was the results.

 

 

 

Total cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and triglycerides decreased, while HDL (high-density lipoprotein) increased in the treatment group, but not in the placebo group. The group taking the green tea extract also had a significant decrease in diastolic and systolic blood pressure as well as a significant decrease in TNF-alpha and CRP, both inflammatory markers. Glucose, insulin and insulin resistance also improved.

 

This is all very good, but you need to be careful when you buy green tea.

 

 

When black, green, white and oolong tea sold in tea bags were steeped for 3-4 minutes and the tea tested, this is what was found (Schwalfenberg G, et.al., 2013).

73% of teas brewed for 3 minutes and 83% brewed for 15 minutes had lead levels considered unsafe for consumption during pregnancy and lactation. Aluminum levels were above recommended guidelines in 20% of the brewed teas. 

 

No mercury was found at detectable levels in any of the brewed samples.

Tea can possibly also be contaminated with pesticides.

You need to be sure that the tea you buy is of high quality and not grown in contaminated soil. This is something to keep in mind when you buy green tea extract also.

 

 

References

Bogdanski P, Suliburska J, Szulinska M, Stepien M, Pupek-Musialik D, Jablecka A. Green tea extract reduces blood pressure, inflammatory biomarkers, and oxidative stress and improves parameters associated with insulin resistance in obese, hypertensive patients. Nutr Res. 2012 Jun;32(6):421-7. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2012.05.007.

Liu K, Zhou R, Wang B, Chen K, Shi LY, Zhu JD, Mi MT. Effect of green tea on glucose control and insulin sensitivity: a meta-analysis of 17 randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Aug;98(2):340-8.

Schwalfenberg G, Genuis SJ, Rodushkin I.The benefits and risks of consuming brewed tea: beware of toxic element contamination. J Toxicol. 2013;2013:370460.

 

 

The Better Green Tea Formula
Polyphenols (catechins) are the active ingredients in green tea providing a variety of benefits.

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Is Saturated Fat Bad For You?

Posted by on 9:20 am Cardiovascular Disease, Cholesterol, Diet, Eating, Eating, Fat | 0 comments

 

It is important to know the facts about saturated fat, because there are different opinions on this topic.

 

If you get it wrong, there may be serious health consequences as a result.

 

I think you agree that it is important to have a healthy cardiovascular system, because the blood is supplying the tissue with nutrients. It is especially important for the heart. Any chance that the blood supply to the heart gets compromised, you will be in big trouble.

 

If somebody claims that saturated fat is healthy, and it will not increase your cholesterol, a reference with good evidence should be provided. Moreover, if the author is not providing any evidence, or is referring to an article in the popular press, the author is only presenting his or her opinion.

 

You need evidence in the form of research published in a medical journal.

 

Even if the research is published in a medical journal, it may still not be designed well and could be biased. That’s why you will always find references with a link to the original abstract in the articles I write, to make it easy for you check the facts.

 

I have not found any reliable research so far supporting that saturated fat is healthy. I have however found studies showing that saturated fat is increasing cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol, the most harmful type. This means that saturated fat will increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.

 

In a very recent research, 92 men and women were put on a diet. The first group has a diet which consisted of high in saturated fat from either cheese or butter. Some of them are on a diet high in monounsaturated fat or polyunsaturated fat. Moreover, the remaining participants were in a low-fat diet high in carbohydrates. Each of the group had the diet for 4 weeks. This is what was found (Brassard D, et.al., 2017).  

 

LDL cholesterol increased the most after the butter diet, even more than after the cheese diet. Both the butter and the cheese diet increased the LDL more than the high carbohydrate diet. The diets are also high in monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.  

 

The following research is a summary of 12 studies. It also compared butter with cheese, and found the following. Cheese intake lowered LDL when compared to butter, but when compared to tofu, it increased LDL (de Goede J, et.al., 2015). This is the same as saying butter increased LDL more than cheese, and both butter and cheese increased LDL more than tofu.     

 

The HDL cholesterol, which has been considered protective for cardiovascular disease, was increased after the butter and cheese diets. It was significantly higher than for the carbohydrate diet. This may look like a benefit until you look at this study published in one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world the Lancet (Voight BF, et.al., 2012).

 

When people with genetically high HDL were compared with people without these genes, it did not seem to lower the risk of myocardial infarction.  

 

What would be found if people with genetically low LDL were examined? This has been done.  That particular study was published in another of the world’s most prestigious medical journals (Cohen JC, et.al., 2006).

 

It was found that people with genetically low LDL had a substantial reduction of coronary events. This is still the case even in the populations with a high prevalence of other non- cholesterol risk factors.

 

In another research, men with low cholesterol levels at the start were followed for many years. They had an estimated increased life expectancy of 3.8 to 8.7 years (Stamler J, et.al., 2000).

 

Research shows us that saturated fat from animal sources is not good, it will increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.

 

The good news is that you can control that to a large extent by changing what you eat. By doing so, you can produce the results you want.


References:

Stamler, J., Daviglus, M. L., Garside, D. B., Dyer, A. R., Greenland, P., & Neaton, J. D. (2000). Relationship of baseline serum cholesterol levels in 3 large cohorts of younger men to long-term coronary, cardiovascular, and all-cause mortality and to longevity. Jama284(3), 311-318.

Voight, B. F., Peloso, G. M., Orho-Melander, M., Frikke-Schmidt, R., Barbalic, M., Jensen, M. K., … & Schunkert, H. (2012). Plasma HDL cholesterol and risk of myocardial infarction: a mendelian randomisation study. The Lancet380(9841), 572-580.

de Goede, J., Geleijnse, J. M., Ding, E. L., & Soedamah-Muthu, S. S. (2015). Effect of cheese consumption on blood lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrition reviews73(5), 259-275.

Brassard, D., Tessier-Grenier, M., Allaire, J., Rajendiran, E., She, Y., Ramprasath, V., … & Jones, P. J. (2017). Comparison of the impact of SFAs from cheese and butter on cardiometabolic risk factors: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition105(4), 800-809.

Cohen, J. C., Boerwinkle, E., Mosley Jr, T. H., & Hobbs, H. H. (2006). Sequence variations in PCSK9, low LDL, and protection against coronary heart disease. New England Journal of Medicine354(12), 1264-1272.


Learn To Eat Program:

Recommendations that work. Improve your memory with the food you eat. This is not a regular diet program

Eggs: What research reveals.

Posted by on 9:30 am Cholesterol | 0 comments

You may have heard that high cholesterol does not significantly increase the risk for cardio vascular disease.

You may also have heard that high cholesterol food like eggs will not increase your total cholesterol and LDL, the so called bad cholesterol.

However, if you look a little bit closer at the research claiming that eggs will not raise the cholesterol, you will find that the design of those studies is such that the outcome was already known before the research started.

Here are a couple of examples of how it can be done.

If you use study participants that already have high cholesterol and give them a couple of eggs a day, you will not see a significant increase in cholesterol in those who are eating the eggs compared to those who are not. The reason is that it would take a lot more to further increase the cholesterol of somebody who already has high cholesterol.

You can safely give them two eggs a day knowing that you will not see any difference.

You can also compare participants who eat a diet high in glycemic index carbohydrates known to raise cholesterol with a group who eats low glycemic index foods high in cholesterol. Even if the high cholesterol foods increase the cholesterol, it will not increase it more than the high glycemic index carbohydrates, so when the two groups are compared there is no significant difference.

If, however, you have study participants with low cholesterol and gave them two eggs per day, their cholesterol would go up.

This study is interesting because I don’t think anybody would disagree with the opinion that plaque of the carotid artery is a cardiovascular risk. 1,262 participants with an average age of 61.5 years (47% were women) had the buildup of plaque in their carotid artery measured. Other relevant information was also collected.

The results showed that after the age of 40, carotid artery plaque increased linearly with age, and increased exponentially with packs of cigarettes per year of smoking, and also with years of eating egg yolks (Spence JD, et al. 2012). A difference was seen between those eating less than 2 egg yolks per week compared to those who ate 3 or more per week.

In this study, consumption of 2 eggs per day for 3 weeks increased total cholesterol by 11% as a result of increased LDL cholesterol (Levy Y, et al. 1996). HDL the so called good cholesterol decreased by 11%. It’s better to have high HDL levels.

Cholesterol is not the only thing that is undesirable when it comes to eggs.

Choline is an ingredients in eggs, and while we need some choline, we don’t need too much. Choline is metabolized by gastrointestinal bacteria to the metabolite TMAO and in this study the levels of TMAO were measured after ingestion of 2 hard boiled eggs (Tang WH, et al. 2013). I am not going into details of the research here, you can read the whole article yourself if you like, just click on the link below.

The researchers concluded that increased levels of TMAO from dietary choline are associated with an increased risk of major adverse cardiovascular events.

Some years ago I used to tell people that eggs were good, but I have changed my mind, there is just too much research indicating that it’s not.

The truth is that eggs don’t have enough beneficial nutrients to overcome the increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Levy Y1, Maor I, Presser D, Aviram M. Consumption of eggs with meals increases the susceptibility of human plasma and low-density lipoprotein to lipid peroxidation. Ann Nutr Metab. 1996;40(5):243-51.
Spence JD1, Jenkins DJ, Davignon J. Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque. Atherosclerosis. 2012 Oct;224(2):469-73. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2012.07.032. Epub 2012 Aug 1.
Tang WH1, Wang Z, Levison BS, Koeth RA, Britt EB, Fu X, Wu Y, Hazen SL. Intestinal microbial metabolism of phosphatidylcholine and cardiovascular risk. N Engl J Med. 2013 Apr 25;368(17):1575-84. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1109400.

smiling womanLearn to Eat: Recommendations that work. This is not a regular diet program.

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Reasons we get deposits in the arteries, and how to reverse it.

Posted by on 8:00 pm Blood Pressure, Cardiovascular disease & waist-hip ratio, Cholesterol, HDL Level, Heart disease, Inflammation, Waist circumference | 0 comments

 


Several factors contribute to atherosclerosis (deposits in the arteries).

Initially the endothelium which is the inner lining of the blood vessel wall is injured. This can be caused by substances in cigaret smoke, damage from elevated glucose levels(Wang J, et al. 2014), chronic inflammation(Montecucco F, Mach F, 2008), oxidized LDL cholesterol(Trpkovic A, et al. 2014), elevated blood pressure(Hollander W,1976) and oxidative stress(Alexander RW,1995).

More and more research is now documenting chronic low grade inflammation as a major risk factor.

When the endothelium is injured inflammation is triggered and white blood cells are attracted to the area together with platelets to repair the damage. Small LDL cholesterol particles which becomes oxidized together with clotting substances (fibrinogen) and other chemicals will bind together at the site and get buried in the vascular wall (endothelium). A fibrous cap is formed on top which can work for a while, even if it obstructs part of the artery, as long as this fibrous cap does not rupture. If it rupture, this highly inflammatory mix forms a clot, and if it is big enough, it may completely obstruct the blood flow and result in a heart attack.

How do you know if you are at risk for atherosclerosis (deposits in the arteries)?

You can have lab tests done and check your fasting blood glucose, Hemoglobin A1C, hs-CRP(an inflammatory marker), cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides. You can also check LDL and HDL particle size as well as LDL particle number, and also other things if you want to be really thorough. Checking for inflammation and how many LDL particles you have in your blood are emerging as some of the more important things you should check for.

There is however also a very easy way to get an idea about the thickness of the inner layers of the the carotid artery, the intima-media. That’s the artery going up to your brain.

You can measure your waist and divide that with your height. A waist to height ratio of more than 0.5 has been found to be significantly associated with an increase in carotid intima-media thickness(Ren C, et al. 2014). This was documented  in a fairly large study of 3381 participants were the carotid artery intima-media thickness was measured with high resolution ultrasound and correlating it with waist to height measurements.

Most of us have a certain amount of buildup in the arteries.

The good news is that you can do a lot to prevent atherosclerosis and even reverse it. Research has shown that by eating the right type of food, exercising and incorporating meditation, it has been possible to reverse atherosclerosis(OrnishD, et al. 1990).

I will explain more how food can reverse atherosclerosis in the next article, but if you want to get started right away, here is a link to a program which will explain and show you how to eat by incorporating the information in the studies producing the best results.

 

 

Alexander RW1. Theodore Cooper Memorial Lecture. Hypertension and the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Oxidative stress and the mediation of arterial inflammatory response: a new perspective. Hypertension. 1995 Feb;25(2):155-61
Hollander W. Role of hypertension in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Am J Cardiol. 1976 Nov 23;38(6):786-800.
Montecucco F1, Mach F. New evidences for C-reactive protein (CRP) deposits in the arterial intima as a cardiovascular risk factor. Clin Interv Aging. 2008;3(2):341-9.
Ornish D1, Brown SE, Scherwitz LW, Billings JH, Armstrong WT, Ports TA, McLanahan SM, Kirkeeide RL, Brand RJ, Gould KL Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? The Lifestyle Heart Trial. Lancet. 1990 Jul 21;336(8708):129-33.
Ren C, Zhang J, Xu Y, Xu B, Sun W, Sun J, Wang T, Xu M, Lu J, Wang W, Bi Y, Chen Y. Association between carotid intima-media thickness and index of central fat distribution in middle-aged and elderly Chinese. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2014 Oct 30; 13:139. doi: 10.1186/s12933-014-0139-2.
Trpkovic A1, Resanovic I, Stanimirovic J, Radak D, Mousa SA, Cenic-Milosevic D, Jevremovic D, Isenovic ER. Oxidized low-density lipoprotein as a biomarker of cardiovascular diseases. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2014 Dec 24:1-16. [Epub ahead of print]
Wang J1, Wu J1, Zhang S2, Zhang L3, Wang C1, Gao X4, Zhou Y1, Wang A1, Wu S5, Zhao X6 Elevated fasting glucose as a potential predictor for asymptomatic cerebral artery stenosis: a cross-sectional study in Chinese adults. Atherosclerosis. 2014 Dec;237(2):661-5. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2014.10.083. Epub 2014 Oct 23.