Your Road to Wellness


This was found to be the most important risk factor for atherosclerosis.

Posted by on Cardiovascular Disease, Eating, Eating, General Health, Health | 0 comments

If you want to function well and stay healthy, you need a vascular system that can provide good blood supply to all tissue in your body, especially your brain and heart.

The reason is that the blood provides nutrients and oxygen to the whole body. Without that, all tissue will degenerate.

You can imagine what that would mean to your brain and heart.

As we get older the more likely it is that the blood vessels will start to collect deposits and get narrower, that’s called atherosclerosis.

There are several blood tests used to determine the risk for cardiovascular disease.


What you really want to know is the health of your arteries.

The following research is very interesting. It included 4184 participants without what’s considered to be conventional cardiovascular risk factors (Fernandez-Friera L,, 2017). The status of their vascular system was evaluated by ultrasound detected carotid, iliofemoral and abdominal aortic plaques and coronary artery calcification. The researchers also included a lot of different blood tests as well as lifestyle evaluation.


Plaque or coronary artery calcification was present in 49.7% of the participants.

The real value of this study is the identification of the most relevant risk factor which was found to be LDL cholesterol.

The results indicate that atherosclerosis in both men and women develops above an LDL cholesterol threshold of approximately 50 to 60 mg/dl. This is much lower than what was thought necessary for a healthy cardiovascular system.

This means that if you want to have arteries free of deposits, you need to implement a diet and lifestyle that has shown to do that.

This is not impossible and does not have to be that difficult.


What you eat is the most important factor.

When people eating a high protein, low carbohydrate diet for one year were compared with a group eating a plant-based diet also for a year, this was the results.

All the participants were evaluated at the beginning and at the end of the study using myocardial
perfusion imaging, echocardiography and several blood tests (Fleming RM, 2000).

The group eating the plant-based diet improved their cardiovascular function and had less plaque in their arteries a year later when measured.

The group eating a high protein, low carbohydrate diet had more plaque than when they started a year ago, and risk factors for cardiovascular disease like fibrinogen a clotting factor, Lp(a) and CRP an inflammatory marker were all worse.



Fernández-Friera L1, Fuster V2, López-Melgar B3, Oliva B4, García-Ruiz JM5, Mendiguren J6, Bueno H7, Pocock S8, Ibáñez B9, Fernández-Ortiz A10, Sanz J11. Normal LDL-Cholesterol Levels Are Associated With Subclinical Atherosclerosis in the Absence of Risk Factors. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017 Dec 19;70(24):2979- 2991. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2017.10.024.

Fleming RM1. The effect of high-protein diets on coronary blood flow. Angiology. 2000 Oct;51(10):817-26.



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Is Saturated Fat Bad For You?

Posted by on 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,, 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,, 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,, 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,, 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,, 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.


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.

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Does it matter how we cook our food?

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Yes, how food is prepared can make a big difference.

Heat-processed foods contain high levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) (Uribarri J, et al. 2010).

AGEs are produced when glucose and protein react with each other, and they are known to contribute to oxidative stress and inflammation.

Oxidative stress and inflammation are again linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and also other chronic conditions.

Certain foods generally have higher levels of AGEs and are even more susceptible to new AGEs formation when cooked.

This is especially true for animal derived foods that are high in fat and protein.

Vegetables, fruit, beans and grains contain a lot fewer AGEs; this holds true even after they have been cooked.

The most damaging way to cook is dry heat. This increases the AGEs formation by10-100 folds compared to the uncooked food.

Does this mean that we have to eat everything raw?

No, not all food (even if the food is healthy) can be eaten raw.

This has been shown to decrease the AGEs formation significantly.

Cooking with moist heat at lower temperatures for a shorter time, and also using acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar.

While the brown color of grilled or baked chicken or the brown crust of bread may look appealing to you, it is not healthy.

Uribarri J1, Woodruff S, Goodman S, Cai W, Chen X, Pyzik R, Yong A, Striker GE, Vlassara H. Advanced glycation end products in foods and a practical guide to their reduction in the diet. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Jun;110(6):911-16.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.03.018.

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Easy way to improve your circulation.

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Decreased circulation to the arms, hands, legs, or feet can be caused by atherosclerotic plaque.

You can improve that quite easily without making a lot of changes.

In the following study participants with peripheral artery disease were asked to add half a cup of cooked legumes(either beans or lentils) to their diet, every day, for 8 weeks (Zahradka P, et al. 2013).

This is what happened.

Total cholesterol decreased by 5% and LDL cholesterol (the so called bad cholesterol) decreased by 8.7%

The ankle-brachial index increased by 5.5%.

Acylcarnitine levels were also altered indicating improvements in skeletal muscle metabolism due to increased delivery of blood to the capillaries in the tissue.

I think that’s amazing, just half a cup of beans a day will accomplish that.

What we eat really makes a big difference.

This was only one example of a small change.

Zahradka P1, Wright B, Weighell W, Blewett H, Baldwin A, O K, Guzman RP, Taylor CG. Daily non-soy legume consumption reverses vascular impairment due to peripheral artery disease. Atherosclerosis. 2013 Oct;230(2):310-4. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2013.07.048. Epub 2013 Aug 6.

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You can slow down your resting heart rate without exercising

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It’s a well established fact that the better physically fit you are, the lower resting heart rate you will have.

Exercise provide numerous benefits and this is one of them.

A lower resting heart rate has been documented to lower the risk of death, so I really recommend you to exercise (effectively) regularly.

I have written about that in other articles.

You can also slow your heart rate without exercising, and I suggest that you also incorporate this habit.

There are drugs that will slow your heart rate, but as you know drugs tend to have side effects, and they don’t improve your physical fitness.

It is, however, interesting that even if the heart rate is reduced with drugs, the slowing of the resting heart rate itself reduces the risk of mortality.

As long as you reduce your resting heart rate, you will get benefits even if you don’t get in better physical shape.

Since that’s the case, why not do it with a specific type of food since we need to eat anyway.

What kind of food would do something like that?

Beans would do that.

When study participants were eating either a low glycemic index diet and adding at least 1 cup of beans or lentils per day or by increasing the fiber intake by eating whole wheat products, the group that ate the beans saw more benefits than the group eating the wheat (Jenkins DJ, et al. 2012).

One of the benefits was a slower resting heart rate of 3.1 beats per minute which was not seen in the other group.

If you add beans to your diet you will also see a lot of other benefits.

If you also add exercise using the principle of high intensity short interval training, you will get huge benefits, and it does not have to be either difficult or time consuming.

Jenkins DJ1, Kendall CW, Augustin LS, Mitchell S, Sahye-Pudaruth S, Blanco Mejia S, Chiavaroli L, Mirrahimi A, Ireland C, Bashyam B, Vidgen E, de Souza RJ, Sievenpiper JL, Coveney J, Leiter LA, Josse RG. Effect of legumes as part of a low glycemic index diet on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Nov 26;172(21):1653-60.

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Does intermittent fasting make you tired?

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Maybe you think intermittent fasting will make you tired and you will not be able to do much.

That may be a logical expectation since we need food to produce energy, or do we?

No, not really, we don’t need food to produce energy when we do intermittent fasting because we don’t go without food for very long.

This has been researched, and even if some of the very first studies on energy and starvation showed some conflicting results, more recent research done over 84 hours (4 days) showed that energy expenditure increased significantly (Zauner C. et al. 2000).

This was associated with a significant increase in nor-epinephrine, one of the stress hormones, and a decrease in blood glucose.

Instead fatty acids are mobilized which leads to increased ketone bodies in the blood, increasing the fatty acid oxidation.

This means that we are burning more fat as fuel for energy.

The nor-epinephrine gives us energy.

This makes sense because as humans evolved there was not always enough food, so periodic starvation was a fact of life.

We needed energy to go and catch some food.

If we did not have the energy to do that, we would not have survived, so this makes a lot of sense.

The fact is that if you want to implement intermittent fasting, you don’t have to worry about being tired.

If the fasting does not last for more than one day, that should not be a problem.

You don’t even have to do it for 24 hours. There are several ways to implement this.

You can for example stop eating after lunch, and not eat again until breakfast the next day.

When you fast don’t drink juice, it’s too sweet, drink water instead that’s much better for you.

Zauner C1, Schneeweiss B, Kranz A, Madl C, Ratheiser K, Kramer L, Roth E, Schneider B, Lenz K. Resting energy expenditure in short-term starvation is increased as a result of an increase in serum norepinephrine. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jun;71(6):1511-5.

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

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