Smart & Stupid Ideas with Heart Health

Okay, I am a registered dietitian with a master degree in science.  This means that I try to respect differing points of view based on good research.  When I read this article on healthy heart food choices, I thought, well there are some good ideas here, but others are just plain wrong and not based on evidence.

Therefore, instead of just calling the entire article dead on arrival, I would share some info on which ideas will add to the clogging of the arteries and which you can use in a heart beat.

Push your shopping cart down a grocery store aisle and

Oatmeal ready to cook.

you’ll see heart symbols on packages stating their product is heart healthy.

“This can be confusing to people,” said Lori Granich, a dietitian at St. Margaret Mercy in Dyer. “You’ll see these claims on margarine, cereal, and even orange juice. Many companies have jumped on the heart healthy bandwagon. But truly, the legitimate heart healthy foods are oats, omega-3 fats, potassium, calcium, flavanoids, and antioxidants.”

Totally agree.  There is so much marketing crap who’s to know.  That’s why I created videos on food label reading.    It would have been nice for her to say whole grains instead of just oats, but it is a media bite you can remember.

Oats have soluble fiber that lowers artery clogging cholesterol. Omega-3 fats help prevent irregular heartbeat and lower triglyceride levels and raise HDL levels.

“HDL is the good cholesterol,” Provins said. “Think H for healthy. Think L for lousy; LDL is the bad cholesterol.”

Omega 3s can be found in things like flaxseed, oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, tuna, herring, trout; nuts, such as walnuts; and oils, such as canola and olive oil. Provins recommends two servings of fish a week. Granish says if you don’t care for fish, omega 3s are included in many products now, such as butter replacement spreads.

“You can also get it in a fish oil supplement,” she said.

This is where it gets weird.  I have always explained LDL as Lousy cholesterol and HDL as Happy cholesterol.  It is on my videos and part of my nutrition lingo.  This is the 3rd time I have heard this verbiage describing cholesterol this month.  I am going to delude myself into believing I started a trend.

Delusions aside I cannot understand why anyone would say that fish is a great way to get Omega-3’s.  Fish has not much less cholesterol and fat calorie percentage than red meat.  In fact, Chinook salmon is around 50% fat.  The leanest beef is around 23%.  All of these fats damage endothelial cells and lead to arterial damage.  Endothelial cells [there won’t be a test] put out a gas, nitro oxide [NO], that pushes open the arteries like a balloon.  You need NO to keep good blood flow.  Concentrated oils and cholesterol clog these cells decreasing NO output.  That causes strokes.

When I write, “All of these fats” I include concentrate oils such as lard, olive oil, canola oil and Quaker State 10W40.  If you want more on this, check out Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s work at the Cleveland Clinic.  He has been making patients heart attack proof for years.  One of his tenets is No Oil.  Period.

Raw Collards ready for steaming

If you want to get Omega-3’s don’t get it from the retailer -fish, get it from the source – plants.  You can use flax meal in baking or just sprinkle it in your foods.  I use flax meal instead of eggs for almost all baking [Eggplant Cutlets, Chocolate Cherry Crepes].  Or if you feel that you need a supplement, try microalgae capsules or liquid.  You can find these on a host of sites.  Unlike fish oil, they don’t smell, upset the planet’s balance by over fishing or polluting and haven’t had any contamination issues.

Potassium helps maintain good blood pressure by counteracting sodium. Potassium is high in bananas and oranges. Calcium, found in dairy products, almonds, and even broccoli, helps the heart muscle contract and relax.

Why would I use #7 food for calcium absorption instead of #1?  The key here is absorption.  The most absorbable calcium source in the US marketplace is tofu.  This is due to the processing with calcium carbonate.  The next 5 are: collard greens, rice milk, mustard greens, soy milk, nutra grain bars and spinach.  Then come a bunch of dark green leafy veggies.  One thing about the measuring of the calcium – the greens were measured raw.  So, if you ate a cup of cooked  kale, you would almost double the absorbable calcium amount in your meal than if you had cow milk.

In addition to the calcium from cow milk, you get cholesterol, proliferate cancer cells

Morning Scramble with veggies

from the casein found in all cow milk and don’t get any fiber.  The USDA told me the national food guidelines had a dairy component not only for calcium levels, but potassium and magnesium content.  Well, tofu and green leafy vegetables have more potassium and magnesium content than cow milk.  They thanked me and said they were not changing their nomenclature.

On top of the high calcium, potassium and magnesium content in green leafy veggies you are get – Omega-3’s.  Crazy!  Oh, yeah and there’s fiber and folate and antioxidants.  That’s right instead of feeding cancer cells, dark green leafy veggies clean out cancer cells.

Antioxidants are nutrients that help prevent oxidative damage in the body. Although these are present in all fruits and vegetables, those rich in antioxidants are deep red and blue.

Glad we agree on that.

Although five servings of fruits and vegetables is the norm (1/2 cup of cooked or one cup of raw vegetables, and one small piece of fruit is a serving), Provins prefers nine servings for heart health, five those are vegetables. “Make sure they are colorful, such as dark green, red and orange, so that you get a variety.”

Beet Pear Salad

Okay, Ms. Provins doesn’t just prefer 9 servings per day, that has been the recommendation for around 5 years.  Also, she is on target that a variety is key.  Every food has its own properties for health.  Check out Dr. Michael Greger and the breast cancer prevention aspects in the heretofore lowly white button mushrooms.

Sodium raises the blood pressure, so no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium. The new recommendation for African Americans, people 50 and older, and those with high blood pressure is less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium. “Plenty salt is in processed foods,” Provins said. “So it’s best to make your own. You can replace the salt by adding in more flavor with herbs and spices.”

Oops, the recommendation is a reduction to 1500 mg per day.

“Cholesterol comes from anything with a face,” Provins said. “So green beans are cholesterol free. Americans eat too much meat. We should eat no more than six ounces a day, and leaner cuts. . . You can bulk out the portion by sautéing vegetables in a little olive or canola oil to go on the top, such as peppers and mushrooms.

Okay skipping over the oil thing, cholesterol comes from anything with a liver.  Mussels don’t really have a face, but they have plenty of cholesterol [around 14 grams for a cup].  Your body doesn’t need any extra cholesterol.  It makes all it needs from . . . your liver.

According to the World Health Organization,] an adult human needs around .66 grams

Soy Beans add protein and texture to a salad. Add about 1/4 cup.

of protein daily, or what I call concentrated protein foods, for every kilogram of weight within the healthy weight range.  What does THAT mean?  I’ll use me for an example.

I am 65 inches, or 165 centimeters [65 x 2.54], in height.  I weigh 125 pounds which is within the healthy range for my height, or 57 kg [125 ÷ 2.2].  So, I multiply that by .66 grams of protein.  Here’s the formula:

57 kg x .66 = 38 g of protein per day.  Thats what I need – 38g of protein daily.

All foods have protein, except oils such as olive oil and most carbonated beverages.  If I eat 9 servings of fruits and veggies, I will get around 4g of protein from a 2 cup salad with mixed veggies, 2g from 2 tangerines, 10g from the onion/swiss chard on my quesadilla and scrambled tofu, 2g from baby carrots at lunch and snacking leaving me 20g to get from other foods.

Chunky Guacamole made raw. Good fats & eat with veggie sticks.

That means I need less than 3 ounces of most animal products, less than a one patty burger, less than a 6 inch turkey sub, less than a cup of soy beans and WAY under the 6 ounces recommended by Ms. Provins.  I really don’t need to stress out my kidneys with all that extra protein.

• Healthy fats have the same calories as unhealthy fats, so if you need to lose weight, moderate intake. No more than 30 percent of calories in your daily diet should come from fat. Healthy fat is unsaturated, such as in liquid oils from soy beans, olive, safflower. Or avocados and nuts (walnuts and almonds are the best choices). One shot glass of nuts is a serving.

Cashews Almonds & Walnuts

We have known since 1977 that 20% or less of fat in the diet is the healthy amount.   The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reiterates that fat intake below 20% is beneficial for lowering cancer risk.  One note about nuts – with this Omega-3/Omega-6 thing, you are looking to balance them.  Walnuts are incredibly balanced.  Almonds are Omega-6 on steroids with regard to this balance.  Stick to walnuts and flax.  This is just more unsubstantiated spouting of fat intake myths that I really wish would go away with disco balls.

• Limit alcohol. Alcohol in moderation can raise the HDL, but Provins said alcohol can negatively affect blood pressure and interfere with medication. Heavy drinking can cause high blood pressure. “No more than one can of beer, five ounces of wine, one and a half ounces of 80 proof alcohol per day,” she said. “And remember that the calories in alcohol are empty calories.”

This is all true.  People forget that alcohol can add a lot of calories.  Saving up alcohol consumption for a special occasion not only doles out headaches like limes at a tequila bar, but still has to go through your liver.

I know that some of the issues I address may be due to the writer and not the dietitians.      Their hearts are in the right place, I wish all their research was, too.


3 thoughts on “Smart & Stupid Ideas with Heart Health

Any thoughts, Darling?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s