Tag: Europe

Mediterranean Diet – Pros And Cons Of The Mediterranean Lifestyle

What is the Mediterranean Diet all about and what are its benefits and drawbacks? The Mediterranean Diet can basically be attributed to the recent recognition that of those living in Europe, those in the Mediterranean live longest on average. Why might this be, you ask? Well, researchers believe that the secret lies in their diet. While the Mediterranean Diet is not a concrete diet plan like South Beach or Atkins, and the diets of those countries within the region differ by certain degrees, there are still certain traits that have been found to be universal.

First off, in the Mediterranean, there is a large consumption of fruits, vegetables, potatoes, cereals, beans, seeds, nuts, and bread. Secondly, olive oil is commonly used for cooking and dressings. Thirdly, there is a moderate consumption of fish but little red meat. Fourth, there is a low to moderate amount of full fat cheeses and yogurt that is consumed. And contrary to popular belief, there is only a moderate consumption of wine that is usually only had during meals. Also, there is a strong reliance on seasonal produce. And lastly, those living in the Mediterranean live an active lifestyle which is vital for complete state of fitness.

So, what are some of the benefits to this Mediterranean lifestyle? In a recent 4 year study, the diets of over 22,000 Greeks were studied and the closer they adhered to a traditional Greek diet, the less likely they were to die from either heart disease or cancer. Overall, the traditionalists found themselves 25% less likely to die during the 4 year study period, which suggests that adherents of traditional diet die later rather then sooner. In comparison to Americans, Greeks are 20% less likely to die from coronary artery disease and are 33% less likely to develop cancer. Is there a solid reasoning behind this increased protection from heart disease and cancer? Yes, and the reason lies in their consumption of olive oil and oily fish such as sardines, which contain, in the case of olive oil, monounsaturated fats while the fish contains polyunsaturated fats called omega-3 fatty acids. Both can help protect your heart. Furthermore, the large consumption of fruits and vegetables like tomatoes will further reinforce your body against cancer and heart disease by providing plenty of valuable antioxidants.

So, are there any downsides to this Mediterranean diet? All in all, no, but if you find yourself active, eat a good bit more protein throughout the day. They recommend eating fish, eggs and poultry a few times a week. Id have some good protein with every meal just to make sure all of the bases are covered. One of the only issues that people will be confronted with is it requires frequent cooking, and if you are too busy or lazy to do that then you will only be gleaning some of its benefits. Also, this diet is hard to criticize since it is not as restrictive and regimented as Atkins and others are. To me, that only creates shortcomings which translates into nutritional imbalances. So, apply the protein-enhanced Mediterranean principle to the concept of eating 5 small meals a day and youll truly be living a life fit for a Greek.

Blood Test To Predict Risk Of Heart Disease For Diabetics

Diabetes has long been regarded as a risk factor of heart disease. The specific relationship between the two was unclear although diabetes is known to double the risk of heart disease. As a result, many people living with diabetes have to monitor their health for well-known risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Despite the fact that the role of blood sugar levels in managing their risk of developing cardiovascular disease remains as a big unknown, diabetics are still advised to achieve a well-controlled level of blood sugar.

In 2004, researchers from United States revealed that a new blood test (at that time) can predict risk of developing heart disease for people with diabetes.

Two separate studies had suggested that people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes should regularly take the hemoglobin A1c test, on top of their regular checks of blood sugar. The HA1c test looks for glycated hemoglobin, also called glycosylated hemoglobin, and is a measure of how well blood sugar is controlled.

In one study, the researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore reanalyzed the data from 13 studies involving nearly 10,000 people from North America and Europe, and found that those with higher levels had much higher risks of heart and artery disease.

Being published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the research reported that 1 percent point increase in HA1c predicted an 18 percent increase in risk for total cardiovascular disease and a 28 per cent risk for peripheral vascular disease (clogged arteries in the legs).

Similar results were found in the second study. The researchers from the Cambridge University and Britain’s Medical Research Council studied 10,030 people aged between 45 and 79 for 6 years. They found that a 21 percent increase in cardiovascular events such as heart attack, for every 1 percent point increase in hemoglobin A1c above 5 percent. Persons with HA1c concentrations less than 5 percent had the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality. This was true even when patients were older and fatter and regardless of blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

In conclusion, the 2 studies clearly prove that the glycosylated hemoglobin level is an independent progressive risk factor for incident cardiovascular events, regardless of diabetes status. Glycosylated hemoglobin level can be added to the list of other clearly established indicators of cardiovascular risk, such as blood pressure and cholesterol level.

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Heart Health Hawthorn Berries Natures Tonic for the Heart

In the first century, the Greek herbalist Dioscorides wrote about the health-giving properties of the berries of the white-thorn, or hawthorn tree. Thereafter, Romans, Greeks and even Renaissance herbalists utilized the rose-like petals and red berries of the hawthorn tree as a powerful tonic for heart health.

In modern Europe, doctors regularly prescribe hawthorn extract to alleviate a variety of mild to moderate heart related symptoms. Hawthorn is listed as an official drug in the Pharmacopoeias (official drug compendium) throughout China, Europe and South America, as an effective treatment for heart ailments and cardiovascular disease. It is used in cases of angina pectoris (chest pains), arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeat), aged related cardiac insufficiency, arteriosclerosis and to regulate both high and low blood pressure.

European studies indicate that hawthorn can reduce strains on the heart by dilating peripheral blood vessels (lowering blood pressure), while it simultaneously increases cardiac output as it strengthens the contractility of the heat muscle (allowing it to pump stronger). Angina cases are often relieved because it is believed to dilate coronary blood vessels, increasing the oxygen supply to the heart muscle. This may reduce the risk of having a heart attack and increase your chances of survival if one does occur. Studies have also shown hawthorn to speed the recovery of those who have suffered a heart attack.

Hawthorn berries contain cardiotonic amines, polyphenols and vitamin C with significant amounts of bioflavonoids. Universally considered to be safe even in long term use, hawthorn is non-toxic, not habit-forming and does not appear to interfere with any conventional medications. It is sometimes given concurrently with much more toxic allopathic medicines to reduce the dosage and necessity of the drugs. Over a dozen clinical trials have concluded that hawthorn berry extract can be a safe and effective option in cases of chronic congestive heart disease.

Hawthorns valuable clinical effects include:

A powerful antioxidant free-radical scavenger to reduce the plaques of atherosclerosis

An arterial dilator to infuse more oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle, alleviating angina (chest pains) while lowering peripheral blood pressure

An anti-arrythmic (steadies the heart beat by stabilizing the hearts rhythmic contractions) to prevent deadly, vessel-plugging clots

A cardiovascular tonic which increases cardiac output and endurance

Is mildly sedative, reducing some of the nervousness associated with angina or palpitations

Hawthorn taken in conjunction with other heart healthy supplements like vitamin E, Co Q10 and omega-3 fats (from fish oils), is a ideal way to support longevity, endurance and preventive heart health at any age.