Tag: HDL

Benefits Of Eating Garlic

Recent findings on the power of garlic to fight cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, give garlic the bona fide characteristics to elevate it to Superfood status.

Throughout the history of civilization, the medicinal properties of garlic have been prized, and it’s been used to treat an array of ailments, including atherosclerosis, stroke, cancer, immune disorders, cerebral aging, arthritis, and cataract formation.
Garlic’s power as a heath promoter comes from its rich variety of sulfur containing compounds. Of the nearly one hundred nutrients in garlic, the most important in terms of health benefits seems to be the sulfur compound allicin-an amino acid. Allicin is not present in fresh garlic. It’s formed instantly when cloves are crushed, chewed, or cut. Allicin seems to be responsible for the super-biological activity of garlic as well as its odor.

In addition to allicin, a single clove of garlic offers a slew of compounds with potential health benefits, including saponins, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, selenium, polyphenols, and arginine. In addition to these compounds, garlic is a good source of vitamin B6 and also of vitamin C. As with most whole foods, garlic’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities are probably due to the sum of the whole rather than a single agent.
A number of studies have shown that garlic has an important impact on risk factors for cardiovascular disease. It has been demonstrated that those who make garlic a regular part of their diets enjoy lowered blood pressure and decreased platelet aggregation, as well as decreased triglycerides and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Garlic also may increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Consuming one half to one clove of garlic daily lowers LDL cholesterol levels by approximately 10 percent, partially by decreasing cholesterol absorption.

Garlic extracts have also been shown to decrease blood pressure. In one study, a 5.5 percent decrease in systolic blood pressure and a slight decrease in diastolic pressure were noticed. While these are modest decreases, they could still lead to a significant lessening of the risk for stroke and heart attack. The end result of all of these benefits is a lowered risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease as well as a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. Garlic oil has been shown to decrease total and LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well.

Garlic’s primary positive effect on cardiovascular disease comes from its sulphur compounds, but the effects of vitamin C, B6, selenium, and manganese can’t be ignored. Garlic’s vitamin C-the body’s primary antioxidant defender-protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation. It’s the oxidation of LDL cholesterol that begins the process that damages blood vessel walls. Vitamin B lowers levels of homocysteine, a substance that can directly damage blood vessel walls. The selenium in garlic fights heart disease, while it also works to protect against cancer and heavy metal toxicity. Manganese works on a variety of antioxidant defences, and studies have found that adults deficient in manganese have lower levels of the “good,” or HDL, cholesterol.

A number of studies have reported on garlic’s ability to fight cancer, although further research is needed to clarify the precise role of garlic in this battle. Several population studies have shown a link between garlic in the diet and a decrease in the risk for colorectal and gastric cancer, and one clove of garlic daily may decrease the risk of developing prostate cancer. Recent reviews of more than thirty-five studies report some protective effect against cancer in about 75 percent of the published articles.

Two recent studies have shown that garlic can be a potent antibiotic. Particularly impressive was that garlic was effective against strains of pathogens that have become resistant to many drugs. One study demonstrated that garlic juice showed significant antibacterial activity against a host of pathogens, even including antibiotic-resistant strains such as ciprofloxacin-resistant staphylococci.

The second study, conducted on mice, found that garlic was able to inhibit a type of staph infection that’s become increasingly resistant to antibiotics and increasingly common in hospitals. This type of staph infection has become a potential danger for health care workers, as well as for people with weakened immune systems. Sixteen hours after the mice were infected with the pathogen, garlic extract was fed to them. After twenty-four hours, garlic was found to have provided protection against the pathogen and to have significantly decreased the infection.

The Importance Of Cholesterol Ratios

Cholesterol ratios can be useful in the prediction of heart disease. Ratios show us the whole picture rather than just one number. A “total cholesterol” gives one number and doesn’t provide information about each individual type of cholesterol that makes up the total cholesterol value.

One type of cholesterol is considered to be good the HDL cholesterol (or high-density lipoprotein). This type of cholesterol transports cholesterol from the arteries and tissues back to the liver.

LDL cholesterol, on the other hand, is considered to be the “bad” cholesterol as it is transported from the liver to the rest of the body, and at elevated levels it can deposit cholesterol in arteries.

Total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio

The total cholesterol HDL ratio (Total / HDL) is calculated by dividing total cholesterol by HDL cholesterol. i.e.
Total cholesterol/HDL Ratio = [Total Cholesterol/HDL Cholesterol]

A desirable ratio is 5:1 or under. According to the American Heart Association the optimum total / HDL cholesterol ratio should be 3.5:1.

If the ratio is higher, then the risk of heart disease is greater. A low HDL cholesterol and high total cholesterol value increases the total/HDL cholesterol ratio. If a person is found to have a higher reading, they can then take measures to lower the ratio.

On the other hand the lower ratios are more ideal and predict a lower heart disease risk. A high HDL cholesterol will reduce the ratio. This is healthier for us because HDL cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol.

LDL/HDL ratio

The LDL/HDL Ratio is calculated by dividing the LDL cholesterol value by the HDL cholesterol value. i.e.
LDL/HDL ratio = [LDL Cholesterol / HDL Cholesterol]

The more direct ratio of LDL/HDL is considered more helpful by some healthcare professionals, who see is as more of a “pure” ratio than that of the total/HDL ratio.

Regardless of whether the LDL/HDL or total/HDL cholesterol ratio is used, cholesterol ratios as a whole provide more insight into heart disease risk than a total cholesterol value alone. Many health professionals these days are taking cholesterol ratios into account for predicting heart disease risk in patients.

Tips to improve cholesterol ratios

1. Avoid trans fat. Trans fat increase LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduce HDL (good) cholesterol.
2. Minimise saturated fats. These fats raise LDL (bad) cholesterol.
3. Increase dietary fibre, particularly soluble or viscous fibres which can reduce LDL cholesterol levels.
4. Consider the use of plant sterol fortified food products (2-3g per day is ideal).
5. Consume omega 3 fats on a daily basis.
6. Choose poly and monounsaturated fats in place of saturated fats.
7. Obtain adequate amounts of exercise (which can increase HDL and reduce LDL cholesterol). Check with your Doctor before starting any new exercise regime, to ensure it is safe to do so.

Acai Berry With Heart Medications

Can acai berry mend a broken heart? If the broken heart pertains to a heart disease that continues to be one of the leading causes of deaths, acai may help tame it before it becomes a full blown killer.

Heart diseases encompass a variety of conditions relating to the cardiovascular system. It may involve the ability of your heart to pump out blood, its valves, your blood vessels, and more instances that compromise the function of your heart.

Below are some of the most common heart conditions that warrant urgent attention:

Myocardial Infarction or heart attack
It happens when the cells of the heart die due to the disruption of its blood supply. The formation of cholesterol plaques contributes a great deal to the blockage of the coronary blood vessels. When the blood flow is compromised, there is no delivery of oxygen to the tissues, leading to cell death.

Hypertension or high blood pressure
When it requires more force to get the blood flowing, you get a high blood pressure. It makes the heart work harder to pump blood effectively to all organs in the body. Hypertension can be due to other coexisting diseases such as diabetes, kidney problems, arteriosclerosis, etc. Genetics play a significant role in primary hypertension.

Arteriosclerosis
It involves the blood vessels, particularly the arteries, and its ability to deliver blood to the organs. The arteries in this case have hardened due to the build up of plaques from fatty substances. This makes the vessels less flexible which makes it harder for blood to flow. When the plaques break apart, they travel in the bloodstream towards smaller arteries, where they may cause a complete blockage. This is how it contributes to heart attacks, stroke, and common heart conditions.

High Cholesterol
Chlolesterol makes up a part of the bodys lipids. It is vital to the structure of cells, and in the production of hormones and energy. When the levels go up, it creates problems in the blood vessels. The arteries are hardened and blocked. In turn, the blood pressure rises just to be able to push adequate blood for delivery to the organs. When the heart doesnt receive adequate amount of blood supply, heart attack can occur.

Heart Failure
The heart functions to pump blood into the body. When it fails, it doesnt mean that it has stopped beating. It just lost its ability to function efficiently, affecting all organs in the long run. The blood goes back to the lungs instead of pushing it forward. Breathing becomes laborious. Fluid accumulates in the dependent portions of the body like the feet.

How Can Acai Save You From A Broken Heart?

Acai berry (Euterpe oleracea), a superfood from the Amazon, offers hope for those with heart problems.

Acai is rich in fatty acids, giving it the oily feel. It contains 2 essential fatty acids called Omega 6 (Linoleic acid) and Omega 9 (Oleic acid). The Omega 6 is a polyunsaturated essential fatty acid that lowers both LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol) levels. The Omega 9, which is a monounsaturated, essential fatty acid, helps lower only the LDL, while maintaining a good level of HDL.

Acai is also unusually rich in beta-sitosterol, which is a phytosterol that competes with dietary cholesterol for absorption, hence reducing blood cholesterol. The high fiber content of acai berries may likewise reduce bad cholesterol levels.

The dark pigmentation of acai is attributed to anthocyanins, which are potent antioxidants. Even in trace amounts, anthocyanins effectively protect against LDL oxidation. The anti-oxidant properties of acai help heal the cell membranes and linings of arterial wall and help protect the integrity of smaller blood vessels. This prevents the development of arteriosclerosis and the subsequent increase in blood pressure.

Free radicals can speed up the process of arteriosclerosis and aggravate ischemia (the lack of oxygen supply to an organ). With the rich anti-oxidant content of acai, the damaging effects of the free radicals are taken cared of.

Be careful when choosing among the many acai supplements available in the market. The juice form uses other ingredients and preservatives, with only little concentration of acai. It has undergone the irradiation which is something you may want to avoid. The pill form, on the other hand, contains 100% acai, without preservatives. It has not undergone any procedures known to harm your health.

Can I Take Acai Together with my Heart Medications?

With early prevention, acai can lessen your need for expensive heart medications. However, if maintenance drugs should be used, no data has been found as to the drug-drug or drug-food interactions with acai and the common heart conditions.

Be cautious when taking medications containing anti-coagulants or blood thinners because acai contains vitamin k, which exerts the opposite effect.

Potassium is abundant in acai, so you might as well be careful with drugs reacting to potassium:
ACE-inhibitors which are used for the treatment of hypertension. Examples are captopril, enalapril, lisinopril. Potassium levels may increase further with ACE inhibitors especially those with diminished kidney function.
Potassium-sparing diuretics like spironolactone, triamterene, or amiloride may increase potassium levels in the blood.
Heparin which is a blood thinner, used for the prevention of heart attacks. Potassium levels may be further increased with concomitant use of acai, aside from with the antagonistic effect of vitamin K present in acai.
Beta blockers such as metoprolol and propranolol that are used to treat high blood pressure can potentially increase blood potassium levels when mixed with acai.

The high amount of calcium in acai may create potential reactions with certain medications:
Beta-blockers. Calcium may interfere with the blood levels of beta-blockers and vice versa.
Calcium-channel blockers are a class of anti-hypertensives. Calcium may reverse the therapeutic effects of calcium-channel blockers, although studies are conflicting.
Digoxin is used to treat irregular heart rhythms. Calcium may make this drug ineffective.
Anti-cholesterol drug, particularly bile acid sequestrants such as cholestyramine, colestipol, and colesevelam, may interfere with calcium absorption and increase loss of calcium in the urine.

Anti-oxidants in general, are not advised to be taken along with most chemotherapeutic agents that act by producing free radicals to kill the tumor.

There are no documented effects of the above drugs interacting with acai berry supplements, only possible risks. Nonetheless, caution must be taken to avoid untoward reactions.

Heart Health And Clean Arteries- Part 1

One of the most important health issues I stress to my patients is creating, or maintaining, heart health. The best ways to ensure heart health and its all-important job of developing nourishing blood to every part of your body is to prevent plaque buildup and reduced blood flow in arteries. Diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, and certain supplements can work together to accomplish this goal!

In this first of a two-part series, I would like to explain to you a little about what coronary artery disease and blocked arteries can mean. Then well talk about the proactive things you can do to avoid these conditions naturally without drugs or surgery.

Part II will deal with a controversial subject chelation therapy. Chelation methods of detoxing arteries with natural supplements have been an alternative medicine approach to arterial plaque for several years now.

First I would like to give you a little background on coronary artery disease and arterial blockages, how they develop and how you can prevent them with diet, exercise and supplements and cut your risk for heart attack, stroke, drugs and by passes!

Coronary Artery Disease and Blocked Arteries

Many people do not realize they have coronary artery disease, or arterial plaque build-up, until they wind up in an emergency room with an attack of angina (heart pain), or a heart attack! Both can be caused by the arteries of the heart not getting enough blood, usually from plaque buildup.

It was previously thought that a high saturated fat diet was the primary cause of arterial plaque. However, the French Paradox came along and taught us that oxidation has a lot more to do with cholesterol turning into those arterial plaques and blockages.

You see, the French people eat a pretty high saturated fat diet but they also drink a lot of red wine! This led to the discovery of a very important chemical in red wine called resveratrol. This is a powerful anti-oxidant which helps keep cholesterol lipids in blood from oxidizing into those arterial clogging plaques. Cholesterol undergoes oxidation first before it hardens into plaque. Ensuring that we get enough anti-oxidants in our diet to prevent oxidation, then, is key!

Who Is At Risk?

As I tell my patients, there is no hard and fast picture of the person who will develop coronary artery disease. It depends on a few factors such as:

1. Do you eat an unhealthy diet low in vitamins/antioxidants?
2. Do you smoke?
3. Do you exercise regularly?

Prevent Blocked Arteries and Heart Disease

As I advise my patients, keeping your arteries flowing freely with low risk of heart disease involves a three-fold approach on your part. However, that effort will reward you with enough heart health and stamina to live your life to the fullest into old age! Lets look at what this entails:

Diet Arterial disease is not all about how much saturated fat you eat. Although I do recommend limiting saturated animal fat to 25-30 grams a day, I think it more important to prevent these fats from oxidizing and turning into plaque. Diets rich in anti-oxidants and polyphenols help dissolve saturated fats and stop oxidation. These include red wine, green apples, olive oil, oolong/green/white teas, Omega-3 rich nuts, coconut oils, apple cider vinegar. Add high fiber foods like beans, peas, whole grains, to absorb saturated fats and remove them through elimination before they enter the bloodstream as lipids.

Exercise Interval aerobic exercise, walking, running, bicycling, elliptical, stair stepper, treadmill, jumping rope, your choice. Interval exercise is warming up slowly for 10 minutes and then going at your capacity for 1-2 minutes then slowing down to a resting pace for 3 minutes and repeating for a set of 6 intervals. If you havent done aerobic exercise for a long while, do a slower warm-up, and try for half your capacity for 1 minute for 2 weeks. Slowly increase every week and build a higher capacity. This helps your heart adjust to sudden demanding loads. It also builds good HDL and lowers LDL (bad) choleserol and burns body fat. Also, 20 minutes 3 x a week of weight training. This creates muscle and burns fat even at rest.

Supplements 1,000 mg/daily Omega-3 fish and krill oils boost HDL and lower LDL cholesterol; 1-2 gm/daily of Vitamin C builds collagen which strengthens arterial walls. CoQ-10, 100 mg, is a crucial anti-oxidant that works with Vitamin E to attach to LDL cholesterol and prevent oxidation. As we age CoQ10 levels decrease so it is important to supplement them. Other powerful anti-oxidants include resveratrol (found in red wine, dark red grapes and berries), pomegranate juice, and green tea. Niacin (and other B vitamins) is also effective at reducing LDL and boosting HDL cholesterol, 1-3 gm/day. Chelation supplements which contain EDTA, and antioxidants, which well talk about in more detail in Part II.

Smoking Quit! Smokers are at much higher risk of developing arterial plaque because of the toxins in cigarette smoke which contribute to oxidation damage in your body.

There you have the basics of what I recommend to keep your arteries free from obstructing plaques and keep your heart from suffering serious, if not life-threatening, consequences.

Part II of this series on heart health deals with the pros and cons of removing existing arterial plaque from your arteries called chelation therapy which uses ingredients so safe theyre even in baby food! Meet me here next issue and learn about this drugless, surgery-free way to clean arteries and protect your heart!

Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Institute For Healthy Aging

How Many People Die From Heart Disease – The Numbers May Surprise You

When asking how many people die from heart disease most people know some do, but may not have a grasp on the true scope of the problem. The main culprit in these figures is a heart attack, which generally occurs when blood supply to the heart muscle is cut off. When this happens it is only a matter of minutes until oxygen deprived heart cells begin to die. The longer the elapsed time between the coronary event and restoring blood flow the greater the damage.

According to the American Heart Association, approximately 785,000 Americans have their first heart attack each year with an additional 470,000 experiencing a recurrent heart attack. That equals a staggering 1,255,000 Americans each year falling prey to a heart attack.

But the question we are asking is how many people die from heart disease (heart attack) and that number is approximately 632,000. Broken down as a percentage that is one out of every four disease related deaths in the United States are attributed to heart disease. Out of all the types of heart disease coronary heart disease accounted for two out of every three of these.

Certainly, these are shocking numbers and their financial impact on the American economy is substantial, eclipsing the 3 billion dollars a year mark according to recent estimates. Now that we know how many people die from heart disease the most logical next question is why?

There are many different factors that contribute to these numbers but perhaps the three most obvious are inactivity, diet, and cigarette or pipe smoking.

For many the idea that inactivity could be the evil wizard behind the curtain of coronary death may come as a surprise. According for the Center For Disease Control approximately 4 out of every 10 people who have heart disease are also inactive. When you think about it you have to admit it makes a lot of sense. As we get older we may become less and less active. We no longer feel the need to exercise vigorously to attract a mate, find a date, or to interact with new friends. Instead we sit around and watch television, focus on work, spend time with our kids, or surf the net looking new games to play or participate in social networking. It is simply a matter of our priorities changing over time.

Diet is also another factor that is a major contributing factor as for how many people die from heart disease. As Americans we love a hearty high fat breakfasts, fast foods, high fat desserts, and deep fried specialties. According to AHA a heart healthy diet should consist of no more than 7 percent of total calories coming from saturated fat, and now more than 30 percent of total calories form overall fat. Considering that cheese contains 27 percent saturated and luncheon meats are somewhere from 10 to 30 percent it is easy to see how we might fall a little short of these lofty goals.

Perhaps out of all the risk factors cigarette and/or pipe smoking are two of the worst. One out of five people with heart disease are smokers. Smoking causes arteries to constrict lessening blood flow to the heart. Smoking also reduces the amount of protective HDL cholesterol and increases the amount of harmful LDL cholesterol.

What else? Other risk factors are being overweight, stress, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

In summary, how many people die of from heart disease should cause for you to drop that cheeseburger in the middle of big bite and run to the nearest salad or vegetable shop! Additionally, research suggests that by taking steps to modify diet, exercising 5 days a week, saying no to smoking, and adding a natural cholesterol reduction supplement a person can substantially reduce their chances of becoming just another heart attack death statistic.

Obesity and Heart Disease

We only have to look at a Titian painting to recognize that at one point in the history of Western culture, fat was considered beautiful. Before the 20th Century, corpulence was touted as a sign of wealth and luxury, largely because most people were barely surviving on a meager existence.

Ironically, now in our era of affluence and plenty, we have to contend with the health and economic problems of obesity. We have a population in North America that is more than 55% overweight. More than 20% of those overweight are considered obese, a situation which proves to be an economic burden on our Health Care system because of the coronary risk factors associated with obesity. In 2004, total national health expenditure in the USA was $1.9 Trillion or $6,280 per person.

Why is obesity a risk factor for heart disease?

Among obese individuals, triglyceride levels are unusually high, while HDL levels tend to be low; both of these situations are risk factors for heart disease .A recent study involving tissues collected from autopsies of 3000 men (15-34 years old) who had died of external causes (not heart related) identified an association between obesity and coronary atherosclerosis.

Abdominal fat which characterizes obese individuals is also an area of concern. A study of 1300 Finnish men (42-60 years old) suggests that abdominal fat is an independent and major risk factor for coronary events. Several reasons have been suggested for this: a) stomach fat is continually released into the bloodstream in the form of artery-clogging fatty acids; b) abdominal fat also releases compounds that facilitate risk factors such as atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome and inflammation; c) abdominal fat initiates biochemical events that lead to insulin resistance, a precursor of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Obesity is often a precursor to metabolic syndrome, a dangerous health situation that is manifested through a cluster of symptomsexcess body fat, insulin resistance, low HDL cholesterol, high triglyceride levels and high blood pressureall risk factors for coronary events. People with metabolic syndrome release immune system messengers called cytokines into their bloodstream. Cytokines lead to a communication breakdown between body cells and insulin which leads to excessive insulin production by the pancreas, creating a situation that is a literal time bomb for heart disease . In addition, this excessive insulin production can raise fibrinogen concentrations in the bloodstream, thus allowing blood to clot more easily, a situation that is a direct risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

Because of their size, obese individuals are more often than not sedentary in lifestyle. Inactivity in and of itself is also a coronary risk factor. Data from more than 88,000 women in the Nurses Health Study shows that a lean sedentary woman had 1.48 greater risks for coronary heart disease than a slightly heavier but physically active woman.

In Singapore Heart Disease Is Like Other Common Ailments

Coronary heart disease or atherosclerosis is a state in which the blood vessels responsible for supplying oxygen to the heart muscle, are blocked by gathering of plague. In the early stage of this disease, there is probably no symptom. That time the doctor, too, may be unable to detect it. But after duration of some years the disease may be fatal several times more and that can even cause sudden death due to the inability of the arteries to get blood enough to the muscle of the heart to maintain its functionality. Coronary heart disease is mentioned among the top most causes of death for women and men.

No sole cause is responsible for cardiovascular ailments. However, researchers and doctors have found out some particular risk factors that can enhance the risk of this type of diseases. Some of the vital risk factors include high cholesterol, family history, smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure. Though you can’t alter your family history, you can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by restraining some of the few other risk factors.

There are seven key steps to reduce the risk of various heart diseases. They are as follows-

Doing physical exercise regularly
Lowering the total cholesterol level of the body
Quitting smoking
Taking a low-dose aspirin every day
Reducing dietary consumption of animal fats
Increasing the dietary consumption of whole grains and fresh fruits
Visiting doctor for a test of cholesterol and angiogram

Besides, some doctors think now that drinking moderated alcohol may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The doctors now identify two distinct cholesterols good cholesterol or HDL and bad cholesterol or LDL. Analyzing the report of the blood cholesterol test, the doctor may suggest that one should increase the HDL cholesterol level and decrease the LDL cholesterol level.

How can we detect the coronary artery disease? The coronary artery disease treatment entails various medical procedures. A good way to measure and diagnose the depth of coronary artery disease is the use of coronary angiography. It is exercised when a doctor suspects a person of having such a disease.

When the damage is caused, the body will initiate a healing process. The healing process leads the deposition of plagues at a place where the arteries are damaged. We should keep it in mind that building up of plague in the coronary arteries may begin in childhood. This plague can completely block or narrow few of the coronary arteries overtime. Finally, this condition reduces the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the muscles of the heart.

Prevention is better than cure. So, knowing the reasons of coronary heart disease is very essential. There is no substitute to early detection. Following the advice of the doctor is the best practice that we should obey to avoid few of the conditions of heart attack. Dr Lim of Singapore is a renowned heart specialist. She has a unique heart care clinic dedicated to the service of heart patients.