Category Archives: Cardiovascular disease

Exposure to arsenic at low to moderate levels linked to cardiovascular disease and death

FoodFacts.com knows that our community is aware of arsenic making its way into our food supply and even our water sources. It’s been an unpleasant and sometimes heavily argued idea that has sadly been proven over the last few years. This is such a clear example of why it is so important for all of us to remain aware of what we’re consuming and how it affects our health and well-being. Today we found information on how arsenic may be affecting the population. It’s significant knowledge that we all need to understand.

A new study from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Environmental Sciences shows that chronic exposure to low to moderate levels of inorganic arsenic is associated with increased incidence of fatal and not-fatal cardiovascular disease. Inorganic arsenic in water and food (particularly rice and grain) is a major global health problem.

Research has shown that high arsenic levels in drinking water increase the risk of peripheral artery disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, and carotid atherosclerosis. However, less is known about the cardiovascular effects of low to moderate arsenic levels, an issue that affects most populations around the world.

In the United States, people living in small rural communities in the Southwest, Midwest, and Northeast are disproportionately exposed to inorganic arsenic. Researchers analyzed urine samples for 3,575 American Indian men and women living in Arizona, Oklahoma, and North and South Dakota to evaluate the prospective association of chronic low to moderate arsenic exposure with incident cardiovascular disease over almost 20 years follow-up. They found that baseline urine arsenic concentrations were prospectively associated with cardiovascular disease mortality and incidence (1,184 developed fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular disease and 439 developed fatal cardiovascular disease).

The researchers conclude that low to moderate arsenic exposure is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease with no apparent threshold.

First it was arsenic in apple juice. Then we were told about arsenic in rice. And there can be arsenic in drinking water. FoodFacts.com will continue to keep abreast of this issue and report on any new findings. It’s important for us to remain informed and knowledgeable about our food. It’s also essential for us to understand the health implications of arsenic and other concerns so that we can manage and avoid the possible detrimental effects.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/266526.php

Too much of a good thing? Antioxidants and the cardiovascular benefits of exercise.

FoodFacts.com has always included information in our blog posts about the benefits of the antioxidants found in natural, fresh fruits and vegetables. There have been so many good things to tell our community about the benefits of these compounds. The antioxidant resveratrol has made news in the last year for the possibility of its anti-aging properties. It’s found in red wine, red grapes, as well as peanuts, blueberries, cranberries, dark chocolate and cocoa powder. Resveratrol has been associated with the protection of the heart and circulatory system, lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels as well as reducing the risk of certain cancers. All great news!

But now, new research at The University of Copenhagen surprisingly suggests that eating a diet rich in antioxidants may actually counteract many of the health benefits of exercise, including reduced blood pressure and cholesterol.

In contrast to earlier studies in animals in which resveratrol improved the cardiovascular benefits of exercise, this study in humans has provided surprising and strong evidence that in older men, resveratrol has the opposite effect.

While antioxidants like resveratrol have plenty of positive effects on our health, this information seems to point to the idea that some degree of oxidant stress might be necessary for the body to work correctly. So too much of this good thing might actually be detrimental to our health.

The study comes out of the University of Copenhagen. Researchers studied 27 healthy, physically inactive men who were about 65 years of age for 8 weeks. During the study period, all of the men performed high-intensity exercise training. Half of the group received 250 mg of resveratrol daily, while the other half received a placebo. The study was double-blinded so that neither the subjects nor the scientists knew which participant received the antioxidant or the placebo.

Researchers found that the exercise training undertaken by all the participants was very effective at improving their cardiovascular health. They did discover, however that resveratrol detracted from the positive effects of the training in areas including blood pressure and oxygen uptake, among others. Scientists were surprised to find that resveratrol in older men appeared to lessen the benefits of exercise on heart health. The results contract the findings from previous animal studies. The need for larger, more extensive studies on varied age groups was noted in order to confirm the results obtained. In addition, it was noted that the resveratrol supplementation provided in this study was greater than the amounts obtained through natural food sources.

FoodFacts.com looks forward to further research regarding the effects of antioxidants on our health. This is important information regarding how these compounds work in our bodies to promote our well-being. Perhaps the “too much of a good thing” concept for resveratrol and other antioxidant compounds is related to supplementation, as opposed to obtaining these compounds through natural food sources. A balanced diet, rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables can provide us with the nutrition our bodies need to remain healthy and strong throughout our lifetimes.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130722071955.htm

Add walnuts to your healthy diet and you may reduce your risk of heart disease

How many interesting and flavorful ways can you find to add walnuts to your diet? FoodFacts.com can think of quite a few: add them to cold or hot cereals, top your salad with them, sprinkle them over pancakes, include them in muffin batter, saute them with your chicken … and we’re only just getting started! Nuts are a healthy snack and a healthy addition to your meals. Today we found new information that makes walnuts a top pick when deciding on your nuts of choice.

A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition conducted by the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Derby, CT shows that walnuts may protect against heart disease. The study explored the health effects of daily walnut consumption by adults at risk for developing diabetes or heart disease.

These results backed up previous findings by the same team which found a significant improvement in blood vessel function among people with diabetes who consumed two ounces of walnuts daily for eight weeks. The researchers note that walnuts contain many healthy nutrients, including omega-3 fat. They are a satisfying snack, enabling us to feel full and stay full, thus helping us avoid other, less nutritious foods.

Participants in this new study were all overweight with an average age of 57 years. They all had at least one of a few different health conditions including high blood pressure, high blood glucose, high triglycerides or low HDL cholesterol. Each of these conditions can increase the risk for diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Diabetes, in turn, can raise the risk for cardiovascular disease.

All participants were asked to continue their usual eating patterns for one eight-week interval. This was considered the control phase of the study. For the next eight weeks, participants again continued their regular diets, except for this phase they were instructed to consume two ounces of walnuts each day. They were also instructed to adjust for the extra calories from the walnuts – removing an equal number of calories from their regular diet so that their calorie intake would be consistent with the control phase.

Researchers found that after the second eight-week phase of the study, participants’ blood vessel function improved significantly in comparison to the control phase. Body weight and waist circumference remained consistent. In addition, participants experienced a reduction in systolic blood pressure – although that reduction was not statistically significant. The study results provide evidence that walnuts can play a role in protecting against heart disease in at-risk individuals.

How can you add two ounces of walnuts to your daily diet? FoodFacts.com has a few more ideas for you … use them in pesto sauce instead of pine nuts, sprinkle them on asparagus, add them to chicken salad, or brown rice or quinoa, sprinkle them on ice cream for a treat. We’re sure you can come up with even more great uses for walnuts and hope that you do. Two ounces a day for better heart health is certainly an easy adjustment to make … and a great way to add some flavor and crunch to our meals!

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/study-shows-walnuts-may-protect-against-heart-disease-212282491.html

The right nutritional beginning can be kind to your heart

Everyone in the FoodFacts.com community knows that we’ve always advocated for the healthiest possible start for our children. With childhood obesity on the rise, we understand that now more than ever it’s so important for parents and caregivers of small children to pay careful attention to the foods they consume. Today we found new information that speaks directly to the importance of healthy beginnings.

A new study in the TARGet Kids! practice-based research network in Toronto, Ontario has shown that eating behaviors in preschool children may be associated with risk for cardiovascular disease later in life.

The study of more than 1,000 preschool aged children (3 to 5 years old) looked at the link between eating habits and HDL cholesterol levels (a marker for later cardiovascular disease risk)Parents filled out questionnaires addressing eating behaviors – things like watching television while eating, dietary intake, parental concerns about activity levels and growth, screen time and vitamin usage. Researchers measured height and weight of the kids and their parents and took blood samples. They assigned a risk level based on the ethnicity of the parents because some groups are more prone to heart disease than others.

The results revealed a link between eating behaviors and cardiovascular risk. That association may lead to early intervention measures. The results support previous calls for interventions that are aimed at improving the dietary habits of preschool-aged children. Some of those interventions can include responsive feeding. This would be a child-directed method where parents provide healthy food choices and children use internal cues for hunger, taking advantage of those healthy food choices. The eating styles of many children are parent directed –. breakfast served at a specific time in the morning, a mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack and dinner. Children fed in this manner do not develop a natural response to internal hunger cues. In addition, children can respond to cues from the television, encouraging them to eat. Often these cues lead the child and determine for them the timing and amount of food they consume.

This interesting survey certainly reinforces the concept that good nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices begin quite early. The youngest among us deserve the most careful attention when it comes to their dietary choices. FoodFacts.com encourages our community to offer fresh, healthy foods to the children they love. Good habits are easy to form. Start them young on the path to a healthy life and watch them grow into strong, happy and product adults. http://blog.foodfacts.com/baby-section

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/262084.php

AMA now classifies obesity as a disease in the U.S.

FoodFacts.com listened intently, along with the rest of the country today, as we learned that the American Medical Association formally voted to classify obesity a disease requiring a range of medical interventions in the United States.

More than 35 percent of U.S. adults and 17 percent of children and teenagers are now recognized as having the disease of obesity. While the move is certainly stirring up some controversy for a variety of reasons, the intent of the AMA seems to be directed at giving doctors a broader range of options for treatment. Without this status, doctors treating obesity must instead approach it as a lifestyle condition requiring modification. Because the AMA is committed to improving outcomes, and because obesity is so commonly linked to cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, this new classification is something they feel will help to arm the medical community more effectively as they tackle the epidemic.

Obesity is technically defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Normal weight is defined by a BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9. More than one in three adults in our country carries a BMI over 30.

As the FoodFacts.com community is aware, there are growing bodies of research that link serious disease to this all-too-common condition. Increased risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, liver disease, sleep apnea, breathing problems, osteoarthritis, infertility and multiple types of cancer including breast, pancreas, kidney, and colon, have all been associated with the expanding obesity problem.

It is also hoped that the new classification of obesity as a disease can also help more Americans realize that unhealthy food choices combined with lack of exercise is a real threat to their health. A recent survey showed that although 70% of the population understands that obesity is linked with heart disease and diabetes, only 7 percent realized that obesity is associated with cancer. Only another 5 percent knew that both asthma and sleep apnea could be helped with weight reduction.

Classifying obesity as an actual disease may also impact new laws and insurance practices. Lap-band procedures and gastric bypass surgeries aren’t always covered by insurers. The reclassification may help to change that. In addition, patients may become more comfortable with their doctor prescribing treatment for the disease of obesity. As an actual disease treatment may not be considered offensive or embarrassing, leaving the patient feeling poorly about unhealthy lifestyle choices.

While the new classification seems to be stirring up many emotions across the internet, FoodFacts.com can’t help but feel encouraged that this major move by the AMA can help doctors treat obesity before its effects set in. It could be especially beneficial in combating childhood obesity and giving the youngest in our population a better opportunity to live a life free from the multitude of problems linked with the epidemic. This may prove to be an incredibly valuable step towards eradicating a problem plaguing not only the United States, but the population of the rest of the word as well.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57590063/obesity-now-declared-disease-but-risk-for-chronic-illnesses-was-no-secret/

Energy drinks can cause increases in blood pressure and heart disturbances

In the recent past, FoodFacts.com has devoted blog posts to the growing concerns surrounding energy drinks and how they affect our health. There have been concerning reports linking energy drink consumption to deaths and hospitalizations. And those reports have been on the rise. We’ve been especially concerned about how they are marketed and how attractive they seem to teenagers and children.

A new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions shows that energy drinks can drastically increase blood pressure and disturb the heart’s natural rhythm. The researchers out of the University of the Pacific in Stockton the David Grant Medical Center, Travis Air Force Base in California used previous data published in several different studies. They were able to illustrate the effects energy drink consumption have on the cardiovascular system.

Energy drinks contain two ingredients that affect both blood pressure and cardiovascular problems. Those ingredients are caffeine and taurine. The researchers measured something called the QT interval, which is the amount of time in the heart’s electrical cycle that reveals the heart’s rhythm. Scientists measured the QT interval of 93 people after they had consumed one to three cans of energy drinks. For each can of energy drink consumed, the participants QT interval increased by 10 milliseconds. A prolonged QT interval can be associated with life-threatening arrhythmias.

It was noted that doctors are concerned when a patient experiences an addition 30 milliseconds in their QT interval. The association between energy drinks and a prolonged QT interval —especially considering the reports of cardiac death after their consumption certainly calls for further research and investigation.

The participants blood pressure reading also increased by an average of 3.5 points. This, along with the prolonged QT interval, is cause for caution before energy drink consumption. It’s important to note that children are at a higher risk for these problems than adults.

FoodFacts.com will continue to report research regarding energy drinks. Meanwhile, please approach energy drinks with caution for yourselves and your families. Help teenagers and children to be aware of the possible dangers linked to these beverages.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/258125.php

Sugar-sweetened beverages directly linked to deaths all over the world

FoodFacts.com has been keeping up to date on the subject of sugary beverages. The New York City ban on sugary drinks has been in the news consistently and has been responsible for shining a brighter spotlight on the subject. Today we found important new information that we wanted to make sure and share with our community.

New research has revealed that drinking sugary soft drinks is responsible for close to 180,000 deaths worldwide every year. The finding comes from research presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions.

We are already aware that sugary beverages are associated with increased body weight and obesity. These conditions can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Using data published in the 2010 Global Burden of Diabetes Study, researchers found an association between the consumption of sugary drinks and 180,000 deaths around the world. 133,000 of those deaths were related to diabetes, 44,000 to cardiovascular disease and 6,000 to cancer. In the United States, data showed that about 25,000 deaths were linked to sugary beverages in 2010.

Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean had the highest number of diabetes deaths due to consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks with 38,000. Mexico had the highest rate of death due to sugary drink consumption at about 318 deaths per million.

Japan, the country that consumes the least amount of sugary drinks in the world only had 10 deaths per million linked to sugary beverage consumption.

Over the past 30 years, global consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has risen tremendously. The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and obesity has stated that sugary drinks are the number one source of calories for American Adolescents.

This study is quite a bit different than those we normally read regarding the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. And seeing a direct link between sugary drink intake and death certainly puts things in better perspective. FoodFacts.com hopes that this information receives the attention it deserves and serves as a catalyst for consumers to reconsider their beverage choices for the sake of their health and longevity.

Read more here: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/257958.php

Strawberries and Blueberries are kind to your heart

FoodFacts.com is always thrilled to hear about how food can have positive effects on our health. For us, it’s always been about how our diet can affect our well-being. Our community members know how we feel about packaged, prepared foods and artificial, controversial ingredients. Today, we want to share with you some news about some simple fruits that might actually make a world of difference to your cardiovascular health.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States and the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom conducted a study among over 90,000 women between the ages 25 and 42. The women completed questionnaires about their diet every four years for 18 years.

During the study, 405 heart attacks occurred. Those women who ate the most blueberries and strawberries had a 32% reduction in their risk of heart attack compared to women who ate the berries once a month or less. This was true even for women who ate an otherwise healthy diet rich in fruit and other vegetables.

Women who ate at least three servings of blueberries and strawberries each week had fewer heart attacks than those who did not incorporate these fruits into their diets at the same levels. Blueberries and strawberries contain high levels of compounds that have cardiovascular benefits.

Dietary flavonoids are found in high levels in both blueberries and strawberries. In addition, they are contained in grapes, wine, blackberries, and eggplant. Flavonoids have acknowledged cardiovascular benefits. In addition, there is a sub-class of flavonoids – anthocyanins – that might help to dilate arteries and counter the effects of plaque build up in the vascular system.

The reason the researchers focused on blueberries and strawberries was pretty simple. These are the most often eaten berries in the United States. Because of this, the researchers acknowledged that it’s possible that other foods might produce the same effect.

FoodFacts.com has always been a proponent of the American Heart Association’s advice regarding eating a balanced diet that includes berries as part of a plan that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. We encourage our community members to remain conscious and colorful in their food choices. We understand that variety in our diets will not only keep eating interesting, but healthy as well. A little green, a little orange, a little red, a little purple might very well go a long way for your heart – as well as your taste buds. It’s also more appealing to the eye … and we all have to see our food before we eat it. If you like what you see, you really are more likely to enjoy the meal. We don’t live in a one-dimensional world. Our plates should reflect that … taste, color, texture. Strawberries and blueberries for heart health can add a wealth of dimension to our plates.

Read more about the study here:   http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130114152954.htm

Healthy diet and heart disease … a little prevention goes a long way

As a major advocate of healthy, conscious eating, FoodFacts.com actively looks for new information and research regarding how conscious consuming affects our health and well being. We were happy to find this information today coming out of McMaster University.

32,000 cardiovascular patients, on average in their 60s, living in 40 different countries were followed to discover whether or not following a heart healthy diet consisting of fish, fruits and vegetables would reduce their chances of recurrent heart attacks or strokes.

It turns out they found a significant and positive effect when patients included a heart healthy diet along with traditional preventive therapies. In fact, of the 32,000 patients studied, there was a 35 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular death, a 14 percent reduction in the risk for new heart attacks, a 28 percent reduction the risk for congestive heart failure and a 19 percent reduction in the risk for strokes.

The patients participating were surveyed for how often they consumed different categories of food in the past year, including fruits, vegetables, grains, milk, nuts, poultry, meat and fish. In addition, they were asked about personal lifestyle choices including exercise and smoking. A healthy diet was considered to be high in fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts in addition to a higher consumption of fish than meat or poultry.

Researchers found that those patients who reported consuming the heart-healthy diet defined received additional benefits over and above those provided by taking their regular cardiovascular medications. These patients experienced a significant reduction of cardiovascular related events.

The study that noted that some heart patients believe that because their prescribed medications are working to lower their blood pressure and cholesterol, their diet isn’t an important factor in their disease. Every year, more than 20 million people around the work survive heart attack and stroke and while it’s true that their prescribed drug treatments do work to lower their risk of additional events, this study links the addition of a heart-healthy diet to better outcomes.

It’s thought that this is the first research that has focused on the impact of healthy eating for cardiovascular patients who are taking medications to combat the possibility of future heart attacks, stroke or death. The concept of a physician’s advice to heart patients being expanded to include healthy diet improvement is really pretty simple.

FoodFacts.com is encouraged that this study and, hopefully future research, will promote the heart-healthy diet as more than just a preventative measure for avoiding cardiovascular problems, but as an actual treatment for those who have been afflicted with heart disease. Some small changes in diet could result in healthier, happier and longer lives for millions.

Read more:  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121203162931.htm

An unhealthy recipe revealed: the immediate effects of junk food on arterial health

There are some subjects that FoodFacts.com has always been aware of … and the subject matter here is one of them. We’ve been strong advocates of the “no junk food diet” – understanding that the controversial ingredients contained in junk food combined with their saturated fat content creates a recipe for poor health. New research coming from the EPIC Center for the Montreal Heart Institute makes a clear point regarding the effects of consuming just one meal of junk food.

The study focused on a comparison between the effects of junk food and a typical Mediterranean meal on the inner lining of blood vessels. This is called endothelial function and measuring it actually determines how the arteries dilate after eating. The dilation of arteries is linked to the risk of the development of coronary artery disease.
28 non-smoking men participated in the study. Prior to beginning, each participant had an ultrasound of a specific artery at the elbow crease after fasting for 12 hours. This reading was used to assess a baseline for endothelial function.

The first week, each of the men consumed a Mediterranean-style meal. This meal included salmon, almonds and vegetables cooked in olive oil. 51% of the total calories of the meal came from fat that was either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. At two hours and four hours after meal consumption, the mean received an ultrasound to determine the effect of the meal on their endothelial function.

The following week, the men consumed a different meal. This time it was a breakfast sandwich with an egg, sausage, a slice of cheese and three hash browns. This meal contained a total of 58% of calories from fat and was high in saturated fats. Again, they each underwent ultrasounds at two and four hours after meal consumption.

It was discovered that after consuming the meal high in saturated fats, the arteries of the study participants dilated 24% less than they did when fasting. After consuming the Mediterranean meal that was high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, the participants arteries dilated normally.

The study clearly indicates that junk food containing high levels of saturated fats is bad for your health no matter how infrequently you’re eating it. The effect is immediate and noticeable by your body. FoodFacts.com understands the importance of this detailed research that can plainly communicate the dangers of junk food consumption to our health and mark the differences that take place in our bodies immediately after eating different types of fats.

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121030062007.htm