Friday, July 29, 2011

Vitamin D and Acai Berry Help Prevent Arterial Plaque and Heart Disease Risk

Critical research into the importance of vitamin D on vascular health was carried out at the Emory University School of Medicine and reported to the American College of Cardiology. Researchers provided evidence that increasing levels of vitamin D circulating in the blood is essential to improved cardiovascular health and dramatically lowered risk of heart disease and heart attack.

The study included 554 adults with an average age of 47 years. Participants had a typical vitamin D level of 32 ng/ml, with 14% testing as deficient (less than 20 ng/ml) and 33% were insufficient (less than 30 ng/ml). While standard medical practice considers 30 ng/ml to be an ideal minimum level, most natural health experts advise attaining a 25(OH)D reading between 50 and 70 ng/ml for proper cell saturation of the prohormone.

Vitamin D Improves Arterial Elasticity to Prevent Atherosclerosis
Researchers monitored the ability of the participants` blood vessels to relax by inflating and removing a blood pressure cuff from their arms. Blood was then allowed to flow back into the arm and the degree of elasticity measured by means of an ultrasound. They found that arterial elasticity was directly related to the blood level measured for vitamin D saturation. Those individuals with the lowest or deficient readings experienced a much higher degree of hardening.

Participants with the highest readings experienced significantly improved vascular elasticity and lower blood pressure readings. The study author, Dr. Al Mheid noted “There is already a lot known about how vitamin D could be acting here”. Regarding mechanisms responsible for the cardiovascular health improvements Dr. Mheid concluded, “It could be strengthening endothelial cells and the muscles surrounding the blood vessels. It could also be reducing the level of angiotensin, a hormone that drives increased blood pressure, or regulating inflammation.”

Acai Berry Juice Protects Against Arterial Hardening
Research results published in the journal Atherosclerosis provide evidence that acai juice provides powerful anti-inflammatory benefits that protect the delicate coronary arteries from hardening. Researchers found that acai juice protects against the development of atherosclerosis by inhibiting pro-inflammatory compounds known as cytokines that promote arterial thickening and the beginning stage of heart disease.

The juice was shown to lower levels of lipid peroxidation, a process that causes normal LDL cholesterol to combine with oxygen and incorporate with other materials to become arterial plaque. This study found that drinking acai juice altered the expression of 17 genes that contribute to LDL cholesterol oxidation. Health-minded individuals will want maintain proper vitamin D blood levels and drink 4 to 8-ounces of unsweetened acai juice each day (or an equivalent standardized extract) to dramatically lower the health risks associated with arterial hardening.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Green Tea Consumption Shown to Lower Body Weight and Fat Accumulation

Compelling evidence presented in the journal Nutrition Research makes the firm connection between green tea consumption, lowered body weight and reduced levels of dangerous belly fat. Drinking between 5 and 8 cups of green tea each day was shown to lower body weight by 5.6% and decrease abdominal fat stores by 17.8% over a period of 8 weeks.

Green tea consumption has long been associated with lowered risk of cancer, metabolic syndrome and heart disease. This research provides compelling evidence that green tea boosts metabolism to target fat stores and assists weight loss efforts.

Green Tea is Shown to Help Weight Management Goals
Green tea extracts have been researched extensively over the past decade and are shown to dramatically lower the risk of Alzheimer`s disease and dementias, cardiovascular disease and many forms of cancer. Additional studies have shown that the polyphenols in green tea are a significant factor in improved oral health and can provide necessary support for weight management and control. Green tea is composed of four primary polyphenols (epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, and epicatechin) that are shown to influence genetic signaling and metabolic rate.

The study was conducted by Polish researchers and used an animal model to determine weight loss and fat accumulation characteristics. The researchers also analyzed cardiovascular risk factors and atherogenesis over an 8 week period. The animals were fed a high fat diet and drank green tea made from either a 1.1% or 2% extract of the active phenolic compound. The results indicate that body weight and fat reduction are dose dependent with maximum results (5.6% lower body weight, 17.8% fat reduction) achieved with the 2% extract.

Green Tea Improves Arterial Elasticity and Reduces Cardiovascular Risks
Researchers also found that both concentrations of green tea extract reduced atherogenesis (initial loss of coronary artery elasticity leading to artery hardening and future heart disease) by 14.3% compared to non-supplemented subjects. The study authors did not determine the mechanism for cardiovascular risk reduction. Prior research has shown that the potent antioxidant content of green tea is responsible for significantly lowered levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol and increased particle size that are consistent with reduced heart disease risk.

This study used the equivalent of 5 to 8 cups of green tea consumed each day to achieve optimal weight management, fat reduction and cardiovascular risk reversal. Researchers found that the green tea concentration is important to achieve optimal weight lowering results. Drink 6 cups of fresh brewed, non-fluoridated green tea daily (or take a standardized green tea extract supplement) to help prevent coronary artery disease, assist weight loss and boost fat reduction efforts.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Walnuts Provide Most Antioxidants of any Nut

The result of a new study presented to the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society found that the noble walnut packed the highest level of quality antioxidants of any nut species. Not only do walnuts provide plenty of high-quality protein that delivers a perfectly balanced assortment of vitamins, minerals and fiber, they also contain healthful polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that lower deadly artery-clogging small dense oxidized LDL cholesterol. Adding a handful of walnuts to your daily diet can provide many of the essential antioxidants necessary to ward off cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Walnuts Provide Maximum Antioxidant Punch to Prevent Chronic Disease
Dr. Joseph Vinson performed the analysis that showed walnuts provide more antioxidants to the body than other nuts including peanuts, almonds, pecans and pistachios. He noted “A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. But unfortunately, people don't eat a lot of them. This study suggests that consumers should eat more walnuts as part of a healthy diet.” Tree and ground nuts have long been known to be among Mother Nature`s most perfectly packaged foods, providing a complex of natural enzymes and nutrients that promote human health.

This research analysis compared walnuts to nine other nut species that are ranked among the highest in antioxidant capacity. Walnuts were found to be 2 to 15 times more potent than vitamin E in terms of their antioxidant capacity. Vitamin E is well known for its ability to promote cardiovascular health by lowering dangerous levels of small dense LDL cholesterol particles. The analysis also found that it is important to eat walnuts in their raw and natural form, as heating or roasting degrades the antioxidant properties of the nut.

Calories from Walnuts Do Not Add to Weight Gain
Dr. Vinson found that despite the powerful antioxidant and nutrient punch provided by walnuts and other tree nuts in general, they account for less than 8% of the daily antioxidant allowance for most people. This is likely due to misinformation regarding calories and excess fat content that has circulated about nuts over the past 50 years. Research has demonstrated that regular nut consumption does not lead to excess weight and provides a feeling of satiety. The polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats provided by nuts promote cardiovascular health and have been shown to dramatically lower the risk of a heart attack.

The analysis found that just 7 walnuts each day are sufficient to boost human health. Always eat walnuts in their natural unprocessed and unroasted form to preserve the bounty of enzymes, nutrients and antioxidants that have been shown to help prevent heart disease and cancer.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

High Fiber Diet Linked with Lower Heart Disease Risk

Nutrition researchers from Northwestern Medicine in Chicago report that a diet naturally high in fiber provides critical protection from heart disease in a study of adults aged 20 to 59 years. Results presented to the American Heart Association`s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention Scientific Sessions draws the direct correlation between fiber consumption and heart disease risk.

This is the first study to establish the connection between dietary fiber and lifetime cardiovascular disease risk in adults up to age 59. High-fiber diets have long been associated with weight loss, reduced cholesterol levels and improved hypertension. Experts now recommend a minimum of 25 grams of fiber each day to dramatically lower heart disease risk.

Those with the Highest Fiber Intake Show Maximum Protection from Heart Disease
The study consisted of an analysis of questionnaires compiled as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by lead author Dr. Hongyan Ning. A nationally diverse group of 11,000 adults were questioned for factors including diet, blood pressure, total cholesterol, smoking status and history of diabetes and then used to formulate a lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease. Body weight, cholesterol and hypertension are considered to be primary determinants of long-term risk for heart disease, and combined can be used to provide an accurate risk assessment.

Dr. Ning found the results to be quite amazing, and noted that “younger (20 to 39 years) and middle-aged (40 to 59 years) adults with the highest fiber intake, compared to those with the lowest fiber intake, showed a statistically significant lower lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease.” In this study, 25 grams or more fiber each day was found to provide the most protection against heart disease. Processed foods, even if promoted as high-fiber were determined to be high in sodium and calories and did not provide the same degree of protection when compared to fiber obtained from fresh fruits and vegetables.

Fiber Consumption Found to be More Important during Early Years
Interestingly, the study found that fiber consumption did not affect the long-term risk of heart disease among the senior group aged 60 to 79 years. Researchers believe that the beneficial effects of a high-fiber diet may require a long time to achieve, and older adults may have already developed advanced disease risk factors requiring more intense natural interventions (vitamin D and omega-3 fat optimization) to correct.

Dr. Ning said “As for young and middle-aged adults, now is the time to start making fiber a big part of your daily diet.” She concluded “the study suggests that starting a high-fiber diet now may help improve your long-term risk.” Some research has indicated that optimal disease risk reduction is attained with a daily fiber intake between 40 and 50 grams. It`s important to ensure that the fiber in your diet comes mostly from raw vegetables, nuts and seeds (including flaxseeds, almonds and walnuts) with minimal amounts from fruit and whole grains to maximize your protection against cardiovascular disease.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pterostilbene Protects Against Colon and Digestive Cancers

Pterostilbene is garnering much attention as a powerful nutrient found naturally in the skin of many berries and fruit varieties. According to research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the compound is more potent than its close cousin, resveratrol in preventing the development of colon cancer.

Researchers found that pterostilbene was highly effective at increasing the expression of genes responsible for the generation of powerful protective antioxidant enzymes. The nutrient can be obtained by eating a diet largely based on raw vegetables and fruits or can be supplemented to dramatically reduce the risk of digestive cancers.

Pterostilbene is a Potent Natural Antioxidant That Aids Digestive Health
Pterostilbene has been found to be a potent antioxidant agent that targets the digestive tract and in this study was associated with decreased inflammation as well as modulation of the antioxidant signaling pathways in the colon. Researchers from the National Kaohsiung Marine University in Taiwan compared the effect of pterostilbene and resveratrol and commented their “findings strongly suggested the chemopreventive potential of dietary administration of pterostilbene against colonic tumorigenesis.” 

Extensive scientific studies have highlighted the health-promoting effects of resveratrol and suggested a strong link to life extension through its anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects. Resveratrol exerts powerful cardiovascular benefits, anti-diabetes potential, energy endurance enhancement, and protection against Alzheimer’s disease. Both nutrients have evolved to protect plants from the damaging effects of their environment and are now rapidly emerging as protective agents for the human body.

Pterostilbene Protects Against Colon and Digestive Cancers
Pterostilbene has many properties in common with resveratrol and this research provides evidence that it specifically works to prevent digestive system cancers, the second leading cause of cancer deaths that takes the lives of more than 50,000 Americans each year. Researchers noted both resveratrol and pterostilbene block cellular inflammation and oxidative stress, though “pterostilbene was a more potent chemopreventive agent than resveratrol for the prevention of colon cancer.” Pterostilbene was shown to specifically inhibit the initiation and proliferation of colon cancer cells in a dose dependent manner when compared with resveratrol.

Pterostilbene and resveratrol are naturally found in grapes, most berry species and red wine. Scientific research is showing that the closely-related nutrients work synergistically to aid human health, prevent digestive tumor formation and extend lifespan. Nutrition experts recommend 25 to 50 mg of each nutrient daily. Most health conscious people will need to take a quality supplement to achieve these levels for optimal protection against chronic disease.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

CoQ10 Can Lower High Blood Pressure to Prevent Congestive Heart Failure

Reporting in the journal Biofactors, researchers found that patients with congestive heart failure that were supplemented with the active form of coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinol) improved ejection fraction by 39%. Ejection fraction is a critical marker of heart function used to determine the volume of blood pumped by the heart through the vascular system.

CoQ10 is essential to convert nutrients to energy and power the cellular engine, and natural production in the body declines with age. Extensive research explains how you can benefit from daily supplementation with this powerful co-enzyme to restore healthy energy balance and prevent age-related heart disease.

CoQ10 Improves Quality of Life for Heart Failure Patients
The study conducted at the East Texas Medical Center and Trinity Mother Francis Hospital focused on patients with advanced congestive heart failure that were classified as Stage IV, the most severe form of the disease. Patients were supplemented with 580 mg of the ubiquinol form of coenzyme Q10 daily to increase plasma blood levels by a factor of four.

The researchers found “the improvement in plasma CoQ10 levels is correlated with both clinical improvement and improvement in measurement of left ventricular function.” Prior to CoQ10 supplementation, most of the participants were considered critically ill and confined to bed or a wheel chair. After a regimen of ubiquinol, patients typically improved two classification levels (Stage IV to II or III to I) and were able to carry on a productive lifestyle.

CoQ10 Improves Blood Vessel Elasticity to Lower Blood Pressure
Hypertension is a serious problem that affects as many as one in three adults in the US today. High blood pressure is closely associated with coronary artery closure due to plaque formation and arterial stiffening as the normally elastic vessels require more pressure to fully circulate blood to the body. The result of a study published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism found that coenzyme Q10 supplemented along with other potent antioxidant nutrients (vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium) significantly increased small and large arterial elasticity that led to lower blood pressure and risk of a heart attack.

Subjects in this study received 60 mg of CoQ10 for a period of six months along with moderate amounts of the other nutrients. In addition to improved arterial elasticity, researchers found a significant decline in HbA1C blood sugar control and an increase in protective HDL cholesterol levels. The authors of the research concluded that the CoQ10 nutrient antioxidant cocktail “has beneficial effect on glucose and lipid metabolism, blood pressure and arterial compliance in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors.”

It comes as no surprise to most alternative health-minded individuals that nutrients obtained from natural sources exert a powerful influence on human health. Adults will want to supplement with 50 to 100 mg per day (higher amounts may be necessary for existing cardiovascular disease) of the ubiquinol form of co-enzyme Q10 to maintain optimal health, energy and protection from age-related diseases of the heart.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Add Selenium to Prevent Heart Disease and Cancer Incidence

Researchers reporting in the FASEB Journal found that selenium deficiency in the American diet may be a significant foundation for the rampant proliferation of heart disease and cancer over the past several decades. By analyzing data from hundreds of published studies, Dr. Bruce Ames of the Children`s Hospital Oakland Research Institute determined that selenium-dependent proteins deprived of the essential mineral pave a path toward chronic disease early in life that may threaten our long-term survival past our reproductive years. We need to obtain selenium in the proper form from an early age to dramatically lower the risk from heart disease and cancer in later life.

New Theory Shows Long Term Nutrient Deficiency Leads to Chronic Diseases
Dr. Ames subscribes to the newly developed `triage theory` that explains why age-related diseases like heart disease, cancer, and dementia may be “unintended consequences of mechanisms developed during evolution to protect against episodic vitamin/mineral shortages.” The theory provides evidence that critical shortages of vitamins and minerals such as selenium cause the body to use all available resources to preserve life and biological functions over the short-term and to ensure reproduction. Depleting essential nutrients caused by a poor diet leads to unintended proliferation of chronic disease risk as we pass through mid-life and beyond.

There are twelve selenoproteins of which five are considered essential and seven are known to be nonessential to human health. Interestingly, an analysis of the available studies concludes that it is the nonessential selenoprotein availability and concentration that may be the most important in determining optimal health or progression toward chronic illness. Dr. Ames found that “among all selenoproteins, dysfunction of those that are nonessential is likely to be the major contributor to increased disease risk due to selenium deficiency.”

Selenium is Essential to Protein Folding and Cancer Prevention
Selenium in its various forms is required for the proper formation and folding of 50 to 100 different proteins that perform a wide variety of functions throughout the body. Extensive research confirms the critical nature of selenium in the prevention of cancer as it supports normal immune function to halt aberrant cell growth. Information published in the journal Biochemistry found that there are two types of selenium known as SeMet and MeSeCys that are processed differently to provide a chemo protective shield.

Researchers working to determine the ability of selenium to prevent breast cancer found that the MeSeCys form of selenium was significantly more effective in protecting against the insidious disease compared to the SeMet version of the mineral. The study found that breast cancer cells processed the two different forms of selenium differently leading to the protective nature of the MeSeCys form.

Recommended daily intake levels of selenium are 55 mcg, making many people deficient due to poor soil conditions and inadequate diet. Nutrition experts recommend 200 mcg for optimal disease protection but don`t specify between MeSeCys or SeMet forms. Health-minded individuals will want to ensure a natural and organic diet to maximize their selenium intake and may want to consider supplementing with a broad-range selenium supplement to help prevent cancer and heart disease.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Potassium and Magnesium Lower Blood Pressure and Heart Disease Risk

Potassium and magnesium are two essential minerals that provide a powerful shield against age-related arterial stiffness and elevated blood pressure readings. Despite our best dietary efforts to eat plenty of fresh vegetables, nuts and fruits, some may still be deficient in circulating levels of this super duo.

Due to over farming practices, magnesium levels are less than half compared to a century ago. Many people shun potassium from salt based on the unfounded notion that sodium increases the incidence of heart disease. The result of research presented to the American Society of Nephrology concludes that reduced intake of potassium is a significant risk factor in higher blood pressure readings and incidence of coronary artery disease.

Critical Minerals Have Been Eliminated From Our Modern Diet
Researchers found that the present American consumes less than one-third the amount of potassium compared to our evolutionary counterparts. This is largely due to a diet high in processed foods and lowered consumption of fruits and vegetables. Study results demonstrated that increased dietary potassium both lowered blood pressure as well as most pharmaceuticals and improved cardiovascular health by promoting renal fitness and improved elimination of plaque-forming calcium from the blood.

Studies conducted at the University of Pennsylvania and published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that patients with chronically elevated pulmonary blood pressure and the lowest sodium and potassium levels had a ten-fold increased risk of death from cardiac complications. The heart requires a proper balance of the two minerals to handle increased workloads, and low potassium levels make the heart unable to meet this demand.

Lack of Dietary Magnesium Leads to Arterial Hardening
New medical research now shows that low levels of magnesium is an independent risk factor for arterial hardening that is a leading cause of congestive heart failure and heart attack. It`s estimated that 70% of all adults are deficient in this mineral as a result of poor dietary balance and reduced absorption from healthy sources such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Contributing to the journal Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, researchers determined that magnesium supplementation “could have a major impact on cardiovascular health and help to correct the source of problems such as high blood pressure.”

Magnesium and potassium exert multiple critical influences on arterial health that result in improved vascular tone. The mineral duo is shown to lower levels of systemic inflammation, improve vasodilatation and support the production of friendly nitric oxide necessary for proper elasticity of the vascular system. Health-minded individuals will want to ensure a daily magnesium intake between 400 and 600 mg. Ensure proper potassium levels by eating a diet filled with fresh vegetables to maintain normal blood pressure readings and lower risk from cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Friday, July 1, 2011

DHA Omega-3 Fat Protects Arteries, Heart and Can Prevent Blindness

As the population of American baby boomers continues to swell, age related afflictions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and complications such as blindness are growing at a similar pace. The number of people aged 65 or older will double over the next 20 years creating an epidemic of chronic conditions that perpetuate with age.

According to the result of a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a diet supplemented with the Omega-3 fatty acid DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) can significantly lower the risk of sudden cardiac death, heart disease and visual degeneration leading to blindness.

Omega-3 Fats Provide Critical Protection Against Heart Attack
Many scientific studies have proven the importance of Omega-3 fish oils in the prevention of cardiac disorders and specifically lowering the risk of sudden death from a heart attack. Research conducted by the Division of Cardiology and Department of Medicine at the University of Maryland found that the DHA fraction of fish oil dramatically alters the mitochondria in the heart muscle increasing healthy heart energy production. Researchers found that DHA activates the gene PPAR to help prevent the increasing incidence of heart failure and risk from a deadly heart attack.

Another key component in the progression of cardiovascular disease is systemic inflammation that leads to unstable plaque known to rupture and cause a heart attack. Further evidence of the importance of DHA in lowering heart diseases risk is published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology. Researchers found that DHA influences the action of immune system macrophages. Working at the genetic level, DHA is shown to control the release of cellular antioxidants that inhibit the damage caused by excessive and chronic inflammation to the coronary arteries.

DHA Fat Dramatically Lowers Risk of a Fatal Stroke
DHA is an important tool in the prevention of stroke. Many of the mechanisms that increase incidence of a heart attack also contribute to stroke risk. DHA becomes incorporated into the cell wall structure where it stabilizes existing plaque, making it less likely to break off and cause a stroke. DHA has been shown to help blood flow easier, lower the risk for clotting and reduce blood pressure. High levels of DHA can prevent hardening and thickening of the arteries that result in vascular decay.

The journal Science Translational Medicine reports the result of research that demonstrates how DHA regulated genes that can prevent blindness. DHA is highly concentrated in the retina and can control the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eye that cause visual degradation. By halting unnecessary growth, DHA regulates vessel formation so that healthy blood vessels form and undesirable ones do not.

Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and trout are ideal sources of Omega-3 fats including the DHA fraction. Due to the ever-increasing problem of mercury contamination in fish, supplementation is well advised. Nutrition experts recommend a molecularly distilled, dosage-controlled supplement that supplies 250 to 500 mg of DHA (not EPA and DHA combined, read labels carefully) daily to dramatically lower the risks from heart disease, heart attack, stroke and blindness.