Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Cardiovascular’

Raspberries- why are they so good?

Raspberries- also known as Rubus idaeus, they belong to the same botanical family as the rose and the blackberry.

Raspberries- also known as Rubus idaeus, they belong to the same botanical family as the rose and the blackberry

Raspberries contain more vitamin C than oranges, are super high in fibre, low in calories and supply you with a good dose of folic acid.

Further to that, they are high in potassium, vitamin A and calcium. Who would have thought that you could find so much goodness in one humble berry?

They are thought to help pregnant women- it has been suggested that drinking raspberry leaf tea shortens the second stage of labour.

Scotland is famous for its raspberry growing. In the late 1950s, raspberries were brought down from Scotland to London on a steam train known as the Raspberry Special.

Raspberries are thought to been eaten since prehistoric times, but only began to be cultivated in England and France in about the 1600s.

They come in all sorts of colours- but raspberries can be red, purple, gold or black in colour. The gold ones are the sweetest variety, and very tasty.

To form new species, raspberries have been crossed with other berries. The loganberry is a cross between raspberries and blackberries; the boysenberry is a cross between red raspberries, blackberries and loganberries; the nessberry is a cross between a dewberry, raspberry and a blackberry.

Raspberries are deeply symbolic. In some kinds of Christian art, the raspberry is the symbol for kindness. The red juice was thought of as the blood running through the heart, where kindness originates.

In the Philippines, if you hang a raspberry cane from the outside of your house, evil spirits are supposed to be deterred.

In Germany, too, raspberry canes would be tied to the horse’s body in the belief that it would calm them down. So much power in one gentle cane!

They don’t continue to ripen when picked. Unlike many fruits, unripe raspberries do not ripen after they have been picked. There’s no softening up in the fruit bowl for the raspberry – once it’s picked, that’s your lot.

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Coffee is good for your heart

Drinking a few cups of coffee a day may help people avoid clogged arteries – a heart disease risk factor.

Drinking a few cups of coffee a day may help people avoid clogged arteries - a heart disease risk factor.Researchers studied more than 25,000 male and female employees who underwent routine health checks at their workplace.

Employees who drank a moderate amount of coffee – three to five cups a day – were less likely to have early signs of heart disease on their medical scans.

The findings reopen the debate about whether coffee is good for the heart.

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the effect of coffee on heart health- as some studies have linked consumption to heart risk factors, such as raised cholesterol or blood pressure, while others suggest the beverage may offer some heart protection.

But there is no conclusive evidence either way, and the latest research from South Korea, which is published in the journal Heart, only adds to the discussion.

In the study, the researchers used medical scans to assess heart health. Specifically, they were looking for any disease of the arteries supplying the heart – the coronary arteries.

In coronary heart disease, the coronary arteries become clogged by the gradual build-up of fatty material within their walls.

The scan the researchers used looks for tiny deposits of calcium in the walls of the coronary arteries to provide an early clue that this disease process may be occurring.

None of the employees included in the Korean study had outward signs of heart disease, but more than one in 10 of them were found to have visible calcium deposits on their scans.

The researchers then compared the scan results with the employees’ self-reported daily coffee consumption, while taking into account other potential heart risk factors such as smoking, exercise and family history of heart problems.

People who drank a few cups of coffee a day were less likely to have calcium deposits in their coronary arteries than people who drank more than this or no coffee at all.

The study authors say more research is needed to confirm and explain the link.

Coffee contains the stimulant caffeine, as well as numerous other compounds, but it’s not clear if these might cause good or harm to the body.

So how much caffiene should one drink?

In the US, experts say up to 400mg a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. There is no recommended daily upper limit for caffeine consumption in the UK, except for pregnant women. If you’re pregnant, you should limit the amount of caffeine you have to 200mg a day – equivalent to two mugs of instant coffee.

Caffiene per serving:
  • one mug of instant coffee: 100mg
  • one mug of filter coffee: 140mg
  • one mug of tea: 75mg
  • one can of cola: 40mg
  • an espresso contains about 50mg of caffeine However, please note- coffee shop caffeine levels can vary widely.
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Sugar worse than salt claim health experts

Health experts claim avoiding sugar could be more important than avoiding salt when it comes to your healthy heart.

Sugar worse than salt claim health expertsScientists have clashed over claims that sugar may be worse for blood pressure and heart health than salt.

US experts say people need to place a greater focus on cutting sugar intake and suggest the benefits of lowering salt levels are “debatable.” Their arguments are published in the journal Open Heart.

But other researchers have said the claims are “disingenuous” and “scientifically unnecessary”. They maintain both need to be reduced.

Researchers from St Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, and Montefiore Medical Centre in the USA reviewed a selection of evidence from basic science experiments, animal studies and human research.

They came to the conclusion that sugar – particularly fructose – may play a stronger role in high blood pressure and other cardiac conditions than salt.

And they say lowering salt consumption under certain levels may do more harm than good as the research team suggests attempts to reduce salt in processed food may drive people to eat more.

The US experts focus on a particular type of sugar – added fructose – often found in processed foods and sugary beverages.

But they say naturally occurring sugars in whole foods, for example those in fruit and vegetables, are not a cause for concern.

Data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey in England suggests most adults and children eat more sugar than recommended.

The World Health Organization recommends sugars should make up less than 10% of total energy intake per day – this works out at about a maximum of 50g (1.7oz) of sugar for the average adult.

But the global health body recently acknowledged that halving this, to 5% of total energy intake per day, would have additional benefits.

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Eating yoghurt cuts risk of high blood pressure

Eating a small pot of yoghurt a day can cut the chance of having high blood pressure by a third.Eating yoghurt cuts risk of high blood pressureNaturally occurring calcium can make blood vessels more supple, enabling them to expand slightly and keep pressure low say dietitians.

American researchers who looked at the diets of some 2,000 volunteers, found those who regularly ate a little yoghurt were less likely to develop high blood pressure.

Specifically, those who took two per cent of their calories from yoghurt were 31 per cent less likely to develop high blood pressure over a 15 year period, than those who did not.

That equates to about 40 or 50 calories from yoghurt daily, or about half a typical 4.3oz (120g) individual pot.

Huifen Wang, a public health specialist at Minnesota University, presented the research Yogurt consumption, blood pressure, and incident hypertension: A longitudinal study in the Framingham Heart Study at an American Heart Association meeting about high blood pressure.

Calcium from dairy products like yoghurt and milk was particularly good for this, he said.

But taking too much calcium in pill form could have the opposite effect, he cautioned.

Studies indicate it can then be deposited on artery walls, leading to hardening of the arteries.

More than 8.5 million people are registered as having high blood pressure.

People with the condition are three times more likely to develop heart disease and suffer strokes as people with normal blood pressure and twice as likely to die from these.

Patients are often put on drugs to lower their blood pressure, such as beta-blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.

In 2008, the NHS in England spent £83 million on beta-blockers alone.

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Intensive two minute exercise as good as a 90 minute run

Short bursts of exercise lasting just 150 seconds could help protect against heart disease as much as a 90 minute run or longer but less strenuous workouts, according to new research.Intensive two minute exercise as good as a 90 minute runEvidence from a study of men aged 18 to 35 indicated brief but intense exercise was more effective at reducing blood fat levels, which can linger in the body after eating and begin the process of clogging up arteries.

In an experiment led by researcher Stuart Gray, a group of men was asked to sprint, cycle or walk for half an hour.

Those who exercised at peak levels for 30 seconds before resting for four minutes and repeating, saw the fat in their blood drop faster than those who walked at a brisk pace in line with Government guidelines.

The results showed walking cut fat by 11 per cent, compared with not doing any exercise, while short periods of exercise helped reduce fat by 33 per cent – the same effect as a 90 minute run.

Dr Gray, of Aberdeen University, told the British Science Festival that two minute workouts may be more effective in causing the liver to process more fat from the blood before storing it or burning it off.

He said that, while the high intensity training “won’t necessarily” improve strength, it does boost endurance.

He added that the short duration of the exercise was ‘highly important as time is often cited as the main barrier to taking part in exercise.”

However, he said exercising for brief period between resting meant the whole workout took 20 minutes and had to be done regularly.

Dr Gray said: “Although moderate intensity, longer sessions of exercise can help protect the body against cardiovascular disease, the findings of our study showed that higher-intensity shorter intervals of exercise might be a more effective method to improve health and reduce the time commitment to exercise.”

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Healthy living related to wealthy gross domestic product

Fruits and vegetables, proteins and non-saturated fats are consumed more often by the wealthy, while poorer people consume more carbohydrates.Healthy living related to wealthy gross domestic product The findings of the research were reported to the European Society of Cardiology conference.

The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study found that the greater a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) then the higher the consumption of healthy heart foods among people.

Commenting on the implications of the results, principal investigator Salim Yusuf from McMaster University, Canada, said: “Policies to prevent cardiovascular disease need to focus on different aspects of lifestyle among the rich versus the poor and between rich and poor countries. In particular, healthy foods need to become more affordable.”

A total of 154,000 people from 628 communities in 17 countries were recruited for the study, which analysed data such as medical history, lifestyle and ECGs.

Results from the study found people in poorer countries such as Bangladesh and India derived far less energy from fat, and also consumed less fruit and vegetables.

However, poor individuals or those from poorer countries were more active, chiefly because of higher energy expenditure in jobs, at home, and during transportation.

The difference in overall physical activity between the poorest and richest countries amounted to nearly 2,000 METS per minute per week or 2.7 hours brisk walking every day.

Smoking cessation rates were “markedly” higher among men living in richer countries and smoking rates overall were lower in wealthier individuals and countries.

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Spare tyre triples risk of heart attack

People who carry a small “spare tyre” around their waist but are otherwise a healthy weight are at triple the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke. Spare tyre triples risk of heart attackMen and women who are not overweight but store most of their fat around their waist are at greater risk of heart disease or stroke than even the clinically obese.

This could be because those who are overweight or obese have more weight on their thighs and hips which helps offset the problem, researchers said.

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic in the United States examined the health records of 12,785 people with an average age of 44, over a 14-year period.

They recorded patients’ body mass index (BMI) – their ratio of weight relative to height – as well as their waist-to-hip ratio, which signifies how much of their weight they store on their belly.

During the study, 2,562 of the patients died, including 1,138 as a result of a cardiovascular problem such as heart disease or stroke.

The findings suggest that people with a normal BMI but a high waist-to-hip ratio were 2.75 times more likely to die from a cardiovascular condition than people who were normal on both scales.

Even people who were clinically obese and had a high proportion of fat stored around their middle had only 2.34 times the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke compared with the healthiest group.

Speaking at the European Society of Cardiology’s annual congress in Munich, Dr Karine Sahakyan said having a normal BMI “should not reassure them that their risk for heart disease is low”.

“Where their fat is distributed on their body can mean a lot even if their body weight is within normal limits,” she said.

Fat which accumulates between the organs in the abdomen, and causes the waistline to expand, is made of a different type of cell to that which accumulates around the legs and thighs.

Cells in belly fat release chemicals which raise insulin resistance and are thought to increase the risk of cardiovascular problems.

People who are overweight and obese have more muscle mass and store some of their fat on their legs and hips, which Dr Sahakyan said was “actually protective”.

Slimmer people are more likely to carry extra weight on the waist, she said.

Patients with a high waist-to-hip ratio can offset their risk by exercising more and sticking to a healthy diet.

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Unhealthy lifestyle responsible for half of cancers

Almost half of cancers are caused by an unhealthy lifestyle that could be avoided by quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising and drinking less alcohol, the most comprehensive study of its kind has found.Unhealthy lifestyle responsible for half of cancersAround 134,000 cancers each year are the result of a poor lifestyle, Cancer Research UK has found.

In the most wide reaching study yet conducted into the issue, it was found that 14 different lifestyle factors ranging from smoking, to lack of exercise, eating too much salt, not having babies, drinking too much and being overweight contributed to four in every ten cancers diagnosed in the UK.

The findings expose the myth that developing cancer is ‘bad luck’ or down to your genes, the researchers said.

Previous studies had suggested around 80,000 cancers a year could be prevented but they did not take into account occupational exposures to things like asbestos, infections that can cause cancer and sunburn as the latest research has.

In a complex set of research studies, scientists calculated how many cancers and of what type could be attributed to each of the 14 lifestyle factors.

The findings were published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Smoking was the biggest factor, causing nearly one in five of all cancers.

But Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said most people would not know that a quarter of all breast cancer cases could be prevented along with half of colorectal cancers.

He added: “Leading a healthy lifestyle doesn’t guarantee that someone will not get cancer but doing so will significantly stack the odds in your favour.”

Dr Kumar said tackling unhealthy lifestyle factors linked to cancer would also reduce the risk of a host of other killer diseases such as heart disease, respiratory problems, kidney disease and others.

Professor Max Parkin, a Cancer Research UK epidemiologist based at Queen Mary, University of London, and study author, said: “Many people believe cancer is down to fate or ‘in the genes’ and that it is the luck of the draw whether they get it.

“Looking at all the evidence, it’s clear that around 40 per cent of all cancers are caused by things we mostly have the power to change.

“We didn’t expect to find that eating fruit and vegetables would prove to be so important in protecting men against cancer. And among women we didn’t expect being overweight to have a greater effect than alcohol.”

The study found that alcohol was responsible for 6.4 per cent of breast cancers and almost one in ten liver cancers.

Three quarters of stomach cancers could be avoided, mostly by not smoking, eating too much salt and consuming more fruit and vegetables.

Red meat consumption led to 2.7 per cent of cancers, almost 8,500 cases. Obesity was linked to more than five per cent of cancers or almost 18000 cases, including a third of womb cancers.

Lack of breastfeeding was linked to 3.1 per cent of breast cancers and 17 per cent of ovarian cancers.

The study did not examine how many cancer deaths would be prevented with a healthier lifestyle.

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Heart benefits of statins exceed diabetes risk

The benefits of taking statins for hearts exceeds the increased risk of diabetes from the drugs new reserach has found.Heart benefits of statins exceed diabetes risk

Although the cholesterol busting drugs raise the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in those already prone to the disease, the cuts in heart attacks and strokes are worth it, an article- Cardiovascular benefits and diabetes risks of statin therapy in primary prevention published in The Lancet said.

Millions of people take statins to reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke and it has been argued that everyone over the age of 50 should take them.

However, in people who are already at risk of type 2 diabetes by being overweight for example, taking statins can increase the chances of developing the disease by 28 per cent.

For healthy people not at risk of diabetes, statins have no effect on the disease.

Conversely, statins can cause fatigue, muscle pains, headaches, nausea and memory problems.

Currently UK doctors consider statins for patients whose chances of having a heart attack over the next decade are calculated to be 20 per cent or greater.

A team of scientists led by Professor Paul Ridker, based at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, USA, analysed data gathered during the Jupiter trial, the first controlled study to report that taking statins results in an increased risk of developing diabetes.

They said for those taking statins during the five year trial the drugs clearly increased the likelihood of developing diabetes in patients already at risk of the disease, these patients were still 39 per cent less likely to develop cardiovascular illness while using statins, and 17 per cent less likely to die over the trial period.

Patients who were not already at risk of developing diabetes experienced a 52 per cent reduction in cardiovascular illness when taking statins, and had no increase in diabetes risk.

Professor Ridker said: “Our results show that in participants with and without diabetes risk, the absolute benefits of statin therapy are greater than the hazards of developing diabetes.

“We believe that most physicians and patients would regard heart attack, stroke and death to be more severe outcomes than the onset of diabetes, and so we hope that these results ease concern about the risks associated with statin therapy when these drugs are appropriately prescribed – in conjunction with improved diet, exercise and smoking cessation – to reduce patients’ risk of cardiovascular disease.”

In an accompanying commentary article Professor Gerald Watts of the University of Western Australia’s Cardiometabolic Research Centre, at the Royal Perth Hospital, said warnings over the use of statins and diabetes could be altered to apply only to people already at risk of diabetes.

He said: “A major take-home message for the clinician involved in either primary or secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease is that all individuals on a statin who have major risk factors for diabetes, particularly impaired fasting glucose, need to be informed about the risk, monitored regularly for hyperglycaemia, and advised to lose weight and take regular physical exercise to mitigate the emergence of diabetes.”

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Smiling is good for the heart

Smiling, grinning and bearing it really might work suggest scientists following research that smiling really can reduce stress and help the heart.Smiling is good for the heartResearchers found smiling can reduce stress levels and lower the heart rate while performing difficult tasks.

Writing in Psychological Science, the authors tell how they studied the effects of different types of smiling in difficult situations.

Tara Kraft, of the University of Kansas, said: “Age old adages, such as ‘grin and bear it’ have suggested smiling to be not only an important nonverbal indicator of happiness but also wishfully promotes smiling as a panacea for life’s stressful events.

“We wanted to examine whether these adages had scientific merit; whether smiling could have real health relevant benefits.”

She and Dr Sarah Pressman divided smiles into two categories – standard smiles, which use the muscles surrounding the mouth, and genuine or Duchenne smiles, which engage the muscles surrounding both the mouth and the eyes.

Kraft and Pressman worked to manipulate the types of smiles to examine the effects on stress.

They recruited 169 participants from a Midwestern university and divided them into three groups, with each group was trained to hold a different facial expression.

They were instructed to hold chopsticks in their mouths in such a way that they engaged facial muscles used to create a neutral facial expression, a standard smile, or a Duchenne smile.

Chopsticks were essential to the task because they forced people to smile without the people being aware that they were doing so: only half of the group members were actually instructed to smile.

Participants were then asked to work on multitasking activities which, unknown to them, were designed to be stressful.

During both of the stressful tasks, participants held the chopsticks in their mouth just as they were taught in training and the researchers measured participants’ heart rates and self stress levels.

Compared to participants who held neutral facial expressions, participants who were instructed to smile, and in particular those with Duchenne smiles, had lower heart rate levels after recovery from the stressful activities.

The participants who held chopsticks in a manner that forced them to smile, but were not explicitly told to smile as part of the training, also reported a smaller decrease in positive affect compared to those who held neutral facial expressions.

Dr Pressman said that the findings show that smiling during brief stressors can help to reduce the intensity of the body’s stress response, regardless of whether a person actually feels happy.

She said: “The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment.  Not only will it help you ‘grin and bear it’ psychologically, but it might actually help your heart health as well.”

From:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Smiling-is-good-for-the-heart

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