Tag Archives: heart health

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: The Magic Pill for Healthy Living? | The Paleo Diet
The tremendous benefits of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) cannot be overstated. Most significantly it has long been associated with keeping the heart healthy.1 This is one of the many reasons why it is recommended for Paleo, and well living. Scientific studies have already shown the possible link between EVOO and stroke prevention.2 EVOO has also been shown to play a key role in preventing diabetes, through some unclear mechanisms. Based on this, do you need any more reasons why you need to cook with EVOO?

Well actually to a recent study published in the prominent Nature journal, there is another reason to add to the list. Researchers in Italy recently described how EVOO improves post-prandial (after eating a meal) blood glucose, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c).1 Basically individuals who ate meals prepared with EVOO experienced greatly improved levels of lower blood glucose, and cholesterol, when compared to those with corn oil. Now before buying stock in EVOO companies, it is important to understand the whys, whats and hows.

THE STUDY

In the study of 25 subjects, there were two objectives using a Mediterranean-type meal, with the first one including extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), while the second used corn oil. After consumption of the meal with EVOO, participants experienced significantly decreased levels of blood glucose, dipeptidyl-peptidase-4 (DPP-4) protein, lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), oxidized LD (ox-LDL)L, as well as higher levels of  insulin, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP).1 In the second part of the study, EVOO was shown to lead to better improvement in glycemic and lipid profile compared to corn oil. The meal with EVOO compared to the one with corn oil resulted in significantly smaller increase of glucose, DPP-4 protein and activity, as well as increased levels of insulin, and GLP-1. Additionally, eating meals with EVOO resulted in lower amounts of LDL-C and ox-LDL.

WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?

Well, while the Mediterranean diet does not agree with all the principles of a Paleo diet, the study insinuates that the wonderful health benefits attributed to the Mediterranean diet, stem from the intake of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). These benefits include antiatheroslerotic effect, which preventing the development of stroke, and the start of new-onset diabetes.3 The speculation was that EVOO contains antioxidants, which are beneficial for oxidative stress, given evidence of a link between oxidative stress and beta cells dysfunction.4 Since beta cells are responsible for the release of insulin in the pancreas, then this dysfunction may result in diabetes. In addition oxidative stress is thought to activate DPP-4, ultimately decreasing the release of insulin. The latter helps decrease levels of blood glucose, so this further compounds the issue with oxidative stress, and increased blood glucose.

DECREASING THE RISK OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE, PARKINSON’S DISEASE, CANCER, AND MORE

Now this is where it gets even more interesting. In addition to atherosclerosis, stroke and diabetes, oxidative stress, the latter being the overproduction of free oxygen radical molecules. Its toxicity is linked with other neurodegenerative diseases such as cancer, aging damage, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and other cardiovascular diseases. Does this mean that extra virgin olive oil could decrease the risk of developing a wide myriad of conditions? Possibly.

Several studies have shown that oleuropein aglycone, which is a natural phenol widely found in EVOO, is protective and therapeutic against Alzheimer’s disease.5 Furthermore other studies also indicate that this same compound could provide protective and therapeutic effects against a number of conditions including obesity, non-alcoholic hepatitis and type 2 diabetes.5 Additionally studies have shown neuroprotective effects against other critical conditions such as cerebral ischemia, multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathy and spinal cord injury.6 HIV has an increased inflammatory process, and so bring on the EVOO! It only makes sense why we recommend extra virgin olive oil.

In summary, the truth is there is no magic pill for healthy living. There is a scientific basis behind the extra virgin olive oil recommendation, and the long list of potential benefits keeps growing. Preventative care is always the best form of medicine, and you can play your part in making the right and healthy choice.

 

REFERENCES

[1] Violi, F., Loffredo, L., Pignatelli, P., Angelico, F., Bartimoccia, S., C, N., . . . Carnevela, R. (2015, June 2015). Extra virgin olive oil use is associated with improved post-prandial blood glucose and LDL cholesterol in healthy subjects. Nutrition & Diabetes, 5(e172). doi:10.1038/nutd.2015.23

[2] Melnick, M. (2011, June 16). Can Olive Oil Help Prevent Stroke? Retrieved from Time.

[3] Martínez-González, M., Dominguez, L., & Miguel Delgado, R. (2014). Olive oil consumption and risk of CHD and/or stroke: a meta-analysis of case–control, cohort and intervention studies. British Journal of Nutrition, 112(2), 248-259.

[4] Uttara, B., Singh, A., Zamboni, P., & Mahajan, R. (2009). Oxidative Stress and Neurodegenerative Diseases: A Review of Upstream and Downstream Antioxidant Therapeutic Options. Current Neuropharmacology, 7(1), 65-74.

[5] Luccarini, I., Grossi, C., Rigassi, S., Coppi, E., Pugliese, A., Pantano, D., . . . Casamenti, F. (2015). Oleuropein aglycone protects against pyroglutamylated-3 amyloid-ß toxicity: biochemical, epigenetic and functional correlate. Neurobiol Aging, 36(2).

[6] Khalatbary, A. (2013). Olive oil phenols and neuroprotection. Nutritional Neuroscience, 243-249. Retrieved Aug 5, 2015, from //www.maneyonline.com/doi/full/10.1179/1476830513Y.0000000052

Which Diet Best Supports Heart Health? | The Paleo Diet

“A healthy diet and lifestyle,” says the American Heart Association (AHA), “are your best weapons in the fight against heart disease.”1 But does the AHA’s recommended diet protect against heart disease better than other diets, particularly the Paleo diet?

Researchers from Eastern Michigan University (EMU) recently compared these two diets for a study published in Nutrition Research. They found that adherence to the Paleo diet for four months significantly decreases total cholesterol (TC), LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, while increasing HDL cholesterol, compared to four months on the AHA’s recommended diet.

The AHA’s diet includes large amounts of whole grains and dairy, two food groups the Paleo diet, of course, eliminates. The AHA also discourages saturated fat, claiming, “Eating foods that contain saturated fats raises the level of cholesterol in your blood.”2 The current study, however, adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting saturated fat is heart healthy, whereas high-carbohydrate grain-based diets may worsen cardiovascular disease markers.

The EMU researchers recruited 10 men and 10 women between the ages of 40 and 62. Each had hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol levels) and none were taking cholesterol-reducing medication. Each participant followed the AHA’s recommend diet for 4 months, followed by 4 months on the Paleo diet. Compared to baseline, TC decreased slightly (3%) following the AHA diet, followed by a “very large” 20% decrease from AHA to Paleo.3 Similarly, LDL reductions were “small” (3%) from baseline to AHA, followed by a “very large” 36% decrease from AHA to Paleo.

Weight loss occurred on both diets but was significantly better on the Paleo diet. For men, the AHA diet reduced mean body weight by 3.3 ± 2.7 kg, relative to baseline (P < .001), with an additional 10.4 ± 4.4 kg reduction following 4 months on the Paleo diet. For women, no significant weight reductions followed the AHA diet, but the Paleo diet resulted in significant 8.1 ± 5.9 kg reductions.

This study follows up on previous studies demonstrating improved lipid profiles based on Paleo diet adherence, including a 2009 study showing significant improvements after just 10 days on Paleo and another 2009 study showing significant improvements for type-2 diabetes patients following 3 months on Paleo. 4, 5 The current study, however, does have some limitations, which the researchers openly acknowledge, including a small sample size (20 participants) and the study’s racial homogeneity (predominantly white). Additionally, the study did not allow for order bias, meaning all participants first cycled through the AHA diet, followed by the Paleo diet.

Additionally, it would have also been interesting to see each diet’s impact on both small-particle and large-particle LDL. Measurements of total LDL can be misleading because small-particle LDL accumulates within the arterial walls, whereas large-particle LDL floats through the bloodstream and is generally considered benign.6 Saturated fat has been shown to change small-particle LDL into large-particle LDL.7 In this study, the Paleo diet decreased LDL cholesterol levels more than the AHA diet, but the study tells us nothing about changes in the small- and large-particle LDL.

The AHA’s recommended diet appears to be relatively ineffective for treating hypercholesterolemia. Besides encouraging an AHA-type diet, typical allopathic treatments for hypercholesterolemia often include statin drugs. Statins may reduce cholesterol favorably, but have numerous potential side effects, including myopathy, nausea, neuropathy, elevated liver enzymes, and increased risk of new-onset diabetes.8,9

With no risks and significant benefits, the Paleo diet seems to be the smartest approach to reversing hypercholesterolemia and generally improving heart health. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain going Paleo.

 

REFERENCES

[1] Healthy Eating. American Heart Association. Retrieved from //www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Healthy-Eating_UCM_310436_SubHomePage.jsp

[2] Saturated Fats. American Heart Association. Retrieved from //www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Saturated-Fats_UCM_301110_Article.jsp

[3] Pastore, RL, et al. (June 2015). Paleolithic nutrition improves plasma lipid concentrations of hypercholesterolemic adults to a greater extent than traditional heart-healthy dietary recommendations. Nutrition Research, 35(6). Retrieved from //www.nrjournal.com/article/S0271-5317%2815%2900097-4/abstract

[4] Frassetto, LA, et al. (February 2009). Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 63. Retrieved from //www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v63/n8/full/ejcn20094a.html

[5] Jonsson, T, et al. (July 2009). Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study. Cardiovascular Diabetology, 8(35). Retrieved from //www.cardiab.com/content/8/1/35

[6] Tribble, DL, et al. (April 1992). Variations in oxidative susceptibility among six low density lipoprotein subfractions of differing density and particle size. Atherosclerosis, 93(3). Retrieved from //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1590824

[7] Campos, H, et al. (February 1992). Low density lipoprotein particle size and coronary artery disease. Arteriosclerosis and Thrombosis, 12(2). Retrieved from //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1543692#

[8] Zhang, H, et al. (April 2013). Discontinuation of Statins in Routine Care Settings: A Cohort Study. Annals of Internal Medicine, 158(7). Retrieved from //annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1671715

[9] Carter, AA, et al. (May 2013). Risk of incident diabetes among patients treated with statins: population based study. British Medical Journal, 346. Retrieved from //www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f2610

Top 10 Paleo Foods for Heart Health | The Paleo Diet

One of the things I love most about a True Paleo regime is being able to enjoy so many of the foods I used to think were unhealthy choices.

And despite diet trends coming and going, many people get caught up with some of the less healthy versions along with the inaccurate hype that tends to surround them.

Some of the foods I now savor are ones I never would have dreamed of eating a mere decade ago, simply because I thought they were too high in fat (90’s mindset), didn’t provide enough carbohydrate (Endurance athlete? Go heavy on the carbs.), or simply because the sheer number of calories might exceed what I’d need in a given day (Exercise physiology thesis: Calories In vs. Out is the single, most important factor in determining whether you would lose weight, gain weight or stay the same), source of calories aside.

Testing and trying a number of ways of eating thankfully brought me back to a Paleo diet in 2005. Guess what? The many foods I didn’t consider are ones I’ve come to relish. It turns out they not only taste great, but are increasingly beneficial to our health.

February is National Heart Month and there is no better diet than a Paleo diet to promote heart health.

Salmon

One of the best sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids which can lower the risk of irregular heart beat as well as plaque build up in the arteries. 1  Stick with wild, not farmed.

Blueberries

Rich in anthocyanins and flavonoids, antioxidants that can decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels.2 Freezing wild berries makes for a surprisingly decadent treat, all on their own!

Citrus

High in flavonoids that are linked with a reduced rate of ischemic stroke caused by blood clots, and rich in vitamin C which has been associated with lower risk of heart disease, like atherosclerosis.3 Boost your heart health by adding tangerines to your spinach salad and quadruple the amount of iron you absorb.

Green Tea

Researchers estimate the rate of cardiac arrest decreases by 11% with consumption of three cups of tea per day.4 Green tea is rich in Theanine, the amino acid that will offset caffeine’s effect.

Tomatoes

Cardio-protective functions provided by the nutrients in tomatoes may include the reduction of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, homocysteine, platelet aggregation, and blood pressure.5 Go local and organic with this fruit in particular.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), EVOO may help lower your risk of heart disease by improving related risk factors. For instance, MUFAs have been found to lower your total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.6  Promote heart health by upping your intake of this delicious fat in favor of relying too heavily on nuts.

Spinach

Lutein (a carotenoid); B-complex vitamins; Folate; magnesium; potassium; calcium; fiber.7  Looks like Popeye had the right idea!

Avocados

Consumption of ½ – 1½ avocados a day may help to maintain normal serum total cholesterol. More evidence that good fat is good!8

Wine (Sulfite-Free)

Rich in resveratrol, studies have shown that adults who drink light to moderate amounts of alcohol may be less likely to develop heart disease than those who do not drink at all or are heavy drinkers.9  Cheers to that!

Dark Chocolate

In humans, flavanol-rich cocoa counteracts lipid peroxidation and, therefore, lowers the plasma level.10  Just make sure to stick to the real stuff and go as close to 100% cacao as you can find!

And, just in time for Valentine’s Day, why not use this as the special occasion to enjoy my signature Paleo truffles!

While it’s no surprise wild salmon and leafy greens are included in my list of Top 10 Paleo Foods, when there’s room for the occasional glass of red wine and raw, dark chocolate on a lifelong Paleo regime too, it’s something that many people, myself included, enjoy wholeheartedly.

 

REFERENCES

[1] “The Role of Fish Oil in Arrhythmia Prevention”, Anand RG, Alkadri M, Lavie CJ, Milani RV. Mar-Apr 2008

[2] “Daily Blueberry Consumption Improves Blood Pressure and Arterial Stiffness in Postmenopausal Women with Pre- and Stage 1-Hypertension: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial”, Sarah A. Johnson, PhD, RD, CSO, Arturo Figueroa, MD, PhD, FACSM, Negin Navaei, Alexei Wong, PhD, Roy Kalfon, MS, Lauren T. Ormsbee, MS, Rafaela G. Feresin, MS, Marcus L. Elam, MS, Shirin Hooshmand, PhD, Mark E. Payton, PhD, Bahram H. Arjmandi, PhD, RD, October, 2014

[3] Woollard KJ, Loryman CJ, Meredith E, et al. Effects of oral vitamin C on monocyte: endothelial cell adhesion in healthy subjects. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002 Jun 28;294(5):1161-8.

[4] Cooper R, Morre DJ, Morre DM. Medicinal benefits of green tea: Part I. Review of noncancer health benefits. J Altern Complement Med. 2005;11(3):521-8.

[5] Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2003;43(1):1-18. Tomatoes and cardiovascular health. Willcox JK1, Catignani GL, Lazarus S.

[6] Lecerf JM. Fatty acids and cardiovascular disease. Nutrition Reviews. 2009;67:273.

[7] Ursula Arens, dietetician at the British Dietetic Association, Kathleen Zelman, WebMD director of nutrition. U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. British Heart Foundation. British Dietetic Association. The Journal of the American Medical Association , July 23/30, 2003.

[8] Influence of avocados on serum cholesterol.[Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1960]

[9] Brien SE, Ronksley PE, Turner BJ, Mukamal KJ, Ghali WA. Effect of alcohol consumption on biological markers associated with risk of coronary heart disease: systematic review and meta-analysis of interventional studies. BMJ. 2011;342:d636.

[10] Wiswedel I, Hirsch D, Kropf S, Gruening M, Pfister E, Schewe T, Sies H. Flavanol-rich cocoa drink lowers plasma F(2)-isoprostane concentrations in humans. Free Radic Biol Med. 2004; 37: 411–421.

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