Anthocyanins are a colorful way to prevent cardiovascular disease

Image: Anthocyanins are a colorful way to prevent cardiovascular disease

It is often said that presentation is everything when it comes to meals, but there’s an even better reason to fill your plate with colorful foods. The pigment that gives foods like berries their rich red and purple hues also doubles as powerful protection against cardiovascular disease.

Studies have shown that this pigment, anthocyanin, not only offers antioxidant effects; it also protects people from chronic diseases. Indeed, one of its most impressive feats is lowering the risk of the cardiovascular conditions that take millions of lives each year, such as stroke, heart attack, and atherosclerosis.

In a systematic review that involved more than 600,000 participants, British researchers looked at the impact that dietary anthocyanins had on cardiovascular events. They discovered that those who had the greatest dietary anthocyanin intake enjoyed a 9 percent reduction in their risk of developing coronary heart disease; when it came to death due to heart disease, their risk was 8 percent lower compared to those who consumed the lowest amount of anthocyanin.

The study, which was published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, is the strongest argument yet for increasing your fruit intake. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion suggests that people eat a minimum of two servings of fruit per day; just 32 percent of Americans reach that goal.

Choose the right fruits

It’s easy to spot fruits that contain anthocyanins because of their red, purple and blue colors. Some of the best sources include strawberries, blackberries, grapes, pomegranates, cherries, blueberries, raspberries and bilberries. They can also be found in red cabbage, eggplant, and purple potatoes. It probably won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that the fruit’s skins contain the most anthocyanins given their rich color, so make sure you also eat the skin – and be sure to choose organic to avoid pesticide exposure. The review’s authors say that just one to two portions of berries per day are enough to get the anthocyanins you need to protect your heart.

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Anthocyanin’s many benefits

The review is supported by several other studies, including one from 2012 that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. That study showed a link between a higher intake of anthocyanin and significantly lower systolic blood pressure, arterial pressure, and pulse wave velocity. It also confirmed an earlier study that showed eight weeks of taking blueberry supplements reduced participants’ systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 6 and 4 percent respectively.

In addition, anthocyanins can help prevent neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. They accomplish this by improving the communication between nerves and boosting blood flow to the brain. Their antioxidant effect also means they can stop brain damage caused by oxidative stress.

If you’re still not sold on the benefits of anthocyanins, consider this: They can fight cancer cells by attacking them and spurring cell death, in addition to activating the enzymes that rid your body of cancer-causing substances.

Studies have also shown that consuming foods rich in anthocyanins can lower your insulin resistance and protect beta cells in the pancreas, which helps normalize blood levels. That means anthocyanin-rich fruits can help inhibit diabetes.

Cardiovascular disease continues to be one of the top causes of death in America, affecting 84 million Americans and causing roughly one out of every three deaths. Those are very frightening statistics, so you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to consume more anthocyanins and take other steps known to reduce your risk, like exercising and eating as healthier diet overall.

Take it from a doctor: Heart surgeon says statins DO NOT work, can even increase risk of diabetes and obesity

Image: Take it from a doctor: Heart surgeon says statins DO NOT work, can even increase risk of diabetes and obesity

If you aren’t taking statins, there is a good chance you know several people who do. After all, a quarter of the American population over the age of 45 takes one daily. Given their widespread use, you would think they are incredibly effective and safe, but nothing could be further from the truth – and some doctors are speaking out about the dangers.

When a respected heart surgeon like Dr. Dwight Lundell, who is the retired Chief of Surgery and Chief of Staff at Arizona’s Banner Heart Hospital, voices his concerns about statins, everyone should take notice. With 25 years of experience and more than 5,000 open heart surgeries under his belt, the doctor recently confessed that he, like many other physicians, has been getting it wrong when it comes to statins.

Dr. Lundell said that statins are no longer working, and the recommendations to take such medications and severely restrict fat intake are “no longer scientifically or morally defensible.”

As you might expect, his comments were not welcomed by the medical industry. Statins are huge money-makers in a population that is rife with obesity, poor eating habits and heart health concerns. Costing anywhere from $53 to $600 per month, drugs like Lipitor have racked up lifetime sales of $125 billion, while Crestor, 2013’s top-selling statin, generated $5.2 billion of revenue that year alone. With more people taking these drugs than ever, why are heart disease-related deaths still rising?

Lundell says that it’s time for a paradigm shift in how heart disease is treated now that we know its true cause is arterial wall inflammation. He said that foods full of sugars and simple carbohydrates, along with processed foods with omega-6 oils, “have slowly been poisoning everyone” and our bodies react to such “foreign invaders” with inflammation in the walls of arteries. If this inflammation is the cause of heart disease rather than high cholesterol, of course, there is no need for cholesterol-lowering statins. The inflammation, he says, causes the cholesterol to accumulate in blood vessel walls, so it’s the inflammation that we need to target.

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Those whose livelihoods depend on statin profits won’t be too thrilled with his advice: “By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the typical American diet.”

They’d much rather have people continuing to bark up the wrong tree, avoiding beneficial fats in favor of the very processed foods that create high cholesterol in the first place so they can convince you that you need their medications to bring it back down – medications that cause a slew of other health problems that will only drive you to need even more pills as the profits pile up.

For example, statins have been shown in studies to double your chances of developing diabetes and raise your risk of suffering serious diabetic complications, and they’ve also been linked to obesity.

Try a natural approach to heart health

So what should you do if you want to enhance your heart health? Increasing your physical activity, regardless of your current level, can make an impact, whether you’re completely sedentary and decide to start taking an evening stroll a few times a week or you already lift weights and choose to increase your reps.

Avoiding the foods Dr. Lundell identified as dangerous for heart health is another step that can make a big difference, so say goodbye to simple sugars and carbohydrates like refined sugar, white bread, and cookies, along with processed food.

While statins aren’t nearly as effective or safe as those who sell them would like you to believe, there are some very simple and affordable ways to keep your heart healthy without any negative side effects.

Groundbreaking study reveals that heart disease is an early indicator of vitamin C deficiency

Image: Groundbreaking study reveals that heart disease is an early indicator of vitamin C deficiency

Heart disease is usually linked to issues with cholesterol, but researchers are increasingly finding that vitamin C plays an outsized role in heart health. This antioxidant nutrient, which the body uses to make connective tissue, has already gotten some buzz for its utility in cancer treatment, but its effects on the heart may be even greater.

Researchers at the Dr. Rath Research Institute of California found that a vitamin C deficiency can cause coronary heart disease. In their study, they used transgenic mice that mimic the human metabolism in two key ways: They don’t produce vitamin C internally, and they generate lipoprotein to make up for this. After feeding the mice a diet that was lacking in vitamin C, their bodies acted as expected and created their own lipoprotein to fix the vascular walls. This caused them to develop heart issues and atherosclerosis.

Crucially, they discovered that the degree and level of heart disease the mice developed was directly linked to their vitamin C intake and blood levels. Those mice who had consumed the highest amounts of vitamin C naturally produced the least lipoprotein to repair their arteries, and by extension, had the strongest hearts and fewest atherosclerotic lesions.

Therefore, the researchers believe that proper vitamin C intake could be the secret to preventing heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. That doesn’t mean that cholesterol isn’t important; maintaining healthy HDL and LDL cholesterol levels is still a powerful component of overall health, but it may not play as big of a role as once believed.

100% organic essential oil sets now available for your home and personal care, including Rosemary, Oregano, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Clary Sage and more, all 100% organic and laboratory tested for safety. A multitude of uses, from stress reduction to topical first aid. See the complete listing here, and help support this news site.

Higher vitamin C intake linked to lower heart disease risk

This is supported by a study that was recently published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. That study looked at 108 men and divided them into three groups according to their intake of vitamin C.

They found that the men in the top tier of vitamin C intake had a 66 percent lower risk of heart disease compared to those who had the lowest intake. The researchers aren’t sure exactly how vitamin C brings about such significant benefits to heart health. They theorize that it could be related to its ability to prevent and ease the stiffening in artery walls that can block the flow of blood. In fact, they discovered that the vitamin is especially effective at doing this in people who smoke.

Further studies provide additional evidence of vitamin C’s heart benefits. For example, a study carried out by the University of Copenhagen that involved more than 100,000 people found that higher blood concentrations of vitamin C were associated with a lower risk of not only cardiovascular disease but also death. It is important to keep in mind, however, that they saw this benefit in those whose high vitamin C blood levels came from eating lots of vegetables and fruits.

Getting vitamin C from food is preferable

The researchers said that although vitamin C supplements can help raise your levels of this important nutrient, getting it from a healthy diet is far preferable. Doing so will also help you develop a long-term healthy lifestyle, which will bring many other health benefits over time.

With heart disease being the leading cause of death around the world, we are lucky to have such an affordable way to prevent it that has very few side effects. Some of the best food sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, acerola cherries, kale, broccoli, kiwis, strawberries, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers. Best of all, eating these foods will not just enhance your heart health; your immunity will also get a nice boost!

Sources for this article include:

Adipose tissue depots compromise heart health

ADA guidelines embrace heart health


Recent studies that confirm the cardiovascular benefit of some antihyperglycemic agents are shaping the newest therapeutic recommendations for patients with diabetes and comorbid atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD).

Treatment for these patients – as all with diabetes – should start with lifestyle modifications and metformin. But in its new position statement, the American Diabetes Association now recommends that clinicians consider adding agents proved to reduce major cardiovascular events and cardiovascular death – such as the sodium glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitor empagliflozin or the glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonist liraglutide – to the regimens of patients with diabetes and ASCVD (Diabetes Care 2018;41(Suppl. 1):S86-S104. doi: 10.2337/dc18-S009).

The medications are indicated if, after being treated with lifestyle and metformin therapy, the patient isn’t meeting hemoglobin A1c goals, said Rita R. Kalyani, MD, who led the ADA’s 12-member writing committee. But clinicians may also consider adding these agents for cardiovascular benefit alone, even when glucose control is adequate on a regimen of lifestyle modification and metformin, with dose adjustments as appropriate, she said in an interview.

“A1c remains the main target of sequencing antihyperglycemic therapies, if it’s not reached after 3 months,” said Dr. Kalyani of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. “But, it could also be that the provider, after consulting with the patient, feels it’s appropriate to add one of these agents solely for cardioprotective benefit in patients with ASCVD.”

The recommendation to incorporate agents with cardiovascular benefit is related directly to data from two trials, LEADER and EMPA-REG, which support this recommendation. All of these cardiovascular outcome trials included a majority of patients who were already on metformin. “We developed these evidence-based recommendations based on these trials and to appropriately reflect the populations studied,” said Dr. Kalyani.

The ADA’s “Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes 2018” is the first position statement from any professional society to provide specific recommendations for the incorporation of these newer antihyperglycemic agents for their cardioprotective benefit, as well as their ability to lower blood glucose effectively. But the document provides much more than an algorithm for treating patients with concomitant ASCVD, Dr. Kalyani said. It is a comprehensive clinical guide covering recommendations for diagnosis, medical evaluation, comorbidities, lifestyle change, cardiovascular risk management, and treating diabetes in children and teens, pregnant women, and patients with hypertension.

The 2018 update contains a number of new recommendations; more will be added as new data emerge, since the ADA intends it to be a continuously refreshed “living document.” This makes it especially clinically useful,Paul S. Jellinger, MD, said in an interview. A member of the writing committee of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists’ diabetes management guidelines, Dr. Jellinger feels ADA’s previous versions have not been as targeted as this new one and, he hopes, its subsequent iterations.

Dr. Paul S. Jellinger professor of clinical medicine at the University of Miami

Dr. Paul S. Jellinger

“This is a nice enhancement of previously published guidelines for diabetes therapy,” said Dr. Jellinger, professor of clinical medicine at the University of Miami. “For the first time, ADA is providing some guidance in terms of which agents to use. It’s definitely more prescriptive than it was in the past, when, unlike the AACE Diabetes Guidelines, it was a palette of choice for clinicians, but with very little guidance about which agent to pick. The guidance for patients with cardiovascular disease in particular is big news because these antihyperglycemic agents showed such a significant cardiovascular benefit in the trials.”

While the document gives a detailed algorithm of advancing therapy in patients with ASCVD, it doesn’t specify a preference for a specific drug class after metformin therapy in patients without ASCVD. Instead, it provides a detailed table listing the drug-specific effects and patient factors to consider when selecting from different classes of antihyperglycemic agents ( SGLT2 inhibitors, GLP-1 agonists, DPP-4 inhibitors, thiazolidinones, sulfonylureas, and insulins). The table notes the drugs’ general efficacy in diabetes, and their impact on hypoglycemia, weight gain, and cardiovascular and renal health. The table also includes the Food and Drug Administration black box warnings that are on some of these medications.

Another helpful feature is a cost comparison of antidiabetic agents, Dr. Kalyani noted. “Last year we added comprehensive cost tables for all the different insulins and noninsulins, and this year we added a second data set of cost information, to assist the provider when prescribing these agents.”

The pricing information is a very important addition to this guideline, and one that clinicians will appreciate, said Richard Hellman, MD, clinical professor of medicine at the University of Missouri–Kansas City.

“In this document, ADA is urging providers of care to ask about whether the cost of their diabetes care is more than they can deal with. They present tables which compare the costs of the current blood glucose lowering agents used in the U.S., and it is plain to see that many patients, without insurance coverage, will find some of the medications unaffordable,” said Dr. Hellman, a past president of AACE. “They also provide data that show half of all patients with diabetes have financial problems,” and he suspects that medication costs are an important component of their financial insecurity.

Dr. Richard Hellman, clinical professor of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and associate program director of the UMKC Endocrine Fellowship

Dr. Richard Hellman

The document also notes data from the 2017 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which found that 10% of people with diabetes have severe food insecurity and 20% have mild food insecurity (Diabetes Educ. 2017;43:260-71. doi: 10.1177/0145721717699890).

“Another thing the document points out is that two-thirds of the patients who don’t take all their medications due to cost don’t tell their doctor,” Dr. Hellman said. “The ADA is making the point that providers have a responsibility to ask if a patient is not taking certain medications because of the cost. We have so many better tools to manage this disease, but so many of these tools are unaffordable.”

While the treatment algorithm for patients with ASCVD will likely be embraced, another new recommendation may stir the pot a bit, Dr. Hellman noted. The section on cardiovascular disease and risk management goes out on its own, sticking to a definition of hypertension as 140/90 mm Hg or higher – a striking diversion from the new 130/80 mm Hg limit set this fall by both the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.

“This difference in recommendations is very important and will be controversial,” Dr. Hellman said, adding that he agrees with this clinical point.

Again, this recommendation is grounded in clinical trials, which suggest that people with diabetes don’t benefit from overly strict blood pressure control. The new AHA/ACC recommendations largely drew on data from the SPRINTtrial, which was conducted in an entirely nondiabetic population. “These gave a clear signal that a lower BP target is beneficial to that group,” Dr. Hellman said.

But large well-designed randomized controlled trials of intensive blood pressure lowering in people with diabetes, such as ACCORD-BP, did not demonstrate that intensive blood-pressure lowering targeting a systolic less than120 mm Hg had a significant benefit on the composite primary cardiovascular endpoint. And while the ADVANCE BP trial found that the composite endpoint was improved with intensive blood pressure lowering, the blood pressure level achieved in the intervention group was 136/73 mm Hg.

“This recommendation is based on current evidence for people with diabetes,” Dr. Kalyani said. “We maintain our definition of hypertension as 140/90 mm Hg or higher on the results of large clinical trials specifically in people with diabetes but emphasize that intensification of antihypertensive therapy to target lower blood pressures (less than 130/80 mm Hg) may be beneficial for high-risk patients with diabetes such as those with cardiovascular disease. We are constantly assessing the evidence and will continue to review the results of new studies for potential incorporation into recommendations in the future.”

What’s Nitric Oxide?

What’s Nitric Oxide (+How Does it Impact My Heart Health)?

When it comes to healthy blood vessels, nothing is more important than NO. That’s right, nitric oxide, abbreviated as NO, keeps your arteries open and even lowers inflammation.

In the air, NO is a colorless gas, naturally occurring and produced by the burning of fossil fuels. But in the human body, it does wonders.

Nitric oxide should not be confused with nitrous oxide (N2O), an anesthetic, or with nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a brown toxic gas and major air pollutant.

In mammals including humans, NO is an important cellular signaling molecule involved in many physiological and pathological processes. NO is a powerful vasodilator that opens up blood vessels. Drugs to increase nitric oxide have been used for over 100 years. Think nitroglycerin under the tongue to a patient with chest pain. Doctors didn’t even know how that drug worked!  The discovery that it was nitric oxide that resolved cardiac chest pain and lowers blood pressure led to a Nobel Prize in 1998.

 Nitric oxide in the body impacts:

1) Blood vessel function. NO leads to relaxation of smooth muscle cells in arteries, therefore, improved blood flow and lower blood pressure.

2) Smooth muscle growth

3) Platelet aggregation (sticky blood)

4) Immune cell adhesion to the endothelium ( a factor in the formation of arterial blockage)

5) Immune function as it is generated by phagocytes. NO is a free-radical that is toxic to bacteria and parasites.


How The Body Makes NO

The body makes NO in two different ways:

1) From the amino acid L-arginine, NADPH, and oxygen by an enzyme called NO synthase;

2) From nitrates contained in food

Let’s examine each pathway to the formation of NO.

Pathway number one, the L-arginine/nitric oxide synthase pathway, starts with the amino acid L-arginine. Reminder, amino acids are the building blocks for proteins. The body can make amino acids AND obtain them from protein containing foods. In the case of L-arginine, you can find plenty of this amino acid in meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, and dairy. Spinach contains the most L-arginine among the plants, but it is not much. There is another amino acid, L-citrulline, that can be converted by enzymes into L-arginine. Watermelon rind is a tremendous source of L-citrulline. Many nutritional supplements to boost nitric oxide contain a combination of L-arginine and L-citrulline. This combination allows you to use less of each individual amino acid, as they are synergistic. Oxygen is needed in this reaction. NADPH is a necessary co-factor in the formation of NO that comes from vitamin B3 (niacin). Lastly, the production of nitric oxide (NO) from the above sources requires many enzymes. These enzymes are all subject to genetic and epigenetic modification that can limit their function. Also, toxic metals and other pollutants can “gum-up” the system, leading to a decreased production of NO.

Pathway number two to NO formation is from food. Beets, spinach, arugula, and other green leafy vegetables contain nitrates (NO3). Bacteria in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract convert nitrate into nitrite (NO2). This is why is it very important to chew your food well so the oral bacteria have time to do their work. Speaking of bacteria, most Americans are using mouthwash, a product which is designed to kill oral bacteria. Bad idea. Back to nitrates to nitrites. Now that nitrites are present, they are converted into nitric oxide in various areas of the body. Myoglobin is a protein found in muscle tissue, including the heart, that converts nitrite to nitric oxide. Hemoglobin from red blood cells also performs this action. Endothelial cells that line blood vessels also contain enzymes which convert nitrite into nitric oxide, which subsequently diffuse across the endothelium into the smooth muscle cells of the artery, and ultimately lead to relaxation and improved blood flow. Additionally, salivary nitrite increases gastric mucosal blood flow and mucus production, thereby protecting the stomach.

 I Heard Nitrates Were Dangerous

For years we have been told to limit dietary nitrates and nitrites. In the 1940’s, it was noticed that well-water contaminated with high levels of nitrates from farm fertilizers led to a condition in babies called methemoglobinemia. Limits were placed on the allowable levels of nitrates in drinking water. But since that time, studies have been done that found the amount of nitrates in food is much higher than previously thought and is actually quite healthy. In fact, the human body manufactures a large percentage of nitrates/nitrites compared to dietary intake through food.

Processed meat has been vilified over the years and linked to cancer. Nitrites have been accused of being the culprit, but a 2003 review exonerated their role in cancer (WHO Food Additive series No: 50). Nitrates are added to meat and seafood products because they are very effective as a food preservative. Bacteria have difficulty growing in a high nitrite environment. Botulism is a deadly condition caused by a toxin released from bacteria in contaminated food. Sodium nitrate is often added to prevent this condition. Interestingly, nitrites added to animal food products also appear to limit the oxidation of fats and other lipids. This is a good thing.

Whether or not processed meats are healthy is a different story. Myself, I believe that processed meats from pastured animals eating their native diets are okay to eat a couple times per week. But the nitrite does not appear to be the problem and is in fact healthy. A nitrite is a nitrite is a nitrite. All get converted to nitric oxide and open up blood vessels. Many natural and organic products contain added celery juice as a preservative that is naturally high in nitrite. The celery juice was treated with bacteria to form nitrites, which is the actual preservative. Getting tired of all the nitrate/nitrite conversation yet?

Finally, some processed meat, beer, and tobacco lead to the formation of nitrosamines. These can cause cancer. The good news is, vitamin C has been shown to limit the production of nitrosamines (Am J Clin Nutr 1991. 53:1). Veggies along with your pasture raised bacon should do the trick.

 Boost NO Naturally

Pathway number one can be boosted with the intake of L-arginine and L-citrulline containing food. The NADPH necessary in pathway one relies on ingested niacin for its formation. The enzymes that eventually produce NO from the above ingredients depend on magnesium and other nutrients. It takes a village of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. There is plenty of evidence that L-arginine supplementation works. A meta-analysis from 2011 demonstrated the efficacy of L-arginine supplementation and blood pressure control Am Heart J. 2011 Dec;162(6):959-65.

Pathway number two relies on nitrate intake from food. This is where beetroot shines. This red root veggie is loaded with nitrates. Pretty much all green leafy vegetables contain nitrates. Unfortunately, cooking reduces the level of nitrates in food.

Plenty of studies have been performed using beetroot juice. Beetroot juice lowers blood pressure and has many other health benefits including anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. A study from 2008 found that beetroot lowered blood pressure by 10 points, decreased the stickiness of platelets, and improved the function on the endothelial cells that line blood vessels. Now that is a SUPERFOOD.   Hypertension. 2008;51:784–790.

 Test Your Levels

In my office, I love to test the nitric oxide level of my patients. It is a simple test strip that checks the saliva NO in just a couple of seconds. Results are instantaneous and easily reproducible. The patient changes their diet, lifestyle, and supplements and the test is repeated in a month.

In the end, Paleo nutrition is the way to go. With Paleo foods, you can ensure you are getting all the building blocks you need for healthy nitric oxide production and healthy blood vessels. But for an extra NO boost, you can’t beat the beet!

Magnesium — An Essential Mineral for Heart Health

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body. Researchers have detected more than 3,750 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins1 giving an indication of its wide-ranging health effects. More than 300 different enzymes also rely on magnesium for proper function.

Story at-a-glance

  • Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body. There are more than 3,750 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins, and more than 300 enzymes rely on magnesium for proper function
  • Your heart has the highest magnesium requirement of any organ, specifically your left ventricle. With insufficient amounts of magnesium, your heart cannot function properly
  • Circulating and dietary magnesium intake is inversely associated with cardiovascular disease risk. Serum magnesium is also inversely associated with coronary artery calcification, while higher magnesium intake is inversely associated with a potent inflammatory marker

A common estimate is that 50 to 80 percent of Americans are deficient inmagnesium, and the health consequences are significant. Magnesium plays an important role in your body’s biochemical processes, many of which are crucial for proper metabolic function. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Creation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of your body2,3
  • Relaxation of blood vessels
  • Muscle and nerve function, including the action of your heart muscle
  • Proper formation of bones and teeth
  • Regulation of blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, which is important for the prevention of type 2 diabetes.4,5,6,7,8 For example, magnesium is essential for insulin release by pancreatic β-cells, and acts as a messenger for insulin action9

Magnesium and Heart Health

If you’re lacking in cellular magnesium, it can lead to the deterioration of your cellular metabolic function and mitochondrial function, which in turn can lead to more serious health problems. The scientific evidence suggests magnesium is particularly important for your heart health.

Moreover, it’s very important to have a proper balance between magnesium and calcium, but few people get enough magnesium in their diet these days, while calcium tends to be overused and taken in high quantities.

Insufficient magnesium tends to trigger muscle spasms, and this has consequences for your heart in particular. This is especially true if you also have excessive calcium, as calcium causes muscle contractions.

Magnesium also functions as an electrolyte, which is crucial for all electrical activity in your body.10 Without electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium and sodium, electrical signals cannot be sent or received, and without these signals, your heart cannot pump blood and your brain cannot function properly.

As explained by Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of the seminal paper “Death by Medicine” in 2003 (identifying modern medicine as a leading cause of death in the U.S.) and the book, “The Magnesium Miracle,” your heart has the highest magnesium requirement of any organ, specifically your left ventricle.

With insufficient amounts of magnesium, your heart simply cannot function properly. Hypertension (high blood pressure), cardiac arrhythmia,11 cardiovascular disease (CVD) and sudden cardiac death are all potential effects of magnesium deficiency and/or a lopsided magnesium to calcium ratio.

Magnesium Associated With Lower Cardiovascular Disease Risk

According to a systematic review and meta-analysis12 published in 2013, “circulating and dietary magnesium are inversely associated with CVD risk.” This means the lower your magnesium intake (and the lower the circulating magnesium in your body), the higher your risk for CVD.

Each 0.2 millimole per liter (mmol/L) of circulating magnesium was associated with a 30 percent lower risk of CVD

A 200 milligram per day (mg/d) increase in dietary magnesium was associated with a 22 percent lower risk of fatal ischemic heart disease (IHD), but had no significant impact on CVD risk.

The inverse association between dietary magnesium intake and IHD also leveled out above 250 mg/d

The authors noted their finding “supports the need for clinical trials to evaluate the potential role of magnesium in the prevention of CVD and IHD.” The Weston A. Price Foundation has also noted that:13

“[M]agnesium shines brightest in cardiovascular health. It alone can fulfill the role of many common cardiac medications: magnesium inhibits blood clots (like aspirin), thins the blood (like Coumadin), blocks calcium uptake (like calcium channel-blocking drugs such as Procardia) and relaxes blood vessels (like ACE inhibitors such as Vasotec)”

Magnesium May Be Key for Blood Pressure Control

Recent research14,15 also suggests magnesium may be a key component of blood pressure management. Addressing your high blood pressure is important, as it is a risk factor for both heart disease and stroke. As mentioned, magnesium helps relax and dilate your blood vessels, thereby reducing your blood pressure.

In this review, data from 34 clinical trials involving more than 2,000 participants was evaluated. The studies used dosages of magnesium supplements ranging from 240 mg/d to 960 mg/d.

Although the association was mild, they did find that higher magnesium intake was associated with “healthy reductions” in blood pressure. Key findings include:

A daily dose of 368 mg of magnesium, taken for three months, lowered systolic blood pressure (the upper number in the blood pressure reading) by 2 millimeters of mercury (mm/Hg) and diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) by 1.78 mm/Hg

Those who took 300 mg of magnesium per day were able to elevate their circulating magnesium levels and lower their blood pressure in as little as four weeks

Higher magnesium intake was associated with improved blood flow

Benefits of magnesium appeared to be restricted to those who had insufficiency or deficiency in magnesium to begin with, meaning those whose blood pressure might have been caused by lack of magnesium.

According to lead author Dr. Yiqing Song, “Such suggestive evidence indicates that maintenance of optimal magnesium status in the human body may help prevent or treat hypertension.”16

To Optimize Your Magnesium, Eat Magnesium-Rich Foods

According to the authors, 368 mg of magnesium can be obtained from a healthy diet, so you do not necessarily need to take a supplement. Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a New York City cardiologist, told

“As clinicians, we need to stress the importance of a well-balanced meal, not only for all the cholesterol lowering and sugar-modulating benefits, but for ensuring an adequate amount of magnesium in the blood,” adding that“checking magnesium levels as part of a screening for heart health may become an essential part of prevention and for treatment of blood pressure.”

Indeed, a useful way to maintain healthy magnesium levels is to make sure you eat plenty of dark-green leafy vegetables. Juicing your greens is an excellent way to increase your magnesium, along with many other important plant-based nutrients.

That said, if the mineral is lacking in the soil, it’s also going to be low in the food, and mineral depleted soils are commonplace these days unless the farmer is using regenerative methods. If you eat organic whole foods and show no signs of deficiency, you’re probably getting sufficient amounts from your food.

If you eat well but still exhibit deficiency signs (discussed below), you may want to consider taking a supplement as well. When it comes to leafy greens, those highest in magnesium include:

Spinach Swiss chard Turnip greens Beet greens Collard greens
Broccoli Brussels sprouts Kale Bok Choy Romaine lettuce

Other foods that are particularly rich in magnesium include:18,19,20,21

Raw cacao nibs and/or unsweetened cocoa powder

One ounce or 28 grams (g) or raw cacao nibs contain about 64 mg of magnesium, plus many other valuable antioxidants, iron and prebiotic fiber that help feed healthy bacteria in your gut.


One medium avocado contains about 58 mg of magnesium, plus healthy fats and fiber and other vitamins. They’re also a good source of potassium, which helps offset the hypertensive effects of sodium.

Seeds and nuts

Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds score among the highest, with one-quarter cup providing an estimated 48 percent, 32 percent and 28 percent of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of magnesium respectively. Cashews, almonds and Brazil nuts are also good sources; 1 ounce (28 g) of cashews contains 82 mg of magnesium, which equates to about 20 percent of the RDA.

Fatty fish

Interestingly, fatty fish such as wild caught Alaskan salmon and mackerel are also high in magnesium. A half fillet or 178 g (about 6.3 ounces) of salmon can provide about 53 mg of magnesium, equal to about 13 percent of the RDA.


One cup of winter squash provides close to 27 g of magnesium; about 7 percent of your RDA.

Herbs and spices

Herbs and spices pack lots of nutrients in small packages, and this includes magnesium. Some of the most magnesium-rich varieties are coriander, chives, cumin seed, parsley, mustard seeds, fennel, basil and cloves.

Fruits and berries

Ranking high for magnesium are papaya, raspberries, tomato, cantaloupe, strawberries and watermelon. For example, one medium sized papaya can provide nearly 58 g of magnesium.

Magnesium Level Inversely Associated With Arterial Calcification

In related news, your blood level of magnesium has also been shown to be inversely associated with coronary artery calcification (CAC).22 Previous studies have noted this association among patients with chronic kidney disease, but this study found the same correlation exists among general, otherwise healthy populations.

Among people who did not have any signs of symptomatic cardiovascular disease, and compared to those with the lowest serum levels, those who had the highest serum level of magnesium had a:

  • 48 percent lower risk of high blood pressure
  • 69 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • 42 percent lower risk of an elevated CAC score

A 0.17 milligram per deciliter (mg/dL) increase in serum magnesium was associated with a 16 percent reduction in CAC score. The authors concluded that:

“[L]ow serum magnesium was independently associated to higher prevalence not only of hypertension and DM2 [diabetes mellitus 2], but also to coronary artery calcification, which is a marker of atherosclerosis and a predictor of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.”

Magnesium Intake Is Also Inversely Associated With Inflammation Marker

Research published in 2014 also found that higher magnesium intake is inversely associated with serum C-reactive protein (CRP) levels.23 CRP is a marker for inflammation and rises when you have inflammation brewing in your body. Here, data collected from seven cross-sectional studies of more than 32,900 people showed that people who had higher magnesium intake had lower CRP levels. According to the authors:

“This meta-analysis and systematic review indicates that dietary Mg [magnesium] intake is significantly and inversely associated with serum CRP levels. The potential beneficial effect of Mg intake on chronic diseases may be, at least in part, explained by inhibiting inflammation.”

Risk Factors, Signs and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

A primary risk factor for magnesium deficiency is eating a processed food diet, and the reason for this is because magnesium resides at the center of the chlorophyll molecule. If you rarely eat leafy greens and other magnesium-rich whole foods (listed above), you may not get enough magnesium from your diet alone.

Magnesium is also lost through stress, sweating from heavy exertion, lack of sleep, alcohol consumption and use of certain prescription drugs (especially diuretics, statins, fluoride and fluoride-containing drugs such as fluoroquinolone antibiotics), and tend to decline in the presence of elevated insulin levels.24 These are all factors that affect a large majority of people in the Western world.

Unfortunately, unlike sodium or potassium, there is no easily available commercial lab test that will give you a truly accurate reading of your magnesium status. The reason for this is because the vast majority of the magnesium in your body is found in bones and soft tissues.

Only 1 percent of it shows up in your blood. That said, some specialty labs do provide an RBC magnesium test that can give you a reasonable estimate. Perhaps the best way to ascertain your status is to carefully evaluate and track your symptoms.

Early signs of magnesium deficiency include “Charlie horses” (the muscle spasm that occurs when you stretch your legs), headaches/migraines, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, fatigue or weakness. These are all warning signs indicating you probably need to boost your magnesium intake.

More chronic magnesium deficiency can lead to far more serious symptoms such as abnormal heart rhythms and coronary spasms, seizures, numbness and tingling, as well as changes in personality and behavior.

Dean’s book, “The Magnesium Miracle,” contains an extensive list of signs and symptoms, which can be helpful for evaluating your magnesium status. You can also follow the instructions in her blog post, “Gauging Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms,”25which will give you a check list to go through every few weeks. This will also help you gauge how much magnesium you need to resolve your deficiency symptoms.

Tips and Suggestions on Dosage

The RDA for magnesium26 ranges from 310 to 420 mg per day, depending on your age and sex. However, as noted by Dean, some researchers believe as much as 600 to 900 mg/d may be required for optimal health. Fortunately, there’s room for error. Magnesium is quite safe, so you don’t have to worry about taking too much. That said, if you have renal failure, you’ll want to avoid taking too much, as it could have adverse effects.

Dean suggests using your intestinal reaction as a marker for your ideal dose. Start out at 200 mg of oral magnesium citrate per day, and gradually increase your dose until you develop slightly loose stools. This is your personal cutoff point. When your body has too much magnesium it simply flushes it out the other end. Magnesium citrate is known for having a laxative effect, which is why it’s recommended in this case.

When Supplementing, Balance Magnesium with Calcium, Vitamin K2 and D

One of the major benefits of getting your nutrients from a varied whole food diet is that you’re less likely to end up with lopsided nutrient ratios. Foods in general contain all the cofactors and needed co-nutrients in the proper ratios for optimal health. Essentially, the wisdom of Mother Nature eliminates the guesswork. When you rely on supplements, you need to become savvier about how nutrients influence and interact with each other in order to avoid getting yourself into trouble.

For example, it’s important to maintain the proper balance between magnesium, calcium, vitamin K2 and vitamin D. Unfortunately, we don’t yet know the precise ideal ratios between all of these nutrients, but some general guidelines and considerations include the following:

Magnesium will help keep calcium in your cells so they can do their job better. The ideal ratio between magnesium and calcium is currently thought to be 1:1. Keep in mind that since you’re likely getting far more calcium from your diet than you are magnesium, your need for supplemental magnesium may be two to three times greater than calcium.

Vitamin K2 has two crucial functions, one is in cardiovascular health and the other is in bone restoration. By removing calcium from the lining of the blood vessels and shuttling it into your bone matrix, vitamin K2 helps prevent occlusions from atherosclerosis. Meanwhile, vitamin D helps optimize calcium absorption.

Vitamins D and K2 also work together to produce and activate Matrix GLA Protein (MGP), which congregates around the elastic fibers of your arterial lining, thereby guarding your arteries against calcium crystal formation. Magnesium and vitamin K2 also complement each other, as magnesium helps lower blood pressure, which is an important component of heart disease.

While the ideal or optimal ratios between vitamin D and vitamin K2 have yet to be determined, Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue (whom I’ve interviewed on this topic) suggests taking 100 micrograms (mcg) of K2 for every 1-2,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D you take.

As for how much vitamin D you need, I strongly recommend getting your vitamin D level tested twice a year (summer and winter) to help determine your personal dosage. Sensible sun exposure is the ideal way to optimize your levels, but if you opt for a supplement, your “ideal dosage” is one that will put you into the therapeutic range of 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml).

Low Salt Is Bad for Heart Health

The leading cause of heart attacks and stroke in the U.S. is high blood pressure. Recommendations from the American Heart Association (AHA) and other policy makers have been to reduce salt intake in order to control your blood pressure. However, research has not supported this recommendation for everyone.1

Consuming Salt

Consuming Salt

Story at-a-glance

  • In a controversial study, researchers identified a higher heart risk if you either eat too much or not enough salt
  • Although the amount of salt is important, it is the ratio between salt and potassium that is of greatest importance to your heart health and lowering your stroke risk
  • You can shift your potassium and sodium balance with your lifestyle and food choices

Salt is an ionic compound made of two groups of oppositely charged ions, namely sodium and chloride. Table salt is made of one metal ion (sodium) and one non-metal ion (chloride). Your body needs both ions to function and can produce neither, so you must get them from your food.

However, not all salts are created equally. Refined table salt is almost all pure sodium chloride and 39 percent sodium. The rest are man-made chemicals.

Iodine is often added to refined salt in a public health preventive measure against iodine deficiency. A lack of iodine is the leading cause of hypothyroidism, mental retardation, autism, depression and anxiety.2

Unprocessed salt, such as pink Himalayan salt, is 84 percent sodium chloride and 37 percent pure sodium. The remainder is naturally occurring trace minerals your body also needs, including phosphorus and vanadium.3

Dangers of Restricting Your Salt Too Much

In a controversial study4,5,6,7 published in the Lancet medical journal, results supported a mid-range salt intake to protect your heart and your health. While high-salt diets are not healthy for your body, it turns out that low-salt diets are dangerous as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average American eats approximately 3,400 milligrams (mg) of salt each day.8 This is higher than the 1,500 mg per day that the AHA recommends, but within range of the results of this study.9

Associate professor of clinical epidemiology and lead researcher, Andrew Mente, Ph.D. finds that, “Having neither too high nor too low levels of sodium is optimal for health.”10

Mente and his colleagues analyzed four different studies covering 49 countries and using over 113,000 participants. Each study was structured in the same manner, estimating salt intake from a single-morning urine sample and then following the participant’s health status for several years.

The results demonstrated that whether you suffer from high blood pressure or not,low salt intake was linked to a greater risk of heart attack, stroke and death.11 The data does highlight the need to lower salt intake if you suffer from high blood pressure, but not to levels currently recommended.

Instead, the study demonstrates that eating a moderate amount of salt, near to 3,000 mg per day, was associated with the best health. Salt intake levels that were high or low carried the same risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke.

Results indicated a low-salt diet could increase your risk of heart attack by 26 percent if you don’t suffer from high blood pressure, and 34 percent higher risk if you do.

Arguments Against the Study Results

Although controversial, the results of the study have been supported by the results of other studies12,13

A second study evaluated over 100,000 individuals and found those who consumed between 3,000 and 6,000 mg per day were at the lowest risk of health conditions, and those who ate more than 6,000 or less than 3,000 were at the highest risk.

The AHA has been critical of the study published in the Lancet, citing a reliance on incorrect sodium levels in the study.14 The claim was spot urine testing could not adequately measure salt intake in participants over the length of the study.

However, 24-hour urine collections have been standard in research studies to measure salt intake in the past.15,16 Research has also demonstrated the accuracy of spot urine testing to adequately measure the amount of sodium intake.17,18

Critics also object to the assumption by researchers that salt intake was consistent over the course of the study for each individual based on spot testing.

However, in both studies, participants numbered over 100,000 individuals, making the risk of the participant having an abnormally high or low salt intake for testing day relatively minor.

Imbalanced Sodium to Potassium Ratio Is the Most Important Risk Factor

One teaspoon of refined table salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium. According to the AHA, an excess of sodium in your body may cause you to retain water, putting an extra burden on your heart, blood vessels and kidneys.

Past recommendations have assumed that in some people this may lead to high blood pressure.19  But, sodium is just one-half of the ratio needed to keep your body healthy. The second half of the equation is potassium.

Your body is a complex organism, relying on the interactions and relationships between several factors. Your sodium level is important, but the ratio between sodium and potassium is even more important.

The main finding in one study showed the sodium-to-potassium ratio was more strongly associated with blood pressure changes than were either sodium or potassium individually.20

Our modern diet is high in foods containing large amounts of salt and low in potassium-rich real foods, such as vegetables. This electrolyte mismatch has significant effects on your body and your cardiovascular health.

Research has shown that women who eat a higher amount of potassium-rich food also have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, as well as all other causes of mortality, especially women who were not hypertensive.21

The protective effects of potassium are associated with the actions of nitric oxide release, which increases the relaxation of your arterial system and lowers blood pressure.22

Impact of Your Sodium to Potassium Ratio

The separate roles of sodium and potassium, and their relationship to heart health, have been studied over the years. Researchers have also evaluated the relationship between a combination of sodium and potassium and heart health.

In findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers determined that your sodium-potassium ratio is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all causes of mortality.23

Several studies have suggested that the ratio of sodium to potassium is a more important risk factor for hypertension and CVD than either of the risk factors alone.24,25,26

Data from over 12,000 individuals participating in the 3rd National Health and Nutrition Examination found higher sodium was associated with an increased risk of death, while a higher potassium level was associated with a lower rate of death from any cause.27

An imbalance of potassium in your body is linked to more than just CVD and stroke risk. A low potassium level is also a contributing factor in the development of:

Kidney stones Memory loss Cataracts Osteoporosis
Ulcers Stomach cancer Rheumatoid arthritis Erectile dysfunction
Hair loss Depression Fatigue Muscle weakness

The Best Way to Balance Your Sodium and Potassium

Low potassium levels are related to low intake of potassium-rich foods, but also to losing potassium from other conditions, such as:28

Long-term antibiotic use Diarrhea and vomiting Laxative use
Chronic kidney disease Diuretics Eating disorders
Low magnesium levels Profuse sweating

The best way to balance your sodium and potassium ratio is to increase your intake of foods rich in potassium, while maintaining a moderate amount of sodium intake. However, it’s important to look at all the nutrients foods rich in potassium will provide.

For instance, white potatoes are high in potassium but also high in carbohydrates, raising the risk of spiking your insulin levels. So loading up on white potatoes to balance your sodium to potassium ratio would not be in your best interest. Whole foods naturally high in potassium and low in sodium include:29,30

White beans Spinach Sweet potatoes
Broccoli Cantaloupe Cherry tomatoes
Blackberries Oranges Red Grapefruit
Plums Prunes Raisins
Bananas Artichokes Lima beans
Acorn squash Nuts and seeds Apricots
Avocado Garlic Bee pollen

Choose Your Salt Wisely

Your body needs salt to regulate blood pressure, help your brain communicate with your muscles and support the function of your adrenal glands. However, it isn’t the processed table salt your body needs to perform optimally.

Instead, I recommend pink Himalayan salt. This salt is higher in potassium than any of the other natural, unprocessed salts, helping you to maintain a balanced potassium-salt ratio. The salt is very flavorful and tastes delicious on your food. You’ll find that you’ll need less than you do of table salt, but you’ll get more flavor and more mineral content.

It isn’t just the additional minerals in Himalayan salt that makes it a better choice, but rather the lack of processing. Table salt undergoes considerable processing, and chemicals detrimental to your health are added. Table salt is what’s used in canned and processed foods, which is yet another reason why they’re best avoided.

I recommend eating as much real food as possible, using Himalayan salt to taste, and to increase your potassium by including ample amounts of potassium-rich foods. When ordering at a restaurant, ask your food be prepared without salt, and that your vegetables be steamed. Many restaurants now offer sea salt at the table, but if they don’t you can always bring your own from home.

Salad dressings and sauces can be served on the side so you can limit the amount you use. If your food comes to the table too salty, send it back. Avoid fast food restaurants where you can easily reach your daily intake of sodium in one meal.

In an effort to reduce salt intake, the State of New York has passed a National Salt Reduction Initiative, requiring all chain restaurants to add a warning icon next to foods on their menu containing more than 2,300 mg of salt.31 When you do eat foods high in salt, be sure to watch your diet the rest of the day and include real foods high in potassium to balance your salt-to-potassium ratio.

Optimize Your Salt to Potassium Ratio for Good Health

Interestingly, the idea that too little salt might not be good for you is not new. In an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1985, the authors evaluated the dietary intake of our Paleolithic ancestors to find they naturally consumed about 11,000 mg of potassium and 700 mg of sodium.32 Today that ratio is reversed where the daily potassium intake averages 2,500 mg and sodium 3,400 mg.

This imbalance may explain why high-sodium diets affect some people more negatively than others. Another study from 2011 found that people who ate too much sodium and too little potassium had a greater risk of CVD and stroke.33

Remember, the more you can move toward a diet of whole organic foods the healthier you’ll be — whether it’s veggies, meat, dairy products, or salt. Given that salt is absolutely essential to good health, I recommend switching to a pure, unrefined salt like Himalayan crystal salt.

11 Fascinating Facts About the Human Heart.

Your heart is the center of your cardiovascular system. It is responsible for pumping blood through your body, carrying nutrients in and taking waste out. Having good cardiovascular health is an important factor of optimal wellness.

Sadly, many people do not pay enough attention to their cardiovascular system. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA), one in 10 adult Americans has poor cardiovascular health.i This is often caused by a nutritionally-deficient processed food diet, a sedentary lifestyle, and chronic stress.

I truly believe that achieving optimal heart health is not difficult, as long as you follow a healthy diet and  lifestyle.*

The Structure of the Human Heartii

Your heart works as a “pump” to keep your blood moving inside of you, delivering nutrients and oxygen to all areas of your body while carrying away waste products and carbon dioxide. When your heart muscle contracts or “beats,” it pushes blood through your heart and all over your body.

There are three layers that make up your heart:

  • Pericardium – the thin outer protective sack
  • Myocardium – composed of specialized cells that make up the thick muscular wall
  • Endocardium – the thin inner lining of the heart

Inside your heart are four chambers: two on the left side and two on the right. The two small upper chambers are called the atria, and the two larger lower chambers are called the ventricles. The left and right side of your heart are divided by the septum, a muscular wall.

The human heart has four valves. The ones on the right side of your heart are called the tricuspid valve and the pulmonary valve, while the ones on the left are the mitral valve and the aortic valve. These valves act as gates that open and close, ensuring that your blood travels in one direction through your heart.

The heart gets its blood supply from the coronary arteries, which branch off from the aorta, the main artery. The coronary arteries spread across the outside of the myocardium and provide it with blood.

Although the two sides of your heart are separated, they still work together. The right side receives dark, de-oxygenated blood that has already circulated around your body. This blood is then pumped to your lungs, where it receives a fresh supply of oxygen and turns bright red again.

Try These Natural Heart-Healthy Strategies

When your heart and/or other parts of your cardiovascular system, such as your blood vessels, are not properly cared for, they will fail to function properly, which may lead to certain health issues.*

But the good news is you can maintain normal cardiovascular function by eating a healthy diet and exercising correctly. Here are some of my top recommendations:

  • Consume a well-balanced diet. Choose whole, organic foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, like l-arginine. Some heart-friendly foods you can eat include:
      • Olive oil
      • Coconuts and coconut oil
      • Organic raw dairy products and eggs
      • Avocados
      • Raw nuts and seeds
      • Organic grass-fed meats

    It is best to eat a good portion of your foods raw. Also, be sure to severely limit or eliminate grains and sugar, which are mostly found in processed foods, from your diet.

  • Get plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega 3 fats, such as krill oil.
  • Drink plenty of fresh, pure water every day.
  • Optimize your vitamin D levels through appropriate sun exposure. Many studies have proven the numerous benefits of vitamin D. However, you must first know what your current vitamin D level is. The optimal range is between 50-70 ng/ml, but if you have less-than-optimal heart health, I would recommend 70-100 ng/ml.
  • Get enough exercise. It improves not only your blood circulation, but your overall health as well. However, I do not advise doing prolonged, strenuous cardio such as marathon running, as it puts too much strain on your heart. Instead, opt for short-burst, high-intensity exercises like Peak Fitness, which also optimize your human growth hormone (HGH) production.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get plenty of high-quality, restorative sleep.
  • Manage your stress.
  • Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.

human heart facts



Could those late night snacks be adding to your waistline and causing harm to your heart? A new study suggests that its better to eat during the daylight hours.

Nighttime snackers take note: eating late is harming your health, or so suggests a recent study out of San Diego State University.

While the study looked at fruit flies, and not humans, the findings do provide compelling reasons to investigate further whether there is a causal link between late night eating and heart health, amongst other health measures. I have been saying for some time, it is not just WHAT you eat, but WHEN you eat too.

Two-week-old fruit flies were divided into two groups: one group was allowed to eat a standard diet of cornmeal at anytime they wished and the second group was restricted to eating only within a twelve hour period. The amount of food each group ate was comparable. At the end of a three-week period, each fruit fly was measured on several health measures, including weight and heart health. Fruit flies on a restricted schedule were found to have stronger hearts, better sleep patterns, and to have gained less weight than their eat-anytime friends.

The results were the same when repeated at five weeks and when the study was completed with older fruit flies. What is it about late-night snacking that compromises our health, including our heart and waistline?

  • Your body’s digestive system works hard each day to process the food you put into your mouth. Nighttime fasting—as I define it, no food after 7pm—allows your digestive system to take a much-deserved rest. Your stomach takes several hours to empty. A dinner or snack after 7pm likely doesn’t have time to make it through the system before you fall asleep.

  • Intermittent fasting is actually good for your body, in particular for individuals who are obese or have high blood pressure. Our ancestors went through periods of famine; it is natural to assume our body functioning accommodates times of food scarcity by working more efficiently. Fasting is thought to regulate the body’s hunger hormone (ghrelin), which can be out of whack for many people facing obesity. It also works as a reset button for your body: giving you a chance to clear out toxins and regulate insulin levels.  It can be  for those who require high-level intervention.

  • Allowing your digestive system to “take a breather” promotes better sleep.

  • Most of us are fairly sedentary after 7pm. Calories consumed past this time are more likely to be stored as fat, because our body does not have time to burn them off before we hit the hay.

    And then there is heart health, something our fruit fly researchers suggest is important to continue examining (I agree). Another preliminary study, this time on humans, found that men who ate late at night were 55% more likely to develop coronary heart disease.

We can all benefit from restricting our food to the daylight hours. The best health advice I can give my patients who seek weight loss support is to consume their most caloric meals earlier in the day, then start to slow consumption towards the end of the day to give the body time to rest, and to ensure that calories consumed have a chance to fuel the body. We also make poor food choices at night; fatigue makes us prone to cravings. Ditch the late-night snacking habit and improve your heart health and waistline.