Category Archives: Heart disease

Categories Heart disease

Doctor in the House – Homocysteine and risk of heart disease

I was lucky enough to meet Dr Chatterjee star of Doctor in the House at the recent Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice Module I attended in April earlier this year. he was a lovely guy and its great to see a Doctor working so intensively with his patients combining his medical knowledge with life stlye and nutritional advice.

In the episode on Tuesday the 23rd May he addressed a lady with chronic anxiety and a guy with some longterm sleep issues and after testing it turned out he had extremely high levels of homocysteine which is a known marker for assessing risk of cardiovascular disease. A Homocysteine test is simple to do and I have used it for years. You can find a link to our Homocysteine tests here 

If you have any questions about the test or other risk factors for heart disease or if you would like to book a nutritional therapy consultation so that we can work closely with you to make essential life style and dietary changes to move you towards optimum health then please get in touch.Our phone no is 01273 775480 or you can email me on emma@smartnutrition.co.uk

Categories Heart disease, Hypertension, In the news

Chilli may be hot news for blood pressure?

Research carried out in China has demonstrated that rats fed capsaicin (the chemical that makes chillis hot) had more relaxed blood vessels and lower blood pressure than mice given a diet without capsaicin. The researchers suggest that eating chillis may be a promising lifestyle intervention for people with hypertension.

Until further research is done, people should not try substituting their blood pressure medication with chillis, but including them in the diet is beneficial for several reasons. Research in the laboratory has shown that capsaicin may be beneficial in reducing cancer rates, chillis are high in vitamin C and vitamin A. They help to ward off colds and flu by boosting the bug fighting properties of mucous membranes lining the nose and throat. Chillis have also been shown to reduce cholesterol and to balance blood sugar by modulating insulin response.

Why not try some of these dishes to boost immunity, help ward off cancer, balance blood sugar and have a positive effect on  blood pressure?

Chilli con carne by Jamie Oliver, taken from’ Jamie’s Ministry of Food’

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 2 red peppers
  • Olive oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
  • 1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 500g good-quality minced beef
  • 1 small bunch of fresh coriander
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 400g basmati rice
  • 1 x 500g tub of natural yoghurt
  • 1 x 230g tub of guacamole
  • 1 lime

Method: How to make good old chilli con carne

1. Peel and finely chop the onions, garlic, carrots and celery – don’t worry about the technique, just chop away until fine.

2. Halve the red peppers, remove the stalks and seeds and roughly chop.

3. Place your largest casserole-type pan on a medium high heat.

4. Add 2 lugs of olive oil and all your chopped vegetables.

5. Add the chilli powder, cumin and cinnamon with a good pinch of salt and pepper.

6. Stir every 30 seconds for around 7 minutes until softened and lightly coloured.

7. Add the drained chickpeas, drained kidney beans and the tinned tomatoes

8. Add the minced beef, breaking any larger chunks up with a wooden spoon.

9. Fill one of the empty tomato tins with water and pour this into the pan.

10. Pick the coriander leaves and place them in the fridge.

11. Finely chop the washed stalks and stir in.

12. Add the balsamic vinegar and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper.

13. Bring to the boil and turn the heat down to a simmer with a lid slightly askew for about an hour, stirring every now and again to stop it catching.

Serve with brown rice and a large green salad.

Vegetarian chilli, adapted from a recipe by the vegetarian society

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 175g/6oz green lentils
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1-2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 red and 1 green pepper, stalk and seeds removed, and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 x 400g/14oz cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
  • 300ml/½ pint vegetable stock (make with bouillon powder)
  • 100g/4oz frozen peas
  • 3 tbsp vegetarian pesto
  • 175g/6oz mushrooms, wiped and quartered
  • 1 courgette, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and cooked

Preparation method

  1. Place the green lentils in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave to soak for 30 minutes. (Alternatively, buy a tin of pre soaked lentils.) Drain.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic together with the chilli and cumin, until the onions are softening.
  3. Add the peppers, carrots and drained green lentils and cook for 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Add the tomatoes, purée, stock, peas and pesto, bring to the boil and simmer until the lentils are tender (about 30 minutes). Add the mushrooms and courgettes and simmer for 5 minutes more.
  4. Season to taste.
  5. Add the cooked kidney beans and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  6. Serve with cooked brown rice and a large green salad.
Categories Chocolate, Heart disease, In the news

Flavonoids in chocolate cut heart risks

Recent research carried out in Sweden has been widely reported in the media because it claims that chocolate can reduce the risk of heart failure in elderly and middle-aged women. The researchers asked thousands of people to complete questionnaires listing which foods they commonly eat and found that older women who eat one to two portions of chocolate once or twice a week had a lower incidence of heart failure than those who ate chocolate more or less frequently. The portion size was not stated, but was estimated by the researchers to be 19-30g of chocolate that contains 30% cocoa solids.

The researchers acknowledge that the health benefits of chocolate are likely to be gained from the flavonoids that it contains. Flavonoids are compounds that are synthesised by plants and they are therefore prevalent in fruits, vegetables and legumes. Research has shown that red wine and tea are also high in flavonoids but, like chocolate, these substances can be harmful to health and so they should be limited in the diet.

Common food sources of flavonoids include red, blue and purple berries, red and purple grapes, apples, citrus fruits, onions, broccoli, apples, parsley, thyme, celery, hot peppers, soybeans and legumes. Research has shown that flavonoids may act as antioxidants. They may also reduce inflammation, cut cancer risks and decrease neurodegeneration in addition to cutting cardiovascular disease.

No adverse effects have been associated with high dietary intakes of flavonoids from plant-based foods, wheres side-effects have been observed from drinking tea, red wine and chocolate due to the caffeine, alcohol, saturated fat and sugar in these products. This research demonstrates that benefits are only seen with small intakes of chocolate – a small bar once or twice a week. Intakes above this are likely to reduce health due to the fat and sugar content of chocolate. A small bar each week may be a great way to gain flavonoids whilst having a treat, but far greater health benefits can be gained from eating a diet rich in a variety of fruit, vegetables and legumes.

For more information about flavonoid rich diets, why not call Emma at Smart Nutrition or make an appointment today?

Categories Heart disease, In the news, Latest Research, Mental health

High fat diets may cause emotional disturbance

Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behaviour (SSIB) has found that a prolonged high fat diet is associated with changing levels of a brain chemical called dopamine. This chemical conducts signals in the brain that control movement, emotional responses and the ability to feel pleasure or pain. Low dopamine levels adversely affect comfort, satisfaction and a sense of fullness after eating.

The research was carried out in Chicago on rats that has consumed a high fat diet for 2 or 6 weeks. Compared to rats consuming a standard low fat diet, high fat rats released lower levels of dopamine and had reduced reuptake of dopamine by dopamine transporters in the brain.

The research ties in with previous studies that  have linked obesity and high fat diets with reduced dopamine transporter numbers. The authors conclude that diet may have an important impact on brain neurochemistry.

Cutting out saturated fat from the diet is also important to reduce the risks associated with obesity and developing heart disease. However, it is important to include essential polyunsaturated fats found in oily fish, nuts and seeds as these are beneficial for brain chemicals and they can keep depression at bay. Replacing fatty meats, cakes, biscuits, cheese and full fat dairy products with low fat options and foods that are high in polyunsaturated fats can boost health and emotional well being.

Try these top ten swaps:

  • Swap fatty cuts of beef, pork or lamb for chicken breasts or trim the fat from lean chops or steak.
  • Use chicken, turkey or soya mince instead of minced beef, or grind your own mince from lean steak.
  • Swap butter for olive oil on bread; try rubbing toast with a little garlic before drizzling with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Grill, bake, poach or steam instead of frying.
  • Snack on nuts and seeds with fresh fruit instead of cakes and pastries.
  • Choose nairns oatcakes or oat biscuits instead of biscuits containing hydrogenated oils – these trans fats are the fast track to heart disease.
  • Try cottage cheese instead of full fat options – if you find it bland choose one flavoured with onions and chives or add your own herbs.
  • Soya or tofu sausages make a wonderful alternative to traditional sausages. If you prefer meat, choose an organic pork sausage and prick the skin before grilling.
  • Swap pork pies for smoked mackerel fillets when picnicking. Prepare crudités of peppers, carrots, celery and cucumbers instead of crisps.
  • Swap ice creams for homemade sorbets or ice lollies made from blended fruits.

To discuss other ways of cutting out fat and making choices that boost neurotransmitter production, why not call Emma at Smart Nutrition?

Categories Heart disease, In the news, Latest Research, Uncategorized

Nitrate content of beetroot juice lowers blood pressure

Researchers at the Queen Mary University of London and UCL have published a study that found that the high nitrate content of beetroot causes blood vessels to dilate, lowering blood pressure. Healthy volunteers who were given beetroot juice or nitrate tablets had their blood pressure reduced within 24 hours.

Beetroot is a good source of fibre, potassium, manganese, iron, calcium and vitamin C. It also acts as a liver cleanser and has powerful antioxidant properties for cancer protection. Beetroot can be juiced with any fruits and vegetables, but works particularly well with orange, carrot, apple or cucumber.

Why not try these recipes to add a little beetroot to your diet?

Borscht

500gm Raw Beetroot – raw, peeled and chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 celery sticks, trimmed and finely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped

1 thyme sprig, leaves stripped

sea salt and black pepper

1/4 red cabbage

800 ml vegetable stock or water

1 tbsp red wine vinegar to taste

1 tsp xylitol or caster sugar

A handful of dill, chopped

4 tbsp natural yogurt to serve

1.       Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the onion, celery, carrot, thyme leaves and seasoning. Cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently, for 8-10 minutes.

2.       Add the beetroot and cabbage with a splash of water. Stir, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes until the vegetables are just tender. Stir a few times to prevent the vegetables from catching and burning on the bottom of the pan.

3.       Pour in the stock or water to cover the vegetables. Add the vinegar, bring to the boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Skim off any froth and adjust the seasoning to taste with salt, pepper and xylitol or sugar.

4.       Puree the soup if desired and serve with chopped dill and a dollop of yogurt.

Beetroot, carrot and chicory salad

3 heads of chicory

2 medium carrots

250g cooked beetroot in natural juices

handful of lightly toasted hazelnuts

Dressing:

1 pomegranate

1 orange

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

1. Trim the chicory and shred the leaves into matchsticks. Peel the carrots and cut into ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Roughly cut the beetroot. Place these ingredients in a bowl.

2. Make the dressing by halving the pomegranate and scooping out the seeds into another bowl. Squeeze the juice of the orange into the bowl and add vinegar, olive oil and seasoning to taste. Blend until the pomegranate seeds are finely crushed and then sieve.  Spoon the dressing over the salad and scatter with lightly crushed toasted almonds.

Recipes taken from ‘Healthy Appetite’ by Gordon Ramsay

Categories Heart disease, In the news, Uncategorized

Trans fats still a risk for coronary heart disease

Despite the recommendation of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) that trans fats should be banned, in line with current legislation in Denmark and New York City, the Government has today announced that it will neither ban the fats nor advise manufacturers to flag them up on food lables .

Trans fats are hydrogenated oils that remain solid at room temperature. They are harmful and have no nutritional benefits and, as they cannot be broken down in the digestive system, they accumulate and clog up arteries. Evidence is mounting that trans fats are implicated in cancer, multiple sclerosis, stroke, obesity and heart disease. They are found in many products, including deep fried foods, baked goods, ice creams, biscuits, snack bars and ready meals; cheap foods are more likely to contain trans fats as they are so convenient for manufacturers to use. Although Tesco and Sainsbury have stated that they will not use trans fats in their own brands, other convenience foods within the stores may be loaded with them.

Avoiding trans fats is not as simple as avoiding cigarettes or alcohol as consumers may find it difficult to know which foods contain them. The labels will not list ‘trans fats’ in the ingredients, but will list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. As these foods are found in many foods marketed for children it may be particularly difficult for parents of young children to identify the offending fats and protect their families; shopping with small children is difficult at the best of times and searching through ingredients may not be an option.

As the Government appear to be unwilling to support consumers to improve their health, it is important for people to educate themselves about which foods are safe to eat. Avoiding fried foods and packaged foods containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil will help. In addition, eating foods that are rich in essential fats such as oily fish, nuts, seeds and cold pressed vegetable oils may help to redress the balance.  To gain more advice on how to avoid the dangerous fats and boost levels of healthy fats, why not make an appointment with Emma at Smart Nutrition.

Categories Heart disease, In the news

NICE recommends banning trans fats

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has claimed that 40 000 lives could be saved each year if the amount of saturated fat and salt in food was cut and if toxic artificial fats called trans fats were eliminated. Trans fats are added to food in order to prolong shelf life, but they are linked to heart disease.

The NHS advisory body suggested that ministers should consider introducing legislation if manufacturers fail to take action. They recommend several courses of action, including:

  • Selling low salt and low fat foods more cheaply than their unhealthy counterparts, through the use of subsidies if necessary.
  • Banning advertising of unhealthy foods to children until after 9pm and using planning laws to restrict fast food outlets near schools.
  • Paying farmers to produce healthier foods.
  • Encouraging walking and cycling by local authorities.
  • Introducing a traffic light food labelling system, despite opposition from the European Parliament.
  • Disclosing lobbying of government and its agencies by the food and drink industry.

Professor Klim McPherson of NICE said ‘…we want the healthy choice to be the easy choice [and] we want the healthy choice to be the less expensive, more attractive choice. Put simply, this guidance can help the Government and the food industry to take action to prevent huge numbers of unnecessary deaths and illnesses caused by heart disease and stroke.’

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians responded to the NICE guidance saying ‘Banning trans-fats, reducing salt consumption and saturated fat levels in processed food may initially pose operational challenges for manufacturers, but the profits of private firms ought not to take precedence when compared with the health of the more than four million people at risk in this country.’

It is important to see this advice in context; an active lifestyle and a diet that is rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables is the way to good health. Although trans fats are deterimental to health and should be avoided, many low fat processed foods are loaded with sugar so food choices should be carefully considered. In addition, some salt is necessary for health, particularly for people with adrenal fatigue. Each individual is unique and the best way to establish personal needs may be to make an appointment with Emma at Smart Nutrition.

Categories Heart disease, In the news, Latest Research

Body fat linked to Alzheimer’s

A study published last week in Annals of Neurology  has suggested that people with fat stomachs could be at greater risk of developing dementia. The research, carried out by the University School of Medicine in Boston, demonstrated that levels of visceral fat that surround the organs are associated with smaller total brain volume. Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society said that dementia is strongly associated with low brain volume.

Excess abdominal weight is already known to be associated with high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes; these are all major risk factors for dementia.

To reduce the risks of heart disease, diabetes and dementia it may be beneficial to keep levels of visceral fat low by adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle. To talk to Emma about how to make changes to your diet Click Here.

Categories Children, Heart disease, In the news, Latest Research

Kebab Houses and Burger Bars serve unhealthy snacks to school children

New research has found that many takeaway meals sold near London schools contain much higher levels of salt and saturated fat compared to outlets such as McDonalds and Burger King. Many children are leaving school to buy these burgers, kebabs, pies and chips for their lunch.

The London Environmental Health Food Teams undertook the study on behalf of Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH). They looked at the foods chosen by school children from takeaway shops in 16 London Boroughs, finding that the levels of salt, total fat, saturated fat, trans fats and calories were much higher than those in school lunches.

The results have prompted the Schools Food Trust, who advise the Government on improving the nutrition of school children, to call for a ban on children leaving school during the lunch hour.

Some local initiatives are extremely encouraging; Morrison’s in Kendal, Cumbria, and McDonald’s in Folkestone have agreed not to sell to school pupils at lunch time. However, the majority of school children are exposed to snacks such as the Doner Kebab – one of which was found to contain 48.7g saturated fat, more than double the official Government daily recommendation of 20g.

Suggestions have been made for nutritional labelling of restaurant food to allow children to choose healthy options. As research in Greenwich earlier in the year proved, academic performance, as demonstrated by SATS results,  may increase with better nutrition.