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How to Keep Your Heart Smiling

These notes highlight some key points from the Heart Health talk held on Feb 26, 2012.  Thanks to all who made it out!  I’ll be keeping tabs on those of you who sent me your goals…let’s make sure heart health awareness stretches well beyond February!

Please remember – the information found below is not a substitute for your regular medical checkups.  My primary objective is to raise your awareness of natural alternatives that may help prevent and manage heart disease.  Use this information as a springboard to spark conversation with your primary health care provider.

Heart disease affects us all – either personally or through someone we hold dear.  Why is heart health such a big issue anyway?  The problem is that we as Canadians are in denial about the relationship between the modifiable risk factors and the impact they have on our health.  As soon as we can face the truth about how powerfully poor lifestyle habits affect our heart health and take responsibility for our actions, we can start to see some significant changes.

Cardiovascular risk factors in Canadians: estimates, assessment and impact

* HSF poll of 2000 Canadians conducted December, 2010; margin of error is +2.2%, 19 times out of 20
** Self-reported data from the 2009 Canadian Community Health Survey
*** Results from the 2007-2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey
Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation 


What we can’t control:

  • Age (>40)
  • Gender (male)
  • Ethnicity (African decent)
  • Family history (CVD, stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack))

What we can control:

  • Control blood pressure
  • Good vs bad cholesterol
  • Manage diabetes
  • Weight management
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Smoking
  • Stay active
  • Stress management

GOAL 1: choose 1 risk factor you will focus on next week


Ask your doctor to check it if:

  • You are male and over 40
  • You are female and over 50 or post-menopausal
  • You have high blood pressure, diabetes or have had heart disease or stroke
  • High risk waist to hip ratio
    • Male >1.0; Female >0.85
  • You have a family history of heart disease or stroke


  • Healthy Fats – unsaturated fats
  • Fiber rich foods – soluble/viscous choices
  • Antioxidant rich foods – fruits and vegetables (OPC-3, Resveratrol, CoQ10)
  • Salt (preserved foods)
  • Dietary cholesterol (<200mg/day)
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
Antioxidant Rich Foods
  • Each increase of 1 serving of fruit or vegetable decreased risk by 6% (Kaumudi et al. JAMA. 1999; 282:1233)

GOAL 2: 2 extra veggies or fruits each day next week


  • Reduces LDL and high blood pressure
  • Promotes healthy blood sugar levels
  • WEIGHT MANAGEMENT → +4 years on life expectancy
  • Do a little bit at a time and try to build up 30 minutes/day on most days of the week

GOAL 3: be physically active for an extra 10 minutes every day next week (take the stairs, walk during a break at work…anything!)


  • Reduce LDL and triglycerides
  • Increase HDL
  • Reduce inflammation
  • UNSATURATED FATS: Olive oil, raw nuts and nut oils (walnut, almond etc.), avocado, seed oils (flax seed, sesame seed etc.) and cold water fish oils (SMASH: salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring)
  • Reduce triglycerides
  • Increase HDL
  • Demonstrate anti-inflammatory function
  • Helps reduce platelet aggregation
  • Vitamin E is an important antioxidant to prevent the hardening of the arteries
    • It is fat-soluble, interacts with LDL cholesterol to protect LDL from being oxidized
  • Food sources: fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovy, sardine,  herring), flax seed, chia seed, walnut
Source – fish vs flax
  • 1tbsp (15ml) flax oil = 0.18g EPA/DHA (conversion = 0.2%!!)
  • 1g fish oil = 0.2-0.4g EPA/DHA
  • 1 fatty fish meal = 0.9g EPA/DHA
Quality – small fish vs larger fish
  • Sardines and anchovies
Quantity – amount of EPA and DHA
  • 1-4g/day combined EPA/DHA
  • Decreases fasting blood glucose in diabetic individuals
  • Decreases blood pressure in hypertensive individuals
  • Decreases total and LDL cholesterol in hyperlipidemic individuals
  • Food sources: raw olive oil, avocados, nuts, sesame oil
Olive oil study:
  • ~20g/d (two tbsp) lead to 10-20% reduction in LDL and total cholesterol (Haban P. Med Sci Monit. 2004;10:49-54)
  • Food for thought: entry dose of Lipitor is 10mg and it leads to a 30% reduction in LDL…how does olive oil stack up?

GOAL 4: eat at least 1 omega 3 or 9 source with most meals each day next week

Trans Fats
  • Increase total cholesterol and LDL
  • Decrease HDL
  • Carcinogen
  • Food sources: partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, cookies, crackers, pastries, and fried foods, shortenings, some margarines, fast foods
  • “Estimated 30,000 premature deaths per year in the US are attributable to the consumption of trans fatty acids” (Aschiero et al. AJCN. 1997;1006s-10s)


  • Helps reduce cholesterol and blood glucose
  • Recommended intake is 10-25 g/day
  • Food Sources: oat bran, oats, barley, psyllium containing cereals, ground flaxseed, legumes, fruits, vegetables

GOAL 5: add 1 of the mentioned soluble fiber sources to your daily diet next week

Isotonix Resveratrol

  • Promotes normal platelet activity
  • Helps maintain normal vasorelaxation
  • Antioxidant properties → protection of LDL
  • Resveravine® (20% resveratrol extract) is 100-300x more concentrated in trans-resveratrol than other products made from grape skin
  • Red wine extract
  • Wild blueberry extract

Isotonix OPC-3

  • Contains Pycnogenol®
  • Helps with cardiovascular health
  • Helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels
  • Supports healthy blood glucose levels
  • Demonstrates anti-inflammatory properties
  • Helps with varicose veins

Heart Health CoQ10

  • CoQ10 is the vital nutrient that initiates energy production at the cellular level that powers the heart and acts as a powerful antioxidant when combined with vitamin E
  • People who take cholesterol lowering pills such as Lipitor, Crestor (statin medications) may need to externally replenish their CoQ10!
  • Recent studies demonstrating indicated use for beta-blocker users and those who have suffered congestive heart failure
  • Food sources: sardines, mackerel, meat (organs), eggs; spinach, broccoli, peanuts, wheat germ and whole grains

Primary benefits:

  • Promotes cardiovascular health
  • Provides antioxidant protection for the cardiovascular system
  • Helps maintain normal blood pressure
  • Helps maintain heart muscle strength
  • Promotes healthy cholesterol levels
  • Helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels
  • Helps maintain brain health
  • Vital for ATP production and supports muscle endurance
  • Promotes the immune system
  • Promotes gum health
  • Studies have found CoQ10 deficiencies in overweight people

HOMEWORK: choose one goal and make it happen next week!