To Your Health: Heart Healthy Diet!

To Your Health: Heart Healthy Diet!

Telluride local Dr. Alan Safdi is a world-renowned internist and gastroenterologist with encyclopedic knowledge of mind-body wellness and preventative medicine. He posts regularly on Telluride Inside… and Out under the banner of “To Your Health.” Dr. Alan’s blogs feature the most current information in his fields: health, wellness and longevity.

This week, Dr. Alan talks about a heart healthy diet and how it would be nuts not to go deep into the subject. His podcast is here.

Links to Dr. Alan’s other podcasts and narratives on COVID-19 and more are here.

A diet high animal-fat disrupts the biology of the gut’s inner lining and its microbial communities—and promotes the production of a metabolite that may contribute to heart disease.

A recent study showed a higher intake of vegetable fats from foods such as olive oil and nuts is associated with a lower risk for stroke, whereas people who eat more animal fats, especially processed red meats, may have a higher stroke risk, observational findings suggest. A high-fat diet from animal sources also causes inflammation in the intestines causing the growth of harmful bacteria that ends up causing the production of  TMAO (trimethylamine-N-oxide), implicated in promoting atherosclerosis and increasing the relative risk for all-cause mortality in patients. The main sources of vegetable fat have a large overlap with polyunsaturated fat, such as vegetable oils, nuts, walnuts, peanut butter and fish, especially fatty fish, and are recommended for cardiovascular health.

The key features of a heart-healthy diet pattern result from balancing calorie intake with calorie needs to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, Choose whole grains, lean and plant-based protein, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Limit salt, sugar, animal fat, processed foods, and alcohol. Apply these guidelines regardless of where the food is prepared or consumed. We do not need to take drastic measures to reduce risks of hypertension, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and other health complications.

So what about nuts?

Nuts boast a favorable nutritional profile, which offers cardiovascular and metabolic benefits. This includes unsaturated fatty acids, proteins, fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidant compounds. Nuts also contain vitamins, like vitamin E and folate, and minerals, including calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

In a pooled analysis of 25 controlled trials, daily nut consumption reduced total cholesterol concentration and low‐density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration by 10.9 and 10.2 mg/dL, respectively; nut consumption also reduced triglycerides in subjects with higher baseline levels (>150 mg/dL).

A relatively large clinical trial (n=305) demonstrated a blood pressure-lowering effect of daily consumption of walnuts (30–60 g/d, depending on energy requirements) in elderly individuals, which may partially explain the lower risk of stroke associated with walnut consumption.

So you probably want to ask which nuts are best if you eat them in moderation, secondary to the caloric intake. The studies have focused on tree nuts and peanuts (which are technically legumes, not nuts). Tree nuts involved in the studies included walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans, macadamias, hazelnuts, and pine nuts.

Some studies have shown that combinations of nuts may have different health effects. For example, a study cited in an article in Circulation  showed that regular consumption of a mix of walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts induced a 28% reduced risk of experiencing major cardiovascular events compared with a control diet.

So we are nuts not to consider nuts and other changes for heart health.

Dr. Alan Safdi, more:

Dr. Alan Safdi is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Gastroenterology and is a Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology. A proven leader in the healthcare arena, he has been featured on the national program, “Medical Crossfire” and authored or co-authored numerous medical articles and abstracts.

Safdi, a long-time Telluride local, has been involved in grant-based and clinical research for four decades. He is passionate about disease prevention and wellness, not just fixing what has gone wrong.

Dr. Alan is an international lecturer on the subjects of wellness, nutrition and gastroenterology.

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