True Confessions of a Cardiovascular Surgeon

Tomatoes at the farmer's market

Viral “confessions” rocked Facebook last month – the first tell-all was from a TSA Agent, but the second confession was one I found especially heartening. (Pun intended)

Last December, Dr. Dwight Lundell published an essay titled “Heart Surgeon Declares On What Really Causes Heart Illness” on the Tuned Body website. Now more than 200,000 people have his words plastered on their Facebook walls. It’s not that what he says is revolutionary – you’ll read the same information here on my blog – but the fact that a heart surgeon is questioning cholesterol drugs in favor of natural, nutritional healing is wonderful to see.

His findings (and if you read my blog, they’ll sound familiar) are:

  • A diet of natural, unprocessed food can prevent, and possibly reverse, heart disease.
  • Low-fat, high-simple-carb diets cause chronic inflammation, thereby destroying the walls of our blood vessels, and causing cholesterol stick to them and form plaque blockages.
  • The Western diet has excessive levels of Omega-6 acids from corn and soybean oils, whereas we should be eating far more Omega-3 acids (from nuts and fish).
  • To reduce inflammation, he recommends eating protein and complex carbs (ie. lean meats, fish, fruits and vegetables).
  • Saturated fats aren’t the enemy – eat moderately and enjoy olive oil, grass-fed meat, and dairy: Dr. Lundell writes, “Mainstream medicine made a terrible mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat in favor of foods high in omega-6 fats.”

His theme is that cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease – inflammation does. And Inflammation can be caused, and controlled, through diet!

To read more about anti-inflammatory diets, check out my previous posts:

Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Joint Health

Women’s 5 Most Frequent Health Issues & Food Solutions

Advertisements

We ♥ Heart Healthy Eating

Heart Healthy Salad from Intelligent Gourmet

Ancient Egyptians believed the heart contained the soul, and before entry into heaven, a person’s heart would be weighed against a feather. Today, we talk about people having heavy hearts or light hearts, but right now, let’s talk about healthy hearts.

From American Heart Association Research

  • For every hour of walking you can add 2 hours to your lifespan (Bonus! Exercise also increases brain size and memory)
  • For every pound lost you alleviate 4 lb. of pressure from your joints
  • Eating 2 servings of fish a week decreases your risk for heart disease by 23%

My rule of thumb is that if it’s from a box, it’s bad for your heart. Pre-packaged, mass-produced foods are created in labs to produce two outcomes:
1) They’ll last forever, packed with hydrogenated oils, trans fats, saturated fats and preservatives. They have to keep crunchy on store shelves, right?
2) To make you want more. They do this by pumping up the salt content.

Please hold the salt

Up to 75% of the sodium Americans eat comes from processed foods – and Americans are eating far too much. Most restaurants also over-salt their food to appeal to the typical American palate. What does all this salt do?

A healthy level of salt is vital. It helps regulate body fluids and blood pressure, and is necessary for muscle function and nerve impulse transmission. Active people who sweat a lot need more sodium.

Too much sodium (and the ADA says Americans typically eat over twice the daily recommended amount) contributes to high blood pressure, stroke, kidney disease, and heart disease.

Five Favorite Heart Healthy Foods

  1. Salmon & Sardines are loaded with Omega 3: good fats that help brain function and keep your LDL low and your HDL high. Wild Salmon and sardines are both low contaminate fish, meaning they don’t have PCB or dioxins (which can be found in farm raised fish). An inexpensive way to get Wild Salmon is to buy it canned. Look for Wild on the label, and if it says Alaskan, it is automatically wild.
  2. Oatmeal is a soluble fiber which attaches to cholesterol and escorts it out of the body. Don’t muck it up with too much sugar! Add chopped nuts for more Omega 3’s, berries for cancer-fighting anti-oxidants, and cinnamon – studies show that cinnamon also lowers LDL.
  3. Sweet potatoes help manage your blood pressure and keep your heart healthy. Sweet potato also contains soluble fiber but with the added benefit of Potassium. The trick to lowering blood pressure is to decrease sodium and increase potassium in your diet – and sweet potatoes are the perfect vehicle.
  4. Nuts are another great source of Omega 3s, but don’t overdo them. They’re calorie-dense, so a few will go a long way. Have a handful of almonds, walnuts, or cashews for a quick healthy snack that won’t spike your insulin (and make you crave more food). And, if you get a can of mixed nuts, know that eating just one of those giant Brazil Nuts fulfills your daily selenium requirement. Research suggests that selenium reduces risk for breast and prostate cancers.
  5. Wine! My favorite way to wash down a heart-healthy meal is with a glass of red wine. Antioxidants in red wine (such as resveratrol) protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. Not a big drinker? Search online for wine flour made from red grape skins (they make terrific brownies).