Daylight saving time impacts timing of heart attacks

Heart attacks rise the Monday after setting clocks ahead one hour

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Heart attacks occur most often on Monday mornings, but research shows a 25 percent jump in the number of heart attacks occurring the Monday after we spring forward for daylight saving time, compared to other Mondays during the year.

It seems the hour of lost sleep during daylight saving time may play a bigger, perhaps more dangerous role in our body’s natural rhythm than we think, according to a study led by the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. Continue reading

Health benefits of dark chocolate

Cocoa can lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels

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With Valentine’s Day right around the corner and boxes of chocolates spilling over in store aisles everywhere, it’s time to set the record straight about the health benefits of chocolate.

Dark chocolate rich in antioxidants

The good news about chocolate pertains to cocoa — the dark chocolate rich in plant compounds called flavonoids — which originates from seeds from the cacao tree. Flavonoids are natural antioxidants that help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the heart and brain, raise “good” HDL cholesterol levels and lower “bad” LDL levels — all of which protect against heart attack and stroke. And although cocoa is not considered a health food, it certainly can play a role in helping to keep the heart healthy. Continue reading

The Mediterranean diet: the gold standard for heart-healthy eating

May is National Mediterranean Diet Month

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Extra virgin olive oil in the diet has been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease

Are you looking for the most “heart-healthy” meal plan?

For years, the recommended diet to prevent heart disease was a low-fat diet. Then, as research began to reveal the negative effects of sugar and refined carbohydrates — often included in low-fat meals — many people turned to a low-carb diet. But low-carb does not necessarily mean “healthy.”

Now, more and more evidence points to a traditional Mediterranean meal plan as one of the healthiest eating patterns. A study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2/25/2013), shows that a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease by 30 percent in people at high risk for heart disease.

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Like salty foods? Study shows salt may not be all bad

More research needed to know how much salt each person's heart can handle

chef using seasoning blogOnly 1 percent of adults meet the current guidelines for dietary salt intake, which has led to efforts to reduce sodium in common foods like bread and soup. However, a new research study in over 2,600 seniors suggests that salt intake doesn’t strongly affect heart health in older adults.

Authors of the JAMA Internal Medicine study brought to a simmer the debate over which is better – longstanding federal guidelines to consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, or a new low of 1,500 milligrams or less. Based on information from dietary questionnaires, neither sodium guideline showed remarkable results in protecting from heart attack, stroke, or heart failure.

At first, this looks like good news for those who’ve eaten the same way for a long time and can’t imagine changing what’s on their plate – but the findings don’t necessarily mean patients can leave their doctors’ offices ignoring good advice about salt restriction. Continue reading

Celebrate Go Red for Women: Wear Red, learn your risk for heart disease

Meet three women meeting the challenges of heart disease

Ask women when they’re at risk for heart disease, and they may say they have until after menopause gored.fwto start thinking about their cardiovascular health.

Not only is this wrong, it’s also dangerous because it prevents women from taking signs of heart disease seriously.

“The idea that heart disease is not a major risk for women is the biggest myth we need to counter,” says Claire Duvernoy, M.D., chief of cardiology at VA Ann Arbor Healthcare and an interventional cardiologist at the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center. “The truth is that more women die from cardiovascular disease than all forms of cancer combined.”

The good news is that women can lower their risk for heart disease, and campaigns like Go Red for Women, which celebrates National Wear Red Day, Feb. 7, inspires women to stand together for what is the fight for their lives. Every minute a women dies from heart disease, and 1 in 3 women’s deaths are caused by heart disease.   Continue reading

Stress eating

Are you really hungry?

If you find yourself reaching for a bag of chips or a handful StressEatingBLOG3of cookies whenever the going gets tough, you may be a stress eater. Stress or emotional eating can be a physical condition caused by high levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. In high levels, cortisol can increase a person’s craving for high-fat foods and salty or sugary snacks. For some, these foods bring comfort during stressful situations, but they can do more harm than good in the long run.

Stress eating can become a habit that overrides healthy eating habits and good nutrition, but it’s a cycle that can be broken. Try one of these effective strategies:

  • If you know you’re about to experience a stressful situation, prepare. Being prepared will help you handle the oncoming stress. Eat regularly during the day – every three to four hours – to help keep your emotions balanced and minimize your emotional eating. Continue reading