Heart Healthy Blog by Boston Heart

Four Lifestyle Factors That Can Reduce Your Risk For CVD

Posted by Joi Gleason, RD, LDN, CHWC on May 18, 2017 11:30:00 PM

Eating right and regularly exercising are not the only ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. These four lifestyle factors play an essential role as well.

  1. Practicing stress relief. Stress can increase your risk for many types of chronic diseases—cardiovascular disease being one of them. Although mild stress is a normal reaction to accomplish tasks we sometimes find challenging, it can become overbearing and begin to negatively affect your health. It is important to learn how to manage your stress level. Below are a few ways you can begin to eliminate unnecessary and overbearing stress factors from your life.
  • Delegate some of your household or work responsibilities to others
  • Realize that it is your reaction to the stress that is harmful
  • Keep things in perspective, you are most likely not facing a life threatening situation
  • Pamper yourself with some quiet time
  • Practice deep breathing techniques to calm yourself
  • Try to spend time in nature on a daily basis, even if it’s only a 10 minute walk
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Topics: Food and Nutrition, Expert Support, Wellness

Why Water Belongs in your Lifestyle

Posted by Becky Morgan on May 4, 2017 12:30:00 PM

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Topics: Food and Nutrition, Expert Support, Wellness

Mediterranean Diet Improves Heart Risk and HDL Function

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Apr 20, 2017 11:30:00 AM


The Mediterranean Diet is a proven eating strategy for good heart health. A recent study shows the health benefits may be partly due to improvements in HDL particle function.1

What is HDL particle function and why is this important?

HDL means “High Density Lipoprotein”, which is a scientific name for a very important set of microscopic particles in the blood. The HDL particles are like multi-tasking superheroes that help keep the arteries healthy. These particles are best-known for slowing the accumulation of cholesterol plaques in the arteries which lead to heart disease and strokes. For example, when functioning properly, the HDL particles help remove cholesterol from inside the artery wall (reverse cholesterol transport), help protect the arteries from damage by oxidation (anti-oxidant properties), and help arteries to stay relaxed (vasodilation). Unfortunately, HDL particles can lose their effectiveness (become dysfunctional) as a result of eating unhealthy food. Other important causes of unhealthy HDL particles include lack of physical activity, excess body fat in the abdomen, high blood sugar levels, and smoking.

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Topics: Food and Nutrition, Expert Support, Wellness, Empowerment

Health Management Apps to Help You Meet Your Health Goals

Posted by Becky Morgan on Apr 6, 2017 11:30:00 AM


It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed when setting new lifestyle goals. You might need help getting started, help with motivation along the way, or additional support to keep you on track. The good news, there’s an app for that. There are plenty of health apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone that are designed to help you meet your goals. I bet you’re wondering, how do I know which app is right for me?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a team of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists who regularly review health management apps1. Their reviews are posted on their website, www.eatright.org/appreviews, and also posted through Food and Nutrition Magazine at www.foodandnutrition.org/Nutrition-Apps/. After reading the pages of reviews and doing some further testing on my own, here is a list of apps that you may want to try out yourself. 

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Topics: Food and Nutrition, Expert Support, Wellness, Empowerment

Southern Diet Made Heart Healthy

Posted by Qula Madkin, MS, RD, LD, CDE on Mar 23, 2017 11:00:00 AM


Recently, the American College of Cardiology released a comprehensive review of foods and diets. 1 Included in this review, people were advised to avoid a Southern diet due to evidence that it negatively impacts cardiovascular health. The Southern diet is typically high in added fats and oils, fried foods, eggs, organ and processed meats, and sugar-sweetened drinks. While this report provides great information for healthy living, it doesn’t do much for my Southern palate.

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Topics: Food and Nutrition, Expert Support

Incorporating Frozen Fruits – In the Kitchen with Caitlin

Posted by Caitlin Quinn Dunn, MS, RD, LDN on Mar 10, 2017 10:30:00 AM


Hi Everyone!  Welcome back to In the Kitchen with Caitlin, a blog series where I feature some lesser known ingredients and highlight ways to use them in delicious and healthy recipes.  Did you know March is National Frozen Food Month?  No?  Well, don’t feel bad, I didn’t either until just recently.  In honor of National Frozen Food Month, I’m going to blog about how to build a nutritious and delicious smoothie.  Smoothies are a great way to save some money on fruit by buying frozen.  I love having frozen fruit on hand because unlike fresh, it is picked in season and flash frozen so the flavors are great any time of year.  Also, frozen fruit, unlike canned, is typically frozen without any added sugar or juice so you’re just getting the fruit itself.  Lastly, keeping frozen fruit on hand means you don’t have to worry about it spoiling.  If you live alone, you may be deterred from buying fruit because it tends to spoil before you get a chance to eat it all, with frozen fruit you don’t have to worry about that!

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Topics: Food and Nutrition, Expert Support

Bridging the Racial Gap in Heart Disease

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Feb 24, 2017 11:00:00 AM


Each February we celebrate both Black History Month and Heart Month. This is a great opportunity to reaffirm the importance of working together as a society that fights against avoidable deaths including premature heart disease. In African Americans, avoidable deaths from premature heart disease are especially common and death from all cardiovascular disease is 33% higher than in the general population. Ethnic minority populations face barriers to heart disease diagnosis and care, receive lower quality treatment, and experience worse health outcomes than the general population. This is not acceptable, and I would like to applaud and celebrate those individuals and organizations that are working hard to help understand and bridge the racial gap in heart disease.

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Topics: About Stroke, Diabetes and CVD, CVD Testing, Men's Health, Empowerment, Women's Health

Playing the Hand You’re Dealt: Genetics vs. Lifestyle Choices

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Feb 23, 2017 10:01:00 AM

I recently read about a new Healthy Lifestyle study in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.1  When a top medical journal reports such a study it tends to strongly influence the way doctors and other experts think about the value of “Lifestyle Medicine.” I’m excited to declare that the new findings strongly support the critically important role of healthy lifestyle habits for preventing premature cardiovascular disease, especially in people with an increased “genetic risk.”

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Topics: Latest Science, Men's Health, Alternatives to Medication, Women's Health

“It’s OK. It’s good for you”

Posted by Peggy G. Daly, ND, FNP-BC, FNMM, ABAAHP, MBA on Feb 14, 2017 12:00:00 PM


“Not that one….get the one that’s 70% or higher,” are words of wisdom when it comes to chocolate!  Chemicals called polyphenols found in the cocoa of chocolate have tremendous health benefits.  Flavanols and flavanoids are sub-categories of polyphenols that act as antioxidants in the body. They have been shown to cause dilatation of the arteries (meaning the arteries become wider) by increasing a substance called nitric oxide. When nitric oxide is released, the arteries open up and blood pressure goes down.1 Studies show that cocoa intake can reduce blood pressure by 2-3 mm/hg. What if we combined modest exercise (30-40 mins/day), which lowers systolic blood pressure by 4-9 mm/hg, with cocoa polyphenols? 2,3 There are no clinical studies to tell us what the combination would do, but sometimes it’s the little changes that cause dramatic effects.  

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Topics: Food and Nutrition, Expert Support, Latest Science

NLA Guidelines – Sorting Fact from Fiction

Posted by Dominique Adair, MS, RD, CLS, TTS on Feb 9, 2017 10:34:00 AM

With nutrition information everywhere, it can be hard to tell fact from fiction.  Scientific breakthroughs happen from time to time, but they are very rarely “breakthrough” despite the sensational news headlines.  Making sense of these exaggerated news bites can be difficult for most.  In fact, the National Lipid Association, a well-respected organization of scientific professionals, just released their version of nutrition education materials1 to help healthcare providers help patients make better nutrition choices.   This marks a significant step forward in combatting nutrition mythology and in helping healthcare professionals provide legitimate nutrition education to their patients. 

I’ve always believed in the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Silly).   There is lots of sound information out there that is well supported by research, but we also see a lot of not so great or even downright harmful information being passed around.  Here are a few strategies I have shared with my clients over the years to help them detect the truth from the fiction:

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Topics: Food and Nutrition, Expert Support, Latest Science