Heart Healthy Blog by Boston Heart

“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

Cooking with Chia and Flaxseeds – In the Kitchen with Caitlin

Posted by Caitlin Quinn Dunn, MS, RD, LDN on Jan 19, 2017 10:30:00 AM

Today I am introducing two special ingredients, chia and flaxseeds.  While small in size, these seeds pack a big nutritional punch. You may have heard of these seeds before—maybe you even have some deep inside your pantry or freezer.  Well, now’s the time to pull them out and learn a little more about why they are so good for you!

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Topics: Food and Nutrition

Mind Over Matter – The Key to Lasting Change

Posted by Caroline Hoffman, MS, RD, CDE on Jan 3, 2017 8:00:00 AM

In my work with people to help them learn about healthy foods and eating, it is clear that the focus on behavior change extends well beyond the food.  Yes, learning about food labels, nutrients, and meal planning is key, but implementing behavior change is often the struggle.  The expression “mind over matter” really is true as many of us know what to do, we just cannot seem to do it. 

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Topics: Expert Support, Wellness, Empowerment

7 Tips for Sticking to Your Diet During the Holiday Season

Posted by Karla Guffey, MS, RD, LD, CDE, BC-ADM, CLS on Dec 22, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Why are the holidays such a struggle to maintain our weight?  The season provides an overabundance of high-fat, high-calorie foods, and drinks in large portions.  In fact, the traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey, stuffing, casseroles and desserts typically provides about 3000 calories in one sitting.  In addition to excessive portion sizes of high-calorie foods, we tend to decrease our physical activity and put ourselves in highly emotional or stressful situations.  Did you know that the average American gains about 1 pound from Thanksgiving to New Years?1  This may not seem significant, but the weight is usually not lost over the next year and can add up over time.1  So how can we make this year healthier than years past? 

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Topics: Food and Nutrition, Men's Health, Women's Health

10 Foods to Eat to Get Your Cholesterol to Green

Posted by Joi Gleason, RD, LDN, CHWC on Dec 15, 2016 10:38:00 AM

When it comes to cholesterol lowering diets, there has been much more information on WHAT NOT to eat—bacon, cheese, ice cream, pastries-- and not enough information on WHAT TO eat!

Read on to get some great tips on foods that are delicious AND beneficial when it comes to improving your blood cholesterol and reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease.

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Topics: Food and Nutrition

Holiday Stress.  How to Keep Your Cool… and Your Heart Health

Posted by Erin Langbein, RD, LD on Dec 1, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Did you know that the winter months, particularly December, have the highest incidents of heart attacks?1  While this could be attributed to the time of year and overindulgence, emotional stress is also believed to be a major factor.  Stress is your mind-body response to the thrills and challenges of the world around you. It can come and go quickly (acute stress). Stress can also drag on for years and feel like intense anxiety (chronic stress). When you’re stressed, your body jumpstarts the “fight or flight” response as a reaction to perceived danger. Before you even have a chance to mentally process what’s happening, your body is preparing to enter a fist fight with a shark, or send you running from a spider.

While you can’t eliminate all causes of stress in your life, you can better understand your mind-body response and how to handle it.

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Topics: Wellness, Men's Health, Alternatives to Medication, Women's Health

Why Exercise is So Important for Diabetics

Posted by Chad Knutson, RD, CDN, CDE, CSCS on Nov 28, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Exercise can play a key role in managing diabetes in several different ways such as improved glucose uptake, improved insulin sensitivity, and increased glucose tolerance. The American Diabetes Association recommends those with prediabetes or diabetes get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 90 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. Ideally, this is at least 30 minutes 5 days per week. Let’s look more closely at how exercise can help manage pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

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Topics: About Stroke, Diabetes and CVD, Wellness, Alternatives to Medication

Cooking with Thanksgiving Leftovers- In the Kitchen with Caitlin

Posted by Caitlin Quinn Dunn, MS, RD, LDN on Nov 23, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Welcome to In the Kitchen with Caitlin, a blog where I take you through ways to use ingredients to create healthy and delicious meals.  With the holiday season fast approaching, I wanted to write a Thanksgiving blog, but with a twist.  I could write about ways to make a healthier dinner, but we’ve done that before!  What I haven’t ever done is explored healthier ways to use Thanksgiving leftovers.  So that’s what I’m doing today!  While many people view Thanksgiving as an unhealthy holiday filled with rich gravy, starchy vegetables, and creamy casseroles, the basics of the meal are lean protein and vegetables.  My intention for this blog is to highlight the healthy portions of the meal and walk you through two ways to use those ingredients to create satisfying meals to get you back on track after the big day has passed.  The recipes featured today are shepherd’s pie and turkey and wild rice soup.  

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Topics: Food and Nutrition

Quitting Tobacco – Practice Makes Perfect

Posted by Dominique Adair, MS, RD, CLS, TTS on Nov 17, 2016 10:30:00 AM


As it is Great American Smokeout Day, it is important to raise awareness that people trying to quit smoking often feel a lot of shame around failed attempts.  Reframing multiple quit attempts as practice for eventual success instead of submission to multiple failures can have an enlightening effect on someone trying to quit.  Understanding these challenges and some tobacco myths and half-truths can help people get closer to quitting smoking for good.

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Topics: Expert Support, Men's Health, Empowerment, Women's Health