Heart Healthy Blog by Boston Heart

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

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

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

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

6 Ways to Eat Mindfully

Posted by Debanjali Ghosh, MA on Jun 16, 2016 11:30:00 AM

Food is our primary life source. It’s delicious, powerful, has the ability to prevent and cause disease, and can make us simultaneously feel in and out of control.  Unfortunately, over time, we have cultivated dysfunctional relationships with food. These relationships, however, do not have to be permanent. Incorporating mindful practices into your eating provides you with opportunities to learn, grow, and love the way that you eat on a daily basis! Eating mindfully can help you find what works for you as an individual and encourage you to embrace a sustainable lifestyle. 

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

5 Tips to Keep You Motivated to Exercise

Posted by Briana Jones, RN, BSN on Apr 22, 2016 9:05:15 AM

The third Monday in April is Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts, but ever since I moved to Boston 10 years ago I’ve thought of it as “Marathon Monday.” Every year I look forward to cheering on the runners, whether it’s humid and 90 degrees or 40 degrees and pouring rain. Whether you’re a runner or a fan, it’s easy to be motivated by the Boston Marathon. Maybe it’s the thousands of people running for charity, the site of the most elite runners in the world, or the amazing Hoyt family, but I don’t have to look hard at the Boston Marathon to be inspired. I walk away from the Marathon every year determined to exercise more regularly and improve my fitness and strength. This year was no different than the others. On April 18, I left the Boston Marathon with renewed energy towards my fitness routine.

In the past, I have managed to stick with my regimen for a few months. And even though the benefits of regular exercise, including decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes, cannot be overstated, I find staying on track can be hard, especially during the summer.

If you struggle with consistency in your exercise, you’re not alone. Most people want to exercise and have great intentions, but life often gets in the way. So how can we improve? 

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

Having a Heart to Heart with Your Parents

Posted by Victoria Smiley on Mar 24, 2016 11:35:00 AM

Growing up in North Carolina, I can tell you that nothing is better than mom’s fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits with a cold, refreshing glass of sweet tea. Now that I’m a little older, I realize these foods are not the best for my heart health. I also understand that my parents are growing older too and continue to make these high fat and sugary foods a regular part of their diet. Speaking with them about their choices and daily habits can be intimidating, but I want them to understand that the choices they make every day have a lasting effect on their heart and overall health. So what is important for me to tell them and what is the best way to get the point across?

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Topics: CVD Testing, Men's Health, Empowerment, Women's Health

How I Lost Over 100 Pounds Following 6 Simple Rules

Posted by Guest: Russ J. on Jan 14, 2016 6:00:00 AM

Photo Credit: Robert X. Forgarty from “Dear World”

Only 19 more pounds to go and I’ll have lost a total of 140 pounds since May, 2014. I’ve been doing the Boston Heart Lifestyle Program exactly that long. When I started my journey, I weighed nearly 400 pounds. I’ve gone from a size 55 waist to size 40. It’s a pure thrill for me to be able to walk into any retail store and find clothes my size.  I’m happy and healthy with a steady diet of fish, veggies and fruit.  How did I do it?

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Topics: Success Stories, Empowerment