Heart Healthy Blog by Boston Heart

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

How to Reduce Your Sugar Intake

Posted by Caroline Hoffman, MS, RD, CDE on Sep 15, 2016 11:14:00 AM

Recent headlines suggest the sugar industry may have influenced researchers to publish articles to minimize the effects of sugar on heart health and instead, shift the attention to saturated fat as the culprit for heart disease1.  Today, the scientific industry is looking more closely at sugar, in fact, in January the U.S. Dietary Guidelines were released with a new recommendation to consume less than 10% of your calories from added sugars.    So what do these guidelines mean for your diet and how can you reduce your sugar intake?

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

Should You be Taking CoQ10?

Posted by Peggy G. Daly, ND, FNP-BC, FNMM, ABAAHP, MBA on Jul 28, 2016 2:39:04 PM

CO…what???  That’s a common response when I ask a patient to start taking Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), also known as ubiquinone (or in activated form ubiquinol)!  Yes CoQ10 has a funny name but your body needs it to produce energy in every cell. 

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

5 Ways to Increase Your Hidden Superhero (HDL Cholesterol)

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD & Kristy Consalvo, MBA on Jul 14, 2016 11:20:00 AM

Have you ever felt you have a superpower inside of you? Well, you do! Every single one of us does—it’s our High Density Lipoprotein (HDL).  What makes HDL a superpower? HDL particles in the blood- helps to clear out excess cholesterol from your arteries helping to reduce your risk of forming a blockage which could lead to a heart attack or stroke.1

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

Targeting Better Heart Disease Prevention

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Jun 2, 2016 11:32:00 AM


Great news! A recently published study highlights and strengthens the evidence supporting a key principle and effective strategy in heart disease prevention. In this study1, published by the American Diabetes Association’s peer-reviewed journal Diabetes Care, Dr. Nathan Wong and colleagues demonstrate the tremendous health benefits of cumulative cardiovascular risk factor optimization.

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Topics: About Stroke, Diabetes and CVD, Latest Science

Redefining “Healthy” – A Welcome Change for Nutrition Labels

Posted by Joi Gleason, RD, LDN, CHWC on May 19, 2016 11:28:00 AM


When choosing foods, what does the word “healthy” on the label mean to you?  Last week the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) labeling rules and regulations were in the news because of new thinking about an outdated definition for the food label claim, “healthy.”  In the 1990s when “healthy” was defined, it was mostly based on a food being low in fat – regardless of the type of fat. At the time, the amount of sugar wasn’t even considered!   

Fast forward twenty years and we now know much more about nutrition and what makes a food healthy or not healthy.  At the same time, food label claims are becoming more and more important, because people are seeking and choosing products that will have positive health benefits. Current food package definitions including “healthy” are often misleading to consumers and persuade them to make unhealthy choices. The fact that the FDA will be rethinking their modern definition of healthy is welcome news. In addition, proposals to improve the nutrition facts panel include making the serving size and calorie information more prominent and providing the gram amounts per serving for added sugars. While the FDA is working to redefine healthy, here are some quick and easy tips you can use to make healthy choices.

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

Minnesota Coronary Experiment—Trying To See In A Blizzard?

Posted by Michael Dansinger, MD on Apr 19, 2016 2:20:07 PM

I was startled last week by new research study findings that have unexpectedly “transported” me back to my own origins and fundamental assumptions. This study originated in Minnesota in the 1960’s—and so did I. The newly published results of the Minnesota Coronary Experiment, conducted nearly a half-century ago, have made headlines and raised uncertainty and controversy about how dietary intake causes heart disease and atherosclerosis.

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Topics: Food and Nutrition, About Stroke, Diabetes and CVD, Latest Science

5 Facts About Dietary Cholesterol

Posted by Joi Gleason, RD, LDN, CHWC on Feb 25, 2016 11:25:00 AM


After years of avoiding steak, eggs and ice cream as part your quest for maintaining good cholesterol levels, now you are finding yourself ready to indulge.  Are the new guidelines too good to be true?  Consider these 5 undisputable facts before you add more butter to your bread.

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Topics: Food and Nutrition, Latest Science, Alternatives to Medication