Cures in Your Kitchen: Heart-healthy Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices have been used as food and medicine for thousands of years. Modern science has shown that some of these tasty flavorings really do have remarkable health benefits, particularly for boosting cardiovascular (CV) wellness. Two very large studies recently linked a spicy diet to longer life and lower risk of death from heart-related causes.

One reason why certain spices and herbs literally do the heart good is that they appear to reduce chronic inflammation, a fiery process that is both the driver of arterial disease development and of plaque ruptures that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Certain condiments may also help reduce other CV risks if consumed as part of an overall heart-healthy diet. Here’s a look at spices and herbs with proven cardiovascular benefits.

Cinnamon: Lowers cholesterol and blood sugar

Daily consumption of this delicious spice significantly reduced triglycerides, blood sugar and LDL (bad) cholesterol, while improving good (HDL) cholesterol in a recent analysis that pooled the results of 10 randomized studies of 543 patients with type 2 diabetes. Two earlier studies found that cinnamon improved insulin sensitivity in people without diabetes. These are important benefits, given that insulin resistance is the root cause of about 70% of heart attacks.

Based on these findings, the BaleDoneen Method recommends that people with diabetes or insulin resistance take 2 grams of cinnamon daily, which is available in capsule form. Before taking any dietary supplement, check with your medical provider to make sure it’s appropriate for you.

Chili peppers: May lengthen life and lower heart attack and stroke risk

Chili peppers may hold the key to longevity. In a 19-year study of 16,171 American men, those who ate hot red chili peppers had a 13% lower rate of death, even when demographic, lifestyle and clinical factors were taken into account. Mortality from vascular disease, heart attacks and strokes was particularly low in the hot pepper group, according to study coauthor Dr. Benjamin Litternberg, who points out that a chili compound called capsaicin has well-established anti-inflammatory effects. It’s used to treat arthritis and other painful inflammatory disorders.

An earlier study of nearly 500,000 Chinese people over seven years also reported lower mortality, particularly from heart disease and cancer, among those who ate spicy foods, including chili peppers, frequently. However, further research is needed to tell if the food itself, or other behaviors of people who eat a spicy diet, explains the heart-protective effects seen in the study.

Turmeric: Fights inflammation, gum disease and depression

Curcumin, an antioxidant compound found in the yellow Indian spice turmeric, has such remarkable health benefits that researchers have dubbed it “the golden spice of life.” In a recent clinical trial, curcumin supplements were as effective as the prescription drug Prozac for elevating mood in people with major depression, a condition linked to brain inflammation and increased risk for heart problems.

Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Another recent clinical trial reported that a 1% solution of curcumin (in water) worked nearly as well for killing oral bacteria as a standard dental rinse (0.2% chlorhexidine gluconate) in people with periodontal (gum) disease. Gum disease, which affects about 50% of Americans aged 30 and older, was recently shown to be a contributing cause of arterial disease in a landmark, peer-reviewed BaleDoneen study.

Garlic: Lowers blood pressure and boosts heart health

For more than 2,000 years, physicians have prescribed garlic as a heart tonic—and recent studies have proven them right. There is strong scientific evidence that eating a half to one clove of garlic daily lowers total cholesterol levels by up to 9%, while taking aged garlic extract may reduce systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 5.5%, according to a recent paper in Current Cardiology Reviews.

Garlic—a staple of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet—has many other beneficial effects on arterial health, leading the paper’s authors to conclude that the pungent plant is a powerful weapon against cardiovascular disease. The paper also reported that ginger, black pepper and coriander also have well-established CV benefits, as well as the power to “turn an ordinary meal into an extraordinary experience.” Overall, adding spice to our life is a delicious way to maintain a healthy heart, the researchers concluded.

Easy Vegan Marinara Spaghetti Squash

Like other squashes, spaghetti squash is low in calories and high in heart-healthy fiber. It is also low in carbs, making it a delicious, gluten-free substitute for pasta. Spaghetti squash is a good source of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and C, and disease-fighting antioxidants. Packed with vitamins and minerals, nutritional yeast adds a creamy flavor, making it an excellent dairy-free substitute for cheese. This easy, heart-healthy recipe is sure to become a family favorite!

2 whole spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise
¼ cup olive oil
4 cups prepared (jarred) marinara sauce
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, grated
16-ounce can of chickpeas, drained
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
Fresh basil or parsley, chopped for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Scrape out squash seeds. Brush each squash half with olive oil, season with pepper, and place flesh side down in a nonstick or aluminum foil-lined baking pan. Roast for 30 minutes and remove from oven to cool. Meanwhile, bring marinara sauce to a simmer in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Stir in grated garlic and chickpeas, season with black pepper and reduce heat to low. When squash is cool enough to handle (about 15 minutes), scrape out spaghetti-like strands and drain in a colander. Combine squash strands with marinara sauce/chickpea mixture and stir in yeast flakes. Toss to coat, then transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with chopped parsley or basil and enjoy! Makes eight servings. Adapted from and

Is Chronic Inflammation the No. 1 Threat to Your Health?

As fear of coronavirus is prompting Americans to stock up on food, hand sanitizer and other supplies, 22 leading scientists have spotlighted a far greater threat to public health: chronic systemic inflammation. In a new Perspective article published in Nature Medicine, they report that this fiery condition is “the most significant cause of death in the world,” accounting for more than half of deaths around the world. These disorders include cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and dementia, among others.

The scientists advocate for an increased emphasis on early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of systemic chronic inflammation (SCI), which we call “fire.” They also say it’s imperative for the public to be aware of the risk factors for developing this dangerous disorder and the best ways to avoid it. The authors also call for improvements in how medical providers screen patients for chronic inflammation and offer new recommendations on how to manage it. Here’s a closer look at the findings, plus key takeaways from the BaleDoneen Method you can use to enhance and protect your health, all of which could help add years to your life.

Who wrote the article and what are the key findings?

After an extensive analysis of the scientific evidence, researchers from the National Institutes of Health, Harvard Medical School, Columbia University Medical Center, Stanford University and other world-renowned centers in the U.S., Europe and South America start their report by stating:, “One of the most important medical discoveries of the past two decades has been that the immune system and inflammatory processes are involved in not just a few select disorders, but a wide variety of mental and physical health problems that dominate present-day morbidity and mortality worldwide.”

Titled “Chronic inflammation in the etiology of disease across the life span,” the article ties fire raging in the body to such mass murderers as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease, other dementias and Parkinson’s disease). “It’s also important to recognize that inflammation is a contributor not just to physical health problems, but also mental health problems such as anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, self-harm and suicide,” the study’s lead author, George Slavich, director of the UCLA Laboratory for Stress Assessment and Research, said in a news release.

The article adds to a large body of scientific literature suggesting that SCI may be the root of most — or all — chronic diseases and may even accelerate the aging process. To address this deadly global health threat, the scientists strongly recommend new strategies and more research to advance early diagnosis and treatment of SCI and to prevent it from occurring in the first place. This approach, they report, would “not only extend life but also help reduce chronic disease worldwide and improve health.”

What sparks chronic systemic inflammation?

Acute inflammation is a healthy response to injury and infection. For example, if you stepped on a rusty nail, cells in the affected area would issue a molecular call to arms, summoning the body’s defenders to fight the invading bacteria. This would launch an immune-system reaction called “the inflammatory cascade” in which more than 20 proteins would blast the invaders with toxins to kill them and blood flow increases around the wound to create the familiar signs of warmth, swelling and redness as it starts to heal.

SCI harms rather than heals, because the immune-system reaction never stops. It’s like being shot by “friendly fire” during an endless war raging in the body. Triggers for SCI include obesity or a large waistline, smoking, an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, chronic stress, social isolation,  and poor oral health. For example, a landmark BaleDoneen study was the first to identify oral bacteria from periodontal (gum) disease as a contributing cause of CVD.

These oral bacteria frequently enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, which can result in SCI. The BaleDoneen study also found that bacterial villains from periodontal disease (PD) frequently gang up to create a triple threat to arterial health that can lead to heart attacks and strokes:

  1. People with gum disease have twice as much small, dense LDL cholesterol (the most dangerous kind) in their blood as those with healthy gums. The size of cholesterol particles matters: Some are big and buoyant, so they tend to bounce off vessel walls. Others are small and dense, making it easier for them to penetrate the arterial lining. Think of the difference between beach balls and bullets.
  2. Chemicals produced by high-risk oral bacteria make the arterial walls more permeable, so it’s easier for bad cholesterol to invade. Since people with PD due to these pathogens also have higher blood concentrations of small, dense LDL cholesterol and other disease-causing lipoproteins, this creates a one-two punch on the arteries, much like a gang assault on a house with broken windows or doors.
  3. Substances produced by high-risk bacteria can also make the inner layers of the arterial wall (where plaque forms) stickier, much like Velcro, so bad cholesterol is more likely to get trapped there and create plaque deposits, resulting in a triple threat to arterial health.

Why is chronic inflammation so dangerous — and what can you do to avoid it?

The Perspective article reported that CSI leads to “a constellation of energy-saving behaviors commonly known as ‘sickness behaviors,’ ” such as sadness, fatigue, reduced sex drive, altered sleep patterns and social withdrawal, accompanied by increases in blood pressure, insulin resistance and abnormal levels of lipids (such as cholesterol). On a short-term basis, these changes, the article reports, “can be critical for survival during times of physical injury and microbial threat.”

Over the long term, however, chronic inflammation has the opposite effect, and sets the stage for non-infectious chronic diseases that can shorten our lives, including those that a Harvard paper has called “the four horsemen of the medical apocalypse: coronary artery disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s.” As we recently reported, other new research finds that targeting brain inflammation may be the best way to prevent Alzheimer’s and stroke, along with following ten healthy lifestyle steps that have been shown to cut dementia risk by 35 percent.

For more ideas on how to avoid inflammation-related diseases, check out these articles from our blog: “Arteriology: A Revolutionary New Approach to Preventing and Reversing Arterial Disease,” “The Hidden Cause of Most Heart Attacks,” “Top Ten Tips to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes,” and “The Oral-Systemic Connection: How Bacteria in Your Mouth Can Hurt Your Heart.”

COVID-19: What you need to know-especially if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes

The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared that the new coronavirus (Covid-19) has reached pandemic levels. Numerous news reports also state that Covid-19 poses the greatest threat to older adults and those with certain medical conditions, including heart disease (also known as cardiovascular disease), high blood pressure, and diabetes. But what is missing from this frightening media coverage is what, exactly, should people with these conditions be doing to protect themselves? And how great is their risk?

How dangerous is Covid-19 to people with CVD and other chronic diseases?

Overall, more than 80 percent of people with Covid-19 experience mild illness from which they can recover without intensive medical intervention, according to a report from the American College of Cardiology (ACC). In early March, WHO’s Director-General reported that the global death rate from the virus is 3.4 percent, up from an earlier WHO report of 2 percent.

More recently, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine coauthored by Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and Robert Redfield, MD, Director of the CDC, opined that the true fatality rate of the COVID-19 “may be considerably less” than 1 percent and “may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.”

However, both death rates and cases of more severe or fatal illness are higher in older adults and those with certain medical conditions. Large-scale case studies by the Chinese CDC indicate that rates of death and very severe illness rise with age, with rates of 8 percent in people ages 70 to 79 and nearly 15 percent in patients over 80. People with certain medical conditions have both a higher risk for getting Covid-19 and a worse prognosis if they do. Up to 50 percent of people who develop the virus have co-existing disorders and for this group of patients, the following death rates from Covid-19 have been reported by the ACC.

  • Cancer: 5.6 percent
  • High blood pressure: 6 percent
  • Chronic respiratory disease: 6.3 percent
  • Diabetes: 7.3 percent
  • Cardiovascular disease: 10.5 percent

Why does Covid-19 pose such a high risk to people with cardiovascular conditions?

There is a lot that is not yet known about the new coronavirus, which infects the lungs, but the ACC reports that in one study of patients hospitalized with Covid-19, 16.7 percent developed heart arrhythmias and 7.2 percent experienced acute injuries to their hearts, along with other Covid-19 related complications. The ACC also reports that, “there have been reports of acute cardiac injury, arrhythmias, hypotension, tachycardia, and a high proportion of concomitant cardiovascular disease in infected individuals, particularly those who require more intensive care.”

Studies from Wuhan, China—the epicenter of the pandemic–have reported that people with the virus have suffered heart attacks, inflammation of the heart, and even cardiac arrest, adds the ACC, which states that the rate of cardiac complications in those with Covid-19 parallels those that occur in people with other types of coronaviruses, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), as well as people who catch seasonal flu. No studies have yet been done to compare the rates of heart complications in Covid-19 patients with and without pre-existing CVD.

A few factors could explain why people with heart disease are at increased risk for severe illness if they catch Covid-19. First of all, any infectious disease increases inflammation in the body as one of the immune system’s defenses against invading pathogens. The result is a “blood storm” of inflammation coursing through the body’s more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels. In people who have arterial disease (plaque), inflammation can ignite a plaque rupture, much like a volcano erupting. This can lead to the formation of an obstructive blood clot, potentially followed by a heart attack or a stroke. Think of plaque as kindling. Inflammation is what lights the match.

Similarly, we know Influenza is so strongly linked to an increased risk for heart attacks and strokes in people with atherosclerosis that some experts have theorized that flu is a direct cause of these events, largely driven by associated rises of infection-induced inflammation in people with influenza.   Right now, the flu season is the U.S. continues to cause high rates of the disease, with about 440,000 Americans hospitalized and almost 8.2 percent of them dying, according to the CDC. Influenza has also been linked to increased risk for heart failure in people with CVD. Indeed, a 2018 study published in New England Journal of Medicine reported that within one week of catching the flu, people are at six times higher risk for a heart attack!  COVID-19 also produces an infection-induced inflammation and poses a higher risk for those with heart disease and for inflammatory-induced heart attack.

High blood pressure also contributes to the development of atherosclerosis, while having type 2 diabetes elevates risk for a heart attack as much as having had a prior heart attack does in a non-diabetic person of the same age! Because Covid-19 often causes shortness of breath, which is turn quickens the pulse, both the lungs and the heart have to work harder when people catch the virus. But if your heart is already weakened by CVD or you have narrowing of the arteries, then your heart has to pump much harder than that of a healthy person to circulate blood and oxygen through your body.

What precautions should we all take – especially individuals with vascular disease and/or heart disease take?

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Eating an anti-inflammatory diet that is high in plant foods and low in meat and sugar has been shown to lower risk for heart attacks and strokes, and for getting CVD in the first place. Stock up on shelf-stable ingredients for heart-healthy meals, such as canned, dried or frozen fruits and veggies, dried grains, and frozen or canned fish. For optimal cardiovascular wellness, we recommend a diet based on your DNA.
  • Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Your immune system is most active when you’re sleeping and getting enough sleep also helps you maintain a healthier blood pressure.
  • Exercise regularly. The American Heart Association recommends creating an at-home circuit workout as follows: “Select three or four exercises you can do at home like jumping jacks, lunges or jogging in place. Do each exercise in short bursts and repeat the circuit two to three times.”
  • Reduce stress. Take 15 minutes each morning to practice mindful meditation. Studies suggest that mindful meditation helps lower levels of inflammation and blood pressure, reduces tension and elevates mood. Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment in an open, nonjudgmental way, while letting stressful thoughts about the past or future drift away.
  • Be sure to continue to take all prescribed medications as directed. Try to keep at least a 30-day supply of your medications on hand.
  • Disinfect your entire mouth daily. Taking excellent care of your teeth and gums has been shown to reduce risk for infectious diseases AND heart disease—and also helps lower your risk for heart attacks and strokes. Brushing and flossing daily was also linked to a longer life in a large study of older adults, as compared to people with neither of these habits.
  • Clean high touch surfaces daily. These include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards and bedside tables. Leave the cleaning solution (with at least 60% alcohol) on the surfaces for 10 minutes before wiping it off. The EPA has released a list of disinfectants and sanitizing products that are effective against Covid-19 and many other pathogens.
  • Avoid all but essential travel and try to avoid crowded places or gatherings.
  • If you feel ill, stay home and call ahead before consulting your medical provider. This will help the healthcare office take appropriate steps to keep others from getting infected or exposed if you do have Covid-19.


Whether you are feeling ill, or have questions or concerns,

I am available for phone or video chat visits.

 Dr. Gina Pritchard


 To learn more about how Covid-19 affects the heart and other organs, read, “Here’s what coronavirus does to the body” in National Geographic. Additional resources include the following:

AHA for Life: A Proven Plan to Prevent Heart Attacks, Strokes and Dementia

Worried that a heart attack, stroke or dementia could loom in your future? The BaleDoneen Method’s new AHA (Arterial Health Assurance) for Life program can help you avoid these devastating conditions, even if you are at significant risk for developing them due to your family history or other factors. Drawing on the latest peer-reviewed science and the pioneering new medical specialty of “arteriology,” the program offers a proven method to protect your heart and brain health while also optimizing the wellness of all of the more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels that nourish every organ, muscle and tissue in your body.

AHAforLife is designed to protect, enhance and even save your life with a unique, precision-medicine approach to prevention that has been shown in two recent peer-reviewed studies to rapidly shrink and stabilize arterial plaque, helping patients avoid heart attacks and strokes, even if they have already suffered one or more of these events. The program includes a free, personalized risk assessment for arterial disease. It also provides a wealth of online tools and resources to support you step-by-step through our life-changing disease reversal and prevention method, practiced by thousands of healthcare providers around the world.

Saving Lives, Brains and Hearts with Precision Medicine

Every 43 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a heart attack. Every 65 seconds, an American develops dementia. And every four minutes, an American man or woman dies from a stroke. As discussed more fully on our new website, the wonderful news is that with the optimal care and the right lifestyle moves, arterial disease and its devastating complications (such as vascular dementia) are potentially preventable.

It takes more than the current standard of care to achieve these outcomes. BaleDoneen providers have been called “disease detectives” because they use advanced lab and imaging tests to provide a comprehensive, personalized assessment to directly check each patient for hidden signs of arterial disease or “red flags” that signal increased risk for developing it. Our evidence-based method also uses leading-edge therapies and interventions to ensure that you will not become one of the grim statistics.

Discover Your Arterial Disease Risk

On the AHAforLife website, you can access a free assessment to help you and your healthcare provider identify your key areas for arterial disease risk. Complete the assessment and we will send your personalized report right to your inbox!

We are also offering exclusive, free, instant access to the entire first module of the AHAforLife program: a series of powerful videos with potentially lifesaving information you’ve probably never heard before.

  • A powerful promise: How more than two decades of landmark research by the creators of the AHAforLife program, Drs. Bradley Bale and Amy Doneen, can help you live well, without fear of heart attack, stroke or other catastrophic complications of arterial disease.
  • How the cardiovascular “standard of care” is failing you — and the entire U.S.
  • Your red flags — and what they mean for your health.
  • How most physicians are looking at the wrong markers to check for hidden disease risk.
  • How heart attacks and strokes really happen.
  • Why 50% of heart attacks and strokes happen to people with completely NORMAL cholesterol.
  • How healthy gums help prevent heart attacks, strokes and even Alzheimer’s disease.

And that’s just the beginning of this program, which has been hailed by healthcare providers as “an incredible resource,” “the future of medicine” and “the only totally comprehensive program in the world for the prevention of this disease.” While arterial disease, heart attack and stroke continue to claim more lives each year than all forms of cancer combined, your story can be different — even if you are at significant risk.

 Visit the website today — and take the first step toward a brighter, more vibrant and healthier future! Become an active partner with your healthcare provider in protecting and optimizing your arterial wellness. And please share what you learn with your loved ones, to help us save and enhance lives.

8 Foods for Healthier Arteries

Cardiovascular disease is actually a buildup of plaque which leads to gradual clogging of the arteries. Statistically, it is the number one killer-disease in the world, and an average of 2,000 Americans die of this disease each day!

Taking into consideration high rates like these, the cardiovascular health is one of the most important body system you should maintain and repair. Progressive clogging of the arteries is usually caused by diet, genetics and a sedentary lifestyle. It is possible to treat this condition and we have listed 8 delicious foods that will help you prevent and repair the damage.

1. Garlic

It may not have the best taste, but nutritionists do call it a super-food! Garlic will not only protect your cardiovascular health, but it can also help in the treatment of viruses, infections and even cancer!

Scientists confirm that by consuming 4,000 mcg of allicin (contained in 1-4 garlic cloves) a day, you can lower your cholesterol, decrease both diastolic and systolic blood pressure, and prevent blood cloths from forming. This creamy zinger garlic spread or pumpkin seed and garlic pasta will give you the required daily dose of cloves.

2. Pomegranate

The latest studies have shown that this delicious fruit can clean plaque build up from your arteries and also stimulate the production of nitric oxide in the blood, which will open the arteries and reduce the blood pressure.

This amazing cashew citrus cream cake with pomegranates is an excellent way to add more pomegranates to your menu!

3. Turmeric

Curcumin, the primary polyphenol found in turmeric, has proven to be efficient in the reduction of the fatty deposits in the arteries by 26%!

4. Chia Seeds

Ancient cultures have long used chia seeds, mostly because it is a solid source of hydration and energy. The fiber and alpha-linoleic acid found in chia seeds regulate the blood pressure, lower the triglycerides, and regulate the cholesterol by increasing the good and decreasing the bad cholesterol levels. Chia seeds are not only heart-healthy, but also versatile and delicious

5. Cinnamon

The cinnamon challenge is probably responsible for the negative attention to the spice, but when consumed wisely, it is amazingly efficient in treating many health conditions. Take a tablespoon of cinnamon a day and you will reduce cholesterol levels and receive a healthy dose of antioxidants. These delicious vegan cinnamon rolls will warm your heart, making it healthier and happier.

6. Apples

Apples are rich in pectin which can lower the cholesterol and slow the progression of artery clogging. A group of researchers from Ohio State University found that just an apple a day can help you reduce the hardening of the arteries by 40%.

It seems like the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is actually true! Have some grilled apple pie with vanilla coconut whipped cream and get the necessary daily dose of pectin.

7. Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain carotenoid lycopene, an antioxidant that gives their rich red color. This antioxidant is also found in its lighter or greener varieties. Increase your lycopene intake and reduce the oxidation of bad cholesterol, which causes atherosclerosis. Tomatoes are also important for bone health! This warming eggplant and tomato stew will give you the required dose of lycopene.

8. Greens

Leafy greens are rich in anti-oxidizing vitamins. These can prevent the oxidization of cholesterol, which leads to the formation of plaque in the arteries. Greens also contain fiber, potassium, and folate, which are efficient in the treatment of high blood pressure.

A single serving of folate-rich leafy greens a day can lower the homocysteine levels. This decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, so try to consume more spinach or chard. Green smoothies are the perfect way to consume more greens. Try this delicious green smoothie cheat sheet and adjust the ingredients untill you find your favorite!

– Source:

I do not support articles or advice recommending one food or even a few foods as the “Super Food” answer to preventing heart attack and stroke.  In fact, some of this type of advice is downright offensive to me because it is dangerously misleading to the reader.  And, most nutritional recommendations are not the best advice for everyone.  In other words, the most effective nutritional advice is individualized, based on one’s genetics.  However, I have posted the following link because the 8 foods discussed are highly recommended by me.  The authors have gone too far, in my opinion, to say these foods will “Unclog your arteries”.  Nonetheless food is powerful and these 8 foods will promote healthy arteries, for any genetic type.

– Gina Pritchard

Reduce Stress so Life’s Not a Mess

We all know how stressful life can be. Between balancing home and work life, the increased congestion on our roads and the overall hectic schedule of our day to day lives can cause even the easiest going person to feel some stress. But how you let stress impact you is within your

While a certain amount of stress is considered normal, stress that is frequent or long lasting can adversely affect your health, from headaches, to upset stomach, to weakening your immune system. Stress can also make your heart race and cause rapid breathing.

You CAN choose to have less stress in your life. I started thinking about the ways I control stress in my life, and here are my top 10:

  • Make a list of things you are thankful for, when you’re stressed think about all of the wonderful things in your life already.
  • Talk it out and put it in perspective. Sometimes sharing your feelings of stress with a confidant can allow you to gain a different perspective. A good friend can sometimes help you see the positives, even if it seems there are none.
  • Keep a realistic schedule. Try not to say “yes” to every opportunity that comes your way, allow for some free time every day.
  • Get enough rest. Being tired makes everything seem worse.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Keeping your body nourished can positively impact your state of mind. Also try to drink more water and less caffeine.
  • Write it down. Take time to journal about the stress you’re feeling.
  • Go for a walk. A change of scenery could be just what you need. Walk at a comfortable pace, and take good deep breaths. Even 5 minutes around the block can boost your mood.
  • Volunteer at a local animal shelter. There is nothing better than giving affection to a pet waiting for its forever family. Better yet, just get out and volunteer! There are so many organizations that need and will greatly appreciate your time. Visit with a local senior who is housebound and spend time listening to their journey, you’ll learn something new and provide companionship.
  • Reflect. Think about what causes you the greatest stress in your life. Is there something you can change or modify to reduce your level of stress? Do you find your commute to work particularly stressful? Perhaps changing your route could help.
  • Find something to look forward to. Book yourself a massage, or plan a weekend getaway. Having an enjoyable activity on the horizon, and planning for it can be enough to change your mindset.

If you feel that you are unable to control the stress in your life or feelings of overwhelm are constant for you, make an appointment to see your health care provider and discuss your feelings – don’t feel like you need to do it alone.

Eggs and Your Heart Health

Recently, I was asked about eggs and cardiovascular health.

Many people are afraid to eat cholesterol-containing foods, such as eggs. Eggs are a great source of vitamins, nutrients and amino acids. But, egg yolks contain cholesterol. What about eating cholesterol? Does cholesterol consumption increase one’s risk for atherosclerosis (plaque build up in the artery walls) and heart attacks? Do eggs clog arteries?

The ”lipid-hypothesis” theory suggests that there is a direct relationship between eating foods that are high in cholesterol (such as eggs, lobster, steak, and liver) and developing cardiovascular disease. This theory has long been controversial. Recent research suggests that dietary cholesterol isn’t nearly as dangerous as most people believe. Recent studies have demonstrated that eating three or more eggs per day raises HDL (the “good cholesterol”) and also produces larger HDL and LDL (the “bad cholesterol”) particles. Bigger more robust HDL particles are better at ridding the bloodstream of harmful cholesterol. And bigger LDL particles are less likely to invade the arterial wall and clump into plaque.

Cholesterol is important for every cell in our body, especially brain cells. We need cholesterol to make digestive bile acids that allow us to actually utilize nutrients from our food. Cholesterol is necessary to manufacturer sex hormones (testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen) and necessary to manufacturer vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. So, with the PREVENT method, we do not recommend strict restriction of dietary cholesterol for most people. Our genes influence cholesterol levels more than diet. So, it is important to know your genetic make-up for tailored nutritional recommendations that favor your DNA.

Part of this blog is paraphrased with permission from “Beat the Heart Attack Gene” written by Amy Doneen and Brad Bale, our current leading experts in heart attack and stroke prevention.  I highly recommend everyone read and follow the recommendations in this book.

Bale, Bradley, MD, Doneen, Amy, DNP, ARNP, Collier Cool, Lisa “Beat the Heart Attack Gene:  The Revolutionary Plan to Prevent Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes” 2014  Wiley