Sage tea

sage tea

Sage

Sage (Salvia officinalis), is a perennial shrub that belongs to the mint (Lamiaceae) family and it is most commonly grown for its aromatic leaves used as a tea. Sage stalks can grow upright or on the ground, forming a dense woody arrangement with broad, elliptical, silvery-green leaves alternately arranged on the stems. Sage flowers can be blue, pink or white.

This plant usually grows 40-70 cm (16 – 28 in) in height and can live for 15-20 years, though it is usually replaced after 4-5 years in gardens when it already becomes woody.

History of sage

Because sage is one of the oldest and most important medicinal plants, all ancient medical texts have it in its contents. In ancient times, sage was considered a cure for almost all diseases, used to decrease body temperature, treat headache, regulate pain in the mouth, throat and respiratory tract; for inflammation of the urinary tract and bladder. It has also been used to treat inflammation of the intestines, stomach, liver, gallbladder and urinary tract.

The ancient Romans considered it a sacred plant so they would perform a certain ritual before harvesting. They used special ceremonial knives that had no iron in them to avoid a reaction with sage. The sage collectors had to wear completely clean clothes and to have clean feet. Before the beginning of the harvest, it was necessary to make sacrifices in the form of food.

Sage tea

Sage tea

Sage has many medicinal properties. It is a stimulant, diuretic, and expectorant; it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties and also serves as an appetite enhancer. Because of these characteristics, sage tea can provide many health benefits.

Sage tea has an antimicrobial property which can help eliminate the bacteria that cause dental caries, and this effect in combination with astringent action provides an excellent treatment for mouth and throat pain.

Sage tea effects

Antioxidant effect

Antioxidants act as cleaners who remove free radicals of metabolism and other environmental toxins such as smoke and pesticides that retain themselves in the organism. They prevent tissue damage, slow down the signs of early aging and reduce the risk of conditions such as cancer and heart disease.

Impact on the mental state

Consuming sage tea improves memory, alertness and attention, while the use of sage leaves in aromatherapy promotes an exclusive state of alertness, not memory and attention. Sage tea can improve the process of learning, remembering and processing information in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. This action is prescribed to decrease in the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in memory-related processes whose amount is reduced in people with this disease.

Sage tea

Effect on cholesterol

Taking sage tea on a regular basis can reduce the concentration of triglyceride and “bad” LDL-cholesterol in the blood, and raise the amount of “good” HDL-cholesterol in people who have problems with dyslipidemia.

Effect on menopausal symptoms

During menopause, a woman’s body experiences a natural decline in estrogen, which can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms including hot flashes, excessive sweating, and irritability.

Sage tea has traditionally been used to reduce the symptoms of menopause because some sage compounds have estrogenic properties, which allows them to bind to specific receptors in the brain to improve memory and heal hot flashes and excessive sweating.

Black pepper

Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) is a perennial, flowering plant whose fruit has been used for centuries for human consumption as a spice and because of its medicinal properties. Black pepper has been the most traded product on the world market of spices throughout history, and today it is one of the most commercial tropical cultures. It was used for tax payment, even wars were fought for this spice as its value was higher than the value of gold. The characteristic smell and taste of pepper come from the piperine compound found in the fruits.

Although there are over 100 types of peppers in nature, the most famous classification of this spice on the market is on: black, white, green and red pepper. This division is based on the method of preparing pepper fruits rather than on the basis of the plant species.

Black pepper is unavoidable in the preparation of dishes, but it is especially important that since ancient times, it has been used in traditional medicine as a herbal remedy. Black pepper exhibits antibacterial and mild anti-inflammatory effects, it stimulates the movement of food through the digestive tract and facilitates digestion, stimulating metabolism and eliminating excess fluids from the body. Some studies have shown that pepper contains phytochemicals with strong antioxidant action that prevent the occurrence of damage caused by the action of free radicals.

Nutrition facts of Black pepper

Black Pepper is a very good source of fibers, iron, manganese, potassium, and vitamin K. Black pepper contains carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and phytosterols. Other micronutrients are copper, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, selenium, folic acid, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin C, choline and betaine. In one spoon, that contains about six grams of ground black pepper we can find 4.1 g of carbohydrates (1% of daily needs), 1.7 g of fibers (7%), 0.7 g proteins (1%), 0.2 g of total 0.7 mg of copper (4%), 27.3 mg of calcium (3%), 12.1 mg of magnesium (3%), 0.4 mg of manganese (18%), 0.1 mg of copper ), 10.8 mg sodium (1%), 78.7 mg potassium (2%), 0.2 mcg selenium, 0.1 mg zinc (1%), 0.6 mcg folic acid, 0.001 mg vitamin B2 (1% ), 0.1 mg Vitamin B3, 0.001 mg Vitamin B6 (1%), 18.7 IU Vitamin A, 1.3 mg Vitamin C (2%), 10.2 μg Vitamin K (13%), 0.7 mg choline, 0.6 mg betaine 5.7 mg phytosterols.

black pepper

The influence of black pepper on health

Black pepper contains a number of compounds with antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents that enable the preservation of health and the treatment of diseases. Thanks to phytochemicals with a medicinal effect, it can improve digestion, cognitive function, ease weight loss, reduce the risk of malignant changes, lower high blood pressure, affect blood sugar level regulation, relieve respiratory problems, prevent caries and fight its bacteria.

Improves digestion

Black pepper increases the production and secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which improves digestion and facilitates the digestion of food. Hydrochloric acid is an important component of gastric juice that prepares food for the passage through the intestines and allows the absorption of nutrients. It is thought that piperine in black pepper is the one that affects the increase in the release of hydrochloric acid. Pepper also strengthens the digestive tract, which reduces the time it takes to process and transport food.

Eases the loss of excess weight

Black pepper has thermogenic properties that can stimulate basal metabolism and influence the increase in heat production, which together can lead to the elimination of excess fat. Piperine in black pepper also improves metabolism and induces the differentiation of fat cells resulting in weight loss.

Improves cognitive function

According to a study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology 2010, in which it has been shown that piperine in black pepper can improve cognitive function, protect the brain against neurodegeneration and reduce memory damage in rats with Alzheimer’s disease. It is thought that it can prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease by curing damaged neurons and hippocampus in the brain.

black pepper

Relieves breathing problems

Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and expectorant effects of black pepper can help in the treatment of respiratory diseases such as asthma, difficulty breathing, sinusitis, nasal congestion, coughing and colds. Piperine in black pepper can also inhibit the development of bacteria that cause respiratory infections.

Regulating blood sugar levels

Antioxidant properties of black pepper can help in treating diabetes and stabilizing blood sugar levels. Namely, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the US in 2016 found that piperine helps regulate muscular tissue metabolism in a state of rest, which can help diabetics and ease the loss of body weight. A study published in the West Indian Medical Journal of 2015 found that black pepper inhibits two enzymes that break down starch into glucose, which can have a positive effect on blood glucose regulation and reduce glucose uptake. A second study, published in the Advances in Pharmacological Sciences, 2013, found that anti-oxidants in black pepper essential oil can help in fight type 2 diabetes.

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a disorder in which arterial wall stiffens and loses its elasticity caused by the formation of thickening (atherosclerotic plaque) in its inner layers, which can reduce or obstruct blood flow. Although it is more common in the male population, its prevalence increases in women after the menopause and equalizes with the prevalence of the men of the same age.

Atherosclerosis affects heart, brain, kidneys and other vital organs and extremities and thus represents the leading cause of illness and mortality in the US and most Western countries. Mortality due to coronary heart disease among white males between the age of 55 and 65 is 1 in 100.

How does it happen?

An atherosclerotic plaque is forming after the large amount of “bad cholesterol” LDL-c accumulates in arteries where they get oxidized, causing inflammation. In order to defend itself, the organism sends macrophages, a form of white blood cells to capture the cholesterol.

They transform the oxidized cholesterol into large foam cells which cause even more inflammation. As a consequence of that, arterial smooth muscle cells activate, migrate and proliferate forming a “cap” above the inflamed area.

This doesn’t represent good protection because lipid part beneath can be dangerous if it gets torn out, potentially causing a heart attack or stroke. Over time the organism forms a thick layer thus narrowing the space for blood flow even more.

Signs and symptoms

Since the atherosclerosis is a slowly developing disorder, at first it shows no symptoms that will warn you about it. The first symptoms are seen when the artery gets obstructed. Signs and symptoms depend on the body part where an arterial obstruction occurred.

Atherosclerosis in heart arteries will be expressed via chest pain, feeling a pressure or discomfort (angina) which may progress into arms, legs or neck.

Atherosclerosis in brain arteries can cause difficulty speaking, blurred vision, loss of coordination or balance, numbness, weakness or paralysis in one side of the face, arm or leg, etc (TIA signs and symptoms).

Atherosclerosis in leg arteries will manifest itself in leg pain, difficulty walking or intermittent claudication.

Atherosclerosis in kidney arteries can cause hypertension or kidney failure.

Some of the most dangerous consequences of atherosclerosis are a heart attack and stroke as it could cause both these health emergencies.

Atherosclerosis - risk factors

Risk factors for atherosclerosis

There are some risk factors for atherosclerosis on which we can’t influence such as family history, genetic abnormalities, advanced age, and male gender but many other risk factors are modifiable. You can find some of them in the text below.

Unhealthy diet – It is known that nutrition rich in saturated animal fats and carbohydrates is correlated to atherosclerosis development. Moreover, people who have a diet poor with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids have an even larger chance of atherosclerosis.

Obesity – Obesity is associated with high cholesterol levels, hypertension, diabetes, poor physical activity which all may potentially lead to various cardiovascular diseases, as well as atherosclerosis.

Lack of physical activity – People who are physically inactive have a greater chance to develop atherosclerosis.

DyslipidemiaHigh concentrations of LDL-c and low concentrations of “good cholesterol” HDL-c favors atherosclerosis.

Diabetes – Diabetes can cause many metabolic disorders which can affect change on arteries which supply different organs.

Hypertension – High blood pressure increases atherosclerotic changes significantly.

Smoking – Nicotine from tobacco smoke cause constriction of blood vessels increasing the atherosclerotic changes.

Atherosclerosis - prevention

Prevention

Primary prevention involves fighting risk factors in people who have no expressed symptoms and signs. First of all, it is necessary to carry out proper nutrition, reduce body weight and exercise adequately.

If the patient’s health condition is good but he/she has elevated cholesterol or triglycerides in the blood, stated preventive measures are recommended for 3 – 6 months. There is evidence that people with these conditions may benefit from Omega 3 unsaturated fatty acids.

Pharmacological treatment

If primary prevention does not help the usage of medications is needed. Here are some of the most used drug classes.

First line drugs are statins, lipid-lowering medications which can stop, reduce, or even reverse the atherosclerotic plaque (other lipid-lowering medications may be used). Likewise, a good antiplatelet drug that may prevent thrombotic complications of atherosclerosis is aspirin (100 mg) or some other medication from this class. Various other cardiovascular medication such as beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors or diuretics may also be introduced into therapy. Furthermore, control and treatment of hypertension and diabetes are part of the recommendations for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Soup – Why is soup healthy

Soup has had a special place in human nutrition for thousands of years. And since ancient times, it has special importance due to its health effects. In the whole world, beginning with the first civilizations and cultures, it has always been extremely appreciated thanks to its nutritional and medicinal properties, which in the past decades has become a scientifically based fact.

Soup is a very important part of every meal. Just like a salad, this dish allows you to intake a large number of nutrients that can keep you healthy.

If you plan to lose excess weight, you can replace one of the meals during the day with just a plate of soup. Although for some, this may be a challenge. But from a scientific aspect, it can meet energy and nutritional needs. Fiona Kirk has written a book on a diet based on soups. In her bestseller, “Soup can make you thin”, Kirk wrote: “The richness of ingredients in this meal ensures a balanced amount of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, as well as vitamins and minerals that are needed for good energy metabolism.” She concludes that the path to a slimline is simple, all you need is a full plate of fine and warm soup.

soup

It provides adequate intake of vegetables and fibers

A modern man’s diet is often based on fast food that can’t provide adequate intake of vegetables and fibers. Adding soup to your daily diet can help you to increase your intake of vegetables, especially if you choose a vegetarian one. One example is tomato soup that has been shown to produce positive effects on the cardiovascular system, primarily on the heart, thanks to a large amount of lycopene present in red tomatoes, the consumption of this dish can prevent the onset of the heart attack. A study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry in July 2006 showed that the daily intake of tomato soup over the course of two weeks increases the level of vitamin C in the respondents.

Cold soups, unlike warm, contain a higher amount of vitamin C, which is sensitive to high temperatures, so its concentration is considerably lower when it’s warmed up. On the other hand, warm meals such as vegetable or chicken noodle soup can satisfy about 50% of the daily requirements for vitamin A and more than 10 percent of the recommended daily intake for selenium and potassium.

It makes your stomach full

According to a study published in Physiology & Behavior in June 2005, as opposed to adding other liquid meals, the soup will make you feel full if you prepare it in an appropriate way. This means that you can serve it as a meal without worry that you will be hungry again after you finish eating. If you choose to have such a meal, be sure to select the one that contains a lot of proteins.

Regulation of metabolism and energy input

Soup with a higher amount of protein often has fewer calories per gram. Selection of foods with low energy density allows healthy and quick weight loss. A study published in Obesity Research in October 2005 showed that consumption of this dish twice a day as a part of low-calorie diet led to 50 percent more weight loss than consuming higher-density foods that contained the same amount of calories.

soup

Soup – Nutrition facts

Nutritional ingredients that are provided by eating the soup depend on the ingredients that are part of it. Generally speaking, each soup contains a high proportion of water. If it’s rich with meat it contains more proteins and minerals such as magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron, copper, and electrolytes. And soups with vegetables are rich in fiber and vitamins. Phytonutrients determine the color and texture, so, for this reason, the tomato soup is red due to the content of the lycopene antioxidant, and pumpkin soup is orange due to beta carotene.

Oregano – Health benefits

Oregano (Origanum vulgare ) is an aromatic plant originating from the Mediterranean Peninsula and Western Asia. Its application for medical purposes dates back to ancient Greece where it was applied to treat stomach problems, constipation, slow bowel motility, and other problems with the digestive tract. It belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae) and, except for its medicinal properties, is often used in cooking because of its recognizable aroma. Oregano essential oil possesses healing properties and strong antibacterial activity, it is both used in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry.

The main characteristics of oregano are:

• A high content of antioxidants

• Antifungal activity

• Antiviral properties

• Analgesic properties

Diuretic activity

• Antiseptic activity

• Relieves digestive problems

• Antibacterial properties

oregano

Health benefits of oregano

Oregano is used in the diet in relatively small amounts, therefore as most other spices cannot exhibit its maximal healing potential. But the continual application of oregano in small amounts allows the intake of sufficient amounts of compounds with antioxidant activity, plenty of minerals and vitamins and phytonutrients. Oregano is a tonic and carminative. It stimulates bowel motility, but in large quantities, it can accelerate heart rate. In traditional medicine, it is often used as an infusion or essential oil. It possesses analgesic properties which means that it can effectively reduce the pain. Oregano also possesses antibacterial and antiseptic properties.

With its antioxidant activity, it prevents the damage of internal organs caused by the action of free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive compounds with an unwanted electron. They react with a large number of endogenous molecules and thus participate in the development of many diseases of the modern age, including cardiovascular diseases, central nervous system diseases, and other age-related diseases.

In addition to that, oregano also has anti-inflammatory activity, thereby reducing acute or chronic inflammation of breathing pathways. As an infusion or as an inhaler, oregano leaves increase the air flow through the airways and relieve respiration and symptoms of colds or flu.

Oregano relieves digestion problems, facilitates the passage of food through the intestines, and stimulates the formation of digestive juices, thus enables the decomposition of food and complete digestion and absorption. It reduces the production of gases and prevents the formation of constipation.

Oregano is a good source of vitamin E, one of the compounds with the strongest antioxidant activity. This vitamin is lipophilic and it prevents the damage to the cell membrane, especially in red blood cells – erythrocytes and white blood cells – leukocytes (immune system cells).

This medicinal plant also contains a lot of calcium, the most present mineral in our body. Calcium salts make up the bulk of bone mass. In this way, oregano increases the strength and formation of bones, protects teeth and prevents their damage. Also, calcium participates in the process of blood clotting, it affects the regulation of blood pressure and muscle contractility (including the heart).

oregano

Potential side effects of oregano

Oregano contains vitamin K in large quantities. This vitamin participates in the process of blood coagulation, except that it can be ingested with food, it can be synthesized by bacteria in the intestines. Vitamin K participates in the process of protein synthesis that plays a key role in coagulation (they have a stimulating and inhibitory role in the coagulation process). People who use warfarin or other anticoagulants in their therapy should be careful when adding oregano to their diet. Various nutrition is recommended to everyone and the intake of moderate amounts of oregano and other green vegetables and fruits do not have to be a problem.

History of oregano as a spice

Oregano has a specific aroma and slightly bitter taste due to the phenolic compounds in its composition. Depending on the variety of oregano, its taste and aroma can vary considerably, from mild aromas to very strong ones. Oregano has been used mostly in Italian and Greek cuisine since ancient times. Today, because of its characteristics, it is also used in a large number of other cuisines. It is used as a supplement to various sauces, salads, fish, pork, and it is unavoidable addition to pizza and pasta. What you need to know is that its aroma is significantly reduced at high temperatures, as the additive is applied exclusively in dry form, because the fresh form loses its healing and aromatic properties and should be added after baking.

In ancient Greece and the Roman empire, oregano was a symbol of joy. It was used at various ceremonies and it was believed to bring peace, happiness, and prosperity. The name oregano was given in the thirteenth century, translated from Latin means “mountain joy”.

Effects of alcohol consumption on cardiovascular system

Light to moderate alcohol consumption – up to one drink per day for a woman and 1-2 glasses per day for a man – would be expected to reduce mortality, risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes or stroke prevalence. Is alcohol good or bad for your health and how much should you drink?

 American researchers who publish an article on this subject in Mayo Clinic Proceedings confirm that cardiovascular benefits are observed with a light to moderate consumption of alcohol, ideally of red wine taken before or during the evening meal. But the most important thing in their research is dose of alcohol that people consume and serious toxic effect in an exposed individual. The overconsumption of alcohol is in fact is linked to serious pathologies: cirrhosis, stroke, cancers of the colon/rectum, breast, larynx and liver. Alcohol also increases violence and the risk of traffic accidents.

Regarding general mortality, a meta-analysis involving 1,2 million people found that small amounts of alcohol to moderate alcohol consumption was associated with decreased mortality: the maximum protection was raised with half to one drink per day for women and 1 to 2 glasses a day for men. But 2.5 glasses a day for women and 4 a day for men increased the risk of death.

The benefits do NOT outweigh the risks

alcohol consumption impact on cardiovascular health

Chronic consumption of alcohol in large amounts can lead to a condition called alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Consume a lot of alcohol (four to five drinks a day for several years) leads to weakening of the heart muscle.  This weakening becomes even more important when a person consumes alcohol in excessive amounts.  Excessive consumption of alcohol (on the same occasion, four or more drinks for women, and five or more drinks for men) and heavy alcohol consumption can increase blood pressure and the risk of developing arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), such as atrial fibrillation. Such alcohol consumption can increase the risk of death, whether or not the person has heart disease. People who survive a heart attack and report excessive alcohol use are twice as likely to die of any condition, including heart disease, as those who do not consume alcohol excessively. There is no doubt that excessive alcohol consumption, even once a week, puts you at higher risk for heart disease or stroke.  We tend to minimize this point, but if you are trying to lose weight healthily, reducing your alcohol intake can save you a lot of calories. Light and non-alcoholic beers are a better choice than standard beers when it comes to caloric and alcohol content.

Summary and conclusions

If you do not consume alcohol, you do not deprive yourself of any benefit and it is not recommended that you change your good habits. The risk of cancer, liver disease, pancreatitis, accidents, suicide and exposure to violence are also important negative effects of alcohol. 

There are better ways to reduce the risk associated with heart disease, such as exercising, eating a balanced diet, and quitting smoking and alcohol at the same time. All of these methods offer benefits without the added risks associated with alcohol consumption. However, consuming a small amount of alcohol from time to time is not necessarily detrimental to your health, ergo, moderation is the solution.  As there are some exceptions, it is important to talk to your doctor and pharmacist about your use of alcohol. Some people should avoid taking it to avoid aggravating their condition. Mixing alcohol and certain medications can also cause dangerous side effects that can be fatal.

Modifying alcohol consumption

Limit your alcohol consumption in the following ways:  two drinks a day most days, for a maximum of 10 per week for women and three drinks a day most days, for a maximum of 15 per week for men.  Consumption is:  341 ml or 1 bottle of beer at normal alcohol level (5%), 142 ml or 5 oz of wine (12% alcohol) 43 ml or 1½ oz of spirits (40% alcohol content). Chronic consumption of alcohol can raise blood pressure and contribute to the development of heart disease and stroke.  If you drink alcohol, avoid taking more than:  two drinks a day for up to 10 drinks a week for women  and three drinks per day for up to 15 drinks per week for men

Take care of your health and safety. If you are worried about the effects of alcohol on your health, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Foods to avoid for high cholesterol

Foods to avoid for high cholesterol

Cholesterol is a substance found in our body and in animal products such as meat, eggs and dairy products. It plays important role in the production of hormones, vitamin D and the bile which is necessary for digesting fats. Cholesterol is an essential component of every cell in our body as a part of cell membranes, giving them strength and flexibility. The liver produces cholesterol that our body needs to function, but cholesterol can also be introduced through the consumption of food, and this takes about 25% of the cholesterol in our body. Through the body, cholesterol is transported by particles called lipoproteins, including low-density (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL is often referred to as “bad cholesterol,” as it’s associated with atherosclerosis, while HDL (“good cholesterol”) helps collect bad cholesterol from the arteries and bring it back to the liver for disposal.

When you consume a lot of cholesterol-rich foods, your body compensates by reducing the amount of cholesterol that the liver produces. In contrast, when cholesterol intake is low, the liver increases the production to ensure there is always enough cholesterol for functioning. There are a lot of cholesterol-rich foods that are important to consummate, but there are also foods to avoid for high cholesterol.

Types of fat

Fat intake affects the production of cholesterol in the liver because fatty acids bind to liver cells and through them regulate this process. The most effective dietary approach for lowering blood cholesterol is choosing foods that contain unsaturated fats over those that contain saturated or trans fats. Each form of fat influences cholesterol levels differently:

•  Saturated fats: You can find them mostly in meat and dairy products, and they instruct the liver to produce more bad cholesterol (LDL).

•  Unsaturated fats: These are more common in fish, plants, nuts, seeds, beans, and vegetable oils. Some of them may help increase the rate of reabsorbing and breaking down bad cholesterol (LDL).

•  Trans fats: These are found in hardened vegetable oils, manufactured through an artificial process called hydrogenation. Usually, fried food, baked goods and packaged foods contain them.

Foods to Avoid

Foods to avoid for high cholesterol

While certain cholesterol-rich foods are highly nutritious and beneficial to your health, others can be harmful. Here are some foods to avoid for high cholesterol:

•    Fried Foods: Such as deep-fried meats and cheese sticks or any of commercially fried foods should be avoided whenever possible. They’re loaded with calories and usually contain a lot of trans fats, which increase heart disease risk. Trans fats not only increase levels of bad cholesterol, but they can also lower levels of good cholesterol. Also, consumption of fried foods has been linked to an increased risk of obesity and diabetes.

•    Fast Food: Fast food consumption is a major risk factor for heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Those who frequently consume fast food tend to have higher cholesterol, higher levels of inflammation and imbalance in blood sugar levels. Sandwiches, pizza, hamburgers, pasta are some of the fast foods to avoid for high cholesterol. Cooking more meals at home is associated with lower body weight and reductions in heart disease risk factors like high LDL cholesterol.

•    Processed Meats: Such as sausages, bacon and hot dogs, are foods to avoid for high cholesterol. High consumption of this kind of meats has been linked to increased rates of heart disease and colon cancer.

•    Desserts: Cookies, cakes, ice cream, pastries, packaged cookies, soda, donuts and other sweets are unhealthy foods rich in added sugars, unhealthy fats and calories. Frequent consumption of these foods can negatively impact overall health and lead to obesity, heart disease, cognitive decline and certain cancers. These foods also lack nutrients your body needs to thrive, like vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fats.

•    Salt: Usually found in canned soups, salty snacks, bread and rolls, pizza, some chicken, microwave popcorn. Too much sodium can raise your blood pressure, and because of that, it is recommended not to take more than 2,300 to 2,400 milligrams per day.

•    Saturated vegetable oils: Such as hydrogenated or partly hydrogenated coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil.

Lowering cholesterol levels

While avoiding some of the previously mentioned foods there are some more ways of lowering cholesterol levels. They consist of: eating more fiber, increasing physical activity, losing weight, increasing dietary omega-3, eating more vegetables and fruits. If you follow these tips along with lowering cholesterol levels you will manage to decrease your heart disease risk, diabetes risk and obesity.

Heart healthy food

Living in a world where the prevalence of obesity-induced cardiovascular diseases is constantly increasing, it is necessary to highlight the importance of heart healthy food in our life. An unhealthy diet is recognized as a risk factor for many cardiovascular diseases, including:

•    Coronary heart disease

•    Cerebrovascular disease

•    Hypertensive heart disease

•    Peripheral arterial disease

•    Deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism

•    Other cardiovascular diseases

heart healthy food

The main problem with cardiovascular diseases is the absence of symptoms. A heart attack or stroke may be the first warning of an underlying disease. As WHO claims, symptoms of heart attack are: pain or discomfort in the center of the chest, or pain or discomfort in the arms, left shoulder, elbows, jaw, or back, so it is advisable to visit the doctor after noticing those symptoms. Nevertheless, those diseases could be prevented by following diet suggestions:

1. Eating less unhealthy fat, such as cholesterol and saturated fat

The increase in plasma cholesterol levels leads to binding of cholesterol for walls of arteries, which become narrowed, and the blood flow is slowed down.

2. Paying attention to the number and size of portions you eat

Calories can be reduced in meals by grilling, steaming, baking, or microwaving, but frying food in a lot of oil should be avoided. If the food does not have satisfying taste, healthy herbs may be added, which include: parsley, thyme, rosemary… The ideal daily meal plan consists of 5 meals: breakfast, dinner, lunch and two snacks.

3. Reducing the consumption of sodium

Contemporary dietary guidelines recommend limiting sodium intake to less than 2,3 g daily, which is equal to about 1 teaspoon of salt. Excess sodium in the bloodstream pulls the water in the blood vessels in order to dilute the sodium concentration. As a result, the amount of blood inside the blood vessels increases, as well as the blood pressure.

What heart-healthy food should be eaten?

Blueberries

bluberries

Blueberries are the major source of anthocyanins, a natural pigment. They have numerous heart beneficial effects, including vasoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidative effects, as well as inhibition of platelet aggregation.

Dark chocolate

The recommended minimum amount of cocoa beans to be found in chocolate that is healthy for the heart is 70%. A higher percentage of cocoa means a higher amount of flavanols, which are responsible for the beneficial effects of dark chocolate on the heart. By stimulating the endothelium to produce nitric oxide (NO), flavanols lower the resistance to blood flow and therefore reduce blood pressure.

Fish

It is preferable to eat it twice a week, in order to get enough supply of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that regulate levels of triglycerides, reduce platelet aggregation, lower blood pressure, and are considered as heart healthy food. Unfortunately, patients with coronary diseases often need omega-3 fatty acids supplementation in order to get enough omega 3 acids.

Whole grains

While whole grains high in viscous fiber (oats, barley) decrease serum LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, grains high in insoluble fiber (wheat) lower glucose levels and blood pressure.

Walnuts

According to recent studies, walnuts have been proven effective in lowering total cholesterol levels, LDL cholesterol level, and triglycerides. Walnuts also contain alpha linoleic acid that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, and they reduce the risk of cardiovascular event. Walnuts are considered as one of the most important heart healthy food.

Tomato

Consumption of tomato decreases levels of oxidized LDL, reduces the risk of stroke and markers of inflammation, lowers the risk of developing hypertension in patients with pre-high blood pressure.

Garlic

By reducing the hardening of the arteries and blood pressure, lowering LDL levels and total cholesterol blood levels, garlic may be helpful in preventing cardiovascular events.

Broccoli

Broccoli is known to be vegetable rich in essential vitamins and minerals. In addition, sulforaphane, found in broccoli, exerts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which may lead to prevention of blood vessel lining.

Freshly squeezed orange juice

orange juice

Besides the fact that it is delicious, freshly squeezed juice orange is one of the sources of vitamin C, a natural antioxidant. Moreover, it has been clinically proven to decrease the hardening of the arteries up to 30 percents, and enables normal blood flow.

There is also a diet specially created to lower blood pressure and risks of cardiovascular events, the DASH diet (an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). It is based on reducing sodium intake, limiting processed food, while at the same time increasing fruits and vegetables. Although the balanced diet, together with regular exercise and healthy lifestyle plays a role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, sometimes it is required to take medications or supplementations if you want to stay healthy and live longer.