Heart Disease and the Top Three Nutrients

Notes from the Healthy Heart Summit

An Interview with Dr. Deanna Minich PhD, MS, CNS, RYT
web page deannaminich.com

The Detox-Heart Disease Connection

If you look at the nutrition research that is currently available for any condition I would say that it stacks up probably as number one looking at cardiovascular indications. Things like blood pressure, healthy arteries and stroke incidence. It’s replete with articles looking at food and the heart because heart disease is the number one killer in the world.

The top three nutrients for heart health are number one leafy greens, because a number of leafy greens have nitrates in them. Many people think of nitrates as being bad but in green leafy plants their actually a good thing for the heart with nitric oxide being the master regulator of the arteries, an essential nutrient. Here’s a quick tip for the average person doing leafy greens, green smoothies are very popular but there is a way to drink your smoothie. It’s not just gulping it down you have to interact your green smoothie with the bacteria in your mouth. The reason is those bacteria in your mouth are converting the nitrates in the food into nitrites to help your body to convert it into nitric oxide to open up your blood vessels. And beet greens are one of the highest sources in the plant kingdom. Arugula and spinach, one serving of spinach a day gives us more nitric oxide than the body can produce by itself. If we put vitamin C or polyphenols from citrus together with that spinach we get a better and longer effect of the nitric oxide. So two simple tips for making your green eating more worthwhile especially when it comes to your heart.

The second thing for the heart is to focus on healthy oils, my takeaway on the heart is that it’s really good to have variety. It’s not good to get stuck on one oil, because what we find is it may not be good in and of itself by itself we need complexity, we need variety. I like to recommend extra virgin olive oil that is unfiltered, coconut oil for cooking, grapeseed oil, avocado oil is also good for cooking, and clarified butter it’s very healing. For heart health no one should be doing high heat cooking for anything. My process is I cook with water or organic vegetable broth as most things cook very well in water even meat and fish, at the end of cooking I add the oil just to give it more flavor. I don’t use any high heat cooking, in fact when you use a lot of high heat cooking this can form compounds in the food that are not only carcinogenic but also arteriosclerotic. We want to be careful how we cook it’s not just what we eat it’s also how we cook them, most foods can become extremely toxic just from the process of heating and preparation. Most restaurant food is cooked at medium high heat and the way you can tell with any food is just look at the color of the food. Anytime you see anything is fried, burnt or crisped, you know there has been damage to the protein and the carbohydrate in that food. That’s not very good to eat. If you look at the studies on these burnt products, what they do in our body is increase inflammation they get things up-regulated and inflamed.

Leafy greens also contain fiber and vitamin K, you have many forms of vitamin K out there and K1 is the one found in leafy greens. I predict that vitamin K is going to be like the next vitamin D. We are not getting enough vitamin K1 because we are not eating enough greens. We’re not absorbing it very well, it’s a fat soluble vitamin which is why you need to have a little bit of fat in your green smoothie to get that K in. Also greens for the chlorophyll that binds damaged components in the food, getting greens in the diet alone can help us greatly. The fats I add to my smoothie are coconut milk, and I also take fish oil as a supplement. I do the liquid form and sometimes I will add that into the smoothie to get the complexity of the different oils. I will even toss in my powdered probiotic making it a one stop shop. We also know that coconut oil is good for the brain. When people have high insulin levels in their body and their blood sugar is not under control the brain can’t use glucose as well and one of the alternate sources of fuel for the brain We should be concerned about this with heart health because of stroke incidence. We need this oil in it’s pure form as an alternate energy source for the brain.

For number three were going to talk about carotenoids, lycopene is the red color found in red fruits and vegetables that need a fat to be absorbed. There are so many carotenoids that are protective for the heart. There was a study which showed that people with higher levels of carotenoids like lycopene, lutein, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene that we all get from the plant kingdom. That there is a lower incidence of heart issues and stroke. It’s really important to be leveraging all the colors of the plant kingdom, we don’t realize how important they are in all of the functions they have in our bodies. I would recommend a full color spectrum in the diet for anyone with chronic disease especially heart disease. The blues give you anthocyanin’s, all those colors are phytonutrients for the heart and brain, they slow down oxidation and are essential to health. Blue is important because it’s the color people eat too few of. In a study it showed that blueberry components were associated with heart attacks, so the more blueberry components we have the more we reduce the risk of having a heart attack. We don’t have to be a vegan to have good heart health but we do need a plant based foundation and bringing it together with good clean meats.

The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or health problems you may be experiencing.

M. Scherker medical researcher.