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Fresh Fruit Daily Lowers Cardiovascular Risk

Reach for the fruit bowl instead of that bag of your favorite chips.

Researchers in China followed almost a half-million people for seven years finding when they consumed more fresh fruit they had lower risk of heart attack and stroke. Cardiovascular deaths were 40% lower in those who consumed fresh fruit daily compared to those who never or rarely did. Because the Chinese typically eat little fresh fruit, this study highlights the value of adding just 1-2 servings per day.

PositiveTip: Replace calorie-rich snacks and food items with fresh fruit to help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Cardiovascular Disease is Not All in the Genes

The benefits of physical fitness extend to those at high genetic risk of CVD.

A study in the U.K. followed almost 500,000 adults for an average of 6 years. At baseline participant's physical fitness was determined by a variety of tests. Researchers found patients with high cardiovascular fitness had a 49% lower risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) when compared with those who had low fitness--even when they carried a high genetic risk for CVD.

PositiveTip: Maintain a high level of physical fitness to compensate for genetic risks of CVD!

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Healthy Habits Can Offset Genetic Risk

Heart-healthy lifestyles benefit overall heart-health!

Worried you will have cardiovascular disease because it is in your genes? Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found while a high genetic tendency indeed increases risk of heart disease, so does an unhealthy lifestyle. The good news is, with a healthy lifestyle, the risk of heart disease can be lowered--especially for those with a high genetic risk. Those with the most healthy lifestyle factors reduced their risk by almost 50%, regardless of their genetic risk.

PositiveTip: A healthy lifestyle benefits everyone, even those with high risk in their genes!

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AHA Takes A Stand Against Saturated Fat

For heart health, replace saturated fat with unsaturated vegetable oils.

An advisory from the American Heart Association strongly recommends replacing the intake of saturated fat with poly- and mono-unsaturated vegetable fats to help prevent heart disease. Replacing saturated fat with refined carbohydrates and sugars is not supported. This group also advised against the use of coconut oil.

PositiveTip: Consider carefully your intake of saturated fat (animal) in light of your overall dietary pattern.

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AHA Recommends Lower Sugar Intake for Children

Cut back significantly on added sugars!

The American Heart Association Scientific Committee now recommends children limit their added sugar intake to no more than 25 g (6 tsp) daily. This is half the amount recommended by the current U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. They also recommend sugar-sweetened beverages be limited to one 8 oz serving per week or less; and added sugars should be avoided for all children under 2 years.

PositiveTip: Avoiding too much added sugar is a positive step toward a healthy diet and reduced risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems.

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Chalk-up More Benefits to Lifestyle Change

Lifestyle intervention can reduce the long-term risks of diabetes.

A 23 year follow-up of 6-years of lifestyle intervention among a group of patients who had impaired glucose tolerance in China found a 45% lower risk of diabetes and a 41% reduction in cardiovascular mortality. Patients were randomized to diet-only, exercise-only, both diet and exercise or standard medical care groups. There were some marked gender differences, and the authors suggested men may not have been as adherent.

PositiveTip: Choose an active lifestyle and a healthy diet for good long-term outcomes!

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Longevity Linked to Plant-rich Diets

Moms are right: Eat your fruits and veggies!

Consuming seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily reduced all-cause mortality, cancer and cardiovascular disease according to a large British study. The average consumption was just under four portions per day. It is not hard to eat seven servings as the standard portion size for most fruits and vegetables is one-half cup. This study also found that canned fruits are linked with increased mortality, possibly because of the high sugar content.

PositiveTip: Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, mostly fresh, for a healthy life.

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Lifestyle Changes Alter Gene Expression

Lifestyle changes make a difference and need to be maintained for maximum benefit.

Patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) or at high risk for developing CVD were placed on a year-long very low-fat vegetarian diet, 180 minutes/week of moderate aerobic exercise, one hour of stress management daily, and weekly group support. Hypertension, dyslipidemia and obesity all dropped compared to the controls. Researchers identified 143 genes that showed significant change in their expression, mostly downregulated resulting in lower vascular inflammation. 

PositiveTip: Healthy lifestyle changes seem to induce positive changes at the molecular level--stick with them!

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The Results Are Not So Sweet

Common levels of added sugar in U.S. diets raises risk of dying from heart disease.

In a 15 year follow-up, consuming 10% to 24.9% of calories from added sugar raised the risk of cardiovascular death by 30%, compared to those with less than 10%. Death jumped to 175% in those who consumed 25% or more from added sugar. Remember: one can of soda equals 7% of the calories in a 2000 calorie diet!

PositiveTip: Avoid sugar sweetened processed or prepared foods such as sodas, desserts, fruit drinks and candy!

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Cardiovascular Risk Reduced by Dietary Fiber

Each 7-gram increase in dietary fiber significantly lowers risk for heart disease.

High dietary fiber intakes have been associated with lower risks for coronary heart disease (CHD). A meta-analysis of 22 observational cohort studies found that every increase of 7-grams in total dietary fiber (amount in 1 cup bran flakes, 2 fresh apples, or 1 cup of raw peas) reduced the risk of CHD and cardiovascular disease events by 10%. Findings were also similar for soluble, insoluble, vegetable, cereal, and fruit fibers. 

PositiveTip: Consuming fiber rich foods may indeed keep the doctor away!