All ‘dark’ chocolate not good for the heart

An editorial in The Lancet reminds us that all dark chocolates are not created equal!

A lot of studies have shown that Dark chocolate is good for the heart. This is because they contain lots of flavinoids – antioxidants which helps to reduce the oxidative damage to our body. (For knowing more about the benefits of dark chocolate, read my earlier post – A dark chocolate a day keeps the cardiologist away!)

But the truth is that dark chocolate need not necessarily contain flavinoids. As flavinoids taste bitter, some companies remove the flavinoids from dark chocolate to make them taste better. All that remains is fat and sugar and there is no health benefit whatsoever. Most companies do not reveal the content of flavinoids in their products and we have no way for finding out whether they are heart healthy or not. (Unless ofcourse you send them for analysis in a lab!) So the bottom line is, if you cant find a label describing the amount of flavinoids in the chocolate, you better stick to the traditional heart healthy diet – a balanced diet low in sugar, salt and fat, with lots of fruits and vetgetables.

Reference: The Lancet; Photo Credits: f10n4, karimian

December 26, 2007 at 11:54 am 4 comments

Walk towards a healthier life

Most people believe that in order to get good exercise, you need to either join the gym or get those fancy (and expensive) exercise equipment. But recent research at the Stanford University shows that $10 is all the investment you need to stay healthy. $10 can get you a simple pedometer – a device that can measure the number of steps taken by a person during a given period of time. Organisations such as American Heart Association and Shape Up America recommends that adults should walk atleast 10,000 steps in one day.

In recent years, more and more is understood about the health benefits of walking. Nowadays more advanced pedometers are available which can calculate the distance walked and even the calories you have spent. So lets walk towards a healthier life.

December 26, 2007 at 10:55 am Leave a comment

A dark chocolate a day keeps the cardiologist away!

A recent study published in ‘Circulation’ suggests that eating dark chocolate can decrease your risk for heart attack.

Heart attack is caused by blockage in the blood vessels supplying the heart. High oxidative stress and limited availability of antioxidants lead to the damage of the blood vessels, leading to increased chances for a blood clot. But dark chocolates (which contain 70% cocoa) have lots of flavinoids – potent antioxidants which helps to overcome the oxidative stress present in our body. They also decrease the activation of blood platelets – the blood cells responsible for blood clotting. The study which was conduted by a team of scientists in Switzerland, found that within two hours of eating 40g dark chocolate, the size of the coronary blood vessels increased by 6%.

Can’t you get more flavinoids from other foods? – you may ask. But the fact remains that dark chocolate contains greater amounts of flavinoids than any other food like green tea and blueberries. And companies have perfected their techniqes for the preparation of dark chocolate that upto 95% of flavinoids are preserved!

And before you reach out for that delicious dark chocolate bar, here’s something that you should remember – Although eating some dark chocolate is good for the heart, it’s still full of calories. So you’ve got to cut down on some other food stuffs.

To learn more about keeping your heart healthy, read 5 steps towards a healthier heart If you really like my post, you can subscribe to my full RSS feed

November 22, 2007 at 5:20 pm 30 comments

Broken Heart syndrome – its real!

“Oh God! You really gave me a heart attack!” Heard this before? Well, there is more truth in this than you could imagine.

Doctors from John Hopkins University have confirmed that the news of the sudden death of a loved one or similar shocking news can really cause a broken heart. ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’ as they call it – is real, reversible and yet potentially deadly. Its a condition in which sudden severe emotional stress can cause extreme heart muscle weakness and heart attack like symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath.

What causes it?
When we hear a shocking news, our endocrine system kicks in and a lot of adrenaline and other proteins are produced. These help us to cope better with the stressful condition. But sometimes adrenaline surge can temporarily damage the hearts of some people. The exact reason for it is not yet known. It is believed to be caused by the decrease in blood supply to the heart due to narrowing of blood vessels. In the weakened state of the heart muscle, a temporary bulging of the apex of the heart occurs and hence its also called stress cardiomyopathy (disease of the cardiac muscle caused by stress).

Is it dangerous?
Broken heart syndrome can be life threatening in certain cases. It differs from the ‘classic heart attack’ in that most of the damage that occurs is reversible. A typical heart attack is caused by blockage in the blood vessels supplying the heart whereas broken heart syndrome is due to temporary narrowing of the blood vessels. With proper and timely medical medical care, most people recover within a few days. Rarely, it can even be fatal.

I have to face a lot of stress everyday. Am I at risk?
Broken heart syndrome is not caused by everyday stresses. It occurs due to a sudden severe emotional trauma. Moreover, most of the people who had this had no prior history of heart disease. It’s interesting to note that women are at greater risk for this than men, the exact cause for which is unknown.

Can people have Broken Heart Syndrome a second time?
Though it’s rare, there is a 10% chance for recurrence. But most people after suffering from an episode of broken heart syndrome went on to lead a healthy and happy life.

To learn more about keeping your heart healthy, read 5 steps towards a healthier heart
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November 22, 2007 at 5:12 am 6 comments

About ‘I love my heart’

‘I love my heart’ is a blog dedicated to enabling people to lead a heart healthy life. Its a conversation that revolves around the topic of keeping our heart healthy. It aims to serve as a portal for people to understand all about our heart, its functioning, its wonders and how to keep it healthy.

Often, it’s those little descisions that bring about everlasting changes in our life. So lets make one little descision today, right now – one that is going to change the way we live life for ever – lets decide to live a heart healthy life.

To learn more about using this website, read Your guide to making the most of ‘I love my heart’

About the author
Hi, I’m Bijoy Johnson. I’m currently doing my medical studies in Calicut Medical College, Kerala, India. My passions are cardiology (healthcare for the heart), computers and blogging. You can contact me at: bijoyjohnson (at) gmail (dot) com.

November 20, 2007 at 7:55 am Leave a comment

Stem cells could hold the key to the repair of damaged hearts!

Stem cells are those cells found the embryo, which have the capacity to transform into all of the different types of cells in our body – even heart muscle cells. They have been the subject of a lot of hype these days as newer techniques are being developed for their use in various fields of medicine.
Researchers from Finland and California showed that injecting stem cells to the damaged hearts could boost the pumping power of the heart. This could be a new ray of hope for heart disease victims and may be the beginning of a new technology that may even change the way we look at heart disease. But the day when heart disease is totally curable is still years into the future and more research has to be done to perfect the techniques of stem cell therapy. Till then, its all pray and hope for the best!

November 19, 2007 at 3:13 pm Leave a comment

Birth control pills may clog your blood vessels

Long term use of oral contraceptives can increase your risk for heart disease. A study conducted at the Ghent University in Belgium suggests that birth control pill use can lead to the formation of potentially dangerous plaques in the key blood vessels. These can further lead to formation of blood clots and can compromise the blood flow to important organs such as heart or brain, causing a heart attack or stroke.
The research conducted on 1301 women aged 35 to 55 found that for every decade of pill use, the plaque increases at the rate of 20-30%. The scientists suggest that there is no need to abruptly stop the use of the pill, as more research needs to be done on this.
The bottom line is that if you intend to take birth control pills, you have to take care of your other risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure, cholesterol and smoking.

November 19, 2007 at 3:43 am 2 comments

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