Monday, April 8, 2013

What you eat--not statins--is critical to a healthy woman's heart

Ruth's lists of foods to eat and foods to avoid

The Great Cholesterol Myth
New research has surfaced that proves it’s inflammation that causes heart disease, not cholesterol. For the last 30 years, doctors have told us to keep our cholesterol levels under 200 for a healthy heart. Not so. Doctors Johnny Bowden and Stephen Sinatra shatter The Great Cholesterol Myth in their recent book.  They present new research that has taken over the health news that cholesterol is what the body makes to put out the flames of inflammation. Because cholesterol deposits that turned into plaque built up in the arteries and caused blockage, the cholesterol has been diagnosed as the cause. But it’s like blaming the firemen for the fire. The body deposits cholesterol at the scene of the inflamed area.  It’s the inflammation that actually caused the heart attack to happen. Not cholesterol.  Here’s how it works.  

You need to understand what causes inflammation. Wait for it, sugar. Yes, it’s high fructose corn syrup that is in all of your packaged goods and processed foods and of course, your soft drinks, soda and juice. Sugar is the culprit. And then there’s transfat. That’s the Frankenfat. You can identify that fat on your food label as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil. It’s manmade in a lab so our bodies don’t have a way to properly digest it. It causes a weakening of the cell membrane and allows for free radical damage. Once the cell is damaged, disease has found a home.

Sugar is the missing link that is found in heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Here’s how sugar contributes to inflammation.  The sticky molecules found in sugar are also sticky in your bloodstream. They get stuck to proteins and cause damage to the arteries by creating an inflammation and destroying the integrity of the cell membrane.  High sugar intakes drive up the hormone insulin, which raises blood pressure and increases cholesterol. This same process also damages LDL, contributing to inflammation and ultimately to heart disease. When your cholesterol gets oxidized, it becomes dense and dangerous. But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Did you know you actually need cholesterol? It is the basis for cell regeneration.  Cholesterol is the parent molecule for sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) as well as vitamin D and bile acids needed for digestion.  The only time cholesterol is a problem is if it’s oxidized (damaged). Damaged or oxidized LDL cholesterol sticks to the lining of the arteries and begins the process of inflammation.  The true cause of heart disease is inflammation. 

Here’s the new information. When you are assessed for your vulnerability to heart disease, you will now be assessed for the danger zone of small and dense particles that can actually cause the heart attack.  These new tests measure the size and density of both your HDL and LDL pattern molecules.

As it turns out, knowing your cholesterol number is outdated.  So it’s time to rethink your medication if you are on a statin. And know that the part of the body that uses the most cholesterol is the brain. As we age, the need for cholesterol increases.  So you don’t want to be denying yourself the fuel for thought.  In light of this new information, it's time for a consultation with your doctor.

Dr. Oz's Two-part interview with Drs. Bowden and Sinatra:

Nutritional Plan Of Action To Prevent Heart Attack:

Foods to Avoid
Processed carbs
Trans fats
Processed meats
Excess vegetable oils

Foods to Choose
Wild salmon
Berries and cherries
Grass-fed meat
Dark chocolate
Garlic and turmeric
Pomegranate juice
 Green tea
Red wine
Extra-virgin olive oil

Heart Healthy Recipe

When you think of heart healthy food, think beans. They are rich in protein and fiber and make you feel full. The good news about beans is that they are low in calories and clean out the bacteria in your colon. If you find beans are hard to digest, add some apple cider vinegar to your boiling water at the end of the process to break down the beans before you eat them.  You can make this with fresh dry beans by soaking them overnight and boiling in water for 90 minutes. Hence, I keep some cans of beans in the cupboard for those nights that I have no time. This is a fast and easy recipe that’s nutritious and filling.

Broccoli and Cannelloni Beans

2 tbs Olive Oil
chopped garlic
vegetable stock
½ head of Broccoli
1 can of cannelloni beans rinsed

1. In a frying pan, coat with olive oil and melt the garlic.
2. Add 1 cup of vegetable broth. Simmer for 2 or 3 minutes
3. Add chopped Broccoli. When Broccoli turns green, about 3 minutes, add can of beans.
4. Simmer until you can smell the broccoli. It should be al dente.
5. Serve.

Cooking tip: 
Add fresh tomatoes or slices of red pepper for color. And add Parmesan cheese for some extra punch of flavor.

You can serve this over brown rice, barley, or quinoa for a fiber rich meal. 

By Ruth Gantman, HHC, AADP, Holistic Health Coach

You can contact Ruth with your questions here in the comments or at  

Also visit Ruth's site for more  information on nutrition and heart health at Nurtured By Nature.


  1. Very interesting. Thank you I will pass it on to my husband who takes Statins.

  2. What is essential about passing this on to your husband, is that he become aware of the need for cholesterol in the brain as we age. By taking the statin, he is denying cholesterol to the very organ that needs it the most at the crucial time of 60+. Side effects are memory loss.