Posts Tagged cardiovascular disease

Saturated fats, including coconut oil, are bad for your health

In the Journal Circulation, the American Heart Association (AHA) released their 2017 Presidential Advisory on Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease. The 2017 recommendations released by the AHA are based on updates in cardiovascular disease research.

Key messages include:

  • Replacing the intake of dietary saturated fat (from meat and animal products) with polyunsaturated fat (from vegetable oil) reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by about 30%
  • Dietary strategies that substitute the intake of saturated fat for carbohydrates do not prevent cardiovascular disease. This dietary strategy did not yield benefits to decreasing cardiovascular disease risk because the type of carbohydrates consumed were not restricted to healthier forms (i.e. whole grains, fruits/vegetables, and beans/legumes)
  • Saturated fat intake increases LDL cholesterol (i.e. bad cholesterol). Replacing saturated fat with healthy fats (polyunsaturated fat or monounsaturated fat) decreases LDL cholesterol (high LDL cholesterol is a primary marker/risk factor for cardiovascular disease)
  • Coconut oil, a plant based source of saturated fats, increases LDL cholesterol levels. Due to this effect, widespread dietary intake of coconut oil is not advised
  • Replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats lowers blood triglyceride levels (a marker of risk of cardiovascular disease)
  • In nonhuman primates, replacing dietary saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat prevents and improves atherosclerosis

For more on cardiovascular disease, or how a naturopath can help you to reduce your risk, please call 613-290-6115.

Graham Beaton is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing at Ottawa Collaborative Care in Ottawa.

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Risk of heart attacks increases with NSAID use

A new study published in BMJ revealed that all non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are associated with an increased risk of acute myocardial infarction (MI; i.e. heart attack).

The researchers pooled data from four studies (with 446,763 participants) looking at NSAID and MI risk. Results showed that taking NSAIDS increased risk of MI. The increased risk was also shown to be increased with short duration (one week) of use – especially in individuals taking higher doses of NSAIDS. Longer durations of NSAID use did not appear to raise risk above that of short term use.

To read the study, click here.

Graham Beaton is a naturopathic doctor in Ottawa

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Where Does The Salt Come From?

A new study published in the journal Circulation (May 2017) reaffirms earlier findings that the majority of sodium in peoples diets come from foods that are prepared outside of the home.

To conduct the study, the authors recruited 450 participants, aged 18 to 75 years old, from 3 US cities – Birmingham (Alabama), Palo Alto (California), and Minneapolis-St. Paul (Minnesota). To determine participant’s sodium intake, the authors sought information on sodium volumes from:

  • Sodium added to food at the table
  • Sodium added to food during cooking at home
  • Sodium consumed from home tap water
  • Sodium consumed from what is naturally found in foods
  • Sodium that is added during food preparation outside of participants’ homes
  • Sodium from dietary supplements and antacids (non-prescription)

Results from the study indicated participants’ consumed on average 3501 mg of sodium per day. Of this amount, 70.9% of sodium intake originated from foods that were prepared outside of the home. Considering that health guidelines suggest people should limit consumption to 2300 mg per day (Health Canada) – foods prepared outside of the home can be the primary target in addressing excess sodium consumption.

Sodium reduction can be achieved through a combination of public education, including educating the public on healthy sodium consumption and food label reading, and public health regulations that curb sodium added in commercial preparation of food.
When eating out, or when choosing to eat prepackaged foods, remember to check the sodium content posted in the nutrition information poster (if available in place of purchase) or on the specific food package label.

For more information on nutrition, health, or how naturopathic medicine can help you, please call 613-290-6115.

Graham Beaton is a naturopathic doctor practicing in Ottawa.

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Health Effects of a Trans Fat Ban?

A new study in JAMA Cardiology (published online on April 12, 2017) examined the effects of a ban on trans fats on cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke) in residents of New York State. The authors found that restricting foods that contain trans fats resulted in a 6.2% decline in hospital admissions for heart attacks and strokes.

What are trans fats?
Trans fatty acids are a type of fat that is produced by hydrogenating oils. This process is designed to increase the shelf life and flavor of prepackaged foods.

Where are trans fats found in our diets?
Trans fatty acids are found in vegetable shortening and deep fried foods, and may be found in certain margarines, crackers, cookies and snack foods.

Other studies showing similar results?
There are several other studies looking into the health impact of eliminating trans fats, including:

  • The American Medical Association concluded that substituting trans fats for healthy fats could prevent 30,000 to 100,000 premature deaths in the US per year
  • In Denmark, a ban of trans fats from foods in 2004 led to a reduction of 14.2 deaths per 100,000 people. This effect was seen in 3 years of implementation of the ban

The evidence continues to mount on the negative health effects of trans fats. Not only have trans fats been shown to increase risk of cardiovascular disease, but it has also repeatedly been shown that cardiovascular events (heart attack and stoke) decrease significantly in regions where trans fats have been removed from foods.

Graham Beaton is a naturopathic doctor practicing in Ottawa.

For more on heart healthy diets or how a healthy diet can benefit you health, please call 613-290-6115 to book an appointment.

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Worth Reading: Statins and Diabetes Risk

A recent study (April, 2015) published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine examined the link between the use of statin medications for high cholesterol levels and a subsequent increased risk of diabetes and diabetic complications.

What was found:
-Statin use increased the risk of diabetes, diabetic complications and obesity.

Take home message:
If on a statin, it is important to have regular blood tests to determine if your blood sugar levels are affected. In addition, you should consult with a Naturopathic Doctor to put together a plan to ensure that you are reducing the effect of the statin on blood sugar (e.g. by planning to eat a healthy diet and increasing the level of physical activity).

Graham Beaton is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Ottawa. For more information about diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or Naturopathic Medicine, please call 613-290-6115.

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Depression Increases Mortality Risk in Adults with Acute Coronary Syndrome

Graham Beaton

In the February 2014 issue of the journal Circulation, The American Heart Association published a scientific statement indicating that depression is a risk factor for poor prognosis among patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) (any group of symptoms attributed to the obstruction of the coronary arteries).

To arrive at this conclusion, the American Heart Association’s Scientific Statement and Manuscript Oversight Committees conducted a scientific literature review on the effects of depression following diagnosis of ACS. Specifically, they looked to see if depression affected the rates of all cause mortality, cardiac mortality and other non fatal cardiac events in individuals with ACS.

The results of the literature review revealed that depression increased the risk of adverse outcomes in patients with ACS, suggesting that depression should be considered as a risk factor .that needs to be addressed. This is an important finding as approximately 20% of patients who are hospitalised with ACS meet the diagnostic criteria for suffering from major depression, and an even larger percentage of patients exhibit symptoms of depression. Thus, by screening people with ACS for depression, and providing additional care for those in need, the rates of cardiovascular mortality and subsequent non fatal cardiac events could be reduced, improving both the quality and length of life in people with ACS.

Graham Beaton is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Ottawa. If you are concerned about cardiovascular health, depression, how depression is affecting your cardiovascular risk, or have questions about Naturopathic Medicine, please call 613-290-6115.

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Physical Activity for Cardiovascular Health

Physical inactivity is an important risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease (i.e. heart attack or stroke). Given that the average Canadian is sedentary for approximately 70% of the waking day, many Canadians are at risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Being physically active can help to regulate blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and obesity, all of which impact heart health.

Please join us to learn more about how physical activity can benefit cardiovascular health.

Topics of this seminar will include:
-Types of physical activity and their cardiovascular benefits.
-How physical activity benefits blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.
-What steps you can take to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by being more physically active.

Graham Beaton, BHSc, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
Ottawa Collaborative Care Centres

Date and Time:
Thursday February 6th 2014 at 7 pm.

To register for this free event, please contact the Sunnyside Public Library or call 613-290-6115.

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Managing Cholesterol Levels for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease

Graham Beaton BHSc, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality amongst Canadians, accounting for approximately 30% of deaths in Canada. Despite advancements in medical treatments, deaths from cardiovascular disease (including heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and heart failure) are expected to rise in the coming years due to increases in sedentary lifestyles, obesity and diabetes. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease. Today, approximately 40% of adult Canadians have elevated cholesterol, leaving them at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Cholesterol – What is it?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced in our bodies and in the bodies of animals. It is an essential component required for many functions, including making and repairing cell membranes, producing hormones, and making vitamin D. While cholesterol is vital for health, having levels that are too high can have negative consequences. Specifically, when cholesterol levels are high, fatty deposits may develop in the walls of arteries, causing them to narrow and harden. This may disrupt normal blood flow, preventing tissues from getting the oxygen and other nutrients they need.

Cholesterol is transported in the blood using carrier proteins, specifically low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to cells of the body that require cholesterol for cellular growth and repair, and to glands that require it for hormone production. While LDL is required for healthy normal function, having too much of it results in cholesterol being deposited in the walls of arteries, affecting blood flow and increasing one’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Thus, LDL is known as the ‘bad’ cholesterol.

In contrast, HDL is known as the ‘good’ cholesterol, as it picks up cholesterol from peripheral tissues and transports it back to the liver for processing or disposal. Furthermore, HDL particles have several different enzymes and protein components that further help to reduce cardiovascular risk by facilitating triglyceride metabolism (a type of fat found in circulation that increases cardiovascular disease risk), reducing oxidative damage, reducing coagulation and inflammation, etc.

Recently, it has been questioned if increasing one’s HDL levels reduces one’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Several large studies (including three pharmaceutical trials in which a drug was given to increase participants’ HDL levels and one genetic study looking at individuals with naturally high HDL levels) have shown that risk of cardiovascular disease does not decrease with high levels of HDL. This finding challenges long standing beliefs about the benefits of HDL cholesterol and suggests that increasing one’s levels of HDL does not necessarily reduce one’s risk. Researchers are now looking to explain these finding by examining if all HDL particles, defined by their size, nature of their protein and enzyme composition, are equally valuable.

While further study is required to determine the influence of increasing HDL levels, low HDL levels remain a significant risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease even in individuals who have low LDL levels.

Cholesterol – What is the test and who should be tested?
A simple blood test, called a lipid panel or a lipid profile, is required to assess cholesterol levels. This test reports total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Men aged 40 and older and women aged 50 and older are recommended to have their cholesterol levels checked yearly. More frequent tests may be necessary depending on one’s cholesterol levels and if one is at increased risk of heart disease.

Cholesterol – Prevention and Treatment
The Canadian Cardiovascular Society currently recommends that individuals with elevated cholesterol levels who are at low to moderate risk of developing cardiovascular disease implement dietary and lifestyle modifications prior to starting medications. Medications along with dietary and lifestyle changes are advised for individuals at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease with elevated cholesterol levels.

As a naturopathic doctor, I work with individuals to assess their risk of developing cardiovascular disease. After assessing risk, my patients and I work together to lower and maintain their cholesterol levels and improve cardiovascular health. I create individualized diet plans that reduce the intake of unhealthy fats, sodium and simple sugars, as well as increase the intake of healthy fats and fiber. In addition, I work with patients to implement lifestyle changes, including plans to increase exercise, achieve a healthy weight, reduce stress, moderate alcohol consumption and stop smoking.

Graham Beaton is the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine practicing at Ottawa Collaborative Care Centres – 102 Lewis Street, Ottawa Ontario. If you have questions about cholesterol, cardiovascular disease or how Naturopathic Medicine can help you, please call Graham at 613-290-6115 or visit

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High Protein-Low Carbohydrate Diets and Heart Disease

Graham Beaton BHSc, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Many individuals are turning to low carbohydrate-high protein diets for weight loss. While a number of studies have noted that these diets may be successful in promoting short term weight loss, there is concern over their overall safety.

A new study published in the June 26 edition of the BMJ (formerly titled the British Medical Journal) by Lagiou et al. (2012) looked to determine if eating a high protein/low carbohydrate diet was associated with increased cardiovascular risk.

In the study, the researchers selected 43,396 women aged 30-49 years and followed for an average of 15.7 years. Over the course of the study the women completed questionnaires that asked about lifestyle habits (smoking and alcohol consumption), health history (including cardiovascular events), physical activity, and diet. Participants were grouped according to their daily carbohydrate and protein intake. Results showed that women who consumed low carbohydrate-high protein diets were at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to the other participants. It should be noted that the researchers did appropriately note that this effect was seen in individuals who ate low carbohydrate high protein diets without considering their type or source.

While many continue to promote a low protein-high carbohydrate diet for weight loss, it is important to remember that they may only offer short term success, and without careful consideration of the type or source of the carbohydrates and protein, these diets also increase one’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

If you are wanting to lose weight safely and effectively, have questions on what a successful weight loss program entails, or would like to know how naturopathic medicine can help you, please call Graham Beaton, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine at 613-290-6115. Graham is currently accepting new patients and his office is located in the Glebe neighbourhood of Ottawa.

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