High Blood Pressure

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Called the silent killer, this condition has no symptoms but can lead to serious health problems. New studies show lifestyle changes and natural supplements may be viable alternatives to prescription drugs for some cases of high blood pressure.

No symptoms, even when blood pressure is in the danger zone. Some people complain of headaches and ringing in the ears when blood pressure is very high, but usually the condition is discovered during a medical exam.

When to Call Your Doctor
If your blood pressure remains high (140/90) after two months of treatment with supplements.

What It Is
Defined as the force the blood exerts on arteries and veins as it circulates through the body, blood pressure is controlled by a complex regulatory system involving the heart, blood vessels, brain, kidneys, and adrenal glands. It’s normal for blood pressure to fluctuate often — even minute to minute. In some people, however, blood pressure remains chronically high, a condition known medically as hypertension. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers. Systolic pressure (the top number in a reading) denotes when the heart contracts and forces blood through the arteries; diastolic pressure (the bottom number) reflects when the heart relaxes. Normal blood pressure is 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic) or lower. Hypertension is defined as blood pressure averaging 140/90 or higher in at least two separate measurements.

What Causes It
In 90% of people with hypertension, the cause isn’t known; this type is called essential hypertension. However, risk factors include smoking, obesity, gender (men are twice as likely to suffer hypertension as women), a high-sodium diet, and a family history. In addition, blacks are more prone to hypertension — and suffer greater consequences from it — than whites.

How Supplements Can Help
If you have mild hypertension (140 to 159 systolic and 90 to 99 diastolic), start making lifestyle changes and take calcium and magnesium. If your blood pressure is higher, see your doctor before using supplements.

What Else You Can Do
Lose weight. Even a few extra pounds can raise blood pressure.
Walk or do some other form of aerobic exercise regularly.
Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products; reduce fat and salt intake. A new study found such a diet may be an alternative to prescription drugs for mild hypertension.
If you have mild hypertension, you may want to try lifestyle changes and supplements before turning to prescription drugs, which often have unpleasant side effects. Begin a two or three-month trial with supplements. If your blood pressure drops, you can use the supplements indefinitely. If your blood pressure doesn’t respond, you may need prescription antihypertensive drugs. If you already take such medication, don’t stop or reduce your dose without your doctor’s approval.

Supplement Recommendations

Vitamin C
Coenzyme Q10
Essential Fatty Acids

Dosage: 1,000 mg calcium and 500 mg magnesium a day.
Comments: Do not use magnesium if you have kidney disease.

Vitamin C
Dosage: 1,000 mg 3 times a day.
Comments: Reduce dose if diarrhea develops.

Coenzyme Q10
Dosage: 50 mg twice a day.
Comments: For best absorption, take with food.

Essential Fatty Acids
Dosage: 1 tbsp. (14 grams) flaxseed oil a day; 1,000 mg fish oils 3 times a day.
Comments: Take fish oils if you don’t eat fish at least twice a week.

Dosage: 100-150 mg 3 times a day.
Comments: Standardized to contain at least 1.8% vitexin.


Dosage: 500 mg L-taurine twice a day on an empty stomach.
Comments: If using longer than 1 month, add mixed amino acids.

Dosage: 1,000 mg L-arginine twice a day on an empty stomach.
Comments: Take with a mixed amino acid complex.

Source:Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs(Reader’s Digest)

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The diet myth in diabetes

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The diet myth in diabetes and heart diseases has been exploded.

Studies by city doctors have revealed that rice and food cooked in mustard oil, in right proportion, do not harm diabetics and heart patients.

A diabetic can have carbohydrate and fat, but in the right quantity,   stated endocrinology head of SSKM Hospital Subhankar Chowdhury.   The belief that mustard and groundnut oil should be replaced with sunflower seed, sunflower and other oils with low saturated fat is also erroneous.

According to doctors, mustard and groundnut oil do not contain saturated fat, which is harmful for diabetics and those with heart diseases. Unsaturated fat is of two types   poly and mono. The two main ingredients of polyunsaturated fat are n3 and n6. A balanced quantity of each is required in a diet.The ideal n6-n3 ratio is 10:1. In sunflower seed, sunflower and other oils containing unsaturated fat, the ratio is 70:1.

This ratio causes abnormal blood lipid levels and blood clot,   explained Chowdhury.
Oil containing monounsaturated fat is also good for diabetics and heart patients, he added. “Mustard oil has a good proportion of monounsaturated fat and n3 type in polyunsaturated fat. Ideally there should be a mixture of both.

Diabetics should not avoid carbohydrates altogether, said doctors.   Carbohydrate is usually substituted with protein. But too much protein can damage the kidney in the long run. For a diabetic, the risk is higher as the organs are affected by the disease,    said a doctor.

A balanced and sensible diet with complex carbohydrates and high fibre content like whole grain, fruits and salads, vegetables and other items low in fat and cholesterol is the key to managing diabetes,  opined a city-based endocrinologist.

Nutritionists feel food with low glycemic index (those that are absorbed slowly and, therefore, maintain the blood sugar level) are good for diabetics.
Oatmeal, whole wheat flour, whole pulses, fenugreek seeds, flax seeds and leafy vegetables have low glycemic index,  said Vijaya Agarwal, consultant nutritionist at AMRI Hospitals.

Frequent meals are advisable for maintaining a proper blood sugar level, signed off Agarwal.

Source:The Telegraph (Calcutta,India)

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How to Get More ‘Good’ Cholesterol

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Doctors aren’t the only ones telling people to lower their cholesterol. Television commercials also tout cereals   from Quaker to Kellogg’s   and medications that encourage viewers to become heart healthy and promise to lower LDL, the “bad” cholesterol.

But there is another type of cholesterol that physicians agree is important to raise — HDL, or the “good” cholesterol.

HDL works in opposition to LDL. Instead of increasing the risk of heart disease, it can help prevent heart attacks and stroke.

Doctors have known this for more than a decade, but cardiologists have recently started paying more attention to HDL after a study showed that giving doses of it could reverse plaque buildup in arteries, said Dr. Robert Rosenson, a preventive cardiologist at Northwestern University in Chicago and a member of the American College of Cardiologists’ prevention committee.

For the first time, the study showed how raising HDL is likely as important as lowering LDL when it comes to reducing the risk of heart attack, Rosenson said.

And just as too many Americans have high levels of so-called bad cholesterol, too few have low levels of good cholesterol. The latest statistics from the American Heart Association show that as many as one in three adult men and one in 10 adult women have low HDL cholesterol.

Therefore, “the next big hope is raising HDL,” said Dr. Greg Brown, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Drug May Offer Hope

Hope may lie with a new drug, torcetrapib, that raises HDL. It has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but Dr. Steven Nissen said the trials of the drug were “one of the most watched.” He is interim chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and president of the American College of Cardiology.

“If [torcetrapib] works, it’ll be a revolution,” said Nissen, who’s also the principal investigator in an ongoing trial of the medication. Early trials of the drug have resulted in a 50 to 60 percent increase in HDL levels, he said.

Torcetrapib may raise blood pressure slightly in some patients, though, which is an unwanted side effect when trying to reduce risk factors for heart disease, Rosenson said.

Also, it is not yet known how effective torcetrapib will be at reducing the risk of heart attack, Nissen said.

The drug has received a lot of press already in part because of controversy raised when Pfizer, its manufacturer, said initially that it would market torcetrapib ony as a combination pill with Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering drug.

But this week The New York Times reported that Pfizer had reversed its decision and now plans to make it available as a stand-alone drug as well.

What About Niacin?

Even though torcetrapib won’t be approved until 2008 at the earliest, there are already medications on the market that are effective at raising HDL. Niacin, or vitamin B3 in high-dose form, is one that raises HDL by about 30 percent, Brown said.

In spite of its effectiveness, niacin isn’t prescribed very often by general doctors, said Dr. Roger Blumenthal, director of the Johns Hopkins Ciccaroni preventive cardiology center and spokesman for the American Heart Association.

That’s because it often causes flushing, or heat flashes, in patients. Although it’s effective, many doctors don’t prescribe it, because it requires counseling patients on side effects and adjusting the dosage many times, Brown said.

While some patients can’t tolerate niacin, the side effects do go away after two to three months of continued use, he added. Also, drug manufacturers are developing newer preparations of niacin that minimize the side effects and may become available next year, Blumenthal said.

Lifestyle Changes Work, Too

For patients at high risk of heart attack and strokes, some preventive cardiologists have been fairly aggressive about treating low HDL. But Blumenthal said that cholesterol guidelines for general physicians have focused more on lowering LDL than on raising HDL and that the evidence for them to aggressively treat low HDL isn’t yet available.

But, if you are interested in increasing your good cholesterol, there are a number of things you can do, doctors said. Not surprisingly, they are what doctors always advise — get more exercise and eat better.

First, lose weight if you are overweight, Brown said, because overweight or obese people are likely to have lots of bad and not enough good cholesterol.

Regular exercise also pumps up HDL levels. And, for those who smoke, quitting raises HDL levels as well — a result that can be seen in about 60 days, Rosenson said .

Altogether, the lifestyle changes can raise HDL by about 20 percent, he added.

As for dietary recommendations for elevating HDL, Rosenson said fish, walnuts, almonds and avocados all have monounsaturated fats, which can help raise HDL slightly, although he recommends them in moderation.

Lifestyle changes are important, doctors said, not only for improving HDL but for overall improvement in cholesterol and health.

But, said one dietitian: “There is no magic cereal that will suddenly improve cholesterol. However, eating high-fiber cereal is a great way to start your day.”

Source:ABC News

Featured Herbs & Plants

Mustard Oil and Mustard Seeds are Good for Health

oils (Photo credit: jacob earl)

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Mustard oil can reduce the risk of coronary heart diseases, say experts.Coronary heart diseases (CHD) are a leading cause of death. The use of mustard oil can reduce the risk of CHD,” said S.C. Manchanda, former professor, department of cardiothoracic diseases at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).


Mustard oil is one of the healthiest edible oils as it has the lowest amount of saturated fatty acids and a high amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are good for health.

Manchanda, who was speaking at a conference here, said: “Mustard oil is rich in non-saturated fat or unsaturated fats. This oil has shown to reduce cholesterol.”

Over 200 scientists, oil technologists, mustard processors, farmers, policy makers and trade professionals from across India took part in the conference.

“Renowned cardiologists have now started comparing the nutritional benefits of the mustard oil with olive oil and have conclusive proof about mustard oil’s superiority,” he said.

Mustard oil is healthier than olive oil because it has no trans-fats, has low saturated fats, high mono-unsaturated fats, high polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega-3 and stability at high temperatures, which makes it ideal for Indian cooking and even deep frying,” the cardiologist said.

Trans-fatty acids, commonly termed trans-fats, are a type of unsaturated fat.

M.S. Ganesh, an oncologist, drew attention to the benefits of mustard oil in fighting cancer. Mustard oil has an ideal ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential for human health.

“The linolenic acid, which is present in abundance in mustard, is converted in the human body into Omega-3 fatty acid. It helps in preventing common cancers like colon and stomach,” Ganesh said.

Therefore, use of mustard oil as nutritional supplement should be initiated as a preventive measure at an early stage for battling common cancers, he added.

The benefits of mustard oil is tremendous.Mustard seeds emerged from food ranking system as a very good source of selenium a nutrient which has been shown to help reduce the severity of asthma, decrease some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and help prevent cancer. They also qualified as a good source of magnesium. Like selenium, magnesium has been shown to help reduce the severity of asthma, to lower high blood pressure, to restore normal sleep patterns in women having difficulty with the symptoms of menopause, to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks, and to prevent heart attack in patients suffering from atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease.
Mustard seeds also qualified as a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as a good source of iron, calcium, zinc, manganese, magnesium, protein, niacin and dietary fiber.
While mustard seeds were used for their culinary properties in ancient Greece, it seems that it was the ancient Romans who invented a paste from the ground seeds, which was probably the ancestor of our modern day mustard condiment. The physicians of both civilizations, including the father of medicine Hippocrates, used mustard seed medicinally.

Like most foods with ancient roots, mustard has been heralded as a curative. It stimulates appetite and digestion, and clears the sinuses in much the same way as chiles, which are said to be as effective as commercial decongestants. Mustard increases blood circulation, hence its use as mustard plaster, a dressing used to bring increased blood flow to inflamed areas of the body. Mustard flour sprinkled in your socks is said to save your toes from frostbite, a claim which is also made about cayenne pepper and other spices containing volatile oils.

One of mustard’s greatest health benefits is that it provides tremendous flavor for few calories and little fat. A gram of mustard flour contains just 4.3 calories and simple mustard preparations can be eaten with impunity by nearly everyone. Mustard itself contains no cholesterol, only trace amounts of vegetable fat, and is between 25-32% protein, depending on the variety of plant. Leaf mustard contains calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and Vitamin B.

Some Home Remedies :

1. For Hair Growth: Mustard oil, boiled with henna leaves, is useful for healthy growth of hair. About 250 ml of mustard oil should be boiled in a tin basin. About sixty grams of henna leaves should be gradually put in this oil till they are burnt in the oil. The oil should then be filtered using a cloth and stored. Regular massage of the head with the oil will produce abundant hair .

2.For ankle sprain, muscular or arthritic pain or oedema in the legs: Rub mustard oil on sore arthritic joints. Make a hot infusion of 2 teaspoon of mustard seed and apply onto the affected zone.
3. For Arthrities /Gouts
* Boil mustard oil (10ml) with one moderate pack of Garlic bulb, apply on the affected parts 3/4/ times a day.
* Massage with camphor oil few times a day on the affected parts.
* Apply warm mustard oil on the affected parts at the time of bed rest and cover them with Dhatura leaves overnight. Keep doing it for 15 days. Repeat again as per need.

Dry Fruit


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Highlights of the Round-table Discussion

A group of the country’s leading scientists in the areas of nutrition, epidemiology, anthropology, public health, and food science met in a rare round-table conference to share their knowledge and to discuss what we know and what we need to know about the role of nuts in the diet. There is an emerging body of research that appears to show that nuts may play an important role in decreasing the risk factors for heart disease and possibly other chronic diseases. Future research needs were also discussed. The conference was unprecedented in the prominence of the scientists and organizations involved and in that many of the participating scholars discussed work from recently published and current research. The conference was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, American Dietetic Association, American Heart Association and the University of California at Davis. Additional support was provided by the International Nut Council and the National Peanut Council. It was held Sept. 28 and 29, 1995 at the U.S.D.A.-A.R.S. Western Human Nutrition Center, Presidio of San Francisco. A general overview of the information shared is presented here.

Introduction: Nutritional Components of Nuts

Nuts Are Rich in Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals and Other Nutrients
Nuts are a complex plant food. They are an excellent source of fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, biotin, riboflavin, niacin, and iron. Many nuts are also an great source of folic acid, which has been shown to reduce the instance of birth defects when taken by pregnant mothers.
Nuts may also be a source of helpful biologically active components found in plant foods, such as phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are compounds that are potentially beneficial to people, but not currently classified as vitamins or minerals. They are important “health protectants.” Phytochemicals in nuts include ellagic acid, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, luteolin (a major antioxidant), isoflavones and tocotrienols. Some nuts contain up to eight different forms of sterols, which are thought to help moderate cholesterol levels. Nuts appear to contain a number of these phytochemicals, although further analysis needs to be conducted as new technology is developed to measure exact amounts.

Not All Fat Is the Same
Despite being thought of as “bad for you,” fat is essential for our bodies to function properly. While many Americans eat too much of it, we need to consume some fat in our diets.
An ounce of nuts has between 165 and 200 calories and between 14 and 21 grams of fat. About 80% of the calories in nuts comes from fat, however, most of that fat (more than 90% on average) is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Unsaturated fats are generally thought of as the “good” fats, as opposed to artery-clogging saturated fats, mostly found in animal products, like butter and meat. Because the fat in nuts is unsaturated, nuts can actually work to lower total (or serum) cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Diets high in saturated fat contribute to high levels of total (or serum) cholesterol and to high levels of low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. Too much saturated fat in the diet also unfortunately reduces “good” high-density-lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels.
Most nuts are very low in saturated fats. Opinion polls have show that many people mistakenly believe that nuts contain cholesterol. There is no cholesterol in nuts, since they are a plant product, and cholesterol is found only in animal products.

Nuts, An Ancient Food
Not only are nuts health-enhancing for modern people, they were probably one of the reasons that people first settled into villages. Recent archeological excavations at the village of Hallan Cemi in Eastern Turkey, settled 10,000 years ago, has uncovered the existence of a non-migratory society with economies centered on the harvesting of almonds and pistachios. The work of Michael Rosenberg, Ph.D., has shown that this settled village life preceded the development of agriculture. It’s possible that nut-centered societies not only preceded agricultural ones, but that the harvesting of wild nuts may have actually fostered agriculture.


Although the benefits are greatest for frequent nut eaters, those who ate nuts even once a week had 25% less
heart disease than those who avoided nuts.

Nuts should not be left out of any cholesterol lowering diet,” says Dr. Joan Sabaté.

The Role of Nuts in Disease Prevention

In addition to helping people control or prevent cardiovascular diseases, nuts might also play a role in reducing or preventing deaths attributable to diabetes and cancer.

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Consume monounsaturated fats.
Vegetable oils like canola, olive and peanut, and certain nuts including walnuts, almonds and peanuts, may increase your high-density lipoprotein, also known as “good” cholesterol.
New research shows “peanut and peanut butter ” is wet loss diet reduces heart disease risk by 14%
Harvard study shows eating peanuts and peanut butter may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at Harvard find three times as many people stick to Medditerranean -style weight loss diet than traditional low fat diet

Additional studies show peanuts are Heart -Healthy-lowering blood cholesterol.
Effective in healing people on Mediterranean Diet-loose weight and keep it off..

More satisfying for longer period of times,than high carbohydrate snacks.

Comprised of important plant chemicals, such asphytosterols,thought to help fight heart disease and cancer.

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