Halving Heart Attack Risk

Halving Heart Attack Risk
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Three interventions that may cut one’s risk in half of dying from our #1 killer.

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What about nuts? A whole handful, everyday. Harmful, harmless, or helpful? Not only helpful; a single handful of nuts a day may cut our risk of having a heart attack in half, and may cut our risk of dying from heart disease in half as well. People who smoke double their risk of dying from heart disease, so don’t ever smoke. People who don’t eat nuts every day double their risk of dying from heart disease. So don’t ever not eat nuts—unless, of course, you’re allergic. The available evidence suggests that eating nuts may extend our life by literally years. Any kind of nuts? Basically all nuts— except chestnuts and coconuts. Even peanuts should be considered nuts because of their nutritional profile, even though they’re technically not. So, am I saying peanut butter will likely help us live longer? Yes!

Is there anything else besides nuts and not smoking that can just down and dirty cut our risk in half of dying from heart disease—the #1 killer of both American men and women, every single year, since 1918? Yes. Vitamin X, also known by its full name, exercise. Briskly walking just a few miles a day, according to the Honolulu Heart Study, cuts our cardiac risk in half. Exercise is like choosing a healthy diet. Diets only work if we stick with them our whole life. Same with exercise; so, we should pick something we enjoy, and not be afraid to try something new. Water aerobics classes at community health centers, or yoga, bike a scenic path, walk the dog, join a team. Use it as a stress reduction time. If you are more of an indoor person, watch TV or a movie while jogging on a treadmill, or pedaling on an exercise bike.

Now, how much exercise do we need to do? Just like the change from 5 A Day to 9 A Day, the exercise recommendations have changed as well. In 1996, the Surgeon General called for 30 minutes a day. That’s not what the science showed, but he didn’t want to scare people off, and didn’t want to make it sound too extreme. He didn’t think we could handle the truth. The same patronizing reason the target cholesterol is 200, not 150—which science clearly shows it to be. Authorities want to make things sound achievable. Well, you know, tell that to all the families left behind. Anyway, the Surgeon General’s half-hour a day recommendation was ten years ago. Finally, the Institute of Medicine believed we could handle the truth. After looking at the data, they recommended 60 minutes a day, every day, of what they call moderately intense physical activity, like brisk walking. An hour a day may sound like a lot, but when our bodies were evolving over millions of years, all we did was basically exercise all day. Our bodies were built to move at a minimum of an hour a day. I think this cartoon says it best: “What fits your busy schedule better, exercising for an hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day?” Exercising regularly isn’t just about living longer; it decreases our risk of developing dementia. You’ll not only be healthier; you’ll feel healthier. Your immune system will be stronger; you’ll sleep better; you’ll have more energy; you’ll speed up your metabolism; you’ll work off the stress in your life; and you’ll improve your mood—just by moving your body.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Shad Bolling via Flickr.

What about nuts? A whole handful, everyday. Harmful, harmless, or helpful? Not only helpful; a single handful of nuts a day may cut our risk of having a heart attack in half, and may cut our risk of dying from heart disease in half as well. People who smoke double their risk of dying from heart disease, so don’t ever smoke. People who don’t eat nuts every day double their risk of dying from heart disease. So don’t ever not eat nuts—unless, of course, you’re allergic. The available evidence suggests that eating nuts may extend our life by literally years. Any kind of nuts? Basically all nuts— except chestnuts and coconuts. Even peanuts should be considered nuts because of their nutritional profile, even though they’re technically not. So, am I saying peanut butter will likely help us live longer? Yes!

Is there anything else besides nuts and not smoking that can just down and dirty cut our risk in half of dying from heart disease—the #1 killer of both American men and women, every single year, since 1918? Yes. Vitamin X, also known by its full name, exercise. Briskly walking just a few miles a day, according to the Honolulu Heart Study, cuts our cardiac risk in half. Exercise is like choosing a healthy diet. Diets only work if we stick with them our whole life. Same with exercise; so, we should pick something we enjoy, and not be afraid to try something new. Water aerobics classes at community health centers, or yoga, bike a scenic path, walk the dog, join a team. Use it as a stress reduction time. If you are more of an indoor person, watch TV or a movie while jogging on a treadmill, or pedaling on an exercise bike.

Now, how much exercise do we need to do? Just like the change from 5 A Day to 9 A Day, the exercise recommendations have changed as well. In 1996, the Surgeon General called for 30 minutes a day. That’s not what the science showed, but he didn’t want to scare people off, and didn’t want to make it sound too extreme. He didn’t think we could handle the truth. The same patronizing reason the target cholesterol is 200, not 150—which science clearly shows it to be. Authorities want to make things sound achievable. Well, you know, tell that to all the families left behind. Anyway, the Surgeon General’s half-hour a day recommendation was ten years ago. Finally, the Institute of Medicine believed we could handle the truth. After looking at the data, they recommended 60 minutes a day, every day, of what they call moderately intense physical activity, like brisk walking. An hour a day may sound like a lot, but when our bodies were evolving over millions of years, all we did was basically exercise all day. Our bodies were built to move at a minimum of an hour a day. I think this cartoon says it best: “What fits your busy schedule better, exercising for an hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day?” Exercising regularly isn’t just about living longer; it decreases our risk of developing dementia. You’ll not only be healthier; you’ll feel healthier. Your immune system will be stronger; you’ll sleep better; you’ll have more energy; you’ll speed up your metabolism; you’ll work off the stress in your life; and you’ll improve your mood—just by moving your body.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Shad Bolling via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

How can nut consumption benefit our cardiovascular health? Learn more:

Exercise is also important for cardiovascular health:

And check out the other videos on heart health, as well as my associated blog post: Eating To Extend Our Lifespan.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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