Why Your Heart Enjoys Ginger

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New research continues to emerge in support of ginger for heart and vascular health. Ginger contains powerful compounds (gingerols, cineole) that reduce inflammation and buildup of cholesterol plaques that promote heart disease. Ginger also improves mood and preliminary studies suggest a potential antidepressant role for geraniol, a compound found in ginger.  Other studies have found that ginger supplementation may reduce cholesterol, triglycerides (blood fats), CRP (a marker of inflammation) and improve blood glucose control in Type 2 diabetics.  Another study in an animal model suggests that ginger may even slow progression of eye-related deterioration that accompanies diabetes.  Benefits have been observed with as little as 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of ground or powdered ginger a day (and represents ~1-2 grams).  And if you love sushi, don’t forget to complete your course with the sweet tasting and cleansing “gari” ginger.   Your heart will enJoy it too!

Dr. Michael Miller is a cardiologist and Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. His latest book is “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease“ with 100% of proceeds donated to the American Heart Association.

The Skinny on Coconut Oil: My Guest Appearance on “THE DOCTORS”

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Recently, my colleague Dr. Andrew Freeman and I debated the use of coconut oil on THE DOCTORS show .  As you can see, I take a more moderate stance and list below some facts about coconut oil that can help you decide whether or not to consume.

  1. Coconut oil is a highly saturated fat, with a solid consistency at room temperature compared to unsaturated fats, such as olive and canola oils that are liquid at room temperature.
  2. Saturated fat not only raises the level of LDL (bad cholesterol) but also increases the likelihood that blood clots will form. Together, the risk of a heart attack is increased.
  3. Replacement of saturated fat with unsaturated fat lowers the risk of a heart attack. However, these studies only examined saturated fat from animals and not plants (in other words, coconut-based products were not included).
  4. Even though coconut oil is highly saturated and raises LDL, natives of the tropics have among the lowest rates of heart disease in the world. This likely reflects, low rates of smoking, obesity and stress. Their major protein source is fish while consumption of beef fat and processed foods are rare to non-existent.
  5. Refined coconut oil has a higher smoke point (400-450o) than many less refined vegetable oils (less than 400o). The higher the smoke point, the better, because when oil gets overheated and starts to smoke, toxins such as free radicals are released promoting cell damage that over time can adversely affect our blood vessels, cardiovascular system and overall health.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     So what are my recommendations for using coconut oil? First, I do not recommend coconut oil in my patients with heart disease or with unhealthy levels of the bad cholesterol (LDL above 100 mg/dL).   Keep in mind that a normal or “physiologic” level of LDL is ~50-70 mg/dL (as observed in modern hunter-gatherer societies, tropical islanders, etc).   For cooking, sautéing and baking, refined coconut oil is ok to use in small to moderate amounts at a temperature below the smoke point. A similar recommendation applies for use in raw food where the unprocessed and flavorful form of coconut oil may be preferred.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Dr. Michael Miller is a cardiologist and Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. His latest book is “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease“ with 100% of proceeds donated to the American Heart Association.

 

 

Have You Tried Maté?

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I first got turned on to maté, pronounced “mah-tay”, from my friend from Argentina, Ana Goldseker, nutritionist extraordinaire and proprietor of Mindful Nutrition.  This flavorful and caffeine-enriched tea is one of South America’s best kept secrets not only because of its natural mood elevating properties but also because it is an antioxidant powerhouse with heart protective properties designed to reduce cholesterol, improve glucose control and stem inflammation.

If you’ve never had maté, check out Ana’s videos (part 1 and part 2) for simple instructions for preparation.  Drink 1 cup a day at a relatively warm (but not hot) temperature for increased energy and vitality…you’ll be glad you did.

Dr. Michael Miller is a cardiologist and Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. His latest book is “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease“.   All proceeds are donated to the American Heart Association.