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Tag: nutrition

Lifestyle Changes Help Reduce Cardiometabolic Risk

Chronic conditions now dominate healthcare, both in terms of expenditures and effects on patient quality of life. Over half of Americans have at least one diagnosed chronic condition. When solely considering cardiometabolic syndrome, 57.5% of Americans are estimated to have prediabetes, undiagnosed diabetes, or diabetes, and rates of metabolic syndrome continue to rise. To effectively treat this epidemic of chronic illness, and the overwhelming rates of cardiovascular disease, it is critical to arm both patients and providers with knowledge surrounding lifestyle modifications.

Christos S. Mantzoros, MD, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, recently confirmed the critical importance of investigating & researching lifestyle changes for cardiometabolic risk: including nutrition and adherence to healthy diets, sufficient exercise, smoking cessation, and other factors that can help mitigate cardiometabolic risk. “This is a very important topic that is often overlooked,” said Dr. Mantzoros at the Heart in Diabetes Clinical Education Conference. He clarified that it is often “cumbersome and time-consuming” for clinicians to dispense practical advice to patients, and many prefer to outsource to dietitians.

Yet given statistics that indicate over 30% of the country’s population is obese—and more than one-third are considered overweight—apathy is no longer an option. Mantzoros offered supplemental suggestions that could help patients reduce cardiometabolic risk, encouraging adherence to plant-based diets, the consumption of less trans and saturated fats; moderation of alcohol, and participation in physical activity & exercise.

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Heart Health Benefits of Walnuts

In recent years, studies have increasingly suggested that consumption of nuts can boost heart health, as nuts contain unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, protein, vitamin E, folate, and several minerals, such as potassium, zinc, and magnesium. Nuts also boast additional bioactive chemicals, including phenolics and phytosterols. A 2016 study in the British Medical Journal reinforced the assertion that “higher nut consumption is associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, total CVD, CVD mortality, total CHD, CHD mortality and sudden cardiac death.” Another 2017 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reported that diabetes risk drops by 40 percent with only 20 grams of nuts each day, and the risk of infectious diseases is lowered by 75 percent.

Yet while most of the findings stemmed from observational studies with limited sample sizes, a systematic review of clinical trials spanning the last 25 years has confirmed that nuts can indeed benefit cardiovascular health, optimize the aging process, and minimize the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.

Led by Marta Guasch-Ferré — a research associate in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA — a team of scientists conducted a large-scale review of various studies that focused on the correlation between nut consuption and heart health. In a study last year, Guasch-Ferré referred to nuts as “natural health capsules.” The review, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, evaluated 26 randomized trials: including 1,059 participants between ages between 22 and 75. Some of the study’s participants had conditions such as high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.

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