Heart Health: Insights from Agape Nutrition and Dr. Smith
Hello Agape Community,
This February, Agape Nutrition, brings you a newsletter dedicated to cardiovascular health. Let's explore ways to keep our hearts strong and healthy, backed by science and our expertise.
Heart disease kills an estimated 17.9 million people globally each year, accounting for an estimated 32% of all deaths in 2019. Additionally, 38% of premature deaths, meaning deaths that occur in people under age 70, were due to heart disease in 2019. With this in mind, it’s important to protect your heart by improving your lifestyle and seeing your doctor regularly for check-ups.
Blood tests are one of many ways of checking on your heart health. These tests help your doctor evaluate your blood chemistry, cholesterol, and organ health such as the kidneys which are more susceptible to damage from cardiovascular disease. Another way to check your heart health is by considering imaging studies such as a chest x-ray, cardiac MRI, echocardiogram, and CT scan. Finally, another metric that’s not as commonplace, is finding your coronary artery calcium (CAC) score. The CAC score has been shown to be a more cost-effective way to evaluate cardiovascular disease risk in healthy people with no active symptoms.
What is a Coronary Artery Calcium Score?
Developed in 1990, the CAC score is measured through a CT scan which helps your doctor assess your risk of heart disease. The higher the amount of calcified plaque present in the coronary arteries surrounding your heart, the higher your CAC score. This means your chances of having coronary atherosclerosis goes up the higher your CAC score is. Atherosclerosis refers to a build-up of plaque in the coronary arteries that prevents adequate blood flow to the heart.
The scan itself uses a CT imaging technique that can take hundreds of images of a moving heart from many different angles, leading to higher detection and location of coronary artery calcium deposits. The calcium score is rated as follows:
- 0: No calcium detected in the coronary arteries with a low risk of heart disease
- 1-10: Small amount of plaque meaning you have a very low risk of having heart disease
- 11-100: Some plaque is present meaning you have mild heart disease
- 101-400: Moderate amount of plaque with a risk of the plaque blocking an artery
Over 400: Large amount of plaque is present with a more than 90% chance that plaque is blocking one or more coronary arteries
If you have a score over 11, your risk of having a heart attack increases as your score increases. Your doctor may step in at this point recommending diet and lifestyle changes and further testing and/or imaging. The CAC can also be used by your doctor to determine what therapies may be most appropriate for you.
What Leads to a High CAC Score?
First, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how calcium gets into the coronary arteries. Damage occurs in the coronary arteries surrounding the heart which can lead to atherosclerosis and calcification in the arteries. Calcification may be due to the smooth muscle of the heart itself becoming damaged though research is still ongoing.
The following factors increase your risk for heart disease and a high calcium score:
- High blood pressure
- High blood pressure
- Blood sugar dysregulation
- Unhealthy Diet
- Lack of physical activity
- Excessive alcohol intake
How to Prevent a High CAC Score
Diet and lifestyle changes are your most powerful tools to help prevent heart disease.
Exercise: Doing a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise is recommended to support a healthy heart. Additionally, weightlifting two or more times a week can add additional benefit.
Healthy Diet: The American Heart Association recommends a diet high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, with a minimal amount of sugars and saturated fats. Eating a diet based in whole foods supports overall health and can reduce risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease.
Reduce Risky Behaviors: Smoking and excessive alcohol intake are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Smoking alone can double the risk of dying from heart disease. Drinking more than one drink daily for women and two drinks daily for men has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease as well.
Get Adequate Sleep: Research shows not getting enough sleep increases the risk of heart disease. Sleeping less than six hours on average has been linked to increased systemic inflammation, potentially increased coronary artery plaque formation, and increased stress hormones. Seven to eight hours of sleep nightly is recommended to support overall health.
Video Highlight: Dr. Smith’s Insightful Take on Heart Health
In our featured video, Dr. Smith delves into the benefits of Bergamot versus statins, providing research-based insights into their effects on heart health. Watch this informative session to better understand these vital aspects of cardiovascular care.
Featured Products for a Healthy Heart
- Ortho Molecular Bergamot BPF: A cornerstone for cardiovascular wellness, supporting a balanced metabolic profile. Available here.
- Bergacor Tablets: Aimed at maintaining optimal cholesterol levels and heart function. Explore here.
- Superbeets Heart Chews: A delicious way to support healthy blood pressure. Find them here.
- Explore more: Visit the provided links for additional heart health products.
Informative Blog Articles
- Lifestyle Changes for Heart Health: Discover impactful lifestyle changes for maintaining a healthy heart here.
- Nutrition and Heart Health: Learn about the heart-healthy benefits of certain foods and nutrition choices here.
Upcoming: Exclusive Recipe and In-Depth Article from Dr. Smith
Stay tuned for a heart-healthy recipe, adding more depth to our focus on cardiovascular wellness.
At Agape Nutrition, we're committed to providing you with the knowledge and resources to support your heart health journey. Let's make heart health a priority, not just in February, but all year round.
The Agape Nutrition Team
Subscribe to our Newsletter for ongoing health insights and updates.
Green Goddess Dressing
Reportedly created in the 1920s by chef Phillip Roemer and the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, green goddess dressing features fresh herbs and amazing variations. This version uses simple pantry ingredients you likely already have on hand. With its vibrant taste and versatility, it will quickly become one of your favorites!
Prep: 5 Min. Cook: 0 Min. Total: 5 Min. Servings: 12
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup tahini (see notes)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup fresh parsley
- 1 cup fresh cilantro (or fresh basil)
- 3 tablespoons chopped chives
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill
- 1 garlic clove
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Put all ingredients into a high-speed blender. Blend until very smooth.
Taste, and adjust as needed. If the dressing is too thick you can always add more water.
Once made, dressing can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. The dressing will thicken when chilled. It can be thinned by either warming the dressing or by adding a small amount of water.
If you don't want to use tahini or if you need to avoid sesame seeds, you can use almond butter or cashew butter. This gives it a similar creaminess and texture. If you prefer an even creamier dressing, feel free to add avocado instead.
This recipe can be modified to be oil-free. Simply leave out the oil and add more water to help thin out the dressing. If you are avoiding oil altogether, be sure to use a version of tahini without any added oil.
The dressing will still turn out well if you do not have all of these herbs in your kitchen. Feel free to substitute.