Healthy hearts and are happy hearts
We’ve all been inundated with information about the cardiovascular risks of eating too much saturated fat. That’s not new. It may be shocking to many Americans to realize that the French – whose diets are comprised largely of rich, fatty foods such as cream and cheese and butter – actually enjoy some of the world’s best cardiovascular health. How can this be? The superior heart health enjoyed by the French despite the amount of saturated fats in the typical French diet is known as the “French Paradox.”
Some researchers theorize that the French Paradox can be attributed to the fact that, along with their cheese, the French also enjoy good wine. The average French person consumes about 9 ounces of wine daily. Wine contains antioxidant polyphenols, which promote good heart health. These substances work to protect LD from oxidization, even more so than other popular antioxidants such as vitamins C and E. Antioxidants promote the healthy flow of blood through the blood vessels, even those that may be partially constricted by plaque.
The flavinoids that are present in red grapes (the grapes used to make wine) reside in the grape seeds. These flavinoids are called proanthocyanidins and now scientists have been able to extract the proanthocyanidins from the grape seeds so that we can enjoy the benefits of the flavinoids without having to consume alcohol, which can post its own health risks.
In a healthy adult, arteries and other blood vessels expand and contract to deliver blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. In a person who suffers from coronary artery disease (or, CAD) the proper expansion and contraction may not occur. This can be an early indicator that the person may be at risk of suffering a stroke or a heart attack in the future. Researchers in the Boston University School of Medicine conducted research in which they studied the microvascular functioning of the blood vessels in participants’ fingertips, both before and after they began to take supplements. The study showed that within just a few hours after ingesting the supplement, microvascular function had improved. The blood vessels had begun expanding and contracting like healthy blood vessels should. The researchers noticed that the improvement only occurred when epicatechin, a bioflavinoid found in grape seed extract, was also present in the subjects’ blood stream.
USANA scientists and Boston University worked together and discovered that the continuous and regular intake of a supplement that contained both grape seed extract and vitamin C together could improve vascular health. This was achieved by providing antioxidant protection and by promoting healthy microvascular blood flow through the arteries.
USANA Health Sciences, was instrumental in developing the process now used by the company’s suppliers use to create grape-seed extract that is readily available for use by the body. These extracts are contained in USANA’s Proflavanol C100 or Proflavanol C200 tablets.
Proflavanol C is one of USANA’s most popular supplements. It is part of a heart-healthy regime and it also has been shown to promote a healthy immune system and healthy, glowing skin.
Other heart-healthy habits
Taking supplements isn’t the only key to a healthy body. You also have to follow a heart-healthy diet as well.
The adage that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” isn’t just an old wive’s tale. It’s true. A recent study found that eating one apple every day can help to reduce LDL, the bad cholesterol in our blood that puts us at risk for dangerous heart attacks and strokes. So grab a Granny Smith, a Fuji or a Gala and get chomping your way to good health!
Another heart-healthy food that you should be incorporating into your daily diet are nuts. Nuts are high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and contain high levels of protein and fiber, among other heart-healthy things. Beware, however, that nuts are a snack that should be eaten mindfully and with an eye toward portion control. Nuts contain high levels and fat and, although it is “good fat,” nuts should be consumed in small amounts. Add some to a salad, combine a handful with some dried fruit, or mix a few into some yogurt. Steer clear of heavily smoked, salted or “flavoured” nuts which can derail your healthy-eating intentions. Raw almonds are one of the best choices, weighing in at just 7 calories per nut. Pistachios are another good choice. Because they take some work to get into (never buy them pre-shelled!) you won’t be as tempted to overeat.
Your mother was right
It may be a difficult pill to swallow, but your mother was right when she told you to eat your vegetables. Eating a wide variety of vegetables every day helps to prevent cardiovascular disease. It’s important to know that cooking vegetables reduces the amount of bio-available nutrients in them. Boiling, in particular, leeches the nutrients out of the food and exposure to air sucks away certain vitamins including vitamins A, C, E, K and B. Instead of boiling, cook your vegetables by lightly steaming them over a double boiler. In addition, avoid exposing your vegetables to air by cutting them only right before you plan to cook and/or eat them. Finally, serve raw or lightly cooked vegetables as often as possible, supplementing with fully cooked vegetables less often.
Getting raw vegetables into your diet isn’t as challenging as it may seem. At breakfast, if you put spinach into your omelet, do so at the last moment so the nutrients don’t cook out and add some sprinkles of tomato on top of the finished product. At lunchtime, make a big salad with lots of dark leafy greens, shredded carrot, diced peppers and sliced mushrooms. On your sandwich, add a slice of tomato and some romaine lettuce. At dinner time, always have a big salad on the side of your entree and load your plate with lightly steamed vegetables. Vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, zucchini and eggplant all taste great when they are just barely tender-crisp.
A quick note about tomatoes: A 2002 study found that cooking tomatoes actually helps to bolster the amount of lycopene in tomatoes. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect our cells from the free-radical damage that can occur when our bodies burn oxygen for energy. Easy ways to incorporate cooked tomatoes into your diet are, as already mentioned, in an omelet at breakfast, in a sandwich or soup (homemade, please!) at lunch, and in a simple tomato sauce over whole-grain pasta at dinner time.
Every aspect of USANA‘s MyHealthPak is geared toward optimizing your health. Their website and packaging system allows customers to custom-design their nutritional supplement backs for both the morning and evening supplements for a system that is truly one-of-a-kind and tailored to each customer’s specific needs.
USANA’s Health Assessment and Advisor was designed by the company’s top-notch scientific team. The program is designed to help customers identify their particular nutritional needs using biometric, lifestyle and health priority information. Based on the answers you provide, the system will provide you with Core, Advanced and Optimal recommendations. You can also select one of the systems pre-determined profiles that is the closest to your health and lifestyle habits. Whichever option you choose – either providing your own information or choosing a pre-determined profile – you have the choice to further customize by dragging and dropping various USANA products into your am or pm packs.
Worried about taking too much of one thing, or the wrong combination of things? Don’t fret! The MyHealthPak Builder keeps careful track of what you are adding to your packs. This will prevent you from adding any unsafe levels of supplements so you don’t have to do the figuring yourself. Once you’ve made the final selections for your packs, you can complete your pack with your name and a message of your choosing. From there, your USANA MyHealthPak is assembled individually by a proprietary packaging machine. The server on the machine receives your order from the website and communicates the order to a high-speed packer. The packer then dispenses the appropriate tablets. Each of the 56 packs and the b ox they come in are labeled with your name and unique bar code so that you can be sure you receive what you order – nothing more, nothing less. You’ll receive a full four-week supply of tablets along with a full information packet about all of your selected tablets. USANA endeavors to make the process not only customizable and quick, but also as user-friendly as possible. Because if it’s too confusing, time consuming or expensive to take supplements, most of us simply won’t do it.
The only unfortunate thing is that MyHealthPak is not (yet) available everywhere. Fortunately, however, USANA is committed to meeting the needs of their worldwide family. In some markets, USANA is required to register every combination of tablets customers could potentially get from their company and because there are so many great products being offered that could amount to hundreds of thousands of possible combinations. That presents a significant challenge in bringing the MyHealthPak idea to certain parts of the world, but USANA continues to strive to find ways to get personalized packs into various world markets.