Health Tips: This week’s round-up: from the heart


Benjamin Franklin once said, “The heart of a fool is in his mouth, but the mouth of a wise man is in his heart.” So, I hope you take the following words about heart health to heart -- and let them make you wise about your future.

1. A study has identified the risk factors that make women age 55 and younger vulnerable to acute myocardial infarction or heart attack. Yale researchers found that diabetes was their No. 1 risk -- followed by current smoking, depression and high blood pressure. The good news: Diabetes can be controlled or reversed; quit-smoking programs work; high blood pressure responds to medication, dietary changes and exercise; and medication and talk therapy may banish depression. Make sure you’re not one of the 40,000 younger women who are hospitalized annually for AMI.

2. An Australian study finds that anxiety, depression and panic disorders damage your heart as well as your spirit. The researchers say anyone with mental health issues should be monitored for high blood pressure and insufficient heart rate variation, which indicates that the negative effects of stress (inflammation, heart disease) are amplified for you. So if you’re dealing with emotional issues, call your doc for a cardio checkup.

3. If you have a stroke, a new study says a cardio-rehab plan that includes medically supervised exercise and psychological, nutritional and educational support, along with management of risk factors, like smoking and diet, can slash your risk of dying within the year by 76%. You or your family should insist on that full range of post-stroke care.

Take a bite out of climate change -- and improve your health

In the U.S., 32 million cattle are “processed” annually, and Americans chow down around 50 billion burgers a year. Research indicates that beef production produces up to eight times more emissions than chicken production does -- and both have a lot larger carbon footprint than plant-based proteins like soy or legumes. A whopping 6 1/2 pounds of greenhouse gases are released to produce just one quarter-pounder burger.

That harms the planet. Then, it’s your turn. When you eat beef, the trimethylamine N-oxide changes your gut bacteria, fueling inflammation and damaging your cardiovascular, immune (cancer-fighting) and neurologic systems.

Researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research decided to figure out just how climate-friendly it would be to replace beef with a biotech-created, fermented microbial protein (from fungi) that had beef’s taste and texture. It turns out that reducing your beef consumption by just 20% reduces deforestation and CO2 emissions significantly. And if you ditch all red and processed meats completely -- my recommendation -- well, the planet and your health are much better protected!

In 2002, the Food and Drug Administration recognized a microbial protein meat alternative, mycoprotein, to be generally safe (Google “mycoprotein” for sources). An estimated 5 billion servings have been dished up globally. But there’s an even smarter set of choices -- veggie burgers (made with unprocessed veggies) and a plant-based diet with no red or processed meats at all. The good news: As you make climate-friendly choices, you’ll likely take in fewer calories and have a lower risk of heart disease, cancer and dementia. A win-win.