Help Cory Bryk and family!

Cory and his family have gone through a lot already, but there house just burned down on Sunday while at church. They could really use some financial support to get them back on their feet!

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The TLC diet

Now that you know all about heart disease, how it’s caused, and the risk factors for future development. It’s time to learn how to eat to protect yourself from developing heart disease.

TLC stands for therapeutic lifestyle changes and this diet is aimed at lowering cholesterol in order to reduce the risk for heart disease in the future. This diet is a mix between the Mediterranean diet and a high fiber diet. It was originally just a study to see the correlation between diet and heart health and is now recommended by NIH for lowering cholesterol. These are the guidelines for following the diet:

  • Calories: Total calorie intake should only be enough to maintain weight.
  • Total fat: Fat should take up 25-35% of total daily intake
  • Saturated fat: Saturated fat needs to be restricted to less than 7% of calories
  • Monounsaturated fats: MUFA’s should be up to 20% of daily calories
  • Polyunsaturated fats: PUFA’s should be up to 10% of daily calories
  • Cholesterol: Cholesterol is restricted to less than 200 mg/day
  • Plant stanol/sterol: 2-3 grams of plant stanols’sterols should be introduced to the diet each day
  • Carbohydrate: Carbohydrates should take up 50-60% of total calories
  • Fiber:Fiber intake should be 20-30 grams per day

Now that you know what your daily intake is supposed to look like, it’s time to learn where to get all of these nutrients from.

Calories: Calories come from 4 sources: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and alcohol. Both carbohydrates and proteins have 4 calories per gram. Fats have 9 calories per gram and alcohol has 7 calories per gram.

Saturated fat: Common sources of saturated fat include: animal fat, dairy and fried foods.

MUFA: Common sources of MUFAs include: olive, sunflower, canola, and peanut oils.

PUFA: Some common sources of PUFAs include: sunflower, corn, soybean, cottonseed oils; and nuts. Omega 3’s are a type of PUFA that most people have heard of and good sources are tuna, salmon, and mackerel.

Cholesterol: Some sources high in cholesterol are organ meats such as liver, egg yolks, and shellfish.

Plant stanols/sterols: These are found in most plants in very small amounts. In order to get 2-3 grams, you must eat products that are fortified. Some of these are margarine and orange juice.


Insoluble fiber: Good sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, fruits with skin, vegetables and legumes

Soluble fiber: Good sources of soluble fiber include psyllium seeds, citrus fruits, lima beans and Brussels sprouts. 

Knowing how much of these substances to eat and where to get them from is great, but do you know why to avoid or get more of these substances? Here is what they do in your body and how it effects your heart.

Saturated fat: saturated fats increase LDL-cholesterol in the blood by decreasing LDL-c breakdown in the body.

MUFA: MUFA’s decrease triglyceride and LDL levels in the blood.

PUFA: PUFA’s decrease triglyceride levels more than MUFA’s and decrease LDL-c, but they also decrease HDL-cholesterol somewhat.

Dietary cholesterol: dietary cholesterol generally increases LDL-c and total cholesterol.

Plant stanols/sterols: plant stanols/sterols significantly decrease LDL-cholesterol in the blood.

Soluble fiber: soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel, then binds to cholesterol and they are excreted out of the body together.

Insoluble fiber: insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool and helps food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines.

For more information regarding the TLC diet and meal plans. Visit:

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Risk factors for Heart Disease

Last time I talked about the consequences of atherosclerosis. Today I will be talking about the risk factors of heart disease. Some of these are unchangeable, but I can give you tips on how to improve the others.

The first three risk factors are those you cannot change, but still should be aware of.

1. Age: As you get older, arteries are at a higher risk of narrowing and becoming damage, which increase risk for heart disease.

2. Gender: Men are generally at a higher risk for heart disease than women, but women have the same risk after menopause.

3. Family history: Family history increases risk for heart disease. This is especially true if a parent developed heart disease at a young age; this would be before 65 for woman and before 55 for men.

These next risk factors are those that can be changed and improved.

1. Smoking: Smoking significantly increases the risk for heart disease. Nicotine constricts blood vessels and carbon monoixde damages the inner lining, which causes atherosclerosis. Those who smoke are advised to quit smoking, but if not possible, to reduce amount.


2. Blood pressure: High blood pressure causes the hardening and thickening of artery walls. Daily exercise, reducing sodium intake, and reducing saturated fat intake can all help lower blood pressure. Medications can and should be used to reduce blood pressure if exercise and nutrition is not enough

3. Cholesterol levels: High LDL (bad) cholesterol and low HDL (good) cholesterol creates a higher risk for plaque formation and atherosclerosis. A diet lower in saturated fats, higher in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, and high in dietary fiber can reduce total cholesterol and help raise HDL cholesterol.

4. Activity level: Being inactive is associated with heart disease and risk factors of heart disease. Increasing activity can significantly decrease other risk factors for heart disease. 30-60 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise per day has been shown to reduce risk factors. These exercises can include: walking, running, biking, hiking, dancing, playing sports like basketball and soccer, and strength training.

5. Obesity: Excess body fat worsens risk factors of heart disease. Exercise and a balanced diet are the most effective strategies for weight loss.

6. Diet: Poor diet is a huge risk factor for heart disease as it can increase many other risk factors for heart disease. A well balanced diet, but also a diet rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fats and dietary fiber shows the best results for lower heart disease risk. This a diet recommended by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and many health professionals:

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Consequences of Atherosclerosis

Last time, I talked about atherosclerosis and how it’s caused. This week I’ll be talking about different consequences that can occur due to atherosclerosis. 

The first is called a myocardial infarction or MI, which is known to most people as a heart attack. Heart attacks are occur when blood flow to part of the heart is blocked for enough time that some heart muscle is damaged or dies. This can be caused by plaque that breaks off of an arterial wall and blocks the flow or by a slow buildup of plaque that eventually blocks blood flow. 

stroke occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to part of the brain is blocked. Brain cells begin to die after a few minutes without oxygen. This causes symptoms such as sudden weakness, numbness in the face, arms, and legs, slurred speech and blurry vision.

The illustration shows how an ischemic stroke can occur in the brain. If a blood clot breaks away from plaque buildup in a carotid (neck) artery, it can travel to and lodge in an artery in the brain. The clot can block blood flow to part of the brain, causing brain tissue death.

Another is CHD or coronary heart disease. This disease is atherosclerosis located in specific arteries, the coronary arteries. This can eventually lead to heart attacks or more serious conditions.

PVD or peripheral vascular disease occurs when plaque is built up in arteries anywhere in the body other than the heart or the brain. The most common plaque buildups in this disease occur in the limbs.

The illustration shows how P.A.D. can affect arteries in the legs. Figure A shows a normal artery with normal blood flow. The inset image shows a cross-section of the normal artery. Figure B shows an artery with plaque buildup that's partially blocking blood flow. The inset image shows a cross-section of the narrowed artery.

The last is CHF or congestive heart failure. This is the end stage of heart disease. It occurs when enough heart muscle cells die to make the heart too weak to complete the pumping action to provide blood to the rest of the body.

The main symptom of heart disease is called angina, which is pain in the chest, shoulders, or neck caused by a decreased oxygen-rich blood supply. There are two types called unstable and stable angina. Stable angina is the most common which is characterized by the regular pains in the chest, neck, or shoulders during exercise or other physical exertion. Unstable angina is less common and more dangerous which is characterized by sharp pains in the chest, neck, or shoulders that occur randomly without physical exertion. This type should be immediately treated.

To view the information presented or for more information regarding heart disease, visit

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Heart Disease: How it begins

This first post will educate you on the basis of heart disease and how it begins. Atherosclerosis is the basis for heart disease and the consequences that follow. Atherosclerosis occurs when the lining of arteries are damaged and plaque begins to build up at those points. Arteries are vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart and other places in the body. The plaque that accumulates consists of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other components found in blood. This accumulation of plaque hardens and narrows the artery which reduces blood flow to the heart and other parts of the body. This plaque can also break off the wall and be taken up in the bloodstream; this is called a clot and can cause heart attacks and strokes. Some situations that can damage artery walls are smoking, high amounts of specific fats and cholesterol in the blood, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. For more information on atherosclerosis, you can visit these two sites:

This is an image of a normal artery and an artery with plaque build-up.



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