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Beer May Help Heart Health, Study Says

Beer May Help Heart Health, Study Says

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Another study to help support our beer consumption (in moderation, naturally)

Excellent; here's another reason to enjoy our morning brew (what, Belgians and Germans do it!). A new study supports the claim that beer helps increase heart health, lowering risk of heart diseases.

Published in the journal Nutrition this month, a new study from researchers at Harokopio University in Athens found that beer actually helps blood pass through arteries easier.

The researchers rounded up 17 non-smoking men in their late 20s and early 30s, and measured their cardiovascular health after they polished off beer, alcohol-free beer, and some vodka.

The results: While reach instance reduced the stiffness of the arteries, only beer significantly caused blood to flow more easily.

Of course, this doesn't mean that beer vastly improves heart health; the subjects in question were already healthy to begin with. However, researchers say, "Beer acutely improves parameters of arterial function and structure, in healthy non-smokers. This benefit seems to be mediated by the additive or synergistic effects of alcohol and antioxidants and merits further investigation." Which means, no reason to stop drinking beer if you're already healthy; but as with anything, everything in moderation.

Drinking This for Just 10 Days Can Improve Your Health, Says New Study


We know: it's easy to overthink juice, with so much discussion about the amount of sugar in it. But a new study has just highlighted one powerful juice for your cardiovascular health and brain function. Curiously, it has to do with the way our mouths process a particular chemical… and best of all, it comes from a plant that turns up on a lot of tables this time of year.

Now, in a new study at the U.K.'s University of Exeter, a team of physiology researchers examined 26 participants who were between 70 and 80 years old. For 10 days, the participants drank beet juice, which is naturally rich in chemicals as nitrates, as well as a nitrate-rich placebo juice, twice a day.

Previous research has shown that an important reason our cardiovascular health and cognitive function decline over time has to do with a decreased capacity for our body to turn nitrate into nitric oxide. When the body's working just right, these chemicals start to undergo a process that begins right inside our mouths to help the blood vessels dilate to promote healthy blood flow to the heart and brain.

What this study found is that beet juice significantly increased the levels of bacteria associated with good vascular and cognitive health, and lowered the levels of bacteria that are known to cause inflammation (and therefore, disease as we age).

"Our findings suggest that adding nitrate-rich foods to the diet—in this case via beetroot juice—for just ten days can substantially alter the oral microbiome (mix of bacteria) for the better," Lead researcher Professor Anni Vanhatalo explained. "Maintaining this healthy oral microbiome in the long-term might slow down the negative vascular and cognitive changes associated with aging."

The study also pointed out that green veggies like spinach, lettuce, and celery are high in nitrates, too.

This is all the more reason to eat your beets and even pickle those eggs this spring. Check out our 19 Boss Beet Recipes.

And sign up for the Eat This, Not That! newsletter for the latest nutrition news dropped in your inbox each day.

Red wine

When it comes to a healthier alcohol, red wine is top of the list.

Red wine contains antioxidants, which can protect your cells from damage, and polyphenols, which can promote heart health. White wine and rose contain those too, just in smaller quantities.

Research shows that red wine is associated with improving:

No matter what type of wine you're reaching for, Kober recommends looking for natural wines. "These wines have far fewer additives and your liver won't have to work as hard, adding to the health benefits that you may get from your wine," she says.

General advice: Ask your local wine store about the healthiest natural wines to purchase.

Does Excessive Drinking Contribute to Heart Disease?

Heavy drinking, on the other hand, is linked to a number of poor health outcomes, including heart conditions. Excessive alcohol intake can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure or stroke. Excessive drinking can also contribute to cardiomyopathy, a disorder that affects the heart muscle.

What&rsquos more, alcohol can contribute to obesity and the long list of health problems that can go along with it, McEvoy says: &ldquoAlcohol is a source of excess calories and a cause of weight gain that can be harmful in the long term.&rdquo

The takeaway, McEvoy says, is what you probably already knew: If you choose to drink alcohol, stick to moderate levels of drinking, and don&rsquot overdo it. &ldquoWe&rsquore not talking about going out and drinking yourself merry and then expecting good heart outcomes,&rdquo McEvoy says.

If You Can't Do This in 90 Seconds, Your Heart Is in Danger, Study Says

A patient's ability to do this one thing in a minute-and-a-half says a lot about their heart health.

tommaso79 / iStock

As all of us get older, keeping an eye on the health of our heart becomes increasingly important. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out, "Heart disease can happen at any age, but the risk goes up as you age." But how do you know if you're at risk when many traditional methods for accurately measuring heart health involve expensive or time-consuming procedures, or the oversight of medical professionals? Well, there's one test that you can do at home and it should only take a minute. In fact, if it takes much more than that, you're in trouble. Keep reading to find out how new research from the European Society of Cardiology says you can use your stairs to test your heart health, and for more news about your ticker, check out If You Have This Blood Type, Your Heart Attack Risk Is Higher, Study Says.

RossHelen / iStock

The new research, which was presented in Dec. 2020 at EACVI–Best of Imaging 2020, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), shows that all you need to test the health of your heart is a stopwatch and a few flights of stairs.

The study looked at 165 symptomatic patients who were prescribed exercise testing because of known or suspected coronary artery disease. After a strenuous bout of exercise, the subjects rested for 15 to 20 minutes, and then they were asked to quickly climb four flights of stairs (about 60 stairs) without taking a break, but also without running. Their time was recorded and their exercise capacity was measured as metabolic equivalents (METs), which is defined as the amount of oxygen consumed while resting.

What the researchers found was that patients who climbed the stairs in less than 40 to 45 seconds achieved more than 9 to 10 METs, a rate that's linked to lower mortality. "The stairs test is an easy way to check your heart health," study author Jesús Peteiro, MD, a cardiologist at University Hospital A Coruña, Spain, said in a statement. And for more on how to know your heart could be in trouble, check out The Heart Attack Warning Signs Hiding in Plain Sight.

eyenigelen / iStock

"If it takes you more than one-and-a-half minutes to ascend four flights of stairs, your health is suboptimal, and it would be a good idea to consult a doctor," Peteiro said. That's because, in the research, patients who took 90 seconds or longer to climb the stairs achieved less than 8 METs, which translates to a mortality rate of 2 to 4 percent per year, or 30 percent in a decade.

The researchers also generated images of the patients' hearts during the exercise test to assess their cardiac function. Among patients who took 90 seconds or more during the stair climb, 58 percent had abnormal heart function, while just 32 percent of those who climbed the stairs in less than a minute could say the same. And for more health news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.


The statistics on heart health are sobering to say the least. Heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women in the United States, accounting for 1 in 4 deaths in the country, the CDC says.

And don't think that it's just something seniors need to worry about—for men, the risk of a heart attack increases significantly after the age of 45, and for women, the danger ramps up from the age of 50, according to the Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute. And for more on what to look out for, beware that If You See This in Your Mouth, Your Heart Attack Risk Is High, Study Says.


According to a 2016 study from the American Heart Association (AHA), 45 percent of all heart attacks in the U.S. are "silent," meaning they occur without symptoms, which is why it's important to keep up on your heart health. To reach this conclusion, the researchers behind the AHA study analyzed the records of 9,498 middle-age adults with atherosclerosis—or hardening of the arteries—for more than two decades. Not only did silent heart attacks account for nearly half of the incidents they recorded, but they also made patients three times more likely to die from heart disease.

"The outcome of a silent heart attack is as bad as a heart attack that is recognized while it is happening," the study's senior author Elsayed Z. Soliman, MD, then-director of the epidemiological cardiology research center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said in a statement. "And because patients don't know they have had a silent heart attack, they may not receive the treatment they need to prevent another one."

Additionally, there's further bad news for women and minorities, according to the study's findings. "Women with a silent heart attack appear to fare worse than men," Soliman said. "Our study also suggests that Blacks may fare worse than whites, but the number of Blacks may have been too small to say that with certainty." And for more heart disease predicators to be aware of, check out 40 Heart Risk Factors You Need to Pay Attention to After 40.

Sangria Mocktail

You can feel like you’re on a getaway with a sip of this sangria mocktail — whether you’re enjoying it in the heat of summer or the dead of winter. The secret ingredient that gives the drink its bold flavor and bright red color? It’s the hibiscus tea.

Meanwhile, the fruit gives the mocktail that hit of sweetness that you’d expect from a sangria — without any added sugar. Just be sure to eat the apples and oranges after, for some extra fiber and vitamin C.

Want to mix things up? “For a summer variation try hibiscus, berry, or peach tea and fruits like berries, plums, and peaches,” suggests Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, a dietitian in private practice in Chicago. And for a warm, winter variation, use orange spice or cran-apple tea, plus fruits like clementines, cranberries, and pomegranate, Blatner advises.

Beet Juice Boosts Muscle Power in Heart Patients

MONDAY, Sept. 21, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Beet juice, with its high concentration of nitrates, may help boost muscle strength among heart patients, a small study has found.

Nitrates are processed into nitric oxide by the body, which helps relax blood vessels and improve metabolism. Dietary nitrate, found in beets and leafy greens like spinach, has been shown to boost muscle performance in elite athletes.

Based on studies of elite athletes, especially cyclists who use beet juice to boost performance, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis tested the benefits of dietary nitrate among nine people with heart failure, a condition that causes the heart to gradually lose its pumping power.

The patients were given concentrated beet juice. Two hours later, they showed a 13 percent power increase in muscles that extend the knee. The researchers also found the greatest benefit when the muscles performed fast, powerful actions. Longer tests measuring muscle fatigue however, showed no performance improvement, according to the study published recently in Circulation: Heart Failure.


One to two weeks either before or after the nitrate supplement, the same nine patients were given a control drink of beet juice that had the nitrate removed, to serve as a baseline for muscle strength in each individual.

"It's a small study, but we see robust changes in muscle power about two hours after patients drink the beet juice," senior study author Dr. Linda R. Peterson, an associate professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine, said in a university news release. "A lot of the activities of daily living are power-based: getting out of a chair, lifting groceries, climbing stairs. And they have a major impact on quality of life. We want to help make people more powerful because power is such an important predictor of how well people do, whether they have heart failure, cancer or other conditions. In general, physically more powerful people live longer."

The researchers estimated the benefits of the beet juice supplement by comparing its effects to the results of an exercise regimen.


"I have compared the beet-juice effect to Popeye eating his spinach," said the study's corresponding author, Andrew R. Coggan, assistant professor of radiology, in the university news release. "The magnitude of this improvement is comparable to that seen in heart failure patients who have done two to three months of resistance training."

The researchers said they plan to also examine the beneficial effects nitrates could have on older people struggling with weakness.

"One problem in aging is the muscles get weaker, slower and less powerful," Coggan said. "Beyond a certain age, people lose about 1 percent per year of their muscle function. If we can boost muscle power like we did in this study, that could provide a significant benefit to older individuals."

Nuts & Health: Back Story

"Nuts have had a negative connotation,'' Vinson says. Many people shy away from eating them, he finds, worried the fat content and calories will lead to weight gain.

An ounce of English walnuts has 185 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That ounce also has 4 grams of protein, nearly 2 grams of fiber, and more than 18 grams of fat -- but lots of ''heart-healthy'' fat.

Studies have shown that people who incorporate a handful or so of nuts in their diet daily either maintain weight or lose weight, Vinson says.

Now, evidence is emerging that nuts can also help brain health, he says.

Vinson encourages nuts as snacks. "One of the reasons nuts are such a good snack is, it's not empty calories for certain, and you feel full," he says. That makes it likely you won't overeat at the next meal.

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Chilis Won’t Solve All Problems

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle overall is still critical to keeping your heart in top shape, according to Malaney.

“It’s important to follow a healthy diet and exercise and not replace those things with more chili intake,” she says.

Sarah Samaan, MD, a cardiologist with Baylor Scott & White Legacy Heart Center in Plano, Texas, who was not involved in the research, notes that the investigation was limited as an observational study rather than a randomized controlled trial, which excludes more variables.

Also, diet data was self-reported, which can be unreliable, and the population was from one region, so results may not apply to people with other ethnic backgrounds.

“While chili peppers appear to be heart healthy, it's important to understand that you can't just squirt a little hot sauce on your cheeseburger and call it good,” says Dr. Samaan. “Making chili peppers one part of a heart healthy diet will take you much further down the road to good health.”


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