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Food, Health, and Eco-news
The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up
Dr. Steven Masley’s holistic guide to preventing and reversing heart disease 03/06/2014 By Craig Weatherby
What are the real causes of – and remedies for – heart disease?
Conventional wisdom has been crumbling for years in the face of contrary evidence … the kind of solid evidence oddly lacking for the standard, cholesterol-focused theory.
Dr. Steven Masley's The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up draws on the best evidence to present an exceptionally clear, thorough, reader-friendly guide.
In it, he charts a series of practical lifestyle changes proven to treat – or even reverse – cardiovascular disease and its harmful twin handmaidens: diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
What to expect from the 30-Day Heart Tune-Up
Dr. Masley asks the question, “What is the 30-Day Heart Tune-Up” in the first chapter.
And he provides a simple answer: “It's all about shrinking arterial plaque, improving circulation, and strengthening your heartbeat.”
Masley outlines four steps toward these goals and explains exactly how to take them:
  1. Learn how to better manage your stress.
  2. Follow a customized heart-friendly supplement plan.
  3. Engage in exercise that strengthens your heart and arteries.
  4. Incorporate five easy-to-remember categories of heart-healing foods into your diet.

The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up features innovative and overlooked keys to knowing your heart-risk level and greatly reducing it:

  • A little bit of stress is healthy.
    About the author
    Steven Masley, M.D., is an assistant clinical professor at the University of South Florida, former Medical Director at the Pritikin Longevity Center®, and the author of three prior books.
     As well as stellar medical and surgical credentials, Dr. Masley is a trained nutritionist, longevity researcher, educator, and principal investigator for American Heart Association studies.
    His Ten Years Younger Program is clinically proven to shed weight, build fitness and strength, improve blood sugar and cholesterol control, and enhance cognitive performance … with those results featured on the Discovery Channel, NBC Weekend Today, and hundreds of media stories.
    Better yet – given that food truly is medicine – Dr. Masley is a serious chef, whose experience includes a chef internship at Seattle's Four Seasons Hotel and recipe consulting for the Bone Fish Grille seafood restaurant chain.
  • Focus more on limiting blood sugar levels than cholesterol levels.
  • Romance and cuddles raise oxytocin levels and lower cortisol levels
  • First and foremost, get fit (the book includes a fitness test and plans).
  • Get the carotid IMT/ intimal medial thickness and advanced lipid profile medical tests (the best predictors of risk and guides to action). 
  • Follow the four Fs to fantastic heart health: fitness, fiber, body fat and food/nutrients.
  • Statins don't reduce heart risk in women but can lower testosterone levels and raise blood sugar.
  • Five categories of food help prevent and reverse heart disease: fiber, lean protein, healthy fats (especially omega-3s), beneficial beverages, and fabulous flavors (e.g., herbs, garlic, ginger, turmeric).
  • Rather than saturated fat and cholesterol, the top two foods driving heart disease are refined carbs (sugar/flour) and trans fat (partially hydrogenated oils).
While he doesn't demonize saturated fat, he notes that excess intakes of saturated meat and dairy fats can be bad.
Why? He says that excess consumption of saturated animal-source fats raise total cholesterol levels and (perhaps more importantly) speed formation of plaque … especially if you have diabetes or the cluster of symptoms known as metabolic syndrome, linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
However, he points out that the dominant saturated fat in chocolate and coconut (stearic acid) is not unhealthful, and praises dark chocolate (in moderation) for its artery benefits.
Dr. Masley on seafood and omega-3s: A mixed bag
We mostly like his discussion of this topic, which goes in depth and provides generally excellent guidance.
We appreciate that Dr. Masley advocates seafood as a weekly staple for its omega-3 fatty acids and makes the important distinction between plant and seafood forms of omega-3s, stressing that the plant form is far less valuable.
While we do have some objections, they apply to most conventional advice on seafood safety and nutrition:
  • Dr. Masley says that the mercury in seafood poses risks. In fact, the best evidence shows there's no risk from the vast majority of ocean fish, which provide more selenium than mercury ... except a handful of species such as shark. (See “Most Fish Rank as Very Safe on New, Selenium-Based Standard”, “FDA Analysis Supports More Fish for Moms and Kids”, “Fish-Mercury Fears Hyped, Despite Pesky Facts”, “No Heart Risk from Fish-Borne Mercury”, and related articles in the Mercury Issues section of our news archive.)
  • He lists Best and Good seafood choices (page 200 and 201), based on their sustainability and (low) mercury levels. But mercury is a food-safety red herring (pardon the pun), and the farmed fish on his Good list (catfish and tilapia), are high in omega-6 fats and quite low in omega-3s (see “Farmed Fish Possess Unhealthful Fat Profiles”).
  • We wish his Best Seafood Choices list had included tuna, which is very high in omega-3s, and is not a health risk despite its relatively high mercury levels (thanks to much higher levels of selenium).
  • His Best Seafood Choices list should have included all species of wild Pacific salmon, not just coho (silver). Wild Atlantic salmon appears on the Best Choices list, even though it's as rare as a four-leaf clover and not found in any regular markets. It was virtually wiped out by sea lice and infections from salmon farms in Norway, Maine, Eastern Canada, and Ireland.
And we'll admit to some surprise that Dr. Masley does not discuss the evidence linking Americans' excessive intake of omega-6 fatty acids – which predominate in cheap vegetable oils and the many processed and prepared foods made with them – to risk for heart disease, dementia, and metabolic syndrome.
The high omega-6 intake typical of the standard American diet significantly negates the benefit of dietary omega-3s (see “America's Sickening Omega Imbalance”). In fact, cutting your omega-6 intake sharply can do almost as much good as raising your omega-3 intake … though doing both is ideal.
That omission from his otherwise comprehensive discussion is mitigated by the fact that by following his program, you'll automatically reduce your intake of these pro-inflammatory fats … and greatly increase your omega-3 intake.
Overall, we agree with the assessment of The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up by leading nutrition expert Jonny Bowden, PhD:
“Masley is the rare breed – an MD who actually knows nutrition. What a breath of fresh air. Dr. Masley dismantles the ‘conventional' wisdom on heart disease with scholarship and style, and provides a truly effective plan that can change your life. His 30 day plan is user-friendly, not hard to implement, and just about guaranteed to produce results.” 

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