Heart Disease in Women

February 9, 2020

One in four women die of heart disease every year, an alarming statistic. What is causing this dramatic increase in heart disease in women? Listen in as two nutritionists share causes of heart disease (and debunk a dangerous decades old myth about the disease) and what you can do TODAY to take control of your health.

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SHELBY: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. We have a very important topic to discuss with you this morning, so we're delighted that you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Now we know February is heart-healthy month, so this morning our show is about some of the nutritional factors related to heart disease in women. Now it may surprise you that one in four women in the United States die of heart disease every year. Heart disease is the most common cause of death in American women according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And we've got your attention don’t we? Now in the past we only had to worry about men getting heart disease, but now we know that one in 16 women will have coronary heart disease. The most common cause of heart disease for women is actually the narrowing or the blockage of those coronary arteries that supply the blood vessels to the heart. Now as a nutritionist, the fundamental question I believe we need to ask is “What is causing this dramatic increase in heart disease in women?” So listeners, you may be asking, well, “What causes the narrowing of the arteries or what can we do to prevent disease?” Now, as a nutritionist, I know that food is very powerful, so we want to share some of the new research about the causes of heart disease in women and what we can do to prevent heart disease. I'm Shelby Olson. I'm a Licensed Nutritionist with a master's degree in nutrition. And I am in the studio this morning with two fun people. Now, first and foremost, I get to introduce Mel. Melanie Beasley is a Registered Dietitian with several years of working with clients in a variety of settings including the Navy. But the other fun person that I have in studio this morning is my dad, Jeff Hummel.

MELANIE: Welcome Jeff.

SHELBY: We're not giving him the mic this morning, although he probably has lots to say about nutrition after our discussion last night. But Mel, I just have to tell you briefly, I used to go to take your daughter to work day with my dad. And so I thought it was only appropriate that it’s take your dad to work day.

MELANIE: Very appropriate. That's exciting.

SHELBY: So we're going to have a fun show this morning. We've got some good people here to talk about heart disease. Now, Mel, you and I both work with clients one-on-one. We work with clients utilizing nutrition therapy.

MELANIE: Good word: nutrition therapy.

SHELBY: What does that really mean? That means that we are using nutrition to make changes; dramatic changes in how people feel and live.

MELANIE: Therapeutic changes.

SHELBY: Exactly, exactly. Now because we're seeing more and more of these clients having positive results with real food in balance, some health insurance companies are getting on board and paying for the cost of nutrition therapy.

MELANIE: Love it.

SHELBY: So it's nice. Now Mel and I, we also teach a variety of nutrition classes in the community. We teach lunch and learns for some local businesses. Now, Melanie, besides all of the things that you do outside of Nutritional Weight and Wellness, I imagine you cook a lot.

MELANIE: I cook all the time, but you know, Shelby, you know I raised a family. I made food from scratch, so I like to do things a little bit on the quick side. And you can do that in your busy lifestyle. I don't want to stand for days on end in the kitchen, but I'm not going to compromise my health anymore. So I cook real food.

SHELBY: Yeah. Yeah. Now on this real food idea, of course today we’re going to be talking about that connection between real food and heart disease. But first we want to look at the research. So Mel, can you tell us a little bit about the research?

MELANIE: First I'd like to say to all of our listeners, good morning and thanks for listening today. 50 years ago, back in the 1970s a diverse group of researchers proposed from the research that refined carbohydrates, especially sugar, and a low intake of fiber were major factors causing coronary heart disease. But unfortunately, as many of you know, their research was overshadowed by the belief that saturated fat was the culprit of heart disease. And we were able to stop... we were told “stop eating butter and lard and dark chicken meat and this skin of the poultry.” That right there is sad as a southerner, I got to tell you. And of course fatty cuts of steak, pork, because they were the cause of heart disease. The theory that saturated fat caused heart disease really prevailed from 1974 to 2014. And sadly, some people still believe, I hear in clinic, I'm sure you do too, that saturated fat causes heart disease. I call it fat phobia. They're really afraid of it.

SHELBY: Right, well that was actually the cause for much of our discussion after dinner last night. My parents were listening to a nutrition talk on their drive up to Minnesota yesterday. And being truly my, my father's daughter, he was asking the question, well, “Why? Why has saturated fat been “pooh-poohed” so much in the past?”

MELANIE: That’s the technical term right there: “pooh-poohed”.

SHELBY: Exactly. So we did, we, we kind of talked through these things. But we know that research since 2014 has continued to show that saturated fats… Now listeners, those are things like butter, coconut oil, organic lard, organic tallow, those play a much smaller role in heart disease; whereas sugar, the grains, those processed cereals and other carbohydrates are the foods that we actually need to keep our eye on in order to prevent heart disease.

MELANIE: So Shelby, let's talk about what exactly that means from a day to day perspective. Well, it means that in the past we were told to eat a bagel with margarine or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. And I always say, “What the heck is at then?” Right? Then we topped our toast or our bagel with some jelly or some jam, but absolutely no butter or cream cheese. I can remember this being in the Navy and it was a bagel with jelly.


MELANIE: Today we're told to eat eggs cooked in butter with bacon; yum; or sausage and a side of vegetables sautéed maybe in coconut oil or ghee, which is just clarified butter.

SHELBY: Right.

MELANIE: You talk about confusing, right?


MELANIE: So, which is it; sugar or fat that causes heart disease? Well, older research from the 1970s found that sugar was implicated, or perhaps even the cause of many many diseases.

SHELBY: Right.

MELANIE: Well because of this research in the 1970s about sugar and refined carbs, the sugar industry became alarmed. So…

SHELBY: As they do; yes.

MELANIE: Well, they're losing money, right? So they went out and hired their own researchers to say that eating saturated fat caused heart disease.

SHELBY: Right.

MELANIE: Well, the knowledge of this scandal that the sugar industry actually hired researchers who were well paid to point the finger at saturated fat as being the cause of cardiovascular problems was only brought to light in 2016. I think we both had that article when we did a lunch and learn one time together.

SHELBY: I do. And actually for you listeners who want to look at this with your own eyes, I have the New York Times article right here: The title is How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat. And the date on that is actually September 12th of 2016. So…

MELANIE: Just four years ago.

SHELBY: Yeah, I just Googled “New York Times sugar article” and it popped right up so you can read more about that after the show.

MELANIE: And really it's false. It's very misleading research. It's so well-ingrained in the minds of consumers that many people still believe it is saturated fat they need to avoid. I have clients once or twice a week easily telling me their doctors said they need to avoid fats.

SHELBY: Can I eat eggs? How many eggs can I safely eat in a day?

MELANIE: So I'm really worried about this. And they still believe it's saturated fat that they need to avoid even though the current research shows that refined carbs and sugar are the leading cause of heart disease. You know and statin companies also; the pharmaceutical companies, they don't want to lose money on this either. So…

SHELBY: You know when we think about that major research we're looking at that connection between what people are eating long-term and how that's influencing their health.

MELANIE: Exactly.

SHELBY: So another major research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Associations Internal Medicine Journal; that's a mouthful, reported that a sugar-ladened diet may raise your risk of dying from heart disease even if you are not overweight. So this information reported from the research shows that sugar and refined carbohydrates lead to heart disease; not your eggs cooked in butter with a side of vegetable oils sautéed in coconut oil. So here's what else that research study found: people who ate 25% or more of their calories from sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease than those who only ate 10% of their calories from sugar. So maybe you guys are thinking, well, “How are people consuming all of that sugar?”

MELANIE: Yeah, I think a lot of people don't think they're really eating that much sugar.

SHELBY: And I think we should talk about that, but I think we have to take our first break. So if you're just joining us this morning, you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. Today we want to share with you the scientific evidence that found eating saturated fats of any kind have no effect on cardiovascular mortality. So if you're concerned about heart disease, I recommend you keep listening to our show this morning because we've got some ideas for you. We'll be right back.


MELANIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Here's another conclusion that was made from the review of data from randomized control trials: diets that replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat do not reduce cardiovascular events or mortality. We like to put that in real people language, which basically translates to what we have been recommending to our listeners and our clients for years, even decades, is eat the butter, avoid the margarine from soybean oil, cook in coconut oil and avoid soybean, corn, canola and cottonseed oils. Of course, we love the research, but we want to help you realize how to use that research to make healthy choices. For our listeners, another radio show that I love and I will go back to and listen to, and I feel it explains this very nicely, is on October 14th, 2017. You can download our Dishing Up Nutrition podcast or search it on our website; is a podcast by Sally Fallon Morrell and it's called Why We Need Animal Fats. It's a fantastic explanation.

SHELBY: We had Sally on Dishing Up Nutrition a couple of other times, but really talking about the importance of eating those good fats for good health.


SHELBY: Yeah. The quality is important though because you had mentioned the four types of oils, the four types of fats we would consider bad.

MELANIE: Exactly.

SHELBY: The corn oil, the cottonseed oil, the canola oil, and the soybean oil. So listeners if you're at home this morning, go into the cupboard and see what are the types of oils that you're cooking with or pull out that salad dressing from the refrigerator and scan the label. If you see soybean or corn oil or canola oil, that's not the best choice for your health.

MELANIE: Even some quote unquote healthy protein bars. You got to watch everything.

SHELBY: Right, you really do have to be reading those labels. That's the best way to make sure that you're getting those fats. Now, one of the reasons why we're, we're talking about fat this morning is because we're talking about heart disease. And we want to talk more specifically about that food connection between what we eat and how those vessels related to our cardiovascular disease are working. We don't want the narrowing or the hardening of those arteries that contribute to more heart disease. Now, before we went to break listeners, I gave you a statistic I want to repeat because I think that it really drives home this overall idea for today. So here's what the study from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, excuse me, the American… Journal of the American Medical Association found “people who ate 25% or more of their calories from sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease than those who ate only 10% of their calories from sugar.” And then we asked the question, “Well, how are people consuming all of that sugar?” So these were researchers found that soda and energy drinks and even sport drinks are by far the biggest source of added sugar in the average American's diet. Now you may be saying to yourself, or maybe you're talking back to the radio this morning saying, “Well, I don't even allow soda in my house or pop or Cola,” whatever you call it.

MELANIE: Or from the South, it's pop.

SHELBY: So maybe you don't have soda in your house, but what do many people drink on their afternoon breaks when they need a pick-me-up or what drink is served to runners after a marathon? Or even what do those college students and high school students drink the day after they stayed up to pull an all-nighter to finish that project?

MELANIE: Or the treat coffee house that you treat your kids too.

SHELBY: Or even those little leaguers. What are they drinking after a game? Now soda and sports drinks, even the energy drinks and oftentimes the juice and the chocolate milk, those are all loaded with sugar. We know that ounce for ounce, orange juice, apple juice, and those fruit smoothies that you see at the coffee house: those have the same amount of sugar as soda.

MELANIE: Amazing.

SHELBY: Now we know most of our long-time listeners have given up soda, those energy drinks; so the juice. But what about those salted caramel mochas or the peppermint mochas this time of year at the coffee house? You know, a 16-ounce salted caramel mocha has 15 teaspoons of sugar. And we know a 12-ounce can of Coke only has 10 teaspoons of sugar, only. But these days when we have all these kind of fancy coffee drinks, people really are starting their day with 15 or 16 teaspoons of sugar right away. Now we know as nutritionists and dietitians that most of that sugar is in the form of the flavored syrups that they make with high fructose corn syrup. And we've got lots of research about high fructose corn syrup, but research has found that high fructose corn syrup is the leading cause of inflammation and weight gain. So while you're in the cupboard this morning or your pantry or the refrigerator, see if you have things with high fructose corn syrup in there because…

MELANIE: It’s in ketchup.


MELANIE: It's everywhere.

SHELBY: If so, know that that high fructose corn syrup is the leading contributor to inflammation and weight gain, those, those sweetened items.

MELANIE: Wow. Yeah, those are shocking numbers Shelby. I used to love to drink chai drinks as well; chai tea; just a tea. I was just having a tea. And if you're a health nut and think that a 16-ounce chai tea at your favorite coffee house is better for you, you have to think again.

SHELBY: Tell us Mel.

MELANIE: On average, a 16-ounce chai tea has 10 and a half teaspoons of sugar.

SHELBY: Woof duh.

MELANIE: That's a lot. You can compare that to a Snickers bar, which has 7 teaspoons of sugar. So you can see that your chai tea isn't a good choice. Neither is your Snicker’s. I want to make sure I make that clear. So when you're getting three and a half teaspoons more than a Snickers bar, wow.

SHELBY: You know, that's going to create some inflammation.

MELANIE: Definitely. And for some reason chai tea lattes with soy milk are all the rage with a lot of teenage girls. And I have to say a lot of the soy milk that they're using or any of those milks in the coffee house are additionally sweetened themselves. So does that mean that these teenage girls are setting themselves up for future heart disease possibly? With all that added sugar, you have to wonder. And that, that's a definite possibility.

SHELBY: Right.

MELANIE: But that would depend on how frequently they drink these chai tea lattes with soy milk. And also what other sugar-ladened foods or drinks they consume throughout the day.

SHELBY: Right.

MELANIE: So a quick side note, adding soy to their drink is just as harmful as that sugar. Chai tea sounds healthy, but just because Oprah advertises chai tea with only 7 spoons of sugar, it doesn't really mean that it's heart healthy.

SHELBY: Right. Now, what does sugar have to do with heart disease? The, the big idea here, listeners: sugar inflames your arteries. We don't want inflammation in those vessels or those arteries. So we're really driving home that idea that the sugar in the Standard American Diet is increasing that inflammation very dramatically; potentially, you know, corresponding with that increase in high fructose corn syrup and the increase in obesity, heart disease, and frankly type-two diabetes. Now, I'm sure many of you listening are wondering, well, they're not talking about saturated fat causing heart disease. So if saturated fat doesn't cause heart disease, how does sugar cause heart disease? And it really goes back to that excess sugar leading to excess inflammation in the body. So how does this really work? When we eat a lot of sugar that increases our insulin levels and high insulin levels result in more inflammation in all of the arteries throughout your entire body. More specifically, we know that the walls or the lining of those arteries become inflamed, which causes them to become stiff, grow thick, and even slow down that blood flow to your heart. Now many doctors refer to these inflamed arteries as a disease called atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.

MELANIE: The American Heart Association recommends limiting your daily sugar intake for women to six teaspoons or less, and definitely no more than nine teaspoons for men.

SHELBY: Right; men, you aren't off the hook.

MELANIE: For all of the parents listening today, the American Heart Association said children between ages two and 18 should not consume more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day. So ask yourself, “How much sugar is my child eating or drinking?”

SHELBY: Right.

MELANIE: The average American child consumes 19 teaspoons of sugar daily; definitely exceeds the limit. If you're sending a six-ounce cup of flavored yogurt in your child's lunch, you're sending about five and a half teaspoons.

SHELBY: Wow, so starting off with high sugar at lunchtime. We haven't even talked about breakfast. Mel, I want you to talk a little bit more about that sugar when we come back from break. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Today we are discussing the role sugar and processed carbohydrates play in the cause of heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women today, and the occurrence for heart disease for women has dramatically increased since the 1950s when eating that low-fat high-carbohydrate diet was first recommended. We'll be right back.


MELANIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you are concerned about heart disease in your family and want to do something about it, I recommend that you and your family take the Weight and Wellness series of classes. I am happy to announce that we are teaching the Weight and Wellness series starting Monday, February 10th in the evening at our Eden Prairie location and Wednesday, February 12th at our North Oaks location. You will learn which fats are heart-healthy and what you can eat; that you can eat real carbohydrates and cut back on the not so healthy processed carbs. So signup online: weightandwellness.com or call 651-699-3438 and we can sign you up.

SHELBY: Right. We spend an entire two-hour chunk of time talking just about cardiovascular health in class five. Now Mel, I also want to…

MELANIE: But it's fun.

SHELBY: Well of course we make it fun, but I also want to say, I believe this spring, at the end of April we will be hosting our Weekend Weight and Wellness series. So if you are a podcast listener and you live outside of the twin cities area and you want to kind of eat up all of this information as well, come into the cities, end of April; it'll be beautiful. The flowers, we'll make sure all the snow's gone by then.

MELANIE: Guaranteed.

SHELBY: Come learn, come learn with us for a weekend and really pick up that information for you and for your family.

MELANIE: People love it.

SHELBY: Yeah, they do.

MELANIE: And it fills up fast.

SHELBY: It does. So call the office: 651-699-3438 or you can go to our website. Mel, I think you said it: weightandwellness.com. So before we went to break, you had given us kind of a shocking statistic. The average American child consumes 19 teaspoons of sugar. Now for those of you who have kids and are listening, I want you to go to the pantry and scoop out... I'm sending you to the pantry a lot this morning, but I want you to scoop out 19 teaspoons of sugar and think, “Would you actually spoon-feed the sugar to your child?”

MELANIE: They might like it, but don't do it. That’s alarming. I mean, it is alarming. And you're thinking, you know, when you send them off with that, fruit at the bottom or fruit mixed in yogurt and you're doing them, you know, a healthy favor.

SHELBY: Right.

MELANIE: And you're not.

SHELBY: So how else does it add up in the day?

MELANIE: Well, if you think about just that cup of pudding as the treat when they get home from school or… that just gives them another six and a half, almost six and a half teaspoons of sugar and those just two, those are just two items. We haven't even hit on beverages, right? So you've given your child over 12 teaspoons of sugar and that's twice as much as they should have in an entire day. And you like many other people thought flavored yogurt was considered a health food. And once again, the consumer has been fooled by some really good marketing. What about the whole grain breakfast bar that you give your children as she or he, they run out the door to catch the school bus? You know, a granola bars is really just a cookie. And granola is really a crumbled cookie.

SHELBY: And most of those granola bars have little mini dark chocolate chips in there or dried fruit that that really increases that sugar.

MELANIE: Yeah, or drizzled chocolate. And each cereal bar has at least four teaspoons of sugar, which you may think is not very much, but that's two teaspoons from the daily sugar recommendation. And it's only 7:00 AM in the morning.

SHELBY: And likely that sugar in the granola bar or the flavored yogurt or the chocolate pudding is high fructose corn syrup. And remember listeners, we said high fructose corn syrup has been shown in the research to increase inflammation and weight gain. Two things we do not want.

MELANIE: We don't want that. And there are inflammatory oils many, many times in these products. So let's look at chocolate milk. I was working at a fitness center and after every spin class they recommend chocolate milk for the protein and the energy source. I couldn't believe it. So there are two types of sugar in chocolate milk that your child drinks at school. One is naturally occurring sugar in the form of lactose and the other is the two and a half teaspoons of added sugar. One small carton might be okay, but two cartons gives your children five teaspoons of added sugar. On the other hand, plain full fat white milk has no added sugar. It's a much, much better choice.

SHELBY: Right, and you may be asking the question, “Why are we so concerned about consuming six teaspoons of sugar or more?” You know, as nutritionists and dietitians, we know that when people are consuming more than six teaspoons of sugar daily, they're increasing that inflammation; from you know, small children across the lifespan. Now because researchers have found that eating too much sugar can raise blood pressure… it isn't too much salt. The real culprit is eating too much sugar. Now excess sugar increases inflammation, which is another factor in heart disease. Dr. Frank Hu, a well known researcher and professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, reported that “excess sugar in the diet leads to high blood pressure, leads to inflammation, weight gain, diabetes; like type-two diabetes and fatty liver disease, all of which are linked to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.” So I want to, excess sugar in the diet leads to high blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes and fatty liver disease, all of which are linked for an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

MELANIE: Sadly, I don't know, I'm sure you see this too Shelby in clinic. I'm seeing so many people coming in with fatty liver disease that don't drink alcohol, but they have fatty liver disease. And I'm seeing younger and younger. I had a young 28 year-old teacher, so research reported that eating a diet high in sugar for just a few weeks has been found to increase your total cholesterol, your triglycerides, your LDL cholesterol, your uric acid level, your insulin resistance, and it also lowers your good HDL cholesterol.


MELANIE: So in the past we were told it was saturated fats that affected our cholesterol. No one ever told us it was sugar. So it really is important for you to remember what I said. So I'll repeat it in the most basic terms.

SHELBY: Give us the people terms.

MELANIE: Give me the people terms. A diet high in sugar raises LDL cholesterol and lowers HDL cholesterol. I remember those from college: LDL I wanted low; HDL I wanted high; l and h.

SHELBY: Right. But really, Mel, what you're saying is that a diet high in sugar increases the damaging type of cholesterol while also decreasing our protective cholesterol.

MELANIE: Exactly Shelby.

SHELBY: I thought this was really interesting. I was watching a webinar from Dr. Mark Houston. He is an internist and a specialist in hypertension and cardiovascular disease. He actually founded the Hypertension Institute down in Nashville, Tennessee. But Dr. Mark Houston, well known doctor, says that “LDL is more of like the excess garbage that we are accumulating in those vessels. It's kind of sticky and it has that potential to contribute rather to that plaquing and hardening of the arteries.” So you do not want your LDL to be high. But he also called HDL, which I think this is fun. He called HDL cholesterol our garbage haulers. So HDL kind of goes throughout the blood vessels and cleans up any damaged cholesterol. Now what we said is “when you're eating a diet that's high in sugar, you increase the garbage and you decrease the garbage haulers.”

MELANIE: Great, I love that.

SHELBY: Not a good visual for those vessels. So tell us a little bit more about that research Mel.

MELANIE: Well, once again, it's based on faulty research. We were told the higher levels of LDL cholesterol were from saturated fat. Now, numerous research studies have demonstrated that it was actually eating too much sugar.

SHELBY: So we were vilifying fat.

MELANIE: We were.

SHELBY: …when really we need to be focusing on the sugar.

MELANIE: Absolutely, and the hidden sugars.

SHELBY: Exactly.

MELANIE: Researchers also found that eating too much sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup, disrupted the hormone leptin, which is the key hormone for maintaining a normal body weight. If you're struggling with cholesterol numbers and gaining weight, the first thing to do is to cut down to eating only six teaspoons of added sugar per day; or really just eliminate it. You're going to get it in other things. We don't need to count out six teaspoons of sugar. That’s not what I'm saying. And definitely you want to avoid all that high fructose corn syrup because that excess sugar also increases your risk of developing nonalcoholic liver disease; fatty liver. The information I'm about to share with you may come as a big surprise, but there is a stronger link between nonalcoholic liver disease and coronary heart disease than between smoking and heart disease or between hypertension and heart disease or even between high cholesterol and heart disease. So this is important. It bears repeating. There's a stronger link between nonalcoholic liver disease and coronary heart disease than between smoking and heart disease or between hypertension and heart disease or even between high cholesterol and heart disease.

SHELBY: So Mel, really what I'm hearing you say is that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is very strongly connected to heart disease.

MELANIE: Absolutely.

SHELBY: And we need to be on the ball with that. Yeah. So, we often think of smoking, we often think of cholesterol and high blood pressure, but we need to be paying attention to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and how we get that sugar under control. Now before we talk a little bit more about sugar, we're going to go to our third break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Next week we invite you to tune in to Dishing Up Nutrition; same time, same place to hear Dar, Marcie and Rich Freider from Learning RX discuss how brain training and feeding your brain can actually help children and adults increase their focus, their memory and their ability to learn. So you know it's going to be a good show. We'll be right back.


MELANIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Next Saturday, February 15th is a special day for all of you women who are going through perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause because Dar, Joann and Diane will be teaching our Menopause Survival Seminar at our Maple Grove location. It's an amazing seminar. It not only focuses on solutions for those menopause symptoms, but also teaches you how to eat to avoid heart disease, osteoporosis, and even depression. I encourage you to sign up and spend a fun day of learning laughter and getting your personal questions answered. No question is not asked in that class. So you can call 651-699-3438 to sign you up or do it online. Bring a friend. You can also sign up online: weightandwellness.com and we hope to see you there.

SHELBY: Yeah, I took that class. I am nowhere close to perimenopause or menopause, but I still walked away with lots of good information. I feel it's well worth spending your Saturday out in our Maple Grove location.

MELANIE: And they feed you; they feed you wonderful food.

SHELBY: We won't be handing out Valentines in the form of heart-shaped candies or things like that. But I do believe they still have berries and cream with dark chocolate chips and pecans.


SHELBY: So you know, still really tasty. But we should get back into our topic about heart disease and women today. And really we have been talking specifically about how saturated fat was wrongly accused of increasing our risk of having a cardiovascular event. Now, Mel, before we went to break, you were telling us that nonalcoholic fatty liver disease has a stronger connection to heart disease, then high blood pressure, high cholesterol; even smoking. So I just want to ask you: What are some of the types of foods that you're helping your clients with when they show up at your office and are struggling with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease? What are the top things that, that you're having them kind of think about? Is it sugar? Is it carbohydrates? Is it fat? What…?

MELANIE: Really it's, you know, you know, Shelby, we, we spend a long time initially with our clients so that we can really understand their personal makeup.

SHELBY: Right.

MELANIE: …and what they need. And I really, really focus on first just getting them eating real food and eliminating processed food.

SHELBY: Right; right.

MELANIE: If we can, if we can just even get real food in there, I'm happy and that’s real food that you can pluck from a farmer's field.

SHELBY: Right.

MELANIE: And eliminating those processed foods that carry all this damaging fats and carry the excess sugar and carry high fructose corn syrup.

SHELBY: Right. So I'm sure you're helping your clients learn how to read labels and identify what type of foods have high fructose corn syrup.

MELANIE: Coming up with some basic menus because people want to know, “What the heck am I going to eat for breakfast?” You know, you, you have to break it down to practical terms for people to be successful.

SHELBY: Now listeners, I want you to think about this. If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, Mel is your gal. Give the Lakeville office a call or… You're still in Lakeville and Mendota Heights, right?

MELANIE: Yes; yes.

SHELBY: You could set up an initial consultation with her or quite frankly any of our Nutritional Weight and Wellness counselors.

MELANIE: They’re all fantastic.

SHELBY: But it sounds like if you've gotten that diagnosis, you probably want to sit down with a nutritionist or dietitian from Nutritional Weight and Wellness and figure out what you need to do to reduce that fatty liver disease, but also reduce your risk of heart disease.

MELANIE: And it can be done. We've done it with clients time and time again. They come back. All of my numbers are normal. The doctor says, “I don't know what you're doing, but keep doing it.”

SHELBY: Keep doing it. Right; right. Now, we all know that sugars are not all created equal, so we're looking at sugar in processed foods as being the big culprit of inflammation and heart disease, but you know those naturally occurring sugars in fruit and vegetables, those pose no increased risk for heart disease. The problem really lies with those refined sugars and the ultra-processed foods. Ultra-processed foods are all of the products on the grocery store shelves with the added sugar. Those are the high risk foods. We'd call that risky behavior; choosing those ultra processed foods. Now, unfortunately, 75% of all packaged foods and beverages contain sucrose or high fructose corn syrup or both.

MELANIE: Or both; all of the things.

SHELBY: Right; right. Now, have you ever tried to buy a regular unsweetened iced tea at the convenience store, finding something that doesn't have any sugar? It's a challenge. You've got to look typically on the bottom shelf, but almost all of those bottled iced teas contain at least three or four teaspoons of sugar. Eating or drinking ultra processed foods with added sugar: that's all been linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease.

MELANIE: And you know, back to our research, it has found that when people cut back on saturated fat, they increase their intake of processed foods.


MELANIE: These processed foods are high in sugar, which then increases their risk of heart disease.

SHELBY: Right. So in attempt to avoid the fat, people have been eating more sugar.

MELANIE: Oh, I can remember eating boxes of Snackwell’s back in the 80s. I mean, it was just terrible. And with all these processed foods that came out of that were low-fat, heart disease skyrocketed.

SHELBY: Right.

MELANIE: …in our country. And even to this day, many people still believe the false research that saturated fat is the cause of heart disease. So they, they are to avoid it. Even though current research shows that refined carbs and sugar are the leading cause of heart disease. It's no wonder people are so confused.

SHELBY: Right.

MELANIE: And we found that when our clients follow the Weight and Wellness eating plan, their LDL levels decrease, their triglycerides decrease and their HDL increases.

SHELBY: Right, so it balances out.

MELANIE: It does. It's wonderful. It's really not about your total cholesterol as we well know. It really is about these values that matter.

SHELBY: Right.

MELANIE: Their blood pressure also decreases and their blood sugar normalizes. We call this eating the magic of three. Eat real protein, real vegetables, and real fat every three hours. We hope this show and broadcast that will help you to understand the potential threat that eating a high carb, high sugar diet poses for women and their cardiovascular system. And if you're concerned about getting heart disease or you already have heart disease, I encourage you to call our office at 651-699-3438 to set up an appointment with one of our Nutritional Weight and Wellness dietitians or nutritionists. And we can teach you how to change your eating to literally change your life and save it.

SHELBY: Right. I want to bring the last few minutes of our show back to this practical idea of when we say eating the magic three, remember that's protein, vegetable and fruit carbohydrates and real fat about every three to four hours to get that blood sugar stabilized to reduce that inflammation in the body. What does that mean? Maybe we should give listeners an idea. First I want to start with the fat because that seems to be where most of the misinformation, most of that misinformation is. I mean, when you are working with clients, Mel and you're wanting them to eat real fat, what are some options that you, that you lay out in that meal planning process?

MELANIE: Well, usually they're very excited when we say “eat butter”. Everyone is so happy to go back to the real thing because the real food is what tastes delicious.

SHELBY: Right; we're talking about butter that just has cream or maybe cream and salt on the label.

MELANIE: That's it. And, you know, ideally grass-fed because it's going to be higher in those omega-threes.

SHELBY: Right.

MELANIE: I also tell them “roast vegetables in some good old-fashioned bacon fat”

SHELBY: Mom, are you listening this morning? We love cooking the brussel sprouts and the broccoli in bacon.

MELANIE: Yes. And I, you know, I even give a little swipe to my dog because they need those good fats too. And then the real cream, you know, is putting in your coffee some real organic cream. Get those fats going. My HDL went when I really started incorporating much more butter; my HDL went, it was at a good place at about 59. My good cholesterol went from 59 to 99.

SHELBY: You had more garbage haulers.

MELANIE: I had so many garbage haulers. I have no garbage within me. So, but you know, it's delicious. And once clients recognize that when you add those healthy fats to your vegetables, they're much more delicious than the boring steam vegetables that we ate for years trying to lower our cholesterol.

SHELBY: So not only are you getting the good fats, but you're also getting more vegetables because when you put butter on your broccoli, you're eating more broccoli.

MELANIE: That's the truth right there sister.

SHELBY: So one of the other things that we talk about is, you know, eating more vegetables. And across the board we know that people who have a lower risk of heart disease and have less inflammation in their body are eating more vegetables.

MELANIE: And those vegetables in turn bring down the inflammation. And also that fat helps us carry nutrients into our body from the vegetables. So it's a win-win.

SHELBY: So when you're working with clients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or maybe they want to lose weight or maybe they have heart disease, what are you shooting for in terms of servings of vegetables a day?

MELANIE: Well, I'm a little stickler for this, so I like to see five to nine servings.

SHELBY: You guys remember she worked in the Navy and she worked in prisons as well. So she is a stickler on those vegetables.

MELANIE: I do not carry a weapon.

SHELBY: Unless bacon fat.

MELANIE: Yes. Yes.

SHELBY: She carries bacon fat people.

MELANIE: There we go.

SHELBY: Good. Well, we've had so much fun this morning and I hope you guys have learned a few things about how you can reduce inflammation and in turn reduce that risk of heart disease. Now, our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for listening and have a wonderful day.

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