kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

Every year, about 805,000 people in the United States have a heart attack. Of these, 605,000 are a first heart attack.

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.
  • One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.
  • About 659,000 people in the United States die from heart disease each year – that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
  • Heart disease costs the United States about $363 billion each year from 2016 to 2017. This includes the cost of health care services, medicines, and lost productivity due to death.
  • About 1 in 5 heart attacks is silent – the damage is done, but the person is not aware of it.

In broad terms, the heart mainly consists of a plumbing system and an electrical system. There are two pumps: one uses arteries to push oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest for the body; the other pump uses veins to usher blood back to the heart and into the lungs to get re-oxygenated.

Your pulse, or heartbeat, is controlled by the heart’s electrical system.

These systems can be measured with various tests to check for abnormalities. Given that heart disease claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined, it is logical to get all the common heart test possible as a preventative measure. “There is no bundle of tests that are right for everyone,” explains cardiologist Deena Goldwater, MD, PhD, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. “The tests ordered depend upon a patient’s symptoms.”

Unexplained chest pain, shortness of breath, and irregular heartbeats are a few of the symptoms that would indicate the need for a specific heart test.

Electrocardiogram – EKG 

This test checks the hearty’s electrical system and heart rhythm. It shows how fast the heart is beating and whether its rhythm is steady or irregular. An EKG can show if the heart has been damaged by a previous heart attack, if there is a heart rhythm disturbance, and enlarged heart, or a valve problem.

This a painless test where several adhesive electrodes are attached to a patient’s chest, upper arms and legs, and all that is connected to a machine that collects data. The heart’s electrical data are recorded on a graph, which shows electrical signals passing through the heart.

There is no difference between an ECG and an EKG. Both refer to the same procedure, however one is in English (electrocardiogram – ECG) and the other is based on the German spelling (elektrokardiogramm – EKG).

Stress Tests

The most common type of stress test involves walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike with EKG electrodes attached to the patient during the activity. The test is used to assess how healthy the heart is for exercise. It is especially useful after a heart attack, or after a long period of being sedentary.

A stress test can also help determine the cause of chest pain because chest discomfort from coronary artery disease (CAD) is usually triggered by exertion. Some heart patients may be asked to repeat stress tests to assess whether medications are working, or if CAD is getting better or worse.

Echocardiogram

This test is typically ordered when a doctor suspects there may be a problem with heart valves or chambers. An echocardiogram uses high-frequency ultrasound. A computer translates the ultrasound into a moving image on a monitor. To conduct the test, a technician spreads cool gel con a patient’s chest and gently presses a devise against the skin, painlessly sending the ultrasound beam into the heart.

The test reveals the shape, size, position and motion of cardiac structures, including the thickness  of ventricle walls, the condition of the valves, or the presence of abnormal openings between the chambers of the heart.

This test can also be combined with a technology known as Doppler echocardiogram, which reveals how blood flows through the chambers and valves of the heart. It is a useful test when blood flow problems are suspected.

Coronary Angiogram

This is a more invasive test that requires a thin flexible tube to be inserted into a blood vessel in the groin, elbow, or wrist. The tube is directed to the coronary arteries. A contrast dye is used with an x-ray picture to detect blockages due to plaque.

The test is typically for patients who have stable to unstable angina (chest pain caused by decreased blood supply to the heart), or have had a heart attack, and their condition is not getting better, It’s also for patients who are suspected to have CAD but non-invasive test haven’t detected it.

Another test to consider is a lipid profile blood test that reveals how much cholesterol is in the blood. The body needs some cholesterol, but if it is too high, there’s a risk for developing CAD.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is in your blood. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) carries cholesterol away from the arteries. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) can build up within the arteries, forming fatty deposits known as plaque. Over time, high levels of cholesterol can build up on the walls of your blood vessels. Too much cholesterol can clog blood vessels and make it difficult for blood to flow through where your body needs it.

These clogs can block your blood flow, leading to a heart attack or stroke.

Lifestyle changes can help lower cholesterol: loosing weight, quitting smoking, exercising, and eating a heart-healthy diet.

Nutrition is an essential component of heart health. Eating well can help maintain healthy levels of cholesterol and blood pressure as well as a healthy weight. And a vegan diet may be particularly good at ensuring your body gets the nutrients your heart needs.

A vegan diet includes foods such as soybeans, seeds, avocados, nuts and plants that are high in fiber and unsaturated fats, which can help reduce cholesterol. Vegans also frequently have a lower risk of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, all of which are considered risk factors for heart disease.

  1. Fiber fights high cholesterol: The vegan diet is high in fiber from fruits, vegetables, beans and grains, which is good for managing cholesterol.
  2. Fewer calories for a healthy weight: Not only does a vegann diet eliminate fats from animal products, it replaces them with high-fiber foods, which fill you up more so you eat less, lowering your risk of obesity.
  3. Extra antioxidants: Eating more fruits and vegetables means you’re getting more of the nutrients, like antioxidants, that protect against heart disease.

Understanding your risk for a first-time cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke is important. At your next annual visit, ask your doctor your risks and ask if you are a candidate for screening.

Kumquats

Kumquats are citrus fruits that look like tiny, oblong oranges and have a bright sweet-tart flavor. Kumquats are grown throughout Asia and also in North America in California and Florida, where they’re at their peak in midwinter.  In Chinese, kumquat means “golden orange.”

Unlike other types of citrus, the peel on these little fruits is edible. They grow in warm-weather climates on small, shrub-like trees that are typically used in landscaping. Native to eastern Asia, they belong to the same family of fruit as oranges, lemons, and limes. Depending on the variety, they can appear as early as November and as late as April.

The health benefits of kumquats include the ability to regulate digestion, boost the immune system, and improve skin, hair, dental, and eye care. Kumquats can reduce your chance of developing diabetes, lower your cholesterol levels, strengthen your bones, and improve nerve health. They have a rich supply of vitamin C and fiber. In fact, you get more fiber in a serving of them than most other fresh fruits.

About 5 whole kumquats contains:

  • Calories: 71
  • Carbs: 16 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 6.5 grams
  • Vitamin A: 6% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 73% of the RDI
  • Calcium: 6% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 7% of the RDI

Kumquats also supply smaller amounts of several B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc.

The edible seeds and the peel of kumquats provide a small amount of omega-3 fats.

Kumquats are rich in plant compounds, including flavonoids, phytosterols and essential oils. There are higher amounts of flavonoids in the kumquat’s edible peel than in the pulp. Some of the fruit’s flavonoids have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These may help protect against heart disease and cancer.

The phytosterols in kumquats have a chemical structure similar to cholesterol, meaning that they can help block the absorption of cholesterol in your body.

The essential oils in kumquats leave a scent on your hands and in the air. The most prominent antioxidant is limonene.

In folk medicine in some Asian countries, the kumquat has been used to treat colds, coughs and other inflammation of the respiratory tract.

Kumquats are a super source of immune-supportive vitamin C. Additionally, some of the plant compounds in kumquats may also help bolster your immune system. Animal and test-tube studies suggest that kumquat plant compounds may help activate immune cells called natural killer cells. Natural killer cells help defend you from infections. They have also been shown to destroy tumor cells.

One compound in kumquats that helps stimulate natural killer cells is a carotenoid called beta-cryptoxanthin. A pooled analysis of seven large observational studies found that people with the highest intake of beta-cryptoxanthin had a 24% lower risk of lung cancer.

The plant compounds in kumquats may help fight obesity and associated diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Extract from the skins of kumquats is especially rich in the flavonoids neocriocitin and poncirin. Research suggests that the flavonoid poncirin may play a role in fat cell regulation.

The fiber ion kumquats helps to keep your gastrointestinal tract moving and regulates your digestion. It can help to eliminate constipation, excess gas, bloating, and cramping and increase the efficiency of your nutrient uptake. Fiber protects against inflammatory bowel disease.

How to Buy

When selecting kumquats, give them a gentle squeeze to find ones that are plump and firm. Choose fruits that are orange in color, not green (which could mean they’re unripe). Check for soft spots or discolored skin -the edible skin is more delicate and tender than that of other citrus fruits and therefore more susceptible to damage.  They will not have much of an aroma, but their peels should look shiny and taut. Look for organically grown kumquats, and make sure to rinse them clean and pat them dry.

How to Store

Store kumquats at room temperature for a couple of days.

They can be refrigerate the fruits for up to two weeks.

If you have kumquats that you can’t eat before they go bad, consider making a purée out of them and store in your freezer.

How to Cook

This is one type of citrus fruit you not peel. Kumquats are great just as they are, skin and all. The peel is actually a bit sweeter than the pulp, so eating them whole gives them a balanced flavor.

Besides eating them whole, other uses for kumquats include:

  • Chutneys, marinades and sauces
  • Marmalades, jams and jellies
  • Sliced in salads (fruit or leafy green)
  • Sliced in sandwiches
  • Added to stuffing
  • Baked into breads
  • Baked into desserts such as cake, pie or cookies
  • Puréed or sliced for dessert toppings
  • Candied
  • Garnish
  • Tiny dessert cups (when halved and scooped out)
  • Sliced and steeped in boiling water for tea

Kumquat Marmalade

Chef John

32 Servings

Ingredients

  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • small pinch of cayenne
  • 1 star anise (remove after 10 minutes of simmering)
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup cold water

Instructions

  1. Quarter kumquats lengthwise; cut off white center membrane and remove seeds. Slice quarters into small pieces.
  2. Place kumquats into a pot. Add lemon zest (white part only), lemon juice, pinch cayenne, star anise, sugar, and water. Mix together. Cover and let sit at room temperature 2 or 3 hours to allow fruit to macerate. Or you can refrigerate overnight.
  3. Place pot over medium-high heat and bring mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium; cook and stir occasionally for 10 minutes. Continuing cooking and stirring often until mixture is thick enough so that if you scrape a spatula across the bottom of the pan, you can briefly see the bottom of the pan before marmalade spreads back out, 30 to 40 minutes. Mixture should reach a temperature of 215 to 220 degrees F. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly, 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Spoon warm marmalade into sterilized jars. Cover and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Resources

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
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https://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html
https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000950
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db103.pdf
https://wonder.cdc.gov/mcd-icd10.html
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr68/nvsr68_06-508.pdf
https://www.heart.org/
https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/stress-test/about/pac-20385234
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/electrocardiogram
https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/echocardiogram/about/pac-20393856
https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/coronary-angiogram/about/pac-20384904
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/coronary-angiography
https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/nutrition/heart-value-of-being-vegetarian
https://www.goredforwomen.org/
https://www.thespruceeats.com/all-about-kumquats-2216542
https://www.thespruceeats.com/great-ways-to-use-kumquats-2216543
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/kumquat#tips
https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/nutrients/index
http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1935/2
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26500054
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26616917
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28911534
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28930243
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19866359
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25896273
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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24705395
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29861604
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14744731
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16019813
https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-kumquats.html
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20166992
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4607699/

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