Myths and Facts about Heart Disease – What Women Need to Know

Myth #1: Heart disease is more common and deadly in men.

Fact: Heart disease is actually the number one killer of women. Women often delay getting treatment and even when they do go to the hospital they are more likely to be investigated as having emotional vs. cardiovascular issues, they are treated less aggressively and sadly they are more likely to die after a heart attack.


Myth #2: Palm oil can raise cholesterol levels.

Fact: For years it was thought that palm oil was bad for the heart because it contains a higher amount of saturated fat than other plant oils, however palm fruit oil contains also contains a very high amount of mono- and polyunsaturated fats and it is a rich source of various antioxidants including tocotrienols. Studies have shown that palm fruit oil can actually raise good/HDL cholesterol while having a neutral or beneficial effect on LDL. Unlike most oils, palm fruit oil is relatively solid at room temperature and safe to cook with at high temperatures. You will find Malaysian palm fruit oil in Asian supermarkets and health food stores. Malaysian palm fruit oil is also incorporated into many foods such as Smart Balance peanut butter and margarine spread, and Newman’s O’s cookies.


Myth #3: To lower your cholesterol eat more foods with plant sterols

Fact: While many foods naturally contain cholesterol-lowering plant sterols, you would have to consume a bushel of broccoli a day to get the required amount of plant sterols. Not only is this not possible, but it would cause great stomach distress. This is why many food manufacturers are fortifying foods with plant sterols. You can now readily find plant sterols added to your favorite foods such as orange juice (Minute Maid HeartWise), snack foods (Corazona’s tortilla chips), and even pasta and sauce such as products made by Racconto.


Myth #4: It is the antioxidants in red wine that make it good for your heart.

Fact:  While it is true that antioxidants are beneficial to the heart, recent research has shown that the alcohol itself helps raise HDL, preventing platelets from sticking together. The American Heart Association does not recommend drinking wine or any other form of alcohol to gain heart benefits because in high amounts alcohol does contribute to obesity, high blood pressure and other health problems. If you are going to drink, moderation is the key: 1 drink/day for women, 2 for men). To get the benefits of grapes without the calories and risks associated with the alcohol take a grape seed extract. Recent studies at UC Davis have found that a special preparation of grape seed extract, known as MegaNatural BP can improve blood vessel flexibility and reduce blood pressure. MegaNatural BP is found in products by GNC and Healthy Origins.


Myth #5: Coffee and nuts are bad for your heart.

Fact: While too much coffee/caffeine can raise blood pressure, coffee actually contains a significant amount of antioxidants that offer heart benefits. Nuts get a bad rep because of their fat/calorie count, but they are a good source of soluble fiber and other nutrients. Recent research has shown that consuming a moderate amount of nuts daily (a handful) can actually lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.