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Drs. Oz and Roizen: Strawberries, blueberries may help prevent heart attacks

  • Published Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, at 11:33 p.m.

Strawberries and blueberries contain anti-inflammatory nutrients called anthocyanins, a specific type of flavonoid that dilates blood vessels and keeps gunky plaque from building up on the inside of your arteries. And a study of 96,000 women in their 20s, 30s and 40s found that the risk of heart attack plummets 32 percent from eating those berries three times a week. That’s compared with those who eat the berries only once a month — even if they consume a lot of other veggies and fruits. (Guys, just because you weren’t in this study, don’t think you won’t benefit from eating berries too.)

To get the benefits:

1. Eat them raw (well-rinsed) and without added sugar. If you put them on 100 percent whole-grain cereal, you’ve got a major heart-healthy breakfast. (Remember, use nonfat milk or yogurt, or try almond, soy or walnut milk.) Also enjoy blackberries, black cranberries and raspberries — they, too, pack a wallop of heart-lovin’ anthocyanins.

2. Toss them into salads, and mix them up with fresh herbs (mint or basil are great choices).

3. Cooked berries also rock — they don’t lose their anti-inflammatory powers, but anthocyanin does degrade by 16 percent to 41 percent. Try a spicy fruit sauce flavored with cayenne pepper, cilantro and diced tomatoes on baked fish or skinless chicken.

Becoming a pro on probiotics

By 2016, North Americans will spend $33.5 billion on dairy products with added gut-friendly bacteria. But are you getting enough bang for your buck? Not if the probiotics — which are known to control immune strength, protect against auto-immune diseases and gastro-problems like irritable bowel syndrome, help lower lousy LDL cholesterol and fight type 2 diabetes (or, if out of whack, trigger it) — can’t make it through the manufacturing process, storage or your stomach acid.

That’s why it is so important to choose a probiotic that comes with its own natural suit of armor, such as the spore form of bacillus coagulans. Each bacterium is a little hard spore that provides a defense against potential killers, so the intestines get a full dose of the bacteria. We recommend getting 2 billion to 4 billion spores of bacillus coagulans in protected capsule form a day. And if you — or your child — take an antibiotic, make sure you take that daily dose while on the antibiotics and for two weeks afterward.

Other ways to help healthy gut bacteria flourish: Eat only 100 percent whole grains (fiber feeds the good bacteria what they need), avoid saturated fats (they KO good bacteria and let nasty ones thrive), eat at least nine servings of fruits and veggies a day, don’t take antibiotics unless truly necessary (they lay waste to good gut bacteria) and avoid all antimicrobial hand washes unless they’re alcohol-based.

A new wrinkle in treating plantar fasciitis

Heel pain propels more than 2 million people a year to a doctor’s office for relief of plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the thick tissue (the plantar fascia) extending along the bottom of the foot, connecting the heel bone to the toes and creating your arch. It causes both sharp and dull pain, and stiffness in the bottom of the heel.

Treatment usually combines exercises to stretch the fascia, ice to reduce inflammation, heel cushions for arch support, overnight splinting and injections of steroids to stop the pain. Unfortunately, 2.4 percent to 5.7 percent of folks who get steroid injections rupture their plantar fasciitis.

A better treatment routine? Research now shows good effects from a combination of plantar-stretching exercises (they’re absolutely essential), icing morning and night, and Botox injections. For an exercise, try this one: Cross your affected foot over the knee of your other leg. Grasp your toes and pull them up. Hold 10 seconds. While holding, rub your plantar fascia (it’ll feel like a tight band) with your other hand or thumb. Repeat 10 to 20 times, three times a day.

Then, check with your doctor about the pros and cons of the off-label use of that wrinkle-fixer.

Start taking another odd omega

Purified omega-7, a healthy fatty acid like omega-3, decreases bodywide inflammation. (Important tip: You want only purified omega-7, or palmitoleic acid, not the one from sea buckhorn. That’s palmitic acid, and it increases inflammation.)

Recently, we got a letter from a guy who’s taking purified omega-7 and wanted to reassure his wife it was a smart move. Well, he can tell her that only good things come from taking it. Here’s what else purified omega-7 may do for you (the studies are preliminary):

Purified omega-7 seems to lower levels of highly specific C-reactive protein (hs-CRP). Elevated levels of hs-CRP indicate how inflamed your artery walls are. Reduce that inflammation, and you may lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, memory loss, wrinkles and even impotence. Early studies also show purified omega-7 might decrease fatty liver and insulin resistance, lower blood sugar and decrease triglyceride and lousy LDL cholesterol levels, while increasing good HDL.

We don’t see any negative side effects from taking this friendly fat. That’s why Dr. Mike takes 420 mg of purified omega-7 a day.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

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