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Blog author, Solai Buchanan is an experienced Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with an MS from Columbia Teachers College. She specializes in treating heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, polycystic ovarian syndrome,and other chronic diseases. She is a provider at a full-service cardiology practice accepting most insurance and staffed with a primary care MD, pediatrician, and cardiologist. Call: 718.894.7907. NYCC is lead by Interventional Cardiologist Sanjeev Palta, MD, FSCAI, FACC. He trained at Cornell-Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and the State University Hospital of Brooklyn. He currently is an Attending Cardiologist at New York Methodist Hospital and Maimonides Medical Center. He is also an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Having performed over 2000 invasive cardiac procedures Dr. Palta’s patients know they are in trusted hands.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


A new study has found that ingestion of beverages kept in cans lined with bisphenol A, BPA, raises blood pressure.  BPA is widely found in plastic bottles, plastic packaging, receipt paper, and the linings of food and beverage cans. Previous studies have linked chronic BPA exposure with increased rates of heart disease, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, and cancer.  This new study reveals that BPA exposure is not only a problem over the long-term, but that blood pressure increases within hours of ingesting products kept in BPA-lined cans. 

The researchers found that when study participants drank soy milk from glass bottles their urinary BPA levels remained low. But, within two hours of drinking soy milk from a can, their levels of BPA were 16 times greater.  As their BPA levels rose so did their blood pressure with systolic readings increasing by an average of 5 mm Hg.  To put this rise in perspective, every 20 millimeter increase in systolic blood pressure doubles cardiovascular disease risk. The researchers chose soy milk as the beverage in the study because it does not have any properties that are known to increase blood pressure, and, unlike soda, fruit juice,  tomato juice and other acidic products which are known to promote BPA leaching, soy  milk is neutral.

While a single instance of increased blood pressure is unlikely to be harmful, the findings suggest that for people who drink from multiple cans or plastic bottles every day, the repeated exposure over time could contribute to hypertension.  BPA is an endocrine disrupter that can mimic the actions of estrogen.  BPA is known to block certain estrogen receptors that are thought to be responsible for repairing blood vessels and controlling blood pressure. The chemical may also affect blood pressure indirectly by disrupting thyroid hormone.

What to do:  Because of growing concerns about BPA, some packaged products now carry “BPA free” claims on their labels. However, these products often contain chemically similar alternatives – like bisphenol S that also leach chemicals with estrogenic activity.  To minimize exposure avoid #3, #6, #7 plastics and aluminum cans as much as possible.  Products that are liquid and/or acidic cause more chemical leaching.  Look for products packaged in glass bottles instead.  Avoid freezing, microwaving, or machine dishwashing plastics as these processes degrade the plastic allowing more BPA to leach into your foods.  Store foods in glass or stainless steel containers. 

Adapted from articles available at:


Bae S, Hong Y-C. Exposure to Bisphenol A from drinking canned beverage increases blood pressure: Randomized crossover trial. Hypertension.  2014; DOI: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.04261

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


A new trial has found that when vitamin D deficient patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are supplemented with the vitamin, rates of respiratory flare-ups decrease by 40%.  

Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are two types of COPD. These conditions are characterized by coughing, excess mucus, shortness of breath, wheezing, fatigue, and tightness in chest but when a flare-up strikes these symptoms become so severe that individuals often require hospitalization.

This randomized controlled trial included 240 patients with COPD. For one year, half of the patients received 120,000 IU of vitamin D every 2 months (equivalent to taking 2000 IU daily) while the other half received a placebo. The risk, severity and duration of flare-ups was then compared between the two groups.  The supplemented group experienced a 40% reduction in flare-ups.  

How vitamin D reduced COPD flare-ups is not entirely understood.  Because adequate levels of vitamin D appear to be important in immune function, researchers had speculated that supplementation would decrease rates of upper respiratory tract infections, but, instead, they found that the supplemented patients and controls did not differ in their rate of respiratory infections.  Instead, it appears that the anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin D are what mediates the reduction in COPD flare-ups.  Interestingly, while it is not believed that vitamin D supplementation can prevent COPD, patients with chronic lung diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, COPD, and interstitial pneumonia appear to be at increased risk for vitamin D deficiency.

What to do:  Increasingly, it is being recognized that vitamin D plays an important role not only in bone health but also immune, endocrine, and pulmonary function.  Blood tests can reliably check vitamin D levels.  If deficient, patients are often prescribed a prescription dose.  Vitamin D is naturally produced when the skin is exposed to the sun but having darker skin, excess weight, and/or older age decreases the body’s ability to produce vitamin D.  Salmon, sardines (and other fish in which the bones are eaten), and cod liver oil are some of the few foods that contain significant amounts of vitamin D.  Milk and many other products are now fortified.  When taking a supplement choose the Vitamin D3 form.  Discuss with your provider what level of supplementation is appropriate.

Adapted from articles available at:

Martineau AR, James WY, Hooper RL et al.. Vitamin D3 supplementation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (ViDiCO): a multicentre, double-blind, randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/S2213-2600(14)70255-3

Gilbert CR, Arum SM, Smith CM. Vitamin D deficiency and chronic lung disease. Canadian Respiratory Journal : Journal of the Canadian Thoracic Society 2009;16(3):75-80.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2706673/

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Tart cherries, the red cherries commonly used in cherry pie, are one of the fruits highest in anti-oxidant plant compounds known as anthocyanins.  Two recent studies add to a growing body of evidence on the joint health benefits of regular tart cherry consumption.    In the studies researchers found tart cherries caused changes in how the body processes uric acid -- a substance that is elevated in those suffering from gout.  They also found that sour cherry juice reduces c-reactive protein, a biomarker of systemic inflammation.  

In the studies, healthy participants consumed tart cherry juice concentrate equivalent to 45 or 90 tart cherries.   Researchers collected blood and urine samples from the participants immediately before and at numerous intervals for up to 48 hours after the tart cherry juice was consumed.  They found that after consumption of the juice, participants’ blood levels of uric acid significantly decreased and urinary excretion of uric acid increased and that these changes persisted for more than 12 hours.  They also found that c-reactive protein levels significantly declined after consumption.

In addition to joint health benefits, tart cherries appear to help with sleep.  They are one the richest natural sources of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle.  A study from April of this year, found that seniors  who drank 8 oz. of tart cherry juice in the morning and at night were able to sleep more than an hour longer each night compared to those taking a placebo.

What to do:  Studies on the cherries thus far have been relatively small but results are encouraging.  Doses and preparations used in studies have varied.  Be mindful that any of the cherry preparations add calories and natural sugars to your diet.   If you are up for giving the cherries a go, try having an 8oz glass of the juice, 2 Tablespoons of sour cherry juice concentrate, or 1-1.5 cups of sour cherries  twice daily.  Also, though perhaps not quite as packed with anthrocyanins as tart cherries, diets rich in all kinds of cherries (not just sour cherry), blueberries, and cranberries appear to be helpful in reducing gout flare-ups and increasing the body’s anti-oxidant defenses.


Bell PG, Gaze DC, Davison GW, George TW, Scotter MJ, Howatson G. Montmorency tart cherry (Prunus cerasus L.) concentrate lowers uric acid, independent of plasma cyanidin-3-O-glucosiderutinoside. Journal of Functional Foods. 2014; 11: 82-90.  DOI: 10.1016/j.jff.2014.09.004

Bell PG, Walshe IH, Davison GW, Stevenson E, Howatson G. Montmorency cherries reduce the oxidative stress and inflammatory responses to repeated days high-intensity stochastic cycling. Nutrients. 2014;6:829-843.  DOI:10.3390/nu6020829

Seymour EM, Warber SM, Kirakosyan A, Noon KR, Gillespie B, Uhley VE, Wunder J, Urcuyo DE, Kaufman PB, Bolling SF. Anthocyanin pharmacokinetics and dose-dependent plasma antioxidant pharmacodynamics following whole tart cherry intake in human adults. Journal of Functional Foods. Sept. 2014; Available online ahead of print.  DOI: 10.1016/j.jff.2014.08.007

Liu AG, Tipton RC, Pan W, Finley JW, Prudente A, Karki N, Losso JN, Greenway FL.  Tart cherry juice increases sleep time in older adults with insomnia. Experimental Biology. 2014. San Diego, CA. April 28, 2014.  http://www.fasebj.org/content/28/1_Supplement/830.9

Adapted from articles available at: