The most frequently asked question of all

The most frequently asked question on the Track Your Plaque website:

"Can you recommend a doctor in my area who can help me follow the Track Your Plaque program?"

This is a problem. Unfortunately, I wish I could tell everyone that we have hundreds or thousands of physicians nationwide who have been thoroughly educated and adhere to the principles I believe are crucial in heart disease:

1) Identify and quantify the amount of coronary atherosclerotic plaque present. In 2007, the best technique remains CT heart scans.

2) Identify all hidden causes of plaque. This includes Lp(a), post-prandial disorders, small LDL, and vitamin D deficiency.

3) Correct all patterns.

But we don't.

You'd think that this simple formula, as straightforward and rational as it sounds, would be easily followed by many if not most physicians. But Track Your Plaque followers know that it simply is not true. My colleagues, the cardiologists, are hell-bent on implanting the next new device, providing a lot more excitement to them as well as considerably more revenue.

The primary care physician is already swamped in a sea of new information, going from osteoporosis drugs, to arthritis, to gynecologic issues, to skin rashes and flu. Heart disease prevention? Oh yeah, that too. They can only dabble in heart disease prevention a la prescription for Lipitor. That's quick and easy.

Nonetheless, I believe we should work towards identifying the occasional physician who is indeed willing to help people follow a program like Track Your Plaque. As we grow, we will need to identify some mechanism of professional education and we will maintain a record of these practitioners. But right now, we're simply already stretched to the limit just doing what we are doing.

If you come across a physician who practices in this fashion and you've had a positive relationship, we'd like to hear about it.
Mustard: Super health food?

Mustard: Super health food?

Could mustard--yes, the yellow condiment you smear on hot dogs--be a super heart healthy food in disguise?

Consider that mustard contains:



No appreciable sugar

The vinegar slows gastric emptying, resulting in slower absorption of any carbohydrates and a reduced glucose area-under-the-curve. Of the little fats contained (about 3 grams per 1/4 cup), most are desirable monounsaturates. Mustards are relatively rich in selenium, with 20 mcg per 1/4 cup, helpful for protection against cancer and thyroid disease, and magnesium, 31 mg per 1/4 cup.

Turmeric is added to most mustards. One of the constituents of turmeric, curcumin, the substance that confers the bright yellow color, has been a focus of interest for its anti-inflammatory effects. Curcumin has been documented to reduce activity of the inflammatory enzymes cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), lipoxygenase, and reduce activity of inflammatory signal molecules, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a), interleukin (IL)-1,2,6,8, and 12, and monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP). Curcumin also has been shown to reduce LDL oxidation, a potentially important step in atherosclerotic plaque formation. Turmeric is used as a tea by Okinawans. (Hmmmm . . . )

Turmeric content of mustard can vary, of course. Likewise, sugar content. Look for mustards that are not sweetened, so avoid honey mustard in particular. Look for hot, brown, horseradish, Dijon, etc. If there is a downside to mustard, it's sodium content, though the 709 mg per 1/4 cup should only be a problem for those who are sodium-sensitive (African Americans, in particular).

So perhaps mustard isn't exactly a super health food. But it may have some bona fide health effects and should be used generously especially if you are concerned about blood sugar and inflammatory phenomena.

Comments (32) -

  • Anonymous

    3/6/2010 4:21:13 PM |

    Hmmm.... I might have to pick up some mustard next time at the health shop.  Turmeric is the only herbal extract I take.  Basically it makes me feel well.

  • Anonymous

    3/6/2010 4:23:34 PM |

    Keep in mind that almost all brands of mustard have gluten in them.  For some reason they tend to use non-distilled malt vinegar to make mustard.  All distilled vinegars are gluten free, and there are a few brands of good gluten free mustard.

  • Dexter

    3/6/2010 9:09:21 PM |

    Since reading about the benefits of cucurmin at Nephropal and the benefits of cinnamon on BG, I have started the practice every morning of melting one tbsp of coconut oil and one tbsp of butter together and then mixing in a teaspoon of
    cinnamon and a teaspoon of tumeric.

  • dave

    3/7/2010 1:22:50 AM |

    i just take 500 mg. of curcumin. I find it to raise my HDL also

  • Michaela

    3/7/2010 4:31:51 AM |

    I'm pleased to read that, I've been giving a Turmeric Curcumin supplement to my CHF sufferer for many months now.

  • Peter

    3/7/2010 10:42:06 AM |

    I've been trying to figure out why southern India (with it's rice diet) has much higher heart disease rates than northern India with it's wheat diet, and one theory that I read said that in the north they use a lot of mustard seed oil for cooking.

  • chris

    3/7/2010 12:39:49 PM |

    Most other brassica cultivars seems well loaded with good things, though i've not read much on rapeseed.

  • Anonymous

    3/7/2010 7:16:40 PM |

    As far as slowing gastric emptying, does it matter when vinegar or cinnamon is ingested?

  • Lori Miller

    3/7/2010 9:11:18 PM |

    Using mustard is a good way to keep a lean burger moist. I make a thin patty, squeeze a lot of mustard on top, put on a few spoonfuls of minced garlic and spread it evenly. I sprinkle dried rosemary on top and broil the burger for 10 minutes. Cooking mellows the flavors. (Recipe inspired by chef Nick Stellino.)

  • Wild Mountain Gourmet

    3/8/2010 5:07:56 PM |

    Very interesting perspective on mustard. We are familiar with some of the benefits, but weren't aware of the anti-inflamatory piece. Thanks for sharing,  Wild Mountain Gourmet!

  • Anand Srivastava

    3/8/2010 9:08:22 PM |

    For Indians mustard means mustard. It does not mean Turmeric or Vinegar.

    We generally use mustard as itself in preparing curry. Its required for most fish dishes.

    Mustard oil was the second most popular oil, after ghee. Now it has a higher usage than ghee, because vegetable oil has replaced ghee.

    Virgin Mustard oil contains a balance of O3 and O6 (1:1.4), which is better than canola.

  • Anonymous

    3/10/2010 1:13:55 AM |

    what brands of mustard are GF?

  • Ateronon

    3/10/2010 7:15:16 PM |

    Don't forget to take pepper with your turmeric. Makes a 20 fold difference in its bioavailabilty.

  • Tom

    3/10/2010 8:00:19 PM |

    Only yellow mustard generally contains turmeric. Most brown mustards (Dijon, Dusseldorf, etc.) do not, although they're still very healthy and delicious.

    Curry powder contains turmeric, so any curry dish has that benefit as well.

  • jacque k

    3/11/2010 8:34:28 PM |

    You can also add turmeric to a vinegar and olive oil salad dressing--no gluten or sodium. And remember to sprinkle pepper on the salad, too.

  • P

    3/13/2010 12:27:18 AM |

    I have to second Ananad. This is way Indians eat regularly. We eat mustard everyday! We eat turmeric everyday! If I have sore throat or feel a cold coming, I take a tsp of turmeric powder with hot milk. Feel just fine next day. People in India also use turmeric powder directly over wounds too!

  • Cure Acne

    6/12/2010 5:45:39 AM |

    I make a thin patty, squeeze a lot of mustard on top, put on a few spoonfuls of minced garlic and spread it evenly.

  • Teeth Whitening

    6/12/2010 8:39:16 AM |

    Very interesting post. Thanks for you information. Mustard is not a super healthy food.

  • E Xtenze

    6/13/2010 4:26:11 AM |

    Yes, you are right man, mustard a secret of super health, but if you take it in very low quantity.

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    11/3/2010 2:19:21 PM |

    Turmeric content of mustard can vary, of course. Likewise, sugar content. Look for mustards that are not sweetened, so avoid honey mustard in particular. Look for hot, brown, horseradish, Dijon, etc. If there is a downside to mustard, it's sodium content, though the 709 mg per 1/4 cup should only be a problem for those who are sodium-sensitive (African Americans, in particular).

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    12/5/2010 5:00:06 AM |

    There are spices that are very good for health and should be consumed regularly.Turmeric is also very good for keeping worms at bay.

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    1/27/2011 6:36:22 PM |

    Turmeric has antiseptic qualities and is much used in the Asian countries.Vinegar is used more in the some fusion food with all these ingredients could make some very good health diet eh?

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  • Matt

    2/7/2012 9:28:10 PM |

    Nice writeup. So true, there are benefits to eating mustard!! Check out our varieties...  Wild Mountain Gourmet