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Is Organic Food Good for Your Heart?

You’re in the produce aisle at the grocery store, looking at two seemingly identical packages of lettuce. One is $2.98, and the other is $5.99. What’s the difference? Why shouldn’t you choose the cheaper option and save the extra money? Is one package twice as good as the other?

The answer, of course, is yes. Absolutely. 

One of these packages of lettuce is organic, and the other is not. One is coated in cancer-causing, heart-harming pesticides, and the other is a safe source of essential vitamins and minerals. Let’s look at some differences between organic and conventional foods and determine which is better for heart health. 

What is organic food?

Organic food is grown or raised without chemical pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics, or growth hormones. This includes crops, dairy products, and meat from livestock raised on organic diets with access to the outdoors. Organic farms focus on sustainable practices that protect the environment and produce quality food that supports the consumer’s health. 

Organic products will be labeled with a USDA Organic seal, and farmers must follow strict guidelines to achieve and maintain organic status. The two main USDA organic certifications to look for are “100% organic” (meaning it’s made with 100% organic ingredients) and “organic” (meaning made with 95% organic ingredients).

How non-organic foods affect your heart 

Toxic heavy metals

Conventional crops contain cadmium, a toxic heavy metal that has been linked with the acceleration of atherosclerotic plaque formation. Atherosclerosis, the thickening or hardening of the arteries from plaque build-up, is a dangerous condition that can lead to heart attack, stroke, and other heart complications like coronary artery disease. 

While cadmium and other heavy metals  are is naturally present in the soil (and also detected in trace amounts in organic produce), phosphate-based fertilizers used in conventional farming increase the amounts to potentially dangerous levels. 

Pesticides

Pesticides, sprayed on crops to keep bugs, weeds, disease, and bacteria at bay, are deadly. Unfortunately, they’re used in traditional farming practices with little care for the health and environmental threats they pose. One study found that people who reported regular pesticide exposure in the workplace were twice as likely to have coronary heart disease and five times as likely to have atrial fibrillation. 

Pesticides are also known carcinogens and can weaken your immune system, leading to inflammation and heart disease.

Conventional crops have been shown to contain high levels of pesticide residue, such as the dangerous glyphosate. Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a maximum acceptable residue limit that is beyond what should be considered safe. 

Plus, studies have shown that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently inspects less than one percent of import shipments for pesticides, meaning most of the food that reaches grocery store shelves could be far more polluted than anyone realizes.

Hormones and antibiotics

It isn’t just conventional crops that could harm your heart health. Factory-farmed meat contains antibiotics and hormones that could increase cancer risk and contribute to heart disease. These hormones and antibiotics are pumped into animals to increase profit.

Antibiotics have been linked to cardiovascular disease (CVD), while artificial hormones in meat and dairy could interfere with the endocrine system and hamper heart function. 

Are organic foods healthier than non-organic? 

Thankfully, there is a better solution. Organic food. Organic food is significantly better for your heart health and doesn’t contain many of the alarming chemicals and residues that pollute conventional food. 

Why you should eat organic foods for heart health

Antioxidants and flavonoids

Organic foods tend to have higher levels of nutrients than non-organic foods. According to a study published in The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, organic tomatoes contained higher levels of flavonoids than nonorganic tomatoes. Flavonoids possess anticancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties and have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.

Some studies suggest that organic foods also contain up to 69 percent more antioxidants and polyphenols than their conventional counterparts. Antioxidants help clear your body of damaging free radicals and have been proven to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. 

Researchers from the USDA Genetic Improvement of Fruit and Vegetable and Rutgers University found organic crops like blueberries have 50% more anthocyanins than conventionally grown blueberries. They also had 67% more phenolic compounds. Anthocyanins and polyphenols act as antioxidants that fight off free radicals and inflammation and protect against cancer.

Salicylic acid

Naturally-occurring dietary salicylic acid, unadulterated by chemical processing, is found in many vegetables. Salicylic acid is a plant hormone responsible for the anti-inflammatory action of aspirin and is likely the reason daily low-dose aspirin is prescribed to heart disease patients. 

Aspirin, unfortunately, contains many other harmful components that work against heart health, making it a poor choice for improving cardiovascular disease. However, salicylic acid’s anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits cannot be denied. 

An exciting study published in the European Journal of Nutrition studied the levels of salicylic acid in vegetable soup from conventional produce compared to vegetable soup made with organic produce. Researchers found that the organic soups had a significantly higher salicylic acid content. 

Why are organic foods healthier?

Organic farmers focus on building soil quality through cover crops, crop rotation, compost, and manure fertilizer. Instead of stripping the soil of beneficial nutrients and using chemical fertilizers to support crop growth, organic farms actively cultivate healthier, more resilient plants. 

This comprehensive approach to soil development leads to healthier, more nutritious crops with better pest and disease resistance. 

Another reason organic food is better for heart health is that organic crops are exposed to more stress. Crops grown without pesticides and other chemicals are exposed to more stressors, such as insect attacks. Their comeback against these stressors is to produce more antioxidants and polyphenols.

Is all organic food healthy?

While any organic food is certainly healthier than non-organic food, not all organic foods are healthy. Just because a box of cereal was made with “organic” ingredients doesn’t mean it is good for you. 

The sugar might have been grown without pesticides, but it is still sugar and clearly detrimental to heart health, even if it is organic. 

Instead of blindly trusting the organic label and wasting money on processed “healthy” foods, focus on adding minimally-processed whole foods to your diet. Things like wild-caught fatty fish (which will never have an organic label), grass-finished meat, and a rainbow of nutritious vegetables are the keys to a healthy heart. 

Avoid packaged foods whenever possible, even if they are “organic.”

Where to buy organic foods

Shop for organic produce in your local grocery store or farmers market and source quality meat from trusted sources. 

Organic food can be expensive, we understand. If you’re looking to make a few changes but aren’t ready (or can’t afford) and a complete overhaul of your diet, check out the Dirty Dozen™. 

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) each year compiles a list of the top 12 fruits and vegetables most likely to be contaminated with pesticides.

The list for 2022 includes the following: 

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale, collard, and mustard greens
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Bell and hot peppers
  8. Cherries
  9. Peaches
  10. Pears 
  11. Celery
  12. Tomatoes

If nothing else, buy the organic versions of these fruits and vegetables to protect your heart health and reduce pesticide exposure. 

Of course, you should always buy organic, grass-finished, and pasture-raised meat to avoid exposure to antibiotics, artificial growth hormones, and animals raised on GMO feed. 

Here are a few of our favorite places to shop for quality meat and fish:

Note: Wild-caught fish will never be “organic.”

Remember, while the upfront cost may seem like a large investment, the returns will be worth it. Choosing organic foods now will protect your heart health for years to come.

Next steps 

The bottom line is that any produce or minimally processed meat is better than highly-processed, chemically-created pseudo food. Eating a bowl of salad will always be better than eating a bowl of chips. However, organic is the clear winner when it comes to heart health and should always be your choice whenever possible. 

Making the switch to heart-healthy organic foods can feel overwhelming. Get help today with one of our custom coaching packages. Our expert health coaches would love to help work with you to develop lifestyle and diet habits that propel you on your journey to the 100 Year Heart. 


Medical Review: Dr. Jack Wolfson, 2023

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About Dr. Keith Smigiel NP, DC

Dr. Keith Smigiel

Dr. Keith Smigiel is a regenerative medicine physician and pain management specialist. He takes an integrative approach to medicine, focusing on customized solutions tailored to individual needs. Using advanced, non-surgical treatments, Dr. Smigiel stimulates your body’s ability to naturally heal itself.

Dr. Smigiel helps people suffering from conditions such as chronic pain and erectile dysfunction, to hair loss and weight gain. Combining treatments such as PRP Therapy, Ozone, Neural Prolotherapy, and IV Infusions with functional rehabilitation, he helps you look and feel better.

He heals the body, instead of just treating the symptoms!

With his professional qualifications as a certified family nurse practitioner, a doctor of chiropractic, and a fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture, Dr. Smigiel offers patients comprehensive care from a broad perspective of conventional and alternative medicine. He also has extensive experience in functional rehabilitation and chronic pain management.

Dr. Smigiel is married to Angela and has two children, Sophia and Larz. When he’s not busy helping patients, he enjoys hiking, mountain biking, motocross, and boating.

About Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

Dr. James Kneller, M.D., Ph.D., FHRS

Dr. James Kneller is one of the nation’s leading heart rhythm specialists. Dr. Kneller is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Cardiovascular Disease, and Internal Medicine.

As a Fellow of the Heart Rhythm Society (FHRS) and Certified Cardiac Device Specialist (CCDS), Kneller provides comprehensive patient care, combining best medical practice with invasive procedures using state-of-the-art technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders.

Beyond guideline-directed therapies, Kneller is passionate about optimized personal health. With a deep interest in complimentary alternative medicine (CAM), he strives to reduce the need for pharmaceuticals, invasive procedures, and exposure to harmful radiation. With Natural Heart Doctor, he strives to help each and every client to Live Well, Eat Well, and Think Well to attain their 100-year heart!

About Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD, FACC

Dr. Lattanza Office Visit with Patient

As a Naturopathic Physician, I am trained to treat the whole person and get to the root cause of disease.

I went to Arizona State University where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a depth in physiology and minor in Spanish. After my undergraduate degree I was working on prerequisite classes towards medical school, which is when I came to learn that my values identified best with the principles of naturopathic medicine. I knew that I wanted to help patients identify the causes of disease and be able to offer treatments which would improve their health rather than simply treating symptoms.

I dedicated the next 4 years to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona where I attained my Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine. I served as Class President all 4 years, Board of Trustees – Student Trustee, spoke as the Club President for our branch of Toastmasters, and was voted by my peers and attending physicians to earn the Outstanding Leadership Award for the Class of 2020. Throughout medical school I took it upon myself to work alongside MDs, DOs, chiropractors, and functional medicine practitioners in addition to naturopathic physicians.

As a Spanish speaking student, I was able to volunteer with community clinics around Phoenix and provide free healthcare to low-income families. Due to this combined exposure, I came to find my passion in treating cardiometabolic and digestive disorders that are all too common, yet largely preventable. I took the opportunity to learn the broad spectrum of healthcare so I can ensure that I am able to provide my patients with the best options.

About Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC

Dr. Wolfson Office Visit with Patient

Dr. Jack Wolfson is a board-certified cardiologist, Amazon best-selling author, husband, father, and the nation’s #1 Natural Heart Doctor.

For more than two decades, more than one million people have enjoyed the warmth, compassion, and transformational power of his natural heart health courses and events.

Dr. Wolfson is the founder of Natural Heart Doctor Scottsdale, his heart health practice in Arizona, and Natural Heart Doctor, an online resource center with natural health information. Doctors from across the globe reach out to Dr. Wolfson for training and education in holistic health practices.

He has been named one of America’s Top Functional Medicine Doctors and is a five-time winner of the Natural Choice Awards as a holistic M.D. Dr. Wolfson’s work has been covered by more than 100 media outlets, including NBC, CNN, and the Washington Post. His book “The Paleo Cardiologist: The Natural Way to Heart Health” was an Amazon #1 best-seller.

Dr. Wolfson and his wife Heather have four children and are committed to making the world a better place to live. They provide for those in need (including animals) and support natural health causes through their philanthropic efforts.

Chiropractic

Our chiropractor is an expert at adjustments and holistic chiropractic care and works closely in conjunction with the other health care experts at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

IV Therapy

We use specially formulated natural vitamins and minerals that are injected into a vein to prevent or treat dehydration. Ideal for people in Arizona.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Acupuncture

Stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being with acupuncture at Natural Heart Doctor.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Health Coaching

Our health coaches use evidence based skillful conversation, clinical interventions, and strategies to engage you actively and safely in health behavior changes.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Cardio Tests

We use the most advanced testing in the world to assess heart health and to identify the root cause of your health issues.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Office Visits

Schedule an office visit with one of our cardiologists, holistic physicians, chiropractor, or health coaches.

Call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’d like to receive an online second opinion from Natural Heart Doctor. What do I do next?

You can initiate a second opinion online through our website at any time. To begin, select the team member you’d like to speak with and open an account.

Click here for cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Lauren Lattanza. Get details.

Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Tonia Rainier. Get details.

Click here for  Natural Heart Doctor Health Coach.

Alternatively, you can email health@naturalheartdoctor.com. A member of our care team will help guide you through the process of starting a second opinion.

What is the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

The cost for most second opinions varies by team member. This fee includes information collection, a phone or video consultation, a second opinion from a Natural Heart Doctor specialist and guidance throughout the process from your personal Care Team at Natural Heart Doctor.

Cardiologist Dr. Jack Wolfson’s Second Opinion Fee is $1500.

Holistic Physician’s Dr. Lauren Lattanza’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Naturopathic Physician Dr. Tonia Rainier’s Second Opinion Fee is $250.

Note: We apply the Online Second Opinion Call fee as a credit to any future consultations with Natural Heart Doctor, should you choose them.

Will my insurance cover the cost of a Natural Heart Doctor Online Second Opinion?

Most likely, no. Most health plans do not cover online second opinions or consultations. You are responsible for the cost of our second opinion. Natural Heart Doctor cannot file a claim with your insurance carrier, nor can we provide a procedure (CPT) code for this service.

What is the timeline to receive an online second opinion?

We do our best to schedule your second opinion as quickly as possible. Typically, it takes 5 to 7 business days after your information has been collected to receive your phone or video online second opinion.

What information do you need in advance of our call?

Our office will send you a short questionnaire to complete and return. We DO NOT need your complete medical records.

How many questions can I ask the expert during our call?

You may ask a maximum of five questions. This is to ensure that the expert has sufficient time to devote to each question. All questions must be finalized before your online meeting.

What should I expect to receive once my second opinion is complete?

You will receive a summary of our discussion along with our second opinion. The second opinion will be in written form. After you have reviewed the second opinion, a Natural Heart Doctor clinician will follow up with you by phone to address general medical questions about the information provided in the second opinion.

What if I have follow-up questions for the expert after I have reviewed my second opinion?

If you have a clarifying question about an expert’s response to one of the questions in your second opinion, and the Natural Heart Doctor clinician is unable to address it, then you may request a follow up session for an additional fee. 

Is my medical and payment information secure?

Natural Heart Doctor is strongly committed to protecting the privacy and security of all our patients. Our website meets all federal requirements for protecting personal health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All financial transactions are processed by Natural Heart Doctor securely using industry standard payment processing tools.

I would rather visit Natural Heart Doctor for an in-person appointment. What should I do next?

If you would prefer an in-person appointment at Natural Heart Doctor instead of an online second opinion, please call (480) 535-6844 for details and scheduling.

Can I schedule a follow up appointment with the specialist who provided my online second opinion?

Yes, we’re happy to help you on an extended basis. Our clinician can discuss options with you when presenting our second opinion summary.