The sinister side of those pesky grays

Today’s Reality Health Check may seem as if it came out of left field, but I can assure you it’s based on scientific study.

Now whether or not the study has any merit is another question… But since it deals with something we’ve never discussed before, why not at least take a look?

As with many surprising studies, this one makes a connection between two things that most of us never in a million years would have thought were related.

The strange bedfellows? Premature gray hair and heart health.

According to the researchers, those pesky gray hairs are more than just a fashion statement you’d rather not make. They’re a sign that the arteries that supply blood to the heart may be in trouble. That’s because some of the same mechanisms behind coronary artery disease (oxidative stress, inflammation, impaired cell growth) are also at the root (sorry) of graying hair.

Or at least that’s the theory.

It seems crazy at first. But when you think about it, is it really that out there? The fact is, oxidative stress and inflammation are at the heart of pretty much all our health issues.

The researchers looked at data from 545 adult men who had computed tomography (CT) scans because they were suspected to have coronary artery disease. Then they looked at the color of their hair and rated how gray it was (from not at all to entirely white).

And their surprise finding was that people on the grayer end of the spectrum had a significantly increased risk of coronary artery disease. Not only were the people with damaged arteries grayer, their arteries were also more likely to have calcium deposits in them. Plus, graying hair was linked to coronary artery narrowing and hardening, as well as high blood pressure and abnormal blood fats.”

Now, you might say, “Well duh. White haired people are more likely to be older. And older people are at higher risk for heart disease. No surprise that they’d go together.” But the researchers controlled for that. And they found that the link remains regardless of age.

Clearly there are many other factors that determine both hair greying and cardiac disease. But wouldn’t it be nice to have an easy indicator that your heart needs help with just a glance in the mirror?

In my new book, the A-List Diet, I wrote extensively about all the things you can do to help eliminate inflammation and oxidative stress. The key is to choose the right foods and avoid all the wrong ones. Easier said than done, I know. Which is why I’m offering all sorts of free tips to help you keep these killers (and gray hair culprits) at bay at You can also follow the book on Facebook (@alistdiet), Twitter (@alistdiet), and Instagram (@theofficialalistdietbook).


P.S. No, dyeing your hair will not lessen your heart disease risks (if there really is an association).