Simple Tips for Lowering Your Cholesterol

09/12/2011

from the Heart Health Center

 For many Americans working toward better heart health, an important first step is getting cholesterol to a healthy level. Diet and exercise are important steps to reduce high cholesterol. However, many people may find that with diet and exercise alone, cholesterol numbers are not where they should be. More than one hundred million Americans have high cholesterol, an important risk factor for heart disease. Though diet is very important, many people don’t realize that cholesterol is also produced in the body based upon heredity. Learning about your family health history is important—we recommend talking to your family about their health and creating a family health tree.

 Bringing this information to your next doctor visit will help you discuss your family history regarding cholesterol and other hereditary health concerns. Understanding Cholesterol What you eat affects your health, by raising or lowering the blood fats (cholesterol, triglycerides) that circulate through your body. Some foods increase your levels of total cholesterol, LDL or “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. Over the years, excess cholesterol and fat are deposited in the inner walls of the arteries that supply blood to your heart. Eventually, these deposits can make your arteries narrower and less flexible, a condition known as atherosclerosis. Left unchecked, this buildup can lead to heart attack, stroke and death. Additionally, because of your family health history, your body may be genetically predisposed to make more cholesterol than you may need, in addition to the cholesterol from your food intake.

 Know your numbers!

Each one of us has a cholesterol goal level, based upon our individual risk factors and our risk for heart disease. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recommends that everyone age 20 and over have a blood cholesterol test every five years to check their cholesterol levels.

 To learn more about your goal, visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/chd for the National Cholesterol Education Program’s Live Healthier, Live Longer Web site.

 If your cholesterol levels are mildly to moderately higher than your goal, making a few dietary changes may be all you need to get back on track. According to current NCEP recommendations, people with coronary heart disease or others considered to be at high risk for coronary heart disease generally have an LDL cholesterol goal of less than 100 mg/dL. An LDL cholesterol goal of less than 70 mg/dL is a therapeutic option for people considered to be at very high risk. Work with your doctor to develop a plan to help reduce your LDL cholesterol number to goal. Here are guidelines for your cholesterol and triglyceride levels according to NCEP guidelines (new guidelines will be released in 2010): Total blood cholesterol levels less than 200 mg/dL Desirable 200 to 239 mg/dL Borderline high 240 mg/dL or above High LDL blood cholesterol levels less than 100 mg/dL Optimal 100 to 129 mg/dL Near optimal/above optimal 130 to 159 mg/dL Borderline high 160 to 189 mg/dL High 190 mg/dL and above Very High HDL blood cholesterol levels above 60 mg/dL. Levels above 60 mg/dL are considered especially beneficial and can offset risk factors for heart disease, according to NHLBI. The higher the level, the healthier it is. Optimal 50 to 60 mg/dL for women; 40 to 50 mg/dL for men Average less than 50 mg/dL for women; less than 40 mg/dL for men. Below these levels is considered a major risk factor for heart disease. Low Triglyceride levels less than 150 mg/dL Normal 150 to 199 mg/dL Borderline High 200 to 499 mg/dL High 500 mg/dL or higher Very high It is important to remember that these recommendations are for healthy individuals, not for women with existing risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, kidney disease, being overweight, smoking or having a family history of heart disease. If you are at risk for heart disease, your target goals likely will be lower.

Fighting Back:  There are things that you can do now to help you gain a better understanding of your risk factors and perhaps lower your chances of high cholesterol and heart disease. For starters, it’s important that you eat right, get plenty of exercise, as recommended by your physician, and begin to understand your family health history. A healthy diet may help reduce total cholesterol. In general, you want to get “good” cholesterol higher and “bad” cholesterol lower. You can still enjoy a wide variety of foods by making healthful dietary choices and changes. If elevated cholesterol is part of your family genetics, or you have other conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, you may need medication in addition to eating a heart-healthy diet. But whether you have normal cholesterol, high levels, or are currently taking a cholesterol-lowering drug, eating a healthy diet is important for everyone. Good fats/bad fats Fats can be good for you and your heart, when they’re the right kind and consumed in limited amounts; but even good fat is packed with calories. Those include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which decrease “bad” cholesterol, and omega-3 fatty acids, which lower triglycerides. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Monounsaturated fats include olive oil, canola oil and peanut oil. Polyunsaturated fats include corn oil, safflower oil and soybean oil. Saturated fats are the bad guys that may endanger your heart. They increase LDL or “bad” cholesterol more than anything else in your diet. Saturated fats, found mostly in animal products, are hard at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Think butter, shortening, fat on and in meat and poultry skin. Whole milk or two-percent milk products, half-and-half and cream all have a lot of saturated fat. Tropical oils—coconut, palm and palm kernel oils—also contain a lot of saturated fats. These oils are used in commercially baked crackers, cookies and non-dairy creamers. Foods containing saturated fats often also contain high amounts of cholesterol, which is only found in animal products. Trans fats are another culprit to watch out for. Trans fats raise “bad” cholesterol. Trans fats are found in foods made with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils—stick margarine and some store-bought cookies and cakes, fast-food French fries, potato chips and other snacks. Read your food labels before purchasing. If there are .5 grams or less of trans fats in an item, the company can claim 0 trans fats on the label, so check the ingredient list for hydrogenated oils.

Heart-Healthy Choices

1. Switch your dairy Make the change from whole or two-percent milk to one-percent and then to skim, for drinking and in recipes. Or try almond milk or rice milk for a nondairy alternative. Use low-fat or nonfat sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese and ice cream. 2. Choose lean cuts Beef tenderloin, sirloin, eye of round, ground beef with 10 percent or less fat and pork tenderloin are good choices. Other alternatives include white meat chicken or turkey. Remove the skin before cooking any poultry. 3. Cook with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated Oils These include olive, canola, peanut, safflower, sunflower, sesame and soybean oils. 4. Use more plant-based proteins instead of animal products These include beans and peas—black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, lentils—and tofu or soy. Try veggie burgers (soy-based or grain-based) for an alternative to beef. 5. Boost your intake of foods that are high in soluble fiber This type of fiber binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract and helps remove it from your body. Good sources include oatmeal, oatmeal bread, oat bran cereal, beans and peas, apples, bananas and citrus fruits. 6. Increase whole grains in your diet Choose bread with at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per slice, whole-grain pastas and brown rice. 7. Use products containing plant sterol and stanol esters These components help keep your body from absorbing cholesterol. Consuming two to three grams a day decreases LDL cholesterol by 6 percent to 15 percent. Food products that have added cholesterol-lowering sterols and stanols include margarines, orange juice and yogurt. 8. Eat fatty fish twice a week Choose wild salmon over farm-raised to reduce possible toxin exposure. Pregnant or nursing women and children should limit tuna intake to 6 ounces a week and avoid swordfish, due to concerns about methyl mercury levels. 9. Increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables you eat Most women should have 1-1/2 cups of fruit and 2 to 2-1/2 cups of vegetables (without cheese sauce!) every day, according to new guidelines. Adding more of these to your diet fills you up, adds fiber and important nutrients and helps replace foods with saturated fats. For details on the new dietary recommendations, visit http://www.mypyramid.gov . 10. Keep an eye on dietary cholesterol Dietary cholesterol, such as is found in eggs, dairy products and some other foods, may raise cholesterol in the blood slightly, but newer studies find that consumption of dietary cholesterol is unlikely to substantially increase risk of coronary heart disease or stroke among healthy men and women. If you have other existing health conditions or risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, kidney disease, being overweight, smoking or having a family history of heart disease, you may need to monitor dietary cholesterol more closely. Egg yolks are filled with dietary cholesterol—213 milligrams in each. If you have elevated cholesterol, the National Cholesterol Education Program recommends you keep your consumption under 200 milligrams per day. Egg whites are cholesterol-free, so use two for each whole egg in recipes, or use cholesterol-free egg substitute, which works well in baking and omelettes.

Heart-Healthy Tips for Eating Away from Home

 Here’s how to eat out and have a terrific meal without taking in too much fat and cholesterol: Preparation counts. Order your food fresh, sautéed, grilled/broiled, or poached. If sautéed or broiled, ask for it to be cooked with olive oil or without fat. Have sauces served on the side, so you add only what you need. Divide and conquer. Resist the pitfalls of inflated portions by eating only half of what you order. Take the rest home for an easy lunch or dinner the next day. Ask if you and your dining partner can share an entrée, with each of you ordering individual salads. Balance. Have the nachos if you really want them, but order a healthy entrée. Dessert isn’t a no-no—pick fresh fruit or sorbet. Enjoy the bread or rolls, just skip the butter and drizzle on olive oil. Sip slowly. Wine may raise HDL “good” cholesterol a bit, but there’s also evidence it can boost your triglyceride levels. Fast food stops are OK. Most fast-food restaurants now offer healthier items than a bacon double cheeseburger. Depending upon which chain you visit, you may find salads (ask for nonfat or olive oil dressings), grilled chicken, yogurt, baked potatoes and fresh fruit cups. Look for a heart-healthy symbol. Some restaurants put a heart or other sign next to healthful menu items. Choose from those.

 For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org areas below. Heart Health Center: http://www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/heart-health Weight Management: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/weight-management Heart Disease: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/heart-disease Atherosclerosis: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/atherosclerosis Metabolic Syndrome: http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/metabolic-syndrome Healthy Living: http://www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/diet-and-nutrition © 2011 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (tollfree). On the Web at: http://www.HealthyWomen.org.

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Biggest Health Threats Among Hispanics Today

08/21/2010
Heart disease is the #1 killer of Hispanic men and women in the U.S. Hispanics are at a higher risk to develop diabetes which is a strong risk factor for heart problems. Heart disease and diabetes risk factors specific to the Hispanic/Latino population will be discussed and strategies to reduce risk.


COOKING LIGHT LAUNCHES NATIONWIDE SEARCH FOR THE CHEF WITH THE HEALTHIEST COOKING APPROACH

06/16/2010

Contest Seeks to Find the Healthiest and Most Innovative
Self-Taught or Professionally-Trained Chef 

Cooking Light launches a nationwide search to find the chef with the healthiest and most innovative cooking approach. The contest, searching for a self-taught or professionally-trained chef, launches today at www.CookingLight.com/castingcall. It runs through August 14, 2010.

Entrants must submit a three-minute prep-to-plate video of a healthy, original recipe on which they will be judged. Four finalists will be chosen from the entries to compete in a live cook-off event at The Taste of Atlanta, a two-day outdoor food festival in Atlanta, GA, on October 23 and 24, 2010. The Cooking Light judges will select the winner, who will be named the “Healthy Chef of the Year.” The winner will receive a $10,000 prize package including a kitchen makeover, a year’s worth of free groceries, and the opportunity to become a contributor to Cooking Light magazine and CookingLight.com in 2011.

Any and all skill levels are welcome to enter, from home cooks to culinary school graduates. Entrants must be legal residents of the United States and 21 years or older at the time of entry.  Anyone who is paid to cook for a living is not eligible to enter.

What are you waiting for? Let’s get cooking…


Why Mediterranean Diet is Different from American Diet

05/03/2010

a) It is widely known that Mediterranean diet has high fat content.  Is weight loss still possible if people will follow this kind of diet?

To some extent, Mediterranean diet really has a high fat content.  But you have to take note that the fat content of a Mediterranean diet consists of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.  These fats are essential and healthy for your body unlike the saturated fat which is common in American diet.  Do take note also that calorie intake is the determining factor for weight loss and not fat consumption.  If you follow the Mediterranean diet, you will enjoy lots of healthy benefits but you still need to lower your daily calorie consumption to achieve weight loss. 

b) What makes Mediterranean diet different from American diet?

Mediterranean diet includes plenty of healthy food choices like vegetables, olive oils, nuts, cereals, potatoes, breads, and many more.  It does not focus on red meat, eggs, and poultry products which are the common component of the typical American diet. 

c) Is it true that Mediterranean diet played a major role in lowering the rate of heart disease in the region?

Mediterranean diet plays an important role in lowering the incidences of cardiovascular disorder.  This finding has been proven by major research and studies.  More importantly, the success of the Mediterranean diet comes from the fact that it promotes a holistic approach to healthy living.  By following the Mediterranean diet, you will learn how to eat healthy and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

d) Is exercise still required if one is following a Mediterranean diet?

Exercise is always essential no matter what type of diet you follow.  The best thing about the Mediterranean diet is that it encourages daily regular exercises as part of the holistic approach to achieve a healthy lifestyle.  When this type of diet was introduced in the sixties, exercise and physical activities were already part of the culture of the Mediterranean people.  For your minimum exercise needs, you have to take a daily one-hour walk and weekly full body exercise. 

e) Is Mediterranean diet different from Low Carb diet?

There is a sea of difference between these two diets.  With the Mediterranean diet, your protein consumption would be lower.  Normally, you will get 15 percent of your calorie consumption from the protein content of a Mediterranean diet. 

f) People observed that wine is included in the Mediterranean diet.  What is the daily recommended amount for wine consumption?

For your general guidance, you have to consume wine in low to moderate amounts.  For male dieters, your daily calorie consumption from wine should be 5 percent.  For women, it should be lower or about 2.5 percent. 

g) Final word of advice

The Mediterranean lifestyle is your way to achieve good health.  You need to include foods in your diet that are rich in Omega 3, root crops, and vegetable oils.  Combine these with breads, cereals and fruits and you can prevent heart disease. 

About the Author – Eva Alexander writes for http://mediterraneandiet.org.uk/”>mediterranean diet plan, her personal hobby blog focused on tips to eat healthy on the Mediterranean way.


Fast facts on canola oil and The Heart-Smart Diabetes Kitchen Cookbook

05/01/2010

You need a little fat in your diet for good health. Oils and fats supply energy, carry flavors, and help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A, D, E, and K. But make sure it’s the right kind of fat unsaturated. Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats, which can negatively impact your cholesterol, thereby increasing your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

  • Canola oil has the least amount of saturated fat of all common cooking oils – half that of olive oil – and it is free of trans fat and cholesterol.
  • Canola oil has a high smoke point (heat tolerance) and a neutral taste, so is perfect for just about every culinary application.

We are giving away a copy of “The Heart-Smart Diabetes Kitchen: Fresh, Fast, and Flavorful Recipes Made with Canola Oil.”  This cookbook was developed by CanolaInfo and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and is filled with healthy, delicious and easy recipes. Seven bloggers from the CanolaInfo team prepared all 151 recipes. Each blogger has a different life perspective to offer — some with culinary expertise, some married with children and others young career-focused urbanites still learning their way around the kitchen. While culinary levels in this group vary, they all want to share one message: Healthy cooking is for everyone! All 151 recipes in “The Heart-Smart Diabetes Kitchen” are made with healthy canola oil.  All proceeds from the cookbook go to the ADA. The “Heart-Smart Diabetes Kitchen” is available from the ADA online store and in bookstores – but you can win a copy today – just go to our main blog page https://heartstrong.wordpress.com/ and click on follow my blog under networked blogs – one lucky subscriber will win a free copy of “The Heart-Smart Diabetes Kitchen” cookbook. Drawing will be held on June 30, 2010 so sign up today!

Spiced Berry Sauce

1 lb fresh (or partially thawed frozen) mixed berries
1 tablespoon canola oil
1½ tablespoons orange zest
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup water
⅓ cup sugar

1. Combine all ingredients, except water and sugar, in a shallow pan, such as a 9-inch, deep-dish glass pie pan; set aside.

2. Bring water to a boil over high heat in a small saucepan. Add sugar and cook until sugar dissolves. Pour hot sugar mixture over fruit mixture, and toss gently, yet thoroughly, to blend. Let stand 30 minutes.

3. Sauce can be served on melon slices, banana slices, fat-free ice cream, angel food cake, waffles, or French toast.

Yield: 12 servings. Serving size: ¼ cup sauce.

Check out some other great recipes at http://www.canolainfo.org/blog/


The Egg Controversy: Healthy or Harmful?

03/26/2010

The egg controversy still continues…

Eggs are a great source of protein, folate, riboflavin, choline, vitamin B12, A, D, and K.  So why have eggs gotten a bad wrap?

In the 1970’s the American Heart Association recommended decreasing the consumption of eggs and other sources of cholesterol to help decrease the risk of heart disease.  But the relationship between egg cholesterol, increased blood cholesterol and heart disease is still not clearly understood.

Studies have reported that consuming eggs can increase blood cholesterol levels in SOME people but not everyone.  The interesting finding is that egg cholesterol was found to increased LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels.  Also in some people egg cholesterol promotes the formation of large LDL cholesterol particles, which are better than small LDL particles and are less likely to cause plaque formation (narrowing in blood vessels).  Researchers believe that genetics, ethnicity, BMI and hormone status all may play a role in how eggs affect cholesterol levels differently in different people.

The NHANES III observational study evaluated over 27,000 people and found that people who ate 4 or more eggs per week had significantly lower cholesterol levels than people who ate less than one egg per week.

 So what is the final word on eggs? We still do not have the answer….

Our recommendation is eggs are probably a healthy food source for most people IN MODERATION!

 Looking for more heart healthy info visit www.heart-strong.com or check out our books “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” and “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthier Heart”


Fish Oil/Omega 3’s Good for Everyone’s Heart

03/04/2010

 

A recent review of fish oil studies that have been performed over the past 30 years suggests that omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial for everyone (published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology August 2009).  Studies have found that healthy people as well as patients with heart disease (heart attack, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation) benefit from fish oils.

Most of the positive health effects were found with trials using DHA and EPA, which are long-chain fatty acids.  EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish and fish oil supplements.  Not as much data is available on plant-based ALA which is found in flaxseed and other plants.

Current recommendations for omega 3 consumption:

1)  Healthy people should consume at least 500 mg per day of EPA and DHA, equivalent of 2 fatty fish meals per week

2)  Patients with known heart disease or heart failure should consume 800 to 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA per day

3)  Patients with very high triglyceride levels may require prescription strength fish oil, should discuss with your healthcare provider

For more heart healthy info visit www.heart-strong.com