Health benefits Associated with Whole Grains

06/04/2010

Below are Some of the Key Highlights from Putting the Whole Grain Puzzle Together: Health benefits Associated with Whole Grains:

 

Whole Grain Dietary Intake (presented by Dr. Lisa Harnack, University of Minnesota): Despite the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations that individuals consume at least 3 servings of whole grains daily, most Americans are getting less than 1 serving of whole grains. There is an ongoing need to improve access to whole grain foods to improve whole grain consumption and to better communicate their health benefits.

Whole Grains and Weight Management (presented by Dr. Nicola McKeown, USDA-Tufts University): Diets high in whole grains have been associated with lower body weight, BMI, abdominal fat, smaller waist circumference, less weight and abdominal fat gains. Possible ways in which whole grains may play a role in weight management include: satiety effects, regulation of gut hormones and appetite, influence on glucose and insulin metabolism, modulation of gut microbiota thereby influencing energy homeostasis. Substituting whole grain foods for refined grain foods can help lower energy density, improve carbohydrate quality, increase dietary fiber and whole grain phytonutrient intake, which can play a role in body weight management.

Whole Grains and Heart Disease (presented by Dr. Chris Seal, University of Newcastle): Observational studies have consistently demonstrated the association between high whole grain intake and reduced risk of heart disease. Proposed mechanisms of action include: changes in blood lipid profiles, body weight control, improvement in vascular function, blood pressure and insulin sensitivity, changes in inflammatory status.

Whole Grains and Diabetes (presented by Dr. Simin Liu, UCLA): Observational studies have consistently demonstrated the association between high whole grain intake and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Increasing intake of refined foods that contain rapidly available carbohydrates can influence metabolic responses and increase risk of type 2 diabetes.

If you’re looking for whole grain education resources, please visit www.bellinstitute.com/wholegrain

If you are looking for more heart healthy info please visit www.heart-strong.com

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Lower Your Cholesterol

02/26/2010

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 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Sip slowly. Wine may raise HDL “good” cholesterol a bit, but there’s also evidence it can boost your triglyceride levels.
  5. 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.
  6. Look for a heart-healthy symbol. Some restaurants put a heart or other sign next to healthful menu items. Choose from those.

For more on heart health, visit: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/heart-health

© 2010 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (tollfree). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.


Whole Grains May Help Control Blood Pressure

11/17/2009

wholegrainfood

 Previous research has shown that women who eat more whole grains are less likely to develop high blood pressure.  But the impact of whole grains on men’s blood pressure was unknown. 

 A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (September 2009) followed over 31, 000 men for 18 years.  Men with the highest daily whole grain consumption were 19% less likely to develop high blood pressure versus men who ate the least amount of whole grains.  The lower blood pressures were found regardless of weight, physical activity, fruit and vegetable intake.

 So whole grains can help control blood pressure in both women and men.  The current dietary guidelines recommend that adults eat at least 3 ounces or 85 grams of whole grains daily.  Whole grains are richer in nutrients because they retain their bran and germ unlike refined grains.

 “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses how women can help control their blood pressure, cholesterol and other risk factors to prevent a heart attack, stroke and diabetes. “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthier Heart” is due to be released Fall 2009. For more info visit www.heart-strong.com


7 Quick Healthy Diet Tips

08/09/2009

fruits and veggies

Small changes can make a BIG difference over time.  If you are trying to lose weight or just trying to eat healthier here are a couple of suggestions to gradually make some dietary changes.

1)      Replace white bread with whole grain bread
2)      Avoid candy instead try some dried fruit (raisins, dates, apricots)
3)      Eat brown rice or wild rice instead of white rice (increases your fiber intake)
4)      Instead of potato chips have baked tortilla chips or whole wheat pretzels
5)      Pick up some fruit you can eat on the run (banana, grapes, apple, pear)
6)      Have nonfat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream
7)      When ordering pizza request extra tomato sauce, oregano, basil, add some veggies (limit or cut back on the amount of cheese)

Change is hard, so try to make gradual changes whenever possible (even one a week or one a month).  A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that men who ate fish JUST ONCE A MONTH reduced their stroke risk.

For more healthy dietary tips visit  www.heart-strong.com


How important are whole grains?

02/13/2009

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating at least three servings (equivalent to 3 ounces) of whole-grain products per day.  Whole grains consist of the entire grain seed (bran, endosperm and germ).  Usually they are turned into flour and used to make bread, cereals, pasta.  Look for the words “whole grain” on package labels.  Whole grains include foods like oatmeal, whole wheat, popcorn, wild or brown rice, bulgur.  Whole grains provide fiber in the diet and have been shown to help decrease your risk for heart disease and diabetes.

A Serving Size Whole Grain Foods:

  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice or other cooked grain
  • 1/2 cup cooked 100% whole-grain pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked hot cereal, such as oatmeal
  • 1 ounce uncooked whole grain pasta, brown rice or other grain
  • 1 slice 100% whole grain bread
  • 1 very small (1 oz.) 100% whole grain muffin
  • 1 cup 100% whole grain ready-to-eat cereal

(Suggestions from the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans)

The Whole Grains Council will hold its next conference, titled “Make (at least!) Half Your Grains Whole” on April 20-22, 2009 in Alexandria, VA.

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines call for everyone to make at least half their grains whole. But does our food environment actively reflect this goal? This scientific, culinary and consumer conference will take a close look at grocery stores, restaurants, the media, school lunches, and many other factors that influence our food choices, and detail our progress on whole grains. You’ll also hear from schools, health organizations, foodservice outlets, and more about what really works in promoting whole grains, and why. Join us for practical and positive insights that marketing executives, public health specialists, government policymakers, R&D scientists, chefs and foodservice operators can apply immediately to their work.

For a full agenda and a link to online registration, visit http://www.wholegrainscouncil.org/get-involved/attend-our-conference or contact Cynthia Harriman (617-896-4820 or Cynthia@oldwayspt.org)