Heart-healthy food in 10 easy steps – Chicago Tribune

Heart-healthy food in 10 easy steps - Chicago Tribune

“There is not one single food that will help you lower or raise your cholesterol. Variety is the key. The less processed the food, the better,” said Sonia Angel, registered dietitian and coordinator of the Diabetes and Nutrition Center at Memorial Regional Hospital.

“Choosing foods in their most natural form is one way to avoid eating added sugars hidden in packaged foods and beverages,” said Lucette Talamas, registered dietitian with Baptist Health South Florida. “The American Heart Association recommends daily limits of six teaspoons (24 grams) for women and nine teaspoons (36 grams) for men of added sugar from both food and beverages.”

via Heart-healthy food in 10 easy steps – Chicago Tribune.


Bite Back At Bad Cholesterol: Eat An Avocado A Day : The Salt : NPR

New research finds that eating an avocado per day, as part of an overall diet rich in healthy fats, may help cut the bad kind cholesterol, known as LDL.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University recruited 45 overweight participants who agreed to try three different types of cholesterol-lowering diets. Their study was published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

One was a low-fat diet that included lots of fruits, low-fat dairy, poultry, whole grains and small amounts of red meat.

The other two diets were moderately high in fat, with about 34 percent of total calories consumed per day coming from fat. The types of foods and meals were similar to the low-fat diet, but included more nuts and oils.

One of the moderately high-fat diets included a daily serving of one avocado.

In one sample meal plan, lunch was chicken salad with half an avocado, and dinner included turkey tacos with another half an avocado.

The diets were similar in terms of macronutrients (like protein and fats) and calories. The only difference between the two was the avocado — the other diet had the same amount of fat from other sources.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that the avocado diet led to significant reductions in LDL cholesterol, compared with the other two diets.

via Bite Back At Bad Cholesterol: Eat An Avocado A Day : The Salt : NPR.

Obese preschoolers already show signs of health problems | Fox News

Obese preschoolers already show signs of health problems | Fox News

Some overweight and obese preschoolers may already have risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, a new study from Italy suggests.

The study involved more than 5,700 healthy children ages 2 to 6 who visited pediatricians in Rome between 2011 and 2012. Of these children, about 600 (about 10 percent) had become overweight or obese within the last year, and the researchers ran detailed blood tests about 200 of these children for the study.

They found that nearly 40 percent of these children had at least one abnormal reading in their metabolism such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated blood sugar or low levels of “good” cholesterol which, in studies of adults, have been linked with an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. About one-third of the children had nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or a buildup of fat deposits in the liver.via Obese preschoolers already show signs of health problems | Fox News.

I did a research paper on this topic this past year. I know as a kid and teen I ate some terrible, fat drenched stuff. I was shocked to learn that artery buildup that leads to early death and disease in adulthood starts even as young as preschoolers.

Great reminder that although kids have fast metabolisms, they still shouldn’t eat (too much) junk.

Despite Childhood Obesity Epidemic, Few Kids Tested for Cholesterol

I JUST wrote a huge paper about this problem. The day I had it in there’s another study I should have included now.

Screen your kids folks!

Study found that less that 4 percent had their blood levels tested, countering recent guidelines

MONDAY, May 5, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Even though rising obesity rates are contributing to higher cholesterol levels among young Americans, less than 4 percent of U.S. children had their cholesterol levels checked between 1995 and 2010, new research shows.

According to a team led by Dr. Samuel Vinci of Boston Children’s Hospital, abnormal blood cholesterol reading are thought to occur in roughly a fifth of American children and adolescents.

The concern is that — if left untreated — problematic cholesterol levels among youth could translate into heart disease in adulthood.

Alert to the problem, since 2007 several organizations — including the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association — began recommending that children be screened for cholesterol starting as young as age 9.

With that in mind, Vinci and his colleagues sifted through cholesterol-screening data collected by the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 1995 to 2010.

They found that only 3.4 percent of children had been screened for cholesterol during that timeframe. What’s more, rates were seen to have risen only slightly by 2010, compared with what they had been in 1995 before the first screening guidelines were issued, the researchers said.

The study was published this weekend in the Journal of the American Medical Association, in conjunction with a planned presentation at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver, Canada.

via Despite Childhood Obesity Epidemic, Few Kids Tested for Cholesterol.

Ask Well: Triglycerides and Heart Disease – NYTimes.com – NYTimes.com

Stuart Bradford

Are high triglycerides an independent risk factor for heart disease? My overall cholesterol is about 150, although the ratio could be better.

Reader Question • 58 votes


High levels of triglycerides — a type of fat that circulates in your bloodstream — can signal an increased risk of heart disease, but not always. It depends on why they are elevated in the first place, said Dr. James A. Underberg, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and the director of the Bellevue Hospital Lipid Clinic.

The American Heart Association sets the normal threshold for triglycerides at 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood. Some people have a genetic disorder that causes their levels to climb above 1,000, which puts them at risk for complications like pancreatitis, “but they don’t seem at risk for heart disease,” Dr. Underberg said.

Triglycerides can also rise as a side effect of certain medications, as well as from obesity and increased alcohol consumption.

Many people with Type 2 diabetes or at risk for it have a syndrome called “diabetic dyslipidemia” characterized by high triglycerides and a low concentration of “protective” HDL cholesterol. Levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, may be normal in these people, but often they have a plethora of small, dense LDL particles that contribute to inflammation and raise heart disease risk.

While some studies cite high triglycerides as an independent risk factor for heart disease, others suggest it is hard to separate the impact of triglycerides from other factors. In a large analysis of studies published in Circulation in 2007, for example, researchers found a strong association between high triglycerides and coronary heart disease. But taking into account factors like HDL levels weakened the association between triglycerides and cardiovascular risk.

“What I tell my patients is that triglycerides themselves probably don’t cause heart disease,” Dr. Underberg said. “But for many people they can be a marker of increased risk — a warning sign that you need to look for things like small, dense LDL particles, low HDL, hypertension and diabetes.”

How Exercise Can Help You Live Longer – NYTimes.com

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS APRIL 2, 2014, 12:01 AM 61 

Having unhealthy cholesterol numbers, elevated blood pressure or an expanding waistline substantially increases your chances of developing heart disease. But an encouraging new study finds that exercise may slash that risk, even if your other risk factors stay high.

Decades ago, scientists first began linking certain health conditions with heart disease. In the famous Framingham Heart Study, for instance, researchers monitored the health and lifestyles of more than 5,200 adults living in Framingham, Mass., starting in 1948. Using the resulting data, the scientists determined that high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, obesity, age, gender and smoking each had measurable impacts on whether someone would develop cardiovascular disease.

From their findings, the researchers developed the Framingham Risk Score, which calculates the likelihood of someone experiencing a heart attack within the next 10 years, based on his or her health numbers, especially blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The Framingham Risk Score calculator does not ask about physical activity. But many studies, including continuing portions of the Framingham study, have conclusively shown that people who exercise have a smaller risk of developing or dying from heart disease than sedentary people.

Few of those studies, however, have teased out the unique role of physical activity from those of related lifestyle and health factors. Fit people, after all, may have healthier diets and tend also to have healthy cholesterol profiles, low blood pressure, little inclination to smoke and svelte waistlines (fat around the middle is known to be particularly dangerous for heart health). Those factors could be driving the reduction in heart disease risk, with exercise insufficient by itself to reduce someone’s risk of heart problems.

In other words, most past studies did not determine whether exercise would lower someone’s risk of cardiac disease even when that person continued to have high blood pressure or other health problems.

So, for a study published in December in PLOS One, researchers at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, set out to better quantify the role of exercise by turning to a trove of existing data about the health of 8,662 Australian men and women. Fifteen years before, these volunteers, then ages 30 to 55, had submitted to cholesterol, blood pressure, waist circumference and other health screenings and completed questionnaires detailing how many minutes they had exercised in the past two weeks and whether the exercise had been easy or relatively vigorous, meaning it had caused them to huff and sweat.

Using these numbers, the researchers determined each participant’s Framingham Risk Score at the time of the original measurements. They also divided the group into three categories based on the frequency and intensity of exercise. Someone in the bottom third of exercisers reported never or rarely getting much exercise, apart from an occasional gentle stroll. Those in the middle range reported often walking briskly and occasionally engaging in more vigorous activities, while those in the top category of exercisers said that they worked out almost every day, often vigorously.

Then the researchers checked the names of the volunteers against a national death registry in Australia, which delineates someone’s cause of death, if it’s known.

Two hundred and eleven of the men and women had died of heart disease in the intervening years. Most had had high Framingham Risk Scores and large waistlines. But exercise habits, too, also appeared to play an outsized role in survival. Over all, people in the lowest exercise category had about twice the risk of dying from heart disease as those in the middle group and six times the risk of those in the group who exercised the most often and vigorously.

More surprising, when the researchers controlled for each volunteer’s Framingham risk score and waist size, they found that exercising still significantly reduced people’s risk of dying from heart disease. The benefits were fainter, amounting to about half as much risk reduction as before adjustment for these health factors. But they accrued even among volunteers who had less-than-ideal blood pressure, cholesterol levels or waistlines. Someone with a high Framingham score who exercised had less risk of dying than someone with a similar score who did not.

The study’s results do not suggest, of course, that any of us should now willfully ignore cholesterol or other standard risk factors when considering heart health, said Satvinder Dhaliwal, a professor at Curtin University, who with Timothy Welborn and Peter Howat, conducted the study. But the data does suggest that “identifying and increasing physical activity” may be “at least as important as the measurement and treatment of lipids and hypertension,” he said.

If you aren’t active, he said, talk with your doctor about whether you are healthy enough to begin an exercise program. Then, with clearance, go for a walk. In his study, people who walked often and briskly were far more likely to be alive 15 years later than those who rarely got up and moved.

via How Exercise Can Help You Live Longer – NYTimes.com.

Bumps in the Road to New Cholesterol Guidelines – NYTimes.com

Dr. Steven Nissen, a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist, said of a medical committee’s guidelines, “There will be a large backlash.”


It was supposed to be a moment of triumph. An august committee had for the first time relied only on the most rigorous scientific evidence to formulate guidelines to prevent heart attacks and strokes, which kill one out of every three Americans. The group had worked for five years, unpaid, to develop them. Then, at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, it all went horribly awry.

Enlarge This Image

Megan Bearder for The New York Times

Dr. Neil J. Stone of Northwestern University led the committee whose guidelines have upset many doctors.

Many leading cardiologists now say the credibility of the guidelines, released Nov. 14, is shattered. And the troubled effort to devise them has raised broader questions about what kind of evidence should be used to direct medical practice, how changes should be introduced and even which guidelines to believe.

“This was a catastrophic misunderstanding of how you go about this sort of huge change in public policy,” said Dr. Steven Nissen, a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist who is a past president of the American College of Cardiology. “There will be a large backlash.”

What went wrong? Some critics say the drafting committee mistakenly relied only on randomized controlled clinical trials, the gold standard of medical evidence, but ignored other strong data that would have led to different conclusions. The group’s efforts were severely underfunded. And it announced fundamental changes in medical practices without allowing a public debate before its guidelines were completed.

“A lot of people expect they can come up with guidelines as a pure scientific discourse and present them to the public,” said Dr. J. Sanford Schwartz. a committee member and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “That’s what we did here, but the world has changed.”

When the new guidelines were released, many doctors were shocked that they were suddenly being told to stop their decades-long practice of monitoring levels of LDL cholesterol, the kind that increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, after patients begin taking statin medicines.

Others were stunned when a pair of Harvard medical professors offered evidence within days of the guidelines’ release that its new online risk calculator greatly overestimated a person’s chance of having a heart attack or stroke.

The committee writing the guidelines made a critical, early decision to consider only evidence from clinical trials, a marked departure from how previous guidelines were made. Some independent experts provided with an advance draft of the guidelines, including Dr. Roger S. Blumenthal of Johns Hopkins and Dr. Antonio M. Gotto Jr., a former president of the heart association, objected. They said a wealth of genetic and populations data indicated that lower cholesterol levels are better, especially for high-risk patients. The same critique would loom large after the guidelines were released.

Committee members also said they struggled with inadequate financial support. They originally formulated 18 important questions they would seek to answer. But it was soon apparent that they had overreached and did not have nearly enough money from the National Institutes of Health for such an ambitious effort.

“It definitely was a funding issue,” said Dr. Daniel J. Rader, a lipid specialist at the University of Pennsylvania who was a committee member for much of the time

via Bumps in the Road to New Cholesterol Guidelines – NYTimes.com.

Experts Reshape Treatment Guide for Cholesterol – NYTimes.com

The nation’s leading heart organizations released new guidelines on Tuesday that will fundamentally reshape the use of cholesterol-lowering statin medicines, which are now prescribed for a quarter of Americans over 40. Patients on statins will no longer need to lower their cholesterol levels to specific numerical targets monitored by regular blood tests, as has been recommended for decades. Simply taking the right dose of a statin will be sufficient, the guidelines say.

The new approach divides people needing treatment into two broad risk categories. Those at high risk because, for example, they have diabetes or have had a heart attack should take a statin except in rare cases. People with extremely high levels of the harmful cholesterol known as LDL — 190 or higher — should also be prescribed statins. In the past, people in these categories would also have been told to get their LDL down to 70, something no longer required.

Everyone else should be considered for a statin if his or her risk of a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years is at least 7.5 percent. Doctors are advised to use a new risk calculator that factors in blood pressure, age and total cholesterol levels, among other things.

“Now one in four Americans over 40 will be saying, ‘Should I be taking this anymore?\’ ” said Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Yale who was not on the guidelines committee.

The new guidelines, formulated by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology and based on a four-year review of the evidence, simplify the current complex, five-step process for evaluating who needs to take statins. In a significant departure, the new method also counts strokes as well as heart attacks in its risk calculations, a step that will probably make some additional people candidates for the drugs.

It is not clear whether more or fewer people will end up taking the drugs under the new guidelines, experts said. Many women and African-Americans, who have a higher-than-average risk of stroke, may find themselves candidates for treatment, but others taking statins only to lower LDL cholesterol to target levels may no longer need them.

The previous guidelines put such a strong emphasis on lowering cholesterol levels by specific amounts that patients who did not hit their target levels just by taking statins often were prescribed additional drugs like Zetia, made by Merck. But the new guidelines say doctors should no longer prescribe those extra medicines because they have never been shown to prevent heart attacks or strokes.

via Experts Reshape Treatment Guide for Cholesterol – NYTimes.com.

Simple tips: move that olive oil away from the stove!

We went over saturated versus unsaturated fats.

Today let’s look at their stability.

Fats spoil when exposed to oxygen. Saturated fats are more resistant to this, but the polyunsaturated fats you store next to your stove to cook with are very receptacle to spoilage due to all of their less stable double bonds.

Here are some tips to keep your oil from spoiling and to keep it as healthy for you as possible:

  • Store it somewhere cool dark place away from light and heat – like a cabinet away from your oven
  • Do not keep it stored in plastic bottles. Chemicals from the bottle my leach into it.
  • Keep it sealed tightly
  • If your oil is being used to cook and you don’t care about the taste as much you can refrigerate it. It may turn cloudy and be harder to pour but it’s fine to use.
  • If you are using the oil for dipping, salad dressings, etc – things you really want to taste the oil in, you should buy in smaller amounts, store in a cool place, and use relatively quickly- about three months.

This applies to other great oils, like flax and grapeseed oil. You’ll notice flaxseed oil is sold at stores in the refridgerated section in dark, UV proof bottles.

Hope this tip helps a bit! I always kept a glass bottle with a spout of oil next to the stove till I learned it defeated the purpose.

Eat Fat To Burn Fat | LIVESTRONG.COM

Put down the snackwells… here’s a great article why.

Eat Fat To Burn Fat | LIVESTRONG.COM

Eat Fat To Burn Fat | LIVESTRONG.COM.

For a long time, we thought avocadoes were good for nothing but ready-made guac and a decent California burger every now and then. But these little nutritional hand grenades were having an explosive impact on our diets for all that time. How so? They’re infused with a key nutrient for maintaining healthy weight: fat. 

Wait…fat can help us maintain our weight? Fat doesn’t make us fat? In a word: exactly.

Most of the fat that you eat—especially if you want to lose weight—should come from unsaturated sources, both monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA), Glassman says. Why? These good-for-you foods (like fish, seeds, nuts, leafy vegetables, olive oil, and, of course, avocadoes) pack tons of nutrients. Besides removing LDL cholesterol from arteries and promoting a healthier heart, unsaturated fat can help you burn fat big time without cutting calories. A 2009 study in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that participants who consumed the most unsaturated fatty acids have lower body mass indexes and less abdominal fat than those who consumed the least. Why? The unsaturated folks ate higher-quality foods. 

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/557726-eat-fat-to-burn-fat/#ixzz21N0LBp1A