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Monthly Archives: September 2016

What Foods Should You Choose to improve Heart Health?

More confirmation demonstrates that the sustenances individuals eat can assume a capable part in heart wellbeing, influencing various distinctive hazard elements for coronary illness.

Keeping in mind specialists have known for quite a long time that trans fat and included sugar are terrible for the heart, new data about other nourishment fixings —, for example, coconut oil, fake sweeteners and mixes called plant sterols — is as yet becoming exposed.

“There are various thorough studies being performed connecting supplements to levels of hazard elements, similar to cholesterol levels or body weight,” said Dr. Amit Khera, the executive of the Preventive Cardiology Program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Khera gave a discussion on plant sterols, here at an examination meeting called the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.

Bigger studies are still expected to make authoritative proposals, yet scientists are progressively completing these sorts of studies, Khera told Live Science.

From Khera’s exploration and other work displayed at the meeting, here is a gathering of four nourishments that are in some cases thought to be heart sound — and a glance at what the examination truly says.

# Coconut oil

Coconut oil has recently surged in popularity, touted by some for its ability to help prevent heart disease.

And although there are indeed some favorable aspects to coconut oil — it shouldn’t be thought of as “unhealthy,” per se — more research is still needed to determine whether it can really be considered a heart-healthy food ingredient, said Jo Ann Carson, the director of the department of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, during her presentation on Monday.

The benefits of coconut oil may come from molecules called medium-chain fatty acids, which are a type of saturated fat, Carson said.

Although coconut oil’s fatty acids raise the levels of bad cholesterol, they appear to raise the levels of good cholesterol even more, potentially balancing out the negative effects, Carson said. However, more studies are still needed, she added.

There’s also some evidence to suggest that medium-chain fatty acids are processed differently in the body than are other types of saturated fat, Carson said. This means the medium chains contained in coconut oil are less likely to be stored as fat or plaques in blood vessels, she said.

Carson drew an important distinction between much of the commonly available processed coconut oil and virgin coconut oil. During processing, coconut oil is heated, which can cause hydrogenation, Carson said. This actually increases the saturated fat content of the oil, and can even generate small amounts of trans fats, she said.

Virgin coconut oil, on the other hand, is made by simply pressing fresh coconut, which in addition to avoiding the formation of trans fat, also preserves phytonutrients, she said. Phytonutrients are plant compounds that can have health benefits.

# Monounsaturated fats

Previous studies have shown that monounsaturated fats may have benefits for heart health, and there is increasing evidence that these fats may also be beneficial for weight loss, Peter Jones, the director of the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals at the University of Manitoba in Canada, said during his presentation.

In Jones’ previous study, the Canola Oil Multicenter Intervention Trial I, researchers found that people who ate diets high in canola oil — which is rich in monounsaturated fats — had slightly lower body weight and slightly less visceral (belly) fat compared with people whose diets contained more polyunsaturated fats. (The study received funding from the Canola Oil Council of Canada, Dow AgroSciences and the Flax Council of Canada.)

Although it remains unclear how monounsaturated fats may influence body weight, some studies have suggested ways that these fats may play a role in weight loss, Jones said. For example, some scientists have suggested that monounsaturated fats increase fat oxidation (the “burning” of fat in the body for energy), and some have suggested these fats help people to feel full, Jones said.

Despite the potential benefits of monounsaturated fats, moderation still needs to be the key message, he noted.

# Plant sterols and stanols

Sterols and stanols are plant compounds that are similar in structure to cholesterol and that block the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines.

Certain foods such as vegetables and nuts have naturally occurring plant sterols and stanols, while others such as orange juice and milk can be fortified with these compounds. Such foods have been shown to be effective in lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and are currently recommended by the American Heart Association.

When people consume plant sterols and stanols, very little of the compounds ends up in the bloodstream, Khera said.

The compounds are available as supplements, but taking more of the compounds isn’t better, Khera said. In people with a rare genetic condition called sitosterolemia, the body over-absorbs plant sterols and stanols into the bloodstream, and does not properly eliminate them, leading to high cholesterol. Sitosterolemia increases risk ofatherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

For people who don’t have sitosterolemia, taking a plant sterol or stanol supplement wouldn’t pose a risk, Khera told Live Science. However, because the risk of atherosclerosis associated with getting plant sterols and stanols from food is so much lower, he recommends avoiding the supplements until further studies are done to evaluate their safety.

# Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners have come under attack in recent years, with some studies linking the zero-calorie sweeteners to weight gain or increased blood-sugar levels.

But Rachel Johnson, a professor of nutrition and pediatrics at the University of Vermont, said that artificial sweeteners can be included in a healthy diet and may help people with weight loss or weight maintenance.

Artificial sweeteners can be included in a healthy diet and may help people with weight loss or weight maintenance, Johnson said at the meeting. Of course, it is important that people don’t turn around and add other calorie-rich foods and drinks to their diets, she added.

Some studies have found that people who drink diet beverages are more likely to be overweight or obese than people who skip the diet drinks; however, these studies do not prove cause and effect, Johnson said. Rather, it may be that people who are already overweight or obese choose these drinks in attempts to help control their weight, she said.

Johnson pointed to several randomized control trials that showed that swapping out sugar-sweetened beverages for diet or low-calorie versions resulted in modest weight loss.

An influential study published in 2014 in the journal Nature suggested one type of artificial sweetener, saccharin, may increase blood-sugar levels in humans. But Johnson argued that the dose given to the study participants far exceeded what people normally consume. Additionally, the human part of the trial included only seven people for just one week, which is too small a population and too short a time to draw firm conclusions, she said.

Speaking about all the talks presented at the session, Jones noted that while more studies are needed, researchers do already have a massive amount of nutrition science under their belts.

As such, one of the steps needed now is for researchers to carefully evaluate which studies are valuable and which are not, Jones told Live Science. That way, researchers can group the more important contributions together, excluding other work that may be flawed, he said.

Simple Way to Get More Exercise

exercisePractice is imperative for your wellbeing, and it’s a critical piece of weight reduction. Doing 30 to a hour of physical action every day is especially useful for keeping weight off once you’ve lost it, specialists say. In any case, discovering approaches to do that, and remaining persuaded to do it, is not generally simple.

You don’t need to do all your physical action for the day without a moment’s delay, however you ought to intend to do no less than 10 minutes of practice at once. Here are a few tips for getting more work out:

Pick an exercise you like

Some people start a new exercise regimen only to stop shortly afterward because it wasn’t working for them. When this happens, it helps to take a realistic look at the barriers to exercise, said Wayne Miller, the programs director at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine’s Center for Rural and Community Health, who has studied weight loss and exercise.

Often, people choose an exercise that they aren’t comfortable with — for instance, they feel awkward at the gym, or dislike participating in sports. Picking a different activity that’s more enjoyable for the person, like a Zumba class or swimming, might increase the chances that they’ll stick with the exercise, Miller said.

And if specific skills are a concern, you might try picking an activity that requires minimum equipment, like walking, jogging or jumping rope, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Exercise with friends

If you need motivation to get moving, it may be helpful to recruit friends to exercise with you. Friends can provide encouragement and may help you stick with your exercise routine, according to the National Institutes of Health.

And social connections may make exercise more enjoyable  — a 2013 study of more than 100 people who took short surveys on their mobile phone throughout the day found that those who were doing physical activity with their spouse, friends or co-workers at a given moment were happier, and enjoyed the physical activity more, compared with those doing physical activity alone.

Move more at work

Even during a busy workday, you can likely find time to get a little exercise in at work. You might consider taking a 10-minute walk during a coffee break, or walking around with a co-worker during a brainstorm session, rather than sitting at a conference table.

You could also walk around during business calls if you don’t need to look at important documents, the American Heart Association says. Your commute to and from work is another opportunity for exercise — if you take public transportation, get off a stop earlier than you usually do and walk the extra distance, or take the stairs instead of the elevator to your office.

Move more at home

There are also a number of opportunities to squeeze in more exercise at home. Doing housework or gardening can count as exercise — mowing the lawn with a hand mower burns about 235 calories in 30 minutes, and vacuuming burns about 140 calories in 30 minutes, according to the Compendium of Physical Activities Tracking Guide from the University of South Carolina, which lists the calories burned during many different types of physical activity.

You might also consider buying exercise equipment so you can work out while doing activities that would otherwise be sedentary, like watching TV. Equipment can be pricey, but it is a one-time expense and can be used by the whole family, the AHA notes.

Know More about Dietary Fat

dietary-fatDespite the fact that it gets negative criticism, fat is an essential supplement that the body needs to work. Eating the appropriate sum — and the right shape — of dietary fat is critical to keeping up great wellbeing, specialists say. In any case, devouring a lot of fat or too little may bring about wellbeing issues.

# Function of fat

Fat is a macronutrient. There are three macronutrients: protein, fats and starches. Macronutrients are supplements that give calories or vitality. Extensive sums are required to manage life, consequently the expression “large scale,” as indicated by the University of Illinois McKinley Health Center. The measure of vitality gave by the macronutrients shifts: fat has 9 calories for every gram, more than double the quantity of calories in carbs and protein, which each have 4 calories for each gram.

The primary function of fat is as an energy reserve, according to Iowa State University. The body stores fat, or adipose tissue, as a result of excess calorie consumption. During exercise, the body first uses calories from carbohydrates for energy. After about 20 minutes, it uses calories from stored fat to keep going, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Fats also help the body absorb necessary fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K), said Jim White, a Virginia Beach-based registered dietitian, health fitness specialist and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Dietary fat also helps keep hair and skin healthy, insulates the body, protects organs and fills fat cells.

“Fat plays a role in the diet and shouldn’t be avoided,” said White. “Your body needs healthy sources of fat, also known as essential fatty acids, because the body can’t produce these fatty acids naturally.” Essential fatty acids contribute to brain development, blood clotting and aid in inflammatory control, according to the NIH.

There are several types of fat — some good, some bad, some well understood and some less so. Saturated fats and trans fats are commonly considered unhealthy, while unsaturated fats — including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat — are considered healthy. All foods that contain fats have a mix of fat types, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

— Saturated fats

Saturated fats are saturated with hydrogen molecules. According to White, saturated fat comes from animal sources, such as red meats, poultry and full-or-reduced fat dairy products.

“Saturated fats are solid at room temperature,” said Ximena Jimenez, a Miami-based nutritionist and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She cited lard as an example. Other examples include cheese and butter. Oils that are solid at room temperature, like palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil, also contain saturated fats. This means that baked goods can be high in saturated fats.

“Saturated fat is linked to high cholesterol levels and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” said White. Saturated fats also tend to contain a lot of calories.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends getting only 5 to 6 percent of calories from saturated fat. This puts someone on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet with 120 calories or 13 grams of saturated fats per day. The 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines allow for up to 10 percent of calories to come from saturated fat.

— Trans fats (also called trans fatty acids)

According to Jimenez, trans fats are sometimes found naturally in meats or dairy, but usually in small amounts. More often, she said, they are “produced by the food industry for the purpose to increase shelf life of the product.” This is done by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make the oils more solid. These are called partially hydrogenated oils. Jimenez said that they are often found in “convenient foods” like frozen pizzas. Other common sources of trans fats include baked goods, crackers, refrigerated dough, margarine and coffee creamer. Fast food restaurants often use them in deep fryers because partially hydrogenated oil does not have to be changed as often as regular oil.

Trans fats are not recommended at all because of the link to heart diseases,” warned Jimenez. In fact, they are often considered the worst type of fat. According to the AHA, they both lower your good cholesterol and increase your bad cholesterol. In 2013, the FDA decreed that partially hydrogenated oils were no longer considered safe. There is currently a three-year adjustment period in place so that food manufacturers can change their practices or seek approval. In the meantime, the Mayo Clinic recommends checking labels and looking for the words “partially hydrogenated.”

— Triglycerides

Triglycerides are a potentially dangerous type of fat found in blood, according to the NIH. They are associated with coronary artery disease, especially in women.

The body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides, which are stored in the fat cells. They are supposed to provide energy between meals, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you eat more calories than you expend, however, the body does not burn triglycerides, and they accumulate. Most types of fat we eat become triglycerides.

The Mayo Clinic provides the following guidelines for healthy triglyceride levels:

  • Normal: Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or less than 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)
  • Borderline high: 150 to 199 mg/dL (1.8 to 2.2 mmol/L)
  • High: 200 to 499 mg/dL (2.3 to 5.6 mmol/L)
  • Very high: 500 mg/dL or above (5.7 mmol/L or above)

A blood test can reveal your triglyceride levels.

— Monounsaturated fats

These fats get their name because they are not saturated with hydrogen molecules and because they have a single carbon bond in the fat molecule (called a double bond). “They are liquid at room temperature. Examples are canola, peanut or olive oil,” said Jimenez. Olives and avocadoes also contain monounsaturated fats, White added.

“[Monounsaturated fats] are known to have a heart-protective role,” said Jimenez. White noted that they have been linked to improved cholesterol levels, and the Mayo Clinic adds that they may help insulin levels and blood sugar control.

It is still important to watch your intake of monounsaturated fats because of their high caloric content, said Jimenez. Though there are no specific guidelines on how many monounsaturated fats to consume, the Mayo Clinic suggests that most of your total fat intake should come from healthy fats.

— Polyunsaturated fats

Like monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats are not saturated with hydrogen molecules. They get their name from having more than one carbon bond (double bond) in the fat molecule, according to the AHA. They are liquid at room temperature.

Polyunsaturated fats are found mostly in plant food sources, such as soybeans and soybean oil, sunflower oil, sunflower seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds, White said. They’re also present in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel and trout.

“[Polyunsatured fats] have been shown to impact blood cholesterol levels leading to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease,” said White. They also help with cell development and maintenance and add vitamin E to your diet.

Polyunsatured fats provide essential fatty acids, including omega-6 and omega-3, according to White.

Though there are no specific guidelines on how many polyunsaturated fats to consume, the Mayo Clinic suggests that most of your total fat intake should come from healthy fats.

— Omega-3 fatty acids

“Omega-3 fatty acids are a polyunsaturated fat that can come from plant-based sources and are also found in fish,” said White. “Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to lower blood pressure levels.”

Jimenez added that they are also important anti-inflammatories. On a cellular level, omega-3 fatty acids work like aspirin to inhibit an enzyme that produces hormones that trigger inflammation.

She recommended eating cold-water fish like salmon, herring, tuna and mackerel, as well as walnuts, olive oil and canola oil. Some people take fish oil to up their omega-3 intake.

There are no standard recommendations for the amount of omega-3s you need every day. The American Heart Association recommends eating 3.5 ounces of fish at least twice a week to get a good amount of omega-3s. No one should consume more than 3 grams of omega-3s from supplements without consulting a doctor, as it may cause bleeding.

— Omega-6 fatty acids

“Omega-6 fatty acids are also polyunsaturated fats commonly found in plant-based oils,” said White. Good sources include vegetable, corn, peanut, grapeseed and sunflower oils, as well as mayonnaise and many salad dressings.

According to White, omega-6 fatty acids promote healthy skin and hair growth and benefit a healthy metabolism. They also help maintain bone health and the reproductive system.

In excessive amounts, some types of healthy-omega-6 fatty acids may cause the body to produce inflammatory chemicals, according to theUniversity of Maryland Medical Center. This is important to note because in general, Americans get far more omega-6 fatty acids than necessary and far too few omega-3s. The American Heart Associationrecommends that between 5 and 10 percent of calories come from omega-6 fatty acids.

“Your fat consumption should be proportional to your weight and dietary lifestyle,” said White. If you’re trying to change your body or become healthier, it should be proportional to your goals. “You will need to look at how many calories you need to consume daily to maintain, lose weight, or gain weight (based on your goals).”

White said that the average adult should get 20 to 35 percent of their calories from healthy fat sources. An adult eating a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet could eat 44 to 78 grams of fat in a day. Some healthy fat sources include olive oil, avocadoes, salmon, tuna, walnuts, flax seeds and sunflower seeds, said White.

“If you eliminate fat too much, it can have serious health consequences,” said Jennifer Fitzgibbon, a registered oncology dietitian at Stony Brook Hospital Cancer Center in New York. “Mental health deficits like depression and vitamin deficiencies can occur. The vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble, meaning the body stores them in fatty tissue and the liver. The intestines need dietary fat to properly absorb these nutrients. These vitamins are also necessary for the health of your skin, bones and cardiovascular system, among other organs and systems.”

“It isn’t very common for someone to be deficient in fat in their diet, most people are guilty of having too much fat in their diet. Anything over an average amount is too much,” said White.

If you eat too much fat, you will likely gain weight, which is linked to health problems. Research on fat is ongoing, but some studies suggest that excess fat may play a role in heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic. Eating too much fat is also linked to high cholesterol.

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) create a committee to update the official U.S. Dietary Guidelines. The most current version available is from 2010. That version advises that 20 to 35 percent of calories come from fat. In 2015, however, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) issued a recommendation to remove restrictions on fat consumption.

There is a growing body of evidence that emphasizes getting healthy fats and avoiding unhealthy ones rather than cutting fats altogether, according to the Mayo Clinic. White advises not to cut all dietary fat, but to keep track of it. “Focus on consuming healthy fat sources instead of unhealthy fat to help toward weight-loss goals,” he said.

Furthermore, low-fat diets often lead to people eating highly processed foods that are high in refined sugar and carbohydrates but low in fat. Rather than specifying how much fat to consume, the DGAC advised eating more vegetables and limiting sugar.