Archive for the ‘Diet’ Category

Proper digestion and healthy nutrition are closely connected with you heart’s normal functioning. Follow these simple tips to please your digestive system and make your heart healthier.

Avoid trans fatty acids

Trans fatty acids are most commonly found in commercially prepared baked goods, partially-hydrogenated margarine, snack foods and processed foods. For instance, French fries and onion rings which have a great deal of trans fatty acids. Trans fats are bad for cholesterol levels as they increase bad LDL-C and lower good HDL-C. It is therefore important to avoid all foods containing trans fatty acids. Keep a look-out for trans fat listed on food labels, where it’s situated right below saturated fats.

Limit foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol

Saturated fats are mainly animal fats, found mostly in animal or animal-derived foods. These include whole-fat dairy products, for instance, fresh milk, butter, full cream milk, cheese and mayonnaise as well as meat fat (ghee, lard, fats from beef and chicken). Some plant foods (coconut oil, santan) are also high in saturated fats. Saturated fats damage the body by increasing LDL-C levels, so it’s best to limit your consumption. It’s also wise to cut down on all animal meats and products. Being sources of cholesterol, they tend to raise LDL-C levels. Foods with high cholesterol levels are prawns, crabs, oysters and squid. The worst culprits, however, are offal (liver, brain, kidney and intestine) and egg yolk. It’s fine to have two to three eggs a week, provided you keep your animal fats intake low.

Use more monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)

Unsaturated fats are found in products derived from plant sources such as nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. There are two types of unsaturated fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Both types are beneficial as they help lower LDL-C. You can find monounsaturated fats in plant oils such as canola, olive, and peanut. Sources for polyunsaturated fats include plant oils (corn, sunflower, soy) and nuts (almonds, hazelnuts). Another type of healthy polyunsaturated fat is omega-3-fatty acid, which is found in salmon and tuna.

Increase your fibre intake

There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble:-Soluble fibre (such as beta glucan, pectin, etc) can be mainly found in high amount in oats, barley, legumes and some fruits (such as apples). Insoluble fibre is found in fruits, vegetables, seeds and whole grains (which can be found in high amount in wholegrain and wholemeal bread and some breakfast cereals). Do try to consume a combination of both types of fibre by adding high fibre foods in your daily diet. The recommended total dietary intake of fibre is 20-30g per day, out of which at least 6g should comprise soluble fibre

On the spur of the moment many of us would want to go on a diet in order to stay healthy and fit.

However, it is necessary to emphasize that you should know the objective of your diet management which might include one or all of the following:

  • If you are diabetic, you need to control the levels of glucose in blood and prevent loss of glucose in urine.
  • Achievement of  a satisfactory weight. Overweight is indeed a health hazard particularly for diabetics. If you are under-weight, you will need to increase your body weight.
  • Provision of a palatable diet which is acceptable to each individual.
  • Getting sufficient calories for normal activities.

Once the objectives are clear, the next step is to:

  • Develop the diet plan relative to each person depending on his/her age, weight, height and activity. The planned diet should take into account the individual’s economic status, availability and cost of food items, national, religious and social customs, personal idiosyncrasies, occupation, facilities for preparing and obtaining meals and so on.
  • Define whether the person is diabetic or not.
  • Determine the nutritional requirements of the person.

Unfortunately, we still see people eating the same food over and over again. They simply resist changing their nutritional habits for their benefit.

However, it is important to understand the following : “ Eating well, while eating right; Eating right is half the fight!”

What it means here is that you can have a free choice for possible substitutions in your diet instead of  sticking to the same program. Just make sure you meet your objectives.

Cholesterol has mistakenly been shown the main villain in heart disease whereas the fact is that one type is good for you!

In fact:

  • Studies show that foods high in cholesterol don’t raise the cholesterol level
  • An increase of the good type of cholesterol – HDL – is good for your heart
  • A diet high in vegetables and soy can lead to a reduction in cholesterol level
  • Niacin (vitamin B3) supplements can also lower the bad cholesterol level

The hype about cholesterol started after a scientist found that rabbits developed heart disease after being fed cholesterol. He didn’t realize that because rabbits are vegetarians they have no means of dealing with animal fat.

Recent controlled tests have shown that an increase in the consumption of shrimps and eggs, which are high in cholesterol, do not lead to an increase in levels.

However, this doesn’t mean you can go out and binge on cholesterol. The problem is that foods high in cholesterol are mostly high in saturated fats, which most definitely are bad for hearts and arteries.

A complication with cholesterol is that there are two types: HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein) and LDL cholesterol (low density lipoprotein).

If you have a high cholesterol level, and much of it is LDL cholesterol, you’re at high risk for heart disease. A relatively high level of HDL usually means low risk. If your HDL makes up one-fifth of your amount of cholesterol you have average risk of heart disease – this is a ratio of cholesterol to HDL of 5:1. With only one-eighth of HDL you’re at high risk. If HDL accounts for one-third you’re low risk (3:1).

However, having a very small amount of cholesterol in your body is not good news either! People with low levels have been found to lead to strokes and to cause anti-social behavior.

How do you lower a high level of cholesterol? A recent report showed that a diet high in soy products, beans and vegetables, and without meat or fish could lower the level as much as some medications.

Nutritional supplements lower cholesterol levels. Also, recent studies show that taking fairly large amounts of niacin (B3) can have more effect than the cholesterol-lowering drugs gemfribrozil and lovastatin in reducingl levels. They do this by increasing the HDL level, while reducing total cholesterol levels.

However, if you take 500-1,500mg niacin, which you need to reduce cholesterol levels,  you may find that you get flushed uncomfortably. You can overcome this by taking the supplement in smaller doses three times a day, or by taking ‘no-flush niacin’.

So, if you are at risk with high cholesterol make sure that it is LDL cholesterol that is relatively high, and take a niacin supplement. Of course, never abandon medications without the advice of a doctor. Niacin and cholesterol-lowering drugs have been found to work well together.