Tag Archives: diet

Lowering Cholesterol Levels Through Diet

Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels can greatly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease development and stroke while promoting heart health. According to current guidelines for blood cholesterol management, adults should have a total cholesterol reading of less than 200 mg/dL however, many individuals struggle with high levels of triglycerides and low levels of HDL putting them at risk for heart disease.

For some, lowering cholesterol levels requires a multifactorial approach comprised of medication, weight management, physical activity, and nutritional restrictions. Other individuals with elevated cholesterol levels may benefit from simple dietary changes such as reducing animal protein intake and increasing vegetable consumption, which can lower total cholesterol by 25% or more.

As recommended by Harvard Health Publishing, the following four steps may help lower cholesterol levels through nutritional intervention:

Consume Unsaturated Fats, Avoid Saturated and Trans Fats

Consuming heart healthy vegetable fats and oils comprised of unsaturated fats can have a significant impact on cholesterol levels. Patients can benefit by incorporating more foods such as oily fish, nuts, seeds, and unsaturated oils into their diet as well as avoiding saturated and trans fats.

Reducing amounts of saturated and trans fat has shown the potential to reduce cholesterol by 5% to 10%. Certain meats, dairy products, baked goods, and processed foods are rich in saturated fat, which raises LDL cholesterol. Any foods made with partially hydrogenated oils and fats can also raise LDL levels while lowering HDL, due to their trans-fat content.

Eat More Soluble Fiber 

Soluble fiber has been found to reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol by reducing its absorption into the bloodstream. Five to 10 grams of soluble fiber consumed daily can have a beneficial effect on LDL levels – one serving of whole-grain cereal can provide up to 4 grams of fiber. Other fiber-rich foods include kidney beans and other legumes, brussels sprouts, apples, bananas, and other fruits.  

Incorporate Plant Sterols and Stanols 

Research indicates that plant stanol esters can help block cholesterol absorption and three daily servings may be enough to lower cholesterol by 20 points. Naturally occurring in many grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and seeds, plant sterols and stanols are similar in structure to cholesterol which allows them to limit the amount of absorbed cholesterol. Due to their powerful cholesterol-lowering qualities, sterols and stanols are increasingly being added to a number of food products such as margarine spreads, juices, and yogurts.

Develop a Personalized Diet 

Genetic and physiological differences are important factors to consider when adhering to a new nutritional plan or making dietary changes. There is no universal dietary plan that has the same applicable benefits for all individuals, however, patients should be encouraged to develop their own personalized cholesterol lowering diets rich in healthy fats, whole grains, and plant-based proteins.

Simple dietary changes can have a powerful impact on patient cholesterol levels however, in some cases cholesterol lowering medications may still be necessary. Maintaining a healthy diet filled with unsaturated fats, soluble fiber, as well as plant sterols and stanols, has the potential to reduce the dosage of needed medication while promoting overall physical and mental health.

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The Connection Between Food and Mood

The role of nutrition in the development of mood disorders has recently become a central focus of clinical research.  In recent years, public awareness of the intimate relationship between the brain and mental wellbeing has increasingly grown. The high metabolic and nutrient demands of the brain — which consumes 20% of a person’s daily caloric intake — suggest a connection between dietary choices and cognitive function, sparking a multitude of studies seeking to determine the specific connections of nutrients and mood disorders.

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Recent Study Finds Kids Are Eating Too Much Sugar

In June of 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study with chilling results regarding children’s nutrition & sugar consumption. The study, presented at the American Society for Nutrition’s annual meeting during Nutrition 2018 in Boston, assessed sugar consumption among children less than 2 years old: the first time that a study had analyzed “added sugar” consumption among children in such a young cohort.

While the American Heart Association already recommends that very young children, under the age of 2, always avoid food with added sugars—including baked goods, candy, sugary drinks, etc.—researchers at the CDC have found that many parents do not follow these guidelines.

Lead study author Kirsten Herrick, a nutritional epidemiologist from the CDC, and her team found that the amount of added sugar increased along with a child’s age: for the children between 6 and 11 months, 61 percent of the sugar in their diet was added sugar; yet by the time children reached between 1 and 2 years old, that amount was even higher. Almost 99 percent of the sugar consumed by those children was added: i.e., not naturally occurring in the food items, and equaled an approximate average of 5.5 teaspoons each day.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for America do not include recommendations regarding “added sugar” for any children under 2 years of age; for children between 2 and 19, the recommendation is a daily limit of 6 teaspoons. Nevertheless, a CDC report confirms that on average, adult Americans consume 19.5 teaspoons of sugar each day—far exceeding the recommended limits.

Excessive sugar consumption is unhealthy for many reasons; while many problems can manifest during childhood, including obesity, cavities asthma, other major health issues such as cardiovascular disease and cancer can occur later in life. Moreover, statistics demonstrate that added sugar is particularly damaging for children, as it sets diet preferences that can ultimately lead them to make poor nutritional choices later in life. And until recently, young children and teens were not diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, yet given the large percentage of American youth that are overweight, children as young as 10 years old are now developing diabetes.

SOURCES
https://abcnews.go.com/Health/toddlers-consuming-added-sugar-study-finds/story?id=55719076
https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2018/06/11/toddlers-you-are-eating-too-much-added-sugar-study-suggests/#46c8b82f9508
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db122.pdf
https://www.cdc.gov/features/prevent-diabetes-kids/index.html

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