Category Archives: HDL Cholesterol

New review highlights benefits of plant-based diets for heart health

There seems to be a lot of pro-plant based diet info coming out of late. The old ‘meat and potatoes’ diets we grew up on in the ’50’s are being viewed in some doubt. Attitudes change as we learn more about health benefits. While I don’t mean to equate smoking with eating meat, I remember when my first wife was pregnant with our daughter in the 1960’s she said she was going to quit smoking till the baby was born. I thought that seemed really extreme at the time. These days no sane mom-to-be would consider ‘lighting up.’

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Vegetarian, especially vegan, diets are associated with better cardiovascular health, according to a new review published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases.

Researchers with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine looked at multiple clinical trials and observational studies and found strong and consistent evidence that plant-based dietary patterns can prevent and reverse atherosclerosis and decrease other markers of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, including blood pressure, blood lipids, and weight. Continue reading

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Filed under blocked arteries, cardiovascular diseases, cardiovascular health, cholesterol, good weight loss foods, HDL Cholesterol, hypertension, LDL Cholesterol, weight loss

Famous people born today – January 26

General Douglas MacArthur, Paul Newman, Angela Davis, Wayne Gretzky, Eddie Van Halen, Jules Feiffer and Ellen DeGeneres were all born on January 26.

Oh, yes, and one not so famous. It’s also my birthday. I am now 78 years old. I am happy to say that I feel great and am healthier than I was 20 years ago when I toiled in the working world.

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This is my birthday picture from last year. It’s the only one I have that’s decorated.

This is from my birthday blog post last year:

One of the main reasons I feel like I have things so together is this blog. I started writing it in March of 2010 with a partner who has since left for other pursuits. From the beginning, I discovered a focus. At first it was simply trying to keep my weight down. I learned portion control and serving size. This Italian guy was surprised to learn that a “serving” of pasta was not a 10 inch plate heaped with spaghetti noodles smothered in tomato sauce. No, a serving of pasta is about the size of a baseball. Incredibly, that was a revelation to me. But I put the information to use. I began to reduce my portions accordingly. I am not going to recount all the lessons I learned in the past nearly eight years, but if you want to get control of your weight, check out my Page – How to Lose Weight – and Keep it Off. Continue reading

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Filed under 78th birthday, aging, cholesterol, Exercise, HDL Cholesterol, LDL Cholesterol, successful aging

Coconut oil: Healthful or unhealthful? – MNT

Coconut oil has been all the rage for some time. Endorsed by a number of celebrities as a superfood, this tropical-smelling fat — often liberally applied to our skin and scalps — is a favorite of many. But the question remains: is it healthful or not?

Fat suffered a bad reputation for a long time and we were told to opt for low-fat options instead. But the tides turned eventually, prompting us to see fats in a new light.

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Our lives became simpler. We learned how to avoid bad (saturated and hydrogenated) fats and eat good (unsaturated) ones to keep our tickers and arteries healthy.

Then the humble coconut came along in 2003, and the waters were once again muddied. Seen by some as a superfood but recently labeled by the American Heart Association (AHA) as part of the pool of unhealthful fats, the controversy goes on.

So, what are the scientific facts behind the coconut oil hype, and what are the latest developments?

Secret ingredient: ‘Medium-chain’ fatty acids

Many of the purported health claims surrounding coconut oil stem from research published in 2003 by Marie-Pierre St-Onge, Ph.D. — a professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University in New York City, NY. Continue reading

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Non-HDL cholesterol explained – Harvard

When I get my annual physical, I always have blood work done, too. I have often wondered at the various breakdowns of cholesterol. Herewith, an explanation from the Harvard Medical School.

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Q. My recent cholesterol test result included “non-HDL cholesterol.” What is the significance of this number?

A. Your non-HDL cholesterol result refers to your total cholesterol value minus your HDL cholesterol. When you get your blood drawn for a cholesterol test (also known as a lipid profile or lipid panel), the report usually includes four numbers: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol; high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol; triglycerides; and total cholesterol.

Although you might assume total cholesterol is simply the sum of your LDL and HDL, it also includes very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). These particles carry triglycerides to tissues and eventually become LDL. Like LDL, it also causes cholesterol to build up on the inside of arteries, creating artery-clogging plaque. Both are considered undesirable, so the higher your LDL and VLDL values, the higher your risk of heart disease. Continue reading

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The latest buzz word in health: METABOLIC SYNDROME

Herewith a wonderful write up on Metabolic Syndrome, a medical condition that sadly seems to be gaining in popularity. Dr. Jonathan gives a superb explanation of it and what you can do to avoid succumbing to it.

Tony

All About Healthy Choices

page-21croppedThe diagnosis metabolic syndrome dates back to the 1950’s. It became more popular around the late 1970’s when the low fat diets first became popular. Today, it is a diagnosis used regularly to define an ever growing percentage of our population. We doctors make it sound like a “disease” requiring our intervention to overcome this life threatening syndrome. In reality, it is a state of dysfunction caused PRIMARILY by the consumer.

What is Metabolic Syndrome? It is a state of diminishing health based on an individual diagnosed with any three of the following five conditions:

  1. elevated blood pressure (≥ 130/85mmHg)

  2. elevated fasting blood sugar (≥100mg/dL)

  3. excess body fat around the waste (abdominal obesity >35 inches in women and >40 inches in men)

  4. HDL cholesterol ≤40 mg/dL for men or 50 mg/dL for women

  5. elevated triglycerides (≥150 mg/dL)

In real numbers, these conditions exist in the United States population as follows:

  1. as of…

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Cholesterol levels linked Alzheimer’s – MNT

I have mentioned previously about losing three family members to Alzheimer’s Disease and/or dementia. Hence, my own serious concern about these mental conditions. I remember my aunt whom Alzheimer’s took had very high cholesterol late in life and had been warned by her doctor that she needed to get her numbers down. So, this study from  Medical News Today published several years ago had real meaning for me.

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Project leader Bruce Reed, a professor of neurology at the University of California (UC) Davis, and associate director of its Alzheimer’s Disease Center, says:

“Our study shows that both higher levels of HDL – good – and lower levels of LDL – bad – cholesterol in the bloodstream are associated with lower levels of amyloid plaque deposits in the brain.”

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Nuts Improve Cholesterol Levels – Tufts

“Nuts to you” used to be a way of putting someone down. But, according to Tufts, nuts might be a good way to get some of those pesky cholesterol levels down.

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At least part of the proven cardiovascular benefits of eating nuts can be explained by their effects on cholesterol and other blood lipids, according to new Tufts research. The meta-analysis of 61 controlled intervention trials totaling 2,532 participants found that tree nut intake lowered total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and lipoproteins (particles that transport fats through the body). The major determinant of cholesterol lowering appeared to be nut dose rather than nut type, so you can eat your favorite nuts without worrying about nutrient differences.

“This meta-analysis provides the most comprehensive estimates to date of the effects of tree nut intake on major cardiovascular disease risk factors,” says Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, dean of Tufts’ Friedman School and editor-in-chief of the Health & Nutrition Letter, who was a co-author on the study.

Lead author Liana C. Del Gobbo, PhD, adds, “Accumulating evidence indicates that nut intake lowers risk of cardiovascular disease events. Our findings showing that nut intake significantly improves the lipid profile provide critical mechanistic evidence to support a causal link between nut intake and lowered cardiovascular disease risk.” Continue reading

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Harvard on the health aspects of eggs

Don’t feel bad for harboring any confusion about just how healthy or unhealthy eggs are in your diet. There has been a lot of information and, it turns out, some misinformation about the little chicken nuggets over the years. So, to put it eggs-actly straight here is the latest from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Long-vilified for their high cholesterol content by well-meaning doctors and scientists researching heart disease, eggs now seem to be making a bit of a comeback. So what changed?

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While it’s true that just one egg yolk has 200 mg of cholesterol—making it one of the richest sources of dietary cholesterol—eggs also contain additional nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease. In addition, the moderate amount of fat in an egg, about 5 grams, is mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. It’s also crucial to distinguish between dietary cholesterol and cholesterol in the blood, which are only weakly related. The focus on dietary cholesterol alone was de-emphasized as more attention was placed on the influence of saturated and trans fat on blood cholesterol. Accordingly, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 removed the prior recommendation to limit consumption of dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day.

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4 Ways to eat your way to lower cholesterol – Harvard

Following is one of those helpful email I get from Harvard from time to time. I thought you might find it interesting.

Many people can reduce cholesterol levels simply by changing what they eat. For example, if you are a fan of cheeseburgers, eating less meat (and leaner cuts) and more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can lower your total cholesterol by 25% or more. Cutting back on saturated fat (found in meat and dairy products) and trans fat (partially hydrogenated oils) can reduce cholesterol by 5% to 10%.

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Here are four steps for using your diet to lower your cholesterol.

Stick with unsaturated fats and avoid saturated and trans fats. Most vegetable fats (oils) are made up of unsaturated fats that are healthy for your heart. Foods that contain healthy fats include oily fish, nuts, seeds, and some vegetables. At the same time, limit your intake of foods high in saturated fat, which is found in many meat and dairy products, and stay away from trans fats. These include any foods made with “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.”

Get more soluble fiber. Eat more soluble fiber, such as that found in oatmeal and fruits. This type of fiber can lower blood cholesterol levels when eaten as part of a healthy-fat diet. Continue reading

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Saturated fat could be good for you

A Norwegian study challenges the long-held idea that saturated fats are unhealthy

Regular readers know that I am a big supporter of coconut oil – a saturated fat. You can check out my Page – Coconut oil – Why you should include it in your diet for more details.

A new Norwegian diet intervention study (FATFUNC), performed by researchers at the KG Jebsen center for diabetes research at the University of Bergen, raises questions regarding the validity of a diet hypothesis that has dominated for more than half a century: that dietary fat and particularly saturated fat is unhealthy for most people.

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The researchers found strikingly similar health effects of diets based on either lowly processed carbohydrates or fats. In the randomized controlled trial, 38 men with abdominal obesity followed a dietary pattern high in either carbohydrates or fat, of which about half was saturated. Fat mass in the abdominal region, liver and heart was measured with accurate analyses, along with a number of key risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

“The very high intake of total and saturated fat did not increase the calculated risk of cardiovascular diseases,” says professor and cardiologist Ottar Nygård who contributed to the study. Continue reading

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Is Your Cholesterol in Good Shape?

The message that hasn’t changed is this: If your blood has a lower level of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) and a higher level of the good kind (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL), you will reduce your risk of heart disease. Lifestyle modifications and/or medications are usually effective in shifting your cholesterol levels into a healthy range.

Cooking with Kathy Man

Gilles Beaudin wrote . . . .

Cholesterol has been getting a lot of press lately. The most recent news is the about face on dietary cholesterol. The American dietary guidelines no longer encourage restricted cholesterol consumption. Strong scientific evidence shows that dietary intake has little influence on levels of good and bad cholesterol in the body.

The message that hasn’t changed is this: If your blood has a lower level of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) and a higher level of the good kind (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL), you will reduce your risk of heart disease. Lifestyle modifications and/or medications are usually effective in shifting your cholesterol levels into a healthy range.

Surprisingly, a large number of heart attacks are seen in people with healthy levels of good cholesterol. This indicates that there is something going on beyond the numbers, and that is the quality and function of…

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Sugar Substance ‘Kills’ Good HDL Cholesterol, New Research Finds

A potentially damaging substance, MG is formed from glucose in the body. It is 40,000 times more reactive than glucose it damages arginine residue (amino acid) in HDL at functionally important site causing the particle to become unstable.

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Scientists at the University of Warwick have discovered that ‘good’ cholesterol is turned ‘bad’ by a sugar-derived substance.

The substance, methylglyoxal – MG, was found to damage ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, which removes excess levels of bad cholesterol from the body.

Low levels of HDL, High Density Lipoprotein, are closely linked to heart disease, with increased levels of MG being common in the elderly and those with diabetes or kidney problems.

Supported by funding from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and published in Nutrition and Diabetes, the researchers discovered that MG destabilises HDL and causes it to lose the properties which protect against heart disease.

HDL damaged by MG is rapidly cleared from the blood, reducing its HDL content, or remains in plasma having lost its beneficial function.

Lead researcher Dr Naila Rabbani, of the Warwick Medical School, says that: “MG damage to HDL is a new and likely important cause…

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3 Diet Changes to help lower cholesterol levels – Harvard

If you have concerns about your cholesterol levels, there are several steps you can take to lower them, according to Harvard HEALTHbeat. They include losing weight if needed, being more active, and choosing healthy foods.

choleshtline“Here are three simple steps toward a healthier, cholesterol-lowering diet:

•    Choose healthy fats. Avoid saturated fats, which increase unhealthy LDL levels, and steer clear of trans fats, which both raise LDL and lower protective HDL. Instead, substitute healthier unsaturated fats found in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
•    Go with whole grains. Whole-grain breads, pastas, and cereals help prevent a blood sugar roller coaster and make you feel full longer. Many of these foods contain fiber, which can help lower LDL levels.
•    Make other healthy choices. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Ideally, substitute these for processed foods and sweets. Choose fat-free milk instead of whole milk. Opt for low-fat yogurt and pick brands that are not loaded with sugar.

•    For the record, I believe not all saturated fats are unhealthy. This blog is firmly behind coconut oil, a saturated fat. Check out my page – Why You Should Include Coconut Oil in Your Diet.

For more on how to reduce your risks of conditions from heart disease to dementia, buy Men’s Health Fifty and Forward, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Tony

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Coconut Oil Featured in Wall Street Journal

As regular readers know, I am a big fan of coconut oil. Just look at the top of this page to see Why You Should Include Coconut Oil in Your Diet.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I turned to the Personal Journal section of the Wall Street Journal and saw this headline: Unlikely Source of Healthy Fat: Coconuts, by Laura Johannes.
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The piece leads off with, “Coconut oil, which is high in saturated fats, is increasingly being heralded as a healthy oil. Its advocates, including companies that sell it, say it’s nutritious, good for the heart and a fast source of energy. The oil may possibly protect against Alzheimer’s disease, they say.”

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Filed under aerobics, Alzheimer's, April Fool's Day, cholesterol, coconut oil, Exercise, HDL Cholesterol, healthy fats, healthy living

Saturated Fat Does Not Cause Heart Disease – Annals of Internal Medicine

A growing body of research is starting to convince many doctors to think again how they look at fats and heart disease, according to Healthy Ways Newsletter.

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine this week showed that despite decades of old nutritional advice Cambridge University researchers have found that giving up fatty meat, cream or butter is not likely to improve health. Also, so-called ‘healthy’ polyunsaturated fats do not prevent cardiovascular problems.

The new study indicates that there is more than one kind of LDL molecule. The larger ones are benign while the smaller ones cause the problems.

The new study indicates that there is more than one kind of LDL molecule. The larger LDL molecules are benign while the smaller ones cause the problems.

They want the guidelines to be changed to reflect the growing evidence that there is no overall association between saturated fat consumption and heart disease.

The new research came from a meta analysis of data from 72 studies including more than 600,000 individuals from 18 countries.

Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury is the lead author of the new study and a cardiovascular epidemiologist in the department of public health and primary care at Cambridge University.

“The primary reason saturated fat has historically had a bad reputation is that it increases low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL, the kind that has been assumed to raise the risk for heart attacks. But the relationship between saturated fat and LDL is complex, said Dr. Chowdhury. In addition to raising LDL cholesterol, saturated fat also increases high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, the so-called good cholesterol that has shown to protect against heart disease. And the LDL that it raises is a subtype of big, fluffy particles that are generally benign,” Healthy Ways reported.

“The smallest and densest form of LDL is more dangerous. These particles are easily oxidized and are more likely to set off inflammation and contribute to the buildup of artery-narrowing plaque. An LDL profile that consists mostly of these particles usually coincides with high triglycerides and low levels of HDL, both risk factors for heart attacks and stroke.

“The smaller, more artery-clogging particles are increased not by saturated fat, but by sugar, sugary foods, and an excess of carbohydrates, Dr. Chowdhury said. “It’s the high carbohydrate or sugary diet that should be the focus of dietary guidelines,” he said. “If anything is driving your low-density lipoproteins in a more adverse way, it’s carbohydrates.”

The fat story is a complex one. I think it is important to focus on Dr. Chowdhury’s observation that the LDL that is raised is a subtype of big fluffy particles that are generally benign. In my experience, I have only read that LDL is the ‘bad’ cholesterol and we need to reduce it. Apparently that is not the case. It is sugar that increases the small and harmful LDL.

As I have written here more than once, I eat coconut oil , a saturated fat, every day in a number of ways and my cholesterol numbers have only gotten better.

To read more about the benefits of coconut oil check out my Page: Why You Should Include Coconut Oil in Your Diet.

Tony

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Filed under arterial plaque, coconut oil, HDL Cholesterol, LDL Cholesterol

5 Reasons Stair Climbing is Good For You – Part One

Regular readers know that I have been an avid bicycle rider for years. I logged over 7000 miles in the year just ended. And, I have not stopped riding. I have, however, begun a new exercise, for me – climbing stairs.

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Although this person is walking down the stairs, I don’t recommend it. You can develop knee problems among others.

How come? Well, the only drawback to cycling I know of is that it is not weight-bearing. So, while the aerobic activity benefits my cardiovascular system greatly, I get no benefits for my skeletal system. I need both and I just can’t get into weight workouts.

An additional benefit of  stair climbing over bike riding is that you can do it indoors so the weather conditions do not present a problem. Having just suffered through historic cold weather with much of the country, this is particularly relevant now. While current temps here in Chicago range in the mid 30’s, there is still a lot of snow, ice and slush around that makes for dangerous biking conditions.

So, what about climbing stairs? It burns more calories than running and doesn’t beat up your legs as much as running does. RunSociety says, “When you stair climb for exercise, you burn twice the fat in half the time than if you run and three times more than walking. An intense stair-climbing exercise session will produce more aerobic benefits in a shorter amount of time than running or walking. One hour of stair climbing will burn approximately 1000 calories.”

Nonetheless, you can climb at your own pace and still get a good workout.

A New York Times article by Dr. Harvey Simon on the heath sciences technology faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founding editor of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch, wrote, “What’s so special about climbing stairs? Researchers in Canada answered the question by monitoring 17 healthy male volunteers with an average age of 64 while they walked on the level, lifted weights or climbed stairs. Stair climbing was the most demanding. It was twice as taxing as brisk walking on the level and 50 percent harder than walking up a steep incline or lifting weights. And peak exertion was attained much faster climbing stairs than walking, which is why nearly everyone huffs and puffs going up stairs, at least until their “second wind” kicks in after a few flights.”
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