Tag Archives: cholesterol

Eating walnuts daily lowered ‘bad’ cholesterol and may reduce cardiovascular disease risk – AHA

Eating about ½ cup of walnuts every day for two years modestly lowered levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as “bad cholesterol,” and reduced the number of total LDL particles and small LDL particles in healthy, older adults, according to new research published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.

Healthy older adults who ate a handful of walnuts (about ½ cup) a day for two years modestly lowered their level of low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol levels. Consuming walnuts daily also reduced the number of LDL particles, a predictor of cardiovascular disease risk.

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Walnuts are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid), which have been shown to have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health.

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Common medication used to reduce cholesterol levels may reduce COVID-19 severity

In a new study from University of California San Diego School of Medicine, researchers have confirmed that patients taking statin medications had a 41 percent lower risk of in-hospital death from COVID-19. The findings were published July 15, 2021 in PLOS ONE and expand upon prior research conducted at UC San Diego Health in 2020.

Statins are commonly used to reduce blood cholesterol levels by blocking liver enzymes responsible for making cholesterol. They are widely prescribed: The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 93 percent of patients who use a cholesterol-lowering drug use a statin.

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“When faced with this virus at the beginning of the pandemic, there was a lot of speculation surrounding certain medications that affect the body’s ACE2 receptor, including statins, and whether they may influence COVID-19 risk,” said Lori Daniels, MD, lead study author, professor and director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at UC San Diego Health.

“At the time, we thought that statins may inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infection through their known anti-inflammatory effects and binding capabilities, which could potentially stop progression of the virus.”

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“Good” cholesterol combats inflammation – AHA

Testing how well “good” cholesterol particles reduce inflammation may help predict who is at heightened risk to develop cardiovascular disease caused by narrowed arteries, according to research published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.

Research Highlights:

  • The ability of HDL particles (commonly known as “good” cholesterol) to reduce inflammation in the cells that line blood vessels may help predict who is more likely to develop a heart attack or other serious heart-related event.
  • Gauging the anti-inflammatory capacity of HDL cholesterol may one day improve standard heart disease risk assessment.
  • The results may encourage greater attention to the function of HDL particles in addition to quantity of cholesterol within HDL in determining how to assess and reduce heart disease risk.
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Assessing levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, known as “good cholesterol,” are already a standard part of formulas used to predict cardiovascular risk. A new test of the anti-inflammatory function of HDL seems to provide additional information that is independent of the quantity of HDL. If the results are confirmed in broader populations and a test developed for clinical use, adding anti-inflammatory capacity to risk scores may improve risk prediction and help people take steps to protect themselves against heart disease.

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Strategies to preserve brain health – AHA

Primary care clinics can play an important role in preserving patients’ brain health using the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 as a guide, as well as addressing six other factors associated with cognitive decline, according to a new American Stroke Association/American Heart Association Scientific Statement, “A Primary Care Agenda for Brain Health.  

The statement was published in the Association’s journal Stroke. Led by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, it has been endorsed by the American Academy of Neurology as an educational tool for neurologists.

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Preserving brain health in an aging population is a growing concern in the United States. An estimated one in five Americans 65 years and older has mild cognitive impairment, and one in seven has dementia. By 2050, the number of Americans with dementia is expected to triple, the statement authors note.

“Primary care is the right home for practice-based efforts to prevent or postpone cognitive decline. Primary care professionals are most likely to identify and monitor risk factors early and throughout the lifespan,” said the chair of the scientific statement writing group, Ronald M. Lazar, Ph.D., the Evelyn F. McKnight Endowed Chair for Learning and Memory in Aging and director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute at the UAB School of Medicine. “Prevention doesn’t start in older age; it exists along the health care continuum from pediatrics to adulthood. The evidence in this statement demonstrates that early attention to these factors improves later life outcomes.” 

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Diet and Blood Cholesterol Levels – Tufts

We cannot survive without cholesterol in our bodies. It is an essential part of cell walls, is used to make bile acids (which are critical in fat digestion), and is necessary for the production of vitamin D and a number of hormones according to Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter. But too much LDL cholesterol and not enough HDL cholesterol in the blood is associated with increased risk for heart attack and stroke. While the liver can produce all the cholesterol the human body needs, we also consume it in the form of animal-based foods like meat and dairy.

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Question #1: What is cholesterol? Cholesterol is a lipid (fat), and, like other lipids, it does not mix with water. It therefore needs to be ‘packaged’ before it can move around the body in our (largely water-based) blood. These packages, called lipoproteins, vary in density, hence the now-familiar terms low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) may be a less familiar term, but VLDL cholesterol is emerging as an important health measure.

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Walnuts May Lower Cholesterol

A review and analysis published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that eating walnuts could improve blood lipid levels (cholesterol and triglycerides) without causing weight gain or increasing blood pressure.

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Body Weight and Heart Health – Tufts

Eat less; move more; live longer remains the mantra of this blog. Following is a super discussion of the relationship between body weight and heart health from Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.

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Excess body weight increases risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), as well as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and many other illnesses. However, not everyone who is overweight or obese develops these illnesses; and simply having a “normal” body weight or body mass index (BMI)-a measure of body weight relative to height-is no guarantee of low risk. “The relationship between BMI and risk for CVD and death is complex,” says Edward Saltzman, MD, academic dean for education at Tufts’ Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. “Elevated BMI does increase CVD risk, but risk is also impacted by things like body-fat percentage, waist circumference, age, duration of obesity, race, ethnicity, gender, and other genetic factors,” as well as lifestyle elements such as smoking and level of physical activity. Continue reading

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Why you should eat more beans if you have high cholesterol … Tufts

Nicola McKeown, PhD, associate professor at the Friedman School, answers: “Beans (and other foods high in viscous soluble fiber, such as apples and barley) can be helpful for lowering blood cholesterol levels. This type of fiber thickens and forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract. The gel traps bile acids which are needed for the digestion and absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins in the small intestine. The trapped bile acids are eliminated from our bodies via our feces. Once bile acids are excreted, this signals our liver to make more bile acids, which requires cholesterol, thus leaving less circulating cholesterol available to be incorporated into unhealthy low-density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol).

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“In addition to beans, many plant foods are good sources of soluble fibers, including apples, pears, plums, and citrus fruits, oats and oat-based products, barley, shitake mushrooms, and seaweed. Another viscous soluble fiber, psyllium is added to various foods such as ready-to-eat cereals and is also available in concentrated form as an isolated fiber in over-the-counter products such as Metamucil (which should only be taken under the direction of your physician). A diet rich in a variety of beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will deliver a wide array of cholesterol-lowering soluble fibers.”

 

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An egg a day not tied to risk of heart disease – Study

I must confess to a bit of a bias when it comes to egg consumption. Back when I worked for Reuters, I covered the egg futures market on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. I spoke with egg industry people every day. They consumed eggs regularly as did I, with no ill effects. I like eggs and their food value is excellent.

A team of researchers from the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences found the answer to whether eggs are good or bad for heart health by analyzing data from three large, long-term multinational studies. It seems about one egg a day is fine.

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The results suggest there is no harm from consuming eggs. Given that the majority of individuals in the study consumed one or fewer eggs per day, it would be safe to consume this level, says Mahshid Dehghan, first author and a PHRI investigator. Continue reading

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Link seen between cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease and stroke

The most comprehensive analysis of its kind suggests that there is a strong link between non-HDL cholesterol levels and long-term risk for cardiovascular disease in people aged under 45 years, not just at older ages., according to The Lancet.

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  • Study is the most comprehensive analysis of long-term risk for cardiovascular disease related to non-high-density lipoprotein (non-HDL) cholesterol – including almost 400,000 people from 19 countries who were followed for up to 43.5 years (median 13.5 years follow-up) between 1970 to 2013.
  • This longer-term evidence may be particularly important in people aged under 45 years.
  • Depending on cholesterol level and number of cardiovascular risk factors, men and women aged under 45 years have a 12-43% or 6-24% risk (respectively) of having fatal or non-fatal heart disease or stroke by the age of 75 years.
  • If non-HDL cholesterol levels were halved, women and men younger than 45 years with starting levels of non-HDL cholesterol between 3.7-4.8 mmol/liter and who had two additional cardiovascular risk factors could reduce their risk from around 16% to 4%, and from around 29% to 6%, respectively.

The observational and modelling study which used individual-level data from almost 400,000 people, published in The Lancet, extends existing research because it suggests that increasing levels of non-HDL cholesterol may predict long-term cardiovascular risk by the age of 75 years. Past risk estimates of this kind are based on 10-year follow-up data.

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One avocado a day helps lower ‘bad’ cholesterol – Study

As I have written numerous times here, I advocate the avocado. Just type in a v o c a d o in the SEARCH  box at the right to read further on them.

New research from Penn State suggests that eating one avocado a day may help keep “bad cholesterol” at bay.

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According to the researchers, bad cholesterol can refer to both oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and small, dense LDL particles.

In a randomized, controlled feeding study, the researchers found that eating one avocado a day was associated with lower levels of LDL (specifically small, dense LDL particles) and oxidized LDL in adults with overweight or obesity. Continue reading

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Tips from Tufts on eating eggs …

I count myself as one of those confused about whether and to what extent eggs are a healthy addition to my diet. Love the protein, not so thrilled with the fats… Here is what the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter has to say about it.

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Are Added Fibers Good for Our Health? – Tufts

In a lot of ways fiber reminds me of what Mark Twain said about the weather. “Everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it.” So, here is an excellent rundown on fiber from the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.

It is recommended that adults consume between 25 and 30 grams of dietary fiber a day. The average American currently gets about half that amount. According to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, dietary fiber is a “nutrient of public health concern,” meaning this low level of intake could actually be detrimental to our health. So, it’s potentially good news that food manufacturers are adding fiber to processed foods. But is that fiber as good for our health as fiber found naturally in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains?

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Health Benefits of Fiber. According to a research review co-authored by Nicola McKeown, PhD, a scientist with Tufts’ Nutritional Epidemiology program and an associate professor at the Friedman School, there is reproducible evidence that dietary fiber found naturally in foods has a role in lowering cholesterol, improving glycemic control, and preventing constipation. And fiber may have more health benefits as well. “Research in this field is continually expanding,” says McKeown. “We’ve only begun to consider things like how the gut microbiota utilize different types of dietary fibers to potentially impact health.” Continue reading

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How are oatmeal and cholesterol connected? – Tufts

Full disclosure: I love oatmeal and have a bowl every morning when I come in from riding my bike. Great with blueberries, broken walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds and light brown sugar.

Q. How do cereals like oatmeal reduce LDL cholesterol? To what extent does oatmeal lower cholesterol?

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A. Helen Rasmussen, PhD, a senior research dietitian in the Metabolic Research Unit at the HNRCA, answers: “The soluble fiber in many fruits, vegetables, and grains – called soluble because it dissolves in water – is known to slightly lower blood levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.

“Normally, the liver uses cholesterol to make bile acid, which helps to break down dietary fats in the small intestine. After the bile is finished doing its job, the body recycles it. However, soluble fiber prevents bile from being recycled. In response, the liver grabs more cholesterol from the bloodstream and uses it to make bile.

“Studies suggest that soluble fiber can lower LDL cholesterol slightly. According to one study, adding 3 grams of soluble fiber from oats (3 servings of oatmeal, 28 grams each) to your diet can reduce your cholesterol by a few points – for example, from 100 to 97 milligrams per deciliter.So, if your LDL is significantly elevated, fiber alone won’t solve the problem.

“But fiber is important for other reasons. Whole foods that people eat to get fiber are also nutritious in other ways. The benefits include increased insulin sensitivity and lower triglycerides.

“You can get fiber from a variety of whole foods and grains. For example, an apple, a half-cup of cooked carrots or broccoli, two slices of whole grain bread, or a half-cup serving of whole-grain breakfast cereal or cooked oatmeal all provide 1 gram of soluble fiber.”

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Can flaxseed lower cholesterol? – Tufts

I have tried for years to cut down my reliance on protein from red meat. Nuts and seeds are often suggested as an alternative source that I have used. So, I was glad to run across this item.

Q. Are flaxseed crackers nutritious, and can they help lower cholesterol? Is the question asked by the Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter.

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A. Nicola McKeown, PhD, a scientist at the HNRCA, answers: “Like other seeds, flaxseeds provide both soluble and insoluble fiber, and they are also a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid which may have anti-inflammatory properties.”

“It is the soluble fiber inside the seed that helps lower cholesterol. Processing the seeds by grinding or soaking in water makes the fiber easier to digest and helps release nutrients for absorption. The insoluble fiber in the tough outer coating of the seed helps create stool mass and plays an important role in bowel health. Foods made with whole flaxseeds, therefore, are more likely to help with constipation than to reduce high cholesterol.”

“The increasing number of flaxseed products appearing in the marketplace offer an alternative to whole-wheat products (which is particularly important for those with gluten intolerances) and, given the high fiber content of these products, I would say they are an excellent snack alternative to refined-grain products. Make sure you look at the labels to ensure products don’t contain a lot of sugar and that flaxseed is not just a minor ingredient.”

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Tufts on eggs and dairy

When I was a reporter on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, one of the markets I covered was the Shell Egg Futures market. In that capacity I spoke with egg industry people regularly and found myself eating eggs regularly. Being posted on the exchange floor, it was often handy for me to bring a couple of hard boiled eggs to have for lunch as I couldn’t really leave the Exchange during trading hours. I confess to being a big fan of the incredible edible egg.

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Eggs and dairy products are excellent protein sources. Eggs were off the menu for many years for people with elevated cholesterol levels because of their high cholesterol content. However, the latest research has determined that dietary cholesterol (cholesterol from food) doesn’t actually raise blood cholesterol levels for most people, although the saturated fat found in most high-cholesterol foods might. Other research has shown that egg consumption is not significantly associated with a higher risk of coronary artery disease or type 2 diabetes. Continue reading

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