Tag Archives: LDL Cholesterol

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.”

Continue reading

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Filed under aging brain, Alzheimer's disease, brain, brain function, brain health, cholesterol, HDL Cholesterol, LDL Cholesterol

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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Why Should I Eat More Dark Chocolate?

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought it worth revisiting this post I did on eating more dark chocolate.

Enjoy!

Tony

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

Before starting, let me clarify that the word ‘more’ in the header assumes you are eating little or no dark chocolate at present because here in the U.S. we primarily eat milk chocolate. How much? Good question. Some 71 percent of the chocolate we eat is milk chocolate. And, how much total?

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The World Atlas of Chocolate puts the U.S. in 11th place worldwide in per capita chocolate consumption with a paltry 11.5 pounds per year. Switzerland is in first place with more than double that total.

As far as a definition of dark chocolate goes, the U.S. has no fixed percentage of cocoa content to define dark chocolate. In practice, however, it seems that 70 percent cocoa solids qualifies as dark chocolate.

But why eat more dark chocolate? Experience L!fe says, “Sure, chocolate’s exquisitely decadent. But its primary ingredient, cocoa, has triple the antioxidants of green tea, helps reduce…

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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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On flu shots and blood work

Last Thursday, I posted Tips on fighting the flu. I thought it was a good time for these tips as we are entering flu season. Also, I had an appointment to get my own flu shot on the following day. Please check out that post as there is a lot of good information in it for you relevant to protecting yourself from the flu bugs eating away at your system. Also, Dr. Jonathan, who writes the blog All About Healthy Choices had some very informed ideas on fighting the flu which he offered in comments.

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I know that there is a division of opinion about getting flu shots. I think flu shots, like politics, religion and labor unions are third rail conversational topics. Some people swear by flu shots (me) and some swear at them. The decision is yours, of course.  I would offer anecdotally that I started getting them around 16 years ago when I was teaching journalism at Northwestern University. One of my students interviewed a senior citizen who said that she had been getting flu shots for 10 years and in that time she had not only not caught the flu, but she didn’t even catch a cold. That was good enough for me. I have been getting them ever since with similar results. Continue reading

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Do I Have to go on Statin Drugs for the Rest of my Life to Fight High Cholesterol?

I am reblogging this analysis I wrote two years ago. At the time I thought it was good useful information for the general public. Now, It seems my doctor says that it applies to me.

I have just had my annual flu shot and pneumonia booster. In the course of my annual check up, I also had my blood work done.

As regular readers know I am 75  years old and in the best health of my entire life. I weigh around 155 pounds and have a resting heart rate below 50 beats per minute.

Here are my Cholesterol numbers:
CHOLESTEROL 182
Optimal (not to be construed as a target for drug therapy): <170 mg/dL
TRIGLYCERIDE 41
Optimal (not to be construed as a target for drug therapy): <100 mg/dL
Highly Abnormal (please review with your medical team further): >499 mg/dL

HDL CHOLESTEROL 77
Optimal (not to be construed as a target for drug therapy): >50 mg/dL
LDL CHOL (CALC)  97
Optimal (not to be construed as a target for drug therapy): < 100 mg/dL
Highly Abnormal (please review with your medical team further): >189 mg/dL

Non-HDL Cholesterol 105
Optimal (not to be construed as a target for drug therapy): <120 mg/dL
Highly Abnormal (please review with your medical team further): >219 mg/dL

Despite my excellent physical condition and these good test results, my doctor recommended that I go on a statin drug, atorvastatin, to reduce my risk of heart attack or stroke.

POSTED OCT 9, 2015 To clarify:

My Doctor sent me the following:

… although your cholesterol numbers are quite good your overall risk for stroke and heart attacks is still quite high. I calculated your risk of having a stroke or heart attack in the next 10 years and it is 21.6%. I did this with the new American Heart Association Guidelines (AHA) and it is based on your age,sex, race, blood pressure, smoking status and hypertension as well as diabetes. We recommend starting cholesterol medications if the risk is above 7.5%. Even though you are doing everything right your overall risk is still high, as is the risk for most 75 year old males. Many physicians would recommend that your begin a cholesterol medication so I would have your consider taking atorvastatin.

For the record, I declined the recommendation saying that I felt more comfortable relying on my positive lifestyle.

Here is what I wrote back: Thanks very much for your prompt turnaround of my blood work. I also appreciate your considered recommendation regarding taking a statin prescription. At this time I am not comfortable with that. I understand the statistics, but I think those statistics include a lot of men who are not as healthy or health-conscious as I am. I think I would like to continue on with my current lifestyle of daily exercise and healthy eating and avoid the drugs. If I find a deterioration in my condition in the future, I will revisit this decision.

Tony

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

“Millions more Americans could end up taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs under new recommendations released Tuesday that advocate a dramatic shift in the way doctors assess and treat cardiovascular risk,” according to the Washington Post.

“Roughly a quarter of Americans age 45 and older already take statins, which include familiar brands such as Lipitor and Zocor, to treat high cholesterol. But that number could grow sharply under far-reaching guidelines detailed by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.”

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The leading cause of death for Americans is heart disease. About one in every four deaths in the United States, or about 600,000 annually, are attributed to heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cholesterol helps your body build new cells, insulate nerves, and produce hormones. Normally, the liver makes all the cholesterol the body needs. But cholesterol also enters your body from food. Too…

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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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Does An Avocado A Day Lower Bad Cholesterol?

Kate Patton, a preventive-cardiology dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said the added components of the avocado might have given people in the avocado group an edge over the others, who were also on healthy diets.

As regular readers know, I advocate avodados: Are Avocados Good For You?

What About Krispy Kreme vs. an Avocado?

New Research: Avocadoes May Improve Satiety and Reduce Snacking,

14 Foods That Fuel Your Brain – Infographic,

What are the Best Foods for my Brain? – Infographic.

Gony

Cooking with Kathy Man

Eating a heart-healthy diet that includes avocados may lower so-called bad cholesterol among otherwise healthy overweight and obese people, according to a new study.

The findings don’t mean people should simply add avocados to their daily diets. Instead, the study’s senior researcher said, the results show that avocados incorporated into healthy diets reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

“They shouldn’t just add an avocado to their diet, but it would be good if they incorporated an avocado into a healthy diet,” said Penny Kris-Etherton, who chairs the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee and is a nutrition expert at Pennsylvania State University in University Park.

People should be eating a heart-healthy diet to lower the risk of heart disease, write Kris-Etherton and her colleagues in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Only 5 to 6 percent of calories should come from saturated fatty acids, which are found in foods like butter…

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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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The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease

From the 1950s on, these hardened oils became the backbone of the entire food industry, used in cakes, cookies, chips, breads, frostings, fillings, and frozen and fried food. Unfortunately, hydrogenation also produced trans fats, which since the 1970s have been suspected of interfering with basic cellular functioning and were recently condemned by the Food and Drug Administration for their ability to raise our levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Regular readers know that I feel strongly about consuming saturated fats. Check out my Page on Why You Should Include Coconut oil in Your Diet.

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

Nina Teicholz wrote in Wall Street Journal ….

Are butter, cheese and steak really bad for you?

“Saturated fat does not cause heart disease”—or so concluded a big study published in March in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. How could this be? The very cornerstone of dietary advice for generations has been that the saturated fats in butter, cheese and red meat should be avoided because they clog our arteries. For many diet-conscious Americans, it is simply second nature to opt for chicken over sirloin, canola oil over butter.

The new study’s conclusion shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with modern nutritional science, however. The fact is, there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias.

Our…

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Green Ginger Grapefruit Smoothie – Guest Post Kelli Jennings

Regular readers know that I am a nearly daily bike rider here in Chicago. As such I read some cycling blogs, too. One of my faves is Loving the Bike.

And, one of that blog’s regular contributors is Kelli Jennings, an Expert Sports Nutritionist who writes Ask the Sports Nutritionist.

Kelli is not only a world class athlete, but also a first rate nutritionist who writes clearly and accurately about her subject.

She recently wrote an item Green Ginger Grapefruit Smoothie   that I thought would interest you.

red-grapefruit

 

I hate to be a downer, but I’ve got some bad news.  Grapefruits are tough to come by in the summer.  The prices go up and they’re not as plentiful.  I know, this likely ruined your Thursday.  I guess the only thing to do is eat ‘em up, while you can.

This week, we’ll review why grapefruits should be one of your go-to fruits and we’ll “wake it up” with a wonderfully refreshing grapefruit smoothie.  Grapefruits go above and beyond the nutrients of many foods, even other ones found in produce section.  Did I mention they can help you lose weight?  Bring on the grapefruits!

Recipe of the Week: Green Ginger Grapefruit Smoothie

Ingredients:
3/4 cup Greek yogurt or 1/2 scoop protein powder
1/2-1 pink grapefruit, peeled well
3/4 cup berries
1/4 avocado
1 cup spinach or other greens
1/2″ slice ginger
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup water ice, if desired for consistency

Instructions:
Place all ingredients in the blender and process until smooth. Enjoy!

Nutrition information: Approximately: 385 calories, 44 gm carbs, 11 gm fiber, 15 gm protein.

Comments:

1) In the picture, this smoothie is obviously not green. I call it “green” because it includes a grapefruitsmoothie1-225x300whole cup of green. The berries’ color overtake the green. Either way, it’s not easy being green, and it’s all good stuff.

2) This is not Jamba Juice. If you want your smoothie to taste like Jamba Juice, you’ll have to go there and pay for a smoothie much higher in sugar and processed ingredients. If not, I think you’ll feel refreshed and satisfied having started your day with some ginger, greens, and grapefruit. I know I do!

Next, there’s lots of good reasons to eat grapefruits while you still can. On the list, is potential weight/fat loss. You’ve heard of the grapefruit diet, right? Eat grapefruits and lose weight. And of course, most cyclists wouldn’t mind losing fat and improving strength to weight ratio. But, is it science or quackery? Is there something magic to the grapefruit? Well, you can rest assured that I’m certainly NOT recommending you eat nothing but grapefruits. But, it may help to add them. Here’s some food for thought: Continue reading

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Filed under biking, diet food, Exercise, ginger, LDL Cholesterol, Weight, weight control, weight loss

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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Why Should I Eat More Dark Chocolate?

Before starting, let me clarify that the word ‘more’ in the header assumes you are eating little or no dark chocolate at present because here in the U.S. we primarily eat milk chocolate. How much? Good question. Some 71 percent of the chocolate we eat is milk chocolate. And, how much total?

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The World Atlas of Chocolate puts the U.S. in 11th place worldwide in per capita chocolate consumption with a paltry 11.5 pounds per year. Switzerland is in first place with more than double that total.

As far as a definition of dark chocolate goes, the U.S. has no fixed percentage of cocoa content to define dark chocolate. In practice, however, it seems that 70 percent cocoa solids qualifies as dark chocolate.

But why eat more dark chocolate? Experience L!fe says, “Sure, chocolate’s exquisitely decadent. But its primary ingredient, cocoa, has triple the antioxidants of green tea, helps reduce cholesterol and blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity.”

They quote Alice Medrich on it. “Alice Medrich, who is credited with bringing the chocolate truffle to the United States in the 1970s, says that when you taste chocolate without all the sugar, you become aware of its deep, earthy, nutty, and fruity flavors. She compares chocolate to wine and says that, like grapes, chocolate has a terroir that reflects the taste of the soil and climate where it’s grown.

“’Sometimes you’ll get some tropical fruit flavors or citrus flavors or cherry or even little hints of orange or coconut,’ says Medrich, author of the cookbook Seriously Bitter Sweet. ‘There are hundreds of flavor components in chocolate, and they can go to the sweet or the savory really easily.'”

FITDAY offers several benefits of dark chocolate, including:
Good for your heart. “Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate two or three times each week can help lower your blood pressure. Dark chocolate improves blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. Eating dark chocolate may also prevent arteriosclerosis.

Good for your brain. Dark chocolate increases blood flow to the brain as well as to the heart, so it can help improve cognitive function. Dark chocolate also helps reduce your risk of stroke.

Dark chocolate also contains several chemical compounds that have a positive effect on your mood and cognitive health. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier.

Dark chocolate contains caffeine, a mild stimulant. However, dark chocolate contains much less caffeine than coffee. A standard 1.5 ounce bar of dark chocolate contains 27 mg of caffeine, compared to the 200 mg found in an eight ounce cup of coffee.

Helps control blood sugar. “The flavonoids in dark chocolate also help reduce insulin resistance by helping your cells to function normally and regain the ability to use your body’s insulin efficiently. Dark chocolate also has a low glycemic index, meaning it won’t cause huge spikes in blood sugar levels.

Dark chocolate contains theobromine which helps to harden tooth enamel, so unlike most sweets it lowers your risk of cavities. Theobromine also can help to suppress coughing.

The final positive from FITDAY is dark chocolate’s vitamin and mineral content. “The copper and potassium in dark chocolate help prevent against stroke and cardiovascular ailments. The iron in chocolate protects against iron deficiency anemia, and the magnesium in chocolate helps prevent type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.”

Authority Nutrition
offers the following: “If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious.

It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals.
A 100 gram (about 4 ounces) bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:
• 11 grams of fiber.
• 67% of the RDA for Iron.
• 58% of the RDA for Magnesium.
• 89% of the RDA for Copper.
• 98% of the RDA for Manganese.
• It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.

Aren’t we all ready for some good news on cholesterol? Well, Authority Nutrition says, “Dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease. It lowers the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity.”

In case you don’t remember, HDL is the good cholesterol and LDL is the bad. You want higher HDL numbers and lower LDL ones.

Lastly, Authority Nutrition says that “Studies show that the flavanols from cocoa can improve blood flow to the skin and protect it against sun-induced damage.”

I must confess that I had never heard dark chocolate could protect your skin from the sun, but as a skin cancer victim, I am very happy to learn it.

While I would like you to include dark chocolate in your diet, I hope that you know we are talking about reasonable amounts here. You don’t need to eat more than a couple of ounces a day to get the benefits mentioned above.

Tony

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Filed under antioxidants, blood pressure, chocolate, cholesterol, dark chocolate, Weight, weight control, weight loss

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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Filed under aerobics, biking, Harvard, HDL Cholesterol, LDL Cholesterol, men's health, stair climbing, Weight, weight-bearing exercise

How Healthy is Tea Drinking?

A lot of Americans consider tea to be the weak step sister of coffee. But, in the rest of the world that is not the case.

Tea U.S.A. Inc. says, “Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water, and can be found in almost 80 percent of all U.S. households. It is the only beverage commonly served hot or iced, anytime, anywhere, for any occasion. On any given day, over 158 million Americans are drinking tea.

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“In 2012, Americans consumed well over 79 billion servings of tea, or over 3.60 billion gallons. About 84 percent of all tea consumed was Black Tea, 15 percent was Green Tea, and a small remaining amount was Oolong and White Tea.

“On any given day, over one half of the American population drinks tea. On a regional basis, the South and Northeast have the greatest concentration of tea drinkers.”

So, we drink a lot of tea. It tastes good, but how healthy is the habit?

According to some recent studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tea drinking is very good, indeed.

Citing these studies, Dr. Marc Siegel of the NYU Langone Medical Center said that tea drinking is very good for bone health, it improves concentration and decreases the chances of some cancers, it helps the G.I. tract and has a positive impact on prostate cancer.

To reap these benefits a person needs to drink about three cups of tea a day. The only caveat is that the person not have high blood pressure or other health issue that could be adversely affected by tea.

Dr. David Samadi of Lenox Hill Hospital also noted that tea drinking reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and increases HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). A healthy one-two punch.

Tea drinking benefits both the brain and the body, he said. There are cognitive benefits that actually create new brain cells. On the other hand, tea drinking also reduces food cravings so it is a great help in weight loss and weight control.

What is it that makes tea, any kind of tea, so beneficial to our bodies? Tea has some of the best antioxidants and flavinoids. Catechins which are very plentiful in green tea help in weight loss.

These antioxidants are also found in fruits and vegetables. So, if you aren’t eating enough fruits and veggies, you can catch up somewhat by drinking tea.

Dr. Samadi specified the EGCG as among the best antioxidants and they are found in tea. They actually slow down the progress of Alzheimer’s, he said. EGCG is short for epigallocatechin-3-gallate.

I am a fan of tea, in general, but mostly drink green tea. I have posted on it several times: Dr. Oz on Chia seeds and green tea, Green Tea for St. Patrick’s Day and every day, Green tea helps to fight flu.

Slainte.

Tony

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