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Archive for the ‘Heart’ Category

By Sue Rose, MS, RD

Blood triglycerides may be an important factor in your risk for heart disease. Your doctor may become concerned if your cholesterol level is too high. But another type of fatty substance found in the blood, known as triglycerides, may also need to be monitored in the effort to prevent heart disease. That is because research has identified high triglyceride levels as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, even when cholesterol levels are normal.

What Are Triglycerides?

Triglycerides are a form of fat present in food, human body fat, and blood. Blood triglyceride levels are affected by dietary fat and are manufactured in the body from other energy sources, such as carbohydrates. Triglycerides are also stored as body fat.

An elevation of blood triglycerides is referred to as hypertriglyceridemia . The blood test to measure triglyceride levels is easy and can be done along with a routine blood test that also measures various types of cholesterol. (The most accurate results are obtained when a person fasts before this test.) Triglyceride levels can be quite variable, so several measurements may be needed to provide accurate baseline values.

How High Is Too High?

An elevated triglyceride level can be an independent medical problem or can be due to another existing medical problem. For instance, people with poorly controlled type 1 or type 2 diabetes often have elevated triglyceride levels. Elevated triglycerides can also be brought on by thyroid disorders , kidney problems, obesity , excess alcohol, and taking certain medicines.

The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) classifies the ranges of fasting triglyceride levels in the following way:

  • Normal—less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) (1.7 mmol/L)
  • Borderline high—150-199 mg/dL (1.7-2.2 mmol/L)
  • High—200-499 mg/dL (2.3-5.6 mmol/L)
  • Very high—more than or equal to 500 mg/dL (5.7 mmol/L)

Studies have found that high triglycerides levels may increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other conditions. There are steps that you can take, though, to lower your levels.

Ways to Tame Triglycerides

Here are some tips from the experts:

  • Increase physical activity —Aerobic exercise can help with weight loss and can decrease triglyceride levels at the same time. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week. But, first get approval from your doctor.
  • Maintain a healthy weight—Studies have shown losing weight and maintaining an ideal weight to be associated with decreased levels of triglycerides and cholesterol.
  • Cut down on carbs —Carbohydrates are basically divided into two categories: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates tend to be sweet, such as soft drinks, desserts, candies, and syrup. Complex carbohydrates are found in bread, pasta, rice, fruits, and vegetables. If recommended by your doctor, reduce your intake of simple carbs.
  • Eat more fruits, veggies, and low-fat dairy products—Include these choices as part of your healthy diet.
  • Choose fats wisely —Instead of choosing foods high in saturated and trans fats, pick food that contains unsaturated fat. Examples include certain oils (eg, olive, corn, canola), nuts, seeds, avocados, and food with omega-3 fatty acids (eg, fish, flaxseed).
  • Eat more fish —Omega-3 fatty acids are found in all types of fish, but are more abundant in fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines, and herring. Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include tofu, soybeans, flaxseed, canola oil, nuts, and green leafy vegetables.
  • Limit alcohol —According to the American Heart Association (AHA), small amounts of alcohol can increase triglyceride levels.

RESOURCES:

American Heart Association http://www.americanheart.org/

National Cholesterol Education Program http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/about/ncep/index.htm/

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Dietitians of Canada http://www.dietitians.ca/

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index_e.html/

References

Austin MA, et al. Cardiovascular disease mortality in familial forms of hypertriglyceridemia: a 20-year prospective study. Circulation . 2000;101:2777-2782.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical activity for everyone: how much physical activity do adults need? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html. Updated May 10, 2010. Accessed June 15, 2010.

DynaMed Editorial Team. Hypertriglyceridemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated June 10, 2010. Accessed June 15, 2010.

National Cholesterol Education Program website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/about/ncep/index.htm .

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov .

Triglycerides. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4778. Accessed June 15, 2010.

http://www.lifescript.com/special/managing_your_high_cholesterol/how_much_do_you_know_about_triglycerides.aspx?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Cholesterol_Manage

by Health.com, on Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:09am PST

Take heart with berries, beans, and other healthy fare.

Oatmeal
Start your day with a steaming bowl of oats, which are full of omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. This fiber-rich superfood can lower levels of LDL (or bad) cholesterol and help keep arteries clear.

Opt for coarse or steel-cut oats over instant varieties—which contain more fiber—and top your bowl off with a banana for another 4 grams of fiber.

Salmon
Super-rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can effectively reduce blood pressure and keep clotting at bay. Aim for two servings per week, which may reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack by up to one-third.

“Salmon contains the carotenoid astaxanthin, which is a very powerful antioxidant,” says cardiologist  Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, the author of Lower Your Blood Pressure In Eight Weeks. But be sure to choose wild salmon over farm-raised fish, which can be packed with insecticides, pesticides, and heavy metals.

Not a fan of salmon? Other oily fish like mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines will give your heart the same boost.

Health.com: 20 healthy salmon recipes

Avocado
Add a bit of avocado to a sandwich or spinach salad to up the amount of heart-healthy fats in your diet. Packed with monounsaturated fat, avocados can help lower LDL levels while raising the amount of HDL cholesterol in your body.

“Avocados are awesome,” says Dr. Sinatra. “They allow for the absorption of other carotenoids—especially beta-carotene and lycopene—which are essential for heart health.”

Health.com: 8 avocado recipes besides guacamole

Olive oil
Full of monounsaturated fats, olive oil lowers bad LDL cholesterol and reduces your risk of developing heart disease.

Results from the Seven Countries Study, which looked at cardiovascular disease incidences across the globe, showed that while men in Crete had a predisposition for high cholesterol levels, relatively few died of heart disease because their diet focused on heart-healthy fats found in olive oil. Look for extra-virgin or virgin varieties—they’re the least processed—and use them instead of butter when cooking.

Nuts
Walnuts are full of omega-3 fatty acids and, along with almonds and macadamia nuts, are loaded with mono- and polyunsaturated fat. Plus, nuts increase fiber in the diet, says Dr. Sinatra. “And like olive oil, they are a great source of healthy fat.”

Health.com: 8 super nuts

 

Berries
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries—whatever berry you like best—are full of anti-inflammatories, which reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.

“Blackberries and blueberries are especially great,” says Sinatra. “But all berries are great for your vascular health.”

Legumes
Fill up on fiber with lentils, chickpeas, and black and kidney beans. They’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and soluble fiber.

Spinach
Spinach can help keep your ticker in top shape thanks to its stores of lutein, folate, potassium, and fiber.

But upping your servings of any veggies is sure to give your heart a boost.  The Physicians’ Health Study examined more than 15,000 men without heart disease for a period of 12 years. Those who ate at least two-and-a-half servings of vegetables each day cut their risk of heart disease by about 25%, compared with those who didn’t eat the veggies. Each additional serving reduced risk by another 17%.

Health.com: What can you make with fresh baby spinach?

Flaxseed Full of fiber and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, a little sprinkling of flaxseed can go a long way for your heart. Top a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal with a smidgen of ground flaxseed for the ultimate heart-healthy breakfast.

Soy
Soy may lower cholesterol, and since it is low in saturated fat, it’s still a great source of lean protein in a heart-healthy diet.

Health.com: Supplements for cholesterol: What works?

Look for natural sources of soy, like edamame, tempeh, or organic silken tofu. And soy milk is a great addition to a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal. But watch the amount of salt in your soy: some processed varieties like soy dogs can contain added sodium, which boosts blood pressure.

http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/food/the-10-best-foods-for-your-heart-2441820/


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