How do you eat?
-Eat foods that are high in salt or you add salt to your food?
-Eat processed snack foods? Such as doughnuts, cookies, chips, crackers?
-Eat highly processed meats such as hot dogs, sausages, spam?
-Eat fried foods such as french fries, breaded onion rings, breaded chicken?
-Eat frozen dinners such as pizza, meat pie, macaroni?
-Drink sugar such as pop, fruit drinks, fruit juices, sport drinks, specialty coffee, specialty tea, and/or drink alcohol excessively?
If you have ticked off any of this list, then this could lead you to having a high triglyceride count, which is what often drives heart disease risk as well as diabetes. Alcohol for instance, is metabolized similar to fat, so drinking in excess can elevate triglycerides. Excessive sugar intake, can also increase triglycerides because it leads to insulin excess.
What should your blood level and triglycerides be? For adults blood cholesterol should be less than 200mg per deciliter, for children and adolescents, it should be less than 170mg per deciliter. Triglycerides are measured when you fast for at least 8 hours and should measure less than 150mg.
LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol, is a blood protein that carries fat for deposition in cells such as, in the smooth muscle cells in your arterial walls. Increased LDL is associated with a higher risk of heart disease. The recommended LDL level is less than 100mg per deciliter.
HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol, on the other hand, is a blood protein that removes surplus cholesterol and fat from tissues including the arterial wall. The higher the HDL the lower the heart disease risk. Less than 40mg per deciliter for men, and less than 50mg per deciliter in women, is the goal. But, if you have greater than 60mg per deciliter HDL, you are actually more prone to heart disease risk. This is why it is important to get your total cholesterol and lipid profile done, in order to get a clear idea as to what your risk of heart disease actually is.
There is also something called ‘homocysteine’ and an increased level of this amino acid in the blood, is a result of a high consumption of protein rich foods along with an insufficient consumption of vitamin rich foods. An increase in homocysteine may contribute to an increase in damage to the lining to the arterial wall. So, it is important to balance your protein with vitamin rich veggies and fruits.
Inflammation is another factor in regards to heart disease risk. There is a way to measure heart disease specific inflammation. This measurement is called a C-reactive protein level measurement which, is able to measure your inflammatory response. Results of which needs to be less than 1mg per deciliter. Genetics play a huge roll in how all of this adds up for your risk factor.
What can you do to minimize your risk, besides pick your parents wisely?
-Increase your intake of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as sesame, flax seed, safflower and canola oils, nuts such as peanuts, almonds, and walnuts. As well as use non hydrogenated margarine.
-Decrease your intake of non saturated fatty acids, such as fat and lard.
-Try to eliminate as much as possible trans fats, found in hydrogenated vegetable oil and shortening.
-Minimize sugars such as honey, molasses, syrups, and anything that ends in ‘ose’, such as sucrose, fructose, and lactose.
-Lower salt intake with minimizing foods such as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda, baking powder, soy sauce, added salt to spices and monosodium glutamate.
-Increase your intake of plant sterols ,which in turn can lower your cholesterol to up to 10%, by increasing foods such as pistachios, pine nuts, sesame and sunflower seeds, vegetables and fruit such as carrots and oranges, as well as vegetable oils such as corn, sesame, safflower and wheat germ.
-Increasing your intake of polyphenols. Polyphenols inhibit LDL oxidation, which stops arterial plaque formation. So if you are a white wine drinker, changing to red wine is much better for you. Polyphenols can also be found in grape juice, and in the skin of dark berries, grapes and cherries.
-Maintain a healthy weight.
-Eat fish twice weekly.
-Choose loins, as loins are lean in fat.
-Watch your calories (which are your portion sizes). Even eating too much heart healthy good food will lead to weight gain.
On the quest to lose 50 pounds in a year. Can she do it? Only time will tell....with the help of this blog.