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The Battle Of The Fats. Good Fats VS Bad Fats

For many years it was widely believed that all fat should be avoided. Unsaturated fat, saturated fat and trans fat were all considered equally bad. However, with advancement in science it has now been discovered that fat, and the way in which our bodies process it, is much more complex than previously thought.

In order to function optimally, our bodies need some fat – but it needs the right kinds of fats, and it needs them in moderation. While some fats should be avoided at all costs, some fats are actually good for you. Which Is Which?

According to Alexa Schmitt, RD from the Massachusetts General Hospital where she works as a clinical nutritionist, polyunsaturated fats and mono-unsaturated fats are good fats, and saturated fats should be consumed in moderation. However, trans fats should be avoided completely since they increase cholesterol levels. This comes with an increase in a variety of health conditions and illnesses including heart disease and stroke when levels of certain kinds of cholesterol are increased. Particularly dangerous is the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol which is also known as “bad” cholesterol.

How To Know Which Food Contain Which Fats? As an overall guide, according to Schmitt fats that are liquid when they are at room temperature such as olive oil are a better option than those that are semi-solid at room temperature such as margarine and butter. The following tips can help you to choose a diet that is rich in polyunsaturated fats and mono-unsaturated fats while being low in trans fats.

Monounsaturated Fat
Sources: olive oils, canola, avocados and most nuts.

Tips: Instead of spreading cream cheese on your bagel, choose avocado. When making mashed potatoes, instead of using butter and whole milk, use garlic and olive oil.

Polyunsaturated Fat
The two types of poly-unsaturated fat are: omega-3 and omega-6. The average American diet contains plenty of omega-6 fats from vegetable oils, so the focus needs to be on omega-3. The best sources of omega-3 fats are flaxseed, walnuts, and fish such as tuna and salmon.

Tips: Add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to your cereal or oatmeal in the morning.
Eat a handful of walnuts as a snack.
Add ground flaxseed to your baking mixtures.

Saturated Fat
Fatty meats like salami, red meat and dairy products such as butter and cream are all sources of saturated fats, along with thicker vegetable oils such as kernel oil, palm oil and coconut oil.

Tips: While you may still enjoy a steak occasionally, try to keep saturated fats to 10% or less of your daily diet.

Trans Fat
This fat is the result of adding hydrogen to vegetable oil. The purpose of this process is to extend the shelf life of packaged and processed foods which include bakery products like crackers and cookies.

Tips: The current guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mean that if a product contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving they may call their product “trans fat free”. Check the food labels on processed food for “partially hydrogenated” and “hydrogenated oils in the list of ingredients since these words indicate that the food may have up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. If you eat just a few servings, you are ingesting a substantial amount of tans fat.

It is wise to be an educated and aware shopper. Try to do most of your shopping on the perimeter of the grocery store where the fresh food is located, and limit your visits to the inside aisles where the trans fat foods are kept. Sticking to fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits along with fresh whole grains from the bakery and lean cuts of fish and meat will improve your level of healthy fat.

Mary D. Jordan / February 6, 2015 / Fat-fighting

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How To Manage Hypertension Through Diet

Those who suffer from hypertension are at greater risk of other serious conditions and illnesses. Lawrence Appel, MD, MPH, a professor at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health explains that with a rise in blood pressure the risk of kidney disease, stroke and heart attack increases as well.

The good news is that hypertension is treatable. Through making a few simple changes to your diet you will be able to protect your health more effectively by minimizing your high blood pressure.

Diet And Hypertension

According to the American Heart Association, one third of American adults have high blood pressure; and the rate of death due to hypertension has increased by 25% since 1995, meaning there is no sign of this problem going away. However, there is a way to avoid this problem. By some estimates blood pressure is the risk factor for death by heart disease that is the most modifiable. According to Dr. Appel, heart disease is not amongst the sources of mortality that have gained the attention of public health policy makers.

Three Strategies To Focus On In Diet And Hypertension

Diet is a key factor in lowering blood pressure. Appel explains that there are several dietary approaches that can be taken, and each one is designed to address a different contributor to high blood pressure.

Sodium Reduction. Appel says that sodium has been a major focus, and this has led to many people believing that all other approaches revolve around the issue of sodium. Since sodium is used as a preservative, it is often used in excess in processed foods, meaning that food supply producers have effectively “stacked the deck against us.” Read Food Labels Carefully. The recommendation from Appel is that you aim to ingest less than 200 mg of sodium per individual serving, or less than 600 mg of sodium per entire meal (such as a frozen dinner). Naturally, the more fresh foods you eat, the less sodium you will be ingesting.

Weight Loss. Weight loss has been found to have a positive effect on blood pressure, overall. Having said that, rapid weight loss followed by rapid regaining of the weight can be very harmful to your body image as well as your mental health, and could in fact contribute to a variety of health problems including high blood pressure.

Regulation Of Alcohol Intake. Excessive alcohol consumption has a wide range of negative effects on the body, including increasing the blood pressure. An effective strategy is to limit alcohol consumption to one drink a day for women, and two drinks per day for men.

Managing Hypertension Through The DASH Diet

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and many people have achieved great success through this option. Changing the way you eat, DASH causes you to focus on eating fresh vegetables, fruits, lean meats, low-fat dairy and whole grains. While the DASH diet requires a range of changes in diet, the easiest way to begin is to include vegetables and fruits at every meal, and add low-fat dairy to most meals.

A lot of evidence supports DASH, and Appel explains that unlike other diets, it is clear that DASH can be sustained throughout a lifetime. Over time, starting from infancy, blood pressure slowly rises, continuing throughout life. Although it is inevitable to experience some blood pressure increase, DASH is a way to minimize this increase. Getting started with these habits as early as possible in life can help you to keep your blood pressure lower throughout your lifetime, according to the best available evidence.

Medication, Diet, Or Both?

Although making changes to your diet can have a massive positive effect on your blood pressure not everyone will be able to manage their blood pressure using only their diet. Some will need medication in addition to the dietary changes in order to keep it in check. Appel is clear that there are benefits to drug therapy and that diet and drug therapy are complementary rather than mutually exclusive. The goal is to lower the blood pressure; and if that requires drug therapy in addition to dietary changes then that is the way to go.

Mary D. Jordan / February 6, 2015 / Choose food wisely

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How To Choose Your Protein Wisely

Protein is essential for our bodies to build strong muscles, bones, cells and skin. The reason we need to make sure that we eat sufficient protein every day is that our bodies are not able to store it as they can store carbohydrates. Is All Protein The Same?

According to Massachusetts General Hospital clinical nutritionist, Alexa Schmitt, RD, the determining factor between good and bad protein is the content of saturated fat. Proteins that contain high levels of saturated fats can increase your cholesterol level; and this increases your risk of heart disease. The majority of adults need to eat between 40 and 65 grams of protein every day. While most Americans eat more protein than their bodies need, it is not necessarily good protein. So what are the smartest choices of protein sources?

Good Sources Of Protein

These are examples of the choices of protein you most likely currently encounter each day.

Meats. According to Schmitt although steak, chicken with skin and salami are all high in protein they are also high in saturated fat. For example, a 6 ounce steak contains almost your full daily protein requirement, but it also contains almost 75% of your daily intake of saturated fat. Does this mean you have to give up steak entirely? Not necessarily. Eating these meats only once or twice a week is the recommendation from Schmitt.

Lean Meats. Fortunately lean meats are a healthier option for those who really like their meat. Turkey, fish, chicken and beef that is 95% lean all still contain a very high level of protein but also contain far less fat, particularly saturated fats which can lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Soy. Soy proteins are low in saturated fats and rich in protein. Schmitt recommends vegetarian meat alternatives like soy nuggets, veggie burgers, and edamame (baby soy beans) You should find all of these in your local supermarket. Edamame is generally prepared by boiling it lightly and adding salt, and is a common addition to Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Check the freezer section of your local supermarket for Edamame if you do not have an Asian specialty market in your area.

Nuts, Legumes And Beans. All types of beans are low in saturated fats and high in protein according to Schmitt. Garbanzo beans and chickpeas are an excellent addition to salads and in hummus. Consider spicy vegetarian chilli recipes for a delicious and healthier option to traditional chilli. You can also add legumes such as lentils and dried peas to stews and chilli. Another great source of protein that is not high in fat are nuts as long as you eat them in moderation.

Dairy. Schmitt says that although dairy foods are frequently overlooked as sources of protein, they are worth including. While some dairy foods are higher in saturated fat than others, Schmitt recommends low fat versions of Greek-style yogurt, ricotta cheese and cottage cheese. These are not only good protein sources, they are also easy and convenient snack foods.

Planning your meals in advance can help you to make healthier choices. By planning in advance you will be able to identify the foods that you eat too much of and you will be able to replace these with healthier alternatives.

Key Points To Remember About Protein

Bear in mind when you choose your protein sources that although you may get the same amount of protein from foods that are low-fat and high in fat, by choosing the food with the higher fat content you could be risking increasing your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Choosing to get your daily protein from plant sources and leaner meats can help to protect your heart health.

Mary D. Jordan / February 6, 2015 / Choose food wisely