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Be Heart Healthy and Lose Weight!

How to Lower Cholesterol: Step 3

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 30, 2009

In the last post I gave you the first step towards lowering cholesterol. Here is the third. Remember, by implementing these basic steps, you’re establishing a solid foundation that will support heart health and increase the effectiveness of medications and supplements.

Step 3: Lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight.

Weight has a significant impact on your heart health and cholesterol levels. Weight loss alone may lower triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels. Losing as little as 10% body weight could drop your cholesterol back to the heart healthy range.

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD

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Lower Cholesterol – Understand Fatty Acids

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 30, 2009

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard the term fatty acids.  But, do you understand what they are and how the right ratio will improve your heart health?  I intend to clear up the confusion.
 
Types of Fatty Acids
 
There are numerous types of fatty acids.  I am focusing on omega 3 and omega 6.
 
Unsaturated Fats
 
Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are both unsaturated fats.  To improve cholesterol levels, you want to replace the saturated fats (i.e. lard, shortening, ice cream, cheese) in your diet with unsaturated fats. 
 
What does "omega" mean? 
Most of you are familiar with the saying "alpha to omega", in other words, beginning to end.  The "omega" indicates which carbon has the first double bond on the carbon chain when you start counting from the omega end.  For omega 3, the first double bond is on the third carbon from the omega end of the carbon chain.  I know you were wanting to review a little biochemistry today! 
 
Essential Fatty Acids
 
Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are also essential fatty acids. 
 
Essential fatty acids are necessary for cardiovascular health, but our body cannot synthesize them.  You can only obtain essential fatty acids through the foods you eat. 
 
Omega 3 (Linolenic Acid)


To keep things simple, I am going to use the acronyms ALA, EPA, and DHA.  These are all types of omega 3 fatty acids.  If we consume a food containing the omega 3 fatty acid ALA, our body will convert it to EPA and DHA.  Studies have shown a link between EPA, DHA, and heart disease.  More studies are needed to understand ALA’s relationship.
 
Sources:

Oils – Canola oil, Soybean oil, Flaxseed oil (good source of ALA)
 
Seeds and nuts – flaxseeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds
 
Vegetables – avocados, some dark leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, mustard greens, collards)
 
Fish (good source of EPA and DHA) – salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, albacore tuna, lake trout, herring
 
Omega 6 (Linoleic Acid)

I am going to throw in more acronym’s – GLA and AA – omega 6 fatty acids.  Linoleic acid is converted to GLA and on into AA by the body.  Researchers are finding indications of a link between GLA and EPA, in relation to heart health and reduced blood pressure.  High intake of sugars, alcohol, trans fats, and various other factors can inhibit the conversion from linoleic acid to GLA. 
 
Sources:
 
Oils – Sunflower oil, corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, flaxseed oil
 
Seeds and nuts – flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachio nuts, sunflower seeds, pine nuts
 
Meat – chicken, beef
 
For optimum heart health, the ratio between omega 6 fatty acids and omega 3 should be between 1:1 and 4:1.  A practical example of what a 1:1 ratio means, for every 3 ounces of beef you eat, you would need to eat 3 ounces of tuna (I do not mean in the same meal!).  The ratio for the typical American diet is 11:1 to 30:1.  This poor ratio is linked with heart disease, among several other health issues. 
 
Bottom Line:
 
For heart health, increase your intake of foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, while cutting back on omega-6 fatty acid sources.  For example, switch from corn oil to canola oil, increase the number of meals you eat that contain fish each week, and grab walnuts instead of pistachios.
 
Now, if you are interested in being guided step-by-step as you gain control of your heart health and cholesterol levels, check out the available programs at Lisa Nelson RD – Lower Cholesterol Programs
.

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How to Lower Cholesterol: Step 2

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 28, 2009

In the last post I gave you the first step towards lowering cholesterol. Here is the second. Remember, by implementing these basic steps, you’re establishing a solid foundation that will support heart health and increase the effectiveness of medications and supplements.

Step 2: Adopt a heart healthy lifestyle.

This means eating a diet that support heart health and including physical activity as part of your daily routine.

Here are some basic guidelines for a heart healthy diet to lower cholesterol:

  • Saturated fat intake should be limited to less than 7% of your total daily calories.
  • Daily trans fat intake should be less than 1% of your total calorie intake.
  • Cholesterol should be limited to less than 300 mg/day.
  • Eat 25-35 grams of dietary fiber. The needs to include an adequate intake of soluble fiber, which will promote lower LDL levels.
  • Include sources rich in omega 3 fatty acids to your diet. Some benefits of omega 3 fatty acids include lower triglycerides, increased HDL cholesterol, and slower build-up of arterial plaque.

Here are basic guidelines for physical activity to lower cholesterol.

  • Include at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.

This is the latest recommendation of The Health and Human Services Department. In order to see substantial health benefits, include at least 150 minutes, 2 ½ hours, of moderate-intensity activity each week. If times a factor, you can see the same benefits by bumping up the intensity and being vigorously active 75 minutes (1 hr. 15 min.) each week.

By include regular physical activity you will raise HDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides.

Stay tuned for step 3.

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD

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How to Lower Cholesterol: Step 1

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 26, 2009

It’s often easier to turn to supplements or medications to lower cholesterol. However, the effectiveness of these treatments will not be as great if you do not have a solid foundation in place that supports heart health. Over the next few posts I’ll give you three basic steps you can implement now to promote lower cholesterol levels and reduce heart disease.

Step 1: Know and understand your cholesterol lab results.

A simple blood test will check your cholesterol levels. This test is also known as a lipid profile. You will learn your total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. By knowing the “breakdown” of your lipid panel you (or your MD/dietitian) will be able to determine the best steps to take for results.

The American Heart Association Recommends that everyone over the age of 20 know their cholesterol levels.

Stay tuned for step 2.

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD

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Heart Health – Do you know the difference between and “organic” and “natural” food?

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 24, 2009

The hottest label claims right now are “organic” and “natural”. Do you know the difference?

Organic

Organic foods were produced under environmentally friendly conditions with no antibiotics, growth hormones, fertilizers with synthetic ingredients or sewage sledge, pesticides, bioengineering, or ionized radiation.

The label claim “100% Organic” is the highest standard a food can receive and is allowed on single ingredient foods (fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, and eggs that exclude water and salt).

The label claim “Made with Organic Ingredients” can be used on multiple ingredient foods if the food contains between 70% and 94.9% organic ingredients.

Natural

A food using the “natural” label claim cannot contain any artificial ingredients, added coloring, and must be minimally processed.

“Organic” and “natural” are not interchangeable!

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD
Be Heart Healthy and Lose Weight

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Physical Activity – How much do you really need?

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 24, 2009

As I previously mentioned, The Health and Human Services Department sets physical activity guidelines after reviewing a good decades worth of research related to physical activity and health.

This report encompasses everyone from the age of 6 and up. Let’s go into a little more detail on the adult guidelines.

Adult Physical Activity Guidelines

  1. All adults should avoid inactivity.
    Any type of activity is better than nothing. Adults who include activity as part of their everyday life gain some form of health benefit.
  2. To see substantial health benefits, include at least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) per week of moderate-intensity activity. If times a factor, you can see the same benefits by bumping up the intensity and being vigorously active 75 minutes (1 hr. 15 min.) each week.Yes, it is still okay to break your activity into chunks.For example, if your schedule doesn’t allow 30 minutes at the gym, you can include a 10 minute brisk walk during lunch break to count towards the goal of 150 minutes for the week. However, workout segments less than 10 minutes in length are not as beneficial.

    Also, the most benefit is seen by spreading your activity throughout the week. If you’re tempted to hit the gym for a power workout session on a Saturday for 2 ½ hours, that is not as beneficial as 30 minutes of activity 5 days out of the week. But, remember, any form/amount of activity is better than nothing!

  3. If you want to take things to the next levels, more extensive health benefits are seen when activity is increased to 300 minutes (5 hours) per week of moderate intensity activity or 150 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity.
  4. Don’t forget strength training! You want to include all major muscle groups on two or more days each week. Especially beneficial as we age and see a decline in metabolism (and corresponding weight gain) if muscle mass is not maintained.

Now, don’t let yourself be overwhelmed and give up without even attempting to meet these guidelines. Activity does not have to be hard or expensive. You can walk your dog, go dancing, climb the stairs at work, mow the lawn, and go to the gym. There are many, many options available to get 2 ½ hours of physical activity every week.

All the best,

Lisa Nelson RD

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Weight Loss – 9 pounds every 11 days?

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 23, 2009

Losing weight is not easy, so when you see a headline like the one above you want to believe it can be done. Unfortunately, I am here to tell you it is not that simple.

This article was triggered by the following question:
 
hi… when you have time, will you check out fatloss4idiots and see if you think it’s for real?? I saw this link advertised off to the side, was curious and looked at it… you have to pay to see the diet but they explain how it’s supposed to work and was wondering if it sounds legit to you….
 
If one person has this question, I am sure many of you do, too. I am going to give you the tools you need to spot what’s known as a "fad diet" on your own.
 
Fad Diet Defined
 
A fad diet is an eating plan that quickly surges in popularity and tends to just as quickly fizzle out. 
 
Most fad diets are unbalanced meal plans that lead to weight gain when you go off the diet.
 
Fad diets tend to be cyclical. For example, the Atkins diet was created in the 1970’s and made a recent comeback.
 
Fad Diet Identified
 
Ask yourself the following 11 questions when evaluating a diet program.
  • Does it promise a quick fix?
  • Do the claims sound too good to be true?
  • Is a list of "good" and "bad" foods given?
  • Are recommendations made to help sell a product?
  • Does it list dire warnings of dangers from a single product or regimen?
  • Are the recommendations based on a single study?
  • Do you have to eliminate one or more of the five food groups to gain promised results?
  • Are simple conclusions drawn from a complex study?
  • Are there dramatic statements refuted by reputable scientific organizations? 
  • Are the recommendations based on studies not reviewed by other researchers?
  • Do the claims ignore differences among individuals or groups?
If the answer is "yes" to any of these questions, then you are probably dealing with a fad diet.
 
When you review fatloss4idiots, you will see quick fix promises, claims that sound too good to be true, and very little information related to the science behind why the plan works. 
 
Fad Diet Examples
 
There are hundreds of fad diets on the market. Here are some common examples:
 
Atkins
Cabbage Soup Diet
3 Day Diet
South Beach Diet
Grapefruit Diet
Macrobiotic Diet
Low Carb Diet
Zone Diet
 
Successful Plans
 
A good plan will teach you to make healthy food choices (everything in moderation), along with an activity component. Weight loss and physical activity go hand in hand. 
 
Stop thinking – "diet". A "diet" implies short term changes. If you want to be successful with weight loss you need to find a plan you can stick with long term. Start focusing on next year instead of next month. Successful weight loss requires change and change is never easy. You need to start with small, permanent steps to achieve long-term weight loss.
 
Bottom line:
 
If it sounds too good to be true – it is!
 
© 2008 eNutritionServices, All Rights Reserved.
 
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Tired of burning hard earned cash on fitness gadgets you don’t use? End the vicious "cycle" now! Get your FREE report: "Stop Wasting Money – Take Control of Your Health" at http://www.lisanelsonrd.com.

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Weight Loss – The Search for a Magic Pill to Lose Weight

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 22, 2009

If you’re looking for an easy fix to your weight loss struggle be cautious. According to the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) it’s constantly battling fraudulent and bogus claims in the weight loss industry. Most recently the FDA has targeted 70 different weight loss supplements.

Many weight loss supplements contain “undeclared pharmaceutical ingredients”, frequently in levels exceeding FDA recommendations. These ingredients include drugs not approved in the U.S. These substances impact blood pressure and anti-seizure medications, diuretics, along with drugs linked to suicide, depression, and cancer.

Be smart! We’ve known for a long time the only way to successful weight loss is to eat right and exercise. It’s not easy, but it is possible. . .and well worth it!

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD
The Best Way to Lose Weight

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Heart Health – The Dangers of Soda

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 20, 2009

My weakness is caffeine-free Diet Coke. For me, soda and popcorn go hand-in-hand. Well, even though I am drinking diet I have to remember I am not sitting pretty. Soda affects tooth decay, tooth discoloration, and for those that do not choose diet, weight gain.

Tooth Decay
 
Any drink that is carbonated has a low pH level. What you ask? Let me explain. The process of carbonation adds carbon dioxide and results in the formation of carbonic acid. This acid lowers the pH of a beverage. A pH of 1 is acidic and 7 is neutral. Battery acid has a pH of 1; water has a pH of 7. The pH of Pepsi is 2.49, Coke is 2.63, and Mountain Dew is 3.22. The acid in soda can damage tooth enamel in just 20 minutes. Think about how you usually drink your soda. Do you drink a 12 oz. can in 5-10 minutes or are you sipping on it over a period of an hour or so? You can help combat the effects of carbonic acid by drinking your soda in less than 20 minutes and rinsing your mouth with water after the fact. Saliva also helps neutralize the acid. Don’t forget to protect your children’s teeth! Children are even more susceptible to tooth erosion because their tooth enamel is not fully developed. 
 
Tooth discoloration
 
Habitual soda drinkers are adding layers of sugar, which turn to layers of plaque on their teeth. This plaque then absorbs stains from food products. This is how dark colored sodas lead to tooth discoloration. Bye, bye pearly whites!
 
Weight Gain
 
A 12 oz. can of regular soda contains about 150 calories. If you drink one can everyday you consume 4200 soda calories each month and 50,400 calories each year. This is equal to an extra 14 ½ pounds of body weight. Most people do not limit themselves to just 12 oz. a day. . . .one 20 oz bottle of regular soda daily would be an additional 26 pounds each year.
 
So, as you kick back and enjoy that acidic, staining, waist expanding can of soda, maybe you should think about splurging on a fancy bottle so you can switch it up and enjoy some refreshing water once in awhile instead!
 
Tired of burning hard earned cash on fitness gadgets you don’t use? End the vicious "cycle" now! Get your FREE report: "Stop Wasting Money – Take Control of Your Health" at http://www.lisanelsonrd.com.

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Lose Weight: Best Way to Lose Weight

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 18, 2009

If you are overweight and dealing with heart health concerns, you know weight loss with significantly improve your heart health. So, you need to find a way to successfully lose the weight and keep it off.

Here are tips for success:

Adequate Calories

Don’t cut your calories too low. Never go below 1200 calories and for some people the minimum is higher. Consuming too few calories drops you right into “starvation” (as far as your body is concerned), your metabolism drops, and weight loss grinds to halt. Also, drastic calorie cuts not only result in fat loss, but you lose muscle as well.

Realistic Goals

Set realistic goals. You may have a dream goal of shedding 40 pounds, but start with a smaller, achievable goal. Many studies show significant health benefits from shedding just 10% of your body weight.

Healthy Rate of Weight Loss

Plan for a healthy rate of weight loss. Aim to lose 1-2 pounds per week. Gradual, steady weight loss ensures you lose fat, not muscle.

Long-term Plan

Think long-term. Going on a diet is not the best way to lose weight. This is because the term diet generally implies a beginning and an end. If you want to successfully lose weight it requires permanent lifestyle and food choice changes. Changes you can and will stick with for life.

Steady Support

Surround yourself with a steady support system. By this I don’t only mean a spouse that supports you spending an hour at the gym after work or planning active family events. I also mean surrounding yourself with friends who are living the healthy life you want. I’m not implying you need to kick friends and family who are a negative influence to the curb, but look for ways you can gain friends that are living a healthy lifestyle. This will dramatically increase your success.

All the best,

Lisa Nelson RD
Be Heart Healthy and Lose Weight

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