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Posts Tagged ‘omega 3’

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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5 Heart Healthy Foods to Add to Your Diet Today

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 17, 2009

Here are five foods to include in your diet to promote heart health.

1. Banana – Good source of potassium to promote a lower blood pressure.
2. Fish – Contains omega 3’s to prevent arterial plaque rupture.
3. Olive oil – Contains heart healthy monounsaturated fat to reduce the risk or coronary heart disease.
4. Garlic – Contains allicin to raise HDL, lower LDL, lower homocysteine, and lower blood pressure.
5. Walnuts – Rich is essential fatty acids, healthy protein, fiber, and phytosterols (compounds to decrease absorption of dietary cholesterol).

All the best,

Lisa Nelson RD
Be Heart Healthy and Lose Weight

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Lower Cholesterol – Include rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids in your diet everyday.

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on January 27, 2009

The list of benefits associated with omega 3 fatty acids continues to grow. By increasing your intake of omega 3 fatty acids you’ll decrease triglycerides, reduce blood pressure, increase HDL cholesterol, reduce arterial wall inflammation, and the list goes on.

Here are a few steps you can take to increase your omega 3 intake:

1. Eat fish at least twice a week.
2. Add ground flaxseed to foods.
3. Take a fish oil or flaxseed oil supplement. (Discuss all supplements with your MD.)
4. Snack on nuts and seeds rich in omega 3’s, such as walnuts.

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD
eNutritionServices

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Mediterranean Diet to Reduce Heart Disease

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on December 23, 2008

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Mediterranean Diet and it’s link to heart health. The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and monounsaturated fats (olive oil).

Those that follow a Mediterranean Diet have a reduced there risk of developing heart disease and dying from a heart attack. Even those that have survived a heart attack and lived to adopt the Mediterranean Diet significantly reduced their risk of a second heart attack and other complications.

In an interesting twist, the native Mediterranean population has gradually adopted a more Western diet leading to negative results. The Mediterranean area has seen an income rise that’s resulted in extra dollars being spent on meat and saturated fat food sources. Over the past 4 decades the average calorie intake in the Mediterranean countries has increased ~30%. So, the once healthy Mediterranean countries are now seeing the weight epidemics the US is familiar with – 75% of the population overweight or obese in Greece, with over half of the population in Italy, Spain, and Portugal following suit. These countries are now supporting the “Mediterranean Diet” as a part of their cultural heritage they can not let die.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the characteristics common to a Mediterranean Diet:

  • High intake of fruits and vegetables
  • Select whole grains
  • Consume healthy fats (canola and olive oil)
  • Eat nuts in moderation
  • Low red wine consumption
  • Limit eggs to less than 4 times per week
  • Consume little red meat
  • Eat fish regularly

All the best,

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN
eNutritionServices

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Reduce Brain Damage by Eating Fish

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on November 28, 2008

If you eat fish three or more times a week, studies find your risk of developing dementia and stroke to be reduced.

The Cardiovascular Health Study examined over 3600 participants over the age of 65. The study focused on “silent brain death”. Silent brain death occurs when small areas within the brain die due to lack of oxygen, but the individual shows no symptoms of this occurring. Individuals who eat fish regularly had a 26% reduction in silent brain death.

The protective benefit may be related to omega 3 fatty acids, specifically DHA and EPA. The results were seen when fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids, such as tuna and salmon. There was no positive benefit from eating fried fish, such as fish sticks made from fish low in omega 3’s.

On the plus side for those who dislike fish or won’t prepare it three times a week. Eating fish once a week reduced silent brain death 7%. Also, using a supplement to increase omega 3 fatty acids in your diet is an option.

Be sure to discuss all supplements with your MD!

All the best,
Lisa Nelson, RD
eNutritionServices

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Your Checklist to Lower Cholesterol

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on September 12, 2008

Here’s a checklist of the top 8 things you must do if you want to successfully lower your cholesterol and keep it low.

Know your numbers

Have you had a lipid profile? Do you understand the numbers? If you are going to successfully lower cholesterol you need to know your numbers and what they mean. The most effective way to raise HDL is not necessarily the best way to lower LDL.

Evaluate your lifestyle

There are risk factors for high cholesterol that you can not control, such as age, gender, and family history, but there are factors you can control. For example, you can reduce risk by not smoking, increasing your activity, and losing extra weight.

Balance your fats

Reduce unhealthy saturated fats in your diet and replace them with heart healthy unsaturated fats. Total fat intake should be 30% or less of your total daily calories. Out of this 30%, saturated fat should be limited to 7%.

Be active

Physical activity lowers triglycerides and raises HDL (good) cholesterol. Shoot for 30 minutes 5 or more days a week. If you are not currently active, check with your MD before beginning an activity program.

Eliminate trans fats

You need to be food label savvy and watch out for trans fats. Trans fats raise LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and raise triglycerides. Limit trans fats to 1% or less of your daily caloric intake.

Understand triglycerides

Triglycerides are impacted the most by your simple sugar and alcohol intake. If you are struggling with high triglycerides, you need to use a different strategy to get your cholesterol under control.

Increase dietary fiber

A high fiber diet is necessary for heart health. You need 25-35 grams of dietary fiber daily, especially soluble fiber. For every 1-2 grams of daily soluble fiber intake, LDL (bad) cholesterol is lowered 1%.

Add omega 3 fatty acids

For heart health and lower cholesterol, you want to improve the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are involved in the regulation of heart rate, blood pressure, and blood clotting.

If you’re ready for regular heart health and weight loss tips for dietitian Lisa Nelson, sign up for The Heart of Health today and grab your copy of the special report “Stop Wasting Money – Take Control of Your Health” today!

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Omega 3’s and Walnuts

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on September 1, 2008

Sometimes people wonder about the health benefits of the black walnut versus the more common English walnut, so I’m going to provide you some quick info. 

The English walnut contains more omega 3 fatty acids per ounce than the black walnut (2.6 grams versus .57 grams).  To promote heart health, increasing your omega 3 fatty intake is a good step to take, so opt for the English walnut (which is easier to find anyway).  

Another component to keep in mind:

The type of omega 3 fatty acid contained in walnuts is ALA (alpha linolenic acid).  The conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA (the two types of omega 3 fatty acids linked to health benefits) is inefficient. 

The Heart of Health

Be sure to sign up for The Heart of Health to receive regular heart health and weight loss tips from dietitian Lisa Nelson!

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Omega 3’s and Walnuts

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on September 1, 2008

Sometimes people wonder about the health benefits of the black walnut versus the more common English walnut, so I’m going to provide you some quick info. 

The English walnut contains more omega 3 fatty acids per ounce than the black walnut (2.6 grams versus .57 grams).  To promote heart health, increasing your omega 3 fatty intake is a good step to take, so opt for the English walnut (which is easier to find anyway).  

Another component to keep in mind:

The type of omega 3 fatty acid contained in walnuts is ALA (alpha linolenic acid).  The conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA (the two types of omega 3 fatty acids linked to health benefits) is inefficient. 

The Heart of Health

Be sure to sign up for The Heart of Health to receive regular heart health and weight loss tips from dietitian Lisa Nelson!

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Do I need to take omega 3 and omega 6 together?

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on May 31, 2008

 

A reader from The Heart of Health, Jessica, sent in a question about omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.  If you are struggling with weight loss, you should visit Jessica’s blog allabouthabits.com, for some weight loss motivation.  She openly shares her weight loss struggles.

 

The question:

 

About omega 3’s and 6’s, I heard that they should be taken together, and not just having one omega 3 or omega 6 alone. It has something to do with digestion and breakdown process. Is that right?

 

The answer:

 

There are two types of fatty acids – essential and non-essential.  The body can synthesize non-essential fatty acids, while the only way we get essential fatty acids is from what we eat.  Omega 3 and Omega 6 are both essential fatty acids – we must get them from foods and/or supplements.

 

Omega 3 – ALA, EPA, and DHA are all acronyms that represent omega 3 fatty acids.  If we consume ALA, our body will convert it to EPA and DHA.

 

Omega 6 – Omega 6 is also known as linoleic acid.  Linoleic acid is converted to GLA, another omega 6 fatty acid, in the body.  GLA and EPA (an omega 3 fatty acid) work together to promote bone and heart health. 

 

So, yes, omega 3 and omega 6 work together and both are needed for bodily functions.

 

But, omega 6 does not require supplementation.  The typical American diet is very high is omega 6 fatty acids.  A main source of omega 6 fatty acids is corn oil, which is very prevalent in our society.  Other sources include sunflower oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, pistachio nuts, and pumpkin seeds.

 

The ideal ratio between omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids should be 1:1 or 4:1.  A typical diet in the U.S. is 11:1 to 30:1.  This poor ratio is linked with heart disease, among several other health issues. 

 

Certain conditions can interfere with the conversion of linoleic acid to GLA, such as advanced age, excess alcohol consumption, viral infections, and various other factors.  In these situations a GLA deficiency would be present and supplementing the GLA omega 6 fatty acid would be beneficial.  However, this is not the case for the majority.

 

To reduce heart disease risk you want to increase the amount of omega 3 fatty acids in your diet and decrease omega 6’s.  Omega 3 is a common deficiency in the U.S.

 

 

Bottom line:

 

Omega 3 and omega 6 are both essential fatty acids and work together to promote health.  However, if you follow a typical U.S. diet, you want to increase your omega 3 intake and decrease your omega 6 intake.  Therefore, supplementing omega 3 AND omega 6 is not beneficial.   

 

I hope my answer has not confused you more!  I will be publishing at least two more articles this summer related to fatty acids.  If you have a question, send it to me at RD@eNutritionServices.com.

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Flaxseed – Whole Seed vs. Ground

Posted by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN on March 8, 2008

Let’s start with what you should know about flaxseed to make sure you are getting the most from this supplement.

Flaxseed is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to decreased risk of developing heart disease.  Most American’s consume a diet high in omega 6 fatty acids (corn oil, beef, and chicken).  The goal is not to switch completely to omega 3’s only, but to improve the ratio by increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids.  One option to do so is by adding flaxseeds to your diet.

You can buy flaxseed two different ways – whole seed or ground.  In order for the body to utilize the omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed must be ground.  If the flaxseed is not ground it passes straight through the body without being absorbed.  Flaxseed is high in fiber, so by ingesting whole flaxseed you have increased your fiber intake, which is beneficial, but if you grind your flaxseed you will have the added benefit of increasing your omega-3 fatty acid intake.  Using a coffee grinder is a simple way to grind your flaxseeds.  Another option is to purchase flaxseed already ground.  Flaxseed has a tendency to go rancid, for this reason keep ground seeds refrigerated.  You can increase your intake by adding flaxseed to foods during preparation, such as spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, chili, hot cereal, muffins, pancakes, and yogurt.

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