Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday Wellness Watch


What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in our blood and all of our body’s cells. Not only do we get cholesterol from the foods we eat, it is also made by the liver. Cholesterol is used to make cell membranes and certain hormones in our bodies. There are two types of cholesterol: HDL, the “good,” and LDL, the “bad.” It’s important to understand the difference and to know the desirable levels.


· LDL, also known as the “bad” cholesterol, circulates in the blood and can cause a slow build up of fatty materials inside our arteries. When the fatty build up combines with other substances, it forms hard, thick deposits called plaques, which narrow the arteries. This condition is also known as atherosclerosis. If an artery becomes completely blocked or too narrow, it can result in a heart attack or stroke.

· HDL, also known as the “good” cholesterol, helps protect our hearts against heart disease. It is believed that HDL carries excess cholesterol away from our arteries and back to the liver where it is excreted from our bodies.

Guide to cholesterol levels


A dietary plan called Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) can help lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood.

Tips to lower blood cholesterol with the TLC diet:

Keep the total fat you eat to 25-35% of the total calories; keep saturated fat under 7% of the total fat each day.

Example: if you eat 2,000 calories per day, your fat intake would be between 50 and 75 grams per day. A health coach can help you determine your optimal intake.

Limit saturated fats and trans fats.

Foods high in saturated fats: fatty or marbled meats, poultry skin, bacon, sausage, whole dairy and butter.

Trans fats are found in: shortening, some fried foods, and packaged foods made with hydrogenated oils.

Limit cholesterol to less than 200 mg per day.

Foods high in cholesterol are: fatty meat, whole dairy, shrimp, lobster, and egg yolks.

Get 20 to 30 grams of dietary fiber per day.

Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Aim for 5 cups of fruits and vegetables and 3 oz of whole grains per day.

Eat more omega-3 fatty acids—Aim to eat fish twice a week.

Good sources are: salmon, tuna, walnuts, and flaxseed oil.

Add 2 grams of plant stanols per day. Plant stanols are found naturally in fruits and vegetables and are now being added to special margarines, juices, breads, etc. They work by blocking the absorption of cholesterol in the small intestine and have been found to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol without lowering HDL (good) cholesterol.

Blood Pressure

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of our arteries as our heart pumps. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways—this condition is called high blood pressure. It is also known as “the silent killer” because, most of the time, it shows no symptoms.

High blood pressure makes the heart work harder to pump blood, causing it to grow abnormally large in size. The harder force of the blood against the network of artery pathways causes damage to the inside walls of the arteries.

Blood Pressure Readings

Systolic, the top number, is the pressure when your heart contracts to pump blood out.

Diastolic, the bottom number, is the pressure when the heart relaxes between beats.

Guide to blood pressure levels.


Source: American Heart Association Recommended Blood Pressure Levels

Life Style Changes

High blood pressure is the #1 risk factor for stroke and the second leading cause of death in America. Any reading over 120 over 80 is considered pre-hypertensive and is recommended to be treated with lifestyle modifications.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Eating Plan incorporates lowering sodium, adding fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limiting fats. It provides an eating pattern that is high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, and fiber, while limiting sodium to levels between 1,500 and 2,400 mg/day.


• Should be limited even if you are taking medication for blood pressure. In general, a person with high blood pressure should consume around 1,500 to 2,400 mg of sodium per day.

· Tips for lowering sodium intake: Read food labels and look for foods under 300 mg of sodium per serving, do not salt food at the table and add very little when

cooking, choose carefully when you eat away from home and let the restaurant staff know you are looking for something low in sodium.

· Foods high in sodium: canned or pickled vegetables, cured or smoked meats, lunch meat, canned beans, soy sauce, canned soup, boxed or frozen meals, salad dressing, jarred salsa, etc.

It’s Not All About Salt

· Limiting sodium is important for the control of hypertension, but equally important are weight management, limiting alcohol, and increasing vegetable, fruit, whole grain, and low-fat dairy products to ensure adequate potassium, magnesium, and calcium intake.

• Potassium and Calcium have been found to help lower blood pressure. Fat-free dairy products are rich in these minerals as well as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Understanding Labels: per serving

Sodium-Free: <5mg

Very Low-Sodium: <35 mg

Low-Sodium: <140 mg

Reduced-Sodium at least 25% less than regular

Unsalted or No Salt Added: no salt added during processing; this does not mean that the product is sodium-free.

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