Dietary Fats & Heart Disease

THI_Heartifact_nutrition_infographic_webTwo primary ways to lower blood cholesterol: Drugs and/or Therapeutic Lifestyle Change. The latter would involve dietary discipline and exercise.

Modifiable Risk Factors of High Cholesterol in Diet: Saturated Fat – Animal Foods & Tropical Oils, Raises LDL levels; Trans Fat – Hydrogenated Oils & Fats, Raises LDL; Cholesterol – Found Only in Animal Foods.

Those with more abdominal visceral fat (fat surrounding the internal abdominal organs) had stiffer arteries than those with less. Visceral fat is dangerously toxic, and is known to cause inflammation in the colon and the artery walls, is a major cause of heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. Research even suggests that visceral fat affects mood by increasing production of the stress hormone, cortisol, and reducing levels of feel-good endorphins.

In the NIH-AARP Diet & Health Study (1996), those who consumed most red meat (5 oz/day) were 30% more likely to die of heart disease or cancer over the next 10 years than those who ate the least red meat (2/3 oz/day).

Poultry breast meat has the lowest saturated/animal fat content compared to drumstick, wing, and thigh meat.

Soluble fiber (eg. oats, peas, barley, citrus fruits, apple pulp) modestly reduces LDL level.

FDA Approved Health Claims: Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include at least 1.3 grams of plant sterol esters or 3.4 grams of plant stanol esters, consumed in 2 meals with other foods, may reduce the risk of heart disease and cholesterol levels. Plant sterols and stanols occur in small quantities in fruits, vegetables, and grains.

DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) Diet promoted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: To lower systolic Blood Pressure by 4-12 mm Hg consists of 4-5 servings of fruits a day, 4-5 servings of vegetables a day, 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy products a day, no more than 1,500 mg (0.5 teaspoon) of sodium a day, weight loss if necessary, and moderate activity at least 3 times a week.

Much of our sodium intake comes from packaged and processed foods.

Potassium (lowers blood pressure) intake guidelines encourage between 8 – 10 servings of fruits and vegetables (eg. bananas, cantaloupe, sweet potato, spinach, tomato puree) a day, but not from supplements. Those with kidney problems cannot consume too much potassium.