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Sunday, December 19, 2010

High Blood Cholesterol and Nutritional Needs

A diet rich in soy and whey protein, found in ...Image via Wikipedia
By Jim Duffy

Some people assume that the only cholesterol they ever get is through their diets. So, if you do not eat any food with cholesterol, you would have zero in your body, right? This is actually incorrect because the body makes its own cholesterol, an amount equivalent to ten eggs every day. Just as the body digests and breaks down amino acids to form hormones for a number of functions, cholesterol in the body is used to make hormones.

Your blood cholesterol levels should be tested every six months because high cholesterol is a very serious health risk and can be a risk factor for more serious conditions. Once you have tested positive for high blood cholesterol, your doctor might suggest even more frequent testing. If your score is 200 or higher, you will fall into the frequent testing category. For most cases, the treatment is multi-pronged and will include the use of medications, diet and exercise and nutritional supplements. For some people these changes and adjustments will be enough, while for others further testing will need to be done to find out exactly why the cholesterol is high and remaining that way. Other doctors might suggest an even more stringent testing routine and lower test results. Numbers for HDL (high-density lipoprotein) should be above 35 and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) below 160, according to Dr. William Castelli, M. D., who adds that 35% of all heart attacks occur in people who had total cholesterol numbers of less than 200. (Source: Feinstein, 1996)

There are a number of steps that you should take to change your diet including one of the simplest, which is adding soy and soy products to your diet, especially in place of animal products that may adversely affect your cholesterol levels. In addition to soy in all of its forms, there are a number of foods that may be good at reducing cholesterol levels.

Know Your Risks

Cholesterol is not the only risk factor for heart disease, but it is a major one. There are many other behaviors and factors that can contribute to your risk of developing heart disease. It is important to know these risks because of the prevalence of heart disease not only in the country, but over the entire world.

Cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke, kills over sixteen million people every year worldwide and is responsible for up to 30% of all deaths. In the United States, heart attack and stroke accounts for 40% of all adult deaths. (Source: Natural News) Treatment for the various heart diseases can include surgery, sometimes a closed procedure but often an open heart surgery that can be very painful and require a very lengthy recovery period. In 2006 there were 450,000 coronary bypass surgeries performed and the following year, more than two thousand heart transplants took place as well. (Source: The Texas Heart Information Center)

Medication is suggested at different levels of elevated LDL, and most people at moderate risk are medicated at 130 while the American Heart Association says that higher risk people should be medicated at 100. These people include:

- Those who have had a previous heart attack

- Diabetics

- Family history of heart attacks before the age of 55

- Chest pain

- Surgery for blocked arteries regardless of technique

Other Heart Disease Risk Factors

There are a number of other risk factors that you should be aware of that can make high cholesterol even more significant:

- Being overweight, even by 20 pounds.

- Smoking

- Hypertension

- Untreated anxiety or depression

The American Heart Association Diet Guidelines

Healthy adults should follow the safe and healthy diet plans suggested by the American Heart Association. Anyone who is under a doctor's care for any condition should follow the suggestions that are given to them by their own care team. The diet guidelines are:

- Complex carbohydrates should be 50% of the daily calories

- Protein should be 25-30%

- Fats should be the remainder of the daily calories and should come from healthy sources that are monounsaturated and rich in Omega 3 Fatty acids.

- Sodium intake: less than three grams (3000 mg) per day.

The guidelines emphasize the need for a variety of foods and suggest limiting the alcohol consumption.

DASH Guidelines

Another food approach to combating high cholesterol and heart disease is the DASH diet. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and emphasizes plant based proteins over animal ones, fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products. Those who follow this diet are 24% less likely to have heart disease and 18% less likely to have a stroke. (Source: Heart Insight, 2008)

Food Combos That Are Worth a Try

No, it's not the burger and fries combo. These foods work together to boost each other's best feature so that it works even better. These heart healthy combinations include:

- Garlic and Onions: They provide organ sulfur compounds and together they create healthier blood vessels and a stronger heart.

- Citrus fruits and oats: Together they provide Vitamins C and E, flavones and phytochemicals. This combo gives lower LDL cholesterol, a healthier heart and blood vessels.

- Nuts: including almonds, cashews and walnuts and fish provide vitamin E, Vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids to lower cholesterol.

(Source: Magee, RD. 2008)

Soy and Whey Proteins and Their Benefits

Protein, an important part of a healthy diet, can come from the foods we eat or in supplement form. All proteins are either plant derived or animal derived and can be considered to be complete or incomplete by the number of essential amino acids that it provides. A complete protein provides all eight essential amino acids including: leucine, isoleucine, valine, threonine, methione, phenylalanine, tryptophan and lysine. In children, a ninth amino acid called histidine is also needed from food sources because they cannot make it for themselves.

Of all of the plant forms of protein, only soy is complete. Research has shown that soy protein is beneficial for a number of reasons, including the ability to lower blood cholesterol levels by 9 points and the possibility of lowered blood pressure as well. These two factors work to lower the risk of heart attack. (Source: Natural News 2006) Soy protein powder, one of the easiest ways to get more soy protein into the average diet, is highly digestible and is suitable for vegans and vegetarians, as well as those who may be lactose intolerant. For those who would like to get real food sources of soy instead, there are a number of choices including tofu (firm to silken) miso, tempeh and soy milk.

Whey protein is derived from milk, a byproduct of the production of cheese. The most common form of whey protein is the whey protein concentrate which is 30-85% protein and is typically the least expensive. The whey protein isolate is 90% protein and is more suitable to those who are lactose intolerant. (Source: Segounis) Whey protein works toward better heart and cardiovascular health in a number of ways including as part of an ACE inhibiting activity. An ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitor works by stopping one angiotension from being converted to a second.

In addition to helping the body use other macro and micro nutrients better, it also helps to maintain a normal blood pressure. The whey derived peptide called NOP-47 is also important in improving vascular function. (Source: Mercola 2009). In addition to both soy and whey protein supplements, there are others. Profect is a liquid protein supplement shot from a research motivated company called Protica. This shot is small (2.9 fluid ounces total) and can be easily taken anywhere you need to go. It is only 100 calories but provides a full 25 grams of protein per serving, and contains zero fat and zero carbs. It has a combination of protein sources and also has a full day's worth of Vitamin C and 10% of the daily needs of the Vitamin Bs.

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