The good news is that you can lower your risk of stroke.
The bad news, at least for some of you, is that you have to eat your veggies.
A study (published in the journal Stroke: Journal of the American Medical Association) involving over 30,000 Swedish women, some of whom had pre-existing cardiovascular disease, found that those who ate the best diet in terms of anti-oxidant intake had a significantly lower risk of stroke than women who ate a poorer diet, which is no surprise, of course.
But what is a bit of a surprise is that the women eating an anti-oxidant-rich diet had a lower risk of stroke even if they had a history of heart disease.
In other words, and this should be no surprise, the people who likely gain the most from starting to follow a healthy health practice, which in this case is to eat your veggies, are also likely to gain the most from making that change.
Which doesn’t mean, of course, that those of us who are already doing the right things don’t have to emphasize doing them as much – it’s just that we start from a better place in that dash to live longer and healthier, so we don’t have nearly as much to gain from improving what we are already doing.
Cholesterol is an important substance in our bodies that, for the most part, occurs naturally. It helps our bodies make hormones, process vitamin D, build cells and create substances that help us digest food. Cholesterol can become dangerous, though, when the levels in our blood stream get too high.
Most of the cholesterol in our bodies—about 80%—is made by our liver. The other 20% comes from the foods we eat. A person can’t tell if his or her cholesterol levels are too high, as there aren’t any noticeable symptoms. To determine your cholesterol levels you need to have a blood test done by your doctor involving a tiny sample of blood.
The test will analyze the two main components of cholesterol—low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
LDL is sometimes referred to as “bad” cholesterol, because at high levels it builds up and can block our arteries, preventing blood moving freely through our bodies. HDL is usually called “good” cholesterol, because its job is to carry excess cholesterol from other parts of our bodies, including the arteries, back to the liver. Not only does the liver produce cholesterol, it also removes it from our bodies.
Your doctor may also assess your triglyceride and C-reactive protein levels. These are other indicators found in your blood test that could signal an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
The first step is to make a lifestyle change, and a big part of lifestyle is eating a healthier diet. Here are some things you should reduce or avoid to maintain healthy cholesterol levels:
- Saturated fats—These are found in animal-based foods such as meat and dairy products, and in some plant foods such as coconut oil, palm oil, and cocoa butter. Avoid or limit deli meats. Choose lean cuts of meat, or replace with fish and legumes (lentils, beans) instead.
- Trans fats—These are a form of man-made fat that is created during a process called hydrogenation. This is where liquid oils are turned into solid fat (such as some margarines.) While technically unsaturated, these facts act like saturated fats and raise blood levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Choose oils high in mono-and polyunsaturated fats such as canola, corn, or soya oil. Use in moderation.
- Avoid dairy products with high milk fat—choose 1% MF (milk fat) or cheeses with 15% MF or lower.
There are things you can add to or change in your diet which help the body eliminate excess blood cholesterol.
- Soluble fibre—This is found in oat bran, fruits, and vegetables.
- Unsaturated fats—These are found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.
- Cooking—More often than not, opt to broil, bake, poach, or even microwave food instead of frying.
|Image from www.brainshinobi.blogspot.com
Other tips to beat “bad” cholesterol
Keeping active and maintaining a healthy body weight will also help reduce cholesterol levels. And finally, quit smoking. It’s been found that tobacco reduces your level of HDL, “good” cholesterol, and raises your total blood cholesterol levels—which makes the perfect combination for increasing your total risk of having a heart attack.
If your doctor feels you need to be on cholesterol-lowering medication, it’s important to take it exactly as directed. For more information on cholesterol, or advice on making different lifestyle choices, come by the pharmacy and ask your London Drugs pharmacist.
This article is based on the patient information pamphlet and “My Cholesterol Journal”, available at your London Drugs pharmacy.
First, the very, very good news: a study has shown that a combination of foods – not just single good-guy foods such as fish or veggies but the whole shebang put together – can significantly lower the risk of bad health consequences in individuals who eat that combo, and in only a short period of time, which may be even better news.
If you want to run a marathon, get tested first.
For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, so many baby boomers have set themselves a goal of running a marathon (or several) before they pass into older age. Unfortunately, many have set out to do this without first determining if they are fit enough to undergo the load that marathon-running puts on their no-longer-that-young hearts.
As the days get colder, a reminder for all of you who are at higher risk of heart disease (which is just about anyone over the age of 40, I think) that when the weather turns cold, the number of heart attacks goes up.
If your kids are fat, they’re dying too quickly.
I realize that’s a pretty scary headline but it’s really true and this is a very serious health matter, mainly because so many surveys reveal that many (perhaps even most) parents of overweight and especially of obese kids don’t realize how fat their kids are or how serious the situation is for their kids.
Shopping for a Healthy Heart
Eating for a healthy heart begins with a trip to the supermarket. Making wise choices there will make it easier to eat healthy all week.