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A Health, Nutrition, and Alternative Medicine Blog

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Must You Take Statins For Cholesterol?

Written by Tena Moore


Many people struggle with high cholesterol, and many doctors turn immediately to statins to lower cholesterol for their patients. Statins work surprisingly well, but there are also lifestyle changes and alternatives to immediately going on statins. If you are not obese, have a healthy amount of good cholesterol, and do not want to go on statins to lower your cholesterol, you have options.

If you smoke, stop immediately. If you drink, cut back on alcohol consumption. If you are sedentary, add exercise to your routine; even a short daily walk can improve health and help to lower cholesterol. These suggestions may seem common sense, but many don’t realize their impact on overall health. Also, decrease or eliminate high fat foods such as fast-food, highly processed foods, and fatty meats such as beef and pork. In addition, add heart healthy foods such as flaxseed, oatmeal, salmon, fruits and vegetables to your diet. High cholesterol is a lifestyle issue and changing what you put into your body makes all the difference.

Certain supplements and over-the-counter drugs can also help keep you healthy, such as niacin and supplements containing plant sterols. If your high-density-lipoprotein (HDL) is okay, you may be able to bypass taking statins, but only your doctor can make that decision. As always, talk to doctor and discuss what is best for you and your unique situation.




Other Posts

Organic food really is healthier

Pycnogenol is being studied as a treatment for many free-radical-related disorders
As a phytoestrogen, daidzein mimics the effects of estrogen in the body
cryptoxanthin and cancer



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Friday, February 6, 2009

The Truth About Fats: Healthy Fats and Harmful Fats

Are Fats Unhealthy?

Our total fat intake should be between 20% - 35% of our total caloric intake. How many of us are actually practicing that? Our bodies need certain types of fats in order to function effectively. Our bodies need the unsaturated fats (good fats).

Unsaturated fats aid in the absorption of certain vitamins, such as A, D, E, and K, along with carotenoids. Healthy fats are also a major source of energy. Fats also add flavor to the foods we eat. Adding healthy fats to the diet, within moderation, plays an important role in our overall health.

Fats that Heal: Unsaturated Fats - The Good Fats

Unsaturated fats are the good fats. They don’t raise our cholesterol levels. To maintain good health we should consume more unsaturated fats and less saturated fat. Why is that? Unsaturated fats provide our bodies with the essential fats that our bodies need for healthy cell development. The Omega 3s and Omega 6s, which are found in the good fats, are critical for the normal growth and development of our bodies. They are also needed for brain function. Unsaturated fats work by lowering our overall cholesterol, including our low-density protein (LDL) cholesterol.

Monounsaturated Fats

The majority of the fats we consume should come from monounsaturated fats. According, to research conducted by the American Heart Association, monounsaturated fats are heart healthy. They can lower the risk of heart disease. Monounsaturated fats are considered to be the healthiest of the saturated fats. If we consume monounsaturated fats we will increase our high density lipoprotein (HDL) (also known as the good cholesterol). Monounsaturated fats remain a liquid at room temperature, but they can become a solid if put into a refrigerator. A few sources of monounsaturated fats are canola oil, peanut oil, and olive oil. Other food sources that contain a high amount of monounsaturated fat are avocados and most nuts.

Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats can also aid in lowering our LDL. Polyunsaturated fats will usually remain liquids at room temperature or when placed in the refrigerator. Vegetable oils such as cottonseed, corn, safflower, sunflower, and soy oil are all polyunsaturated fats.

Fats that Harm: Saturated Fats - The Bad Fats

Saturated fats are the main culprits of high blood cholesterol. Low-density protein (LDL) causes fatty buildup in the arteries. The cholesterol deposits place a lot of demand on our heart and circulatory system, making it harder for the blood to flow through the body. A high level of LDL in the blood increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Saturated fats can be found in animal foods and in certain plant foods. A few examples of animal fat are butter, beef, dairy products, eggs, cheese, lamb, milk, pork, poultry fat, and veal. Saturated fats can also be found in some vegetable fats like cocoa butter, coconut, coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil.

Hydrogenation

When foods are processed, the fats sometimes go through a procedure referred to as hydrogenation. Hydrogenated fats are commonly used in baked goods like cookies, cakes, most breads, and fried foods. Hydrogenated fats remain solid or semi-solid at room temperature. You can usually find them in vegetable shortenings and margarine. Hydrogenation occurs when the manufacturer adds hydrogen to a vegetable oil. This process increases the shelf life of foods containing hydrogenated fats, along with the flavor of the product, but at what cost?

Trans Fats

Trans fats raise our LDL and are very unhealthy. They also increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. When we add trans fats to healthy foods like steamed vegetables and baked potatoes, they become unhealthy. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals over two years of age should limit the intake of trans fat to less than 1% of their total calories.

Make Healthy Choices: Choose Healthy Fats

Our bodies need fat to function. It’s important to greatly reduce our consumption of saturated fats. If we consume too much, we face a higher risk of developing a disease. It’s important that we choose unsaturated fats, especially the monounsaturated fats. If you aren’t doing this already, get into the habit of reading the labels on food packaging. You want to ensure that you are choosing the right types of fats.

If you are consuming too much fat, reduce your intake. In addition to monitoring your fat intake, be sure you add plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet and engage in some type of physical activity.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Yucca Treats Many Conditions

When reading about the yucca plant, found mainly in the deserts of the United States, it is almost overwhelming to read the long list of ailments this plant is used to treat.

Similar looking to the aloe plant, yucca roots can be eaten directly or found in many health food stores as an extract or in capsules. As an extract, use topically, directly on the skin. Consume capsules with water. Yucca contains the active phytochemical saponins and if too much is consumed it can cause diarrhea in some people.

The yucca plant has been used to treat gout, premenstrual syndrome, chronic headache, and even skin cancer. In addition, yucca has been found to lower blood pressure, improve circulation, and lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Yucca can also help heal wounds and relieve joint stiffness and pain; some use the plant to treat muscle soreness associated with arthritis. Others use yucca to help improve liver function and improve digestion. It is quite amazing how many uses the plant has.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

What are Risk Factors?

Risk factors are habits, conditions and characteristics that can increase a person’s chance of developing a disease. For instance, smoking cigarettes increases the chance of lung cancer, so it is a risk factor. Common risk factors for developing osteoporosis are insufficient calcium and vitamin D, early menopause and being 50 years old or older. Risk factors for heart disease are smoking tobacco, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity and being overweight. All diseases have risk factors associated with them.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Medicinal Powers of Green Tea

Did you know that both black tea and green tea are one and the same? The difference lies in the processing methods. Green tea leaves are tea leaves that are only lightly steamed and black tea leaves get their dark color from drying and roasting. The process used to create black tea causes it to lose much of the medicinal power that is left in green tea.

Green tea offers powerful antioxidants, lowers cholesterol, prevents blood clots, and even enhances the body’s innate antioxidant enzymes. It helps to protect against many diseases such as cancers, heart disease and atherosclerosis. It is also thought that green tea can help prevent hot flashes, asthma and tooth decay, while suppressing the appetite increasing mental alertness.

Green Tea




Vitamin B3
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B9
Vitamin B12
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Vitamin E

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Garlic for Heart Health and Cancer Protection

Available in every grocery store and easy to grow, garlic is a much more than a great seasoning or something to help support your immune system when you are feeling under the weather; garlic offers over 70 health-promoting natural chemicals and improves cardiovascular health.

Garlic can help lower bad cholesterol and blood pressure. It can be used to treat ear infections and other bacterial issues. It can decrease the risk of stroke and heart attack. It can help slow tumor growth and protect against certain cancers, such as stomach, colon, esophageal and breast cancers. It is even used to help people undergoing chemotherapy. The newest studies on garlic have shown it to decrease blood sugar levels and increase insulin release in laboratory animals.

Garlic

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Researches are Convinced that Juice Prevents Blockages in the Arteries

Recently, researchers conducted an experiment that involved hamsters that were given water and hamsters who received juice in an amount that was comparable to four glasses daily for an individual who weighed approximately one hundred and fifty pounds. While other hamsters were apples or grapes with human equivalents of three apples a day or three bunches of grapes per day. Researchers studied how the fruits affected the risk of atherosclerosis in hamsters. Atherosclerosis has become a major health concern for humans in recent years due to unhealthy diet and lifestyle changes. Consequently, the results grapes and apples may beneficial in preventing atherosclerosis among humans as well.

Hamsters who received either fruit or juice had lower cholesterol, less aortic fat build-up, and less oxidative stress. The results of this study seem to suggest that there is a direct correlation between the amount of phenol contained in fruit and its antioxidant benefits.

The study revealed that apples and grapes had about the same phenol content while purple grape juice had more than double the phenol content of apples or grapes.

In fact, purple grape juice had the strongest antioxidant effect, followed by purple grapes, apple juice, and apples.

Antioxidants have long been considered to good for your health, however these findings seem to indicate that phenols and other antioxidants contained in fruit such as vitamin C and carotenoids may greatly affect an individual’s risk of heart attack and stroke.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is for informational purposes and is not medical advice. Individuals wishing to use supplements or alternative medicine therapies should consult with their doctor beforehand.

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