Tag Archives: LDL cholesterol

The Many Health Benefits of Flaxseed

Flaxseed has been used for many years for making linen. It’s also known as linseed, one
of the ingredients in paint. The closest it came to being food was its use for livestock feed.
It’s only about a decade ago that science discovered the many health benefits of flaxseed.

Flaxseed is a rich plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Apart from supporting good vision,
omega-3 also fight weight gain by increasing metabolic rate and they protect against
cancer growth. Flaxseed contains a different type of omega-3 than fish. This type reduces
the incidence of blood clotting, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
In addition, the omega-3 also appears to help prevent atherosclerosis, increase good HDL
cholesterol, lower levels of dangerous LDL cholesterol, and reduce inflammation.
They may also help to reduce depression.

Apart from omega-3, flaxseed is also a rich source of compounds called lignans.
While many plant foods contain lignans, flaxseed contains by far the most, at least 75 times
more than any other plant food. For example, you have to eat 60 cups of fresh broccoli
or 100 slices of whole-wheat bread to get the same amount of lignans in ¼ cup of flaxseed.
Lignans are important because of their powerful antioxidant properties to help blocking the cell-damaging effects of free radicals.
Food rich in lignans can lower the risk of heart disease. A Finnish study of almost 2,000 men found that those men with the highest lignan intake were significantly less likely to die from heart disease than those with the lowest intake.

Flaxseed also shows some potential of reversing kidney damage caused by lupus.
A condition by which the immune system produces harmful substances that attack and
damage healthy tissues.
When researchers at the University of Western Ontario gave flaxseed to nine people with
lupus related kidney disease, they discovered that several kidney functions, including
the ability to filter waste, quickly improved. The researchers believe that the lignans and
omega-3 in flaxseed fight inflammation in the tiny, very fragile arteries that supply blood
to the kidneys, helping reduce the artery-clogging process that can lead to kidney damage.

Apart from the health benefits of the lignans in flaxseeds to protect your heart, they also
fight cancer in your body. Lignans subdue cancerous changes once’s they have occurred,making them less likely to run out of control and develop into full-blown cancer.
Studies at the University of Toronto shows some promise for battling certain types of
cancer, in particular preventing typical female cancers, like breast- and ovarian cancer.

Two additional properties of the omega-3 in flaxseed, apart from its cancer-fighting power,
is the ability of limiting the body’s production of chemicals called prostaglandins.
The importance of prostaglandins is that they speed up tumor growth in large amounts.

To top it all up, flaxseed is also very high in fiber. Three table spoons of seeds contains
three grams of fiber, which is about twelve percent of the Daily Value.
The important role of fiber in your diet is the ability to block the harmful effects of
compounds that over time may cause changes in the intestine that can lead to cancer.

Whole flaxseed provide little benefit. Flaxseed is the one food that provide more
nutritional benefits when processed. So instead, buy the cracked or milled forms, which
readily give up the nutritious goodness packed inside.
Don’t buy the oil. Most of the lignans in flaxseed are found in the non-oil part of the seed.
While the oil may contain some lignans, it doesn’t provide as much as the other healthful
compounds found in the seeds, such as fiber, protein and minerals.

Healthy for Life with a Healthy Heart

Only about 50 years ago, doctors didn’t know what was good for our hearts.
Little attention was paid to diet and even smoking was acceptable by some.

But after almost 50 years, scientists came up with some simple and straight forward answers. Regular exercise is important, of course, and so is staying away from cigarettes.

But by far the most important factor is to have a healthy diet. Eating the right foods is
the most effective way to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, two of the biggest enemies against a healthy heart.

The Bad Fats
Often we take the wrong foods, in particular fats. There are good fats and bad fats.
The bad fats are saturated fats, found in red meat, and butter, It’s incredible dangerous
for the heart. Study after study has shown that the more saturated fat people eat,
the higher their risks for heart disease.
Foods high in saturated fat raise levels of artery-clogging low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol. Foods high in saturated fat are often high in cholesterol as well.

The American Heart Foundation recommends that we limit our intake of saturated fat
to less than 7% of our calories each day. For example, if you get 2,000 calories a day,
your upper daily limit for saturated fat is 14 grams.
That means: in addition to eating fruits, vegetables, and other low-fat foods, you could have 3 ounces of extra-lean ground beef which contains 5 grams of saturated fat), a serving
of macaroni and cheese (6 grams), and a half-cup of low-fat frozen yogurt (3 grams).

Another problem fat, called trans fatty acids, has been shown to dramatically increase
the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Trans fatty acids are made when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oils to turn the liquid oils into solid fats like margarine and shortening. Ironically, they meant to be a healthy alternative to the saturated fat in butter.
But it appears that trans fatty acids may be even more harmful than saturated fats.
Trans fats raise the bad (LDL) cholesterol and lower the good (HDL) cholesterol,
increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.

It’s not only margarine and fried foods that may be a problem. Many cookies, cakes, and
other snack foods contain “partially hydrogenated oil,” which is also high in trans fatty acids.
Because of the health risk, the American Heart Association recommends you limit your
daily intake to less than 1% of your total calories.

Some Better Fats
Some fats are relatively healthful. You can easily recognize them by looking at the “un”
as in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. While theses type of fats are still high in
calories, in small amounts, they play several beneficial roles.
Polyunsaturated fats (found in soy, corn, safflower, sesame, and sunflower oils, as well as
nuts and seeds ) help your body to get rid of newly formed cholesterol, therefore, they
keep cholesterol levels down and reduce cholesterol deposits on artery walls.

Monounsaturated fats also appear to help lower cholesterol levels as long as the rest of
the diet is very low in saturated fats. Although they are a good substitute for saturated fats,
both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats should be used in moderation, because
their high calorie counts can lead to weight gain. No more than 30% of your calories
should come from fat.

Nuts are particularly good sources of these healthful fats. In a study of Seventh-Day
Adventists, researchers found that those who consumed nuts at least four times a week
had almost half the risk of fatal heart attacks of those who rately ate them.

Although the American Heart Association recommends less than 30% of calories from fat,
many health-care professionals, recommend even less.
They tell people to aim for getting about 20 to 25% of total calories from fat, most of which
should be in the form of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.

There is yet another kind of healthy fat, perhaps the king of healthy fats, called omega-3
fatty acids. This is found in most fish (but in particularly in oily, cold-water fish) and also
in flaxseed and certain dark greens. Omega-3 can help to prevent clots from forming in the
arteries. In addition, they help lower triglycerides, a type of blood fat that, in large amounts, may raise the risk for heart disease.

Studies show that eating fish twice a week, in particularly salmon, because it contains
high levels of omega-3, can help to keep your arteries clear and your heart working well.
In a stuy done at the Harvard School of Public Health, scientists found that the death rate
from heart disease was 36% lower among people who ate fish twice a week compared
with people who ate little or no seafood. The study, which was published in the American
Medical Association, also showed that overall mortality was 17% lower omong the regular
seafood eaters.