Posts Tagged ‘heart health’

Navigating the Buzz Over Saturated Fat

Have you been following the conversation about the results of the recent systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine? The authors indicated that the type of fat people eat may not be as closely related to coronary risk as previously believed. The results lead to new questions on dietary guidance that focus on the total amount of saturated or unsaturated fat in the diet, without considering how fat from different food sources, such as dairy or nuts, impact heart health. (more…)

Taking Care of Our Hearts This Valentine’s Day

Your sweetheart may have the key to your heart, but a proper diet can be a key to a healthy heart. For many people, February marks Valentine’s Day; a day full of chocolates, flowers and tons of love. But it’s also American Heart Month, a month long effort to bring awareness to cardiovascular disease. This Valentine’s Day, make it more than just a holiday. Give the gift of health by taking care of your heart and empowering others to do the same to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Why We Should Rethink the Health Impact of Full-Fat Dairy Foods

When it comes to nutrition and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, things are not so simple anymore.  We now know, for example, that not all saturated fatty acids are the same or have the same effect on blood cholesterol concentrations.  Even different foods with the same saturated fat content may influence blood lipids differently.  We’ve learned that measuring total LDL-cholesterol is not always enough to characterize cardiovascular risk, because the number and proportion of LDL particles — that are either small and dense or large and buoyant – can differentially effect an individual’s risk.  We’ve learned that measuring biomarkers other than LDL-cholesterol, such as those for systemic inflammation, are also important for assessing cardiovascular risk.  Assessing the effect of milkfat containing foods on cardiovascular health is not so simple, either. (more…)

World Heart Day: Celebrate with Dairy

Cardiovascular disease leads to 29 percent of all deaths globally, according to the World Heart Federation. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include obesity, high blood pressure and dyslipidemia.  In light of World Heart Day observed on September 29, it’s important to know which foods as part of a heart healthy diet can help lower your risk for cardiovascular disease.

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New Study Indicates No Link between Low Carb, Higher Fat Diet and Increased Heart Disease Risk

ScienceDaily reports on a new study examining weight loss on a low carbohydrate versus a low-fat diet combined with exercise. Both groups lost weight; however, the low carbohydrate group lost weight faster. Although the low carbohydrate diet was higher in fat, measures of cardiovascular health were not altered by the diet. This work provides additional data indicating that a low carbohydrate, higher fat diet will not negatively affect heart disease risk.

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Share the Heart This Valentine’s Day

We have embarked on a New Year and as we move past the resolutions and the groundhog’s predicting the end of winter by looking at his shadow, our attention turns to the next holiday on our list, Valentine’s Day.  As health professionals, Valentine’s Day can mean caring about people beyond immediate family members and sharing overall health and wellness messages with our clients, patients and others we care for professionally. This also means highlighting American Heart Month in an effort to bring awareness to cardiovascular disease. In this realm, sharing our heart can mean empowering people to choose a healthy lifestyle that can help them reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet lowers blood pressure in the UK

In a study by K. E. Harnden and coworkers (J. Hum. Nutr. Diet. 2009 Oct. 15. Epub ahead of print). They fed a version of the US DASH diet which had been adapted to traditional foods and portion sizes found in the UK.

The DASH diet is low in saturated fat, while being high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods. Subjects followed the DASH eating approach for 30 days. Dietary intakes were measured using 5-day dairies, which DASHwere completed before and towards the end of the study. Blood pressure was measured at the beginning and end of the study. The subjects were able to follow the DASH eating approach and it was well tolerated. Subjects consumed more protein and carbohydrates, while consuming less fat. Sodium intakes also decreased significantly. Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure significantly decreased (4.6 and 3.9 mm Hg, respectively) in this normotensive population.

This is another example of how promoting a positive approach to healthy eating, rather than solely a nutrient avoidance approach (i.e., avoid sodium), can produce positive health outcomes.

In a study by K. E. Harnden and coworkers (J. Hum. Nutr. Diet. 2009 Oct. 15. Epub ahead of print). They fed a version of the US DASH diet which had been adapted to traditional foods and portion sizes found in the UK.

The DASH diet is low in saturated fat, while being high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods. Subjects followed the DASH eating approach for 30 days. Dietary intakes were measured using 5-day dairies, which DASHwere completed before and towards the end of the study. Blood pressure was measured at the beginning and end of the study. The subjects were able to follow the DASH eating approach and it was well tolerated. Subjects consumed more protein and carbohydrates, while consuming less fat. Sodium intakes also decreased significantly. Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure significantly decreased (4.6 and 3.9 mm Hg, respectively) in this normotensive population.

This is another example of how promoting a positive approach to healthy eating, rather than solely a nutrient avoidance approach (i.e., avoid sodium), can produce positive health outcomes.

FNCE session highlights the DASH eating plan for lifelong health

On Sunday, October 18, I had the privilege of moderating a session, “The DASH Eating Plan: Moving Beyond Hypertension,” at the American Dietetic Association’s  Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE).  It was a pleasure to share the podium with two distinguished and talented speakers, Lynn Moore, DSc, MPH, and Natalie Webb, MS, RD, LD.

Dr. Moore, Associate Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, reviewed the science behind the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan in both adults and children – sharing some of her own research in children and adolescents. 

Ms. Webb, founder and President of Nutrition Network, a consulting firm based in Maryland, demonstrated how to put the DASH eating plan into practice as she relayed her experiences teaching the DASH eating plan to fire fighters in Washington D.C., participants of the African American Health Program in Montgomery County, MD, and her students at Prince George’s Community College. 

Dr. Moore reminded the audience that the core of the DASH eating plan — low-fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables – is what provides the majority of its health benefits, including lower blood pressure and lipid levels, reduced bone turnover, and increased insulin sensitivity.�

She emphasized that some of the more recent studies that report outcomes based on a combined DASH score — equally weighting all dietary components — may wash out important dietary effects.  This helps to explain why some studies have shown less definitive results.�

Using her own research with children and adolescents, Dr. Moore demonstrated the importance of combined intakes of fruit, vegetables and dairy foods in childhood and adolescence to improve blood pressure, body composition, and blood lipid levels.�

Due to time constraints, Dr. Moore did not get a chance to discuss the possible mechanisms underlying the health effects of the DASH eating plan.  So I will provide examples of information from her slides here: 

• “Another thing Potassium, calcium, magnesium – each of these nutrients has been found to have anti-hypertensive effects through several possible mechanisms.

- Alterations in sodium balance and renal clearance of sodium
- Adverse effects of sodium imbalance on sympathetic nervous system & renin-angiotensin system (e.g., vasoconstriction)
- Stimulation of calcium regulatory hormones (e.g., PTH), thereby affecting vascular resistance
- Effects of calcium on “agouti” gene (expressed in adipose tissue) which stimulates calcium influx into cells

• Fiber and/or glycemic index of DASH foods
• Bioactive peptides derived from milk proteins (casein and whey) inhibit the function of ACE (an enzyme that plays a crucial role in the renin-angiotensin system). Inhibition of the ACE pathway reduces sodium retention, thereby lowering BP.
• Higher intake of proteins may promote muscle anabolism or reduce catabolism, thus preserving lean mass under weight loss conditions (reducing BP, insulin resistance).
• Glutamate – primary (vegetable) dietary amino acid may counteract oxidative stress & enhance nitric oxide’s hypotensive effects
Plant polyphenols (e.g., flavonoids) have anti-oxidant properties that lead to reduced inflammation and oxidative stress (associated with hyperlipidemia). These beneficial effects of FV polyphenols on inflammation & oxidative stress shown even in adolescents. (Holt, JADA, 2009)”

Natalie Webb told the audience that her personal commitment to eating the DASH way and teaching it to others came through personal tragedy, as she saw family members succumb to the ravages of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke.  Her teaching is interactive, boosting the learning curve of her clients and students by practicing the skills of menu planning, food shopping, and meal preparation.  Natalie says “DASH is unique because it works by adding delicious, nutrient-rich foods to the diet, rather than restricting or eliminating foods as some dietary approaches often recommend.”   

 

 

For those of you who didn’t get a chance to attend the ADA conference or this session (so many interesting sessions and so little time!), handouts from both speakers, including their slides are available from the ADA website.

Cheers for chocolate milk: It tastes great and it’s great for you!

I’ll raise my glass of chocolate milk with my colleague Karen Kafer as offered in her recent post on flavored milk.

Low-fat chocolate milk has long been a regular staple of my diet, too.  I view it as a silver lining to my day.  Not only does it satisfy my craving for something chocolaty and creamy, but also is good for me and provides the same nine essential nutrients in one cup (8 oz) as compared to low-fat unflavored milk. 

Chocolate milkDespite the important nutrient contributions flavored milk makes to the diet, concerns about the potential effects of the added sugar in flavored milk have raised questions regarding the role of flavored milk in a healthy diet.  A recent American Heart Association Scientific Statement, Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health, published in Circulation may help quell some of these concerns.  The report states, “when sugars are added to otherwise nutrient-rich foods, such as sugar-sweetened dairy products like flavored milk and yogurt and sugar-sweetened cereals the quality of children’s and adolescent’s diets improves, and in the case of flavored milks, no adverse effects on weight status were found.” 

Additionally, a new National Dairy Council resource is available to help health professional practitioners and school leaders put flavored milk in perspective.  It highlights flavored milk’s role in improving consumption of essential nutrients and its benefits to health.  It also presents recommendations from health professional organizations and nutrition experts regarding flavored milk and provides data that demonstrate the importance of nutrient-rich flavored milk in the school environment.

What other resources do you need to help you guide your patients and clients?  Please let us know how we can help you when it comes to dairy nutrition resources.

A DASH-style diet and lifestyle coaching impacts women’s blood pressure

Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease. According to an analysis conducted between 2003 and 2006 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), 30.3% of women 20 years of age or older have hypertension and/or are taking blood pressure lowering medication.

Recently published results of a large prospective cohort study that followed 83,882 adult women (27-44 years) enrolled in the second Nurses’ Health Study for 14 years found that women with a combination of normal BMI (<25), daily vigorous physical activity, and a DASH-style diet, had a 54% reduced risk of hypertension when compared to women without these low-risk lifestyle factors. 

The researchers identified six low-risk factors for hypertension: 

• Body mass index (BMI) less than 25�
• 30 minutes of vigorous exercise per day
• High score on the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet
• Modest alcohol intake up to 10 gm/d
• Use of non-narcotic analgesics less than once per week
• Intake of 400 µg/d or more of supplemental folic acid

Based on the DASH clinical trial, a DASH score was constructed based on high intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains, and a low intake of sodium, sweetened beverages, and red and processed meats.�
milk “All 6 modifiable risk factors were independently associated with the risk of developing hypertension during follow-up,” the authors report.  The researchers estimate that if all women adhered to all six low-risk factors, then 78% of new onset hypertension cases could have been avoided. Although speculative,” the authors say, “if these associations were causal and independent, then lifestyle modification could have the potential to prevent a large proportion of new-onset hypertension occurring among young women.”   

The authors note in the discussion section that clinical intervention trials have confirmed the findings of this observational study, lending support to the authors’ assumption that these relationships may be causal.  For example, the PREMIER clinical trial found that participants who were counseled to follow the DASH diet in combination with other lifestyle modifications recommended for blood pressure control were at 23% lower risk of developing incident hypertension than a group that received advice only.�
Registered dietitians can be very effective lifestyle coaches — tailoring strategies to address individual barriers to meeting diet, weight loss, and physical activity goals – and helping clients build skills and stay motivated.

 If you are helping clients reduce blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors, the DASH tool-kit on the National Dairy Council website may be just what you need.