Posts Tagged "healthy fats"

M Diet 2The Mediterranean diet consistently has been linked with an array of health benefits, including decreased risk of chronic disease and cancer. Until now, however, no studies had associated the diet with longer telomeres, one of the biomarkers of aging.

In a study published Tuesday online in The BMJ, researchers at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) found that greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet correlated with longer telomeres.

Telomeres are repetitive DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes that get shorter every time a cell divides. Shorter telomeres have been associated with decreased life expectancy and increased risk of aging-related disease, while longer telomeres have been linked to longevity. Telomere shortening is accelerated by stress and inflammation, and scientists have speculated that adherence to the Mediterranean diet may help protect against that effect.M diet 3

“To our knowledge this is the largest population-based study specifically addressing the association between Mediterranean diet adherence and telomere length in healthy, middle-aged women,” explained Immaculata De Vivo, an associate professor in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the senior author of this study. “Our results further support the benefits of adherence to this diet to promote health and longevity.”

The researchers analyzed 4,676 disease-free women from the Nurses’ Health Study who had completed the food-frequency questionnaire and whose telomere lengths had been measured. They found that a greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with longer telomeres, and that even small changes in diet made a difference.

“Our findings showed that healthy eating, overall, was associated with longer telomeres. However, the strongest association M Dietwas observed among women who adhered to the Mediterranean diet,” explained Marta Crous Bou, a postdoctoral fellow in the Channing Division of Network Medicine and the first author of the study.

De Vivo notes that future research should be aimed at determining which components of the Mediterranean diet drive this association. This would allow researchers to gain insight into the biological mechanism, as well as provide a basis for increased public education for informed lifestyle choices.

Source: Harvard Gazette

“The Presidential Healthcare Center Provides Nutritional Assessments.”  

The winter season is chock full of delicious dishes and treats, but no one likes the extra calories and added pounds that can come with the seasonal food. Use these smart tips on substitutions and choices to enjoy your favorite winter beverages and foods.

EggnogEggnog

  • Mix it up. Fill your glass with half- to three-quarter-parts of low-fat or skim milk and one part eggnog. You’ll still get the flavor without all the calories.
  • Act like a kid. Take out the alcohol. This simple step will reduce the caloric content.
  • Cut the fluff. Pass on that big dollop of whipped cream to avoid the extra sugar and saturated fat.

Hot Chocolate

  • Skip the heavy stuff. If you order hot chocolate at a restaurant or coffee shop, ask that it be made withhot chocolate low-fat or skim milk, and without the whipped cream.
  • Do some research. To make instant hot chocolate at home, look for product packets marked “low-fat/fat-free” or “low-sugar/sugar-free.” Be sure to add the mix to low-fat milk, skim milk or hot water.
  • Go easy on the toppings. Use five to eight mini-marshmallows instead of large ones. If using whipped cream, look for low-fat versions and stick to less than one tablespoon. If you have hot chocolate regularly, try to limit the toppings to “once in a while treats” since they can pack a lot of calories and added sugars.

Apple Ciderapple cider

  • Read the labels. When buying cider at the store, check its added sugar content. Many products contain added sugars, which can increase your calorie intake and cause weight gain. Choose low-sugar and sugar-free options.
  • Do it yourself. When making cider at home, use low-sugar apple juice and a variety of spices (like cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg and whole cranberries). You’ll keep the flavor while cutting calories.

Cocktails and Other Alcoholic Beveragescocktail

  • Enjoy cocktails. Serve non-alcoholic versions of your favorite cocktails to lower the calories. Be sure to check the nutrition label, because sometimes products that are alcohol-free have more added sugar.
  • Break it up. To reduce the amount of calorie-laden drinks you consume during a holiday gathering, drink a glass of water or sparkling water between each beverage. This will help fill your stomach, leaving less room to overindulge.

Sodium

  • Limit your sodium. Did you know that many of your favorite holiday dishes may be packed with sodium? Breads and rolls, poultry, and canned soups are three common foods that can add sodium to low sodiumyour diet. When shopping for ingredients to prepare your holiday meal, compare the labels to find lower sodium varieties.
  • Savor the flavor. Use herbs and spices, like rosemary and cloves, to flavor dishes instead of salt or butter.
  • Go fresh. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables to use in your dishes. If using canned products, rinse with water in a colander before cooking and serving.

Turkey

  • Outsmart the bird. Reach for the lighter pieces of meat; they have fewer calories and less fat than the Turkeydarker ones. Another way to cut calories is to take off the skin.
  • Keep portions in check. A serving size of meat is 3 oz., about the size of a deck of cards. So, be conscious of how much you put on your plate, and pass on that second helping. If you’re also having another meat, like ham or lamb, take smaller portions of each.
  • Watch out for the gravy train. Turkey usually comes with gravy, which can add excess fat, calories and sodium. Limit gravy to a tablespoon, and keep it off other items, like the dressing.

Dressing

  • Call it what it is. Dressing is intended to be a complement to your meal, not an entrée. To keep calories gravyand excess fat in check, aim for ¼ cup (or about half a scoop with a serving spoon).
  • Judge it by its cover. If the dressing is filled with fatty meats like sausage and pork, looks greasy or buttery, and is made with white bread or sweet rolls, it may be best to pass. Better options would be dressings that have whole grain or cornbread, lean meat (or no meat), nuts (like almonds or walnuts), and lots of veggies and fruits.

Desserts

  • Treat yourself right. The best way to enjoy an occasional sweet without losing control is by sampling a pecan pieselection or two, rather than having full servings. For example, have one bite of pie, half a cookie or one small square of fudge. Find a friend or family member who will stick to the sampling rule with you.

Source: American Heart Association

good fats and bad fatsIf you’re going to overindulge and gain weight, at least try to make sure the extra calories come from unsaturated fats, a new study suggests.

When lean people pack on even a few extra pounds, heart disease risk factors in the bloodstream change – some for the better if the excess food contains unsaturated fats, versus saturated fats, researchers found.

Even a moderate weight gain of about three pounds for lean, young people clearly increased markers of heart disease risk factors like insulin resistance as well as signs of impaired vascular function, said senior author Dr. Ulf Riserus of the Unit for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism at Uppsala Science Park in Sweden.

But unsaturated fats in the diet improved cholesterol levels despite the extra calories and weight gain, which is surprising, Riserus told Reuters Health by email.

For seven weeks, two groups of healthy, relatively lean adults ages 20 to 38 were told to keep to their habitual exercise level and daily diets, adding three to four muffins to their diets each day.Coconut

The researchers provided the 240-calorie muffins, with half their energy from fats. One group of 19 adults received muffins made with sunflower oil, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), while the other group of 20 people ate muffins made with palm oil, a saturated fat. The muffins were otherwise identical.

After seven weeks, each group had gained between two and three percent of their body weight, about 3.5 pounds (1.5 kilos) each, and waist girth increased by about one percent, but blood pressure did not change significantly.

This level of weight gain in the short term is probably not dangerous at all, Riserus said, but if weight accumulates over time, especially abdominal fat, there can be health consequences.

salmonBased on blood tests, the sunflower oil group had lower cholesterol and lipid levels at the end of the study than they had at the beginning of the study. For the palm oil group, cholesterol went up, according to the results in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Both groups showed signs of increased insulin resistance, a diminished ability to process blood sugar that can be a warning sign for diabetes onset.

Riserus and his team had previously found that the type of fat in the diet determined how much of the excess calories were stored as abdominal fat and liver fat, he said.

“If the high-caloric diet was based on unsaturated fats rather than saturated fats, very little fat was stored as liver and abdominal fat, whereas the opposite was true for the diet high in saturated fats,” he said.

Saturated and unsaturated fats have different molecular effects on the liver, he said. Unsaturated fats signal the liver to take up cholesterol from the blood, he said.

“We believe our results are very relevant considering that a large part of most populations are in caloric excess and gradually gain weight over time,” Riserus said. “Although weight gain should be avoided, the results basically tell us that we may benefit from having enough unsaturated fats in our diets, irrespectively of how many calories we eat.”

The results support the American Heart Association recommendation to replace some saturated fats in the diet, like fatty beef, butter and cheese, with unsaturated fats like vegetable oils and nuts, he said.avacado

“I do not think people usually plan for weight gain, but, as we know, it just happens quite commonly,” said Ursula Schwab, an associate professor of nutrition therapy at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio.

“So, by following the guidelines regarding dietary fat, unintentional weight gain can be less harmful than in cases when the recommendations on the quality of dietary fat is not followed,” Schwab told Reuters Health by email. She was not involved in the new study.

All dietary polyunsaturated fats are beneficial, she said, but that is not necessarily the case for supplements.

In addition to sunflower oil, rapeseed oil and canola oil are good sources of polyunsaturated fats, Riserus said.

Source: Reuters

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