KRON 4 | Foods that Sop Up Bad Cholesterol

Continued from Part 1… How Plaque Attacks Your Body and Brain

Read how plaque invades your blood vessels here.

Cholesterol
Think of soluble fiber as the “cholesterol sponge”.

Foods that Lower “Bad Cholesterol”

You can lower your numbers by adding more fiber to your diet, particularly, beta-glucan (pronounced “glue-can”).

Beta-glucan is a soluble fiber also known as “oat gum”. Think of soluble fiber as a “cholesterol sponge”. It mops up LDLs in your intestines and gets rid of them with other waste. This keeps excesses from accumulating in your blood vessels and making plaque.

Foods High in Beta-Glucan

Bob's Red Mill BarleyBeta-glucan is found in the cell walls of cereals. It’s the main component of soluble fiber in oats and barley. Beta-glucan is what gives your morning oatmeal it’s creamy, viscous texture.

  • Whole oats
  • Whole oat flour (1 1/4 cups of rolled oats will yield 1 cup of oat flour)
  • Rolled oats (oats are heated and rolled flat)
  • Steel-cut oats (oats are thinly sliced lengthwise)
  • Oatmeal (the inner part of the oat grout)
  • Oat bran (the outer husk of the oat grout; lighter and finer than wheat bran)
  • Barley*
  • Whole barley flour

*Pearl or pearled barley has been processed to remove some or all of the outer bran layer resulting in a quicker cooking time.

Oats
Eating oats/barley a day can lower “bad cholesterol” by 5 to 7%.

How Oat Bran Lowered LDL (“Bad Cholesterol”)

In one study, beta-glucan significantly reduced the total and LDL cholesterol levels of adults with elevated cholesterol levels without changing the HDL (“good cholesterol”). Subjects consumed 2.9 g beta-glucan TWICE a day for 4 weeks. This amount is equivalent to a daily dose of about 70 g of oat bran (almost 2/3 cup dry).

An analysis of other studies conducted over 13 years supported the intake found that eating 3 grams ONCE a day of oat beta-glucan can lower total cholesterol by 5% in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by 7%, thus reducing major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Remember… atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) is a chronic disease which means it is persistent, long-lasting in its effects, and requires medical attention.

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Studies shows eating oats lowers “bad cholesterol”.

To get in at least 3 grams of oat beta-glucan a day, eat rolled oats, steel-cut oats, or oat bran in the following serving sizes:

  • Rolled oats, 3/4 cup dry OR 2/3 cup oat flour (7.5 g fiber)
  • Steel-cut oats*, 1/2 cup dry (8 g fiber)
  • Oat bran, 1/3 cup dry (6 g fiber)

*Steel cut oats contain more fiber than rolled oats.

Cooking with Oats

  • Oats are extremely versatile. You can use them to make breakfast cereals, breads, pancakes, pie crusts, nutrition bars, cookies, crackers, crumble toppings, and as a coating for fish.
  • They naturally thicken food. You can use these nutty-tasting oats to thicken soups and stews.
  • Use oat groats instead of rice in a pilaf.
  • chia-seed-smoothie_adobestock_77942716_croppedOat beta-glucan soluble fiber can also be added to beverages/liquids, such as smoothies, yogurt drinks, juice drinks), yogurt, soups, sauces, and dressings. Add some oats to your smoothies to make them more satisfying and nourishing. The fiber will help slow down digestion which can stabilize your blood sugar.

Apple c heart symbol_128x128Fit Tip: Eat at least 3 grams of oat beta-glucan per day. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, but you can lower your risk by including certain foods into your daily eating plan. Lifestyle and diet changes are the main ways to prevent or lower LDL numbers.

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xo

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KRON 4 | How Plaque Attacks Your Body and Brain

If you’re at risk for cardiovascular disease or you just want to keep your heart healthy, you’ve probably been told to “watch your cholesterol”. The type of cholesterol that puts you at risk for plaque-lined arteries is LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and diet plays an important role. How are you keeping your plumbing clog-free?

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What is Plaque?

Plaque is a fatty, waxy substance made up of materials, such as fat, cholesterol, calcium, waste products from cells, and fibrin (a clotting agent). When plaque clogs your arteries, it can partially or totally block blood flow through ANY of your arteries, such as your pelvis, legs, arms, or kidneys — not just your heart and brain.

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Courtesy of Blausen.com staff (2014)

Atherosclerosis can precipitate various conditions, including:

  • Coronary heart disease (plaque in arteries in or leading to the heart)
  • Angina (chest pain from reduced blood flow to the heart muscle)
  • Carotid artery disease and stroke (plaque in neck arteries supplying blood to the brain)
  • Peripheral artery disease, or PAD (plaque in arteries of the extremities, especially the legs); hardening of arteries from excess LDL cholesterol can cause numbness in your legs or feet.
  • Chronic kidney disease

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol itself isn’t bad. Your body needs cholesterol — it’s a fatty, waxy substance that: 

  • Makes hormones (e.g., estrogen, progesterone, testosterone)
  • Makes vitamin D
  • Makes digestive fluids
  • Builds healthy cells
  • Protects nerve cells
  • Enables organs (such as your brain) to function properly 

Your liver makes the cholesterol your body needs and some comes from the foods you eat. Cholesterol can’t dissolve in blood, so it’s enveloped by proteins which enable them to travel in your blood. 

Cholesterol
LDL or “bad cholesterol” is a microscopic blob with a cholesterol center.

What is LDL?

The cholesterol that makes up plaque and builds up on the walls of your blood vessels is LDL or “low-density lipoprotein”. Too much LDL circulating in your blood increases your risk of a heart attack and stroke, so it’s known as the “bad cholesterol”.

Basically, LDL is a ‘microscopic blob’ with a cholesterol center packaged inside of protein. These protein packages are called “lipoproteins”. But LDL’s don’t just carry cholesterol, they also carry triglycerides, fat-soluble vitamins, and antioxidants.

Why You Need LDL   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | How Plaque Attacks Your Body and Brain”

Junk Food Leads to More Than Waist Gain

Americans kill themselves from the food they eat.

Heart disease is often blamed on genetics (your mom, dad, grandparents…) BUT over 360,000 Americans manage to kill themselves each year from the food they eat. Cardiovascular disease is the country’s number one killer and coronary artery disease or ischemic heart disease (where plaque-filled arteries literally choke off oxygen to your heart) leads the way.

Blausen_0257_CoronaryArtery_Plaque_credit_edited-1

Brain and Heart_600x1022Coronary heart disease accounts for 1 in 7 deaths in the United States per year. But plaque not only builds up in your coronary arteries, it builds up in the vessels of your brain as well. And the result? Your brain shrinks.

BRAIN CELLS DIE

Unfortunately, the fat-laden, sugar-heavy junk you consume (and find so addictive) often packs on pounds around your middle. Abdominal obesity has been shown to kill brain cells. According to a study published in the Annals of Neurology, having more belly fat is associated with a decrease in total brain volume in middle-aged adults.

KRON 4 | What to Eat After Exercise

Consuming the ideal foods and fluids after your workouts is vital for optimal fitness. But figuring out what you should eat and drink can be confusing. I talked with KRON 4 Morning News anchor, Marty Gonzalez, and deciphered what to eat — and when.

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Recovery Nutrition 

Recover nutrition has two primary goals: 

    1. To replace what’s lost during exercise, such as fluid and fuel
    2. To promote muscle building and repair

General Post-Exercise Guidelines

  • Consume 1.0 to 1.5 grams carbohydrate (CHO) per kg body weight during the first 30 minutes after exercise and again every 2 hours for 4 to 6 hours.
  • Consume 15 to 25 grams protein during recovery.
  • Drink 16 to 24 oz. of fluid for every pound of weight lost during exercise

The Window of Metabolic Opportunity

After exercise, your body is starved for nutrients and quickest at absorbing them during the first 30 minutes after exercise and at two-hour intervals for 4 to 6 hours.

The earlier you eat carbohydrates within this window, the faster you’ll replenish your glycogen (energy) stores. Once depleted, it generally takes 24 hours to fully replenish these reserves. Waiting too long to eat can impair your performance and function.

Eating Carbs Immediately After Exercise is NOT for Everyone

Carb consumption right after exercise is important if you:

    • Work out daily.
    • Train or compete multiple times a day.
    • Participate in high intensity or prolonged exercise.
    • Have defined fitness, muscle mass, and performance goals.

If you’re an occasional exerciser or rest one or more days between intense workouts, nutrient timing isn’t critical, but the nutritional components of recovery are still required.

Be sure your intake of CHO is adequate and consumed within a reasonable time after training.

NOTE: In general, consuming a high CHO snack with some protein during recovery is a good practice for athletes and avid exercisers.

Food Planning

Planning post-exercise and post-competition snacks/meals to fit within the recovery window will take some time at first. You’ll need to figure out what, how much, and when to eat as well as how to make the food available after your workout.

Immediate Post-Exercise Snack   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | What to Eat After Exercise”

KRON 4 | What Would Happen If You Ate 20 Servings of Fruit a Day for Several Weeks?

How many times have you heard someone say, “I can’t eat fruit. It has too much sugar.” Are you worried about blood sugar spikes? If so, you might want to rethink your fructose fears.

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Table sugar and high fructose corn syrup are known to have adverse side effects, but what about the sugar found naturally in fruit and fruit juice? Can you eat too much fruit? Today I chatted with KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, Marty Gonzalez, and broke down the facts on fruit.

Fruit, Table Sugar, and High Fructose Corn Syrup — What’s the difference?

  • Table sugar and its synthetic sister, high fructose corn syrup are made up of two molecules: glucose + fructose, a.k.a. “industrial fructose”. 
  • Fruits contain “naturally-occurring” fructose. (Fructose is one of the three building blocks of carbohydrates.)
  • Industrial fructose is linked to hypertension, belly fat, high triglycerides, and liver disease.

Is Eating Too Much Fruit (Fructose) Bad for You?

Per a University of Eastern Finland study, possible reasons that fruit and fruit juice did not spike blood sugar:

1. Fruit had a more solid consistency: Thickness in a fruit puree may slow digestion vs. gulping down pure sugar water (e.g., soda).

2. Fruit contains soluble fiber: Soluble fiber forms a thick gel in the intestines which slows the breakdown of sugars. Fructose is bound to the fiber, so it does not absorb as quickly.

3. Fruit contains phytonutrients, also called phytochemicals: “Phyto” refers to the Greek word for plant. These chemicals help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats and thus, provide protection in humans. Phytonutrients slow sugars traveling from the intestines into the blood stream.

Eat Berries to Slow Blood Sugar Spikes

Low-fiber starches (e.g., white bread, white pasta, white flour pretzels, instant oatmeal, corn flakes, and soda crackers) will also spike your blood sugar.

Per another study with starches (white and rye bread) eaten with various berry combinations, the berries suppressed the blood sugar and insulin spikes. So if you eat a starchy, low fiber food on occasion, be sure to eat berries.

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What Would Happen if You Ate 20 Servings of Fruit a Day for Several Weeks?    

Continue reading “KRON 4 | What Would Happen If You Ate 20 Servings of Fruit a Day for Several Weeks?”