Soy foods have been used around the world for thousands of years because so many people realize its healthy qualities. Extensive research documents the many health benefits of soy foods; the FDA approved the health claim that daily soy intake is heart-healthy. Soy foods are produced from the soybeans grown in the United States and other countries. These foods are nutrient-rich foods that contain the following:
- high-quality protein
- healthy fats
- plant estrogens (isoflavones)
- vitamins and minerals
The advantages of whole soy foods, as opposed to foods with soy ingredients, are that the whole soybean has many health promoting benefits in addition to those provided by the ingredients alone. Some popular whole soy foods include whole soybeans, green soybeans, also known as edamame, and dry roasted soy nuts. In order to experience the benefits of soy foods, two of the following serving sizes are recommended per day: ½ cup of cooked soybeans, 2/3 cup of green soybeans in the pod, 1 oz of roasted soy nuts, one glass of soy milk, ½ cup tofu, or six grams of isolated soy protein.
Research shows the following conditions and diseases benefit from soy foods:
- Coronary heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure: View blog, “Soy for your Heart” for more details.
- Menopause, breast cancer, osteoporosis: Read blog, “Soy and Women’s Health,” for more information.
- Cancer: See upcoming blog, “Cancer Fighting Food: Soy.”
- Diabetes, obesity, kidney disease: Upcoming blog titled, “Soy for Renal Health,” will have more details.
Soy foods are one of the healthiest foods you can put on the table and are a tasty way to add variety to your diet.
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Many of my patients have dropped their total cholesterol by 80 points through an intense diet. Their LDL (bad-guy) cholesterol has decreased from 150 to 90 points! In our research in Kentucky we documented for hundreds of patients that we could lower the LDL cholesterol by 35-45% through our high carbohydrate, high fiber diet without weight loss or exercise. These diets were rich in oats (oatmeal and oatbran), beans (pinto and other dry beans), vegetables and fruits.
Dr. David Jenkins at the University of Toronto has also demonstrated in hundreds of people that they can lower their LDL-cholesterol by 35-40% using his ‘Portfolio Diet.’
Both diets are high in complex carbohydrate and soluble fiber while being very low in red meat, processed meat, high fat dairy foods, and eggs.
And you do not have to lose weight to do this! But, if you are a few pounds overweight, this diet will help you make those love handles smaller.
So, with serious attention to your diet your can drop your cholesterol by 80 points and your LDL bad guys by 60 points.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
Your blood cholesterol level is a major cause of heart attacks. The foremost way to lower your cholesterol and protect yourself from heart attacks is to limit your intake of meats, processed meats (sausage, hamburger and lunch meat), high fat dairy foods (ice cream, milk and butter) and eggs.
The American Heart Association recommends the Therapeutic Lifestyle Change, which includes a diet limited in meat, animal fat and high fat dairy foods as well as walking 30 minutes daily. The goal also is to achieve a desirable, non-obese weight.
Know Your Numbers
- LDL-cholesterol (the “bad guy” type)- desirable is less than 130 and ideal is less than 100 mg/dl (for persons with heart disease the goal is 70 mg/dl);
- HDL-cholesterol (the “good guy” type)- desirable for women, more than 50; and for men, more than 40 mg/dl;
- Triglycerides (the other type of blood fat), less than 150 mg/dl.
Most people can lower their “bad guy” (LDL) cholesterol by 25 to 45% by making changes to their eating habits. I lowered my high LDL cholesterol from 200 to 110 through diet alone.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
If your blood cholesterol level is too high or your LDL- (bad-guy) cholesterol is too high you should follow a health-promoting diet to lower it. As outlined in my Blog “Lower your cholesterol” you can lower your LDL-cholesterol by 20-40% by following a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet and using soluble fiber (oats or psyllium), soy protein, and plant sterols. It is safer to lower your LDL-cholesterol this way and by taking drugs. If you cannot get to the LDL-cholesterol levels recommended by your doctor you may need to take a statin drug. You should read my blog “How low should your cholesterol be” to decide how low you want your LDL-cholesterol value to be and whether you should take a statin or other type of drugs.
Statin drugs lower risk of heart attack by about 25%, especially for men who are less than 60 years old (1). However they have side effects. They may cause muscle aching in one out of ten people (2) with serious damage to muscles occasionally (3) as well as problems with muscle tendons (4). They also can affect liver function and irritate the stomach. I have seen all of these side effects in my patients. Not uncommonly they may cause neuropathy (nerve pain or tingling) (5), infrequently cause decreased cognition and very rarely they can cause serious neurological problems such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)(6-8). Because they may accelerate loss of cognitive function as people age, I agree with some experts who recommend that people over age 70 should not take them unless there are extremely strong indications (progressive coronary heart disease)(1). Informed patients receive better health care and I think you should discuss your need with yours doctors (primary care doctor and cardiologist or specialist) before deciding to take a statin drug.
Statin drugs decrease levels of Co-enzyme Q10 in the blood and body tissues such as muscles and heart (1). This can cause muscle aching and impair heart pumping action. Taking a supplement of Co-enzyme Q10 may protect from these problems. I recommend that everyone who takes a statin drug take at least a 100 mg gel capsule of Co-enzyme Q10 twice daily. I have done research with the brand Q-Gel® and am convinced that it is the most effectively absorbed form of Co-enzyme Q10. 1. Golomb BA. Implications of statin adverse effects in the elderly. Expert Opin Drug Saf 2005;4:389-97.
2. Joy TR, Hegele RA. Narrative review: statin-related myopathy. Ann Intern Med 2009;150:858-68.
3. Mohaupt MG, Karas RH, Babiychuk EB et al. Association between statin-associated myopathy and skeletal muscle damage. CMAJ 2009;181:E11-E18.
4. Marie I, Delafenetre H, Massy N, Thuillez C, Noblet C. Tendinous disorders attributed to statins: a study on ninety-six spontaneous reports in the period 1990-2005 and review of the literature. Arthritis Rheum 2008;59:367-72.
5. de Langen JJ, van Puijenbroek EP. HMG-CoA-reductase inhibitors and neuropathy: reports to the Netherlands Pharmacovigilance Centre. Neth J Med 2006;64:334-8.
6. Muldoon MF, Ryan CM, Sereika SM, Flory JD, Manuck SB. Randomized trial of the effects of simvastatin on cognitive functioning in hypercholesterolemic adults. Am J Med 2004;117:823-9.
7. Cramer C, Haan MN, Galea S, Langa KM, Kalbfleisch JD. Use of statins and incidence of dementia and cognitive impairment without dementia in a cohort study. Neurology 2008;71:344-50.
8. Edwards IR, Star K, Kiuru A. Statins, neuromuscular degenerative disease and an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-like syndrome: an analysis of individual case safety reports from vigibase. Drug Saf 2007;30:515-25.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
High blood cholesterol levels increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke. The best information is related to the low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level or the LDL-cholesterols (called the ‘bad guys) and cardiovascular risk. Many experts recommend that everyone should have a LDL-cholesterol value below 130 mg/dl (or a total cholesterol below 200 mg/dl). They recommend that the ideal LDL-cholesterol should be between 70 to 100 mg/dl for persons who do not have coronary heart disease (CHD). If you have CHD or have had a heart attack some experts recommend that your LDL-cholesterol should be below 70 mg/dl (total cholesterol below 140 mg/dl) (1;2). My research leads me to recommend that if you have CHD or have had a heart attack and are less than 70 years old your LDL-cholesterol should be between 60 and 80 mg/dl (total cholesterol of 130 to 150 mg/dl). Lower LDL-cholesterol levels may lead to more rapid loss of brain (cognitive) function as you get older (3). If you are over 70 years old, my research suggests that maintaining your LDL-cholesterol between 80-100 mg/dl (total cholesterol of approximately 150-170 mg/dl) is the prudent thing to do to sustain optimal brain (cognitive) function.
People with LDL-cholesterol values below 110 mg/dl (total cholesterol below 180 mg/dl) appear to have lower brain(cognitive) function than persons with LDL-cholesterol values above 110 mg/dl (3). The evidence that statin drugs decrease risk for heart attack for persons above the age of 70 years old is unclear (4). Some evidence indicates that statin drugs decrease brain (cognitive) function—perhaps by decreasing cholesterol available for to maintain the cholesterol levels required for the brain (4;5).
1. Expert Panel. Executive Summary of the Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and treatment of high blood cholesterol in adults (Adult Treatment Panel III). J Amer Med Assoc 2001;285:2486-97.
2. Keevil JG, Cullen MW, Gangnon R, McBride PE, Stein JH. Implications of cardiac risk and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol distributions in the United States for the diagnosis and treatment of dyslipidemia: data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999 to 2002. Circulation 2007;115:1363-70.
3. Elias PK, Elias MF, D’Agostino RB, Sullivan LM, Wolf PA. Serum cholesterol and cognitive performance in the Framingham Heart Study. Psychosom Med 2005;67:24-30.
4. Golomb BA. Implications of statin adverse effects in the elderly. Expert Opin Drug Saf 2005;4:389-97.
5. Muldoon MF, Ryan CM, Sereika SM, Flory JD, Manuck SB. Randomized trial of the effects of simvastatin on cognitive functioning in hypercholesterolemic adults. Am J Med 2004;117:823-9.
Recently a journalist asked me to explain the different forms of cholesterol. Sometimes explaining the cholesterol number is time consuming and health care professionals only mention the total cholesterol. I try to explain to my patients these numbers and goals.
The LDL ‘bad guy’ cholesterol is the most deadly form and a desirable number in less than 130 mg/dl and an ideal number is less than 100.
The HDL ‘good guy’ cholesterol is protective from heart attack and higher is better. Desirable for women is 50 or higher and for men is 40 or higher. A 60 mg/dl HDL number is ideal and protective. If the HDL number is more than half of the LDL number your probably are protected and in good shape.
Triglycerides, the other blood fat, should be lower than 150 mg/dl.
What is a good ratio? An ideal LDL/HDL ratio for women is 100/55 or 1.8 while the ideal for men is 100/45 or 2.2. The lower the ratio the better.
How can I improve my cholesterol numbers?Smoking increases risk of heart attack and lowers HDL. Exercise increases the HDL.
To decrease LDL, diet is the answer. Lose weight to desirable weight, mimimize animal fat intake (red meat, cheese, butter), increase fiber intake from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, oat cereals. Soy protein, two servings per day from soy milk, edamame, soy nuts, or tofu lower cholesterol. Psyllium fiber supplements are ways for busy people to get in their soluble fiber. I recommend oat cereal for breakfast, 4 psyllium capsules with lunch and four with dinner.
Why is high cholesterol so bad? High cholesterol levels increase risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure and circulation problems. The same habits that raise the cholesterol also bring on diabetes prematurely.
Is it OK to eat eggs? Eggs are a concentrated from of cholesterol in the diet that I recommend avoiding altogether. Egg substitutes make good omeletes and go into recipes. Even if your LDL cholesterol is low, eating eggs increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
In a nutshell, what are your recommendations? The major things that affect LDL cholesterol are genes and diet. You can’t change your genes but most people can lower their LDL cholesterol by 30 to 70 points through diet, weight loss and exercise. Weight loss can lower the LDL by 20% (30 points) and raise the HDL by 10-25% (5-15 points). Exercise can raise the HDL by 25-50% (10-30 points). The diet to lower LDL cholesterol is low in animal fat (avoid the yellow death– eggs, butter, cheese), minmize intake of red meat, sausage, pork bacon, high fat dairy (full fat milk, ice cream) and excessive oil of any form (in salads, in cooking). Olive oil is very high in calories and should be used sparing. Be sure to get in three servings of whole grains, at least five servings of fruit or vegetables, and soluble fiber from oat products or psyllium fiber supplements.
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