As an addendum to our two part series on heart health, I thought the following research study was interesting.
On Feb. 25, 2003 The American Heart Association (AHA)
issued new guidelines regarding omega-3 fatty acid intake for people
with and without coronary heart disease (CHD), according to a report
published in the February issue of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and
Since the AHA's last advisory in 1996, new data has become available
regarding the benefits of omega-3 fatty acid intake on cardiovascular
disease, lead author Dr. Penny M. Kris-Etherton, from Pennsylvania State
University in University Park, and colleagues note.
According to the report, there is fairly strong evidence that intake of
omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in
patients with CHD.
Exactly how omega-3 fatty acids protect against cardiovascular events is
not completely understood, the authors note. Still, research to date
suggests several possible mechanisms of action. Omega-3 fatty acids may:
--Reduce the risk of sudden death by reducing the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)
--Reduce the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke through
anti-thrombotic (clot) effects.
--Reduce lipoprotein and triglyceride levels.
--Slow the growth of atherosclerotic plagues.
--Enhance endothelial (artery wall) function.
--Induce a slight drop in blood pressure.
--Lower cardiovascular risk through anti-inflammatory effects.
Based on their review of data from recent epidemiologic, observational, and randomized studies, Dr. Kris-Etherton's team offered recommendations regarding omega-3 fatty acids.
Any patients with CHD should consider omega-3 fatty acids supplements with their physician (naturopath). Any patients with hypertriglyceridemia may benefit from 2 to 4 g of omega-3 fatty acids in capsule form.
Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2003;23:e23-e31,151-152
GP: It’s taking them years to acknowledge what we have been saying since the 80’s. Essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids, are important nutrients for heart health. Because of the state of the oceans, it’s not healthy to get these from eating a lot of fish. High quality supplements (with tested potency and stability) are reasonable substitutes.
Did You Know?
Consumption of various sweeteners has risen in the United States from an estimated 113 pounds per person in 1966 to 147 pounds in 2001, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The increase has raised some concern among nutrition experts, as echoed by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recent recommendation to limit intake of added sugars in the diet to no more than 10 percent of daily calories, a recommendation that is much more strict than those of U.S. groups.
Along with the change in the amount of sugar consumed, the type of sweeteners consumed has also changed--a transition that may be playing a role in weight gain.
In 1966, refined sugar, known as sucrose, was the most commonly used sweetener, accounting for 86 percent of all sweeteners. Currently, sweeteners made from corn are most common, accounting for 55 percent of sweeteners on the market and bringing in $4.5 billion in annual sales. The rise in corn sweeteners stems largely from the steady growth of high-fructose corn syrup, which increased from zero consumption in 1966 to 62.6 pounds per person in 2001.
Among the leading products containing high-fructose corn syrup are soft drinks and fruit beverages, although cookies, gum, jams, jellies and baked goods also contain the syrup.
High-fructose corn syrup is made from corn starch and contains similar amounts of both fructose and glucose. Sucrose, on the other hand, is a larger sugar molecule that is metabolized in the intestine into glucose and fructose.
The syrup is easier to blend into beverages and tastes sweeter than refined sugar, allowing food manufacturers to use less. Also, the price of high-fructose corn syrup dropped slightly in the 1980s, leading to huge savings for the food industry.
However, while the switch made sense economically, fructose is absorbed differently than other sugars, which may have nutritional consequences. When glucose is consumed, it increases production of insulin, which enables sugar in the blood to be transported into cells where it can be used for energy. It also increases production of leptin, a hormone that helps regulate appetite and fat storage, and suppresses production of ghrelin, a hormone made by the stomach that helps regulate food intake. Because of this reaction, it has been suggested that after eating glucose, hunger declines.
Fructose, however, doesn't stimulate insulin secretion or increase leptin production or suppress production of ghrelin. Therefore, researchers suggest that consuming a lot of fructose, similar to consuming a lot of fat, may contribute to weight gain.
Additionally, fructose is converted into the chemical backbone of triglycerides more efficiently than glucose, and elevated levels of triglycerides are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. One study found that fructose produced significantly higher blood levels of triglycerides in men, although not in women, leading researchers to say that diets high in fructose may be undesirable, especially for men.
Further, fructose may alter the magnesium balance in the body, leading to an acceleration of bone loss, according to a USDA study.
Researchers have also examined evidence from multiple studies and concluded that large quantities of fructose from a variety of sources, such as table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, induce insulin resistance, impair glucose tolerance, produce high levels of insulin, boost a dangerous type of fat in the blood and cause high blood pressure in animals.
Washington Post March 11, 2003; Page HE01
GP: This is the newest information concerning fructose. As those of you know who have worked with nutrition with me, high fructose corn syrup is not an acceptable sweetener. If you weren’t aware of this fact, this research gives you an excellent overview.
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Until next time, Stay Healthy,