Tag Archives: heart disease

Try Counting Grams of Added Sugar

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I just heard the first Christmas song on the radio yesterday!  Yes, the holidays are upon us once again.  This is the season for egg nog, cookies, candy, . . . all in excess.  That makes it a good time to take a closer look at sugar.

Most of us consume too much added sugar.  If you think you don’t, you might want to do a quick assessment.

There are 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon.  While it is easy to look at packages and see the grams of sugar, it is more difficult to visualize what that amount looks like.  For most of us, that number in grams means very little. ” Is that a lot?” we wonder.

And then the next question arises.  After you have tallied up the number of teaspoons of added sugar in your diet, what does that mean for health?

There are different recommendations about upper limits for health.  Obviously, the less the better.  We do not need added sugar for any biological function to work optimally.  In fact, added sugars from processed foods appear to increase the risk of heart disease by contributing to increased triglycerides and causing unhealthy cholesterol particles to form.

One recommendation I have read suggests that women should aim to keep added sugars under 7 teaspoons a day (28g), and men should be under 10 teaspoons (40g).  Sound easy?  Start looking at packages and watching the sugar you add to food (and beverages!) yourself.  You may be surprised.

If you are already meeting the recommended amount, look at this as a way to pat yourself on the back for a job well done.  There can never be too many opportunities for that!

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I Have Mental Whiplash From My Lab Results

I had a lipid panel done at the end of April.  Looking back at the numbers (below) from the past 6 years made me dizzy!  Up and down they go – like a roller coaster ride.  I have a theory – not scientific, just personal experience – that the hormonal fluctuations of menopause are often mirrored by similar swings in lipid levels before all things settle down. Continue reading

Herbs and Spices for Wellness

I presented this topic in my groups this week, and several participants requested the link to the article I referenced (“10 Healing Herbs and Spices” from Reader’s Digest).  There are probably no miracles here, but many helpful tips for supplementing healthy eating naturally.

Earlobe Creases and Other Signs of Aging

The link between earlobe creases and heart disease surfaced again in the media recently.  A report from the University of Copenhagen study noted significant associations between ear creases, along with several other visible signs of aging, and heart disease.

This is not a new discovery, and I have mentioned it in a previous post.  Some scientists believe simple physical assessments like this could help identify those at higher risk.  Other signs that appear significant are male pattern baldness, deep wrinkles, and fatty deposits on the eyelids.

My Earlobe Crease

Is it cause for alarm if you have a crease in your earlobe?  I hope not, as I have one on my left ear.  Then again, I am in my 50’s, and signs of aging do tend to emerge over time.  Sun damage is usually more evident on the left side of the face too, since most of us spend a significant amount of time driving a car.

Based on the Framingham risk score, I am at low risk, and detailed blood work looks good, so I just keep doing what I’m doing.  It seems to be working.  Besides, I’m not aware of any way to remove ear creases once they are present.  How could removing them (plastic surgery?) help anyway?!

I also remind myself that worry and fear are not good for anyone.  Stress takes a physical toll on the human body.  I believe balance is key:  Be responsible in your self care, but not obsessively so (translation:  Do not over-worry!).  There are many factors that affect heart disease risk, and no one truly has a fail-safe way of predicting who will be affected.

Eat well, move, and manage the stress of everyday life.  Create happiness.  Worry less.  Be present more often.  Ahh . . . that was easy to write, but oh so difficult to accomplish.  We are all a work in progress!

Lifestyle Is More Important

I just read results of another study that draws a possible connection between heart disease risk and a genetically determined trait.  This time it is blood type.  I am Type A, so I am – according to this study – 8% more likely to develop heart disease.

Those with A, B, or AB blood types appear to have a higher risk than those with the O blood type.  The researchers point out that this is probably not a very powerful indicator of risk, and that lifestyle makes a big difference.

I think lifestyle is THE most important determinant of heart disease risk in almost all cases.  The expression of genetically inherited traits is influenced by how we live – how we eat, what we eat, how we manage stress, activity levels, even happiness.

As someone with a family history of heart disease, I find this comforting.  So far there is no truly accurate way to determine who is going to develop heart disease and who will not.  Cholesterol measurements in a standard lipid panel are just not very predictive of risk.  More detailed testing is better, but there is still no consensus on an accurate predictive test for heart disease.  I think it is more complex than the presence of an ear lobe crease.  Whatever our risk factors, advice is similar.

Focus on lifestyle.  Improve eating habits and stay active.  This is what we can control.