You may wish to check out my book, Diet Fads, Careers and Controversies in Nutrition Journalism: How to Organize Term Papers, News, or Debates Paperback, Anne Hart, – December 4, 2005. At this date the book is listed at Amazon.com and at the publisher's site.
Just one day of eating a fat-laden breakfast sandwich – processed cheese and meat on a bun – and "your blood vessels become unhappy," says Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada researcher Dr. Todd Anderson, director of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta and head of cardiac science at the University of Calgary. Atherosclerosis can eventually lead to serious problems including heart disease, stroke or even death.
Delegates at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress heard on October 30, 2012 about a study at Dr. Anderson's lab, led by student researcher Vincent Lee. The key ingredients: breakfast sandwiches and a group of healthy, non-smoking university students.
Mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf…they may be bad for your arteries, but according to another study, "Chicken Soup Really is Good for the Soul: "Comfort Food" Fulfills the Need to Belong," published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, they're good for your heart and emotions. The study focuses on "comfort food" and how it makes people feel.
Fats can build up in your arteries over decades
One important gauge of how "happy" your arteries feel is how much blood flow can increase in your arm in response to its brief interruption – measured as VTI (velocity time integral). You can measure VTI with doppler ultrasound at rest and then after a blood pressure cuff been inflated.
"VTI tells us how much blood flow you can you get in your arm," says Dr. Anderson, according to the news release. The higher the better, which means the small vessels can dilate to capacity, and the blood vessel hormones are working well. So what would happen to the university students after starting their day with a breakfast of fat champions?
The objective of this study was to assess the acute effects of just one high-fat meal on microvascular function, an indicator of overall vascular (blood vessel) health
The students were studied twice, once on a day they had no breakfast, and once on a day when they consumed two commercially available breakfast sandwiches, total of 900 calories and 50 g of fat. Two hours after eating the sandwiches, their VTI had decreased by 15-20 per cent, reports Dr. Anderson. From just one isolated meal, the results are temporary. But the study shows that such a high-fat offering can do more harm, and do it more quickly, than people might think.
"I won't say don't ever have a breakfast sandwich," says Dr. Anderson, according to the news release. But enough of a diet like that, and you can see how you can build up fat in the walls of your arteries. Dr. Anderson is also co-chair of the group that updated the Canadian Lipid Guidelines (on managing and treating high blood cholesterol), presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.
"This study reminds us that our behaviors are the backbone of preventing heart disease," says Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson, according to the news release. "Remember that whether you eat at home or go to a restaurant, you're still in charge of what you eat. So consider all the choices, and try to cut down on saturated and trans fats, calories and sodium. That's one of the keys to decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke."
The Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2012 is co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society. The Heart and Stroke Foundation (heartandstroke.ca), a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of healthy living and advocacy. Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen.
New study reveals that every single junk food meal damages your arteries
Also, you may wish to check out another October 30, 2012 news release, "New study reveals that every single junk food meal damages your arteries." In a similar study on how meals affect your body, Mediterranean meals do not have the same effect, says the news release regarding the study. A single junk food meal – composed mainly of saturated fat – is detrimental to the health of the arteries, while no damage occurs after consuming a Mediterranean meal rich in good fats such as mono-and polyunsaturated fatty acids, according to researchers at the University of Montreal -affiliated ÉPIC Center of the Montreal Heart Institute.
The Mediterranean meal may even have a positive effect on the arteries. The findings were presented back in 2012 by the head of the study, Dr. Anil Nigam, Director of Research at the Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Center (ÉPIC) and associate professor at the university's Faculty of Medicine. The findings were presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, which met in October 2012 in Toronto.
Bad fat versus good fat
Dr. Nigam undertook the study to compare the effects of junk food and typical Mediterranean meal on the vascular endothelium: the inner lining of the blood vessels. By measuring endothelial function, it is possible to determine how easily the arteries will dilate after a temporary, five-minute occlusion, following the consumption of the two types of meals. This is a very interesting analysis for researchers to perform as endothelial function is closely linked to the long-term risk of developing coronary artery disease.
The study also revealed that participants with higher blood triglyceride levels seemed to benefit more from the healthy meals. Their arteries responded better to the Mediterranean meal compared to people with low triglyceride levels. "We believe that a Mediterranean-type diet may be particularly beneficial for individuals with high triglyceride levels, such as patients with metabolic syndrome, precisely because it could help keep arteries healthy," Dr. Nigam explains in the news release.
Mediterranean meal vs. junk food meal
The results were established in 28 non-smoking men, who ate the Mediterranean-type meal first and then the junk food-type meal one week later. Before beginning, the men underwent an ultrasound of the antecubital artery at the elbow crease after fasting for 12-hours to assess their baseline endothelial function. The researchers then tested the effects of each meal.
The first was composed of salmon, almonds, and vegetables cooked in olive oil, of which 51% of total calories came from fat (mostly monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats.) The second meal consisted of a sandwich made of a sausage, an egg, and a slice of cheese, and three hash browns, for a total of 58% of total calories from fat: extremely rich in saturated fatty acids and containing no omega-3s. At two hours and four hours after each meal, participants underwent further ultrasounds to assess how the food had impacted their endothelial function.
Dr. Nigam and his team found that after eating the junk food meal, the arteries of the study participants dilated 24% less than they did when in the fasting state. In contrast, the arteries were found to dilate normally and maintain good blood flow after the Mediterranean-type meal
"These results will positively alter how we eat on a daily basis. Poor endothelial function is one of the most significant precursors of atherosclerosis. It is now something to think about at every meal," Dr. Nigam says, according to the October 30, 2012 news release, "New study reveals that every single junk food meal damages your arteries."
So many studies on foods used as medicine: For example, in still another study, a unique use is made of olive oil that is not eaten. See, "Olive oil emulsion helps with problem heart arteries." No, you don't eat the emulsion. An emulsion of olive oil, egg yolk and glycerine might be just the recipe to keep heart patients away from the operating room and cardiac bypass surgery.
That's the finding of a study to be published in the January issue of the journal Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions led by Michael Savage, M.D., director, Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia. The mixture is not swallowed, Dr. Savage explains. Rather, it is used in the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory to bathe surgical stents before they are inserted into problem heart arteries.
How are blood sugar and plaque related?
The phenomenon known as insulin resistance offers a direct link between metabolic disease and cardiovascular risk, and is an often overlooked culprit underlying diabetes and heart disease. Check out the article, "Insulin Resistance: A Lethal Link between Metabolic Disease and Heart Attack - Life Extension." It's time to stop eating all those sweet foods to which your body reacts much the same way as if you ate sugar, even when you ate something that tastes sweet but isn't sugar.
One hint is to make your own crackers from ingredients that don't quickly turn to sugar in your bloodstream, ingredients less starchy, because starch eventually turns to sugar also once it's eaten. And too much starch can lead to too much fat once the starch turns into sugar after you've eaten it, sometimes without even tasting any sweetness in the food.
Crackers can be made from seeds and carrot juice or any type of edible ground seeds and vegetable juices without using grains that you may be sensitive to. You can make crackers from chia seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, ground nuts, and various juices of your choice such as carrot or pomegranate. Sesame seed paste helps to hold the seed crackers together. And spices give the cracker a taste or tang such as curry powder, garlic, rosemary, thyme, cumin, coriander, pepper, or chili.
Check the Glycemic Index Before You Shop for Favorite Foods
Just check out how high whole wheat bread is in 'sugar' or on the Glycemic Index. See "The International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2002;76(1):5-56. See the sites, Full Text - American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Dietary glycemic index and load and risk of type 2 diabetes in older adults.
It's truly shocking. According to the Life Extension article, eating two slices of whole wheat bread is worse than drinking a can of sugar-sweetened soda or eating a sugary candy bar. The original 1981 study at the University of Toronto found that the Glycemic Index of white bread was 69 and whole-grain bread was 72. Wheat cereal was 67, but table sugar (sucrose) was only 52. That means the Glycemic Index of whole grain bread is higher than that of table sugar, which is also known as sucrose.
In fact the Glycemic Index of a Mars Bar nougat, chocolate, is just 68. The Glycemic index of a Snickers bar is just 41. All those values are less than whole grain bread, especially whole wheat bread. But what you do get with the whole grain bread besides the sugar spike is some fiber that you don't get with the candy bar or the sugary soda beverage. Chocolate is listed as just 68 in the Life Extension Magazine article, Oct. 2011? Chocolate has a reasonably low glycemic index. What turns to sugar fast in your bloodstream are some of the commercial types whole wheat bread. Some whole wheat bread loaves are colored brown with caramel coloring, not ground up whole wheat grains. And are the wheat grains GMO or organic?
On another Glycemic Index chart, a Mars Bar, medium is listed at 64. It's listed under the category, "Snack Food and Sweets." But on that web site which also is about the South Beach diet, whole grain bread is listed as low on the Glycemic Index at 50, and white bread is listed high on the Glycemic Index at 71, with whole rye flour bread listed as medium at 64.
Rice cakes are listed as high on the Glycemic Index at 77, and Whole Meal Bread (not whole grain bread) is listed as medium at 69 on the Glycemic Index. But you have to remember that that Index is on the South Beach Diet Plan website. And you'd have to check out other Glycemic Index listings to see whether any match. The Glycemic Index listings seem to be different at various websites, but why, are various brands being tested or listed?
Or are various candy brands different, but the Glycemic Index, itself, remains steady. It's just that one manufacturer may make different types of candy bars under the same brand name. Flour or meal can be made from ground fruit, seeds, nuts, certain types of acorns, plants such as chicory, beet powder mixed with other ground-up plants, or coconut for example. There's organic coconut flour that's not a grain, but has the same medium chain triglycerides of coconut flesh or coconut oil. Those who want to add flour can use coconut flour instead of corn flour. It's your choice of what your body best responds to in a cracker that holds together.
A healthier cracker uses the ingredients tailored to your metabolic response to that food
If you want to make a healthier cracker, in a dry grinder (like the VitaMix dry grinder attachment or any grain grinder) grind a cup of quinoa into flour. Then grind 1/2 cup of flax seeds into meal. Mix the two together with 1/4 cup of sesame seeds or 2 tablespoons of tahini sauce, a little carrot juice or grated carrots, 1/4 cup of chia seeds, and 1/4 cup of oil such as extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper if you wish or garlic powder, onion powder, and turmeric or curry powder.
Roll out the dough as thin as you can make it look because it's going to be baked into a cracker. Then pat it out flat on a greased cookie sheet. Cut it into squares, and bake it a few minutes from 20 to 30 minutes or less at 350 degrees F until it's firm to the touch and golden brown. Now you have crackers, if you rolled out the dough thin enough to look like a cracker.
Who can make a healthier bread? The University of California, Davis studies how phytosterols in whole grains
For example, see the article, [PDF] Phytosterols lower cholesterol levels in a dose-dependent manner - UC Davis CHNR. Why does it take the mainstream media so long after a new study to report health benefits? The answer to that question is that the media is looking for other scientists to speak up and say whether or not any given study is flawed.
Whole wheat bread is high in sugar, higher than some candy bars and sugary sodas, and some scientists and physicians say two slices of whole wheat bread probably will raise your blood sugar levels as high as if you were eating some popular candy bars. There's a 'controversy' about the effects of whole grains. Some people can't eat any grains at all due to sensitivities, allergies, and Celiac disease -(celiac sprue).
Others say whole grains could rot some children's teeth if there's sensitivity to that food
Still others ferment their whole grains, and some kids endure dental cavities just from eating whole grain cereals and sandwiches. What does the research note? Physicians are writing articles in major consumer health publications saying that it's primarily whole wheat that creates havoc with blood glucose levels, perhaps being one more stressor behind the obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemics in all ages.
Let's take a look at what some physicians and scientists report on the 'dangers' of whole wheat. For example, two slices of whole wheat bread increase your blood sugar to a high level than sucrose--table sugar, according to the article, "Wheat, the unhealthy whole grain," in the Oct. 2011 issue of Life Extension Magazine, page 82. Too much bread or cake can raise your risk of cataracts, diabetes, and rapid aging inside and out, say some scientists and physicians.
When it comes to health, the UC Davis studies whole grains, including rice, and scientists around the nation are researching whether whole grains can keep your blood pressure in check. Sacramento and Davis scientists may sometimes jokingly tell people to eat like a horse, meaning eat your whole grain oats.
Is Whole Wheat the Culprit, According to Studies In Wheat's Ability to Cause Your Body to Make More Insulin?
So, wheat seems to be the worse, according to the studies, in assaulting your body in its ability to keep making insulin. Could this be part of the cause of the diabetes and obesity epidemic in the USA and in other countries, and especially among young people? And do you fight carbs with other carbs?
Or is any food high on the Glycemic Index also causing your body to secrete more insulin, aging your organs and arteries faster as your body seeks to lower the glucose levels to what's supposed to be 'normal'?
You want to watch out for advanced glycation end products called AGEs, which stiffens arteries and may lead to cataracts, clouded lenses of the eyes. See the sites, Glycemic Index Food Chart. and Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods - Harvard Health.
Check out the study, "Glycemic Index of Foods: a physiological basis for carbohydrate exchange," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1981 Mar; 34 (3):362-6. Also see, Glycemic index of foods: a physiological basis for carbohydrate exchange. Or read the article in the Oct 2011 issue of Life Extension magazine, "Wheat, the unhealthy whole grain," in the Oct. 2011 issue of Life Extension Magazine, page 82. Usually, it's online the following month it came out in print.
Do Whole Grains Improve Blood Pressure? Studies on whole grains and the health benefits of phytosterols
Read the published scientific study, Pins JJ, et al. "Do Whole Grain oat cereals reduce the need for antihypertensive medications and improve blood pressure control? Journal of Family Practice 51: 353-359, 2002. For example, it took three months after a new July 2009 study on the health benefits of whole grains, especially bran in whole grains, and how whole grains help to lower hypertension, had been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition before the mainstream media (Reuters) reported it October 7, 2009.
The Whole Grain Stamp now appears on over 3000 products in 14 countries, according to the body that issues the Stamp, the Whole Grains Council. Also see the October 10, 2009 Windsor Star article, "Whole grains may help keep blood pressure in check."
The most recent USA nutrition guidelines recommend that people get at least 3 ounces, or 85 grams, of whole grains daily, and that they consume at least half of their grains as whole grains, according to the recent Reuters article of October 7, 2009, "Whole Grains May Keep Blood Pressure in Check."
"There's evidence, the investigators note, that women who eat more whole grains are less likely to develop high blood pressure, also called hypertension, but there is less information on how whole grains might affect men's heart health," according to the Reuters article, based on a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Whole grains and blood pressure research
Eating lots of whole grains could ward off high blood pressure, according to that study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. You can read the abstract of the actual study in the July 1, 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 90: 493-498, 2009, doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.27460.
The title of the research is, "Whole grains and incident hypertension in men." Although the study had been performed with only men, women can benefit also, provided that you don't have sensitivities to whole grains such as celiac disease. It doesn't matter which whole grains you eat so much. You could substitute quinoa or amaranth, oats, brown rice, or rye for wheat because wheat in some people causes a rise in insulin. But what did the study actually find?
According to the study, men with the highest whole-grain consumption were 19 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than men who ate the least amount of whole grains. But you need to know something about how to prepare whole grains so that you don't get the phytates in grain.
Whole grains contain phytic acid in the bran of the grain
Phytic acid combines with key minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc and prevents their absorption in the intestinal tract, according to the article, "The Two Stage Process: A Preparation Method Maximizing the Nutritional Value of Whole Grains."
According to Introduction to Whole Foods, page two, "Soaking, fermenting, or sprouting the grain before cooking or baking will neutralize the phytic acid, releasing nutrients for absorption. This process allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize the phytic acid, but also to break down complex starches, irritating tannins and difficult-to-digest proteins including gluten. For many, this may lessen their sensitivity or allergic reactions to particular grains."
Soaking the grains
The healthier way to prepare whole grains, according to the article, " is to soak the whole grains or whole grain flour in an acid medium such as buttermilk, yogurt, or other cultured milk, or in water with whey, lemon juice or vinegar added. As little as 7 hours soaking will neutralize a large portion of the phytic acid in grains. Twelve to 24 hours is even better with 24 hours yielding the best results."
Basically, you can soak grains overnight in a covered jar of filtered water in your refrigerator. The grains will become soft. I soak my grains two days. The whole buckwheat becomes soft enough to eat for breakfast without cooking with heat. Just put some cherries and blueberries or dried fruit such as raisins on top of it, add a handful of chopped nuts or hulled sunflower seeds and sesame seeds, and you have a great breakfast cereal, as long as you're not sensitive to the nuts and seeds or the particular grains. Buckwheat isn't the same grain as regular whole wheat.
Usually, there's an alternative whole grain you can tolerate, with some exceptions for persons with various sensitivities or those with celiac disease who must eat gluten-free foods. Then choose the gluten-free substitutes.
Brown rice, buckwheat and millet are more easily digested because they contain lower amounts of phytates than other grains, so they may be soaked for the shorter times. According to Introduction to Whole Foods, other grains, particularly oats, "the highest in phytates of the whole grains, is best soaked up to 24 hours."
The article reports that there are two other advantages of the two-stage process. "Several hours of soaking serves to soften the grain, resulting in baked goods lighter in texture, closer to the texture of white flour. The longer the soaking, the less necessary is the baking powder. Baking soda, alone, will give enough rise. Secondly, this is a great step in convenience, dividing the task into two shorter time periods, cutting the time needed to prepare the recipe right before cooking and baking when you feel rushed to get food on the table."
The difference between whole grains and refined grains is that refining takes off the grain's outer coating which has a lot of the B vitamins
Whole grains are left with the rich nutrients, bran and germ. If you want to make soaking grains simple and basic, just soak what you want to eat overnight in a covered jar of water in your refrigerator. The grains will do a little fermenting, and that's the result you want.
Science research teams often look at the The Health Professionals Follow-Up Study on various topics. The Follow-Up Study explores men's health issues, relating nutritional factors to the incidence of serious illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease, and other vascular diseases. This all-male study is designed to complement the all-female Nurses' Health Study, which examines similar hypotheses.
For further information, see the Harvard Science article, "Eating whole grain cereals may help men lower heart failure risk." In the recent American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, the research team first looked at data from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which has followed 51,529 men since 1986, when the study participants were 40 to 75 years old.
Researchers viewed a subset of 31,684 men free of hypertension, cancer, stroke or heart disease at the study's outset. During 18 years of follow-up, 9,227 of them developed hypertension. Men in the top fifth of whole grain consumption, that averaged about 52 grams of whole grains daily, were 19 percent less likely than the men in the bottom fifth, who ate an average of about 3 grams of whole grains daily, to develop hypertension during follow-up.
What Did the Separate Components of Whole Grains Reveal?
When the researchers looked at separate components of whole grains, only bran showed an independent relationship with hypertension risk, with men who consumed the most at 15 percent lower risk of hypertension than men who ate the least. However, the researchers note, the amount of bran in the men's diet was relatively small compared to their total intake of whole grain and cereal fiber. See the article, "Bran, whole grains may fight high blood pressure in men."
According to the HealthDay News article, "Whole grains as a part of a prudent, balanced diet may help promote cardiovascular health," the lead researcher and project director at Harvard School of Public Health of the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, Dr. Alan J. Flint explained to the media. The latest analysis followed up previous studies that's why it's called a Follow-Up study. "Higher intake of whole grains was associated with a lower risk of hypertension in our cohort of over 31,000 men," Flint told the press.
Fruit and vegetable intake and blood pressure research
The relationship between whole grain intake and hypertension risk remained even after accounting for men's fruit and vegetable intake, use of vitamins, amount of physical activity, and whether or not they were screened for high blood pressure. This suggests that the association was independent of these markers of a healthy lifestyle behavior pattern. It's possible, the researchers say, that the men that ate more whole grains gained less weight over time. The current findings, Flint and colleagues explained, "have implications for future dietary guidelines and for the prevention of hypertension."
This is not a new idea. The most recent scientific studies help to lend credibility and validity to the claims and to studies using fewer people. For years, books have touted the health benefits of whole grains. In the 2008 book, The Cholesterol Hoax, Dr. Sherry A Rogers notes on page 181, "Whole grains are actually much higher in antioxidants than fruits and vegetables."
The section, "They Forgot the Whole Grains," explains the research regarding whole grains and the effect of whole grains on reducing heart disease risk, "Folks who have diets containing daily whole grains have 26% less heart disease, 36% fewer strokes, and a 43% lower cancer rate.
In another study of 88 folks with high blood pressure, 73% of those who had two meals of whole grains a day dropped their blood pressure medications in half in addition to dropping their cholesterol and blood sugars (Pins, Jones)." Read the published scientific study, Pins JJ, et al. "Do Whole Grain oat cereals reduce the need for antihypertensive medications and improve blood pressure control? Journal of Family Practice 51: 353-359, 2002.