AHA News: Know the Flax: A Little Seed May Be What Your Diet Needs

AHA News: Know the Flax: A Little Seed May Be What Your Diet Needs
News Picture: AHA News: Know the Flax: A Little Seed May Be What Your Diet Needs

Latest Nutrition, Food & Recipes News

FRIDAY, July 19, 2019 (American Heart Association News) — Adding seeds to your diet can be an easy way to shore up your defenses against heart risks without adding too much work to meal prep.

Many types of seeds can be valuable as part of a healthy diet – commonly added as a snack or add-on to salads or desserts – because they are rich in nutrients. You also can find seeds baked into breads or crackers, or even in some fruits and vegetables.

Flaxseed and chia seeds, in particular, have been linked to good heart health because their nutrients pack a powerful punch.

“Flaxseeds or chia seeds offer good sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which are unsaturated fatty acids that convert to omega-3 fatty acids typically found in fish,” said Linda Van Horn, a registered dietitian and professor in the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. “But they also offer a good plant-based supply of plant-based proteins, fiber, minerals and other nutrients.”

Specifically, flaxseeds contain lignans, a natural chemical compound that along with fiber, antioxidants and healthy fats can help reduce blood cholesterol and may also help lower blood pressure. Some studies suggest lignans may have the potential to reduce tumor growth in women with breast cancer and may protect against prostate cancer.

Chia seeds, which contain many of the same nutrients found in flaxseeds, can help lower the blood sugar response to eating. Chia seeds also may serve as an appetite suppressant because of their high fiber content.

Other seeds such as hemp, sunflower, pumpkin or sesame seeds are highly nutritious as well. Federal dietary guidelines include seeds and nuts as a good source of protein and part of a healthy diet. When incorporating them into meals, it’s important to choose seeds that are prepared in a healthy manner, Van Horn said.

“There are no ‘wrong’ seeds, just unhealthy packaging, including added salt, sugar or fat,” she said. “Better to use seeds in a natural or toasted state, like nuts, or blended into baked goods, cereal or mashed as a paste, like tahini from sesame seeds.”

Because they are easy to eat by the handful, Van Horn said, it’s wise to introduce them to your diet carefully.

“Seeds are high in fiber and require lots of fluid to fully digest them properly,” she said. “Problems with constipation or diarrhea can occur if too much is consumed too fast without fluid.”

Additionally, research shows chia seeds swell in size when exposed to too much water, so moderation is important.

“Also, it is easy to overeat seeds and experience weight gain if not careful in factoring in these calories,” Van Horn said.

A 1-ounce serving of whole flaxseed contains 150 calories, 7.6 grams of fiber and 6.4 grams of omega-3 fats. A similar-sized serving of chia seeds contains 137 calories, 10.6 grams of fiber and 4.9 grams of omega-3 fats.

Because of their size, seeds could be harmful among people who have been diagnosed with irritable bowel disease or diverticulitis, Van Horn said.

“Problems occur when particles get trapped in certain folds or ‘outpouches’ within the intestinal track that can become irritated and inflamed as a result of these conditions. Better to check with your doctor if you suffer from any of these conditions,” she said.

“Most such patients have been advised to avoid any foods with seeds, including strawberries, blueberries or sesame seeds or other small particles of this size.”

MedicalNews
American Heart Association News covers heart and brain health. Not all views expressed in this story reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. If you have questions or comments about this story, please email [email protected]




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The Great Fat Debate: How Much Is Unhealthy?

The Great Fat Debate: How Much Is Unhealthy?
News Picture: The Great Fat Debate: How Much Is Unhealthy?By Len Canter
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Diet & Weight Management News

MONDAY, July 22, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Experts have redefined the role of fat in healthy eating, but before you grab a chunk of cheese or another pat of butter, understand the differences between the various types of fat in your diet.

For decades, guidelines recommended limiting total dietary fat to no more than 30% of daily calories, and then to a range of 20% to 35% of calories. The thinking was this would lower saturated fat and cholesterol intake, both of which were thought to increase heart disease risk. But many people restricted all types of fat, including healthy ones, like the unsaturated fats found in nuts, vegetable oils and fish.

What’s more, packaged food manufacturers rushed to replace fat with unhealthy processed carbohydrates like sugar and refined grains. But research analyzing observational studies and clinical trials has found that replacing saturated fat with the refined carbohydrates found in so-called low-fat processed foods doesn’t lower heart disease risk.

On the other hand, choosing polyunsaturated fats for either saturated fat or carbohydrates does. Polyunsaturated fats include both plant and marine sources of unsaturated fats, such as olive oil and fatty fish. This is true even when calories from these sources account for 35% or more of the daily diet.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee now suggests optimizing healthy fats and avoiding low-fat or even non-fat products that have high levels of refined grains and added sugars. This means that most fat calories should come from unsaturated fats, especially polyunsaturated oils. The upper limit for saturated fat is still 10% of daily calories. This includes animal fats like butter, cream, beef tallow and lard, and tropical oils such as palm, palm kernel and coconut oils.

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According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.”
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Hey! That's the Wrong Knee, Doctor

Hey! That's the Wrong Knee, Doctor
News Picture: Hey! That's the Wrong Knee, Doctor

THURSDAY, July 18, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Say you go in for knee surgery and find the surgeon operated on the wrong leg. Or you received a drug you know you’re allergic to.

It happens. In fact, about 1 in 20 patients is a victim of preventable medical errors, and 12% of such cases result in permanent disability or death, researchers say.

Most preventable harm is caused by medication and other treatments (49%) and by invasive procedures, the study found.

Preventable medical errors are more common in surgical and intensive care units than in general hospitals, and lowest in obstetric units, said the U.K. researchers. They were led by Maria Panagioti, of the NIHR Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Center.

Preventable harm results in about $9.3 billion in extra health care costs in the United States, according to the study.

The findings are based on data from 70 observational studies involving more than 337,000 mostly adult patients. Of these, more than 28,000 experienced harmful incidents and more than 15,000 suffered preventable harms.

The findings suggest that reducing preventable patient harm could lead to significant improvements in medical care and considerable cost savings for health care systems worldwide, Panagioti and her colleagues said.

The study affirms “that preventable patient harm is a serious problem across medical care settings,” the researchers wrote. They added that “priority areas are the mitigation of major sources of preventable patient harm [such as drug incidents] and greater focus on advanced medical specialties.”

It’s also important to gather evidence across medical specialties such as primary care and psychiatry, vulnerable patient groups, and developing countries, they added.

The study was published July 17 in the BMJ.

In an accompanying editorial, experts at the London School of Economics and Harvard Medical School said the study “serves as a reminder of the extent to which medical harm is prevalent across health systems, and, importantly, draws attention to how much is potentially preventable.”

The editorialists said the ability to measure preventable harm must be improved. “This includes fostering a culture that allows for more systematic capturing of near misses, identifying harm across multiple care settings and countries, and empowering patients to help ensure a safe and effective health system,” they said in a journal news release.

— Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: BMJ, news release, July 17, 2019



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Strength-Training Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

Strength-Training Exercises You Can Do Anywhere
News Picture: Strength-Training Exercises You Can Do AnywhereBy Len Canter
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Exercise & Fitness News

FRIDAY, July 19, 2019 (HealthDay News) — You don’t have to go to the gym to get a great muscle-building workout. You don’t even need equipment. There are many bodyweight-only exercises for strength training that you can do anywhere — at home, when traveling, even at work if you’ve got a space you can exercise in. Here are two to try.

The Advanced Leg Extension: For this move, stand up straight with feet together and your arms at your sides. Lift your right knee until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Hold briefly, then lower the leg and, with control, swing it behind you as you reach forward with your upper body. Your arms should be extended in front of you, in line with the leg extended behind you. Your body forms one straight line parallel with the ground. Return to the start position and repeat 10 to 15 times, then repeat the entire sequence with the left leg.

The Tabletop Bridge With Arm Extensions: For this move, sit on the floor with knees bent, feet flat and hip-width apart. Your hands should be flat on the ground with your fingers facing forward, in the same direction as your feet. Squeeze glutes and core muscles and press hands into floor as you lift your torso and hips into the tabletop bridge. Head, back and thighs form a straight line. Now, from this position, press feet and your left palm into the floor as you raise your right arm toward the ceiling. With control, lower the arm, then lower your torso to the starting position. Repeat five to 10 times, then repeat the entire sequence raising your left arm from the tabletop position.

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A New and Better Way to 'Stage' Alzheimer's Patients?

A New and Better Way to 'Stage' Alzheimer's Patients?
News Picture: A New and Better Way to 'Stage' Alzheimer's Patients?By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 17, 2019 (HealthDay News) — One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s is the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain, but what part those plaques play in the development of the disease isn’t clear.

Now researchers have taken the first steps to trace the progression of plaque buildup in living patients. This way of “staging” the disease has implications for research and one day may help doctors treat this debilitating, fatal disease.

“It is possible to stage individuals in terms of how advanced their beta-amyloid deposition is, using PET scans,” said lead researcher Dr. Niklas Mattsson, an associate professor of clinical neuroscience at Lund University in Sweden.

When beta-amyloid appears, it follows certain stages, he explained. Some brain regions are involved early, others at the intermediate stage, and some in the late stage of Alzheimer’s.

“These stages are also associated with other hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, such as levels of tau [another type of protein] in cerebral spinal fluid, cognitive decline and the wasting away of brain cells,” Mattsson added.

“This staging system can be used both to improve research and perhaps also in clinical trials, to see if certain drugs are likely to be most effective in certain stages of Alzheimer’s,” Mattsson said.

By the time Alzheimer’s is typically diagnosed, the brain is already destroyed, said Meredith Braskie, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She was not involved with the study.

The disease takes years to develop, which is why finding a way to diagnose it early is important, Braskie said. Most studies on plaque have been done on the brains of dead people.

“This study is important because they were looking at how amyloid spreads in living patients and coming up with stages for that,” Braskie said.

Although no cure exists for Alzheimer’s today, this finding could also help in testing drugs as they are developed, she said.

But, “this isn’t directly related to patient care,” Braskie said. “It’s more for research to see if treatments are working.”

For the study, Mattsson and his colleagues used PET scans from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative database. Among the 741 participants, 304 had no cognitive impairment, 384 had mild cognitive impairment, and 53 had Alzheimer’s disease. Patients were followed up at two, four and six years.

At the start of the study, about 98% of the 2,072 scans weren’t staged. Of those in the earliest stage of plaque development, about 15% would likely progress to a more advanced stage, as would 71% of those at stage 1 and 53% of those at stage 2.

As patients moved from stage 1 to stages 2 and 3, amyloid plaque developed in more vital areas of the brain, the researchers noted.

Interestingly, nearly 1% of the patients reverted to a lower stage, the researchers found. Higher stages were linked to higher concentrations of tau in cerebral spinal fluid. More tau in stage 2 indicated a more rapid progression to cognitive decline. The researchers were able to confirm their findings in a different group of 474 patients.

The areas affected in the brain differed in each stage and were also linked to differences in genetics, blood circulation, brain cell behavior and cholesterol levels.

“I think that it is clear from these data that the earlier the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is supported by amyloid imaging, the earlier clinicians are likely to initiate drug therapy,” said Dr. Sam Gandy. He’s chair of Alzheimer’s Disease Research and director of the Mount Sinai Center for Cognitive Health and NFL Neurological Care in New York City.

This would be a change from current practice, which is not to start drug therapy until patients have advanced beyond the mild cognitive impairment and are well into mild Alzheimer’s disease, said Gandy, who had no part in the study.

However, Gandy isn’t sure that beginning drug therapy when mild cognitive impairment starts and a scan shows plaque would benefit all or only some patients.

Also, he would like to see if the staging system would work the same way among patients with and without the APOE gene mutations, which are linked to Alzheimer’s.

“These data would potentially have some impact on care and on designing future research studies,” Gandy said. “Whether those changes in practice would have meaningful benefits for patients is not clear.”

The report was published online July 17 in the journal JAMA Neurology, to coincide with a presentation of the findings at the Alzheimer’s Association annual meeting, in Los Angeles.

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SOURCES: Niklas Mattsson, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, clinical neuroscience, Lund University, Sweden; Sam Gandy, M.D., Ph.D., professor, neurology and psychiatry, chair, Alzheimer’s Disease Research, director, Mount Sinai Center for Cognitive Health and NFL Neurological Care, New York City; Meredith Braskie, Ph.D., assistant professor, neurology, University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles; July 17, 2019, JAMA Neurology, online



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