Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Rising Triglyceride Menace

Heart diseases are on the rise amongst Asians…blame it on our genes. Lots of studies which have been concluded or are underway have linked Asian genes with storing more fat (on same diet and a healthier lifestyle) compared to Americans. Triglycerides (TG), found in our food and blood can create havoc with our health. Having high levels of TG in blood (also called hypertriglyceridemia) is a common problem amongst Indians.  When the TG levels are too high, these fats may put you at risk for heart disease, stroke and other health problems. Most often, having high triglycerides has no warning signs.

The good news: there is a simple test to find high TG and treatments are available.

It is unclear if high TG alone can cause cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) because they do not directly cause the formation of plaque. Plaque is a fatty deposit which can block blood vessels and cause heart attack /stroke.

High TG can affect more than your heart and blood vessels. It can raise the risk for pancreatitis (inflammation of pancreas: a gland behind stomach that makes insulin) and prolonged pancreatitis can also lead to diabetes.

Who is at Risk?

Triglycerides normally increase with age. Risk factors include:

  • Lifestyle: Being overweight or obese; Not getting enough exercise; Drinking too much alcohol
  • Inherited
  • Type 2 diabetes or the metabolic syndrome
  • Pregnancy
  • Medicines: like birth control pills, hormone therapy, steroids for conditions such as asthma and arthritis, Certain cholesterol-lowering drugs

Test for high triglycerides

A blood test called lipid profile measures triglycerides and cholesterol. This test should be done after fasting (not eating or drinking anything but water) for at least 12 hours. Adults should get this screening test every five years or sooner. If you have diabetes, a family history of high triglycerides, or other risk factors, you may need screening more often, according to the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Guidelines.

The NCEP defines borderline-high triglycerides as 150 to199 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and high triglycerides as 200 to 499 mg/dL. Very high triglycerides are 500 mg/dL or higher. Most people with high triglycerides have levels from 150 to 999 mg/dL, which puts them at risk for heart disease. Above 2,000 mg/dL poses a high risk for pancreatitis.

Treatment for high triglycerides

The first step for lowering triglycerides is to lose weight if you are overweight, exercise often and eat a healthy diet low in saturated (bad) fat and sugar. Also, limit the amount of refined, processed grains you eat, such as white bread, white rice, and pasta made from refined flour. Include lots of fiber in the diet which helps in feeling full as well as removal of excessive fats.

Follow your doctor’s advice about limiting intake of alcohol, which raises triglycerides in some people. Besides these lifestyle changes, you may also need drug treatment to lower TG.

References and suggested read:

Thinking of adding FLAXSEEDS to your diet…

Thinking of adding FLAXSEEDS to your diet...Heard about benefits of Flax seeds? I bet you have…. And now, you are thinking of possible ways of introducing it in your daily diet. Right??

For those who do not know about this marvel: Flax is a plant which grows in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa and has numerous usages. Also known as linseed or alsi,the plant is used for making fabric, paper, medicines, soap, etc. Seeds of flax plant are now gaining popularity for their health benefits and nutritive value.

The seeds of Flax are a rich source of fiber, essential fatty acids (α-linolenic acid, ω-3, ω-6, these are called essential as our body cannot synthesize them on its own) and other micronutrients. Because of its excellent fatty acid profile and high fiber content it has been touted as an admirable addition to the daily diet. Two kinds of flaxseeds are available, brown and golden (or yellow) flaxseeds; however there is no difference in their nutritive value or health benefits.

Health Benefits:

  1. Heart Health: intake of flax seed decreases cholesterol levels, lowers risk for heart attacks, plaque formation, decreases triglyceride levels, and decreases blood pressure.
  2. Increases bone strength
  3. Good for skin especially dry and flaky skin
  4. A good source of DHA, a brain-building nutrient
  5. Provides essential fatty acids which are essential for structure of brain, improve memory, moods & concentration
  6. Contains lignan which makes it a natural laxative. It also lubricates & absorbs toxins.
  7. Rich in phytoestrogens (plant form of female reproductive hormone, estrogen) thus might help menopausal women in relieving the symptoms

Knowing the widespread benefits of flaxseeds it becomes all the more logical to find ways of incorporating it in our diet. Flaxseeds need to be roasted and / or ground before consumption. As grinding decreases the shelf life, care must be taken to properly store (store in cool place in an airtight container) and consume within few days. Try following ways to add flaxseeds to your daily diet.

  1. If you can bear the slight bitter flavor of flaxseeds, try having them 1 teaspoon once a day post meals
  2. Add ground flaxseeds to your breakfast cereal to make it crunchy
  3. Salad dressings and sandwich spreads can be made healthy by adding ground flaxseeds to spreads and dressings
  4. Other foods in which you may sprinkle little bit of flax powder are raita, milk shakes, smoothies, yoghurts, cakes, cookies, vegetable preparations, etc.
  5. Flaxseed oil can also be included in the diet but it will not have the added advantage of fiber and protein present in the seeds

At this point I would also like to share my MIL’s recipe of flaxseed parantha. Take roasted ground flaxseeds; add chopped onion, chopped green chilli, lemon juice, salt and stuffed red chilli pickle (approx 1 chilli for 6-8 paranthas). Mix them together and use this as stuffing for the paranthas. Team it up with curd.

Do try the recipe; I am waiting for your feedback.

Add flaxseeds to your diet slowly. Start with 1 teaspoon and gradually increase it to 2 tablespoons a day. Do not forget to drink good amount of water along with. Enjoy good health.

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