Thursday, October 20, 2011

Canola Oil Lowers LDL Cholesterol Levels

This health e-letter article concerns fats -- the good kind and the bad kind. North Americans, on average, get a lot of their fats from dairy products and, while this is not necessarily a bad thing in moderation, you may want to add other fats to your diet to boost heart health. According to Danish researchers from the Department of Nephrology at the University of Odense, replacing dairy fat with canola oil could help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad, cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol, of course, is that stuff that circulates in your blood. It can slowly build up in your arteries if you are consuming too much of the bad type of fat in your diet. Eventually, these fatty deposits harden and a clot may form, blocking the flow of blood in your arteries. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol could actually help remedy this situation. It carries cholesterol from your arteries to your liver where it is removed from your body.

This is exactly the type of situation the Swedish researchers found when they conducted a trial comparing cholesterol levels after the consumption of dairy fat versus canola oil fat. The study was a three-week randomized, controlled, crossover trial involving 20 participants with high levels of lipids in their blood.

The researchers performed tests to measure lipoprotein profile, coagulation, and the ability to break down and remove small blood clots. The researchers found that the canola oil diet -- but not the dairy fat diet -- reduced levels of serum cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol.
The canola oil diet also increased the rate at which glucose was utilized. The research team concluded that, in a diet moderately high in total fat, replacing dairy fat with canola causes a rapid and clinically relevant improvement in serum lipoprotein profiles, including lowering of
triglycerides in hyperlipidaemic individuals.

Follow this health advice: boost your nutritional health by using canola oil where you might normally use butter. Try putting a little canola oil on toast in the morning or use it when cooking main dishes. Canola oil generally retains its nutritional value when exposed to moderately high cooking heat, so it's great for healthy cooking.

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Picture of Heart Failure in U.S.: Good News

Here is a study to sink your teeth into. The nationwide rate of being hospitalized for heart failure is on the decline. A major new study has found the positive health news, and it is well worth sharing.

In 2008, being hospitalized for heart failure was about 30% less likely than it was in 1998. The study, published in the prestigious "Journal of the American Medical Association," also found that one-year death rates declined slightly during this period.

Researchers examined information on more than 55 million Medicare beneficiaries who went to the hospital over a 10-year period for heart failure. The researchers wanted to identify trends in the rate of heart failure hospitalization, and the death rate in the following year after leaving the
hospital. The decline was 29.5% of the overall rate from 1998 to 2008.

When you track numbers over time, you can judge whether a disease is on the upswing or downswing. Heart failure is important, as it imposes one of the highest disease burdens of any medical condition. And as you age, the risk rises. So, heart failure ranks as the most frequent cause of hospitalization among older adults. It is also one of the most expensive to treat, as it requires a lot of resources. In 2010, the costs in the U.S. were estimated at nearly $40.0 billion.

It showed that the heart failure hospitalization rates vary significantly by state. The three states with the lowest rates across the nation were Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Wyoming. There were 16 states that had significantly higher rates of heart failure hospitalization than the average.

The researchers also found that risk-adjusted one-year mortality decreased from 31.7% to 29.6% between 1999 and 2008 for an overall decline of 6.6%.

Due to the decline in heart failure hospitalizations, there were 230,000 fewer cases in 2008 compared to a decade earlier. This is estimated to represent a savings of $4.1 billion in fee-for-service Medicare.

The main reason for the drop is that there are fewer patients being hospitalized with heart failure -- a very positive development. One might conclude that people are paying more attention to diet and exercise than before, and people are being treated earlier and more successfully for heart issues.

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How GLA Fights a Tough Arthritis & More

Let's wrap up this three-part look at gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) by examining one of its biggest strengths: improving the lives of people with rheumatoid arthritis.

GLA may be effective in treating the millions of people who suffer rheumatoid arthritis. It is caused by a faulty immune system and there is no cure for it. GLA could reduce symptoms. Some studies have found no real benefit, while others have discovered positive results. The latter includes these three studies:

-- Forty patients received 540 milligrams a day of evening primrose oil (or olive oil). The GLA-rich oil led to improvement in morning stiffness with no side effects.

-- Thirty-seven patients received 1.4 grams a day of borage oil (or cottonseed oil). Over six months, borage oil improved joint tenderness, swelling, and pain.

-- Twenty-four patients took two grams a day of blackcurrant oil (or soybean oil) for six months. The GLA group had improved joint tenderness.

Using GLA supplements in many studies also allowed the patients to reduce the amount of painkillers they were taking. This is important: hard evidence shows that these NSAID painkillers increase the risk of heart attacks if taken over a long period of time. Finally, a 2003 review of GLA showed these results for GLA vs. placebo: 68% vs. 32% in reducing pain; 71% vs. 29% for reducing tender joints; 60% vs. 40% for reducing swollen joints; and 61% vs. 39% for reducing stiffness.

On a different note: how about lung disease? Combining the omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid with GLA (through a feeding tube) improved lung functions in people with acute respiratory distress syndrome. This is important, as this condition can become fatal.

Research has proven that GLA may help with several other issues as well. It could:

-- Help those suffering septic shock
-- Reduce risk of heart attack
-- Improve bone mineral density in older adults who have osteoporosis.
-- Relieve "cyclical mastalgia," which is monthly breast pain in females due to hormonal cycles
-- Significantly improve itching that is caused by chronic kidney failure

In the end, if anything in this short series seems relevant to you, speak to your doctor about how GLA could help.

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