ASK OUR DIETITIANS
Got a food question? We have the answers.
Q/ Will eating foods high in cholesterol raise my risk of heart disease? What do my blood cholesterol numbers really mean?
Dietary cholesterol, found in foods such as butter, eggs and shellfish, does not raise blood cholesterol in the vast majority of people. It was once erroneously targeted as a major cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD). But cholesterol is a very important component of various hormones and cell membranes, and your liver and intestines make most of the cholesterol your body needs. CVD is believed to be caused by inflammation, oxidative stress, smoking, inactivity and a diet rich in sugar, trans fats and high-glycemic foods. The basic lipid panel, which measures total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides, fails to identify up to 60% of people who are at risk. Advanced testing, including hs-CRP (measures inflammation in blood vessels), LDL-P (measures LDL particle number), LDL particle size (small and dense LDL are the dangerous kind) and Lipoprotein(a), are the best for getting a clearer picture about your risk. If you have family history of CVD or feel that you are at high risk, ask your doctor to order the NMR, Cardio IQ, Lipoprotein Particle Profile (LPP) or VAP test. These specific tests take a deeper dive into the lipid classes and are more effective at predicting risk of CVD.
Good news: A heart-healthy diet can include foods such as eggs and shellfish. Try our Crab Cakes with Honeydew Strawberry Salsa. cleaneating.com/crabcakes-salsa
Q/ Does diet success depend on one’s DNA?
When it comes to diet, what works best for your friend or your partner may not work for you. Individual genetics play a significant role in how each of us respond to diet. Our genes affect how we metabolize different foods, predispose us to food sensitivities and allergies and influence our individual risks for obesity. Studies also show that the foods we eat can alter our genes and the genes of our offspring. Research conducted by Texas A&M University scientists tested four popular diets: Mediterranean, Japanese, Standard American Diet (SAD) and ketogenic. The researchers found that different genetic types responded well or poorly to each diet, and that there is no one single diet that is optimal for everyone. Genetic testing to match us with individualized diets is already happening. But short of mapping out your diet DNA, the key to identifying the right diet for you starts by developing an awareness for how your body responds to different foods and how your weight and other markers of health are affected, for better or for worse.