Why do commercial and foods cooked by ‘halwais’ taste better?

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Hydrogenated oils containing trans fats are tastier than foods cooked in plant oils. Most hydrogenated oils involve hydrogenation of palm oils. Hydrogenation increases their shelf life, makes them easier to cook and spoil less easily. French fries, microwave popcorns and food cooked by traditional halwais are cooked in hydrogenated trans fats.

Most commercially catered food prepared from trans fats are tasty and often people overeat by at least 500 calories because of the taste provided by the hydrogenated oils.

Per serving, 5 grams of trans fatty acids is present in French fries, 6 gm in breaded fish burger, 5 gm in breaded chicken nuggets, 2 gm in biscuits, 2.7 gm in margarine, 2 gm in cakes, 1.6 gm in corn chips, 1.2 gm in microwave popcorn and 1.1 gm in pizza.

Four gm of trans fats are present in one parantha, 3.4 gm in one poori, 5.2 gm in one bhatura, 1.7 gm in one dosa, 6.1 gm in one tikki, 3 gm in one samosa, 2 gm in one serving of pakoda, 2.9 gm in one serving of vegetable pulao and 3.6 gm in one serving of halwa.

Just about 2.6 gm a day of trans fats, half as much contained in a packet of French fries can raise the risk of heart disease significantly.

Some trans fats occur naturally in foods, especially those of animal origin. The chemical configuration of trans fatty acids confers harmful effects, including adverse influences on blood LDL– and HDL–cholesterol concentrations. They raise LDL and lower HDL cholesterols. By comparison, consumption of saturated fats also raises the LDL cholesterol concentration, but does not lower HDL. Thus, while saturated fats adversely affect the lipid profile, they may not be as harmful as trans fatty acids.

Trans fatty acids may also interfere with the desaturation and elongation of n–3 (omega–3) fatty acids. These are important for the prevention of heart disease and complications of pregnancy. In an analysis from the Nurses’ Health Study, for each increase of 2 percent of energy from trans fat, the relative risk for incident coronary heart disease was 1.93. There are no known physiologic benefits related to the consumption of trans fatty acids; thus, reduction in their intake makes sense.

The words “partially hydrogenated” on the list of package ingredients are clues to their presence. Since 2006, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made it a requirement that Nutrition Facts labels portray trans fat content. FDA estimates that the average daily intake of trans fat in the U.S. population is about 5.8 grams or 2.6% of calories per day for individuals 20 years of age and older. On average, Americans consume approximately 4 to 5 times as much saturated fat as trans fat in their diet.

FDA’s label requirement is that if a dietary supplement contains a reportable amount of trans fat, which is 0.5 gram or more, dietary supplement manufacturers must list the amounts on the Supplement Facts panel. The FDA final rule on trans fatty acids requires that the amount of trans fat in a serving be listed on a separate line under saturated fat on the Nutrition Facts panel.

However, trans fats do not have to be listed if the total fat in a food is less than 0.5 gram (or 1/2 gram) per serving.

All restaurants in New York have banned all food items, which contain more than 0.5 gm of trans fats in one serving.

Guidelines

  • Check the Nutrition Facts panel: Choose foods lower in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol.
  • Choose alternative fats. Replace saturated and trans fats in your diet with mono- and polyunsaturated fats. These fats do not raise LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels and have health benefits when eaten in moderation. Sources of monounsaturated fats include olive and canola oils. Sources of polyunsaturated fats include soybean, corn, sunflower oils, and foods like nuts.
  • Choose vegetable oils (except coconut and palm kernel oils) and soft margarines (liquid, tub, or spray) more often because the combined amount of saturated and trans fats is lower than the amount in solid shortenings, hard margarines, and animal fats, including butter.
  • Consider fish. Most fish are lower in saturated fat than meat. Some fish, such as mackerel, sardines and salmon, contain omega–3 fatty acids that are being studied to determine if they offer protection against heart disease.
  • Limit foods high in cholesterol such as liver and other organ meats, egg yolks and full–fat dairy products, like whole milk.
  • Choose foods low in saturated fat such as fat free or 1% dairy products, lean meats, fish, skinless poultry, whole grain foods and fruit and vegetables.

Heart Disease Myths

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Myth No. 1– It is ok to have a high Blood Pressure in elderly.

Blood Pressure tends to rise with age, but it does not mean that this rise is normal. It happens because with age, the arterial walls become stiff and this stiffness cannot be called as a normal stiffness.

Stiff arteries make the heart to pump harder. Blood pounding against the artery walls, damages them over time.

The overworked heart muscles become less effective and pumps even harder to meet the body demand for blood. This further damages the arteries and invites fats into the artery walls. This results in lipid deposition, formation of blockage and future heart attack and paralysis.

So the fact is irrespective of age keep your diastolic blood pressure below 80 and systolic below 120. Start treatment if the blood pressure is more than 140/90.

Myth No. 2 – The risk of heart disease can be lowered with vitamins and supplements.

It’s a myth that vitamin C, E and β carotenes lower heart attack risk. The American Heart Association has stated that there is no scientific evidence that these supplements prevent or treat heart diseases.

The fact is eat a wide variety of nutritious food which includes all 6 tastes and 7 colors and get natural vitamins and supplements.

Myth No. 3 – Women do not suffer from heart disease.

The fact is whether you are a man or a woman, you are at risk, if you do not follow the lifestyle. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women over age 65. Today more woman get heart disease than combine cancer in them.

Myth No. 4 – Heart patients should not eat fat at all.

It is true that you should eat a diet low in saturated fat and zero in transfats but other fats like unsaturated fats in vegetable oil are beneficial. Infact eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids twice a week can lower the risk of heart disease.

New form of heart failure on the rise

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Heart failure is routinely described as the progressive loss of ability of the heart to pump blood. But, there is another form of heart failure where the blood–pumping ability of the heart remains near normal. This second form of heart failure is too often overlooked and is just as lethal.

In this condition the heart muscle becomes thickened. The chamber inside gets smaller and the heart is unable to relax to accommodate the blood it needs to pump out. As there is no room for the heart to relax, the blood backs up into the lungs. This kind of anomaly is not picked up by standard measurements of “ejection fraction” – the percentage of blood in the heart that goes out with every beat.

This form of the disease is called “diastolic heart failure” because the problem occurs during the diastole portion of heart activity, as the heart relaxes after a beat.

Nearly one–third of these patients have an ejection fraction greater than 50 percent, which is very near normal. However, the death rate for this kind of heart failure matches that of patients with the more common form of heart failure, with more than 20% of all the patients dying within a year. There is a steady increase over 15 years of heart failure with normal or near–normal ejection fraction.

For patients, the symptoms of both types of heart failure are the same: Shortness of breath, difficulty exercising and fluid retention in the body. Physicians cannot make a diagnosis on the basis of symptoms or routine examinations. One has to have an echocardiogram and see the heart pumping and see if the ejection fraction is normal or reduced. Until now, relatively little attention has been paid to diastolic heart failure. Advances have been made against systolic heart failure, in which the ejection fraction falls below normal but not much has been done about diastolic heart failure.

Pacing for heart failure For patients with advanced heart failure waiting for cardiac transplant, biventricular pacing not only improves the quality of life but also prolongs life. If the ejection fraction is low the combo device also gives an electric shock when the heart stops. It is said that all patients with low ejection fraction should ask their doctors for possible implantation of these devices.

Signals of heart failure

One of the commonest presentations is breathlessness on exertion, which is often confused as a part of aging or being obese. Not being able to climb stairs may be the earliest sign of hypertensive diastolic heart failure. Other signals are:

  1. Feeling extra tired even after a good night’s sleep. People with heart failure may limit activities they like to do or take naps to avoid feeling tired.
  2. Weight gain: Call your doctor if you gain weight for more than 2 days in a row or if you gain 2 or more pounds.
  3. Shortness of breath: Heart failure makes breathing harder, especially during exercise. Lying position may make it worse.
  4. Swollen ankles, legs, belly, and/or lower back, the swelling is often worse at the end of the day.
  5. Going to the bathroom more at night.

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