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    Archive for the ‘homocysteine’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Beets

    beetAnything in particular worth knowing about the nutrition of beets?

    I love them in salads.  In the summer, it’s not out of the ordinary for me to have beets every single day.

    — Paula Seeley
    (Location withheld)

    Beets are a wonderful addition to any diet.  Make sure to NOT wear white when eating them (if you think permanent marker stains are bad, wait until you get a tiny smudge of beet on you; even Tide-To-Go sticks raise a white flag).

    When mass media went bonkers over the antioxidants in blueberries a few years ago, beets were treated like the redheaded stepchild.

    Betacyanin, the antioxidants that gives blueberries their pigment, is also found in very high quantities in beets!

    Betacyanin is a big deal because studies have found it to be super powerful when it comes to reducing inflammation (the main factor behind many degenerative diseases) and slowing down tumor proliferation.

    Beets offer a one-two punch because they also contain another pigment known as betanin.

    Betanin is especially effective at lowering heart disease risk because it reduces levels of homocysteine.  High homocysteine levels are problematic because they damage the inside of arteries, thereby allowing blood clots to form and LDL to build up as plaque, thereby heightening cardiovascular disease risk.

    A study by Israel’s Agricultural Research Organization found that “a relatively low concentration of betanin was found to inhibit lipid peroxidation of membranes or linoleate emulsion catalyzed by the free iron redox cycle, H2O2-activated metmyoglobin, or lipoxygenase.”  Laymen translation: betanin is your heart’s friend.

    Apart from being a low-calorie food (like all vegetables), beets also offer folate, manganese, and potassium.

    Whenever possible, aim for fresh — rather than canned — beets.  If raw beets aren’t your thing, roast them — along with other root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, and radishes — in olive oil and salt.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Choline

    1B7796CD98BAE223AFF6643CFAF1A7What is choline?  Why is it good for us and which foods contain it?

    — @Monica_San Diego, @noelty5
    Via Twitter

    I received these tweets soon after I tweeted that 90 percent of adults in the United States do not get sufficient amounts of choline in their diets.

    Choline is an essential nutrient (‘essential’ meaning we must get it from food) that is often referred to as a “vitamin-like organic substance” that has a lot in common with the B vitamins (it is not, however, an out-and-out B vitamin).

    Choline has a number of important functions, including:

    • Proper functioning of neurotransmitters
    • Overall liver and gallbladder health
    • Fetal neural and spinal development
    • Cell permeability (allowing cells to absorb fats adequately and excrete necessary metabolites)
    • Phospholipid synthesis (necessary for cellular structure)
    • Cardiovascular health (choline helps lower homocysteine levels; high homocysteine levels are a significant risk factor for heart disease)

    As far as food sources go, these are your best bets:

    • Beef
    • Broccoli
    • Cauliflower
    • Egg yolk
    • Lentils
    • Salmon
    • Shrimp
    • Soy beans
    • Peanuts
    • Wheat germ
    • Salmon

    Men should aim for 550 milligrams a day. Women, meanwhile, need to shoot for 425.

    Multiple research studies have concluded that consistent, long-term deficiencies increase one’s risk of developing fatty liver, liver cancer, and heart disease.

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    You "Ask", I Answer: Homocysteine/Cholesterol

    According to a book I read by Dr. Ray Strand, cholesterol is not the only factor causing cardiovascular diseases.

    There is something called homocysteine where high levels of it also may cause some damages.

    — Eugene Goh
    Via the blog

    I’m glad you brought this up.

    On the one hand, it is an important factor many people are unaware of, but I have also seen unnecessary panic over it.

    High homocysteine levels are indeed one factor that can increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease, but it is not as applicable to – or prevalent in — the general population as high intakes of saturated and trans fat.

    Let’s backtrack a little.

    Homocysteine is an amino acid produced when methionine — an essential amino acid largely found in meat, fish, eggs, beans, and seeds – is broken down.

    In healthy individuals receiving adequate nutrition, homocysteine is converted back to methionine and all is well.

    Certain populations, however, run into some difficulties.

    The group in the most danger consists of individuals born with a condition known as homocystinuria, in which the enzyme needed to convert homocysteine back into methionine is missing.

    Consequently, homocysteine often accumulates in their systems.

    Since vitamin B12 plays a major role in homocysteine-to-methionine conversion, vegans also run the risk of having high homocysteine levels if their diet does not provide adequate amounts of that vitamin.

    Folic acid – another B vitamin — also plays a crucial role in homocysteine breakdown.

    This isn’t quite as troubling since a 1996 law passed in the United States requires folic acid fortification in refined grains, and the vitamin is also easily obtainable from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

    High homocysteine levels are problematic because they damage the inside of arteries, thereby allowing blood clots to form and LDL to build up as plaque, heightening one’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

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