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Priyanka Parab , 27. April 2010, 16:05

killer trans fat

The recent IPL finals saw a group of friends yelling their lungs out supporting their team and at the same time gorging on fried, oily and greasy junk food. But all that yelling and gorging on junk food could not save their team from losing! However these youngsters also lost something that day – a small percentage of their health.



Well, according to a recent report, French fries or a couple of samosas are enough to increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases by a whopping 23% And all this because of the mere 2% of Trans- fatty acids present in them, added mainly during the cooking process by means of the cooking oil.


 Trans-fat raise low density lipoprotein or to put it simply your “bad cholesterol” levels and reduce your “good cholesterol” levels. Not only this but trans- fat also causes an imbalance in your omega-6 and omega-3 ratios, while raising levels of C- reactive protein which puts you in danger of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Despite trans-fat being so harmful they are found to be a part of most commonly used cooking oils in India. A survey conducted in Delhi revealed shocking results in terms of awareness regarding trans-fat where only 72% of women had ‘heard’ of it, while only 28% knew what they were and only 17% knew their sources.

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heart diseases plaguing indiansThe sudden death of Indian origin, UK labour MP, Ashok Kumar due to an ischemic heart condition has once again put the spot light on heart diseases that are plaguing Indians! We Indians fall in the South East Asian belt which is notoriously weak hearted. For examples sake, in the year 2000, more than half of the 16.7 million heart disease related deaths occurred in South Asia alone. Another report to reiterate the fact that we as Indians are becoming more and more susceptible to heart diseases, is that India is expected to lose around 2 million people to coronary deaths by the year 2010.

What do these numbers and sudden deaths of seemingly fit Indians, as in the case of SAP CEO Ranjan Das highlight? The answer though seemingly simple is quite disturbing, these news and alarming facts point towards a trend which is seeing more and more Indians falling prey to heart diseases! Reasons being changing lifestyles and diet structures along with lack of physical activity and the genetic make-up; while not much can be done about our genes that showcase inherent lipid abnormality which greatly increases our chances of suffering from heart diseases. (However experts have added that poor lipid levels can be modified by the intake of a proper well balanced diet.) In a recent study designed by Apollo hospital and conducted by IMRB, it was found that 40% of Indians were at a high or moderate risk of a heart disease.

With the dice being so loaded against us, what do we do to prevent heart diseases? Following are some simple guidelines that will help us to prevent the occurrence of heart diseases in ourselves!

  • SMOKERS – whether of cigarettes, pipes or cigars – are more than twice at risk of a heart attack than non-smokers.

Studies have found that even one to two cigarettes a day greatly increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular conditions. Non-smokers who are exposed to constant smoke also have an increased risk. If you quit smoking, the health benefits start almost immediately, and within a few years, your risk of stroke and coronary artery disease becomes similar to non-smokers’.

  • EXCESSIVE lipids (fatty substances including cholesterol and triglycerides), especially in the form of LDL cholesterol, cause the build-up of fatty deposits within your arteries, reducing or blocking the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart.There is a sharp increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease when total cholesterol levels are 240 mg/dl and above. Aim for a total cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dl. LDL cholesterol should be less than 70 mg/dl for patients at very high risk of cardiovascular disease. For all others, LDL cholesterol should be less than 130 mg/dl.

Triglyceride is a form of fat. People with high triglycerides often have a high total cholesterol level, including high LDL (bad) cholesterol and low HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Triglyceride levels should be kept below 150 mg/dl. It is recommended that you have your cholesterol level checked as early as age 20 or earlier if you have a family history of high cholesterol. The cholesterol profile includes an evaluation of total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglyceride levels. HDL cholesterol takes the LDL (bad) cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it can be passed out of the body. High levels of HDL seem to protect against cardiovascular disease.Aim for HDL levels greater than 40 mg/dl; the higher the HDL level, the better. An HDL of 60 mg/dl and above is considered protective against heart disease.

BLOOD pressure measures the pressure or force inside your arteries with each heartbeat.

High blood pressure increases the workload of the heart and kidneys, increasing the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke and kidney disease. Aim for a reading of 120/80 mmHg or lower (high blood pressure is 140/90 or higher). Control blood pressure through diet, exercise, weight management and, if needed, medication. DIABETES occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin or use the insulin it has. This results in elevated blood sugar levels. Those with diabetes have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease because diabetes increases other risk factors, such as high cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides; lower HDL; and high blood pressure.

Keeping diabetes under control is essential in reducing your risk. The more you weigh, the harder your heart has to work to give your body nutrients. Research shows that being overweight contributes to the onset of cardiovascular disease. Excess weight also raises blood cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure, lowers HDL cholesterol and increases the risk of diabetes.

  • VEGETABLES and fruit are high in vitamins, minerals and fibre – and low in calories.

Eating a variety of fruit and vegetables may help you control your weight and your blood pressure. Unrefined whole-grain food contains fibre that can help lower your blood cholesterol and help you feel full, which may help you manage your weight. Eat fish at least twice a week. Recent research shows that eating oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (for example, salmon, trout and herring) may help lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease.

Choose lean meat and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat.

  • THE heart is like any other muscle – it needs a workout to stay strong and healthy. Exercising helps improve how well the heart pumps blood through your body. Aim for moderate exercise 30 minutes a day, on most days.

Exercise should be aerobic, involving the large muscle groups. Aerobic activities include brisk walking, cycling, swimming, jumping rope and jogging. However, consult your doctor before starting any exercise programme.

Sources: Hyderabad News, TOI.

India has lost 9.2 million years to heart diseasesWith the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases quadrupling in India in the last few decades, we as a country are sprinting towards being a weak hearted nation! And with recent reports indicating that by 2015 we will be accounting for 60% of all heart related diseases in the entire world, it sure is a scary scenario.

The Indian Prime Minister in an address to a conference of surgeons stated that “India has lost about 9.2 million potentially productive years in the year 2000 to cardiovascular problems related deaths in the age group of 35-64 years”, this amount was calculated based on the number of productive years lost on an average, due to the death of the deceased individuals. According to reports this figure is slated to rise to 17.9 million in the year 2030, overtaking even China and US!

While adding that preventive measures were paramount when it came to cardiovascular diseases, the prime minister further stated a need for an increase in the number of medical professionals to deal with the rising instances of heart diseases in our country.

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ear muffsThe picture to your left is sure to inspire a variety of ‘aww’s’ and ‘choo chweet’s’ from you! But did you know that ear muffs, apart from boosting the already high levels of ‘cute’ which all babies come naturally endowed with, also protects their sensitive hearing.

During the first few years of the child’s life, their sense of hearing is quite sensitive and loud sounds can damage their delicate ear drums! According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, USA, more than 15 minutes of exposure to loud sounds of up to 100 decibels is unsafe; airplane’s going overhead, loud speakers at functions, shrill whistles of trains arriving at the station, live concerts and full stadiums are just some of the many places in India, where the decibel levels are found to be beyond permissible levels and can cause damage to a child's hearing.

A child’s ear canal is quite small as compared to that of an older child or an adult. This means that a child can perceive the same sound at 20 decibels louder than an adult! Ear muffs lower the sound considerably before it reaches the child’s ears i.e. they act as excellent barriers reducing the sound before it reaches the baby’s sensitive ear drums, which otherwise would lead to long term damage in their hearing. Brain Fligor, director of diagnostic audiology, Children’s Hospital Boston, is of the view that such safeguards are necessary for the ears of today’s children as decibel levels have considerably risen in the past few decades and hearing loss from exposure to loud noises is irreversible!

Audiologist advise the use of ear muffs for young children, as long term hearing loss is cumulative and is neither painful nor does it showcase any symptoms except for gradual loss in hearing. So, the next time you go shopping for your little one remember to look out for a pair of cute ear muffs too!

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