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Cranberry season is here with health benefits galore

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In the Sacramento and Davis area, the University of California, Davis did a study a few years ago on the health benefits of cranberries. See, also the article, "Some Facts About Flavonols," from UC Davis, a PDF file. It also contains a chart listing the flavonol content, such as the quercetin content, kaempferol content, and myriceticin content of numerous fruits and vegetables studied.

How many dentists in Sacramento tell you to chew on cranberries to fight gum disease or prevent it? Cranberry juice fights tooth decay and gum disease. You'll also find it in dental floss. Baking soda put in between your teeth at the gum line also fights tooth decay and gum disease. So does salt, baking soda and sage as a paste made with water. See, Cranberries may help fight tooth decay - UPI.com. A U.S. dental researcher suggests sugars don't attack tooth enamel -- but feed the bacteria that do.

Low-calorie pure cranberry juice: Do cranberries have cardioprotective qualities?

Enjoying a daily 8-ounce glass of low-calorie cranberry juice may significantly increase blood levels of cardioprotective HDL cholesterol, suggests a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition (Ruel G., Omperleau S, et al.), according to the article, "Cranberries." Also see another article discussing that study at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health site. Check out this cranberry study summary of research on health benefits. Also see an article discussing the study, "Elevated Cholesterol 5: Recent research studies confirm the importance of eating healthy foods on healthy cholesterol levels."

Almost any doctor or HMO in Sacramento probably will hand you a diet to follow to help symptoms of metabolic syndrome. But how many of those brochures will mention cranberry juice or other foods that may help to raise your HDL levels based on studies, and refer you to various studies online or in libraries?

For example, three years ago, scientists studied cranberry juice for its ability to help raise the good, cardioprotective HDL levels. And other scientists in different studies focused on how fructose might lower your 'good' HDL levels. Let's start with the cranberry study.

Cranberry Juice. Certain lower-fructose, lower sugar fruit juices may help. Cranberry juice has been shown to increase HDL levels. In the British Journal of Nutrition clinical trial (study), 30 abdominally obese men, averaging 51 years in age, drank increasing amounts (4 ounces, 8 ounces and 12 ounces daily) of low-calorie cranberry juice during three successive 4-week periods. While no changes in the men's HDL were noted after drinking 4 ounces of cranberry juice each day, a large increase (+8.6%) in circulating levels of HDL was noted after the men drank 8-ounces of cranberry juice daily, an effect that leveled out (+8.1%) during the final 12-ounce phase of the study.

After drinking 8 ounces of cranberry juice daily, the men's triglyceride levels also dropped, while their levels of total and LDL cholesterol remained unchanged, which means that overall, their overall lipid profile significantly improved.

The researchers chose abdominally obese men because, in other research (Farnier M, Garnier P, et al., Int J Clin Pract), abdominal obesity, high triglycerides and being male, have been strongly linked to low HDL and cardiovascular disease.

Abdominal obesity, high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol are also key symptoms of the metabolic syndrome, a condition which greatly increases one's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And type 2 diabetes is well known to be a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which remains the leading cause of death not only in the U.S., but throughout the developed world.

So, the subjects in this study were men whose health was greatly at risk. Isn't it wonderful that something as simple, affordable and delicious as a daily 8-ounce glass of cranberry juice offers such potential beneficial impact on our health? Instead of buying the "low-calorie" cranberry juice, which is usually sweetened with aspartame or comparable chemicals, look for unsweetened cranberry juice or similar concentrate without added sweeteners. You also can sweeten any juices with a tiny bit of stevia.

If you're apple shaped, which means gaining weight in the front of the abdomen instead of on your hips and thighs, perhaps you have metabolic syndrome. In Sacramento, Kaiser Permanente and other HMO's often hand out lists naming the five signs of metabolic syndrome. To find out whether you have metabolic syndrome, you're doctor is the best person to ask.

To give you some idea of what to suspect, look for the following five signs of metabolic syndrome in yourself. Your HMO in Sacramento also may offer classes in what foods are of benefit to cut down the symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome.

Give yourself one point for each of the five following 'clinical' features of metabolic syndrome. If you have 3 symptoms or more, than it's time to ask your doctor whether you have metabolic syndrome. You can have yourself tested for any of the symptoms. If you have even one symptom--abdominal obesity or the tendency to gain weight in your abdomen, talk to your doctor and find out whether a change in diet will help correct the symptoms you can correct.

If with genetic predisposition, there are ways through food and lifestyle activity to help your health issue. Here are the five signs of metabolic syndrome. Any three symptoms or more should give you information on what direction to take in finding out why you have these symptoms and whether a change in food can help.

1. Abdominal obesity. You don't necessarily have to be overweight. Thin people also may have inherited the genes for gaining weight primarily in the abdomen. This could happen if you have one parent who is overweight and one thin parent. In such a case, you've inherited the thin body from one parent, but the genes for abdominal obesity from the overweight parent. On the outside you're thin, but on the inside, you have inherited the high blood pressure gene variant from the parent with metabolic syndrome or hypertension and abdominal obesity.

Some women also gain weight in the abdomen and are genetically born with thin legs and thin arms, narrow hips, small breasts, but gain weight, including when pregnant in the abdomen and not on the hips or thighs or only slightly there. They primarily gain weight around the waist and in the abdomen, which may protrude forward as if from around the navel. When older, post-menopausal, weight gain is in the abdomen, while the arms and legs remain thin.

With men, they may be obese or thin, but weight gain, in either case, is from the belly. Males may have what's called "beer bellies." The more sweets they eat, the more the abdomen protrudes forward and the waistline also increases if the waistline is measured at the level of the navel, not just below the rib cage. Waistline measurements can be taken just above the hip bone, putting the measuring tape around the torso at the level of the belly button.

2. Elevated triglycerides. Fat from foods may be in the form of triglycerides. Don't eat more calories than your body can burn off. Your liver turns excess 'fuel' into triglycerides. In some people fatty meats are stored as fat, but in others fatty meats are burned off as fuel. It's genetic as to whether your body stores meat more as fat or fuel. Fat cells fill up with triglycerides, creating flab.

Worse yet, your liver produces huge amounts of triglycerides each time you eat fructose. Some doctors will tell you to eat less sweets, particularly foods containing fructose. Other doctors will also tell you to add some purified fish oil. Talk to your health care team, and cut down on the fructose. The more fructose you eat, usually the higher your triglycerides get, but again, talk to your health care professionals. There's a book explaining how fructose causes your triglycerides to rise, The Sugar Fix, by Richard J. Johnson, M.D. (with Timothy Gower.) See, The Sugar Fix: The High-Fructose Fallout That Is Making You Fat and Sick.

How Do You Know When You Have High Triglycerides?

Your fasting triglycerides should not be high. They should be less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). If you're triglycerides are 150 mg/dl or higher, you may have high triglycerides. Many women going through menopause walk into their doctor's offices with triglycerides of 200. That's too high. Cut out the fructose and then measure your triglycerides.

That may mean cutting out certain types of fruit, ice cream, high fructose corn syrup, and various sweets, plus anything with plenty of fructose for two weeks to get your enzymes working better again to lower your triglycerides.Then test your triglycerides again when you see your doctor. See whether the triglycerides have lowered. Sometimes fish oils help. For example, one Sacramento woman's 200 mg/dl triglycerides dropped to 54 after a few months on a small amount of purified fish oil and stopping eating frozen yogurt made with fructose. If you're already taking medicine to lower your triglycerides, you obviously have high fasting triglycerides.

3. Low HDL Cholesterol

Another symptom of metabolic syndrome is low HDL, the 'good' cholesterol. If you're male, your HDL should be higher than 40 mg/dl. If you're female, your HDL should be higher than 50 mg/dl. Ideally, you should strive for 60mg/dl, which is supposed to be a 'healthy' HDL level. It's also genetic. Some people have very high HDL, which is good. The 'bad' LDL cholesterol works to form blockages in the arteries.

The 'good' HDL cholesterol carries the 'bad' LDL cholesterol away from your arteries and takes the stuff back to your liver, where it is disposed of. High levels of HDL may protect you against heart disease and various vascular problems caused by blockages of the 'bad' cholesterol or 'plaques' formed in arteries. If you are taking prescription drugs to increase your HDL level, then you obviously have too low an HDL in the first place. See the article,"How to increase your HDL levels." See how you can increase your HDL levels, which are genetic in the first place with various foods. There is some help available through nutrition and lifestyle changes.

Foods That May Increase Your HDL 'good' Cholesterol Levels

Increase the monounsaturated fats in your diet. Monounsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil, macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, or grape seed oil and in the fats found in peanut and/or almond butter may be able to increase HDL cholesterol levels without increasing the total cholesterol.

Add soluble fiber to your diet. Soluble fibers are found in pectin powders, oats, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and result in both a reduction in LDL cholesterol and an increase HDL cholesterol. For best results, at least two servings a day should be used, according to the article, "How to increase your HDL levels."

Fish, certain purified fish oils, krill oils, calamari oils, and other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids also may increase HDL levels. In postmenopausal women (but not, apparently, in men or pre-menopausal women) calcium supplementation can increase HDL levels, but always use a balance of magnesium, vitamin D3 and perhaps vitamin K-2 (MK-7) with any calcium. Otherwise you might end up with calcium deposits all over your body or calcium in your bloodstream instead of in your bones.

Find out whether any calcium you're taking actually is being absorbed. See the articles, "13 Ways To Raise Your HDL Naturally: The Methuselah Syndrome," and the article on the health benefits of cranberry juice and cranberries, noting studies, "Cranberries." It's published at "The World's Healthiest Foods" website.

4. High blood pressure. If your doctor tells you your blood pressure is too high or you have hypertension, you need to lower it. Foods that may help are foods that are low in fructose. Did you know that fructose can increase your blood pressure? In biology experiments, rats are fed sugar to raise their blood pressure.

That's not just fructose, but plain table sugar as well can raise blood pressure. But fructose is more powerful even than plain old glucose to raise blood pressure. Here's why. Carbs in food break down into glucose and other sugars. Although they are fuel for the body and brain, you don't have to actually eat sugar to give your brain a glucose boost that it can get from starches.

5. Elevated Fasting Blood Glucose Levels

If you have insulin resistance, which in some cases could precede the onset of type 2 diabetes, cells can't absorb glucose from the blood. If your blood glucose levels are chronically elevated, it's one sign of insulin resistance.

Have your glucose levels measured after you've fasted for 12 hours, or at least fasted overnight for 8 hours. If your fasting blood glucose levels are 100mg/dl or higher, you may have insulin resistance. Talk to your doctor, and cut out those sweets, including fruits for two weeks and see what your fasting blood glucose levels are after you've been off of any fructose, such as fruits for a few weeks.

Those are the 5 symptoms of metabolic syndrome to watch out for and report to your health care team. Be aware that by overloading with fructose found in processed foods, and even from a variety of ice cream or frozen dessert brands that you may think are healthier because they are non made from dairy products, you could be getting too much fructose. Sugar acts differently on the body than fructose. Be aware of this difference.

Reducing excess fructose in your diet

You can reduce your intake of sugar and fructose without substituting artificial sweeteners that may have other effects. Your goal is to prevent metabolic syndrome, that also can be increased by exposure to chronic stress and the wrong balance of foods for your body. Explore the links between eating a lot of sugar and fructose and low HDL levels. You're going to get a lot of sugar, high fructose corn syrup from not only fruit juices but also from different sodas and soft drinks.

Even a container flavored yogurt may contain 7 teaspoons of sugar. So be aware. If you need to raise your HDL levels, see whether cutting out sugar and fructose will help, and then have your blood tested once more to find out if your HDL levels are better. You also may find one more benefit--you'll perhaps have less cavities in your teeth. Instead of artificial sweeteners, try doing without or using a bit of stevia.

If you juice fresh, organic cranberries with some water in your blender, keeping the pulp in the juice, can it help people with metabolic syndrome? Let's take a look at what some of the research results report about foods that may increase your HDL 'good cholesterol levels. You may want to talk with a professional in nutrition about how to use cranberry juice to possible increase your HDL cholesterol levels, which has been shown in studies.

Sacramento food markets are now carrying organic cranberries. Look in the organic produce sections of some of the supermarkets that also have natural food aisles. Most of the worlds cranberries are harvested on 37 thousand acres in five states, with Massachusetts being the leading producer.

Most of the world's cranberries are harvested on 37 thousand acres in five states, with Massachusetts being the leading producer

Here are some helpful foods to discuss with your health care team about what healthy food substitutions for familiar, traditional foods that could be increased in your diet. You might think about the following foods and how they affect your body's individual response to those foods.

Increase the monounsaturated fats in your diet. Monounsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil, macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, or grape seed oil and in the fats found in peanut and/or almond butter may be able to increase HDL cholesterol levels without increasing the total cholesterol.

Add soluble fiber to your diet. Soluble fibers are found in pectin powders, oats, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and result in both a reduction in LDL cholesterol and an increase HDL cholesterol. For best results, at least two servings a day should be used, according to the article, "How to increase your HDL levels."

Cranberry Juice. Certain lower-fructose, lower sugar fruit juices may help. Cranberry juice has been shown to increase HDL levels. Fish, certain purified fish oils, krill oils, calamari oils, and other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids also may increase HDL levels. In postmenopausal women (but not, apparently, in men or pre-menopausal women) calcium supplementation can increase HDL levels, but always use a balance of magnesium, vitamin D3 and perhaps vitamin K-2 (MK-7) with any calcium. Otherwise you might end up with calcium deposits all over your body or calcium in your bloodstream instead of in your bones.

Find out whether any calcium you're taking actually is being absorbed. See the articles, "13 Ways To Raise Your HDL Naturally: The Methuselah Syndrome," and the article on the health benefits of cranberry juice and cranberries, noting studies, "Cranberries." It's published at "The World's Healthiest Foods" website.

Drinking cranberry juice in clinical trial studies increased blood levels of the 'good' HDL cholesterol

Enjoying a daily 8-ounce glass of low-calorie cranberry juice may significantly increase blood levels of cardioprotective HDL cholesterol, suggests a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition (Ruel G., Omperleau S, et al.), according to the article, "Cranberries." Also see another article discussing that study at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health site. Check out this cranberry study summary of research on health benefits. Also see an article discussing the study, "Elevated Cholesterol 5: Recent research studies confirm the importance of eating healthy foods on healthy cholesterol levels."

In this trial, 30 abdominally obese men, averaging 51 years in age, drank increasing amounts (4 ounces, 8 ounces and 12 ounces daily) of low-calorie cranberry juice during three successive 4-week periods. While no changes in the men's HDL were noted after drinking 4 ounces of cranberry juice each day, a large increase (+8.6%) in circulating levels of HDL was noted after the men drank 8-ounces of cranberry juice daily, an effect that leveled out (+8.1%) during the final 12-ounce phase of the study.

After drinking 8 ounces of cranberry juice daily, the triglyceride levels of the male participants in the study also dropped, while their levels of total and LDL cholesterol remained unchanged, which means that overall, their overall lipid profile significantly improved.

The researchers chose abdominally obese men because, in other research (Farnier M, Garnier P, et al., Int J Clin Pract), abdominal obesity, high triglycerides and being male, have been strongly linked to low HDL and cardiovascular disease.

Abdominal obesity, high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol are also key symptoms of the metabolic syndrome, a condition which greatly increases one's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And type 2 diabetes is well known to be a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which remains the leading cause of death not only in the U.S., but throughout the developed world.

So, the subjects in this study were men whose health was greatly at risk. Isn't it wonderful that something as simple, affordable and delicious as a daily 8-ounce glass of cranberry juice offers such potential beneficial impact on our health? Instead of buying the "low-calorie" cranberry juice, which is usually sweetened with aspartame or comparable chemicals, look for unsweetened cranberry juice or similar concentrate without added sweeteners. You also can sweeten any juices with a tiny bit of stevia.

Apple-shaped people and possible metabolic syndrome from eating the wrong foods

Numerous health advocates sometimes advise that if you're apple shaped, which means gaining weight in the front of the abdomen instead of on your hips and thighs, perhaps you have metabolic syndrome.

For those who are apple-shaped, the one food to avoid is excess fructose. In Sacramento, Kaiser Permanente and other HMO's often hand out lists naming the five signs of metabolic syndrome. But can crushed fruit mixed with juice help, if the fruit and juice are not overly sweet? To find out whether you have metabolic syndrome, you're doctor is the best person to ask--but below are the five symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

If you have three or more, talk to your doctor about getting tested or talk to a physician who has had nutrition training and specializes in working with people who have metabolic syndrome who are controlling it by diet. Some people also are salt sensitive or chloride sensitive. Whether or not you're having adverse health responses to a particular food, if you're apple-shaped, you most often will do better on a low-carb diet rather than on a low-fat diet, and may feel better if you avoid excess fructose.

To give you some idea of what to suspect, look for the following five signs of metabolic syndrome in yourself. Your HMO in Sacramento also may offer classes in what foods are of benefit to cut down the symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome.

Symptoms of metabolic syndrome

Give yourself one point for each of the five following 'clinical' features of metabolic syndrome. If you have 3 symptoms or more, than it's time to ask your doctor whether you have metabolic syndrome. You can have yourself tested, such as a fasting blood glucose test and/or a triglycerides test, for any of the symptoms. See how your blood pressure is doing as well.

If you have even one symptom--abdominal obesity or the tendency to gain weight in your abdomen, talk to your doctor and find out whether a change in diet will help correct the symptoms you can correct. Apple-shaped people may need a different diet than pear-shaped people, according to holistic family health studies. This applies to children and adults.

If with genetic predisposition, there are ways through food and lifestyle activity to help your health issue. Here are the five signs of metabolic syndrome. Any three symptoms or more should give you information on what direction to take in finding out why you have these symptoms and whether a change in food can help.

1. Abdominal obesity. You don't necessarily have to be overweight. Thin people also may have inherited the genes for gaining weight primarily in the abdomen. This could happen if you have one parent who is overweight and one thin parent. In such a case, you've inherited the thin body from one parent, but the genes for abdominal obesity from the overweight parent. On the outside you're thin, but on the inside, you have inherited the high blood pressure gene variant from the parent with metabolic syndrome or hypertension and abdominal obesity.

Some women also gain weight in the abdomen and are genetically born with thin legs and thin arms, narrow hips, small breasts, but gain weight, including when pregnant in the abdomen and not on the hips or thighs or only slightly there. They primarily gain weight around the waist and in the abdomen, which may protrude forward as if from around the navel. When older, post-menopausal, weight gain is in the abdomen, while the arms and legs remain thin.

With men, they may be obese or thin, but weight gain, in either case, is from the belly. Males may have what's called "beer bellies." The more sweets they eat, the more the abdomen protrudes forward and the waistline also increases if the waistline is measured at the level of the navel, not just below the rib cage. Waistline measurements can be taken just above the hip bone, putting the measuring tape around the torso at the level of the belly button.

2. Elevated triglycerides. Fat from foods may be in the form of triglycerides. Don't eat more calories than your body can burn off. Your liver turns excess 'fuel' into triglycerides. In some people fatty meats are stored as fat, but in others fatty meats are burned off as fuel. It's genetic as to whether your body stores meat more as fat or fuel. Fat cells fill up with triglycerides, creating flab.

Worse yet, your liver produces huge amounts of triglycerides each time you eat fructose. Some doctors will tell you to eat less sweets, particularly foods containing fructose. Other doctors will also tell you to add some purified fish oil. Talk to your health care team, and cut down on the fructose. The more fructose you eat, usually the higher your triglycerides get, but again, talk to your health care professionals. There's a book explaining how fructose causes your triglycerides to rise, The Sugar Fix, by Richard J. Johnson, M.D. (with Timothy Gower.) See, The Sugar Fix: The High-Fructose Fallout That Is Making You Fat and Sick.

How Do You Know When You Have High Triglycerides?

Your fasting triglycerides should not be high. They should be less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). If you're triglycerides are 150 mg/dl or higher, you may have high triglycerides. Many women going through menopause walk into their doctor's offices with triglycerides of 200. That's too high. Cut out the fructose and then measure your triglycerides.

That may mean cutting out certain types of overly-sweet fruit that has excess fructose, ice cream, high fructose corn syrup, and various sweets, plus anything with plenty of fructose for two weeks to get your enzymes working better again to lower your triglycerides.Then test your triglycerides again when you see your doctor.

See whether the triglycerides have lowered. Sometimes fish oils help. For example, one Sacramento woman's 200 mg/dl triglycerides dropped to 54 after a few months on a small amount of purified fish oil and stopping eating frozen yogurt made with fructose. If you're already taking medicine to lower your triglycerides, you obviously have high fasting triglycerides.

3. Low HDL Cholesterol

Another symptom of metabolic syndrome is low HDL, the 'good' cholesterol. If you're male, your HDL should be higher than 40 mg/dl. If you're female, your HDL should be higher than 50 mg/dl. Ideally, you should strive for 60mg/dl, which is supposed to be a 'healthy' HDL level. It's also genetic. Some people have very high HDL, which is good. The 'bad' LDL cholesterol works to form blockages in the arteries.

The 'good' HDL cholesterol carries the 'bad' LDL cholesterol away from your arteries and takes the stuff back to your liver, where it is disposed of. High levels of HDL may protect you against heart disease and various vascular problems caused by blockages of the 'bad' cholesterol or 'plaques' formed in arteries. If you are taking prescription drugs to increase your HDL level, then you obviously have too low an HDL in the first place. See the article,"How to increase your HDL levels." See how you can increase your HDL levels, which are genetic in the first place with various foods. There is some help available through nutrition and lifestyle changes.

4. High blood pressure. If your doctor tells you your blood pressure is too high or you have hypertension, you need to lower it. Foods that may help are foods that are low in fructose. Did you know that fructose can increase your blood pressure? In biology experiments, rats are fed sugar to raise their blood pressure.

That's not just fructose, but plain table sugar as well can raise blood pressure. But fructose is more powerful even than plain old glucose to raise blood pressure. Here's why. Carbs in food break down into glucose and other sugars. Although they are fuel for the body and brain, you don't have to actually eat sugar to give your brain a glucose boost that it can get from starches.

5. Elevated Fasting Blood Glucose Levels

If you have insulin resistance, which in some cases could precede the onset of type 2 diabetes, cells can't absorb glucose from the blood. If your blood glucose levels are chronically elevated, it's one sign of insulin resistance.

Have your glucose levels measured after you've fasted for 12 hours, or at least fasted overnight for 8 hours. If your fasting blood glucose levels are 100mg/dl or higher, you may have insulin resistance. Talk to your doctor, and cut out those sweets, including fruits for two weeks and see what your fasting blood glucose levels are after you've been off of any fructose, such as fruits for a few weeks.

Those are the 5 symptoms of metabolic syndrome to watch out for and report to your health care team. Be aware that by overloading with fructose found in processed foods, and even from a variety of ice cream or frozen dessert brands that you may think are healthier because they are non made from dairy products, you could be getting too much fructose. Sugar acts differently on the body than fructose. Be aware of this difference.

You can reduce your intake of sugar and fructose without substituting artificial sweeteners that may have other effects. Your goal is to prevent metabolic syndrome, that also can be increased by exposure to chronic stress and the wrong balance of foods for your body. Explore the links between eating a lot of sugar and fructose and low HDL levels. You're going to get a lot of sugar, high fructose corn syrup from not only fruit juices but also from different sodas and soft drinks.

Even a container flavored yogurt may contain 7 teaspoons of sugar. So be aware. If you need to raise your HDL levels, see whether cutting out sugar and fructose will help, and then have your blood tested once more to find out if your HDL levels are better. You also may find one more benefit--you'll perhaps have fewer cavities in your teeth.

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