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At BH our programs rooted in nutrition science are designed to address dietary concerns and health issues surrounding food, eating, medicine and the study of behaviors related to food choices.

 

 

 

Nutrition Science
The Endothelium and Heart Protection

BBC News

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The endothelium , a monolayer of cells, command a pivotal role in heart protection,  and foster the production of nitric oxide. Synthesized from the amino acid L-arginnine, nitric oxide (NO) is a soluble gas with a wide array of biological properties that maintain vascular homeostasis, including regulation of local cell growth, modulation of vascular dilator tone,  and protection of the vessel from injurious consequences of platelets and cells circulating in blood. This important gas demands a crucial role in normal endothelial function. Conditions linked to the onset of atherosclerosis include hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, smoking, and diabetes mellitus are associated with a reduction of the release of nitric oxide. This diminished capacity into the arterial wall may be attributed to impaired synthesis or excessive oxidative degradation. The reduced production of nitric oxide in varied  pathological states instigates serious problems in endothelial equilibrium, diminishing the overall capacity of heart function. 
Hypertension, Nitric Oxide and the Relationship
Cacao and Nitric Oxide
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Dark chocolate is a delicious way to boost nitric oxide levels. The endothelium produces numerous compounds that regulate vascular tone such as nitric oxide (NO) which has anti-atherogenic properties, and is considered a strong vasodilator. Vasodilators  are tasked with the responsibility of opening (dilating) blood vessels and  preventing them from tightening and the blood vessel walls from narrowing. As a result, blood flows more easily through our vessels., reducing the work load of the heart. Research suggests the flavanols in cocoa can help our body to establish optimal nitric oxide levels. Note: Cow's milk blocks the absorption of nutrients, and should not be added to cacao. Consume cacao with nut milk and or a dash of cinnamon.

Leafy Greens and Nitric Oxide
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Nitrates are found in  dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, lettuce, rainbow chard, etc, with the highest concentrations of nitrates in, arugula, spinach, and lettuce. When consumed nitrates biotransform increasing nitric oxide production, which is a strong vasodilator.

Beets and Nitric Oxide
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Similar to leafy greens, beets are also rich in nitrates, which convert  into nitric oxide, and subsequently impact the reduction of  blood pressure.
Exercise and Nitric Oxide
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Exercise improves endothelial function. Endothelium refers to the thin layer of cells that line the blood vessels. Exercise keeps your endothelial cells and blood vessels healthy by increasing your body’s natural ability to produce nitric oxide. Insufficient nitric oxide production results in endothelium dysfunction, which can contribute to atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease.

 

Diabetes, Raw Cacao,  Insulin Secretion, Insulin Sensitivity the Relationship
Cacao and Insulin Secretion, Insulin Sensitivity 
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Natural dietary compounds such as flavonoids, abundant in fruits and vegetables, have received broad attention because of their potential capacity to act as anti-diabetic agents. Especially cocoa flavonoids have been proved to ameliorate important hallmarks of T2D. Research studies published during the last decade in cell culture, animal models and human studies support an anti-diabetic effect of cocoa flavonoids by enhancing insulin secretion, improving insulin sensitivity in peripheral tissues, exerting a lipid-lowering effect and preventing the oxidative and inflammatory damages associated to the disease. While it could be suggested that daily consumption of flavanols from cocoa or dark chocolate would constitute a potential preventive tool useful for the nutritional management of T2D, this recommendation should be limtied to raw cacao without the addition of milk or sugar. A dash of ceylon cinnamon is recommended to enhance flavor. 
Flaxseed Meal and Insulin Sensitivity
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Flaxseeds (flaxseed meal) may improve insulin sensitivity in glucose intolerant people. A tablespoon of daily ground flax seeds may improve fasting blood sugars, triglycerides, cholesterol, and hemoglobin A1c levels in diabetics.

Hyperlipidemia, Saturated Fat and Unsaturated Fat the Relationship

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vs.
Lipids
 

In the human body and other organisms, molecules characterized as fatty and waxlike, lipids  serve several different roles in the body. Functions  include  fueling the body , amassing  energy for the future, transmitting signals through the body, serving as a constituent of cell membranes, which hold cells together. Lipids are classified into four main types.

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are lipids obtained  from food sources of fat, such as butter, animal fat and cooking oils. Triglycerides provide insulation in conjunction with   protecting internal organs with a layer of padding. Triglycerides  also play a role how the body uses vitamins.  Calories  not used for energy are converted  to triglycerides and stored for future use. High consumption of food rich in fats, can increase triglyceride levels, posing a potential health risk.  

Saturated vs. Unsaturated Fatty Acids

Fatty acids may be classified as saturated or unsaturated. Saturated fats in a fatty acid chain,  produce single bonds between neighboring carbons in the hydrocarbon chain. Saturated fatty acids are saturated with hydrogen since single bonds increase the number of hydrogens on each carbon. Stearic acid and palmitic acid, which are commonly found in meat, are examples of saturated fats.

Unsaturated fats are  hydrocarbon chain which contains  a double bond. Oleic acid is an example of an unsaturated fatty acid. Most unsaturated fats oils and are liquid at room temperature.  Monounsaturated fats (olive oil) only have one double bond in the molecule, polyunsaturated fats  contain more than one double bond, canola oil. Unsaturated fats  (avocados, almonds, walnuts) help to lower blood cholesterol levels whereas saturated fats ( red meat, poultry dairy, cheese) contribute to plaque formation in the arteries.

Trans Fats

 

Trans fatty acids are manufactured when hydrogen is added to  vegetable oil -- in a process described as partial hydrogenation.  In healthy unsaturated fats ( avocados, walnuts) usually the hydrogen atoms at a double bond in a natural fatty acid are positioned on the same side of the carbon chain. However, partial hydrogenation reconfigures most of the double bonds, resulting in the hydrogen atoms ending up on different sides of the chain. This type of configuration is called trans (which means "across" in Latin). These fats behave  like saturated fat by raising low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad cholesterol") that increases the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). It also decreases levels of HDL in the blood, this is the "good" lipoprotein that helps remove cholesterol from arteries. Some reports have suggested that trans fats may be worse for the body than saturated fats.

Steroids

Steroids are a type of lipid that includes hormones and cholesterol. Cholesterol plays a role in the production of hormones. Hormones include the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone, as well as your other hormones like adrenaline, cortisol and progesterone. Cholesterol, is the  most abundant steroid lipid in the body, and is a requirement in every cell of the body. It plays a role in cell repair and the formation of new cells.  While cholesterol is a viital steroid, it is the excess of cholesterol which is harmful. When excess cholesterol combines with other compounds in your blood, it can build up as plaque in your arteries, blocking blood flow to and from the heart, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Phospholipids

Phospholipids are derivatives of triglycerides. They're very similar to them but slightly different on a molecular level. Half of each molecule is water-soluble and the other is not, which causes them to react differently than triglycerides. Located on cell membranes, they form double-layered membranes with the water-soluble molecules on the outside of the cell membrane and the water-insoluble molecules in the inside. These lipids are responsible for protecting and insulating cells.

Waxes

Waxes are a type of long chain nonpolar lipid. Natural waxes are typically esters of fatty acids and long chain alcohols. Waxes are synthesized by many animals and plants. Animal wax esters are typically derived from a variety of carboxylic acids and fatty alcohols. 

Macronutrients

What are macronutrients? Macronutrients have specified roles specific roles and functions in the body and supply us with calories or energy. Macronutrients include fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

Fats a compound formed from chemicals called fatty acids are used as an energy source for the body. Fats produce 9 calories per gram. Types of fat include: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Saturated – The molecular structure of saturated fats are characterized by the absence of double bonds and the saturation of hydrogen atoms. Because of their chemical structure, they have a solid consistency at room temperature.

Unsaturated- The molecular structure of unsaturated fats remains characterized by the double bonds, in which these fats are typically liquid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats are further classified as monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.

Monounsaturated The molecular structure of monounsaturated fats are comprised of one double bond, and are typically liquid at room temperature. Sources of monounsaturated fat include: canola oil and olive oil.

 

 

Polyunsaturated fats contains two or more double bonds and remain liquid at room temperature.  Sources of polyunsaturated fat include: safflower oil, sunflower oil, and corn oil, nuts, avocados.

 

Protein is essential for repairing and regenerating body tissues and cells. The building blocks of protein are amino acids, with 20 types in total and 9 of which the body does not manufacture deeming these amino acids essential. Amino acids are bind together chemically through a peptide bond. Proteins produce by the body is the combination of many amino acids.

Good sources of protein: Beans, pulses and legumes, seeds (hemp, chia, flax), nuts (unsalted), quinoa, avocado, beets, raw greens (kale, spinach).

 

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are comprised of small chains of sugar, they are further subdivided into monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides.

 

Monosaccharides: Molecules of simple sugars such as glucose, fructose (fruit sugar), and galactose.

 

Disaccharides the combination of two or more monosaccharides: sucrose, maltose, galactose

 

Polysaccharides- combination of many monosaccharides: starch, glycogen.

Carbohydrates can be unrefined or refined.

Unrefined carbohydrates refer to those carbohydrates that are in their natural state.Unrefined sugars are found in fruits and vegetables. Unrefined grains (also called whole grains) retain the bran and germ of the natural grain, providing healthful fiber, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals.

Sources: whole grains, beans, brown rice, barley, quiona, fruits, brown rice.

Refined carbohydrates, or refined carbs, are grain products that have been processed by a food manufacturer so that the whole grain is no longer intact. ... If the nutrients are added back in, the refined grains or refined carbohydrates are called enriched grains.

Sources: sugar-sweetened beverages, pastries, white bread, white rice.

Legumes-  dry fruit or seed, contained within the shed or a pod of a plant used for food. Sources: peas, chickpeas,lentils, bean soybeans, peanuts

Fruits -fleshy part of tree , seed bearing structure develops from the ovary of a plant and can be eaten as fruit. Sources : apples, oranges, bananas

Vegetables- Plants including roots, stems and leaves. Source; spinach, cauliflower, celery, broccoli

Micronutrients

What are micronutrients?

The term micronutrients is used to describe vitamins and minerals in general. Vitamins and minerals can be divided into four categories: water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, macrominerals and trace minerals.

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