Women consuming too much red meat may have a higher risk of stroke than women eating less, says a new study. Red meat is high in saturated fat and cholesterol; both are risk factors for cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests lowering saturated fat intake and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables to help reduce your risk of stroke. Writing in the journal Stroke, researchers examined nearly 35,000 Swedish women, ages 39 to 73. None of the women had heart disease prior to the start of the study in 1997.
After ten years, results showed 4% of the study participants, 1,680 women, had a stroke. Those consuming the most red meat had the highest risk of stroke. Women in the top tenth of red meat intake, consuming at least 3.6 ounces each day, were 42% more likely to have a stroke, compared to women who ate just under one ounce of red meat daily.
Eating processed meat also increased stroke risk. Women eating 1.5 ounces of processed meat each day were 24% more likely to suffer a cerebral infarction, compared to woman consuming less than half an ounce of processed meat each day. Processed meat was not linked to any other form of stroke. Cerebral infarction is a type of stroke caused by a disturbance in the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain. Other types of stroke involve a rupturing of a blood vessel, called hemorrhagic strokes.
The scientists blame red meat and processed meat’s effect on raising blood pressure for the increased stroke risk. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every year an estimated 17 million people die due to cardiovascular diseases, most notably stroke and heart attack. The WHO lists physical inactivity and unhealthy diet as the main risk factors for heart disease and major cardiac events.
Let’s look at some examples:
You eat 2 waffles for breakfast
- One serving from the Food Guide Pyramid is equal to 1 waffle.
- So that means if you ate 2 waffles, you also ate 2 servings from the grains group.
Here are some other common portions and their respective Food Guide Pyramid serving sizes:
|Common portions that people eat
||Food Guide Pyramid Serving Size
||Total servings per Food Guide Pyramid
||= 2 servings
|1 English Muffin
||½ English muffin
||= 2 servings
|1 Hamburger bun
||= 2 servings
|1 cup cooked rice
||½ cup cooked rice
||= 2 servings
|1 cups cooked pasta
||½ cup cooked pasta
||= 2 servings
In each food group, look at these different Food Guide Pyramid examples indicating 1 serving each. How do these compare with what your portions look like?
- 1 slice bread, waffle or pancake
- ½ bagel, hamburger bun, or English muffin
- ½ cup cooked rice, pasta or cereal
- 1 cup ready to eat cereal
- ¾ cup (6 fluid ounces) 100% vegetable juice
- 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables or salad
- ½ cup cooked or canned vegetables
- 1 medium apple, orange or banana
- ½ cup fruit (canned, cooked or raw)
- ½ cup (4 fluid ounces) 100% fruit juice
- ¼ cup dried fruit (raisins, apricots or prunes)
- 1 cup milk or yogurt
- 2 ounces processed cheese (American)
- 1 ½ ounces natural cheese (cheddar)
- Meat and Beans
- 1 tablespoons of peanut butter counts as 1 ounce
- ¼ cup nuts or 20-24 almonds
- 1 medium size egg
- 2-3 ounces of poultry, meat or fish (2-3 servings)
- ¼ cup of beans
Tips on how to visually estimate 1 serving size
|1 oz. bread or 1 slice of bread
|10 French fries
||Deck of cards
|½ cup cooked rice or pasta
|1 cup raw leafy vegetables
|½ cup vegetables
|1 medium fruit such as an apple or an orange
||Tennis ball or the size of your fist
|¾ cup juice
||6 ounce juice can (1 ½ servings)
|½ cup chopped or canned fruit
|Milk and Milk Products Group
|1 ounce cheese
||Pair of dice or the size of your thumb
|1 ½ ounces cheddar cheese
||2 (9-volt) batteries
|1 cup of milk
||8 ounce carton of milk
|8 ounces yogurt
||Baseball or tennis ball
|Meat & Beans Group
|3 ounces of meat, fish or poultry
||Deck of cards (3 servings)
|2 tablespoons of peanut butter
||Ping–pong ball (2 servings)
|½ cup cooked beans
||Baseball (2 servings)
Try these ideas to help control portions at home:
- When your child is hungry and looking for a snack take the amount of food that is equal to one serving (refer to the Nutrition Facts label) and have your child eat it off a plate instead of eating it out of the box or bag.
- Don’t be tempted to finish off leftover dinner the next day. Freeze leftovers as single servings so that you can pull it out of the freezer when you need a quick, healthy meal for your family.
- Be prepared and have emergency snacks on hand if your family is running late and needs a quick snack. Make your own snack bags for traveling by reading the Nutrition Facts label and placing a single serving size into plastic bags.
- Have your child measure out a single serving of food before sitting in front of the television or doing other activities that can distract him/her from realizing how much food is being consumed. This way your child will know exactly how much he or she is eating!
Serving sizes on food labels are sometimes different from the Food Guide Pyramid servings. For example, the serving size for beverages is measured in cups or fluid ounces. Whether it is milk, juice, or soda the nutrition facts labeling guidelines is 1 cup or 8 fluid ounces, which equals 1 serving size. However, the Food Guide Pyramid serving size for milk is 1 cup, but for juice it is ¾ cup.
So, even though the amount of 1 serving on nutrition facts labels and the Food Guide Pyramid may be slightly different it is still a great tool to help you and your child decide if you are getting enough or too much food each day. Encourage your child to get familiar with the serving sizes because smart eating is an essential part of growing and staying healthy!
Source: Nourish Interactive.
The lead author of the latest research, Joan Sabaté, says the study “confirms that nuts, indeed, lower cholesterol.” A professor and the chairman of the department of nutrition at Loma Linda University, in Loma Linda, Calif., Dr. Sabaté was among the group of researchers that first linked nut consumption to a lower risk of heart attack several years ago.
That finding and others led the Food and Drug Administration in 2003 to allow processors to state on labels that “eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts … as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.”
Dr. Sabaté said the research indicated that for the average person, a slightly higher amount of nuts—about 2.4 ounces, or two servings—does a better job than one serving of lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, another type of fat in the blood.
Still, he said, “we do not need many to get the benefit.” One serving of almonds is about eight nuts; a serving of smaller nuts such as peanuts is about 15 to 20 nuts.
Dr. Sabaté's analysis involved nearly 600 people with high or normal blood cholesterol levels. None of the study participants were taking cholesterol-lowering medications.
The analysis compared a control group with two groups assigned to consume two different quantities of nuts.
People in one of the nut groups consumed an average of 67 grams of nuts, or about 2.4 ounces, per day.
These people had an average reduction in total blood cholesterol concentration of 5.1%, and a reduction in low-density lipoprotein, or so-called LDL or “bad” cholesterol, of 7.4%.
For the people who consumed about 1.5 ounces of nuts, total cholesterol fell by 3.2%, while “bad” cholesterol fell by 4.9%—suggesting a dose-related response.
Those who consumed about one ounce daily of nuts, total cholesterol fell by 2.8% while LDL cholesterol fell by 4.2%.
Significantly, however, the drops in cholesterol weren't seen in people considered obese—a new finding.
More studies are needed to understand why nuts are less effective at lowering blood cholesterol concentration among obese people, the researchers said.
Dr. Sabaté said the biggest improvement in blood lipid levels were seen among people who started out with higher cholesterol levels, as well as among those who consumed a “Western” diet of high-fat meats, dairy products and refined grains, compared with people consuming a “Mediterranean” diet emphasizing whole grains, lots of fruits and vegetables, fish and relatively little red meat.
“For the general population consuming a Western diet, the incorporation of nuts into their daily diet will result in greater improvement of blood lipid levels than for individuals already following a healthy Mediterranean or low-fat diet,” researchers wrote.
Of the 25 studies, about two-thirds of them involved almonds or walnuts. The other one-third of studies looked at either macadamia, pistachio, hazelnuts or peanuts. The studies didn't include pine nuts or Brazil nuts.
The study was funded by Loma Linda University in California and by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation, an international group that represents the tree nut industry.