The Connection Between Coconut Oil & Endothelial Cells | Q+A

The Connection Between Coconut Oil & Endothelial Cells | Q+A

Question:

Does coconut oil harm endothelial cells?

– James B.

Answer:

What a curious question!

The endothelial cells lining your blood vessels work to relax and contract the diameter in response to stimuli. They produce nitric oxide, a vasodilator. Stiff or narrow arteries are risk factors for cardiovascular events because they don’t allow the blood to flow through adequately. When the endothelium isn’t working properly, it’s called dysfunction. This can lead to the development of atherosclerosis (plaque deposition).

Coconut oil is 100% cholesterol-free (as are all plant oils), but contains mostly saturated fatty acids. These differ chemically from, and are not as harmful to the vascular system as, animal saturated fats.

In searching the US National Library of Medicine’s database of published research for “coconut” and “endothelial” in human subjects, the search results showed only 3 related articles. One suggested that saturated fats did not affect endothelial function as compared with trans fats1. Another showed no difference between coconut oil and sunflower oil (high in polyunsaturated fatty acids) in cardiovascular risk2. The third showed similar impairment in endothelium-dependent artery dilation from both coconut milk and a Western high-fat meal3.

Leaving no stone unturned, I looked for other studies not in this database. One that compared coconut oil to safflower oil (high in polyunsaturated fatty acids) in a single high fat meal found a “non-significant trend toward impairment of endothelium-dependent vascular reactivity in conduit arteries… after the saturated fat meal.4

All together, the body of research shows that there is not enough evidence to say there is a definitive correlation between consumption of coconut oil and epithelium health. So James, I would say to keep your fat intake at a low to moderate level and from primarily plant sources of unsaturated fat.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

 

Sources: 

  1. High trans but not saturated fat beverage causes an acute reduction in postprandial vascular endothelial function but not arterial stiffness in humans. Lane-Cordova AD, et al.  Vascular Medicine 2016 Oct; 21(5): 429-436.
  2. A randomized study of coconut oil versus sunflower oil on cardiovascular risk factors in patients with stable coronary heart disease. Vijayakumar M, et al. Indian Heart Journal. 2016 Jul-Aug; 68(4): 498-506.
  3. Impairment of endothelial function–a possible mechanism for atherosclerosis of a high-fat meal intake. Ng CK, Chan AP, Cheng A.  Annals of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. 2001 Sep; 30(5): 499-502.
  4. Consumption of Saturated Fat Impairs the Anti-Inflammatory Properties of High-Density Lipoproteins and Endothelial Function. Stephen JN, et al.

Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Volume 48, Issue 4, August 2006

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


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Foods to Help Muscle Recovery | Q+A

Foods to Help Muscle Recovery | Q+A

Question:

What are some good foods to eat to help with the recovery after I work out? I seem to be unusually sore and tired.

– Stephanie E.

Answer:

The goal of recovery nutrition is two-fold. First, to restore balance by eliminating deficits of glycogen and buildup of toxins. Second, to infuse the muscles with building blocks to repair and form new cell structure. Your concern definitely points to the first goal. With that in mind, you will need to look at timing and composition of your recovery meal/snack.

Since your muscles are sore, their cellular metabolism needs to be restored to normal. You might need more sources of potassium and anti-inflammatory compounds. These include tomatoes, bananas, potatoes, kale, cabbage, berries, cherries, lentils, salmon, tuna, nuts, garlic, curcumin, and olive oil. One possible recovery meal is tuna salad with tomatoes, olives and pine nuts on spinach. A tasty snack option is cherries and almonds.

Please note that muscle soreness is no longer thought to be caused by a buildup of lactic acid. More often it’s caused by microscopic damage to the muscle fibers from intense work. Pacing yourself during your workout with adequate breaks between sets may help.

Resources:

American Council on Exercise “What causes muscle soreness and how is it best relieved?” 9/4/09

Harvard Health Publications “Foods that fight inflammation” 8/13/17

Sports Illustrated “Debunking the myths about lactic acid, fatigue and recovery” 7/21/16

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Quick Tips For Fast Weight Loss | Q+A

Quick Tips For Fast Weight Loss | Q+A

Question:

I’m 5′ 8.5″ and 160 lbs., and want to lose 10 lbs. over the next 3 weeks. How many calories do I need to burn per day to accomplish that, assuming I spend 6-8 hrs. per week at gym with moderate walk and weights?

– Robin B.

Answer:

You will need to amp up your calorie burn to reach a large enough deficit to effectively lose 10 pounds in 3 weeks, even if you were to follow a bare minimum 1200 calorie plan! Below that amount, low calorie diets may only change the scale, not your physique, and rarely provide adequate nutrients. Medically supervised very low calorie diets (800 cals/day) are effective for those significantly overweight, which you are not.

Rapid weight loss from a short-term intervention usually means water loss (not fat) plus regain later. Why not identify areas of your current diet that need tightening and find ways to move more during the day outside the gym?  You can read our biggest weight loss tips by clicking here.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Turkey That’s Twice as Nice

Turkey That’s Twice as Nice

Roast turkey that’s seasoned, moist and delicious. Roast turkey that’s seasoned, moist and delicious. Yes, I just repeated myself. What could be better than enjoying your Thanksgiving Day bird twice? By saving some for later, you’re less likely to over-consume (about ¼ pound of  turkey meat is a serving) and you’ll have a healthy protein as the main ingredient for another time.

As you look forward to your holiday meal, think ahead to the whole weekend. Save some turkey for second suppers that are anything but dull leftovers. Here are six (3 hot, 3 cold) healthy entrée ideas that consist of six ingredients or fewer:

Enchiladas – shredded turkey with fajita vegetables, rolled in tortillas and topped with salsa and sprinkle of cheese, then baked.

Primavera – turkey strips with broccoli, peas, cherry tomatoes, boiled pasta, and parmesan (bell pepper/spinach/mushrooms or yellow squash/asparagus/sun-dried tomatoes also work).

Classic soup – cubed turkey with sautéed vegetables* (set aside some when making stuffing), broth, and either cooked brown rice or white beans.

*make your own mirepoix by dicing celery, onion, and carrot in a food processor then sautéing until onion is translucent and veggies are tender

Simple wrap – thin sliced turkey with lettuce, tomato, and avocado or guacamole in a flavored tortilla.

Traditional sandwich – sliced turkey with cranberry dressing, arugula, and Havarti on whole wheat bread.

Folded sandwich – turkey strips with roasted red pepper, cucumber, spinach and pesto on flatbread.

Don’t forget about those tasty side dishes! Whether starch or vegetable (or both), here are some ways to re-purpose the extras and create new nutritious meals for the days ahead:

Breakfast bake – mix mashed sweet potato with cinnamon, ginger and vanilla, then top with oats and pecans or pumpkin seeds before reheating.

Salad niçoise – add leftover green beans (cooked and chilled) to baby red potatoes, tuna, olives, and hard cooked egg on a bed of greens.

Stuffed mushrooms appetizer – add bacon bits or parmesan cheese and crushed garlic to leftover stuffing, then bake in mushroom caps.

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Start recording your blood sugars before, during and after exercise so that you can better predict when you need a snack and help prevent hypoglycemia.

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Celiac Disease & Diet | Q+A

Celiac Disease & Diet | Q+A

Question:

I have celiac and am lactose intolerant. I have just started working out with a personal trainer. My problem is that I’m not gaining weight (rather than not losing weight). My diet consists mainly of meat, vegetables, and fruit. Any suggestions as to how I should modify my diet in order to gain weight and muscle mass?

– Jerry

Answer:

You’ve got the basics down, Jerry. Building lean mass means having the extra energy and building blocks to create new fibers. You may be eating the right foods, but not enough. Or you could be missing the high-calorie essentials that make gaining weight easier. Vegetables and fruit just aren’t energy-rich, save for avocados, olives and dried fruits. Meats, poultry and seafood can be lean or fatty depending on the cut/fish. Regardless of your present choices, adding sugar and fat are the primary ways to boost calories without straying from current foods.

Normally I’d recommend cheeses, and there are enzymes you can chew for lactose intolerance. Meats can be enriched with true gravies, oil-based sauces like pesto and chimichurri, and sautéed mushrooms or garlic. Complex carbohydrates are a staple for building muscle and there are several gluten-free options like potato, corn and rice. The bonus of these is that they go well with butters or margarines for extra calories.

Here are simple suggestions as to how one could bump up the calories from a basic diet of meat, vegetables and fruit:

plain oats → oatmeal w/ ground pecans, raisins, and honey

fruit or vegetable juice → smoothie consisting of avocado, banana, and coconut milk

grilled chicken breast, asparagus → light and dark meat chicken w/ BBQ sauce, bacon wrapped asparagus, homemade mashed potatoes made with dairy free margarine and unsweetened milk substitute

steak, peppers,  onion stir fry → same, plus guacamole and roasted corn

fresh fruit salad → ambrosia-style w/ nuts, shredded coconut and gluten-free marshmallows

iced coffee → coffee soy dessert

– Debbie J., MS, RD

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This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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