There is a slim chance that carrying a lot of weight, literally, can help you stay healthy. Being overweight with a high degree of body weight is termed obesity. Being just 20 percent over your ideal weight can seriously jeopardize your health, warns the National Institutes of Health. Obesity drastically ups your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Body mass index (BMI) is widely used to assess obesity. A BMI of 25 to 29 is considered overweight, BMI of 30 to 40 is obese and a BMI of more than 40 is considered morbidly obese. Another way to assess obesity, especially abdominal obesity, is measuring your waist. Waist measuring 94 cm in men and 80 cm in women can lead to obesity-related health problems.
AdvertisementObesity Causes and Treatment
A sedentary lifestyle, that is, being inactive, and unhealthy diet and eating habits are the most common causes of obesity. There are, however, other causes to being obese. Not being able to lose weight after pregnancy, getting less than seven hours of sleep at night, certain medications such as antidepressants, steroids and beta-blockers, and certain medical problems can make you obese, and these can be treated through medication and behavioral therapies.
The only way you can resolve the obesity issue is through a committed weight loss program that involves changing your eating habits and increasing your physical activity. Even a modest weight loss of 5 to 10 percent of your total weight can make you start feeling better and see improvements in your health.
So, what foods can you include to lose weight and consequently reduce risk of diseases? Nutritionists recommend the following-
* Increase fruits and vegetables in your diet to cut down on calories. Fruits and vegetables contain fiber that help feel full and in addition provide sufficient vitamins and minerals for good health.
* Eat protein-rich breakfast. Eggs are a healthy way to start your day. Studies have shown that protein ingestion results in higher satiety rates than carbohydrates or fat. For example, starting the day with 35g of proteins, can help you stay full almost till evening.
* Choose whole grain foods over processed foods. That way you'll get more fiber with less calories.
* Avoid fatty and sugary foods. Start every meal with a cup of soup. Then you will consume less calories with your main course.
* Snack on nuts in between meals. Nuts are a rich source of proteins, omega3 fatty acids, and fiber, all of which help with weight loss.
Health Benefits of Nuts
Nuts are energy dense. They are high in fat content ranging from 45 to 75 percent of weight, but this fat is mostly unsaturated or polyunsaturated. Nuts also contain protein, dietary fiber, and an array of vitamins such as folic acid, niacin, vitamins E and B-6, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, arginine, and potassium. They are low in sodium content. Nuts also rich in antioxidants.
The nutritional benefits vary with each type of nut. For example, omega-3 fatty acids present in walnuts have been found to prevent the development of erratic heart rhythms. Tree nuts such as walnuts, pecans and chestnuts have the highest contents of antioxidants that help fight chronic degenerative diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Peanuts are also a rich source of antioxidants.
Apart from these diseases, nuts are also beneficial for fighting obesity. Researchers at Loma Linda University found that consuming nuts, especially tree nuts, can significantly lower the risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome (MetS).
'We found that high tree nut consumers had significantly lower prevalence of obesity compared to the low tree nut consumers,' said lead researcher Karen Jaceldo-Siegl. 'And, high consumers of tree nuts had the lowest prevalence of obesity when compared to the low peanut/tree nut groups.'
In their experiment, they studied 803 adults who consumed tree nuts with an average intake of 16g/day among the high tree nut consumers and 5g per day among low tree nut consumers. Results showed that one serving (28g or 1 ounce) of tree nuts per week was significantly associated with 7 percent less metabolic syndrome. Doubling nut consumption could potentially reduce the risk if metabolic syndrome by 14 percent, they hypothesized. 'Interestingly, while overall nut consumption was associated with lower prevalence of MetS, tree nuts specifically appear to provide beneficial effects on MetS, independent of demographic, lifestyle and other dietary factors,' said Dr. Jaceldo-Siegl.
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that doubles your risk for cardiovascular disease, and increases your risk for type 2 diabetes fivefold. You have metabolic syndrome if any three of the five following conditions are diagnosed in you-
* Abdominal obesity
* Elevated triglycerides
* Low HDL (good) cholesterol
* High blood pressure
* High blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia)
Metabolic Syndrome Diet Plan
There are a variety of diet plans to combat metabolic syndrome. In general, it is more beneficial if a personalized eating plan is worked out with the help of a registered dietitian. A sustainable weight loss is preferable through a balanced diet that is restricted in calories - 1200 to 1400 calories for women and 1500 to 1800 for men.
* Include a variety of foods.
* Include nuts, seeds, and olive oil or canola oil in your diet plan. These are rich in unsaturated but healthy fats.
* Eat at least 4 cups of fruits and vegetables daily depending on your calorie needs. Opt for colorful fruits and vegetables.
* Choose whole grain foods such as brown rice and whole wheat bread.
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet can also be used to tackle metabolic syndrome. The diet plan includes-
* Foods low in cholesterol and saturated fats
* Plenty of fruits and vegetables
* Fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products
* Whole grain foods, fish, poultry, nuts, beans and seeds
* Avoiding sugary foods, sugars, red meats
* Limiting salt (sodium) intake
Mediterranean diet is also healthy diet plan for lowering risk of Metabolic Syndrome. This diet is similar to any other heart healthy diet except that it lays stress on olive oil, variety of colorful fruits and vegetables per meal, fatty fish, and a moderate amount of red wine.
Whatever diet plan you choose, make sure that you stick to the diet for a reasonable amount of time. Also there is no point of just healthy dieting if you do not exercise regularly.
The FDA recommends 1.5 ounces of nuts every day, so don't forget to consume a handful of nuts daily but take care of the calories you consume. After all, nuts are high calorie foods.