Think You Drink A Lot This Chart Will Tell You
Do you drink a glass of wine with dinner every night? That puts you in the top 30 percent of American adults in terms of per-capita alcohol consumption. If you drink two glasses, that would put you in the top 20 percent.
But in order to break into the top 10 percent of American drinkers, you would need to drink more than two bottles of wine with every dinner. And you’d still be below-average among those top 10 percenters.
The top 10 percent of American drinkers – 24 million adults over age 18 – consume, on average, 74 alcoholic drinks per week. That works out to a little more than four-and-a-half 750 ml bottles of Jack Daniels, 18 bottles of wine, or three 24-can cases of beer. In one week.
Or, if you prefer, 10 drinks per day.
These figures come from Philip J. Cook’s “Paying the Tab,” an economically-minded examination of the costs and benefits of alcohol control in the U.S. Specifically, they’re calculations made using the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions data.
I double-checked these figures with Cook, just to make sure I wasn’t reading them wrong. “I agree that its hard to imagine consuming 10 drinks a day,” he told me. But, “there are a remarkable number of people who drink a couple of six packs a day, or a pint of whiskey.”
More from Wonkblog on the economics of drinking:
How Much Alcohol Is Safe To Drink Daily
Alcohol is second to only tobacco as the most widely-used substance in the United States. In recent surveys, more than 86% of people ages 18 and over reported drinking alcohol at some point in their life.1 Even though moderate drinking is common in many cultures, anyone who chooses to drink alcohol daily must remain aware of its potential risks.
Despite the perception that alcohol is somewhat distinct from other drugs, alcohol is in fact one of the most addictive substances consumed worldwide. Drinking is by no means an entirely benign pastime. Alcohol consumption, though somewhat normalized, results in more than 3 million alcohol-related deaths each year throughout the world.2
Increasingly so, many argue that the only safe amount of alcohol to drink is none at all. However, to minimize the myriad of potential health risks, people who choose to drink should weigh certain biological, psychological, and environmental factors. The daily amount of alcohol that constitutes low-risk drinking may differ from one person to the next. The following components can potentially influence the amount of alcohol that is safe for someone to drink:3
- Concurrent use of other drugs, including both certain prescribed or over-the-counter medications
- General mental and physical health status
- Genetic influences
Treating High Cholesterol In The Elderly
- Quit smoking: Higher cholesterol is one of the many negative effects of smoking. Nobody is ever too old to quit.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables: Leafy greens like cabbage are particularly good at lowering high cholesterol.
- Eat the right kind of fat: Avoiding red meat, high-fat dairy products and processed foods in favor of healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and avocados can help seniors avoid saturated fat and trans fats, two of the biggest contributors to high cholesterol.
- Get more omega-3 fatty acids: This essential nutrient, found in salmon, tuna and flaxseed, can help raise good cholesterol. Its also available as a supplement.
- Exercise: Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate cardio exercise a day like walking can help seniors lower their cholesterol.
- Take medication: Millions of Americans use statins to lower their LDL cholesterol. These drugs remove bad cholesterol from the blood efficiently, and with few side effects.
Nobody is ever too old to break a bad habit or start a good one. Making lifestyle changes and taking medication that treats high cholesterol can help seniors avoid serious health problems and continue to enjoy the golden years.
Also Check: What You Feel If You Have High Cholesterol
How Fat And Cholesterol In Food Affect Blood Cholesterol Levels
The types of fat in the diet help determine the amount of total, HDL, and LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. The types and amount of carbohydrate in the diet also play a role. Cholesterol in food matters, too, but not nearly as much.
- The discovery half a century ago that high blood cholesterol levels were strongly associated with an increased risk for heart disease triggered numerous warnings to avoid foods that contain cholesterol, especially eggs and liver. However, scientific studies show a weak relationship between the amount of cholesterol a person consumes and his or her blood cholesterol levels
- In studies of more than 80,000 female nurses, Harvard researchers found that consuming about an egg a day was not associated with higher risk of heart disease. However, people who have heart disease or diabetes should monitor egg consumption.
For most people, the amount of cholesterol eaten has only a modest impact on the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood. For some people, though, blood cholesterol levels rise and fall very strongly in relation to the amount of cholesterol eaten. For these responders, avoiding cholesterol-rich foods can have a substantial effect on blood cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, at this point there is no way other than by trial and error to identify responders from non-responders to dietary cholesterol.
How Fat Moves From Food To The Bloodstream
Fat and cholesterol cant dissolve in water or blood. Instead, the body packages fat and cholesterol into tiny, protein-covered particles called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins can transport a lot of fat they mix easily with blood and flow with it. Some of these particles are big and fluffy, while others are small and dense. The most important ones are low-density lipoproteins , high-density lipoproteins , and triglycerides.
- Low Density lipoproteins
Low-density lipoproteins carry cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. Cells latch onto these particles and extract fat and cholesterol from them. When there is too much LDL cholesterol in the blood, these particles can form deposits in the walls of the coronary arteries and other arteries throughout the body. Such deposits, called plaque, can narrow arteries and limit blood flow. When plaque breaks apart, it can cause a heart attack or stroke. Because of this, LDL cholesterol is often referred to as bad, or harmful, cholesterol.
- High-density lipoproteins
High-density lipoproteins scavenge cholesterol from the bloodstream, from LDL, and from artery walls and ferry it back to the liver for disposal. Think of HDL as the garbage trucks of the bloodstream. HDL cholesterol is often referred to as good, or protective, cholesterol.
In general, the lower your LDL and the higher your HDL, the better your chances of preventing heart disease and other chronic conditions.
Also Check: Which Vitamin Is Derived From Cholesterol
Lifestyle Tips To Cut Cholesterol
Changing some of your lifestyle habits may also help to reduce your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Suggestions include:
- Cease alcohol consumption or reduce your alcohol intake to no more than one or two drinks a day. Avoid binge drinking. This may help lower your triglyceride levels.
- Dont smoke. Smoking increases the ability of LDL cholesterol to get into artery cells and cause damage.
- Exercise regularly . Exercise increases HDL levels while reducing LDL and triglyceride levels in the body.
- Lose any excess body fat. Being overweight may contribute to raised blood triglyceride and LDL levels.
- Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. High blood sugars are linked to an increased risk of atherosclerosis , heart attacks and strokes.
What You Should Worry About
Should you actually worry about cholesterol in food? The greater danger for everyone is in foods that are high in trans fats.
Those often appear on food labels as hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, he says. Those types of fats do tend to raise cholesterol and do tend to increase the risk of heart disease.
All in all, look for trans fat and saturated fat on labels at the grocery store. The American Heart Association recommends limiting dietary saturated fat intake and focusing more on eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean animal protein or plant protein sources.
Read Also: Does Drinking Cause High Cholesterol
What To Look For On Nutrition Labels
Nutrition labels on foods tell you how much of each nutrient or fat is in the item, based on the recommended serving size. The numbers and percentages are written for a 2,000 calorie/day diet. Youll find a label on the back of packaged, canned, or bottled items that says Nutrition Facts.
Heres how to read the label properly:
How Many Grams Of Sugar Should You Have In A Day
That depends who you ask.
The American Heart Association says men should eat no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar and women should cap their daily amount at 6 teaspoons . The World Health Organization and the U.S. governments dietary guidelines are slightly more liberal: added sugars should take up less than 10 percent of your daily calories. For an adult thats about 50 grams or 12 ½ teaspoons. To put all this in perspective, one 12-ounce can of Pepsi has 41 grams of added sugar.
Confused? Heres what I tell my clients: Dont worry about the number. Trying to keep track of your added sugars will make you go nuts. Just cut back. Many nutrition facts panels now include a line specifically for added sugars. Make sure youre seeking out this information. Then, for maximum benefit, start swapping out products in your diet that are higher in added sugar with a low- to no-sugar alternative .
And despite what you might read out there on the interwebs, sugar is sugar is sugar. Yes, sweeteners like maple syrup and honey may deliver slightly more antioxidants than the granulated stuff, and agave is lower on the glycemic index, but theyre all still sugars and our body essentially processes them all the same.
Now, what Im about to say might surprise you, especially given that Im a registered dietitian.
Think twice before you stop eating all added sugar.
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How Can I Tell How Much Sodium Im Eating
You can find the amount of sodium in your food by looking at the Nutrition Facts label. The amount of sodium per serving is listed in milligrams . Check the ingredient list for words like sodium,salt and soda. The total sodium shown on the Nutrition Facts label includes the sodium from salt, plus the sodium from any other sodium-containing ingredient in the product. For example, this includes ingredients like sodium nitrate, sodium citrate, monosodium glutamate or sodium benzoate.
Remember to take note of the serving size on the Nutrition Facts label. If your portion size equals two servings of a product, youre actually eating double the sodium listed.
Negative Impact Of High Cholesterol
Studying cholesterol in older adults is trickier than it sounds, Martin says. Many people who have high cholesterol die from complications of heart disease before reaching an advanced age. Those who live into their 70s or 80s despite high cholesterol might have other factors that increased their longevity. That bias could skew the research results.
If someone has made it to that age and hasnt had problems from their cholesterol, they may have gotten lucky with genes or other protective factors, he says. But that doesnt mean high cholesterol is harmless or that their luck wont run out.
In addition, high cholesterol is one of many factors that work together to contribute to cardiovascular disease, along with elements such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and inactivity. Cholesterol might not always be the single most important factor, Martin says, but its a piece of the puzzle that patients and doctors should not ignore.
Recommended Reading: Which Of The Following Is True About Cholesterol
Heart Healthy Food Pattern
To restrict dietary cholesterol, you’ll need to limit portions of animal-based foods, such as meat, chicken, milk, eggs and cheese. This focus on reducing cholesterol, however, is not as effective at lowering LDL and decreasing cardiovascular risk as the lifestyle guidelines recommended by AHA and ACC, which include:
Plant-centered meal patterns such as the Mediterranean Diet, DASH Eating Plan or a whole-food, plant-based diet are commonly recommended for heart health. Not only are these diets naturally low in cholesterol — because they restrict or exclude foods of animal origin, but these plans limit saturated and trans fat and have the beneficial emphasis on plant foods.
How Much Cholesterol Can I Have
The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that most people eat less than 200 mg of cholesterol a day. Many of us eat more. The average American man eats 360 mg of cholesterol each day. The average American woman eats between 220 mg and 260 mg.
How Much Cholesterol Is in Common Foods?
Look how much cholesterol is in each of these:
- three-egg cheese omelet with a side of ham, and a glass of 2% milk: 793 mg
- fried fish sandwich with tartar sauce and French fries: 55 mg
- roasted light-meat chicken without skin, baked potato with sour cream, salad with Thousand Island dressing, and a piece of pecan pie: 169 mg
If you eat these three meals in a single day, that’s more than 1,000 mg of cholesterol! To learn about the amount of cholesterol in other foods, see Which Foods Contain Cholesterol?
As with fat, it’s OK to eat more than your cholesterol limit once in a while. But over several days, your cholesterol intake should average no more than 200 mg a day. Or, follow whatever limit your doctor sets for you.
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How Does The Body React To So Much Sugar
So, whats a smart shopper to do? Its tempting to look to alternative sugars as a magical solution. Products made with honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar or turbinado sugar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and dextrose, for example, are perceived as healthier choices. Dont be fooled. Your body sure isnt! Too much sugar is too much, no matter the source.
It all comes down to how fast the sugars get absorbed. For example, your body spends more time digesting an apple because of the fiber content, so the natural sugar absorbs more slowly. On the flip side, the added sugar in soda arrives all at once in your system like a sugar bomb. All that extra sugar gets converted to calories much more quickly. Not so good for your system!
If youre looking for no calories, your best option might be a plant-based sweetener like stevia or monk fruit. These sweeteners are generally recognized as safe based on published research, a conclusion which has been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration .
How Can Foods Help Lower Cholesterol
People can often reduce their cholesterol levels dramatically by changing the foods they eat. Diets high in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterolfound in meat, dairy products, and eggsraise cholesterol levels, which increases heart attack risk. Foods high in saturated fat are especially dangerous because they can trigger the body to produce extra cholesterol.
Plants do the opposite. They are very low in saturated fat and free of cholesterol. Plants are also rich in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. Soluble fiber slows the absorption of cholesterol and reduces the amount of cholesterol the liver produces. Oatmeal, barley, beans, and some fruits and vegetables are all good sources of soluble fiber.
It is important to continue to work closely with your health care provider to monitor your health and manage medications, even as you make dietary changes.
How Much Sugar Is Too Much
As modern grocery shoppers, we try to be engaged and knowledgeable about nutrition. From salt to sugar, the movement is on to regain control of what we put on the table. But theres a lot of confusing information to wade through. Studies show that 80% of shoppers come across conflicting nutritional data and 59% doubt the choices theyre making for their families. What consumers arent confused about, though, is the need for a healthy change.
American adults consume an average of 77 grams of sugar per day, more than 3 times the recommended amount for women. This adds up to around 60 pounds of added sugar annually thats six, 10-pound bowling balls, folks! The numbers are even worse for children. American kids consume 81 grams per day, equaling over 65 pounds of added sugar per year. Think of it this way children are ingesting over 30 gallons of added sugars from beverages alone. Thats enough to fill a bathtub! Wheres all this added sugar coming from?
How Cholesterol Moves Around The Body
Cholesterol is a white, insoluble and waxy substance. It is carried around the body by two key transport systems in the blood, which include:
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol carries most of the cholesterol that is delivered to cells. It is called the bad cholesterol because when its level in the bloodstream is high, it can clog up your arteries.
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol is called the good cholesterol, because it helps remove excess cholesterol out of the cells, including cells in the arteries.
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