Mackenzie Lane and Alyson Gaylord, Coordinated Program Dietetics students in the Department of Allied Health Sciences in the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources volunteered with Foodshare at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. The experience is part of the dietetic education program. Watch to learn more about the food distribution center and how these students spent their day.
Written by UConn Dietetics student Madeline Fulton
93 million U.S. adults age 20 or older have total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dL. Nearly 29 million adult Americans have total cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL.1
Too much cholesterol circulating in your blood can put you at risk for developing heart disease and stroke. What is cholesterol? It’s a waxy, fat-like substance made by our livers. Cholesterol is needed for our bodies to produce hormones, digest fatty foods, and other important jobs. Our bodies produce the right amount of cholesterol needed. There are two types of cholesterol we care most about: “GOOD” (aka HDL) and “BAD” (aka LDL). We want more “GOOD” cholesterol in our bodies because it helps our bodies get rid of the “BAD” cholesterol. The “BAD”, or less healthy cholesterol, can build up over time and cause our arteries to become stiff and narrow. This reduces the blood flow which could result in blockage to the heart (a heart attack) or the brain (a stroke). Cholesterol in our blood is affected MOST by eating saturated fats (fatty meats, butter, baked goods) and trans fats (fried fast food, vegetable oil, microwave popcorn, some stick margarines).
The way you can help yourself and improve your cholesterol levels is to:
- KNOW YOUR NUMBERS. Don’t miss doctor’s appointments or lab work.
- Learn and be aware of the foods that can help you control your good and bad cholesterol, as well as, the saturated and trans fats you eat:
- “Good” cholesterol (aka HDL) is affected in a good way by foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, olive oil, canola oil, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna), flax and chia seeds, avocado, high fiber fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.
- “Bad” cholesterol (aka LDL) is affected by foods like fatty cuts of meat, full-fat dairy products, deep-fried fast foods, processed foods (chips, cookies, other snack foods), and butter.
- Review your diet. Only on occasion should you eat rich (highly marbled) meats, cream, butter, and fried foods.
- Participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Aerobic exercise (those that increase your heart rate) can help improve your GOOD cholesterol levels. Aerobic types of exercise include: walking, running, biking, or jumping rope.2
- Drink alcohol in moderation. The current recommendation for females is up to one drink per day; while the recommendation for males is up to two drinks per day. “One drink” is considered one glass (5 oz.) of wine, one beer (12 oz), or 1.5 oz of hard liquor.3
- If diet and exercise plans don’t seem to be lowering your cholesterol numbers into a healthy range, medication might be necessary. Make sure to speak with your doctor to see what plan will work best for you!
Tip: Small changes go a long way when it comes to managing your cholesterol! The small changes will add up, helping you to develop long-lasting lifestyle and nutrition changes.
- Virani SS, Alonso A, Benjamin EJ, Bittencourt MS, Callaway CW, Carson AP, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2020 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2020. Accessed September 21, 2020.
- S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008. Health (San Francisco) 2008 Physical Activity. Accessed September 21, 2020.
- Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of. 2015. “2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (8th edition). Accessed September 21, 2020.
This material is funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
Article by Mackenzie Lane, UConn Dietetics Student
Do you ever stop to think about taking a bite of a granola bar before your morning jog? Or force yourself to skip a mid-hike snack so you can feast at the next meal? Or think post-workout meals will make you gain weight?
No need to look any further for fact-based nutrition and exercise information! Here are tips to keep you healthy and help you reach your exercise goals.
Before Exercise: Fuel up!
“Just as you put fuel in your car before you drive, you need to put fuel in your body before you exercise.” – Internationally-recognized sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD
Not eating anything before exercise can result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This can cause fatigue, blurred vision, and lightheadedness – all factors that can make exercise less enjoyable and can lead to injuries. Working out is a mental game just as much as it is physical, so your BRAIN needs fuel to stay focused on your goals, too!
Fuel up two hours before exercise with:
- Water – plain water is best!
- Healthy carbohydrates – complex carbs like whole grain bread or your morning oatmeal are great choices. Simple carbs, like toaster pastries and sugar-sweetened cereals, are not good choices. These sugary foods will not keep your energy levels up for very long.
If you can’t fuel up a couple hours before exercising and you only have 5-10 minutes, eat a piece of fruit. Bananas are a great choice for quick digestion and energy!
TIP: Avoid eating too much fat or protein foods before exercise. They take longer to digest than carbohydrates, take oxygen and blood away from your muscles, can cause an upset stomach, or speed up digestion too quickly.
During: Water, water, and more water!
Stay hydrated with small, frequent sips of water throughout your workout. This is true for high intensity workouts that last for several hours, as well as for low to moderate intensity exercise sessions.
If you are exercising for 1 hour or less: No need to fuel with food during your workout.
If you are exercising for longer than 1 hour: Fuel up with 50-100 calories of carbohydrates every half hour. Try pretzels, bananas, sports drinks, energy bars (more for high intensity endurance exercise).
TIP: If you can’t tolerate food during exercise, try sipping on a sports drink.
After Exercise: Refuel time!
This is when your muscles take protein from your blood to repair and build your muscles. It is also when your muscles best absorb carbohydrates from your blood to make up for your lower stores from exercise.
Aim to refuel 20-60 minutes after exercise with:
- Fluids – plain water, 100% fruit juice, and low-fat or skim milk are great options
- Sports drinks are NOT recommended after exercise. Drink them during exercise lasting more than one hour.
- Carbohydrates – whole grain bread, crackers, cereals, pasta; brown rice; fruits and veggies
- Protein – combine protein foods with carbs such as peanut butter and whole grain toast, or low-fat cheese and turkey sandwich!
Keep in mind, each type of physical activity is different for each person’s body. These are general recommendations. Follow what works best for you and your exercise goals! Keep up the hard work and remember to fuel your body with nutritious foods!
This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.