Nutrients: Risk and Protective Factors

For the conditions listed below, you will need to be able to explain how having too much or too little of certain nutrients can increase risk of that condition.

Cardiovascular disease

Risk factors

  • saturated and trans fats: increase LDL levels and buildup of fatty deposits on blood vessel walls
  • sodium: raises blood pressure
  • fat: high fat foods increase fat storage round the heart

Protective factors

  • monounsaturated fats: lower LDL cholesterol levels
  • polyunsaturated fats: improve blood circulation and blood vessel functioning
  • soluble fibre: lowers blood cholesterol levels

Diabetes mellitus

Risk factors

  • high GI carbs: these are carbs that are rapidly absorbed, which causes a glucose hit and increases risk of impaired glucose tolerance
  • fat: increases fat storage, leading to excess body weight, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes

Protective factors

  • soluble fibre: delays blood glucose absorption, reducing risk of impaired glucose tolerance

Colorectal cancer

Risk factors

  • fat: promotes fat storage and excess body weight, a risk factor for colorectal cancer

Protective factors

  • fibre: absorbs water and adds bulk to the faeces, increasing elimination, which prevents cancer agents lingering in the bowel
  • water: adds softness to faeces, increasing elimination

Obesity

Risk factors

  • fat: increases fat storage in adipose tissue

Protective factors

  • fibre: promotes satiety (feeling of fullness), helping you eat less
  • water: promotes satiety
  • low GI carbs: release glucose into the bloodstream slowly, so the body uses fat as an energy source, and less fat is stored

Osteoporosis

Risk factors

  • sodium: causes calcium excretion in urine

Protective factors

  • calcium: strengthens bones and helps maintain peak bone mass
  • phosphorus: works with calcium to ossify bones
  • vitamin D: helps to absorb and use calcium in bones