Your Road to Wellness

Cholesterol

Is Saturated Fat Bad For You?

Posted by on Cardiovascular Disease, Cholesterol, Diet, Eating, Eating, Fat | 0 comments

 

It is important to know the facts about saturated fat, because there are different opinions on this topic.

 

If you get it wrong, there may be serious health consequences as a result.

 

I think you agree that it is important to have a healthy cardiovascular system, because the blood is supplying the tissue with nutrients. It is especially important for the heart. Any chance that the blood supply to the heart gets compromised, you will be in big trouble.

 

If somebody claims that saturated fat is healthy, and it will not increase your cholesterol, a reference with good evidence should be provided. Moreover, if the author is not providing any evidence, or is referring to an article in the popular press, the author is only presenting his or her opinion.

 

You need evidence in the form of research published in a medical journal.

 

Even if the research is published in a medical journal, it may still not be designed well and could be biased. That’s why you will always find references with a link to the original abstract in the articles I write, to make it easy for you check the facts.

 

I have not found any reliable research so far supporting that saturated fat is healthy. I have however found studies showing that saturated fat is increasing cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol, the most harmful type. This means that saturated fat will increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.

 

In a very recent research, 92 men and women were put on a diet. The first group has a diet which consisted of high in saturated fat from either cheese or butter. Some of them are on a diet high in monounsaturated fat or polyunsaturated fat. Moreover, the remaining participants were in a low-fat diet high in carbohydrates. Each of the group had the diet for 4 weeks. This is what was found (Brassard D, et.al., 2017).  

 

LDL cholesterol increased the most after the butter diet, even more than after the cheese diet. Both the butter and the cheese diet increased the LDL more than the high carbohydrate diet. The diets are also high in monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.  

 

The following research is a summary of 12 studies. It also compared butter with cheese, and found the following. Cheese intake lowered LDL when compared to butter, but when compared to tofu, it increased LDL (de Goede J, et.al., 2015). This is the same as saying butter increased LDL more than cheese, and both butter and cheese increased LDL more than tofu.     

 

The HDL cholesterol, which has been considered protective for cardiovascular disease, was increased after the butter and cheese diets. It was significantly higher than for the carbohydrate diet. This may look like a benefit until you look at this study published in one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world the Lancet (Voight BF, et.al., 2012).

 

When people with genetically high HDL were compared with people without these genes, it did not seem to lower the risk of myocardial infarction.  

 

What would be found if people with genetically low LDL were examined? This has been done.  That particular study was published in another of the world’s most prestigious medical journals (Cohen JC, et.al., 2006).

 

It was found that people with genetically low LDL had a substantial reduction of coronary events. This is still the case even in the populations with a high prevalence of other non- cholesterol risk factors.

 

In another research, men with low cholesterol levels at the start were followed for many years. They had an estimated increased life expectancy of 3.8 to 8.7 years (Stamler J, et.al., 2000).

 

Research shows us that saturated fat from animal sources is not good, it will increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.

 

The good news is that you can control that to a large extent by changing what you eat. By doing so, you can produce the results you want.


References:

Stamler, J., Daviglus, M. L., Garside, D. B., Dyer, A. R., Greenland, P., & Neaton, J. D. (2000). Relationship of baseline serum cholesterol levels in 3 large cohorts of younger men to long-term coronary, cardiovascular, and all-cause mortality and to longevity. Jama284(3), 311-318.

Voight, B. F., Peloso, G. M., Orho-Melander, M., Frikke-Schmidt, R., Barbalic, M., Jensen, M. K., … & Schunkert, H. (2012). Plasma HDL cholesterol and risk of myocardial infarction: a mendelian randomisation study. The Lancet380(9841), 572-580.

de Goede, J., Geleijnse, J. M., Ding, E. L., & Soedamah-Muthu, S. S. (2015). Effect of cheese consumption on blood lipids: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrition reviews73(5), 259-275.

Brassard, D., Tessier-Grenier, M., Allaire, J., Rajendiran, E., She, Y., Ramprasath, V., … & Jones, P. J. (2017). Comparison of the impact of SFAs from cheese and butter on cardiometabolic risk factors: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition105(4), 800-809.

Cohen, J. C., Boerwinkle, E., Mosley Jr, T. H., & Hobbs, H. H. (2006). Sequence variations in PCSK9, low LDL, and protection against coronary heart disease. New England Journal of Medicine354(12), 1264-1272.


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Recommendations that work. Improve your memory with the food you eat. This is not a regular diet program

Eggs: What research reveals.

Posted by on Cholesterol | 0 comments

You may have heard that high cholesterol does not significantly increase the risk for cardio vascular disease.

You may also have heard that high cholesterol food like eggs will not increase your total cholesterol and LDL, the so called bad cholesterol.

However, if you look a little bit closer at the research claiming that eggs will not raise the cholesterol, you will find that the design of those studies is such that the outcome was already known before the research started.

Here are a couple of examples of how it can be done.

If you use study participants that already have high cholesterol and give them a couple of eggs a day, you will not see a significant increase in cholesterol in those who are eating the eggs compared to those who are not. The reason is that it would take a lot more to further increase the cholesterol of somebody who already has high cholesterol.

You can safely give them two eggs a day knowing that you will not see any difference.

You can also compare participants who eat a diet high in glycemic index carbohydrates known to raise cholesterol with a group who eats low glycemic index foods high in cholesterol. Even if the high cholesterol foods increase the cholesterol, it will not increase it more than the high glycemic index carbohydrates, so when the two groups are compared there is no significant difference.

If, however, you have study participants with low cholesterol and gave them two eggs per day, their cholesterol would go up.

This study is interesting because I don’t think anybody would disagree with the opinion that plaque of the carotid artery is a cardiovascular risk. 1,262 participants with an average age of 61.5 years (47% were women) had the buildup of plaque in their carotid artery measured. Other relevant information was also collected.

The results showed that after the age of 40, carotid artery plaque increased linearly with age, and increased exponentially with packs of cigarettes per year of smoking, and also with years of eating egg yolks (Spence JD, et al. 2012). A difference was seen between those eating less than 2 egg yolks per week compared to those who ate 3 or more per week.

In this study, consumption of 2 eggs per day for 3 weeks increased total cholesterol by 11% as a result of increased LDL cholesterol (Levy Y, et al. 1996). HDL the so called good cholesterol decreased by 11%. It’s better to have high HDL levels.

Cholesterol is not the only thing that is undesirable when it comes to eggs.

Choline is an ingredients in eggs, and while we need some choline, we don’t need too much. Choline is metabolized by gastrointestinal bacteria to the metabolite TMAO and in this study the levels of TMAO were measured after ingestion of 2 hard boiled eggs (Tang WH, et al. 2013). I am not going into details of the research here, you can read the whole article yourself if you like, just click on the link below.

The researchers concluded that increased levels of TMAO from dietary choline are associated with an increased risk of major adverse cardiovascular events.

Some years ago I used to tell people that eggs were good, but I have changed my mind, there is just too much research indicating that it’s not.

The truth is that eggs don’t have enough beneficial nutrients to overcome the increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Levy Y1, Maor I, Presser D, Aviram M. Consumption of eggs with meals increases the susceptibility of human plasma and low-density lipoprotein to lipid peroxidation. Ann Nutr Metab. 1996;40(5):243-51.
Spence JD1, Jenkins DJ, Davignon J. Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque. Atherosclerosis. 2012 Oct;224(2):469-73. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2012.07.032. Epub 2012 Aug 1.
Tang WH1, Wang Z, Levison BS, Koeth RA, Britt EB, Fu X, Wu Y, Hazen SL. Intestinal microbial metabolism of phosphatidylcholine and cardiovascular risk. N Engl J Med. 2013 Apr 25;368(17):1575-84. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1109400.

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Reasons we get deposits in the arteries, and how to reverse it.

Posted by on Blood Pressure, Cardiovascular disease & waist-hip ratio, Cholesterol, HDL Level, Heart disease, Inflammation, Waist circumference | 0 comments

 


Several factors contribute to atherosclerosis (deposits in the arteries).

Initially the endothelium which is the inner lining of the blood vessel wall is injured. This can be caused by substances in cigaret smoke, damage from elevated glucose levels(Wang J, et al. 2014), chronic inflammation(Montecucco F, Mach F, 2008), oxidized LDL cholesterol(Trpkovic A, et al. 2014), elevated blood pressure(Hollander W,1976) and oxidative stress(Alexander RW,1995).

More and more research is now documenting chronic low grade inflammation as a major risk factor.

When the endothelium is injured inflammation is triggered and white blood cells are attracted to the area together with platelets to repair the damage. Small LDL cholesterol particles which becomes oxidized together with clotting substances (fibrinogen) and other chemicals will bind together at the site and get buried in the vascular wall (endothelium). A fibrous cap is formed on top which can work for a while, even if it obstructs part of the artery, as long as this fibrous cap does not rupture. If it rupture, this highly inflammatory mix forms a clot, and if it is big enough, it may completely obstruct the blood flow and result in a heart attack.

How do you know if you are at risk for atherosclerosis (deposits in the arteries)?

You can have lab tests done and check your fasting blood glucose, Hemoglobin A1C, hs-CRP(an inflammatory marker), cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides. You can also check LDL and HDL particle size as well as LDL particle number, and also other things if you want to be really thorough. Checking for inflammation and how many LDL particles you have in your blood are emerging as some of the more important things you should check for.

There is however also a very easy way to get an idea about the thickness of the inner layers of the the carotid artery, the intima-media. That’s the artery going up to your brain.

You can measure your waist and divide that with your height. A waist to height ratio of more than 0.5 has been found to be significantly associated with an increase in carotid intima-media thickness(Ren C, et al. 2014). This was documented  in a fairly large study of 3381 participants were the carotid artery intima-media thickness was measured with high resolution ultrasound and correlating it with waist to height measurements.

Most of us have a certain amount of buildup in the arteries.

The good news is that you can do a lot to prevent atherosclerosis and even reverse it. Research has shown that by eating the right type of food, exercising and incorporating meditation, it has been possible to reverse atherosclerosis(OrnishD, et al. 1990).

I will explain more how food can reverse atherosclerosis in the next article, but if you want to get started right away, here is a link to a program which will explain and show you how to eat by incorporating the information in the studies producing the best results.

 

 

Alexander RW1. Theodore Cooper Memorial Lecture. Hypertension and the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. Oxidative stress and the mediation of arterial inflammatory response: a new perspective. Hypertension. 1995 Feb;25(2):155-61
Hollander W. Role of hypertension in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Am J Cardiol. 1976 Nov 23;38(6):786-800.
Montecucco F1, Mach F. New evidences for C-reactive protein (CRP) deposits in the arterial intima as a cardiovascular risk factor. Clin Interv Aging. 2008;3(2):341-9.
Ornish D1, Brown SE, Scherwitz LW, Billings JH, Armstrong WT, Ports TA, McLanahan SM, Kirkeeide RL, Brand RJ, Gould KL Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? The Lifestyle Heart Trial. Lancet. 1990 Jul 21;336(8708):129-33.
Ren C, Zhang J, Xu Y, Xu B, Sun W, Sun J, Wang T, Xu M, Lu J, Wang W, Bi Y, Chen Y. Association between carotid intima-media thickness and index of central fat distribution in middle-aged and elderly Chinese. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2014 Oct 30; 13:139. doi: 10.1186/s12933-014-0139-2.
Trpkovic A1, Resanovic I, Stanimirovic J, Radak D, Mousa SA, Cenic-Milosevic D, Jevremovic D, Isenovic ER. Oxidized low-density lipoprotein as a biomarker of cardiovascular diseases. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2014 Dec 24:1-16. [Epub ahead of print]
Wang J1, Wu J1, Zhang S2, Zhang L3, Wang C1, Gao X4, Zhou Y1, Wang A1, Wu S5, Zhao X6 Elevated fasting glucose as a potential predictor for asymptomatic cerebral artery stenosis: a cross-sectional study in Chinese adults. Atherosclerosis. 2014 Dec;237(2):661-5. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2014.10.083. Epub 2014 Oct 23.

Higher intake of this important mineral shows reduced risk for metabolic syndrome.

Posted by on Blood Pressure, Blood triglycerides, BMJ Formula, Cholesterol, Insulin resistance, Supplements | 0 comments

magnesium buttonPeople with metabolic syndrome have a cluster of symptoms. They are usually insulin resistant, they usually have high blood pressure and also high cholesterol and triglycerides.
The reviewed research included a total of 24,473 individuals and 6,311 cases of metabolic syndrome(Dibaba DT et al. 2014). The participants with the highest dietary intake of Magnesium were compared with the ones with the lowest intake.

The results showed that for every 100 mg per day increment in magnesium intake the overall risk of having metabolic syndrome was lowered by 17 percent.

Magnesium is a very important mineral, but all minerals should be taken together with other minerals since they affect each other. For example, magnesium regulates intra and extra cellular calcium levels, and if you only take zinc, you will lose copper.

The most common form of magnesium is magnesium oxide which is very poorly absorbed and irritates the gastrointestinal tract.

Magnesium in the form of an amino acid chelate does not have that effect and is also much better absorbed and is a better choice.

 Dibaba DT, Xun P, Fly AD, Yokota K, He K. Dietary magnesium intake and risk of metabolic syndrome: a meta-analysis. Diabet Med. 2014 Nov;31(11):1301-9. doi: 10.1111/dme.12537.

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Low cholesterol associated with increased mortality risk, too low can be dangerous.

Posted by on Cholesterol, Flaxseeds, Nut consumption | 0 comments

cholesterolHave you been told or have you read that the more you lower your cholesterol the better off you are? You may also have heard that having high cholesterol is healthy.

So what is correct?

More and more research documents that it may be dangerous to lower your cholesterol too much, but the reviewed research is shedding some light on this (Bae J M et al. 2012). Screenings from 12,740 adults between the ages of 40 and 69 years were included in the study, and they were followed from 1993 to 2008. The results were probably surprising to a lot of people. Cholesterol below 160 mg/dl as well as above 240 mg/dl was associated with higher cardiovascular disease mortality. As with many physiological functions the risk ratio has a U-formed curve.

Both too little and too much is not good, it needs to be between certain levels.

Cholesterol has often been presented as a bad thing we would be better off without. That could not be further from the truth. Cholesterol is necessary for many functions; the body makes it for a reason.

Eating more nuts, seeds and olive oil and less high glycemic index carbohydrates would help to keep your cholesterol in a healthy range.

 
 

 

 

Bae JM1, Yang YJ, Li ZM, Ahn YO. Low cholesterol is associated with mortality from cardiovascular diseases: a dynamic cohort study in Korean adults. J Korean Med Sci. 2012 Jan;27(1):58-63. doi: 10.3346/jkms.2012.27.1.58. Epub 2011 Dec 19.

More evidence that it matters where the calories are coming from.

Posted by on Calories, Cardiovascular disease & waist-hip ratio, Cholesterol, Diabetes, Diet, Eating, Health, Heart disease | 0 comments

There are still so called experts who claim that it does not matter where the calories are coming from when it comes to losing and maintaining your weight. Several studies designed in different ways have documented that it does make a difference where the calories are coming from. When we lose weight the metabolic rate tends to slow down, making it more difficult to maintain the weight. Food that slows the metabolic rate the least would be the most beneficial way to eat for weight loss and weight maintenance.

The research reviewed here provides even more evidence that the kind of food we eat makes a difference when it comes to resting energy expenditure, total energy expenditure and inflammation (Ebbeling CB, et al. 2012).

In this study 3 different diets were compared and the participants were overweight and obese young adults. After the participants lost 10-15% of their weight, they were either put on a low-fat diet (60% of energy from carbohydrate, 20% from fat, 20% from protein; high glycemic load), low-glycemic index diet (40% from carbohydrate, 40% from fat, and 20% from protein; moderate glycemic load), and very low-carbohydrate diet (10% from carbohydrate, 60% from fat, and 30% from protein; low glycemic load) in random order, each for 4 weeks.

The results showed that the decrease in resting energy expenditure was greatest with the low fat diet, intermediate with the low glycemic index diet and the least with the very low carbohydrate diet.

There are two things which are important here; the low glycemic index diet was not all that low since it was moderate glycemic load. What a lot of people call low glycemic index is in reality moderate glycemic index. The other important point is that the results also showed that the low carbohydrate diet increased inflammation.

One thing you don’t want is increased inflammation, that contributes to chronic disease and pain, so the low carbohydrate diet is not a good choice. The low-fat, high glycemic load diet slowed the resting energy expenditure the most, so that is also not a good choice.

The best choice is a very low glycemic index diet based on carbohydrates without a huge amount of fat, but including good amounts of the healthy essential fats. That would decrease the resting energy expenditure the least and also decrease inflammation.

These are the type of recommendations you will find on Learn to Eat, providing you a program which can be downloaded directly to your computer.

 

 

Ebbeling CB, Swain JF, Feldman HA, Wong WW, Hachey DL, Garcia-Lago E, Ludwig DS. Effects of dietary composition on energy expenditure during weight-loss maintenance. JAMA. 2012 Jun 27;307(24):2627-34.