My mom, a good 1950s mom, was persuaded by the medical profession and the food industry to replace butter with margarine. I didn't taste butter until I was 8 years old, pronounced it heavenly, and thereafter ate butter whenever I could. FINALLY the medical profession and margarine marketers had to admit that TRANS FATS like margarine are poison.
Am reading an amazing book, "Politically Incorrect Nutrition," which fights the food industry's public brainwashing about many nutritional issues. The chapter on cholesterol starts out:
"The year 1924 proved to be a disaster for the science of nutrition. That year, scientist fed lots of cholesterol to bunnies whose arteries got clogged, and they died. Conclusion: feed people lots of cholesterol and they will die. Terrific science, except for a couple of things. The cholesterol fed to the rabbits was already damaged (oxidised - not fresh), and rabbits have very different digestive systems from humans. They are vegetarians and have no way of dealing with dietary cholesterol. But the news was out and the vegetable industry took note:'Scare the people about the cholesterol in animal fat and we'll sell them our vegetable fat."
Some of the other key findings from this chapter:
- The fear of cholesterol found in meat and dairy is unfounded. In terms of heart disease, there is no greater risk at cholesterol levels of 300 than at 180. Half of all those having heart attacks had cholesterol levels of normal or below normal.
- Clinical evidence indicates stress reduction helps lower cholesterol.
- In Norway, a study showed that higher cholesterol levels appear to protect against breast cancer.
- In the US and worldwide, the incidence of heart disease has increased even though consumption of animal fat (and cholesterol) has decreased. But, in Switzerland, after WWII, heart disease declined as animal fat consuption increased.
-The conventional advice about staying away from saturated fats is not supported by good science. In fact, polyunsaturated fats are not good for us, because they contain omega-6 and are easily oxidised, making them a source of free radicals. Saturated fats are better, partly because they seek to "normalize" cholesterol levels - which means if your level is low the cholesterol could increase, but also that if your level is high the cholesterol could decrease.
- Cholesterol is a "healer" in the body, and essential to many functions, like synthesizing Vitamin D. Cholesterol levels can rise in a person that does not get enough sunlight, suggesting that they are rising to wring the maximum value out of the little vitamin D the person IS getting.
- Low fat, high carbohydrate, diets are not healthy and are implicated in heart disease. Over time, the carbs create insulin resistance, putting a strain on the pancreas -- the excess insulin can trigger heart-damaging homocysteine.
The book offers many more details and insights (documented with footnotes), and is causing me to rethink everything I thought I knew about cholesterol.
Post Edited (njmom) : 4/22/2009 7:51:39 AM (GMT-6)
It's true that avocados are high in fat -- one reason they've earned the nickname "butter pear." A medium-sized avocado contains 30 grams of fat, as much as a quarter-pound burger. That's why diet experts have long urged Americans to go easy on avocados in favor of less fatty fruits and vegetables. But now nutritionists are taking another look. They're finding that most of the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated -- the "good" kind that actually lowers cholesterol levels. Thanks to this new understanding, the U.S. government recently revised its official nutrition guidelines to urge Americans to eat more avocados.
High in the Good Fat
The avocado's image first took on some polish with a 1996 study by researchers at the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social in Mexico (Archives of Medical Research, Winter 1996) that looked at the health benefits of daily avocado consumption. The 45 volunteers who ate avocados every day for a week experienced an average 17% drop in total blood cholesterol. Their cholesterol ratio also changed in a healthy way: Their levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or "bad fat") and triglycerides, both associated with heart disease, went down. Their HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or "good fat") levels, which tend to lower the risk of heart disease, climbed.
Researchers have also discovered that avocados are rich in beta-sitosterol, a natural substance shown to significantly lower blood cholesterol levels. In a review article published in the December 1999 issue of the American Journal of Medicine, researchers pointed out that beta-sitosterol was shown to reduce cholesterol in 16 human studies.
Everything in Moderation
Sneaking monounsaturated fats into your own daily diet may allow you to enjoy similar health benefits, says Melanie Polk, a registered dietitian and director of nutrition education at the American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C. Used creatively, she says, avocados can add variety -- and good nutrition -- to your diet. Instead of spreading butter or cream cheese on your bread or bagel, use some mashed avocado instead. Replace that mayo you'd usually put on a sandwich with avocado slices. You'll not only save calories, you'll be cutting out saturated fat and increasing your daily intake of monounsaturated fat as well.
But before you pile avocados onto every dish, remember that when it comes to calories, avocados have lots of them -- because of all that fat. Fat of any type has double the calories of the same amount of carbohydrates, says Polk. "Avocados add great variety to a well balanced, low-fat diet, but you have to eat them in moderation."
A recommended serving size is 2 tablespoons, or roughly one-sixth of a medium-sized avocado. Each serving provides 5 grams of fat and 55 calories. Still, compared with butter or mayonnaise -- which each pack 22 fat grams and 200 calories in a 2-tablespoon serving -- they don't seem so bad.
Post Edited (pb4) : 4/20/2009 11:55:57 PM (GMT-6)
EMom, the book was written by Michael Barbee and published by Vital Health Publishing in 2004. Other chapters cover aspartame. osteoporosis, green tea, bovine growth hormone, fluoridation, eggs, vitamin C, and vegetarianism.
CrazyHarry, thanks for the informative post, most of which was backed up by the book I'm reading.
Spookyhurst, interesting about coconut oil...it is supposed to be the healthiest fat to use in cooking at high temperatures, because it is the least likely to degrade into harmful substances at high heat.
pb4, since my daughter has eschewed most of the foods prohibited by the SCD diet, avocados have proven to be great at helping her to keep weight on.