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Your Health & Wellness, Iss #022 -- Cholesterol Levels Too Low Can Lead to Heart Attacks
January 08, 2008
(Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle)
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Week of January 13, 2008
Table of Contents
* Heart Disease and its Relationship to Saturated Fat and Cholesterol *
Heart Disease and its Relationship to Saturated Fat and Cholesterol
Institutions such as the American Heart Association, the pharmaceutical industry, and the mainstream medical establishment warn the American public about consuming too much cholesterol and saturated fat. Both have been declared dangerous, and made public enemy numbers 1 and 2. Why? Because they both have been implicated in the dramatic rise of heart disease.
The World Heart Federation calls cardiovascular disease (CVD) a global epidemic, which currently contributes to just under a third of the death rates worldwide. Globally, it is the leading cause of death.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one killer in America as well. It is also the number one killer of women in the United States. An American has a heart attack or goes into cardiac arrest every 29 seconds. And of all the people who have heart attacks, up to 80 percent have normal cholesterol levels.
Heart disease also kills more women globally. It has been estimated that 8.5 million women fall victim to it every year. It accounts for half of all deaths of women over 50 in developing countires.
Note too these following startling facts:
The consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol has decreased in 20th century America. The use of butter has declined from 18 pounds (8.165kg) a year per person in 1900 to less than 5 pounds (2.27 kg) a year per person now. Americans are afraid to eat whole eggs, cream, lard, beef and pork in any substantial amount thanks to mis-guided government guidelines.
Margarine and other trans fatty acid products have replaced butter and lard in an effort to reduce or eliminate heart disease. Now there are a lot of butter wannabes on the market, full of hydrogenated oils which are far worse than saturated fat could ever be. A Harvard medical study has found that margarine increases the risk of heart disease in women by 53 percent compared to an equal amount of butter!
About 40 years ago consumers began replacing butter, lard, and cod liver oil with margarine and shortening. Within 20 years there was an increase in depression, heart disease, and a decrease in fertility.
Your major hormones (estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, DHEA, and testosterone) are made from cholesterol. Low-fat and low cholesterol diets can be very unhealthy. If you don't receive enough cholesterol through your diet, your body will steal it from the endocrine system to use for brain function and repair. This leads to hormonal imbalance.
How It All Began
In 1953 Ancel Keys, Ph.D, published a paper entitled "Atherosclerosis, a Problem in Newer Public Health." In it he explained that although the death rate in the United States was decreasing, deaths due to heart disease was on the increase. He explained this alarming fact by comparing the fat intake and heart disease mortality of six countries--the United States, Canada, Australia, England, Italy, and Japan.
America had the greatest fat intake and highest heart disease death rate while Japan had the lowest fat intake and lowest death rate from heart disease. The other four countries fell nicely in between America and Japan. Keys publicized this finding which became known as the diet-heart hypothesis.
On the surface that seemed all well and good. However it turned out the Ancel Keys did not include all available data in his analysis. Information from 22 countries was available and he included only 6. Two countries not included, Mexico and Finland, squarely contradicted Keys' hypothesis.
Both Mexico and Finland had almost identical fat consumption. But Finland's death rate from heart disease was 24 times greater than that of Mexico! When all 22 countries are included in the analysis, there is no evidence that saturated fat leads to heart disease. The diet-heart hypothesis falls flat on its face.
Back in the Day
When my father was growing up back in the early 1900s (he was born in 1898), America's consumption of beef, pork, butter, lard, and cream was much greater than it is now. This was true up through the 1970s too.
Despite Americans eating great amounts of beef, pork, cream, lard, eggs, and whole milk, not to mention delicious home-made ice cream, heart disease was rare in early America. There was no government outcry against these products. Cardiovascular disease was responsible for only 15 percent of the deaths in America at the turn of the century!
Look at your typical cookbooks which were published in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Their various recipes called for ingredients rich in saturated fat. The Searchlight Recipe Book (Capper Publications, 1931) is full of recipes calling for saturated fat--creamed liver, creamed cucumbers, hearts braised in buttermilk, and others. The Jewish Housewives Cookbook (London, 1846) contained one recipe for German waffles which called for A POUND of butter!
There are over 12 saturated fats in existence. Human beings eat predominantly 3--stearic acid, palmitic acid, and lauric acid. These three saturated fats make up almost 95% of the saturated fat in prime rib, bacon slices, and chicken skin. They comprise 70% of butter and whole milk.
Stearic acid has no effect on cholesterol levels. When consumed in the diet, it is converted to heart-healthy monounsaturated fat (oleic acid) in the liver.
The Real Culprits
Based on the facts given above, it is hard to see how saturated fats and cholesterol are responsible for heart disease being the number one cause of death by disease in the world. At the turn of the century when saturated fat and cholesterol consumption were at their peak, death by heart disease was a rarity.
While saturated fat and cholesterol consumption were declining in America, other food products were taking their places. These products included margarine and other hydrogenated foods, processed vegetable oils such as soybean, corn, and safflower, pasteurized and homogenized milk, artificial sweeteners such as high fructose corn sugar and aspartame, and non-traditionally raised meat.
In the early 1900s, animals such as cows, chicken, and pigs were raised outdoors. Their diet consisted of grass and/or bugs--foods they were designed to eat. Today, meat conglomerates operate their plants like factories. That's why they are known as factory farms or CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations.)
The animals today who find their way to your dinner plates (almost all of them) have been for the most part confined (they no longer roam pastures.) They are also fed grain which is saturated with pesticides and herbicides, and which may have been genetically modified (Read...) By the way, grain, whether treated with pesticides or not, is not the natural food for these animals.
Because these animals are confined in cramped and filthy pens or cages, they frequently get sick. Antibiotics are used in large quantities to fight animal diseases. They are also given hormones to speed up their growth and weight. The antibiotics, pesticides and herbicides, and hormones are stored in the animals' fat tissues and find their way onto your lunch and dinner plates.
That's right--you consume these dangerous chemicals!
These chemicals, along with the tons of synthetic chemicals which have been invented which we breathe, drink, eat, and bathe in, are responsible for the dramatic rise in heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases.
There is no rock-solid and irrefutable science behind the heavily publicized and government-sponsored saturated fat and cholesterol is dangerous program. It is founded on Ancel Keys' conclusion based on incomplete data. Remember, Mexico and Finland had about the same rate of consumption of fat. However, Finland's death rate from heart disease was 24 times greater than Mexico's!
In 1960, a medical doctor by the name of George Mann discovered that the Masai tribe of Kenya and Tanzania lived on a diet consisting almost entirely of red meat and whole milk. This diet was almost 60 percent fat, and about half was saturated fat. Despite their high fat consumption, these nomads were extremely lean, had very low cholesterol levels, and almost no heart disease!
Also, the studies upon which Ancel Keys based his conclusion lumped all fat together. Trans fat was not separated from saturated fat. We now know that trans fat will decrease your good cholesterol (HDL) and simultaneously increase your bad cholesterol (LDL.) Saturated fat on the other hand will raise both LDL and HDL--an entirely different story, and one that is rarely heard.
According to the latest studies, LDL causes plaque buildup on artery walls. HDL cholesterol removes that plaque. When both are increased, the proportion of bad cholesterol to good cholesterol goes down. Many studies reveal that the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol is a much better indicator of heart disease than the current LDL alone.
Statin drugs (cholesterol-lowering drugs) are Big Pharma's (the multi-national pharmaceutical companies) biggest money-makers. Naturally it is in their best interests to get as many people as they can on their drugs. Save your hard-earned money by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
Having cholesterol levels too low is unhealthy. It can lead to heart attacks and heart failure. What is important is eating healthy--and not obsessing about saturated fat and cholesterol. Reasonable amounts of butter, whole milk (unpasteurized and unhomogenized), and red meat (organic) is good for you. Organic coconut oil is also very good for you (Read...)
Stay away from processed vegetable oils (sunflower, safflower, peanut, corn, soybean) and ALL trans fats (margarine, shortening, etc.) Include plenty of fruit and vegetables, as well as raw nuts (walnut, pecan, etc.), omega-3 fatty acids (from fish, krill oil, flaxseeds, etc.)
Read the following articles:
Living a Healthy Lifestyle The Truth About Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs
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Age Range Mid-1970s 2003-2004:
2 thru 5 5% 14%
6 thru 11 7% 19%
12 thru 19 5% 17%
Obesity rates in the 2 through 5 year old and 6 through 11 year old categories almost tripled! They more than tripled in the 12 through 19 year old group!
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TABLE OF CONTENTS (of FREE E-book)
1 Chapter One: Why Can’t I Lose Weight?
9 Chapter Two: Drop Pounds by Changing Lifestyle
14 Chapter Three: The Weight Crisis
24 Chapter Four: Nutrition Makeover
43 Chapter Five: Exercise to Lose Weight
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