I have to shake my head when I still see “egg white omelet” on the breakfast menu at restaurants. Gone are the days when I would ask the waiter or manager why this was offered. Over time I realized that it wasn’t their fault. They were simply parroting the standard dogma that eggs were bad for your heart – especially the yolks with their high levels of “artery-clogging cholesterol” and all.
For decades, we were instructed that dietary fat was virtually kryptonite. And of all the dietary fats we might consume, cholesterol was by far the biggest threat. Continue reading
You may or may not have seen the American Heart Association’s (AHA) latest report, but I’m sure you’ve probably seen the social media frenzy that followed their statements on coconut oil.
An article by USA Today with the headline “Coconut Oil Isn’t Healthy, It’s Never Been Healthy”, has been shared over a half a million times. The AHA rehashed their age-old dietary guidelines for fats and cholesterol, attempting to finger them both as the cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD). But this time they took it one step further and took a stab at coconut oil, stating:
However, because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD, and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil.
So what’s going on here? Is coconut oil suddenly not as good for you as we once thought? Or, is the AHA report based on erroneous science? Continue reading
To this day, you still see products in grocery stores labeled, “low fat” as if this somehow translates into meaning the product is more healthful. Obviously the manufacturers of these products feel that there still is enough consensus in terms of the public’s perception that low fat is a good thing. So they persist in perpetuating this myth in order to sell product.
Nowhere is the idea that lower fat consumption more off base than when this idea is exploited in the context of weight loss. Virtually every weight loss product and program clings to the outdated notion of fat restriction being the key to weight loss as well as heart health, and nothing is further from the truth.
In the September 2nd issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, Tulane University researchers published a report, titled Effects of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets, A Randomized Trial, in which they evaluated weight loss and various cardiovascular risk factors in a group of 148 men and women without cardiovascular disease. Continue reading
HDL is commonly referred to as “good cholesterol,” as clearly higher levels of this carrier protein are associated with a reduced risk for accumulation of atherosclerosis within the walls of arteries, especially the arteries that supply blood to the heart.
While so much attention is focused on total cholesterol, as well as LDL, which unfortunately has been given the name “bad cholesterol,” it seems clear that it is fair to explore what can be done to raise HDL since it is so important for vascular health.
As it turns out, diet does in fact playing important role in determining a person’s HDL level. In a study appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Canadian researchers evaluated the diets of 619 Canadians of either Aboriginal, South Asian, Chinese, or European descent who had no previously diagnosed medical conditions. Continue reading
As we watch America’s waistline continue to expand, and along with it the perpetual increase in diseases associated with this increased incidence of obesity, it’s really important to identify potential causes associated with this issue. No doubt, our lust for sugar and carbs is playing a central role, as I discussed in Grain Brain. In fact, the number one source of calories in America is now high fructose corn syrup.
It would be simple to call it a day, point an accusatory finger at the dramatic dietary changes that have shifted Western cultures away from fat in favor of sugar and carbs, and do our very best to get this information out to those involved in such areas as public health, product development, advertising, etc., and hope for the best.
But there’s new research that quite clearly reveals that another factor may well be playing a role not only in the soaring rates of obesity, but also in increasing the risk for metabolic syndrome, which is the name given for a group of risk factors known to increase the risk for such conditions as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and others. Continue reading
Shrinking your waist line can play a key role in shrinking the problems you experience in your brain as well. – Dr. Perlmutter
About ten years ago, at an appointment with my doctor, I got on the scales and weighed in at 265 pounds. I am 5′ 8″ but my doctor informed me that I was obese. I was devastated. I ignored my symptoms for so long: elevated blood pressure, low HDL, sleeplessness and just not feeling my best. I was 51 at the time.
At that time nobody talked about gluten insensitivity. I embarked on Weight Watchers to lose weight, and did manage to drop 30 lbs., staying at about 230 for several more years, but unable to lose any more weight.
At age 58, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 uterine cancer and underwent a full hysterectomy. Being overweight had made my body estrogen dominant. Post-surgery I started to feel anxious, sleep deprived, brain fog and hormonally imbalanced. Soon after, I was put on a gluten-free diet. I went on it and lost ten pounds. Within a month I felt much better. I cut out almost all grains and high glycemic foods and, to my surprise, the weight started coming off on its own. I went back to grass-fed beef, organic vegetables and very little fruit.
I now weigh 192 and hope to weigh around 160. I feel so good. I am convinced that I was gluten sensitive for many years.
For decades, we’ve seen science and the media tarnish the reputation of cholesterol. We’ve been educated (and re-educated) on eggs, LDL, HDL, and a wealth of other buzzwords that pertain to cholesterol, all the while being told that if we keep our cholesterol levels low, our bodies will stay in tip-top shape. Unfortunately, that’s just not true.
In Grain Brain, I talk extensively about cholesterol, and attempt to dispel many of the mistruths that have been circulated about this compound. In fact, cholesterol plays an important role in our body, serving as an antioxidant and the precursor to Vitamin D production, among other roles. Those high-cholesterol foods we’ve been told to avoid? You may want to reconsider them.
Recently, the research study Associations Between Serum Cholesterol Levels and Cerebral Amyloidosis, published in the journal JAMA Neurology, gained a lot of attention in the press. Somehow it was construed that the study had revealed a direct relationship between cholesterol levels and Alzheimer’s risk. Is that really what the research showed? Let’s take a look.
The study evaluated total cholesterol levels, level of HDL and LDL in a group of 74 elderly individuals. In addition, each of the subjects underwent a special type of brain scan to determine how much β-amyloid their brain contained. β-amyloid was studied because some researchers still believe that there is a relationship between β-amyloid levels and Alzheimer’s risk.
The marker for β-amyloid used in the study is something called PIB. Here is what the authors published:
Higher LDL-C and lower HDL-C levels were both associated with a higher PIB index. No association was found between the total cholesterol level and PIB index. No association was found between statin use and PIB index, and controlling for cholesterol treatment in the statistical models did not alter the basic findings.
Basically, there was a small, increased risk of having higher β-amyloid if the subjects had high LDL or low HDL with no correlation to cholesterol values or statin use.