Category Archives: News

fast food boosts good cholesterol?

A recent study in Sweden asked 12 men and 6 women to eat two meals per day at a fast food restaurant over four weeks.  In addition to the expected outcome of bad things happening in the liver the researchers were surprised to find an increase in HDL or “good cholesterol” after the four weeks. 

 Article Here

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cholesterol drugs over the counter?

I came across an article on another wordpress blog that I thought was interesting.  Link   Looks like Merck, who is a very large drug company, is trying to get it’s cholesterol lowering drug available over the counter.   Lovastatin was the first statin approved by the FDA in 1987 and because it was approved so long ago it is now available in generic.  So having it sold over the counter would give Merck the ability to make a lot of money off of this product again.   I don’t really have an opinion on that one way or another but I did find something interesting when doing a quick search to compare Merck’s product with Lipitor.   Comparison Chart

This study compared a bunch (the merck one is lovastatin listed in the chart as Mevacor, Altocor and Altoprev) and found that it didn’t rank very high compared to some of the newer statin drugs.    I’m not sure we will get to a point where cholesterol drugs will be sold over the counter, but I’ll continue to monitor this and give an update if there is one.

plant sterols (part two)

A few posts ago I compared a few products that include plant sterols to see which one was the better buy.  Link   During that post I mentioned how people looking for plant sterols now have some options on how they want to include it.   How?  If you look at the back of the Minute Maid orange juice discussed in that post you will see a little logo for something called Corowise which, turns out, is the secret to this super duper juice.

Corowise is a product made by Cargill Health Food Technologies and is a concentrated form of plant sterols which they can put into either a pill form or into other food.    Going to the Corowise website it appears that you’ll soon be able to get your twice daily plant sterols in everything from cheese to granola bars and this is a good thing for consumers.   The reason?    Competition.   When I only really had the option of taking Active shots I might have been willing to pay the premium price. But, when I also see I can get it in orange juice, maybe I become less likely to pay so much.   Now, thanks to Corowise branching out I can get it in store brand Kroger milk, Nature Valley granola bars, Orowheat bread, dark chocolate muffins, Rice milk, cheese and of course vitamins.

The key when looking at these products is to read how much is included in each serving to make sure you are taking enough of it to make a difference.   But, you can easily mix and match throughout the day or week so you don’t get stuck drinking 8oz glasses of OJ everyday for the rest of your life.   I’m going to try and include as many of these as I can over the next month and we’ll see if it makes a difference in my cholesterol.

in defense of food

I was at Costco today and stumbled across a book by Michael Pollan called “In Defense of Food : Eat Food, Not to Much, Mostly Plants.”   The title struck me funny so I picked it up and flipped through it really quick.    The part I happened to flip to made me laugh out loud so I thought I would share.   

Pollan was writing about the overabundance of food additives and he used bread as an example.  I didn’t buy the book or write anything down, but basically he had an ingredient comparison of Sara Lee Soft and Smooth 100% Whole Wheat Bread to a Wheat Bread your Grandmother would make.   My Grandmother knew dinner was done when the smoke alarm went off; so I’m going to pretend by finding a normal Wheat Bread recipe available at Cooks.com. 

The fictitious Grandmothers ingredients are:

yeast, water, honey, olive oil, eggs, whole wheat flour and salt.

And now our friend Sara Lee’s version care of Safeway.com

Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Wheat Gluten, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Honey, Yeast. Contains 2% or Less of Each of the Following: Calcium Sulfate, Brown Sugar, Vegetable Oil (Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oils), Salt, Butter (Cream, Salt), Dough Conditioners (May Contain One or More of the Following: Mono and Diglycerides, Ethoxylated Mono and Diglycerides, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Enzymes), Yeast Nutrients (Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate), Corn Starch, Guar Gum, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Distilled Vinegar, Natural Flavor, Beta-Carotene (Color), Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour.
I guess Grandma was out of Ammonium Sulfate and Soy Lecithin when she made her version.  Also I had to chuckle when spell check kicked back seven of the words in the list as not exisiting.   My favorite though is the ingredient “Natural Flavor” if it is natural why do I need to add it?   I’m not picking on poor Sara, I’m sure most bread you find in the store has a similar list.   It does, however, make me pause and wonder if some of the health issues facing the population today are advanced due to this long list of ingredients for a fairly simple product.   I just might try and make bread this weekend.

oatmeal

A read a really good article today on one of the other wordpress blogs about oatmeals positive impact on cholesterol.     The link is here.    I’m not a big fan of oatmeal but it looks like I need to start being one.  I recently bought the Quaker Oats Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies and have started eating those.    But…something tells me the cookies aren’t quite as healthy as the regular stuff.

pork – the other white meat

When I was at the grocery store this weekend I picked up a pork tenderloin because it was on sale. I don’t really cook a lot of pork and after I got it home I started to wonder if eating it was going to set me back a little on the cholesterol track. Doing a little bit of research it appears that pork can be added to a healthy diet if selected and prepared correctly.

images.jpgDid you know that pork today is not the same product our parents cooked? On average pork today is over 15% leaner and has over 25% less saturated fat than 15 years ago. Who knew? Isn’t a pig a pig? I started pecking around the internet and found a comparison of 3 ounce cooked servings of various meats. The pork tenderloin had 3g of fat 1g of saturated fat and 62mg of cholesterol. Compare that to a boneless skinless chicken breast of the same size and I was shocked to see that the fat grams and the sat fat are almost identical. The funny thing was that the chicken had a few more calories and a few more mg of cholesterol. The pork rib chop was very similar to a chicken leg and a pork roast beat a chicken thigh in every category.

I think the lack of pork in my diet came from my mom turning pork chops into doorstops by cooking them forever. But remember this isn’t our parents pork. Trichinosis (try spelling that fast in a blog entry) is pretty much gone now and most restaurants and cooking shows recommend the chops be a little pink in the center. Pork is recommended to be cooked now until the internal temp reaches 155-160. If the chop did have the trichinella parasite it would be killed at around 140. Cool huh? But don’t take my word for it, research it yourself so you feel comfortable in what you are eating.

Now I need to find some good recipes….any suggestions?

plant sterols

In 2000 the FDA approved the health claim that plant sterols reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels.   Since then products have begun to pop up that contain plant sterols with the latest being Minute Maid Heart Wise Orange Juice.   First of all I have to admit that I’m leery of products that claim they have plant sterols in them because of how loose the requirements on these claims are.  But, I wanted to take a look at this and other products to see what the deal was.

On the label it says that “foods containing at least 0.4 g per serving of plant sterols, eaten twice a day with meals for a total daily intake of at least 0.8 g, as part of a low saturated fat, low trans fat and low cholesterol diet, may reduce the risk of heart disease. A serving of Minute Maid Heart Wise contains 1g of plant sterols per serving (which is 80z).”   Then I compared that to Promise activ™ SuperShots™ which is a yogurt based drink that provides 2.0g plant sterols per serving (which is one supershot).

The interesting thing is that reading the FDA report the way this stuff works is that it really should be taken with a meal.   Which means in theory you should take 0.4g with lunch and 0.4g with dinner and taking more than that has not been proven to make any more or less of a difference.    Hmmmm…so let’s look at the price.

At my local Vons the Minute Maid is 0.08cents an ounce and the Promise Active drinks are .30cents an ounce…..ouch!     Considering the Promise shots aren’t really designed to drink half of it and re-seal it, purchasing the Minute Maid (although higher priced than normal orange juice) seems like a better and more usable way to consume your twice daily sterols.   But, keep in mind that you need to drink two glasses of juice a day…one with each meal to get the full impact.   So that means you’ll be going through about a bottle of juice every three and a half days.    

So, if you drink OJ that much anyway then I could see it being a good thing.  I drink a couple of glasses a week, so for me that would be A LOT of OJ.  So, how to include them?   That is a topic for another time.