Category Archives: Numbers

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.

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fried chicken sandwich

I am a sucker for Kentucky Fried Chicken but I know that it isn’t a health food. Recently I wondered which fast fried chicken option was the least harmful so I compared the numbers on chicken sandwiches at KFC, Popeye’s and Chick-fil-A.

First KFC’s Crispy Twister which came in at 550 calories (250 of it from fat) with 6 grams of Sat Fat

Next was Chick-fil-A Classic Sandwich with 410 calories (150 from fat) with 3.5 grams of Sat Fat

And finally Popeye’s Tame Chicken Deluxe Sandwich with a petite 728 calories (351 from fat) with 9 grams of Sat Fat.

chickfilacow.jpgI actually thought the three sandwiches would come in pretty close to each other so I was shocked to find how much more the Popeye’s version was. So much so that I looked at a couple of different sources to make sure these numbers were right. It just goes to show that doing a little research up front can save a lot of calories and fat grams on the back side. Armed with my new info I hit up the local Chick-fil-A to try the classic sandwich and see if I liked it as much as KFC’s. Sorry Colonel, I liked it better. The wheat bun seemed fresher and the patty itself seemed to have a lot more juice than the KFC version.

Now I know that the grilled versions most of these restaurants offer are much better choices, and honestly I do pick those most of the time. But when I’m in the mood for a little fried chicken goodness on a bun looks like I’m heading to Chick-fil-A.

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?

aunt poly and uncle mono

Food labeling is a good thing.  It can really help when you are looking to eat better, but it can also turn a trip to the grocery store into a two hour ordeal.  I’m going to go through a few different parts of the label in this blog but I thought I would start with a few of the more positive parts, aunt poly and uncle mono.

Polyunsaturated Fat and Monounsaturated Fat are listed under the fat section of the food label on some foods.   Since I’m trying to cut down on fat I thought these were just two more things I should avoid.   Turns out, not so much.    When looking at the overall fat content of the food I need to see what types of fat make up this totally generic number at the top of the label.   These two little guys are the “good” fats and currently nutritionists believe they can help prevent some health problems.    So, if you come across a food that is high in fat like olive oil at 14g Total Fat for 1tbsp, you need to look at what makes up that Total Fat number.  In this case 10g comes from uncle mono and 2g comes from aunt poly leaving only 2g of the bad stuff.   

I’m not a big fan of carrying a slide ruler to the grocery store in order to help with food labels.   So I’ve decided that aunt poly and uncle mono look out for me.  If they make up most of the fat….I’m in good hands.  Family wouldn’t steer me wrong….would they?

i’ll just have a salad

When I find myself out to eat, either at a fast food place or a sit down restaurant, I need to make different choices than I would have before finding out my numbers were so high.   Take McDonald’s for example.    Before, I might have ordered the classic cheeseburger where now I find myself looking at the Asian salads.   Recently I went to McDonald’s with a few friends, had the Crispy Asian Salad (which was very good by the way) and ended up feeling pretty good about my commitment to eating better.    Until I got home and started doing some research.

My Crispy Asian Salad has 380 calories, 17g of fat and 45mg of cholesterol and adding the dressing increases the fat by a few grams.   Hmmm…that seems high to me.   Wanna know why, because it is.  A McDonald’s cheeseburger has 300 calories, 12g of fat and 40mg of cholesterol…less in every category!   What I learned quickly was just because the word “salad” is in the title don’t assume it is better for you.   To be fair I did order the crispy version but looking at the grilled salad which has 300 calories (same as the cheeseburger), 10g of fat and 65mg of cholesterol I’m not sure that was the deal breaker.

 Well, I thought, it’s McDonald’s what should I expect.   So I started looking at other similar salads like the Mimi’s Cafe Asian Chop Chop and this will blow your mind.    Mimi’s salad has 1277 Calories, 73g of fat (112% of you daily allowance) and 193mg of cholesterol.   Just for reference if we had stayed at McDonald’s and ordered a Quarter Pounder with fries we would have eaten 760 calories (517 calories less), 39g of fat (34g less) and 90mg cholesterol (103 less).   Ok, so this trying to eat better stuff is going to be harder than I thought.  Not only do I have to make better choices but I need to make sure the choices I’m assuming are better actually are.

So here is what I did.    I picked the 5 places I eat lunch at the most and went to their website.   There they list the nutrition info for their menu and I was able to do a quick side by side comparison on what good and bad choices actually look like.   For me, since I’m not looking to lose weight but just lower my cholesterol, I didn’t really focus on the calories but really looked at the fat and cholesterol numbers.    This does take a little effort, but sometimes makes for a little interesting conversation over lunch with your friends.   Well, until they don’t want to talk about it anymore and you are forced to start a blog so you can share all the cool things you’ve learned.    Yeah, maybe bringing it up is a bad idea….hey wanna go to lunch sometime?