Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cholesterol Fact and Fiction

I feel conspiracy paranoia settling in -- energy (12 years of Bushes and their connections), war (Bush/Cheney and Halliburton), finance (Bush/Obama and Goldman et al.), oil spills (Obama and BP), and food (everyone).  This food business may be the scariest of them all, because it's so personal.  Maybe I should see my psychiatrist about an anti-conspiracy pill. Oh, I forgot, I don't have one, although I certainly should.

It makes sense that what we put in our mouths could kill us.  Think back to Socrates, who supposedly carried out his own death sentence by drinking hemlock.  He thought he had a philosophical basis for his action and it wasn't "transfat."  Jesus, to the contrary, let his detractors do the deed.  And we're supposed to admire Socrates?

As times goes on, I wonder what we'll discover about our food.  A couple label-readers in my family were comparing bags of snack food the other night.  If I remember correctly, considering the same serving size, each package noted the presence of the same x grams of saturated fat, but one package claimed it was 2% and the other 3%.  Someone suggested maybe it was the result of rounding, or maybe one was 2% of weight and the other 3% of volume (I'm sort of kidding here).  Whatever, I'm sure each was very accurate, aren't you?

One of Karen's friends related a story told by a mutual acquaintance of ours.  He was "having trouble" with "high" "cholesterol levels."  His doctor said, "I'd like you to do something.  Humor me.  Stop eating 'low-fat' foods.  Drink whole milk.  Eat eggs, both their yolks and whites.  Then come back and see me."  When the fellow returned for re-testing, his "cholesterol levels" were normal.

As I rejoiced about my recently lowered "cholesterol levels," one of my brothers suggested stress might be the cause of heart trouble -- that is, higher stress leads to heart trouble and lower stress prevents heart trouble -- and that cholesterol intake might be irrevelant.  I Googled the idea and came across numerous entries addressing the "cholesterol myth," including an article by a purported physician who attempts to debunk the idea of various connections between ingesting cholesterol and heart disease (http://www.becomehealthynow.com/ebookprint.php?id=1112).  According to him, the idea is ludicrous; he says "dietary intake of cholesterol has no impact on the level of cholesterol in your blood."  He also criticizes the characterization of LDL and HDL as "bad" and "good" cholesterol, partly because HDL is a lipoprotein, not a cholesterol.  Maybe one of you is better able than I (I'm useless) to determine whether his arguments make any sense.

"Perhaps food-fussing is stressful in itself," says Virginia, "contributing to the stress that might aggravate heart disease?"

"I don't know," I say.  "Balance in all things (or many things) might be the answer.  I hope we don't discover that fish oil, flaxseed oil, and multivitamins cause cancer or heart disease.  I 'm about ready to drop everything in favor of goat milk.  So much for balance."  (See "Goat Milk Magic" (April 30, 2010) at http://holesinmyjeans-kpannabecker.blogspot.com/.)

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