Category Archives: cholesterol

Harvard on the health aspects of eggs

Don’t feel bad for harboring any confusion about just how healthy or unhealthy eggs are in your diet. There has been a lot of information and, it turns out, some misinformation about the little chicken nuggets over the years. So, to put it eggs-actly straight here is the latest from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Long-vilified for their high cholesterol content by well-meaning doctors and scientists researching heart disease, eggs now seem to be making a bit of a comeback. So what changed?

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While it’s true that just one egg yolk has 200 mg of cholesterol—making it one of the richest sources of dietary cholesterol—eggs also contain additional nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease. In addition, the moderate amount of fat in an egg, about 5 grams, is mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. It’s also crucial to distinguish between dietary cholesterol and cholesterol in the blood, which are only weakly related. The focus on dietary cholesterol alone was de-emphasized as more attention was placed on the influence of saturated and trans fat on blood cholesterol. Accordingly, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 removed the prior recommendation to limit consumption of dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day.

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4 Ways to eat your way to lower cholesterol – Harvard

Following is one of those helpful email I get from Harvard from time to time. I thought you might find it interesting.

Many people can reduce cholesterol levels simply by changing what they eat. For example, if you are a fan of cheeseburgers, eating less meat (and leaner cuts) and more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can lower your total cholesterol by 25% or more. Cutting back on saturated fat (found in meat and dairy products) and trans fat (partially hydrogenated oils) can reduce cholesterol by 5% to 10%.

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Here are four steps for using your diet to lower your cholesterol.

Stick with unsaturated fats and avoid saturated and trans fats. Most vegetable fats (oils) are made up of unsaturated fats that are healthy for your heart. Foods that contain healthy fats include oily fish, nuts, seeds, and some vegetables. At the same time, limit your intake of foods high in saturated fat, which is found in many meat and dairy products, and stay away from trans fats. These include any foods made with “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.”

Get more soluble fiber. Eat more soluble fiber, such as that found in oatmeal and fruits. This type of fiber can lower blood cholesterol levels when eaten as part of a healthy-fat diet. Continue reading

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High cholesterol intake and eggs do not increase risk of memory disorders

I am now and  have been for years a big fan of eggs. A hundred years ago, it seems, I worked on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trading floor where I covered the egg futures market along with pork bellies, live cattle and live hog futures. In that capacity, I learned a great deal about eggs from their production to our consumption. I have posted on them numerous times. Here are a few: Eating eggs is good for you. I wrote that in the first month of this blog’s existence. Feel free to type e-g-g-s in the search box at the right to read more posts on eggs.

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A new study from the University of Eastern Finland shows that a relatively high intake of dietary cholesterol, or eating one egg every day, is not associated with an elevated risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, no association was found in persons carrying the APOE4 gene variant that affects cholesterol metabolism and increases the risk of memory disorders. APOE4 is common in Finland. The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Continue reading

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Why eating olives is a good idea

I like to eat olives and I know a lot of folks who share my preference. So, besides a fascinating taste, what are they good for?

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Here is what the olive industry says:

– Olives eliminate excess cholesterol in the blood.

 – Olives control blood pressure.

 – Olives are a source of dietary fiber as an alternative to fruits and vegetables.

 – Olives are a great source of Vitamin E

 – Olives act as an antioxidant, protecting cells

 – Olives reduce the effects of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, benign and malignant tumours, including less serious varicose veins and cavities

 – Olives help prevent blood clots that could lead to a myocardial infarction or deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

 – Olives protect cell membranes against diseases like cancer

 – Olives are a great protection against anemia

 – Olives enhances fertility and reproductive system

 – Olives play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system, especially during oxidative stress and chronic viral diseases

 – And just in case these benefits weren’t enough, they are also a great aphrodisiac.

 – Olives are nutritious and rich in mineral content as sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and iodine

 – Olives provide essential vitamins and amino acids.

 – Olives contain oleic acid, which has beneficial properties to protect the heart.

 – Olives contain polyphenols, a natural chemical that reduce oxidative stress in the brain. So by eating a daily serving of olives helps improve your memory by up to 25%.

 – Just one cup of olives is a great source of iron – 4.4mg.

 – Eating olives can improve the appearance of wrinkles by 20% since they contain oleic acid, which keeps skin soft and healthy.

 – By eating just 10 olives before a meal, you can reduce your appetite by up to 20%. This is because the monounsaturated fatty acids contained in olives slow down the digestion process and stimulate the hormone cholecystokinin, a hormone that sends messages of fullness to the brain.

 – Not only does it do that, but it also helps your body to stimulate the production of adiponectin, a chemical that burns fat for up to five hours after ingestion.

Tony

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Is Your Cholesterol in Good Shape?

The message that hasn’t changed is this: If your blood has a lower level of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) and a higher level of the good kind (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL), you will reduce your risk of heart disease. Lifestyle modifications and/or medications are usually effective in shifting your cholesterol levels into a healthy range.

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Gilles Beaudin wrote . . . .

Cholesterol has been getting a lot of press lately. The most recent news is the about face on dietary cholesterol. The American dietary guidelines no longer encourage restricted cholesterol consumption. Strong scientific evidence shows that dietary intake has little influence on levels of good and bad cholesterol in the body.

The message that hasn’t changed is this: If your blood has a lower level of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) and a higher level of the good kind (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL), you will reduce your risk of heart disease. Lifestyle modifications and/or medications are usually effective in shifting your cholesterol levels into a healthy range.

Surprisingly, a large number of heart attacks are seen in people with healthy levels of good cholesterol. This indicates that there is something going on beyond the numbers, and that is the quality and function of…

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Why Should I Avoid Fast Food? – Infographic

Fat food seems to be everywhere we turn and can be a lifesaver on a busy day, but making fast food a ‘go to’ solution on a regular basis is a prescription for medical problems.

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Check out my Page – Fast Food Nutritional Information for more details.

Tony

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‘Longevity Gene’ One Key to Long Life, Research

Milman agreed that CETP and HDL are far from the only factors in healthy aging and a long life. But understanding at least some of the genes behind longevity, and how they function, is important, she said.

Everyone wants to live longer. Exercise will always be one of the keys. Check out Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise) for more information on extending your life and having your mental functions intact the whole time.

Tony

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As ‘good’ cholesterol goes up, odds of heart disease, stroke go down.

Even among people who live well into their 90s, those with a particular gene variant may survive the longest, a new study finds.

The variant is in a gene known as CETP, and researchers have known for more than a decade that people who carry it have a better shot at an exceptionally long life — past 95 or even 100.

CETP is involved in cholesterol metabolism, and the longevity-linked variant raises blood levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind) and promotes larger-than-normal HDL particles, researchers say.

The new findings show that even when you look at people who’ve already lived beyond age 95, those with the “favorable” CETP variant survive longer, said Dr. Sofiya Milman, an assistant professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

Milman was scheduled to present the findings Thursday…

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Health Benefits of Chicken Eggs

Eggs are also a rich supply of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. These are predominantly in the form of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which helps with the maintenance of brain function and normal vision.

I am a huge fan of eggs. I covered the shell egg futures market when I worked for Reuters and learned a great deal about them, from marketing to nutritional value. I still eat an egg almost every day.

Check out the following posts to read further on eggs:
Eating Eggs is Good for Weight Loss – WebMD,

Is it Healthy to Eat Eggs Regularly? What is the Food Value of Easter Eggs?

The Food Channel Puts Eggs in the Top 10 Breakfasts,

Eating Eggs is Good for You,

Nutrition Myths Debunked – Myth 2 – Eating Eggs raises your cholesterol levels.

Tony

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Nutritional breakdown

Eggs contain many vitamins and minerals that are essential parts of a healthy and balanced diet. Below is a list of nutrients that can be found in eggs, along with a brief summary of what they are useful for:

  • Vitamin A: maintains the skin, immune system and normal vision.
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): aids energy metabolism, red blood cells, vision and the nervous system.
  • Vitamin B12: aids energy metabolism, red blood cells, the immune system and the nervous system.
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): aids energy metabolism and mental functioning.
  • Vitamin D: keeps bones and teeth healthy and aids absorption of calcium.
  • Vitamin E: keeps the reproductive system, nervous system and muscles healthy.
  • Biotin: aids energy metabolism, maintains skin, hair and the immune system.
  • Choline: aids fat metabolism and liver function.
  • Folic Acid: aids blood formation and tissue growth during pregnancy.

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Sugar Substance ‘Kills’ Good HDL Cholesterol, New Research Finds

A potentially damaging substance, MG is formed from glucose in the body. It is 40,000 times more reactive than glucose it damages arginine residue (amino acid) in HDL at functionally important site causing the particle to become unstable.

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Scientists at the University of Warwick have discovered that ‘good’ cholesterol is turned ‘bad’ by a sugar-derived substance.

The substance, methylglyoxal – MG, was found to damage ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, which removes excess levels of bad cholesterol from the body.

Low levels of HDL, High Density Lipoprotein, are closely linked to heart disease, with increased levels of MG being common in the elderly and those with diabetes or kidney problems.

Supported by funding from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and published in Nutrition and Diabetes, the researchers discovered that MG destabilises HDL and causes it to lose the properties which protect against heart disease.

HDL damaged by MG is rapidly cleared from the blood, reducing its HDL content, or remains in plasma having lost its beneficial function.

Lead researcher Dr Naila Rabbani, of the Warwick Medical School, says that: “MG damage to HDL is a new and likely important cause…

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3 Diet Changes to help lower cholesterol levels – Harvard

If you have concerns about your cholesterol levels, there are several steps you can take to lower them, according to Harvard HEALTHbeat. They include losing weight if needed, being more active, and choosing healthy foods.

choleshtline“Here are three simple steps toward a healthier, cholesterol-lowering diet:

•    Choose healthy fats. Avoid saturated fats, which increase unhealthy LDL levels, and steer clear of trans fats, which both raise LDL and lower protective HDL. Instead, substitute healthier unsaturated fats found in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
•    Go with whole grains. Whole-grain breads, pastas, and cereals help prevent a blood sugar roller coaster and make you feel full longer. Many of these foods contain fiber, which can help lower LDL levels.
•    Make other healthy choices. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Ideally, substitute these for processed foods and sweets. Choose fat-free milk instead of whole milk. Opt for low-fat yogurt and pick brands that are not loaded with sugar.

•    For the record, I believe not all saturated fats are unhealthy. This blog is firmly behind coconut oil, a saturated fat. Check out my page – Why You Should Include Coconut Oil in Your Diet.

For more on how to reduce your risks of conditions from heart disease to dementia, buy Men’s Health Fifty and Forward, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Tony

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The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease

From the 1950s on, these hardened oils became the backbone of the entire food industry, used in cakes, cookies, chips, breads, frostings, fillings, and frozen and fried food. Unfortunately, hydrogenation also produced trans fats, which since the 1970s have been suspected of interfering with basic cellular functioning and were recently condemned by the Food and Drug Administration for their ability to raise our levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Regular readers know that I feel strongly about consuming saturated fats. Check out my Page on Why You Should Include Coconut oil in Your Diet.

Tony

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Nina Teicholz wrote in Wall Street Journal ….

Are butter, cheese and steak really bad for you?

“Saturated fat does not cause heart disease”—or so concluded a big study published in March in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. How could this be? The very cornerstone of dietary advice for generations has been that the saturated fats in butter, cheese and red meat should be avoided because they clog our arteries. For many diet-conscious Americans, it is simply second nature to opt for chicken over sirloin, canola oil over butter.

The new study’s conclusion shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with modern nutritional science, however. The fact is, there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias.

Our…

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Intra-day Fasting Cut Many Harmful Effects of Bad Food Choices

Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have introduced information that when we eat may be as important as what we eat, ScienceDaily reported.

Their paper published in Cell Metabolism reported that mice limited to eating during an 8-hour period were healthier than mice allowed to eat freely throughout the day, regardless of the quality and content of their diet.

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The aim of the study was to learn whether obesity and metabolic disease come from a high-fat diet or from disruption of metabolic cycles.

“It’s a dogma that a high-fat diet leads to obesity and that we should eat frequently when we are awake,” says Satchidananda Panda, an associate professor in the Regulatory Biology Laboratory and senior author of the paper. “Our findings, however, suggest that regular eating times and fasting for a significant number of hours a day might be beneficial to our health.”

The mice that ate fatty food frequently gained weight and developed high cholesterol, high blood glucose, liver damage and diminished motor control. The mice in the time-restricted group weighed 28 percent less and demonstrated no adverse health effects even though they ate the same amount of calories from the same fatty food. In addition, the time-restricted mice outperformed the unrestricted eaters and those on a normal diet when given an exercise test.

“This was a surprising result,” says Megumi Hatori, a postdoctoral researcher in Panda’s laboratory and a first author of the study. “For the last 50 years, we have been told to reduce our calories from fat and to eat smaller meals and snacks throughout the day. We found, however, that fasting time is important. By eating in a time-restricted fashion, you can still resist the damaging effects of a high-fat diet, and we did not find any adverse effects of time-restricted eating when eating healthy food.”

She cautioned against jumping to the conclusion that it is all right to eat lots of unhealthy foods as long as we observe the intra-day fast. “What we showed is under daily fasting the body can fight unhealthy food to a significant extent,” she says. “But there are bound to be limits.”

Restricting one’s eating to an eight hour period in a 24-hour day in no easy task for a human being with a normal working day and a family as opposed to a mouse in captivity. I think for the majority of us eat less; move more remains the rule.

There may be some benefits to be gained from intermittent fasting, perhaps on weekends.

Tony

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Coconut Oil Featured in Wall Street Journal

As regular readers know, I am a big fan of coconut oil. Just look at the top of this page to see Why You Should Include Coconut Oil in Your Diet.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I turned to the Personal Journal section of the Wall Street Journal and saw this headline: Unlikely Source of Healthy Fat: Coconuts, by Laura Johannes.
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The piece leads off with, “Coconut oil, which is high in saturated fats, is increasingly being heralded as a healthy oil. Its advocates, including companies that sell it, say it’s nutritious, good for the heart and a fast source of energy. The oil may possibly protect against Alzheimer’s disease, they say.”

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How Important is Breakfast?

Let’s start with the word – breakfast. You are breaking your fast after shutting your body down in sleep all night. So, your body is ready to be nourished and made whole again. There is a need for fuel. Skipping breakfast robs your body of basic needs and puts it on the defensive right from the start. Why handicap yourself like that?

As everyone who has skipped or skimped on breakfast knows, you get hungry long before lunch time rolls around. That often means you end up snacking on convenient junk foods high in fat and sugars. You can read my Love Letter to Hostess Ho Ho’s NOT for all the reasons to avoid junk food.

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WebMD in a slideshow on brain foods said, “Tempted to skip breakfast? Studies have found that eating breakfast may improve short-term memory and attention. Students who eat it tend to perform better than those who don’t. Foods at the top of researchers’ brain-fuel list include high-fiber whole grains, dairy, and fruits. Just don’t overeat; researchers also found high-calorie breakfasts appear to hinder concentration.”

I recommend including some protein in your breakfast to extend the benefits.

“Protein blunts your hunger the most, and is the most satiating,” Purdue University researcher Wayne Campbell, PhD,  tells WebMD. Eggs are a natural, low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals and protein.

Don’t sweat the cholesterol.

I wrote the following in my post, What is the Food Value of Easter Eggs? “The yolk of the egg contains many excellent nutrients as well as cholesterol. Don’t forget that your body needs cholesterol to function. If you don’t have enough of it in your diet, your body will manufacture it. Organic Foods says, “Recent research has also shown that consuming eggs does not lead to increase in serum cholesterol levels,”

So, do yourself and your body a favor and make time for a good breakfast, you will reap rewards from it all day long.

Tony

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Why Should I Eat More Dark Chocolate?

Before starting, let me clarify that the word ‘more’ in the header assumes you are eating little or no dark chocolate at present because here in the U.S. we primarily eat milk chocolate. How much? Good question. Some 71 percent of the chocolate we eat is milk chocolate. And, how much total?

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The World Atlas of Chocolate puts the U.S. in 11th place worldwide in per capita chocolate consumption with a paltry 11.5 pounds per year. Switzerland is in first place with more than double that total.

As far as a definition of dark chocolate goes, the U.S. has no fixed percentage of cocoa content to define dark chocolate. In practice, however, it seems that 70 percent cocoa solids qualifies as dark chocolate.

But why eat more dark chocolate? Experience L!fe says, “Sure, chocolate’s exquisitely decadent. But its primary ingredient, cocoa, has triple the antioxidants of green tea, helps reduce cholesterol and blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity.”

They quote Alice Medrich on it. “Alice Medrich, who is credited with bringing the chocolate truffle to the United States in the 1970s, says that when you taste chocolate without all the sugar, you become aware of its deep, earthy, nutty, and fruity flavors. She compares chocolate to wine and says that, like grapes, chocolate has a terroir that reflects the taste of the soil and climate where it’s grown.

“’Sometimes you’ll get some tropical fruit flavors or citrus flavors or cherry or even little hints of orange or coconut,’ says Medrich, author of the cookbook Seriously Bitter Sweet. ‘There are hundreds of flavor components in chocolate, and they can go to the sweet or the savory really easily.'”

FITDAY offers several benefits of dark chocolate, including:
Good for your heart. “Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate two or three times each week can help lower your blood pressure. Dark chocolate improves blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. Eating dark chocolate may also prevent arteriosclerosis.

Good for your brain. Dark chocolate increases blood flow to the brain as well as to the heart, so it can help improve cognitive function. Dark chocolate also helps reduce your risk of stroke.

Dark chocolate also contains several chemical compounds that have a positive effect on your mood and cognitive health. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier.

Dark chocolate contains caffeine, a mild stimulant. However, dark chocolate contains much less caffeine than coffee. A standard 1.5 ounce bar of dark chocolate contains 27 mg of caffeine, compared to the 200 mg found in an eight ounce cup of coffee.

Helps control blood sugar. “The flavonoids in dark chocolate also help reduce insulin resistance by helping your cells to function normally and regain the ability to use your body’s insulin efficiently. Dark chocolate also has a low glycemic index, meaning it won’t cause huge spikes in blood sugar levels.

Dark chocolate contains theobromine which helps to harden tooth enamel, so unlike most sweets it lowers your risk of cavities. Theobromine also can help to suppress coughing.

The final positive from FITDAY is dark chocolate’s vitamin and mineral content. “The copper and potassium in dark chocolate help prevent against stroke and cardiovascular ailments. The iron in chocolate protects against iron deficiency anemia, and the magnesium in chocolate helps prevent type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.”

Authority Nutrition
offers the following: “If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious.

It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals.
A 100 gram (about 4 ounces) bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:
• 11 grams of fiber.
• 67% of the RDA for Iron.
• 58% of the RDA for Magnesium.
• 89% of the RDA for Copper.
• 98% of the RDA for Manganese.
• It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.

Aren’t we all ready for some good news on cholesterol? Well, Authority Nutrition says, “Dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease. It lowers the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity.”

In case you don’t remember, HDL is the good cholesterol and LDL is the bad. You want higher HDL numbers and lower LDL ones.

Lastly, Authority Nutrition says that “Studies show that the flavanols from cocoa can improve blood flow to the skin and protect it against sun-induced damage.”

I must confess that I had never heard dark chocolate could protect your skin from the sun, but as a skin cancer victim, I am very happy to learn it.

While I would like you to include dark chocolate in your diet, I hope that you know we are talking about reasonable amounts here. You don’t need to eat more than a couple of ounces a day to get the benefits mentioned above.

Tony

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Do I Have to go on Statin Drugs for the Rest of my Life to Fight High Cholesterol?

“Millions more Americans could end up taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs under new recommendations released Tuesday that advocate a dramatic shift in the way doctors assess and treat cardiovascular risk,” according to the Washington Post.

“Roughly a quarter of Americans age 45 and older already take statins, which include familiar brands such as Lipitor and Zocor, to treat high cholesterol. But that number could grow sharply under far-reaching guidelines detailed by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.”

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The leading cause of death for Americans is heart disease. About one in every four deaths in the United States, or about 600,000 annually, are attributed to heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cholesterol helps your body build new cells, insulate nerves, and produce hormones. Normally, the liver makes all the cholesterol the body needs. But cholesterol also enters your body from food. Too much cholesterol in your body increases your risk of getting heart disease.

The Mayo Clinic says, “Statins work by slowing your body’s production of cholesterol. Your body produces all the cholesterol it needs by digesting food and producing new cells on its own. When this natural production is slowed, your body begins to draw the cholesterol it needs from the food you eat, lowering your total cholesterol.

“Statins may affect not only your liver’s production of cholesterol but also several enzymes in muscle cells that are responsible for muscle growth. The effects of statins on these cells may be the cause of muscle aches.”

While much media attention has been paid to the doctors’ recommendations that more Americans need to take statin drugs, not much has been written about lifestyle changes like simply improving our diet and personal health in the first place so we don’t need the drugs to save us from our reckless habits.

Some good clear-headed recommendations did come from the press conference, however. “Our recommendation is that doctors prescribe a diet to achieve reduced caloric intake as part of a comprehensive lifestyle intervention,” guideline co-author Dr. Donna Ryan, a professor emeritus at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, said during the press conference. The diet should be tailored to patient preferences and any drugs they take, she said. Continue reading

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