By Angel S. Respicio, Jr. MD
The Truth About Cholesterol and Fats Finally Revealed
Before 1984, the normal level of cholesterol ranged from 150-280 mg./dL (per 100 ml. or cc.. of blood). Around that time, popular cholesterol lowering medications came out into the market. Since then the desirable level of cholesterol has been lowered many times.
Is it perhaps so that more people would qualify to take such medications?
But according to Dr. Mary G. Enig, ”Slight risk for heart attack occurs in men with cholesterol level more than 350 mg./dL and in women with levels over 1,000. (Know Your Fats,2000)”
The daily production of cholesterol by the human body is 4,000 mg. (90% from the liver) to maintain optimum health and good memory.
Typically, a 70 kg. (155 lbs.) 5’ 7” male person has the following: cholesterol pool- 140,000 mg.; active pool- 100,000 mg.; brain- 25,000 mg.; and blood circulation- 10,000-15,000 mg.
>From food sources, one egg yolk yields 215 mg. while 20 regular sized shrimps has 150 mg. One balut (duck embryo) has 350 mg.
In a published document, Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D. of the Harvard Health Letter said, "Research shows people who eat an egg a day are no more likely
to have heart disease than those who eat eggs less than once a week."
Functions of Cholesterol
1. Antioxidant- keeps cell membrane intact as part of the cell wall. One billion cells are replaced per hour.
2. Boosts mental performance- found in myelin sheath lining nerves
3. Helps digestion- production of bile acids and bile salts
4. Builds strong bones- vitamin D is synthesized (manufactured) from cholesterol
5. Precursor (source) of all steroid hormones:
Glucocorticoids- regulate blood sugar
Mineralocorticoids- control blood pressure, mineral balance
Sex hormones- build muscle mass, athletic performance, maintains libido
7. Repairs damaged tissue- scar formation, including blood vessels
8. LDL-cholesterol protects against infectious diseases (Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, The Cholesterol Myths)
The Incredible Egg Yolk
A single egg yolk provides the following: Calcium, Carotenes, Magnesium, Iron, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Selenium, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Panthotenic acid, Vitamin B6, Folic acid, Vitamin B 12, Vitamins A, D, E & K, Healthy Fats including Omega-3 fatty acid (healthy heart), and the brain boosting DHA and EPA.
It also provides all the essential amino acids to build strong muscles (the heart included) namely: Tryptophan, Threonine, Isoloceucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, and Valine.. Not only that it has Lutein and Zeaxanthin (for good vision), Lecithin (keeps bile liquid, prevents gallstones) and Choline (acts as scrub to blood vessels as well as brain transmitter for good memory).
It is impossible to overeat cholesterol because the liver will adjust its daily production based on your actual intake. Dr. David Kritchevsky calls it biosynthetic capacity of the liver.
The only bad cholesterol is oxidized cholesterol found in powdered milk, reduced-fat milk, and powdered eggs. The healthier natural cholesterol is in whole milk, breast milk and egg yolk. Cholesterol is not a fat, it is a form of alcohol. It has no calories therefore it won’t make you fat. Cholesterol is found only in animal tissues (not plants) as a component of cell walls or cell membranes. Lean meat is more compact and therefore has more cells.
That is why there is more cholesterol in lean meat tissues than fat tissues according to Dr. Mary G. Enig.
Let’s Talk About Fats
The following nutrient-rich traditional fats have nourished healthy population groups for thousands of years:
Butter, Beef and lamb tallow, Lard (from pig fat), Chicken, goose and duck fat.
Coconut oil, palm oil and sesame oils, Cold pressed (expeller pressed) olive oil,
Cold pressed flax oil, and Marine oils.
The following commercially processed oils have toxic chemicals produced when extracted using high heat and pressure (20 tons psi), and again when heated at home above 350oF (177oC): all hydrogenated oils (or trans fats like margarine and vegetable shortening), vegetable oils such as Soybean oil, Corn oil, Safflower oil, Sunflower oil, Cottonseed oil and Canola oil.
Two major toxins formed in commercially processed vegetable oils:
1. Lipid hydroperoxides- Incite free radical cascades and deactivate enzymes.
Result: Skin rashes, heartburn, liver problems, arterial spasm, blood clots, and cancer
2. 4-hydroxy-trans-2-noneal (HNE)- Formed from oxidation of linoleic acid (from vegetable oil) is
highly reactive with proteins, RNA, and biomolecules.
Result: Atherosclerosis, stroke, Parkinson's, Alzheimer’s, Huntington's and liver diseases
Other adverse effects: Heart disease, immune system dysfunction, learning disabilities, sterility, growth problems, and osteoporosis
Manufacturers are allowed to put 0 (zero) trans fat in food label if the trans fat level is less than 500 mg. per serving. To be safe, just avoid food with margarine, vegetable shortening, and partially hydrogenated oil. By the way, Sky Flakes has partially hydrogenated oil.
Did you know, chicken fat is only about 30% saturated, lard 40%, and beef fat 46%? They have at least 40% monounsaturated fat (oleic acid) like the healthy olive oil. (MaryG. Enig PhD, Know Your Fats).
Now It Can Be Told
According to a published report, when the composition of human aortic plaques was analyzed, it was mostly polyunsaturated fatty acids (from vegetable oils like corn, canola, cottonseed, soybean, sunflower and safflower). No association was found with saturated fatty acids from animal fat, coconut oil and palm oil. Hence, it was suggested current trends favoring increased intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids should be reconsidered (Felton C.V. et. al., Lancet, 1994, vol. 344, pp 1195-1196).
By the way, the vitamins A, D, E, and K in fruits and vegetables can only be absorbed in the presence of fat. Think what happens to the Vitamins A and D when you drink reduced fat or skim milk?
(Editor’s Note: Dr. Respicio is the Nutrition Adviser of The Sleeplab at Hawaii Medical Center- West and a resident nutritionist for The Philippine Star, Health and Family Section.)