Cultivating a Healthy Eating Habit – South Coast Herald

It’s holiday season, and unless Covid does a dirty trick on us, the South Coast will come alive with visitors. Vacations are associated with fun, eating — especially fast foods — and time together. Most people tend to overindulge at this time of year. But maybe we can still enjoy delicious food, and health to boot.

A 1998 study by researchers Ilona Staprans and colleagues titled “Oxidant Dietary Cholesterol Accelerates Progression of Aortic Atherosclerosis in Cholesterol-Fed Rabbits” was published in the journal Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. What they did was feed two groups of rabbits similar diets of 0.33% cholesterol, but in the study group, 5% of the cholesterol was oxidized.

After just 12 weeks, the group of rabbits fed all the other ways on the same diet, except for that small percentage of oxidized cholesterol, had a 100% increase in the development of fatty streaks – a sign of early atherosclerosis. You might say this was in rabbits! But unfortunately, pathologists with the unenviable job of doing post-mortem examinations of young children who die in car accidents in Western countries find similar fat streaks. It’s no wonder heart disease is the number one cause of death in the Western world, and it’s fast following suit around the world.

What are the sources of oxidized cholesterol in the diet. The number one ingredient is eggs, especially egg powder. Egg yolk is very rich in cholesterol, and when exposed to high heat and light, cholesterol gets oxidized. It is clear that the presence of sugar and milk increases the oxidation process. So ice cream and custard are at the top of the list.

Fried meat, chicken and fish are also at the top of the list. Animal fat fried potato chips are also a rich source, along with pastries and pizza. I think the relationship between these car-delivery foods and restaurants is clear.

Although fast food joints may be an attractive family outing, the long-term consequences for ourselves and our children in terms of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease may not be very appealing. It is best to have a diet full of whole foods that are rich in phytonutrients and fiber.

We need to develop the practice of insisting on healthy choices when we eat out. I have found that one can have a very tasty vegan pizza and, in the right season, replace the cheese with more avocado if you ask for it, at some pizzerias. The greater the demand for healthy fare, the more likely companies are to comply. After all they are there to serve you, customer.

And your health deserves it.

Dr. Dave Glass
MBChB, FCOG (SA), Dip IBLM

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